A great story in the New Testament is such a good example of Jesus’ power to forgive even the most heinous sins.
When a woman, who was caught in the act of adultery, was brought to Jesus this is what He did:
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord,” she answered.
“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8: 6-11, CSB)
There’s no way of knowing what happened to that woman after this scene. I’ve always imagined that she changed her lifestyle from that point on and became a passionate follower of Jesus. It could be that she did change, but lived out her life with a sense of shame because of her past. This would not be unusual for someone who has sinned so greatly. Christine Caine describes her painful past of being molested as a child. She says that her shame plagued her for many years, not because of what she did, but what was done to her. She writes, “…shame would be one of the enemy’s most damaging weapons against us, and therefore God wanted us to know that, from the very beginning, shame was not his plan for us—that the perfect state for humankind is a shame-free life.[i]
Caine explains that there is a huge difference between guilt (knowing you’ve done wrong) and shame (inability to live with yourself.) She points out also:
“Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines guilt as ‘responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong.’ But it defines shame as ‘a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety and “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.’”
I’ve known many people through the years who have measured themselves by lies that they’ve believed all of their lives. In fact, these lies go back so far that a person believes that he or she was born this way. That is a platform upon which LBGTQ advocates stand. They were created this way and therefore it would be wrong to deny this as who they are.
In a pamphlet distributed by Focus on the Family, this is explained.
Regardless of who we are or where we’ve come from, God has placed a longing for Himself within each of us. This desire can be particularly strong in those who have experienced pain, rejection and abandonment, especially from their fathers, mothers, siblings or peer group. For many, unmet needs, peer-group rejection or familial wounds are significant factors in their homosexuality. This hunger has driven LGB-identified men and women who are hungry for God—and who may have also experienced rejection from Christians—to start their own churches, construct their own theologies or join religious groups that affirm their sexual identity (What the Bible Says about Homosexuality 3).
In the Church’s attempt to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction, and to be Christ-like in our outreach to this community, we have also taken the bandwagon approach and joined the ranks of those who declare that homosexuality is a true gift from God that should not only be accepted but celebrated.
Societal labels may be placed on a person in early childhood. A boy who doesn’t seem to fit into the traditional male roles (sports-minded and rough-housing) are called effeminate, which then somehow turns into the declaration of “gay.” Girls who seem to be athletic or “tomboys,” who aren’t the traditional girly girls, are often marked with cross-gendered labels. Many of each gender have worn these labels for so long that they believe that they were born that way, and if they were created that way, it is wrong to deny “who they really are.”
The same source from Focus on the Family points out that childhood sexual abuse or exposure to pornography at a young age can lead to gender and sexual confusion. “Childhood sexual abuse is higher in men who have sex with men than in the general male population, and such incidents seem to be a factor in who struggle with homosexuality, creating confusion about sex and sexuality. In addition, sexual behavior is highly addictive, and for many, homosexual behavior has this addictive component.[ii]
In 2015, pastor and author Tim Keller reviewed some articles that support gay relationships among Christians. The argument that the proponents made for the biblical grounds for same-sex relationships used persuasive language to “prove” their theories that certain concepts in the Bible such as slavery and segregation have been deemed illegal and downright immoral. Their argument goes on to include homosexuality in that same category. Keller rebuts this argument by writing,
“The reason that homosexual relationships make so much more sense to people today than in previous times is because they have absorbed late modern western culture’s narratives about the human life. Our society pressed its members to believe “you have to be yourself,” that sexual desires are crucial to personal identity, that not curbing of strong sexual desires leads to psychological damage, and that individuals should be free to live as they alone see fit.”[iii]
Although Keller is solid in his review against the author’s claims, he ends by writing,
“We live in a time in which civility and love in these discussions is fast going away…”[iv] and he acknowledges that Christians should love each person the same, while maintaining a biblical worldview in all things.
I’ve always loved Psalm 51. David wrote this after being faced with his acts of adultery and his being an accomplice to murder. The way I learned this was from the King James Version, verse 10: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
But I also love the way The Message says it:
“Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.”
Later on in that same chapter, verse 10, David switches his focus from his sins to God’s ability to re-create him. King James translation says: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” The Message interprets it this way: “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.” Memorize either of these or another translation and recall them after you’ve failed God. Then don’t dwell on those past sins.
STOP: Has someone hurt you in the past and you hold a grudge?
Have you ever struggled with romantic and/or sexual feelings for the opposite sex?
Have you ever felt as though you were created the wrong gender? [NA1] Can you trace these feelings back as to an event that triggered these leanings?
- My past defines who I am and who I will be.
- I do not see any reason to change, regardless of my past.[NA2]
- God can’t change me.
TRUTH: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female.” Genesis 1:27-28
[iii] Keller, Tim “The Bible and same sex relationships: A review article” 2015 https://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/the_bible_and_same_sex_relationships_a_review_articleibid