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“Homosexuality is a choice… Nobody is born that way…. They have sinned so deeply in so many other areas, one of the few things left for them to try is homosexuality… I could NEVER struggle with something like that….They are going to be the death of this nation.” I have heard all of these phrases. Sometimes from pulpits. Always from “believers.” This is the only sin I can think of where I have seen the color drain from someone’s face when mentioning it.

One Sunday morning in our small group meeting, this topic came up in our discussion. A man in our group said that homosexuality is the one sin you can’t talk about in church. He said you could get up and say that you used to be a drug addict and God saved you… “Praise the Lord!” You could get up and say that you used to be a murderer and then God saved you…. “Amen!” You could say you had been a prostitute and God saved you… “Hallelujah!”  And you could say you used to be a homosexual…..dead silence.

You see, he is right. This is the one sin that you cannot talk about in church. On either side of it. And this is a huge problem. It is a problem because it will keep people who are in that kind of bondage far from your church and its members. It will keep your members far from these people. It will keep people within your church who are struggling with same-sex-attraction from ever talking about it and getting help before it is too late.

I know a girl who struggled with same-sex attraction for most of her life. She grew up in a Christian home and had very godly parents. She loved the Lord and prayed every time that this issue came up in her heart that He would take this away from her. She had no idea what to do about it. She didn’t understand how this could happen, or what it even meant. She prayed that God would literally take her life before ever letting her act on that temptation in any way. He didn’t. She almost committed suicide at one point because she felt there was no living this down. There was no forgiveness for this. Maybe with God, but not with his people.

I have seen two extremes that churches seem to default to now in addressing this issue, or should I say… these people. On one side, some churches are saying that it is not sinful at all. They are affirming this lifestyle and performing the weddings. They are not ruffling any feathers, and they come across as the good guys. They come across as the loving ones. And I agree. They are loving. But they are loving themselves… not gay people. At the end of the day, love does not refuse to speak truth when people are in bondage. Love does not quietly watch people give themselves to their sin and never try to warn them or offer hope. Love does not choose it’s own comfort and ease over the souls of men. Love does not pursue the approval of the world at the expense of the souls Jesus died for.

On the other extreme, there are churches that can’t even say the word homosexual without turning three shades of white and speaking in hushed, horrified tones. Because this is the sin of all sins. It is the worst of the worst, and some parents would rather have a dead child than a gay child (and sometimes that is exactly what happens).

There are churches full of people who see this as only a political issue. They see this as a war between conservatives and liberals, and one we must win for future generations. But wars create casualties. Wars create death. Am I suggesting that we not fight? Absolutely not. We must fight. We have to fight with all that we have. But we need to fight the right battle. We have to fight for people, not against them. We have to do battle for the souls of men and say to the enemy, “You will not have him. You will not have her.” These people in our lives who we relentlessly love like Jesus….the Enemy will not have them, because as long as there is breath in our bodies we will fight for their freedom. When you have given yourself over to your sin, whatever it looks like, and when you are under the absolute tyrannical control of your flesh, you.are.blind. You cannot see. You cannot act in your best interest. You are a slave, captive, in bondage. But the good news is that we, the church, are called to proclaim freedom for captives. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free…” Lk.4:18. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. Even the ones we don’t understand. Even the ones that make us uncomfortable. Even this chain…

My plea to the church, to the beautiful bride of Jesus, is that we see past our fear of what may come because of legislation, and that we see past our shock about the nature of this sin, and that we see the people in this kind of bondage. Until they have faces, we will be satisfied to look the other way and not wrestle with this. Until they have faces, we will be content to lump them into a category of people who we perceive as totally unlike us who can be written off as a political agenda or issue. Until they have faces, we will not engage with them.

We need to see the faces. They have names. They have stories. They have deep brokenness that brought them here. They have been deceived by the Enemy down to the very level of their identity, and most people cannot fathom that kind of confusion. We need to understand that people do not get to choose what they are tempted with. We don’t order our sin off a menu and decide what we have to battle through the Spirit for our whole lives. But as John Piper says, “Make it a battle! Regardless of how your flesh is bent, whether you have a bent toward anger, or a bent toward slothfulness, or a bent toward greed, or a bent toward narcissism, or yes…a bent toward homosexual desires…make it a battle.” Don’t ever make it your identity. And this is where we can make a difference. We can speak identity to the people God brings into our lives. We can remind them that they are more than the sum of their sins. We can tell them that they are more fiercely loved by God than they could ever imagine.They are created in the image of God, created to be in relationship with God and to worship Him and bring Him glory.

I believe that some the worst casualties of this “cultural war” will be kids in Christian homes, and kids in churches who are battling this very sin. They hear you. They see your faces. They hear your tone of voice when you talk about this over dinner with friends. They see what you post on Facebook. They see your red faced anger. They feel the force of your wrath about this particular sin, and I guarantee you, they are in turmoil. They do not know where to turn. Who do they go to to talk about this? One thing they know for sure, they can’t talk to you about it. So they keep it to themselves and try bear this burden alone. And they lose.

