Living By God's Principles
By Robert Schaeffer
The Christian who has homosexual feelings and wants to live for God should be troubled by biblical passages that condemn homosexuality as sin. (cf.Leviticus 18:20; 20:13; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Jude 7) The human spirit knows intuitively that homosexuality is wrong. Moreover, the Word of God clearly teaches that homosexual desires are evil and the behaviors they motivate are sinful. However, even though the Christian knows that homosexual practice is wrong, he/she may at times crave it. This already adds to the already high levels of anxiety in most Christians with homosexual feelings. We often say in the church that a person should “just say no to sin” and walk in God’s way. Of course, that is what all of us should do. But Christian men and women with homosexual feelings often find it difficult to live by the principles of the Word of God. The principles themselves are good and right and true, but to the person with homosexual attractions they appear difficult if not impossible to attain. In people fighting against addictive behavior this is more than the conflict every believer born with original sin, is engaged in. A deep-seated desire to do evil because it seems “sweet” wars against the Spirit and urges the passive will to choose sin over righteousness. What follows is by no means an exhaustive treatment of this subject. However, I pray that it will open your eyes to the inner turmoil of a Christian fighting to overcome homosexual temptation.
It is a truism that the atmosphere in the home has a determining effect on the child’s perceptions of what is right and wrong. In order to understand why a Christian with homosexual feelings would find it hard to live by godly principles we must probe the individual’s memory about childhood and adolescence. For it was during this time that the person learned to appreciate or to despise, to obey or to disobey, authority and rules. In many homes parents appear hypocritical, telling the child to obey while they themselves violate rules. These parents’ behavior fits into the category of “do as I say and not as I do.” If a child sees the parent having fun or getting pleasure by violating or ignoring strict rules imposed upon the child, that child will begin to resent the parents and the rules. If the child is punished for something that the parent gets away with (and even benefits from), bitterness and rebellion will take root in his/her heart. Also, the imposition of rules without love or interaction of child and parent makes the child angry and hopeless of ever being able to keep these rules.
Often children raised in homes like this adopt the philosophy that “rules are made to be broken” and “all authority figures are hypocrites” setting in motion a pattern of disrespect for authority and disregard for the consequences of bad behavior. The reason the child resents rules and authority is that the inconsistency of the parents has made the child feel he/she could better make decisions about how to live. Thus, the child becomes his/her own parent. Such children will have trouble obeying rules, receiving criticism, yielding to authority and developing self-control. When a child begins to break the rules and gets away with it, in the process having fun or finding excitement (an emotional “rush”) that isn’t experienced when the rules are kept, this emotional gratification becomes the plumb line against which the child determines what is right or wrong.
Another reason it can be difficult to live by Biblical principles for a Christian trapped in homosexual bondage is that emotions rather than the Word act as the real judge of what is right and wrong. “If it feels good it must be what is right for me” is the way many people with homosexual desires think and live much of the time. Many of our counselees have spent years isolating emotionally (and often physically) from family and peers, going into an inner world of thoughts and fantasies. It is from this private place that they evaluate the world around them and themselves. In this inner universe are perceptions and assumptions warped by years of stored painful emotions. This becomes the criterion they use to determine what is right and good and true—what will “work” to make them feel safe, happy and free. Relating to the outside world seems scary and overwhelming and they would rather limit their contact to people they envy or who are like them or who appear safe. Through the years they have worked out a way of minimizing their pain by putting up invisible walls. Subsequently, they have difficulty coming out of this self-imposed isolation to relate to people who are different. Their emotions judge such a risk to be “bad”. As they entered puberty their sex drive connects to this inner storage of buried pain. When troubled by any number of situations, these people seek to escape into sexual thought or behavior. The Bible, with its prohibition against all forms of sexual expression outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage, seems to condemn them. Therefore, while many are too scared not to believe in God, they still find it hard to submit to the Word. It commands belief and behavior that are contrary to the “survival tactics” that seem to the person normal and manageable.
