Why Can’t They Just Pray It All Away? (LGBT 15)

Many will be troubled by the direction of my comments in the previous blogs. They assume that if LGBT people would only pray and commit themselves to Christ, their orientations would be taken away and they would become “normal” people. But there are some considerations we need to give attention to before applying these expectations in a real situation. First, in practice that happens rarely, if at all. I am aware of individuals who claim to have been “changed” by God and are now living a fulfilled, heterosexual life. I do not doubt their testimonies (although such testimonies are sometimes premature), and I am happy for them. But I know many, many people who never wanted to be gay and pray earnestly to be otherwise, but nothing seems to happen. I have heard their anguish and know that God hears them too. In my experience as a counselor and in the scientific studies I have observed (particularly those done by Bible believing Christians), orientation change is rare at best, and may simply reflect bisexuals, whose journey to change is considerably shorter than those with a full-bore homosexual orientation. In most cases, orientation truly seems as unchangeable as physical defects. If we would not encourage a one-legged person to pray for God to grow a new leg, we probably should not encourage a gay person to pray for a new orientation. Orientation is not sin. It is a consequence of the Fall that is likely to be with us until the Lord comes.

There is a theological basis that explains this reality, at least to some degree. Seventh-day Adventists believe in the inspiration of Ellen G. White. In her book Steps to Christ (and supported by the Bible), she describes a loving God who desires relationships of love with the creatures He has made. But genuine love cannot be forced, it must be freely chosen and freely given. To be free to love, means to be free also to not love or even to rebel. A loving God so respects the principle of freedom that He allows His creatures to rebel against Him and He also does not interfere in the consequences of that rebellion.

So we all suffer from the consequences of sin. Many of those consequences are directly related to the choices we ourselves have made. But many consequences are related to the choices others have made (such as abusers, murderers, rapists, salve-owners and the Holocaust). Not only so, many consequences of sin are collective to the whole human race; pollution, environmental disasters, birth defects and orientations that are contrary to God’s original design. While prayer can certainly change our hearts and our attitudes, it does not often remove the consequences of sin. To do so would be a limitation on human freedom, which would place a limitation on love. So we struggle for life and purity in the midst of our various orientations to sin. This reality is not God’s ideal, but is a necessary real in the context of a cosmic conflict over the character and government of God. In this context, we can pray for miraculous recoveries and changes, but should not demand or expect them. We are called to serve God as best we can where we are. To place unnecessary burdens on LGBT people, whose lives are already incredibly hard, is to make their lives even more difficult than they are, and it makes the church an unsafe place for them to wrestle with their challenges.

2 thoughts on “Why Can’t They Just Pray It All Away? (LGBT 15)

  1. Robert Whiteman

    In the light of your post above, how do you define “the divine nature” that all may partake of if believing God’s “exceeding great and precious promises… having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”(1 Pe 1:4)? Does the carnal nature survive the repentance/conversion/sanctification process to continue on into the realms of heaven and the new earth? Is the Divine nature saddled with such natural desires against the law and purposes of God?

    Notice the steps to achieving this Divine likeness in the verses that follow(2 Pe 1:5-11). Will sinful desires continue in this environment of Grace?

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Need to read 2 Peter along with the rest of Scripture. The biblical answer to such questions is usually “yes and no.” Many biblical writers state an ideal without qualification, but reality is ignored at our peril.

      Reply

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