Shouldn’t we value the sincere feelings of others rather than condemn them?
I can remember my earliest thoughts and desires. Like most kids, I coveted any new toy my brother received, and I got angry when he beat me at Mario Kart.
I also remember having a very real crush on my first best friend. They were all just feelings, right? What could be wrong with them?
We were 10 years old, and I knew that I felt differently about my friend than she did about me. I didn’t mind too much, though. I was content spending time with her and keeping my thoughts to myself. I had occasional fears about what I was feeling, but I pushed them aside. Barely a preteen, I’d already adopted the prevailing view that my feelings defined who I was, so they must be okay. Eventually I would fully embrace the LGBTQ lifestyle.
The biggest argument that the world poses for why homosexuality cannot be wrong—and the one that comforted my heart for so long—is that these feelings are real and not chosen. Most people in the LGBTQ community can look back on their lives and honestly say they’ve felt attraction for people of the same gender as long as they can remember. If their feelings are sincere and have been present their entire life, shouldn’t they be valued rather than condemned?
As Christians, we are often afraid to deal with this topic because we don’t want to sound harsh and uncompassionate. Yet God’s Word is sufficient for all things (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:3). The same old answers that satisfied people’s deepest longings 2,000 years ago still apply today. God’s Word provides the fundamental historical fact that puts our feelings in perspective: the fall of Adam and Eve. It is the key to finding wholeness and eternal joy.
By the time I turned 15, I had accepted my feelings as my “true self” and came out publicly as a lesbian. For years, I sported short hair, wore men’s clothing, lived in openly gay relationships, and even dabbled in drugs. My life was all about my wants and desires.
Like so many others in our day, I believed myself to be a pretty good person, and I trusted my internal compass. I worked full-time, cared about my friends and family, and paid my bills. Because I, a “good” person, had same-sex feelings, they must be good and right too.
Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” promotes this view in a way that’s especially blatant: “I’m beautiful in my way ’cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.” This belief is everywhere.
Before God saved me, I didn’t understand the basic truth of our inherent sinfulness. Although I professed faith, I never actually read my Bible. If I had, I would have known that we’re born on the wrong path and that path leads to destruction. We need to find the “narrow way” that leads to life, as Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:14. We must be born again.
I didn’t understand that our feelings aren’t supposed to be our guides; instead they show us that we’re in need of a new heart and forgiveness. Our feelings have been innately anti-God since Adam’s fall. That includes desires of any kind—polygamy, adultery, fornication, homosexuality—which violate the Creator’s original good design for one man and one woman joined in holy marriage (Genesis 2:24; Romans 1:24–27).
The belief that we’re all mostly good people isn’t new. It’s actually an old heresy, called Pelagianism, which denies that Adam’s original sin tainted humanity’s basic nature, including our feelings and desires. But nobody ever explained this to me.
Christians who know God’s Word should love people too much to keep silent on this issue. If the Bible is true, we must speak up because God commands us to, and because people need to hear the truth about the effects of the fall and the gospel’s promise to restore what’s broken.
My eventual change of heart began with a Bible study organized by my coworkers. My aunt was in the group and encouraged me to go. So I went, though I was ready to bolt at the first mention of “lifestyle.” Instead, I began to hear about the bigness of our Creator. Seeing him in his fullness helped me to recognize my smallness and question my identity. I realized that I couldn’t pick and choose the parts of the Bible that suited me and say I was following Jesus Christ.
When God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, they were holy and happy; and all was right with the world. That drastically changed when Satan tempted Eve and the pair decided to sin against their Maker. When they did this, sin and death spread into the whole world, affecting all of creation, including me (Romans 5:12, 8:22).
I can relate to Adam and Eve hiding in the garden of Eden. We, too, have turned from God in our shame and rebellion. This sinful nature, which everyone has inherited, is inescapable and powerful. Most important to understand, it’s not God’s doing; it’s man’s. From the womb, each of us is inclined toward sin and away from righteousness (Psalm 51:5).
Our desires take many different forms, but we’re all broken. We’ve lost our identity in our Creator, Jesus Christ.
This is why children don’t have to learn how to lie or how to be selfish; those things come naturally. This brokenness is the effect of our sin nature, and every single one of us can relate to it if we’re honest. Our desires take many different forms, but we’re all broken. We’ve lost our identity in our Creator, Jesus Christ.
People who experience same-sex attraction need to understand the same truths as everyone else. The Creator who made all things has the right to set the rules. The fall explains why we have such strong feelings that violate these rules.
An earnest and compassionate young woman asked me recently, “Why can’t you just leave people alone to love who they want to love?” I get that question a lot and think about it often.
In many ways, it’s almost as if we’ve all joined Adam and Eve back in the garden, immediately after the fall. Men and women want to be like God, making their own choices for right and wrong. But we fail and then desperately try to cover ourselves with fig leaves, creating a fragile web of excuses and smoke screens that can’t really cover anything.
Beyond that, we see men and women continue to fall back on Adam’s old excuse, blaming God for their sin. We are frequently told, “If God wanted me different, he would have made me different.” He did make Adam and Eve different—their bodies and feelings were pure. Then we sinned, and here we are, fallen and in need of healing and mercy.
When Adam blamed God for his sin, he hoped to excuse and justify himself: “The woman whom you gave to me, she gave me the fruit and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). It’s the same old story all over again. We search high and low to blame anyone but ourselves, even blaming God if it suits us. But God is not responsible for Adam’s choice to sin any more than God is responsible for your sin or mine. We enjoy our natural bent for sin (Romans 1:32), but he graciously extends mercy to us so that we can turn from it and cling to Christ instead.
God has given us a remedy for our misdirected affections. When we believe and trust in Jesus as Lord, we are given a new heart that can finally love God and acknowledge that what he says is truly good. Jesus removes our heart of stone and replaces it with one that is careful to obey him out of love (Ezekiel 36:26). The Bible has to be our guide as we navigate hard questions, and it is more than able to tackle any of them.
If we understand what God says about our flesh and the seriousness of sin, for example, we’ll not be surprised that we still struggle to do what’s right even after we’re born again. I’ve heard many atheists, and even professing Christians, claim that if I or anyone else still battles with same-sex attraction, then we’ve not been saved and changed by God. The Bible debunks that argument plainly.
The Apostle Paul exhorts Christians to continue to wage war against our sinful desires because our sinful nature doesn’t lie down and die when we’re saved. Instead, our flesh, which Paul calls the old self, continually pulls us toward sin.
God has given us his Spirit and abundant grace to live victorious lives. This is a great hope and encouragement to all Christians, and it comes not from our feelings but from the Word of God, the Bible. The Lord promises in every case to provide a way of escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), and he will complete the work he began in us (Philippians 1:6). But the Bible warns us to prepare for an ongoing battle, and not expect an effortless rescue.
It’s easy to see how the world without the Scriptures could get so much wrong. If we rely on our feelings to guide us, our answers will look much different than if we start with the Bible. God has given us the answer in his Word, and as a former member of the LGBTQ community, I can assure you it is the most loving and compassionate answer we could possibly hope to share.