Crossing the Gay Divide: A Strategy for Healing the Church
By Andrew Comiskey
The other day, God dropped a word in my heart. I was discouraged by the advance of deception in the body of Christ, especially surrounding sexuality and homosexuality. Simply, in His still small voice, God spoke: “Homosexuals will divide the body of Christ. Ex-homosexuals will heal the body.”
God is raising up a mighty army of men and women—a people who have wrestled with same-sex desires and become powerful, strengthened in their very weakness to proclaim the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His church as their healing community.
I count myself among them. We have died to the gay self; we are now raised with Christ, for His purposes. His cross stands as the threshold through which we have entered into our true heterosexual selves. Together with all the saints, we who possess the testimony of death unto life shall impart the grace and truth that will heal the church.
Today the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is deeply divided. The Apostle Paul described the church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim.3:15) Sadly, she seems more confused and disoriented in her truth-bearing than powerful in it.
It reminds me of a painting I recently meditated upon in a Danish church. A beautiful woman, dressed in finery, lay disoriented in a shallow, muddy pool. Her dress was torn, her posture helpless, yet not without guilt. It appeared that she had wandered, and stumbled. One thing remained clear. Her brokenness could not hide her status as a fine, upright woman. She did not belong in the mud. Let’s look at one source that has contributed to her murky predicament. I refer here to the division wrought by active, aggressive homosexuals in the church today. Consider these current events:
The Episcopal Church recently broke with the historic teaching and tradition of the church by ordaining a gay bishop. (This man, Gene Robinson, had left his wife and kids years earlier due to his same-sex desires and now partners with a male lover.) As a result of such madness, a significant number of American bishops will leave their denomination. An already weakened denomination divides. Why? For the first time in the history of the Christian Church, a man has been promoted in his perversion to the highest office a Protestant clergyman can hold (except for archbishop).
At a recent National Convention of the Presbyterian Church USA, delegates had to cross a picket line of homosexual activists insisting on the ordination of gay pastors and the blessing of same-sex marriages. Inside the convention, homosexuality emerged as the most volatile source of debate, fueling the threat of a denominational split.
The Catholic priesthood has been rocked by sexual scandals, most involving the same-sex molestation of children and teenagers. What has come into the light is an enormous number of gay priests who have been granted a peculiar kind of advocacy and protection from their bishops. Though such treatment contradicts Catholic doctrine, the exposure of secrets and lies involving gay priests threatens the very integrity and credibility of the Catholic Church in America.
In my world of evangelical and charismatic churches, I have helped several pastors walk through the threat of legal action from so called “gay Christians” in their congregations who have insisted on the legal right to leadership roles.
Adding to the confusion is a growing number of evangelical leaders who are actively supporting “gay Christians.” Seduced by a worldly compassion, and reacting to the threat of bad religion, these deceived leaders “change the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ into a license for sexual immorality.” (Jude 1:4)
Today we face a growing lawlessness and rebellion. Sadly, the church often reflects such darkness, rather than revealing and overcoming it. And active homosexuals are among those in the body who will continue to divide and disempower the church through their rebellion.
The Lord of the Church knows this. Jesus is not surprised or shocked at what is going on today. But He is strategic. And He is raising up His standard of grace and truth through men and women who respond to His call to pick up the cross and follow Him out of the bondage of homosexuality.
God in His mercy reveals Himself to the homosexually broken—Jesus, the All-Mighty Son who became weak in his humanity, subject to all the temptations we face (Heb. 2:18; 4:15). Yet Jesus endured the struggle without sin. And He submitted to death on the cross, in order that the power of our sin would die as well. The cross liberates us to arise with Him in newness of life, wholly reconciled to His high and holy purposes for our humanity.
Identified with Christ, cross in hand, we can take authority over every vestige of homosexuality. This begins with rightfully interpreting what is going on in the homosexual struggle. Jesus grants us clear sight as to what our desires mean—what they tell us about our hungry, readily deceived hearts. Our desires point to a profound insecurity we possess within our gender identities.
