I wholeheartedly believe God, in his timeless love for me, has sovereignly orchestrated all of my days (Psalm 139:16) for his glory and my ultimate good. I believe he has predetermined the boundaries of the seasons of my life—including my new life in Christ, which began at the age of twenty-one. However, I do sometimes wonder if my first two decades might have gone a bit different had I grown up in a household that cherished and studied the Scriptures.
My parents were wonderful caretakers who nurtured my soul in a thousand different ways. But they were not big Bible people. It’s not that they didn’t believe this collection of ancient writings was the inspired revelation of God—my dad, especially, professed unwavering certainty concerning the divine authority of the Bible. We just never read it or talked about it or studied it as a family. Consequently, my perspective of the world and myself—including my experience of same-sex attraction—was molded not by biblical theology but by a mix of secular humanism and erroneous propositions about the nature of man and the character of God.
I grew up in the religious South at a time when the “Being gay is a choice!” and “God hates homosexuals!” ideas (neither of which made a distinction between inclinations and behavior) were quite prevalent. However, the media also introduced me to the idea that some people are born homosexual, and some people are born heterosexual. Those who held this view asserted there was nothing wrong with living a homosexual lifestyle, or, as they put it, just being who you are. I was certain I did not choose to be attracted to other males; so, I opted to embrace the latter perspective. I believed I was born gay, and that there was nothing inherently wrong with my sexual orientation.
I remember opening the Bible a number of times throughout my adolescence. I would always turn straight to the passages that condemn homosexuality, read them, and then quickly shut the book. Though I had an interest in the God of Christianity, I could not wrap my mind around why he would hate me for experiencing feelings that I did not choose. It didn’t seem fair or logical. Why was I automatically damned because I was attracted to the same gender? Why was I labeled an “abomination” for merely being what my DNA told me to be?
The thing is, though, I was grossly misinterpreting what I was reading. Because I did not have any biblical instruction and therefore no accurate theological foundation, I did not understand 1) that all people are born with a sinful nature inclined toward ungodliness (this would have made sense of the fact that I did not choose my homosexual inclinations), or 2) that God does not condemn anyone for simply experiencing same-sex attraction or any other form of temptation—he condemns those who persist in rebellious unbelief and refuse to resist their fallen inclinations toward sin.
Long story extremely short, after a few year-stint of indulging in sexual immorality and being dominated by various addictions, God pried open my dead, dry heart and dropped the saving power of the gospel into it. I was still perplexed about my same-sex attraction—I didn’t understand why I was naturally drawn toward behavior God deemed sinful. But I possessed a real love for Jesus, believed the Bible was true, and, despite my confusion about my sexuality, began turning away from homosexual behavior (and many other sins).
It wasn’t long after my conversion that I learned about the doctrine of original sin and made sense of my same-sex attraction in light of it. Upon discovery of this and other biblical truths, my initial reaction was, “Why am I just now hearing about all of this for the first time?!” I know God can work powerfully in the lives of people who have little to no biblical understanding—my conversion experience proves this! But even still, I wish I had learned about man’s sinful nature, God’s merciful disposition toward sinners, and the substitutionary work of Christ in my younger years. Though a mere intellectual understanding of biblical doctrine can’t save anyone, the Spirit of God does move mightily when God’s Word is taught and heard. I can’t help but wonder if he might have awakened my soul at a younger age had my parents—or someone—instructed me in the way of the truth.
If you are the parent of a child struggling with sexuality or gender identity issues—or just a parent of a child, in general—I plead with you: give your kid the gift of a solid theological foundation. Don’t be a person who rolls your eyes at the idea of studying theology and insists we all just need to “love Jesus and love people.” Your child needs so much more than feel-good platitudes. He or she needs you to help them make sense of their very confusing experience as a fallen human being in a cursed world. He or she needs to understand exactly what it is Jesus accomplished and exactly what it means to follow him. Please, don’t let the world educate your child—tirelessly pour the Bible into their minds, and pray for the Spirit to move mightily as you do.
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