Tag Archives: John

Victory and Redemption

Today is where the subject of broken sexuality gets sticky.  Like, really sticky.  I know what I believe about this topic, but I also know what others (on both sides of the debate) believe. Like everything else I write about, I want to handle this with grace and compassion AND truth and authority.

I believe broken sexuality was introduced to the world because of the fall, like every other form of brokenness.  (Examples of broken sexuality can include, but are not limited to sexual abuse of children, rape, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, feminism, manosphere, viewing pornography, and masturbation in that they fall outside of God’s original design for sexual relationships being shared between one man and one woman).  We know that sin produces a distance from God, and I think rampant broken sexuality in our culture is the direct result of our collective distance from God as human beings.

After the fall, God introduced the law to His people, the Israelites.  The law can be viewed as God’s code of expected behavior for His people, and it contains MANY laws concerning sexual conduct. I believe the purpose of the law was to keep His people close to Him.  The problem was that nobody could obey the entire law, and they were stuck in a cycle of punishment and animal sacrifice.  Keeping the law was impossible for broken people. So God sent His Son, Jesus to bear the punishment for the sin of the human race.  He was perfect in that He did not sin and was able to keep God’s law perfectly.  His death and resurrection opened the door to a relationship with God for broken people who accept His work on their behalf: it was a redemptive act, an act of buying back, or restoring something to its intended position. Not only that, but  Jesus took away the power and the penalty of sin for those who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

How does this good news about Jesus apply to the broken sexuality we see all around us?

Let me be clear: as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior from sin, I am not sinless.  Not even close.  However, I am no longer obligated, or enslaved to sin (see Romans 6, I truly cannot pick one verse from that chapter).  Since I am a believer, I have the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 16:7-11), I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and His indwelling presence (Galatians 2:20), and I have at my disposal everything needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

This means as a believing single woman, I do not have to seek to satisfy my sexual needs outside of a covenant relationship, although I may be tempted to.  It means that a Christian lesbian does not have to enter a relationship (committed or otherwise) with another woman, although she may struggle with same sex attraction. It means that a Christian man married to a woman who for whatever reason is not meeting his sexual needs does not have to take his needs to another woman, although he may be tempted to.

You see, temptation is not a sin.  It is when we act on our temptation that we sin.  Acting on temptation is usually a result of either dwelling too much on the temptation or trying to deal with it ourselves.  We need to go to God with our temptation!  I think there are places and situations that make us more vulnerable to temptation, and we should know our own triggers and avoid them, but temptation is going to come whether we make ourselves vulnerable or not. The good news is we can have victory over temptation because of the resources we have in Christ.

Knowing Jesus has changed A LOT in my life over the course of MANY years, but nothing has changed about the fact that I am a sexual being and that I desire sexual intimacy. (Too much information?)  I pray (pretty much every day, haha) for God to bring me a husband or to minimize this desire.  Two years in, He hasn’t answered either prayer in the affirmative, and He’s certainly not obligated to any time in the future.  I talk to God in great detail about this desire, and even if He never satisfies it the way I want it satisfied, it still will have drawn me closer to and made me far more dependent on Him.  In no way am I to take this matter into my own hands.

And so I have to come back to homosexuality for a minute.  I don’t think homosexuality is any more broken or sinful than any other expression of fallen sexuality.  I really don’t.  (If I did think of one on my list as most broken, it would undoubtedly be sexual abuse of children, but I can’t say authoritatively that God sees that the way I do).

I hear many stories in evangelical Christianity of homosexuals coming to Christ, and how He transforms their sexuality, and I love hearing those stories.  I think, however, as evangelical Christians, we need to acknowledge that this is not every gay person’s testimony. Some gay people come to Christ, and still deal day in and day out with same sex attraction, and because of this, they may fall into sin. Some people were Christians before they realized/acknowledged they struggled with same sex attraction and/or homosexual expression.