Incomplete and grasping, we seek wrongfully to be made complete by that person (or image) of our own gender who appears attractive to us. We desire to possess in another what we feel we lack in ourselves. “This is not a healthy reaching out to a sexual “other” [as can be true in opposite-sex unions], but rather an unhealthy, narcissistic attraction…a symptom of an unmet need for sexual self-acceptance.” (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Robert Gagnon. p.412)
Jesus sends us His Spirit of wisdom and revelation. We can see clearly that our answer lies not in finding a same-sex lover, but in being reconciled to the good of own identities as male and female.
This aspect of our cross-walk takes time, but Jesus is faithful. I remember a long season of offering up to the Crucified One the diseased thoughts and images of myself as a man—all the rejections and insecurities that composed my gender self-image. He was faithful to bear them. And to send His Word that reconciles us to the true man or woman of His design.
Much of that occurs in the context of community life. It too is a wonderful, painful process of cross-carrying. I remember an experience of attraction I faced with a man not unlike myself, early on in the journey of healing. I was shocked. “God, I’ve come so far. Why this attraction?”
God in His mercy reminded me of the words of Leanne Payne in her seminal work, The Broken Image. In that man I was looking at a lost part of myself, a part that I could not recognize or accept. And sure enough, that man’s kindness and strength appealed to me. Recognizing those traits as my own, aspects of my true self that God was raising up, freed me to refuse the erotic, romantic tug in the relationship. Forsaking that, I could stand all the more clearly in my true self, while seeking to reach beyond my narcissistic entrapments.
We die to the lie, the misinterpretation of our desires; we live according to the truth. And we grow beyond same-sex fixation unto the greater goal of all of our sexuality—the capacity to become a good gift to the opposite sex. How grateful am I, like so many ex-homosexuals, to celebrate the true meaning of our sexuality in whole heterosexual unions.
Annette and I meet again and again on the ground of our mutual commitment to blessing and building up one another. We do so in light of our inspired differences. God’s heterosexual design can be a challenge but more than that it enhances us. We reach beyond ourselves to our beloved other and God honors the offering. He strengthens our union. Together, as time goes by, Annette and I more nearly reflect His intention for our humanity. We grow more secure and clear as His image-bearers as we say yes to one another year after year.
So the cross not only reconciles us to our true identities as male and female, Christ Crucified and Resurrected also frees us for whole heterosexual relating. Jesus is sufficient to bring the homosexual out of bondage and into his or her true destiny. Yet choices remain. Most whom Jesus calls out will experience some residual same-sex struggle.
Why? Though the basic issues have been resolved, we still live in a fallen, seductive world. In particular, we have seen an increase in the dark flood of enticing pro-gay images and rhetoric.
(While watching TV with my kids I recently viewed two men kissing and exchanging vows as an ad for a gay dating show!) Such darkness, combined with periods of unusual stress or uncertainty in our lives, may provoke temptation. Cross in hand, we can manage those annoyances (troublesome yet not dominating) with the same tools that a former addict may use to stay sober.
What matters here is that we do not cop to the pro-gay deception that demands absolutely no struggle if one is to claim victory over homosexuality. That is a box that the gay community wants us to live within; it is also one that we may want to hide within, motivated by our own shame and perfectionism.
For example, last summer I visited a large foreign city famed for its natural beauty and its perversion. While touring the city with friends, I was taken aback by the brazen expressions of perversion: young men and women frisking about without conscience, seemingly open to any possibility. When I returned to my lodging, I began to battle sensual images. I needed the truth of God’s Word. I needed the power of His Spirit released through prayer. I needed the power of the cross right then and there if I was to continue on with integrity to accomplish the mission at hand. (I was doing a leader’s meeting that weekend.)
I confessed my struggle, and prayed with my host. Jesus washed away guilt and shame; He also released His power that freed me to refuse the demonic strongholds at hand. And His word rang true and clear, anchoring my soul in the truth of His cross. In exhorting the saints at Ephesus to forsake the prevailing sensuality of the day, Paul writes: “Put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:22,24; see also vs.17-24 as a whole)
Ex-homosexuals are a people of the cross. And we must be willing to carry the cross—to exercise its power by dying to the old self in order to live to the true self, as often as it is necessary. In this way, we must heed Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians. We love His cross. But we must also be willing to go the way of the cross over the course of our healing journey so that we stay true to Him and the new creation—our real selves.
