Letter to a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ, Part 3

So many people insist it’s a lifestyle choice and we’re condemned to hell for “choosing to live that lifestyle. Believe me, it is not a choice. Who in their right mind would choose it? I have been praying for years for God to remove this and it doesn’t happen. This is not how I wanted my life to turn out. I want to be normal. But now I believe that is the way He made me and question why would he make me this way and then send me to hell for it? I don’t accept that anymore.

I imagine that it’s quite true that your homosexual feelings are inborn. Whether they come from heredity or the conditions of the womb or your childhood, I’m sure you are right that they can’t just be wished away! They are real and they are very present in you.

However, that doesn’t make them the way God meant for you to be. I have severe, systemic psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. These conditions are 100% genetic and they impose severe constraints and costs on me. The diseases are miserable, the medicine expensive, the treatments time consuming, results very inadequate, and the side effects of the medicines result in additional, permanent health problems.

Although they are genetic, there are things I can do to make the diseases worse or better. I just can’t make them go away.

I don’t think this is what God wants for me. Rather, I see my condition as a result of the fallen nature of the universe, a condition Jesus died to remedy. And when I’m transported to a New Earth with a new body, there will be no more disease! I’m looking forward to it more than most!

I don’t blame God. Well, most of the time I don’t. There are moments …

Nonetheless, I thank God that he sent his Son to cure even this. In the meantime, I cope with the flawed, weak flesh I have the best I can. And, yes, sometimes I do get angry. I wonder why God has burdened me with scaly, itchy, ugly skin and painful, swollen joints. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And I’m not happy about it.

I don’t find much comfort in platitudes, such as the disease gives me more time to do theology or whatever. I could in fact do better theology if I were healthier! (But then again, maybe the platitudes are right. Who really knows? Maybe I’d be running a marathon rather than typing this post. But I’d rather have been given the choice, you know?)

In such times, I find comfort in the Psalms —

(Psa 13) For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4 my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

David challenges God, asking whether he’ll answer his prayers. David demands that God turn and “Look on me and answer.” And yet the prayer remains unanswered.

In the end, David trusts in God despite the lack of an answer to his prayer, thanking God for the blessings he’s received in the past. He trusts God’s unfailing love and rejoices in God — despite his frustration that his prayers have not been answered.

And this is a typical psalm. There are many like it.

We act as though it’s sin to be honest with God, but God knows how we feel — so we’d may as well be honest in our prayer life. We have repeated examples of holy prayer to God in desperation, frustration, and even anger that things aren’t as they wish them to be.

The solution, over and over, is not that God always rescues us from our problems. Rather, the solution is that the psalmists trust God anyway, take the long view, thank God for their salvation, and then they pray some more.

Here’s another. I can identify with parts of it —

(Psa 38) A psalm of David. A petition.

O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.

7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.

12 Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. 13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.

15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.

19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.

21 O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.

In short, it’s just not true that genetic outcomes are God’s desired outcomes. Our flesh is fallen, just like the rest of us. And always, what we have to do to be the best possible servants of God is to fight against our fallen natures.

It’s hardly easy. Sometimes the flesh wins the battle. The key, though, is to never surrender. And prayer is, I think, not so much the way to defeat the flesh as the way to keep the flesh from defeating you.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to Letter to a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ, Part 3

  1. josh says:

    If you really want the monkey off your back, then first and foremost don't ever approach the gay and lesbian section at the bookstore anymore, and stop watching TV. Immerse yourself in God's word and stop trying to make excuses and playing the self pity game. You can't be transformed in the renewing of your mind, but will always be conformed to this world, so long as you are beholding the world rather than Jesus. Throw away human philosophy and the "oh poor baby" treatment of debase secular society and repent.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jay, thanks for your post and for the verses from Psalms. I understand your analogy but your issue isn't considered a sin and it doesn't require you to live a celibate and lonely life. When I say lonely, I'm talking about not having a life partner. I think getting the alcohol out of my system and my life made me realize the loneliness that exists. I can't drink it away and number myself anymore.

    Thank you for acknowledging that I did not choose this and cannot just turn the switch off. I wish I could. You that are heterosexual did not choose it. You didn't contemplate whether you should like women or whether you should like men. You were made that way. I did not choose this and don't want it, but that's the way God made me.

    When I was sitting in my gay AA meeting last night listening to someone talk about how he doesn't believe in God or Jesus and hearing people drop the F bomb right and left, my mind drifted back to this blog. I thought back to what you said the other day about fleeing from the gay church thing. I was unhappy with myself and wondered why I was there. I couldn't wait for it to be over so I could leave.

  3. Nick Gill says:

    Dear Brother _____,

    Your orientation does not prevent you from having a life partner. It makes it more challenging, but I do not think that it prevents it. What is banned is homosexual sexuality.

    Orson Scott Card develops an interesting and creative version of this in his novel "Speaker for the Dead." In this story, he creates a fictional order of Portuguese Catholic clergy, Filhos de Mente de Christo. In this order are heterosexual couples that have foresworn sexual relations, not from some joyless legalistic seeking after a badge of personal holiness, but to devote those energies to the service of God and their world.

    Perhaps such a route is possible. A public covenant of some sort…

    Do not give up hope, brother. Sit down sometime and read Ephesians 1-3 in a conversational translation like the New Living Translation or even The Message (where you don't have to be distracted by theological jargon). Do not let anything Paul says in those three chapters be twisted into a command or a mandate or anything of that nature. There is not a single command in those three chapters…

    EVERYTHING in those chapters is blessing – wonderful words of love – from God to his people. Don't believe that you have to try and earn them. Just accept them, over and over again. After a week or so, move into the rest of the book (particularly 4:17 – 5:21). Paul does present a RADICAL call to holiness to the believers in Ephesus, but NOT before he blesses them over and over and over again with WHO THEY ARE IN CHRIST!

    We CAN'T LIVE a life of holiness without that blessing. Like Mike Cope says, "Human BEING comes before human DOING."

    in HIS love,

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Nick. I will think about what you said. I'll start on Ephesians before I go to bed. I happen to like the Message and the NLT myself. I'll probably use the Message.