We are constantly asked what approach is best for reaching people who have same sex attractions. Galatians 5 is clear about how powerful the fruit of the Spirit is…
The quote below is from the Sojourners website. We guarantee this approach will work with the LGBT community, and with any Christian who has SSA:
“It’s easy to get caught up in theorizing about God, but within our everyday lives reality is what matters most to the people around us. Theorizing only becomes important once it becomes relevant and practical and applicable to our lives.
When I’m sick, and you bring me a meal, I don’t care whether you’re a Calvinist or Arminian.
When I’m poor, and you give me some food and money, I don’t care if you’re pre-millennial or post-millennial.
When I’m in the hospital, and you send me a get-well basket, I don’t care what your church denomination is.
When you visit my grandparents in the nursing home, I don’t care what style of worship music you listen to.
When you’re kind enough to shovel my parent’s driveway, I don’t care what translation of the Bible you read.
When you give my friend a lift when their car breaks down, I don’t care if you’re Baptist or Catholic.
When you help my grandmother carry a heavy load of groceries, I don’t care what you believe about evolution.
When you protect my kids from getting hit by a car when they’re running across the street, I don’t care who your favorite theologian is.
When you’re celebrating my birthday with me, I don’t care about your views related to baptism.
When you grieve alongside me during the death of a family member, I don’t care if you tithe or not.
When you love me in deep and meaningful and authentic ways — nothing else really matters.”
Below are stories from some of our LifeGuard Ministries crew about various things the church has done or can do to minister to those with SSA. Some of these stories are really heartwarming, and other suggestions are simply practical. After watching this it strikes me that it’s likely more a question of “do we really want to do anything?” vs “what should we do?”. Enjoy:
At LifeGuard Ministries we believe strongly that because of God’s grace, all of us, including those with SSA (same-sex attraction), can overcome our spiritual bondage through trusting our new identity in Christ Jesus. We tend to focus on His grace, but what about the Law? Didn’t Christ come to fulfill the Law? How does that work, and look to us today?
Recently I read a marvelous passage in Tullian Tchividjian’s latest book, One Way Love. While discussing some of the challenges he has faced in his life he gave his thoughts on the Law:
“Looking back, the root of Kim and my marriage problems those first few years wasn’t that I was too focused on the Law— the problem was that I wasn’t focused on it enough! J. Gresham Machen counterintuitively notes that “a low view of law always produces legalism; a high view of law makes a person a seeker after grace.” The reason this seems so counterintuitive is because most people think that those who talk a lot about grace have a low view of God’s Law (hence, the regular charge of antinomianism, that is, of preaching in such a way as to imply that the Law is bad and/ or useless). Others think that those with a high view of the Law are the legalists. But Machen makes the very compelling point that it’s a low view of the Law that produces legalism, because a low view of the Law causes us to conclude that we can do it— the bar is low enough for us to jump over. A low view of the Law makes us think that the standards are attainable, the goals are reachable, the demands are doable. The Law gets softened into “helpful tips for practical living” instead of God’s unwavering demand for absolute perfection. It’s this low view of the Law that caused Immanuel Kant— and Pelagius before him— to conclude that “ought implies can.” That is, to say, “that I ought to do something is to imply logically that I am able to do it.”
A high view of the Law, however, demolishes all notions that we can do it— it exterminates all attempts at self-sufficient moral endeavor. We’ll always maintain a posture of suspicion regarding the radicality of unconditional grace as long as we think we have the capacity to pull it off. Only an inflexible picture of what God demands is able to penetrate the depth of our need and convince us that we never outgrow our need for grace— that grace never gets overplayed.
Contrary to what some Christians today would have you believe, the biggest problem facing the church today is not “cheap grace” but “cheap Law”— the idea that God accepts anything less than the perfect righteousness of Jesus. My friend John Dink explains cheap Law this way:
“Cheap law weakens God’s demand for perfection, and in doing so, breathes life into … [our] quest for a righteousness of [our] own making.… It creates people of great zeal, but they lack knowledge concerning the question “What Would Jesus Do?” Here is the costly answer: Jesus would do it all perfectly. And that’s game over for you. The Father is not grooming you to be a replacement for his Beloved Son. He is announcing that there is blessing for those who take shelter in his Beloved Son. Cheap law tells us that we’ve fallen, but there’s good news, you can get back up again.… Therein lies the great heresy of cheap law: it is a false gospel. It cheapens— no— it nullifies grace.”
