Note: This is part of a series on Steps to Reconciliation. Read the rest of the installments here.
Grace. It is quite simply the central point of Christianity. Everything about the ministry of Christ, the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is because of the grace of God. It’s not just theology, it’s principle that drives the lives and ministries of countless millions of Christians across the world.
Grace is what drove God to “make himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Phil 2:7-8) Grace is what led Him to the cross, and grace is what rolled away that stone for Him to walk out of that tomb.
So, when I talk about the grace of God, I’m not just talking about the “unmerited favor” that God has for each of us. The grace of God is really something quite, profoundly different. After all, when we place the phrase “unmerited favor” where the word “grace” is in the Bible, it just doesn’t fit. At all. But even then, is there grace for the LGBT community? More to the point, for the LGBT Christian themselves?
While the “unmerited favor” of God is something that we’ve long accepted as a major definition of His grace, I really think there’s more to it. There’s more to the message. There’s more to His grace than favor.
Favor isn’t what compels a person to leave behind chemical addiction, a history of abuse, or a life of brokenness. For these to become overcome, it takes something more. Something different. Something of incredible power. That something — is grace.
Grace, in this context, is “the power of God to overcome.” That grace not only empowers us to overcome our own destructive choices and habits, but equips us to deal with even the consequences of our choices. Plus, His grace enables us to do what we are called to do, and be who we are called to be.
THIS is the kind of grace that drove the ministry and passion of Jesus. God is crazy about us. He’s passionate about us — and because of His grace, we can know that the very same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead — is in you (Romans 8-11). His Spirit — His grace — is what give us life. And those lives are worthy of impact.
So many times, I learn of how people who have been forgiven of much — given much grace — have so little for others. Through it all, there’s a peculiar sense of grace that seems to not ever really settle.
We know through history, research, and experience that people can not change their sexual orientation. This is fact. Sadly, though, whole religious industries are built around the myth of “change is possible,” when it really isn’t.
Every single person who has written that they were “changed” still struggle with temptation. They still have their core attraction. Their sexual orientation is still what it was when they started. There was no change.
Sure, they wrapped their change into a nice package of straight-acting goodness, and even found themselves in marriages with children — the ultimate “proof” of their change. But dig deeper, and the struggle remains. The internal battle wages on.
Why is it, that even with the very power of the Holy Spirit to drive that “change,” that it was so ineffective? When the leadership of major “ex-gay” organizations admit that no one ever gets changed, why do we bother?
Let’s be clear. These “ex-gay” groups aren’t for the people that go through them. They are for those who send them. They are for the church groups who loathe gays — to make them feel better by having an “out” for them.
But. They. Always. Fail.
The scars that these “ex-gay” groups cause are far too many to count. Countless thousands of people have invested tens of thousands of dollars — each — to try to “be made straight.” They all fail. They were motivated. They had faith. Yet they still ended up as gay as they started.
Oh, there are the “success” stories of people like James Hartline, and Gregory Quinlan, and the kinds of people who have so politicized their movement to the point that they have become bitter, angry shadows of what they could be.
Or are we too afraid to admit to even the possibility that the grace of God not only doesn’t require the gay person to change, but actually calls LGBT people to a destiny that most of us don’t really understand?
We use clever words like “unwanted same-sex attractions” and “sexual brokenness” to hide the fact that we just don’t want people to become who they are. Those “unwanted” same-sex attractions aren’t likely to go away any time soon. Abuse doesn’t make anyone gay, and the whole “absent fathers” line is just, well, wrong.
I heard someone say on TV not too long ago, “How many gay people does God have to make before we realize He’s okay with it?”
Grace is what takes us to this point. Those of us who are gay have grace to withstand all of the verbal abuses, the casting out of homes, churches, and sometimes of society itself.
As I’ve said many times, gay people aren’t made this way. We. Just. Are.
It’s quite obvious that God’s not interested in changing that which he created. Our calling, our destinies, and our mission — is to pray for the grace to fulfill our calling. And that calling starts with reconciliation — with our faith and sexuality — and then with the Church herself.
Reconciliation isn’t even the end result — it’s just the beginning. This is where God’s empowering grace really begins to shine — healing, helping, and serving. It’s grace worth praying for, and it’s grace worth living.