I grew up as an average kid not knowing a thing about sexual addiction or homosexuality. As a high school student I was like others who joked about effeminate males and referred to them with unkind names. For some reason, however, the issue of homosexuality caused a lot of curiosity in my thinking.
In the 70’s I read some Christian material on the subject of homosexuality. This helped me put some things in perspective and develop a clearer picture of what they were going through. This knowledge caused me to want to learn even more.
In the 80’s I had an opportunity to attend a conference put on by New Creation Ministries. I saw more clearly than ever what the Biblical perspective was and what some ministries were doing around the world to help homosexual strugglers. I saw that homosexuality was indeed sinful and destructive, yet I was hearing a perspective I had never heard before: God loves the person who struggles and is eager to affirm them and restore them to healthy sexuality/spirituality. It hit me with mountain weight that I was just as sinful in my thoughts and attitudes though I had never committed this sin.
A year later (1989) I was invited by the executive director to assist him directly in the work he was doing. I’ve been a small group leader ever since. I have learned many things as a result of spending hundreds of hours with men who are sexually addicted or men who struggle with homosexuality. It would be impossible for me to describe how the Holy Spirit has changed me as I’ve worshipped with this men and interacted with them, but let me try:
Things I’ve learned
- I am no different than any other sinner, we all fall short of God’s glory. What I knew in theory before has become real as I’ve gotten into the hearts and sexually broken men and seen myself mirrored there.
- God doesn’t have a list of sins with homosexuality being at the top. Though scripture clearly says that homosexuality is an abomination, God also says that proud eyes, a lying tongue, and stirring up dissension among brothers are abominations as well (Proverbs 6:16-19). These are things I have done more times than I would want to know.
When I walk out of the Thursday night group I know I’ve been in the presence of dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are in desperate need of God’s love and forgiveness, same as me.
- Jesus wants me to extend grace to fellow sinners (even sexual sinners) the same way that He continues to extend grace to me.
- The sexually broken are required to pursue intimacy with Jesus or there is no possibility of healing and change. I have watched them, over the years, growing into the image of Christ and surrendering to Him in ways that most Christians rarely do.
- When believers are honest – really honest – with each other about their sins and hold each other accountable to do something about them, change happens. I’ve seen people who submit to this process come to a level of maturity that they would never experience otherwise. I don’t believe there is a single Christian in the church who wouldn’t benefit by learning and practicing what people at NCM have to do every day.
- I will never forget the time during a group meeting when one of the men asked me, “Ed, since you have never struggled with sexual sin in the ways we have, how do you feel about us? After all, you’re not one of us.” My response was immediate and heartfelt, “How do I feel about you? I love you because you are my brother. And, by the way, I am “one of you.”
I could respond this way because I understand Jesus’ teaching about the sin in each of our hearts. For instance, I am no stranger to lust, and if I take God’s Word seriously on this point I have to conclude that I have the same inner heart as everyone in the group. I have indulged this sin inwardly more times than I can count, and, at times, still do. Am I different from them? Hardly. I am as sinful and wretched as anyone I’ve ever met in the group and in equal need of God’s forgiveness.
I count it a privilege to be involved in the work of NCM, not only because I minister to others but because I myself have been ministered to time and time again. Through my association with the sexually broken in the body of Christ, God has worked powerfully in my life as well.
Since childhood I have moved through many stages in my understanding of sin, both others’ and my own. When it comes to homosexuality I started with ignorance, suspicion and fear. This grew into revulsion, anger and judgment. As I’ve humbled myself before God and walked beside these same people my critical spirit and self-righteousness have melted into understanding, empathy and genuine Christ-like love.