In that way, we can say that the cross distinguishes those homosexuals who divide the church from those ex-homosexuals who will heal the church. His reconciling work on the cross, coupled with the sacrifice He demands of us—putting off the old in order to arise in the new—that is what breaks the domination of the gay self and frees us for His purposes.
Ask yourself: “Am I willing to die? To let go of my agenda, my interpretation of my own needs and desires, and to allow Jesus alone to be the Master of my sexuality and relational future?”
In that way, we can say that our cure does not hinge upon a better program of recovery, a more skilled counselor, a more astute psychological theory, a marriage partner, becoming more spontaneously charismatic, earnestly evangelical, or seriously sacramental. All of these things are helpful. But they mean nothing unless we have decided to allow Jesus Crucified and Resurrected to reign at the center of our lives. To follow Him, and His witness of death unto life.
God wants to pour out an increase of His anointing upon ex-homosexuals in the days ahead. He will ignite the sacrifice of our lives. As we view the devastation of the homosexual delusion upon the church and the world today—the witness of rebellion and lawlessness—how much more does God want to raise up a standard of grace and truth through His followers?
Out of the deep well of our sexuality, now yielded to Him, God will pour forth an even more profound fountain of healing for His bride. The very ones who in their rebellion ravaged her will become her cure. Through the cross. For the bride.
Consider these ones. Jim had never really faced his homosexual issues. He assumed that becoming a minister of an inner city church would busy him, and displace his sexual brokenness. Fine, until that brokenness began to dominate his life through gay pornography, then through anonymous homosexual relationships. The effects of his double life began to seep into the church—his sermons became polluted by the cheap grace he was living, young men began to leave the church as they realized something was off about their pastor, discerning members confronted him and were dispersed.
Finally, Jim got help. He turned himself in. Though let go of his position, Jim never lost his calling. Through realizing at last the relevance of the cross for him in his brokenness, Jim began to walk in freedom. His cross walk took time; it still does. He now is a trustworthy minister of healing, determined to equip the church to heal her broken ones.
Susan had a long history of lesbian relationships and activism. When she became a Christian, naïve elders urged her into ministry roles that exceeded her maturity. Claiming “deliverance,” she accomplished much in her own strength until she fell into a relationship with a woman. Then another. And another. She would move onto a new church and town, dazzle them with her gifts, until the next fall.
Tired of the cycle, she responded to God’s call to stop everything and get the help she needed. She was tired—tired of pretending, of claiming a message she was not living. Through the cross, Susan entered into the healing waters. She did all she could to sort out the mess she had made. It took time, but God gave her time and Susan took it. Now married, Susan is an elder in her church, a deep well of wisdom and compassion for the local church she serves.
Doug hated any church that claimed that homosexuals could be healed. So he and his fellow activists stormed into the church sponsoring Living Waters in order to disrupt the Sunday service. They did so twice, and both times, Doug was amazed at the loving invitation believers extended to him there. Six months later he returned, ready to go the way of the cross. He began his healing, 2 years later was married, and now invests his spare time in equipping other churches in his nation to release healing for others.
These three ex-homosexuals have accepted the invitation of the cross. As a result, they have become powerful healers—full of grace and truth. Their love for others is sure. They can love those who are alienated from God, because they were once “aliens in Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). Yet they do so truthfully, knowing the devastation wrought by the false self and its deceitful desires.
More importantly, they know the power of living in the true self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. They won’t cease to carry the cross; what they have gained in Him is too great. And they know that only through the cross can other broken ones enter into their true destinies as well. That’s why the message of the cross has become the driving passion of their lives.
The days will grow darker. We shall witness deeper divides in the church as active, angry homosexuals continue to assert their deception. But God’s strategy will prevail. Through the power of His cross, broken ones will cross the threshold from death to life. Their efforts to heal the church will overcome those who defile her. This is the army “whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle, routing foreign armies.” (Heb. 11:34)
Homosexuals will divide the church; ex-homosexuals will heal her. She will arise out of the mud and become the pillar and foundation of the truth. How blessed we are to be a part of God’s strategic purposes for His bride in this hour.