These people have my sympathy and compassion, but I cannot condone homosexual marriages or relationships, just as I cannot condone a pornography or masturbation habit, sexual immorality, or adultery. All of these things fall outside of God’s original design for sexuality, regardless of where our feelings, desires, or temptations lie.  It goes back to my earlier point: no matter how much we surrender to God, sometimes He does not take our desires away.  It’s not because He is okay with us acting on our desires, but because not acting on our desires draws us closer to Him, makes us depend on Him in times of great weakness.

I want to tell you and I want to tell myself that hey, it’s okay:  God doesn’t really expect us to live according to His standards for sexuality.  He doesn’t really think we can, because we’re all just broken people anyway.  But that wouldn’t be truthful, because He is clear that in Him we have everything we need. We cannot sacrifice His standards for our feelings, desires, or temptations.

I acknowledge it is not easy; in fact, most days, it’s very hard.  I acknowledge that these are legitimate struggles, not to be squashed down and ignored.  I get it, and I’m with you (all of you) on this journey.  I want us all to have safe people with whom to talk and pray about our sexual brokenness, people who won’t make us feel bad about ourselves, but I also acknowledge that in God’s presence is the safest place to be in this struggle.

If you’re a believer in Jesus as Savior from sin, your identity is not founded in brokenness anymore, it’s founded in redemption and victory.  God wants to use your brokenness for His glory, and don’t ever let anyone trick you into thinking He can’t or He won’t.  And God gives you everything you need for victory over sin; just haul those feelings, desires and temptations before Him every single time, and great things will happen.

 

 

 

 

 

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Grace

It’s the processing period after the trial.  My trial was a crisis of faith – by the end, nearly everything I believed was knocked down, and what wasn’t knocked down completely, I was barely hanging on to. I  didn’t understand – still have trouble understanding why God would want my view of Him so utterly devastated.  Yet, over the past few months, I’ve regained something of hope and desire for things I had stopped hoping for and desiring many years ago. Before my crisis, my heart was on some spiritual level shutting down, failing. So I begin to understand some of why God chose to step in the way He did.

This week I have been challenged and am wrestling with God’s grace in my trial. My youth group is learning five memory verses about grace this week, and for some reason, they are not sinking in.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“And of His fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having sufficiency in all things, might have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Do you notice a theme (besides grace) in these verses? Eternal life. Fullness. Grace upon grace. Riches. All grace. Sufficiency. Abundance.

Abundance.

This is what I wrestled with most in my faith crisis. Jesus says in John 10:10, “The Thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” I wrote in my journal last fall that I felt “spiritually raped, pillaged, and plundered.” I was dead inside, except for bouts of rage, directed at God for letting this happen to me. Because He kept asking me to call what I had an abundant life. To claim His goodness and grace in less than desirable situations far outside of my control.

I couldn’t do it.

These verses (which I picked, ironically) tell me that even then, especially then, God’s grace (His unmerited favor and strength to get through) was not only there, but there in abundance.  Now, I cannot and do not deny God’s Sovereignty, His orchestration in my situation. But His favor? His strength? I was being chastised. Stripped of everything, including my beliefs about God. Greatly weakened, wounded. An abundance? Of what?

Here’s the thing: either God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial, or God is a liar. And I do not believe God can lie. So God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial.

This week, as I memorize verses about God’s grace in abundance, I wrestle again. Since God’s grace was there for abundant living, why was my life so diminished?

Perhaps because I was striving for what I wanted. For what I thought my life should look like. Perhaps I was trying to earn what I wanted, rather than let God give me what He wants. Perhaps God is trying to teach me about His grace for abundant life, and the best way is to get me to wrestle with it.

I don’t know.

Today, I am in a very different situation than I was four months ago. It is easy for me to look at this phase of my life and testify to God’s grace as He has restored my relationships with others, and has given me new freedom to hope and desire. I have something that I am waiting on God for, something I carry to Him daily in prayer. It gets difficult sometimes, but I find the conviction to persevere in prayer and be patient. The grace to go on, when I no longer feel like it.

Maybe I have stopped striving or am striving less. Maybe I have stopped trying to earn God’s favor along with everyone else’s. Maybe I am in a good place to learn what God has been trying to teach me about grace.

I don’t know.

I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

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