Thank you for sharing this news with me. I really am honored you would entrust me with something so personal. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I love you and am for you. That was true before you shared this with me and that will continue to be so long after this conversation. I would love to grab lunch or coffee soon to hear how you are doing and how you are processing everything in your life right now. Sometimes life throws a lot at you and, if you’re like me, you need some other people to bear the weight of it all with you. Until we are able to meet, I wanted to share my heart with you.
I would imagine you are experiencing a lot of different responses right now—and I’m sure just as many emotions yourself. In watching the experience of others who have come out to their family and friends, I would have to imagine you are feeling great affirmation by some. There is sense of freedom that comes with making something of this magnitude known and being received so warmly when you do. However, if I had to guess, there are some who have not responded this way. Maybe some have been hurtful, even hateful. I shudder at even the thought of this, but I know it is so real. Others may have distanced themselves and their silence speaks volumes. Far too often, Christians fall in these last two groups. I hope that hasn’t been the case for you. I don’t want it to be of me and I certainly know that it is not true of God.
What defines you now doesn’t always have to define you.
I do feel compelled to share one of my fears with you. I fear that you will be pressed into the mold of our culture that tries to define your identity by your sexuality. The loudest voices in our culture right now tell you to embrace your sexuality and not to let anyone say otherwise. I know many have been fearful of acknowledging how they are feeling in this area and it has led to incredible hurt, even some who take their life. There is danger in keeping silent, but I also want you to know that there is great danger in identifying yourself by your sexual desires, even when those desires may have even developed unwanted on your part. Friend, please hear my heart: What defines you now doesn’t always have to define you. The desires that control you now don’t have to be the last word on who you are. There is a greater hope and security than finding our identity in your sexuality. That hope and security is found in Jesus.
You are not a freak. You are not disgusting. You are loved—loved more than you imagined and more than you deserve. You are also broken. We all live in a broken world and we ourselves live with distorted hearts and desires. My prayer is that you see Jesus for who He is and what He has done for you. And in response to this, that you would desire to surrender your life completely to Him regardless of the cost. The Bible’s message about homosexuality is clear: It is sin. Yet, the Bible’s message doesn’t stop there: The gospel is good news for everyone—whether homosexual or heterosexual. We are all broken and have gone our own way. God graciously calls us to turn away from our sin and come to him in faith. When we humbly come to Jesus we begin to experience God’s restoring and transforming power in us.
Friend, more than anything, I want you to see Jesus “full of grace and truth.” Grace is when God lavishes on us what we do not deserve. That’s exactly what God did in sending Jesus to take on human flesh. He lived in perfect obedience to the Father on our behalf. He died in our place and for our sins. He rose from the dead three days later and promises new life now and forever for those who trust in Him. This message of grace though reveals the truth about us. Another pastor said it best, “I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.” I remember when I first heard this message. I had to face up to my sin. I had been running from God and doing things my own way. I was humbled by God’s love—that Jesus would die for me and welcome me into his family. I want you to know that God is not distant nor is He disinterested. He stands ready to draw near and embrace you. Jesus’ message was clear: anyone who wants to follow him must turn away from their sin and trust in Him. The same message Jesus preached is the same message I heard when I was 14 years old, and it is the same message I’m sharing with you. Jesus is full of grace and truth and he has done everything necessary that you might come to know and be known by him.
I’ve been following Jesus for just over 15 years now and I am still learning what it means to die to myself—surrendering every area of my life. However, the more I die to myself the more satisfaction I find in living for Jesus. I want you to know that satisfaction too. It won’t come in pursuing your desires or embracing your sexuality according to your own wisdom or the wisdom of this world. It will only come when you surrender and find Jesus to be sufficient for the hard but glorious path of following Him.
I know this letter is getting long, but I would say one last thing. Please don’t go this road alone. Will you let me and our church walk with you? I’ve never seen anyone resist temptation and turn from sin on their own. God seems to do his work best in us when we are in community with others. The church is full of broken people, some of whom have walked in sexual sin, pride, drug abuse and anger—to name just a few a few. We are broken people made new through faith in Jesus Christ. Come as you are and let God make you into who He desires you to be. Like I said earlier, I really would love to get together soon to talk about all this in person. Know that I love you, I’m here for you, and I’m praying for you.
Image credit: Aaron Burden / Unsplash
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