Another hindrance to some Christians is the false conviction that living by God’s principles is a sure formula for unhappiness. Most of my counselees have grown up in the church but have found little help from the church in dealing with homosexual feelings. Many tell me that the church they grew up in was so legalistic and harsh that they were afraid to admit to anybody there that they had homosexual feelings. Therefore, many of these people suffered in silence, trying on one hand to resist sin, yet on the other yielding to sin when temptation seemed overwhelming, that is, when the negative emotions driving it were stirred. (The most common of these emotions is anger, loneliness, shame, false guilt, hurt, fear and embarrassment.) To stave off these emotions, the person has come to believe that a sexual encounter with someone else or fantasy/masturbation for a time drives these painful emotions away. Rather than sit in the emotions long enough to understand them and break their power by journaling and prayer, many persons run to the sex. One of my counselees who has been particularly addicted to homosexual relationships remarked during one session, “It is better to go down to the Village (Greenwich Village, a notorious center of homosexual activity) than to stay home and be lonely.” This brother has few friends and sees the prospect of life without the homosexual scene as lonely and depressing. He is convinced wrongly that God will not give him a wife and godly friends, and so he is drawn to homosexuality as the only “sure place” to find a real loving relationship. Such is the lie with which Satan ensnares many. Depending on the degree of twistedness and the amount of indulgence in these false thoughts and wicked behaviors, the person may spend more time living in sin than in holiness.
There is hope for even the vilest of offenders! The way to freedom from homosexuality is submission to God’s truth. No amount of fleshly effort can uproot the evil desire that craves ungodly pleasure. Only Christ can destroy the works of the devil and set the prisoner free! Our work as counselors is to remove the obstacles that block this truth from penetrating to that place where evil desire currently reigns. Consider the following suggestions:
Admit that you have a problem with authority. Stop justifying your disrespect of authority and your rebellion; don’t tell yourself how hypocritical or evil your parents were. Agree with God that there is no real justification for disobeying His commandments. Go to God, submit to Him and rest in His protection and love.
Don’t see your parents just for the sin they committed. Look beyond your parents’ sin and ask God to help you understand why they were prone to be hypocritical. Forgive them and work to build a new relationship with them.
Repent of seeking to get even with your abusers rather than seeking God. Ask Him to show you that rules, guidelines and commandments are good things—they are like guardrails rather than roadblocks.
Admit that you have childish reactions to people and the world. Journal about the things that scare or overwhelm you, and write the truth that God is your helper and defender, a present help in any dangerous situation.
Stop saying that it is better to practice sin than seek God and His ways. This is a lie and will only take you into unreality and sin. Ask God to show you how there is safety and fulfillment in walking in His paths.
Write about the disappointments you have had in life, and look for the ungodly ways you have dealt with them. Repent of this and pray to the Father for His comfort and vision for your future. Be willing to give up your contrived plans in exchange for His better purpose!
Ask God to separate your sex drive from the storage of negative emotions still inside of you. Have someone pray off demonic power from these emotions, and choose to act in the opposite way the emotions pull you.
Choose to agree with God that “survival is an ungodly concept for it takes our life into our own hands rather than trusting God. The Lord will set you up in situations to succeed in relating to people who are different from you if you will only agree to try.
Don’t judge your future by your present. Work at making a place to believe that things not seen or experienced can become a reality with God’s help. Stop living as though your emotions always give you the correct messages about situations.
Declare that the Bible is the Word of Life, its precepts are good and true, and its commandments are easy. (cf.Psalm 119) Once you begin to see the Bible like this, you will view sin as the problem and God will empower you to obey with joy.
Separate from all homosexual fantasy, activity and relationships so that you can break the power of sin in your flesh and begin to establish a proper relationship with God. The Father asks you to separate not to deny you true friendship and happiness but to prepare you for it!
Homosexuality is death, but those who die in it are deceived into thinking it is life. Humble yourself and ask God to open your eyes to this sobering truth.