Sexuality: It’s About the Gospel

Recently I was asked to write a blog for a Christian magazine on the topic of sexuality.   The article was published in “The World Together” the blog for the Mennonite Weekly Review.   (www.mennoweekly.org/blog/ )  I believe God gave me this word for the Church.

It’s About the Gospel

For me the issue of human sexuality is about the Gospel.
Do I believe that there is power in the Gospel to transform my life so that I am not defined or controlled by my desires—be they ordered or disordered desires, be they heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual desires?  When Jesus answered the tempter in the wilderness (in Matthew 4:4), he essentially said to him, “I will not allow even my legitimate desire for food to define and control me, rather I will be shaped by the will and word and worship of God.” Do I likewise believe that I will receive supernatural power to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit and not my compelling desires?

Even casual observation teaches us the truth of Christ’s words: “The flesh is weak…therefore watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41.)” In spite of healthy childhood relationships, theological training and supportive friends, the flesh is still weak. We all need the support and encouragement of the community of faith so that we do not “miss the grace of God” available to live a life pleasing to our Lord.

Rather than trying to discern “Who sinned? This man or his parents (John 9:2)?”—that he should be so attracted to pornography, or that she should have an apparently innate sexual attraction to the same sex—we will focus on God’s power to bring a world-changing faith out of a disabling struggle.

Rather than pressuring church or society into redefining marriage for persons in same sex relationships, we will accept the word and will of God that a sexual relationship is to be solely between a man and a woman in a marriage ordained by God. We will accept this as a faith reality regardless of the political, social and religious pressure against such a position. We will believe that God is able to make all grace abound to those who are in such a relationship so that they can maintain it for a lifetime. We will trust that God can likewise provide an abundant life (not a second rate or second class life) to those who never marry, whatever their reasons.

Like the Apostle Paul, I will glory in the Gospel. I will glory in what Jesus is able to do.

A young woman whom I know defined herself as a lesbian. From childhood she was attracted to persons of the same gender.  As a young adult she became a lesbian activist, boldly asserting to both church and society the needs and rights of persons with same gender attraction. But in the course of time, she began to experience an internal emptiness in spite of a satisfying relationship with another woman. As a result of her struggle, she decided to “try the God thing.” Her search ended in the office of the pastor of an evangelical/fundamentalist church where she “accepted Jesus as Lord of her life.” At that time, the pastor knew nothing of her same gender attractions; neither was she aware that there was anything that needed to change in her personal relationships.  But as she began to follow Jesus in her daily life, she came to a deep dissatisfaction with her lifestyle. She discussed this with her partner, assuring her that there was no animosity between them, but that she needed to end the relationship as part of her faith journey.  That journey continued—and today she no longer defines herself as a lesbian, but as a child of God who is growing in her love for Jesus and his word.

I am always amazed when Jesus changes people in such a manner. But He did and He does.

The change comes through personal commitment to the biblically revealed will of the Lord, through prayer and love from the community of faith, and through the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit of God.

Some time ago I was speaking with a highly educated and very successful church man whose sexual desires had led him into trouble with the law. As we shared together, God graced our interaction with a strong sense of His presence. This led to a time of sweet fellowship between this liberal theologian and myself.  At one point he made a remarkable, insightful and unforgettable statement: “I have come to see that our liberal theology has not adequately dealt with the problem of sin in the human heart. We have said, ‘A little education and a little therapy can deal with this problem.’ But the problem of sin in the human heart is much too big for a little therapy and a little education. The problem is so big that it requires a big Savior.”

And that is what I proclaim: the Gospel of “a big Savior” who is able to give us beauty for ashes, hope in place of despair, and order in the midst of the chaos of our disordered desires and lives.  I don’t know how to bring life out of death—but He does. Praise His name!

The question is not so much, “Must the person in the disordered situation believe?”but rather, “Do we in the church believe in the power of God to transform?” The Gospel is that power (Romans 1:16), and because I believe in that power, I dare to proclaim in every disordered situation in life, that nothing is impossible for God.

I will speak of His greatness, and I will pray for His glory to be manifested. Though I might argue or debate or lament the lack of faith in society or the church, I am first and always called to stir up my own faith in the God of the impossible, and to give testimony to that faith, in season and out of season, to the praise of the glory of His grace in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

E. Daniel Martin

(E. Daniel Martin is near the completion of a practical text for church leaders (and their congregations) called Not Ashamed: Homosexuality and the Power of God.)

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