Only when we understand that God’s Law is absolutely inflexible will we see that God’s grace is absolutely indispensable. A high view of the Law involves the devastating reminder that God’s acceptance of us is ultimately contingent on Christ’s perfection, not our progress; Christ’s imputation, not our improvement. Such inscrutable demands push us toward the infallible deliverance we find in the Gospel. In other words, a high view of the Law produces a high view of grace. A low view of the Law produces a low view of grace.”
Tchividjian, Tullian (2013-10-01). One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (Kindle Locations 1000-1015). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
Webster’s defines dysfunction as “impaired or abnormal functioning”. I don’t see dysfunctionality in Webster’s as a noun, just dysfunctional as an adjective describing something that has dysfunction. Sin makes us all dysfunctional.
How do we go about dealing with our dysfunction? Do we feel bad about it, and try harder, hoping and praying that we’ll behave in a manner that is eventually pleasing to God? That’ll we’ll eventually act holy enough to be OK with God and the church? That we’ll eventually do enough volunteer work, or service to others, so that we’ll be good enough?
At LifeGuard Ministries we walk alongside men and women every day who are dealing with SSA. We have dear relatives and friends who come to us for advice on how to help their family member or friend who has SSA. In every single person I have talked with there is frustration and/or a sense of failure over the inevitable behavioral shortcomings. Does this mean we’re failing as a ministry?
2 Cor 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Tullian Tchividjian writes in One Way Love, “The one-way love of God meets us in our failures. Our failures make His one-way love that much more glorious. What qualifies us for service is God’s devotion to us — not our devotion to Him. This is as plainly as I can say it: the value of our lives rests on God’s infinite, incomprehensible, unconditional love for us — not our love for Him. Such relief! We can finally exhale!
…In Christ, the ultimate demand has been met, the deepest judgment has been satisfied. Jesus took on himself all the judgment we deserve from God, so we can be free from the paralyzing fear of judgment. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. We no longer need to live under the burden of trying to appease the judgment we feel, full stop. In fact, the judgment we feel is just that: a feeling — no longer a reality. We may judge others, and they may judge us; we may judge ourselves, but God does not. His love is one-way, and it is inexhaustible.”
Only trusting in and resting in His grace can bring us true peace, and give us the ability to freely act out of a love-response to Him, not a white-knuckle I’ll-do-better-I-really-mean-it-this-time approach. The behaviours may look the same on the outside, but the inner peace of letting His spirit lead us and guide us to do things for others makes all the difference. This is the cure for dysfunctional people like you and me, whether we have SSA or not. This is the hope that we love to encourage one another with!
We’ll be sharing more from another great book we read recently called Gracewalk, by Steve McVey, but in the meantime our friend Tony Moore shared this interview which we trust will be a blessing. Here’s an intro, with the link to the full interview below:
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian is the grandson of the iconic American evangelist, Billy Graham. But he’s also much more than that. Tchividjian is senior pastor of Ft. Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church–formerly the congregation of the late D. James Kennedy–as well as a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, a contributing editor for Leadership Journal, and the author of several bestselling books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
In his most recent book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World, Tchividjian takes Christians to task for their legalistic focus on performance. But he also casts a vision for a more grace-filled future:
It’s possible that we may need to examine what our version of love looks like. Love is not making people perform a checklist of “Christian” behaviors. It requires that we first receive grace on an ongoing basis ourselves for all the junk in our lives. Out of that grace we’ve received we can share God’s love and mercy with others in a non-judgmental way, recognizing that we are called to humbly serve others.
There’s a great line in the song Stairway to Heaven – “There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure, ’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.” For far too long gays and lesbians have heard the church talk about love, but they understandably hesitate because indeed our words sometimes have two meanings.
Andrew Marin said it well, “Love is a walk, a hug, a dinner, an ear, a fun trip – all free of the condemning and ostracizing that the LGBT person “knows” is coming from Christians. This type of love says that no matter who you are, no matter what you do or no matter what you say, I have your back, and I refuse to give up – whether or not there’s “change” – because my Father will never give up on me.”