Church, I ask of you… for the sake of those doing battle against the full force of their flesh and doing it by themselves, in silence, with absolutely no backup or prayer support….please… in your conviction, don’t forget compassion. In your speaking truth, don’t forget love. And remember that beyond an issue, or a cultural war, or a movement…these are people, with names and faces. And they need our Jesus. They desperately need Him like we do. So picture their faces, and move towards them with love and not away from them in anger or fear. Remember that girl I mentioned before? I am that girl. So if it helps, next time this issue comes to mind, think of me. Picture my face. And remember that our God came to seek and save those who were lost. People like me. People like you. People relentlessly loved and pursued by an awesome and beautiful God.

 

 

 

 

*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:  The Gospel

24 thoughts on “Till They Have Faces

  1. Wow! So often I miss the mark of Thank you for sharing !when I accepted Jesus, Isaiah was the scripture God stamped on my heart. Oh to feel that same anointing again for the lost.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for this beautiful and eloquent writing! Love, compassion, truth, strength, courage, understanding, knowledge- your journey with Christ reflects all of these. May the Lord continue to bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this article and your bravery in revealing who this girl is. I don’t know why we freak out at this sin. It is no more a sin than living with your boyfriend, or gossiping, or lying, or cheating. Those sinners walk through our church doors every week, but we don’t freak out. We love them through their sin by sharing the truth of God’s word with them and allowing the Holy Spirit to do His job. Why are we so afraid to do the same with someone who is struggling with same sex attraction? Don’t they deserve the same level of respect we give others? We see homosexuality differently, but it’s not. Sin is sin…period! There’s a great website: https://outofegyptministries.org. You may be interested in reading Patti’s testimony. This is how people come to the Lord. It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance. We could learn a lot from His example!

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  4. Thanks for sharing. Great read. Have you read “Gay Girl, Good God” by Jackie Hill Perry? One of the best books I’ve read! She’s such an eloquent writer and speaker who loves Jesus.

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  5. Do gay leaning people act or make it known they think it’s wrong/sin. Many are just out there. I personally don’t know many except a friends daughter is & got married. & had a baby shower given & my sister in law went. I saw this couple st her dads funeral. But I just said Hi. Your article was perfect in love … were you talking to your friends & family telling them your struggles. Until someone gay approaches me. I’m at a loss. My sin is ever before me

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  6. Thank you so very much for this post! I feel like I’ve been waiting for you to express exactly how I think and feel. When talking with a christian brother or sister from either “side, ” it’s been hard to put into words how we need to change our attack. THANK YOU!

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  7. Amberlee … this was shared with me by a friend of mine and im so glad that she shared it with me … i LOVED what you wrote and you are SO right about everything that you wrote in this article …

    it is so exciting to say that God is doing a Wonderful NEW Work in the gay community and He is bringing MANY to Himself …. it is almost like the Jesus Movement that took place in the 70’s except now it is happening with the homosexual community … hahaahah

    i came out of the lesbian lifestyle too and i totally agree with everything you wrote as far as the church goes….

    maybe The Lord is doing something NEW IN the church of Jesus Christ in America too
    and i find that very exciting ….

    if you care to read my story you can find it at
    http://www.myJesusmyLord.com

    please keep writing …. you do it very well … and thank you for sharing so openly ❤

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  8. I always worry about reading articles in this topic for exactly the divide you describe. Either they’ll defend homosexuality or they’ll harshly condemn it. In most cases people refuse to act like Jesus, loving the sinner, hanging out with them, and still not accepting the sinful behavior. I appreciate your article for getting the divide right!

    I read a book a few years ago that I often recommend to people because it also gets this right called “Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should have Gay Friends” by Brad Hambrick. On great thing about his work on this is that he provides thoughts on how to have conversations with people. When you think of homosexuality as either the worst of sins or something just should be embraced, it can be really hard to move to the correct center position and have good conversations with these people. His book helps people struggling with that.

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    • James, thanks for taking time to comment. I have not read that book, but I will look into it. I am not sure if you are familiar with Rosaria Butterfield or not, but she wrote “Confessions of An Unlikely Convert.” In her story, a pastor was kind to her in a letter he sent, but he also stood firm on the truth. She didn’t know where to categorize him. She wasn’t sure whether to put his letter in hate mail or fan mail. She said she did not have a category for him. I believe that is where Christians should be. We need to hold fast to the truth and also love lost people so fervently, they don’t know what to do with us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t read that one, but likely will. Her book The Gospel Comes With A House Key is the top book I’ve read this year. She talks about her conversion story in there a bit, but her understanding of the Gospel and Hospitality is unparalleled.

        I absolutely agree that that is the position we need to take – full of love and grace AND truth! We’re called to both, but we sinfully find it easier to embrace only one.

