If you are like me, you see it all over your newsfeed: today is National Coming Out day. It is a day when people are encouraged to “come out” as gay. I’ve read through posts by both secular LGBTQ friend, gay Christians, and celibate gay Christian friends. All of them proclaiming “freedom” by “coming out” and accepting their identity as gay.
A False Dichotomy
As I’ve read through these posts, I continually see people say things such as, “coming out has helped me no longer live under a cloud of secrecy and shame.”
At the heart of these statements is a false dichotomy which I repeatedly see perpetuated by both the LGBTQ community and their straight allies. It is a dichotomy that gives same sex attracted people only two choices.
- Come out as gay and celebrate that part of your life and identity.
- Live in secrecy, shame, and guilt.
One choice is to be authentic; the other is to live a lie. Once choice is to value yourself; the other is to hate yourself. One choice is to accept grace from God; the other choice is to feel condemnation. One choice is freedom, they say. The other is slavery.
But are those really the only two options? Freedom in coming out as gay and celebrating it; or slavery, shame, and secrecy? Absolutely not. As Christians we are all called to live authentic lives, in which we are open and real with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are also called to flee sin and put sinful desires to death. How should proper theology of sin, desire, and repentance play out in the life of a Christian who is same sex attracted?
1) We are temped when we are lured by the evil desires of our hearts (James 1:14). We need to be honest: Our same-sex desires are our hearts desiring evil. And those are desires which need to be put to death over the course of our lifetimes. Sanctification is never complete on this side of the cross. But we should spend our lifetime moving away from those desires; not embracing them. Letting the Lord untwist what our hearts have twisted. Not proclaiming pride in it as the world does.
2) Acknowledging the brokenness of our desires is not harmful as some would say. It means that we are human. It shows our place in the world: a sinner in need of our Savior. Acknowledging that our desires are disordered leads us to a deeper, daily dependence on the Lord.
3) Being authentic doesn’t necessitate “coming out as Gay.” I live a very authentic life. I share my story, struggles, and desires with my wife, my friends, my church, and audiences of thousands. I am real about my struggles. I don’t need a gay identity or gay pride to be open, real, and authentic.
4) Hating sin doesn’t mean hating yourself. We are all sinners in need of the same Savior. Romans 12:19 states, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Hating our sin and the desire for it doesn’t negate the grace we can experience; it enhances it. Knowing the depths of our depravity only helps us grasp the depth of His grace.
5) Taking pride in our sin—or desire for it– is the opposite of repentance. Proverbs 8:13 states, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” Hating our sin leads us to grace; taking pride in our sin leads us to destruction. It hardens our hearts from the work that Christ desires to do in us and through us.
For those of you who are same-sex attracted: God’s grace is sufficient! He loves you more than you can know. Some days are hard and others even harder. Rest in his grace. You don’t have to hide. You don’t have to live in secrecy, shame, or darkness. You can be honest and authentic while experiencing deeper grace each day. You are more than your sexuality. It is not your identity or who you are. It is neither something to be proud of; nor should be a source of shame. You are a child that God loves more than you could know. 2 Peter 3:13 says, But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Hold fast to those promises! Let yourself be loved for who you are; while never accepting to be less than God created you to be.
For the rest of you Christians: Create space in your life for same-sex attracted people to be loved, valued, and cherished. Create space in your church for them to be heard. Come alongside them to bear their burdens. Their pain and the crosses they are bearing are real. The love that you have for them should be too. And when the people around you are blind to sin, your response is humility and sorrow, knowing that you are just as undeserving of God’s glorious grace as they are.