LifeGuard Ministries takes a clear stance advocating that the love of Christ be practiced towards all impacted by homosexuality, even if or especially if it’s not always easy. We support the biblical position that acting out on same sex attractions is not in one’s best interest, nor does God want us to do so – but there is always grace available to each of us, no matter what sin we commit. We want to walk alongside everyone who has SSA, and together seek to let God transform all of us by His grace and mercy. We all need His help, together.
Seth Godin wrote in his blog that “To really stand for something, you must make difficult decisions, mostly about what you don’t do. We don’t ship products like that, we don’t stand for employees like that (“you’re fired”), we don’t fix problems like that.
It’s so hard to stand up, to not compromise, to give up an account or lose a vote or not tell a journalist what they want to hear.
But those are the only moments where standing for something actually counts, the only times that people will actually come to believe that you in fact actually stand for something.” Amen.
The stories God is writing into and about all of our lives is far bigger than we could imagine. “God’s got this” is perhaps the theme of these 3 testimonies, even though at the time it did not look like that at all! Enjoy:
Our friend Julie Rodgers just put up a blog post entitled “If I Don’t Have the Gift”. It’s another honest, beautiful post about what her life is like as a single gal with SSA. Just go read the whole thing here, but if you’d don’t have the time then take a look at her concluding 2 paragraphs quoted below. Bottom line – in the church we ALL have a role to play in the lives of single and married people with SSA. Please ask God to help you be aware of realities in their lives, and be ready to be a real friend whenever needed.
“Since I don’t have superhero strength that makes this easy for me, what do I do when I experience all those natural desires that are sometimes sexual, sometimes romantic, sometimes warm-fuzzy-gay-gushy butterflies? I don’t cut them off; I don’t detach; I don’t go into relational robot mode where I squeeze my heart, body and emotions into an intellectual box void of feeling. I pray. I chat it out with my community more than they care to hear. I pray more. I chat it out more. I think about what it would look like to truly love that person I desire, and I allow the Scriptures to inform and transform my desire into a love that I believe honors God. Since I really believe He knew what He was doing when He laid down how we would thrive, I trust that the most loving thing I can do for others is to strive to love them in the manner God’s deemed good. If I were to act on the desires (no matter how strong they might be), I feel I’d be withholding true love from them by re-writing the definitions of love to make room for my feelings in that moment (or season). If I were to act on those desires, it would be an inauthentic love because I would be stepping outside of my convictions, cutting of an integral part of myself and my beliefs, and entering into something that would be outside of what God intends for that relationship. Because I don’t want to cut off of shut down (which is what I’d be doing if I cut off my convictions or silenced the Spirit’s voice), I choose to sit in the tension of desire that can’t be consummated and wait to be surprised by how God shows up. And He does. Every time. And I believe love is expressed in and through that, even if it’s not the sexy version of love we see in Love Actually.
All of that is a slow, messy process that plays out in an environment of grace. Those of us living into it need a solid community of Christians to walk with us through the complexities. We need a place to talk about gay desires and gay love and confusion about how to express it. If we’re going to be relationally connected and in touch with the whole of who we are, then we can’t shut it down or turn it off; it’ll spew out sideways or cause us to combust. I know it’s kind of awkward and that others would prefer we just not have those desires (most of us would prefer that too), but we do, and there’s healing in sharing it with others. If gay Christians are going to live out our convictions with honesty and integrity, we need you to be a part of that with us. What’s crazy is that God sanctifies us in the process and it’s the most surprisingly beautiful thing ever, so if you share in the difficulties then you’ll also get to share in the seasons when we’re surprised by grace.”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29
Do we also have to feel sufficiently guilty? Do we have to meet minimum performance standards? Which theological points must we accept? Are we obligated to some continual cycle of confession, repentance, and atonement? Or is grace sufficient? Faith without works is dead, but not because our works of faith elevate us to some higher level of righteous. We have His righteousness because we believe in Him and trust Him with our whole lives. Our works are a response to that trust.
Lord, You alone are enough.