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  9. Amber, I just want you to know that I love and admire you. I remember when my college aged daughter was planning to share in her youth group about going overseas to work with ministries that rescue victims of sex trafficking she was told that she couldn’t say certain “words” and it just baffled me… you are right we don’t talk about certain taboo subjects in church and our kids/youth instead learn about it from others and/or feel guilty when they struggle with certain taboo sins. Sin is sin and that sin was already paid for on the cross of Calvary. We have been redeemed and God has set us free. You are an incredible person with a beautiful heart and God has blessed you with a story and the words to express it with such grace and mercy. We need to stand firmly on the Word of God while loving others right where there at. I’m always reminded of God’s love and compassion for the woman at the well. He loved her, showed her mercy and grace and then told her to go and sin no more. Thank you for sharing your heart and your love for God and people.

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  10. Randomly came across this blog through a friend (to your post called A Tale of Two Preachers). 2 things:

    1) I was reading this and honestly a bit surprised to hear someone who might be straight but who GETS it. Then at the end you said “I am that girl” and I was even more happy, because I am also that girl. Praise God, I LOVE meeting and hearing from women who have pressed toward the Lord through this struggle, even while failing, and who end up choosing obedience to God over what’s seems right in our own eyes or is just a default in our wiring that we can’t explain or change.

    2) Totally unrelated to anything except the title of this post (which is why I clicked on this)… I love Lewis’ Til We Have Faces so incredibly much. Not sure if you have read it or not, but if you have not, the last chapter of that book, to which one cannot skip and gain the full weight, hit me like a ton of bricks and it instantly became a book I will always treasure. His use of the phrase “Til we have faces” is different than how you are using it here and not clear until that chapter, but such a powerful picture of truth I couldn’t put my finger on before. Highly recommend. 🙂

    I pray this article reaches many who need to hear this. It’s a blessing to just see Ephesians 4 being walked out—truth and “not walking as the Gentiles do” on one side, and love and gentleness and meekness on the other. So important, and every time we live this out ourselves, the believers around us benefit. I benefited from you in this way today. ❤ God bless you, sister in Christ.

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    • I read “Till We Have Faces” in college. 😊That’s why the play on words in the name of the other blog post. I’ll admit, that while I love CS Lewis, I had a hard time understanding the meaning of that particular book. What was it that hit you so hard about that book? How did you interpret the ending? It’s been so long since I read it.
      Sarah, praise the Lord for His work in your life. 💕 One of the many things that motivates me in this journey of obedience is that at the end of the day, when I stand before God, nobody else gets a vote. I live before His eyes. Our culture doesn’t get to weigh in. It is me alone, standing before Him alone, and I want to be found faithful.

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      • I found the book hard to get through, actually, as I read along. I was confused by Lewis’ portrayal of these deities and atheism and found myself wondering a lot as I read what he is condoning vs what he is simply describing. It was until the end of the book that the long slugging journey suddenly fell into place. Hard to articulate this with the impact it had, but I shall take up the challenge!

        I think it was just that, after following the main character through all her confusion and wrong turns and frustration with the gods and mistakes and conclusions for the whole story, she has grown to hate the gods for not answering her deep and painful questions, and she has this whole speech prepared for how wrongly they’ve treated her. And it is at the end that she finds herself standing before the gods. They give her the opportunity to advocate for herself. And it’s suddenly clear to her (and to the reader) what was unclear to her (and to the reader!) throughout the book: that she HAD these chances to turn to what was right and what was life, and she cast them aside, and after casting them aside she grows bitter with the gods for abandoning her, but all along she honestly could have gone back and sought out that salvation again. And it’s just this moment where all of her reasons that were SO believable and real (even somewhat to me, the reader!) just fall to the floor, and she KNOWS how stupid her speech is, she can hear herself saying the words but understands how ugly and unjust SHE sounds, that it just doesn’t add up at all, and it’s actually just lies—it’s not even true, what she’s saying.

        And she just has this realization that until that moment she had thought of the gods as beings on the same plane as she was, like she could address them as an equal, but that she was so wrong. She realizes that she as a human has always been so much lower of a being than the gods that even had they tried to give her the real answers, it would have been pointless because she would have had no capacity to actually grasp it.

        As Lewis writes:

        “The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered. Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, ‘Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.’

        “A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

        Anyways. I think it’s so interesting even with what you just wrote about standing before God and being found faithful—that’s exactly it. I read Til We Have Faces about 3 years after God brought me back to Him from a near trainwreck of faith largely brought about by questions I felt He owed me an answer for, probably why this ending was so poignant for me to read. Because that’s exactly it: at the end of the day we stand alone before God, and none of our reasons for not choosing Him and His ways will make any sense at all. It will be the most shameful speech of our lives to try to make, no matter how true it feels in this life.

        Hopefully that wasn’t a nightmare to read. I struggle to be succinct, clearly. 😉 I pray the Lord continues to work in our lives—these verses come to mind. https://www.esv.org/1+Corinthians+1:8;Colossians+1:21%E2%80%9323;Philippians+2:15;2+Peter+3:14;Philippians+1:10;Jude+24;Jude+25/

        Blessing you and the work God is doing in your life. ❤

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