Last post I wrote about my frustration with affirming Christians who want to see a change in my beliefs on same-sex relationships. But what about the other end of the spectrum? What about certain conservative Christians who hold the position that my orientation needs to change, not my theology?
Many conservative Christians don’t believe I’ve ever really tried to change. Those with this position assert that my goal must be to become heterosexual, that God wants nothing less than that for me — and from me. Thus, if I haven’t received this orientation change yet, then my faith must not be strong enough, or I haven’t ever truly wanted this change.
Many in the Church tell me that to acknowledge my sexuality is to identify with sin — that the language I use determines who I am, not my actions. For these particular Christians it isn’t enough that I have chosen to remain single and chaste, even as the culture and much of the Church tell me that marriage and sex are the most important things life has to offer.
Not marrying a man, not having sex, and even actively speaking out against people who want to change the orthodox Christian stance that marriage is between one man and one woman doesn’t seem to be enough. This position makes impossible demands that God seems unwilling to grant, despite my many times of pleading for Him to make me straight or change something else about the way I am.
It would appear that either God can’t change me (which I firmly believe to be false), or that He has chosen not to change me, even after devoting myself to seeking that change through fasting, prayer, and all sorts of other spiritual disciplines.
As such, the most likely explanation is that — as the Pharisees did with the people of their time — conservative Christians holding this position of change are placing demands on me that God has not.
And therein lies the real problem: this position of change gets between God and His children. It tells me that to be acceptable to God, I first need to have heterosexual attractions. Obedience in word and deed instead shifts to mandating that my flesh cease desiring sin — a demand we don’t seem to make on anyone else.
Do we do our best to crucify our flesh with Christ and yield any and all desires over to Him? Yes. But these Christians tell me that until this desire changes, no other aspect of my faith matters; no other aspect of who I am matters.
Again, we see some irony: the very position that claims I am identifying with my sin by admitting I am same-sex attracted insists that the entirety of my salvation and faith rest upon removing my same-sex attraction. This false ultimatum makes my sexuality my de facto identity until my mission to become straight is complete.
In these particular conservative Christians’ eyes, my sexuality is my only identity.
It’s the same lie Satan throws at us time and again: that we must become something more holy, more perfect, and less sinful before we can go to God. Satan seeks to hinder us via shame and disqualification from stepping forward in faith to do that which the Lord has called us. This position encourages Christians to remain forever drinking milk when we should be old and mature enough for solid foods (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Will some people experience change in their sexual orientation? I believe they will. But I don’t think that is the majority experience. It’s dangerous to claim orientation change is necessary for salvation, or to move forward in Christian ministry or vocation.
Our enemy is real; the Christian fight is real. And while we have assurance that in Christ we win the war, it feels as if we are losing the battle in the American Church.
We can’t afford to have anyone sitting on the sidelines of this battle of faith — which is why I’m frustrated that this position in the Church seeks to do just that.
Have you experienced conservative Christians expecting or demanding a change in your sexual orientation? How have you overcome this angst, or do you still wrestle with frustration/anger with the Church?