Emily Thomes: Picture of God’s Grace

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Have you registered yet for next year’s Answers for Women conference “Sacred: Embracing God’s Design for Sexuality”? I’m thrilled to introduce speaker Emily Thomes. I first discovered Emily through an article she wrote entitled “Girl in the Picture.” I knew as soon as I read it that we needed to hear from her on the topic of homosexuality. Not just about the life she had come out of but the redeemed life she now lives as a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace and her new life as wife and mom.

I asked Emily to share a bit of her testimony and the focus of her presentation with us.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).

Sexually immoral. Idolater. Practicing homosexuality. Greedy. Drunk. Reviling God. These and more were me, all the while convincing myself that God was fine with my sin and that anyone who disagreed with me was judging and, after all, I knew that, somewhere, [the Bible] said, “Judge not.” I knew that God is love, which meant that God loved me just the way I was, no change necessary. Looking back, I see how God was drawing me to Him, through circumstances in my relationships, through an invitation to a Bible Study, but most of all, through the truth of His Word.

This is biblical conversion: that God opens our eyes to see our sin as sin and see Him as the good and worthy Creator; because of that new sight, we joyfully forsake our sin and turn to Him by grace through faith. Scripture tells us this happens to all people when they’re “born again” (John 3, Ezekiel 36:26), regardless of the kind of life they lived before knowing Christ. God must intervene and create in us a desire to obey out of a right kind of “fear” that comes from reverence and love for Him. It isn’t always easy, but He is worthy.

Repentance is necessary to be reconciled to God. You cannot stay in your sin and hold fast to Christ.

Homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–11). Any honest reading of the text leaves one with the conclusion that God’s design for sex and marriage is for one man and one woman, for life, and that any variation of that (homosexuality, sexual immorality in opposite sex couples, adultery, etc.) is sinful. These contradict His moral law, and for that reason alone, they are transgressions not only against the other participant but against God Himself. God is perfect, holy, and without any kind of sin or failing. Sin separates us from Him because it’s so contradictory to who He is and what He esteems. Every human being is made in the image of God, and because of that we all have intrinsic value and worth—but that image is distorted because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. Scripture tells us that, because of sin, “no one is good; no not one” (Romans 3:10). God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness create a divide between the two. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us back to Himself. He lived the kind of life we’re commanded to live but have all failed to do. He then took the punishment we ought to get, the entire wrath of God, on behalf of those who would repent, turn from sin, and put their trust in Him. Repentance is necessary to be reconciled to God. You cannot stay in your sin and hold fast to Christ.

So what does all of this mean for believers in Christ who struggle with same-sex attraction? The instructions given to Christians battling this sin are not different from those given to every other believer. All of us were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked (Ephesians 2:1–3). It means that one must “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and “make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). Those battling desires for the same sex must, like Jesus said, “deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow” Him (Luke 9:23). We must now obey God rather than these desires. Each of us are marked by sin, but in Christ, have the will and ability to follow Jesus instead of our feelings. This doesn’t mean a perfect walk without trials and sin on our part, but as we grow in Him, we will have greater and greater victory over sin and will slowly, but surely, be conformed to the image of His Son who was without sin.

Does the Christian coming from this particular background have his or her own specific difficulties? You bet! But regardless of what sin we struggle with, our journey towards holiness and knowing Him deeper should look very similar to those who were saved out of any sin. My conversion to Christ should not be a surprise for any believer; that’s what He does. He takes dead men and makes them alive in Him, and He does it every single day! It’s my prayer that He uses stories like mine, His Spirit, and His word to grow His church in that understanding.

I’m greatly looking forward to hearing how God is using Emily's past and present for his glory when she speaks at next year's Answers for Women conference, which will be held in the Answers Center at the Ark Encounter

Register today to take advantage of the early bird special (ends November 1), and remember the price includes Creation Museum and Ark Encounter admission for conference attendees and discounted rates for spouse and children.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

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