(This is the 7th dialogue in this series. It’s an edited and reconstructed version of the actual talk, but it accurately represents the essence of what was said. This is done with his permission, provided all personal references are omitted. I pick it up after the opening chit-chat.)
Me: It’s been a good month since your last call. I’m a little surprised to hear from you. What’s up?
Him: Oh, this whole Orlando thing really got me thinking about things. And that made me think of you. So I thought I’d call to just talk.
Me: OK. About what in particular?
Him: I was thinking about those guys in that gay bar and about how you used to live like that. And that made me think about how the Lord really must have changed you…at least your behavior. And I starting thinking about myself and these attractions I have for guys and that I’ve never acted on them like you did. And it all kind of confused me.
Me: Confused you about what?
Him: About what it is to be gay…if it’s just behavior or if it’s a matter of feeling and disposition. I mean, my behavior isn’t a problem for me. I’ve never had gay sex. For me it’s a tendency or a feeling or a mindset. I don’t know for sure how to describe it. So I can see how behavior can change, but how can you change your disposition and attractions, especially when it’s how you’ve always felt?
Me: Well, change is a big discussion. The change I experienced was the result of the grace of God in my life. So it had a definite initial result in my conversion that caused me to renounce the gay life I was leading and the way I thought and felt about sexuality. There was a radical change in my behavior and thinking. But change in the Christian life is also progressive and happens little by little, a step at a time. It’s the ongoing process of sanctification. And that won’t be complete and perfect until our glorification in heaven.
Him: So what are you saying? You were gay and now you’re not, or there’s still a part of you that’s gay?
Me: Well, I see what we talked about a while back still hasn’t really sunk in yet.
Him: What are you referring to? What did we talk about?
Me: About the whole question of identity. What do we say about ourselves when we ask ourselves, “Who am I?” Remember?
Him: Yeah, I remember that. Tell me again what you said.
Me: I said we should not frame our identity in the exclusive terms of our sexuality. In other words, it’s always wrong to identify ourselves as ‘gay christians.’ The same-sex attraction we experience is not what defines us. It’s only a part of the answer to the “Who am I?” question. It’s certainly a part of our identity, but not the most important part of it. We are first of all children of God. That’s the controlling factor in our self-identity. So we should never refer to ourselves as ‘gay christians’, but as Christians who experience same-sex attraction. All Christians have their peculiar struggles with sin. Attraction to the same-sex just happens to be ours.
Him: I have a hard time thinking of myself without thinking about the SSA. It’s always there.
Me: Well, you have to think of yourself in the right way. And that’s the way the word of God defines us.
Him: So it’s a mind game?
Me: In a sense it is. But not in the sense that we’re trying to fool ourselves about who we are. But in the sense that we are bringing our thinking into submission to God’s word. To be right, we have to think right.
Him: I try to, but I still feel so gay.
Me: I get that. But that’s because you are focusing on that. Instead you need to focus on Christ and his word and on what you are as a child of God.
Him: I really try hard to change, but I don’t seem to make any progress.
Me: Hey, you can’t change yourself. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to work in you. He’s the one who transforms us more and more into the likeness of Christ. Of course I’m assuming you really have the Spirit of God living in you as a true believer in Jesus Christ.
Him: I believe I’m really converted. Christ is everything to me. And I live to please him. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t take away these desires.
Me: I think we talked about that before, too. God is completely sovereign in the way he deals with each of us. There are some who say they have known a complete end to same-sex inclinations and aren’t bothered by them anymore. But most converted gay people I know haven’t known that. The attraction is still there, especially if they’ve lived a promiscuous gay live before they were saved from it. Now it’s a matter of daily repentance, resistance to its working in them, and replacement with things that God approves of. And that’s all done by using the means of grace God has given us and relying on the Holy Spirit to transform us more into the likeness of Christ.
Him: So the attraction may not go away completely? And I can still be a Christian?
Me: You can be a Christian because the attraction doesn’t define you. The trouble with the ‘gay christian’ mentality is that the attraction does define them. That’s a big problem! Don’t let it define you.
Him: It’s hard to remember all this and to think right about it. I get obsessed with wanting it just to go away.
Me: Well, if you focus on it, it won’t go away. Focus on living for Christ and on his word, and you will be less preoccupied with your same-sex attractions. It takes resolve and effort to do this. Does this help at all?
Him: It always helps me to talk to you. I just need to remember it and do these things.
Me: And I have to go. Work is calling. But don’t wait so long to talk if you need to.
Him: I just don’t want to be a bother.
Me: You’re not a bother. You’re a brother. So any time you need to talk, call me. Gotta go. Bye.
Him: OK. Bye. And thanks.