[The following is an article inspired by one of the keynote speakers at the Revoice Conference I recently attended that I thought was a powerful presentation. Dr. Johanna Finegan, PHD, got involved in a dialogue project on faith and sexuality in 1997 as a gay atheist sophomore at Princeton University. There she met people who introduced her to what a vibrant evangelical faith in Jesus Christ could look like and became a Christian herself in 1998. She lived as a same-sex attracted celibate Christian until meeting her husband Tim in 2004. She & Tim live in southwestern Ohio with their two daughters. I am not attributing all of the following to her but wanted to acknowledge the inspiration of them.]
To most people of the world the gospel of JESUS is foolishness. But to those of us who believe, it is the power of GOD and the wisdom of GOD (read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31). I clearly see the truth of this scripture as I think of my own experience with same-sex attraction (SSA) and of so many others I personally know who are also SSA but who also deeply love JESUS.
The way I’m looking at these words from Paul in this passage directly relate to how the Father is working in my life with reference to my SSA. The LORD does not seem to be in any hurry to “fix” me the way many (the wise) in the church thinks I need or should be “fixed.” He has not “healed” me or “delivered” or “cured” me from my same-sex temptations and attractions.
Many in the church (the wise) see my SSA as a weakness and they believe that any same-sex struggle is bad and does not honor GOD. Many are uncomfortable with the fact that He has not delivered me or healed me and they nudge me to “take care of that quickly” or at least hide it . . . cover it up . . . suggesting I retreat to the closet. Under such pressure there often is a temptation to keep quiet and to “give an illusion that I am healed or well on my way.” This is actually the worst thing I could do.
I sometimes feel sorry for those in my own church family (Restoration Church, Nashville, TN) who so graciously put up with me. As an elder and as the Community Group Pastor I often am called upon to preach, teach, speak, and share, and probably too often for them, I end up bringing SSA into the presentation.
To be honest, I often feel the enemy attacking me during those occasions with shame to the degree that I second-guess myself, my calling, and whether or not I should even speak at all. But HOLY SPIRIT continues to remind me that He has called me to this time and place for this purpose. I must speak up in the hope that others would be encouraged to come out of their closet and receive GOD’s grace and mercy that He desires to extend to all regardless of whatever dark secret pushed them there.
This is a gospel truth: as long as you remain in the closet . . . regardless of what your secrets are . . . you will never have intimacy with the Father. There is nothing more important than that. The reason you exist . . . the reason the Creator breathed life into your nostrils is that you have intimacy with Him (that you truly “know” Him).
Part of the “foolishness” of the gospel of JESUS is that the very thing many (the wise) condemn is the very thing GOD is using in my life to bring me closer to Him . . . the very thing the Father is using to bring me into intimacy with Him. It is the very thing HOLY SPIRIT is using to bring others who are filled with shame and brokenness into a life of joy and peace through JESUS. Here are some of the ways He is doing that:
• It is a witness through my surrender to GOD.
• It is a witness through my personal warfare against the enemy. Others see my willingness and desire to fight . . . to lose hand and eye (Matthew 5:29-30). It is truly a costly thing to follow JESUS and you can count on it taking extreme measures.
• It is a witness through my own weakness, pain, hurt, and suffering to see the presence of GOD in the midst of it all.
• It is a witness through my worship of a present, loving, caring Father.
• It is a witness that I am living in the “already and not yet” . . . . I am living “in” this world but not “of” it . . . I am “washed and waiting” . . . but one day, and, Oh what a day that will be!
The foolishness of the gospel of JESUS is that sometimes it is not GOD’s will to bring healing or deliverance in this world (this is an heretical statement to many). Sometimes our loving Father uses the faith of those considered to be the foolish things of the world . . . the humble . . . the common . . . the weak . . . the lowest . . . the things that are not . . . so that the Good, Gracious, Loving, Father GOD might be the One in whom we boast and who receives the highest honor.