The Lord birthed Hope for Wholeness in my heart many years ago when I surrendered my life to Him. I remember meeting Christian musician, Phil Driscoll, as I walked away from the stage after that Sunday service in Tampa, Florida. I was crying as he shook my hand and asked me what was going on. I could not bring myself to tell him about my past life. The shame was too great.
That was in 1991, twenty-one years ago this month. Our culture has drastically changed since then. That was before the internet, and before many celebrities had come out. Today, homosexuality has become a dominant cultural issue pitting the world’s view against the church’s view. The church on many fronts has compromised Biblical integrity. Some allow gay couples to join their membership and others even hold same-sex marriage ceremonies.
What is referred to as gay theology was not well known in the 1990’s but is now more intertwined with cultural beliefs as young people find their way to websites for answers. Gay theology itself has several viewpoints. One such viewpoint teaches that the Bible is God’s Word but believes that the text has been misrepresented through translation or interpretation. They believe that scripture, if looked at through their “correct” lenses, does not show homosexuality to be sinful at all. They also believe that some passages that Christians have traditionally used as a basis for biblical sexuality do not even refer to homosexuality. Another viewpoint simply dismisses the parts of the Bible that they do not particularly care for.
I heard one gay leader say, “The Bible is a big book. Are we going to focus on just a few verses when it comes to our lives?”
They believe that while there may be historical references to homosexuality, they are no longer practical or applicable for our enlightened generation. They also look at the Bible authors who wrote against homosexuality as having a personal bias completely ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.
From these perspectives, there has risen what is called by some gay bloggers and writers as “Side A” and “Side B.” Side A believes that the Bible is God’s Word, but that it has been improperly translated, and that it is okay to be fully gay and a Christian. Side B accepts a traditional interpretation of scripture. They believe that they are to remain celibate, abstaining from homosexual practices. Both groups identify as gay and believe it is dishonest to call themselves anything else.
You can see how it is sometimes difficult to work with young people that are being torn by our culture. They are told that they were born gay and that they should embrace homosexuality as their identity since it is immutable. Yet, years of work and research have yielded no scientific evidence to substantiate that people are born gay. Still, culture tells them that to seek change is ludicrous or delusional and that organizations like ours only give false hope.
If a person is not born gay, then does that mean that he or she chose to be gay? Frankly, that is not logical. From a Biblical perspective, we all sin by choice. But, how many of us choose what our particular battle with sin will be? Instead, there are a number of factors that influence these choices. While our sin is still sin, it is much more complicated than to simply say we chose it. So these two arguments are very divisive. Where does this leave the person who wants to change?
After reading all of this, you may feel like your head is spinning. Put yourself in the shoes of a young person who is struggling with same-sex attractions and feelings:
You have just told your parents, and now they are screaming at you. You fear you may soon be on the street with nowhere to go. You go to your home church, and the pastor speaks out against homosexuality but offers no remedy. In your youth group you endure teasing, name-calling, and sometimes bullying because of your mannerisms or just because you’re not like everyone else. You are stung by the gay jokes that you overhear among your friends. Online you find websites, chat rooms, and organizations that say you can honor God as a gay-identified person; you can be a gay Christian. Maybe you get enough nerve to tell one of your few friends at school, and you hear, “I think that’s cool.”
You tell a friend that your parents want to take you to Hope for Wholeness, and you hear, “You don’t need a counselor. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Yet your heart is pulling you toward God and calling you away from homosexuality. Everything else, including your mind and body, is pushing you towards being gay.
This happens over and over, week after week. People pulled by this tension between what our society preaches and what the Bible has to say.
Our appointments together are greatly affected by where these people are on this spectrum. They bring not only the struggle with their sexuality but also the struggle to overcome what their friends – and others – tell them about us. Typically, by the age of 17, teens have been swept up into this way of thinking and it is incredibly difficult to reach them.
Besides that, I add my own struggle with the feeling that I have to fight for the truth and for the young person’s life. I struggle with listening, especially when I think the person is wrong. I have to realize that some fights are not won by debating; sometimes we win by what we don’t say. I am learning to patiently trust the Holy Spirit, but honestly, it is very tough. I am so concerned for parents and for the young people caught up in this cultural war on sexuality. Fighting against a fantasy that their own minds have created and what the culture has painted for them is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit working in their hearts.
There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. There are a number of young people who, despite their temptations and the culture, are fighting through it all. Their journey toward holiness, walking in their created gender as God intended, can be very difficult for them. In the end though, it can be exciting. When they find godly men and women to journey alongside them, it is very rewarding.
One such young person recently contacted us for help. After finding out that his parents would have to consent, this 17-year-old told his parents everything that he was going through and that he had done research to find help for himself. He insisted that they take the situation seriously and that they bring him to our office. Initially, the father was upset at what he saw as a crisis. My response to this father was to say that he was incredibly fortunate. He had avoided the crisis of having a brainwashed son who didn’t think he needed help. His son’s mind was clearly focused on following God’s plan for his life.
Despite our detractors and my own struggles in ministry, the Holy Spirit is empowering Hope for Wholeness to see lives changed. Despite the accusations, we are offering hope and realistic expectations to help individuals turn their lives around. They learn that God doesn’t hate them but loves them fully, and that through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection they too can have life and have it abundantly.
For all of us who are on this spiritual walk with the Lord, the reality is that often the only thing holding us back is us. We cannot blame our situation on anyone. While someone else may have harmed us in different ways, the only thing that is keeping me stuck there is me. I have the power to overcome.
Through the Cross, through God’s Word, through His church, through godly men and women, and yes—through the work of Hope for Wholeness, its leaders, and the curriculum that we offer—we are seeing lives changed.
Don’t believe the lie that there is no hope for your life. The truth is that YOU DO HAVE HOPE. You have hope in Jesus, your Creator and the Author and Finisher of this race called life. You don’t need Hope for Wholeness to be set free, but we are here to help you.
If you are a family member in pain, we would love to help you and pray with you. We would love to see you move forward with your life, and see you stay connected to your loved one despite the situation.
If you are a pastor, we have resources and encouragement for you and are available to speak at your church.
Regardless of where you are or who you are, we are here to serve you. You do not have to live “Side A” or “Side B”, but instead you can be free to experience God’s very best for your life—His plan.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-12