Last night, my wife and I endured a television program on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) that gleaned into the world of people who wrestle with their homosexuality and belief in God. The program, America with Lisa Ling, was entitled, Pray the Gay Away? The question mark in the title was not added (in case you are wondering). It was the question that Ling was seeking to answer.
She seemed pessimistic from the get-go. I was not surprised. I never expect these programs to be balanced or to even investigate the qualified. So I didn’t have high hopes. It is Oprah television. Rather, I was expecting it to have a strong bent toward humanistic human equality. I was not let down. The Christian church was cast in poor light many times. Ling was very warm to homosexuals and cold toward the those who call homosexuality a sin. Tolerance for human feelings was key.
I was not surprised nor taken back by what I expected. I made it through. But, it got me thinking.
This is what I thought.
Can we pray the gay away? Let me first suggest some definitions. This is important for us to be on the same page. From what I gathered from the show, “the gay” was not primarily meant to be understood as the people who have homosexual feelings, but the homosexual feelings themselves. In other words, it is not asking if we can pray the gay people away. It is asking this: Can we pray the homosexual feelings away? But that doesn’t make a good title.
More than often, the big question takes priority in these debates. Are people born gay? I think this is beside the point. If you know your scripture, the way you were born doesn’t determine the way you should be. Nevertheless, I’ll mention a few things to respond to this question – I know it is on everyone’s mind.
I am far from a biologist, and I have never read studies on this matter. So I cannot say that there is any scientific proof one way or the other.1 On the other hand, we do have biblical proof. For example, we know that God created man and then woman for man (Gen. 2:18) rather than a second man. After this, we learn that God made a woman for man for the purpose of marriage, reproduction, and discipleship (Gen. 2:23-24). Later, we find out that this is designed to show us the relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:25-32). Jesus used it to teach on marriage identifying it to be for male and female (Matt. 19:4-5). Jude adds a strong reality saying that homosexuality is unnatural (Jude 6-7).
In addition to this, we have numerous passages calling homosexuality a sin. For example, in Leviticus 18:22 the Lord says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Under the Law, this act was punishable by death (Lev. 20:13). Romans 1:26-27 echoes this as do others.2 For this reason, I think we can safely say: God does not make anyone gay.
I understand that this doesn’t answer the question directly, but it is something that we should know. God made Adam with a love for his wife. Homosexuality was not in his design. This is why God is not pleased with homosexuality. However, I will not argue against anyone who feels like they are born gay.3 As I mentioned, it is beside the point. Let me explain.
In addition to calling homosexuality a sin, the Bible calls pride a sin. In a nut shell, pride is thinking of yourself more than you should or less than you should. It is basically putting yourself first. Do you know who is guilty of pride? I am. You are too. I can say this because we are all born sinners (Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 3:9-10, 23; Eph. 2:3). Yes, we were born this way. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, there is no distinction made between homosexuals and idolators and adulterers and drunkards and revilers and the greedy. It says that none of them will inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, we should not make this a case of whether we are born with it or not.
We are born sinners.
The person who lays with the same sex is born a child of wrath as much as the man who speeds down the highway. Both men, though their sins may have different repercussions here on earth, are sinners and must repent and turn to God. It is very natural for us to lust and lie and deceive and be selfish. Were you born a homosexual? In a way you were born a murderer (Matt. 5:21-26). Does that count?
So what does this mean? Can we pray the gay away? Can we really get rid of homosexual feelings? The Bible says that we who fear the Lord, we who have surrendered ourselves to God’s rule are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17-19). As new creatures, we have been given the power to effectively fight against our temptations (1 Cor. 10:13). In other words, when we repent of our sins, turn toward the Holy God, and submit all of ourselves to Him, we can stop falling to the feelings of homosexuality. These feelings may never go away, but neither will God. And we must continue to fight against them with His help. We win over the sin of homosexuality the same way that we win over the sin of pride.
This new life and new fight against sin begins when you recognize that you were born a sinner, not a homosexual. You must recognize that God is holy and demands that your sin be penalized and that He paid the penalty on your behalf so that you would not have to. Then, you trust that God will make you new. This is reality. This is the real matter.
In truth, heaven will be populated by some people who on earth were homosexuals but turned from their own way of life to one that is given to them by God. A person with this new life fights against natural feelings that stir up the wrath of God because Jesus is far more worth it. He is worth the fight. He is worth the pain. He is worth my life. This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not my will, but your will, Lord.
Can we pray the gay away? Yes, but it will take more than just prayer.
- The human reproductive parts might indicate that sexual relations are for opposite genders. But this is not an argument openly received. However, I would argue that these parts can only be used for reproduction in one way (if we keep to natural terms). I think that this is strong grounds for the argument.
- The program mentioned six passages from the Bible that call homosexuality a sin. When asking a homosexual pastor about these passages, he responded in a rather shocking way. He argued that the Bible is full of other verses and that we should not focus on just six. My impression was not that he thought that other passages excused homosexuality, but that we should spend our time focusing on passages that benefit us. I say this because he opened his lecture by saying that people interpret the Bible in a way that fits them. I believe that he commends this.
- This is not say that I will refrain from defending God’s holy character. I believe that I have pointed out that God does not make anyone gay. He made Adam with a desire for his wife by design and with a purpose. If you feel like you must believe that people are born gay, you can do so without also suggesting that God made them this way.