Lessons We Learn From the Homosexual: The New Self
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." -Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." -Colossians 3:5-10 (NIV)
We are no doubt all aware of the exhortations in the New Testament to put on the New Man or New Self. What does this mean, though, with rubber and road? Many may have asked themselves if they truly wish to submit to this God if it means that they must lose themselves and become someone else, someone who sounds like an empty carbon-copy of the effeminate and dour Jesus?
The first bit of good news is that Jesus is not at all like this. The next is that this is not a true understanding of the New Self. So what is it, this New Person in my body?
Well, as the post title suggests, let's approach the question from the case of the homosexual Christian. (If we are taking seriously the Bible's tales of the New Man, then let us also take seriously its words to the homosexual.) Ask any gay seeker about their fears or reservations in entering the community of a Bible-believing church. It is almost always that 'they want me to change, become someone else. They want to take away, to destroy, my very identity and make me like all of them.' So, what is there in this?
Yes, they want you to change. Christ demands change. This is pretty much the cornerstone of the whole message. 'I love you the way you are; now change.' It's an outpouring of love. 'Only I know how much more you can be. Trust me.' So, yes, they want you to change.
But forsake your identity? Become someone else? No. Find your identity. This may sound like simple spin, but it's not even that. All of us go through life trying to find that elusive usness. Could it be that we find it in losing it? If you love someone, let them go -- even yourself, especially yourself.
And you will find, when you do, that you are not someone else. You are more yourself than you ever thought you could be. After only a short while in Living Waters, people commented to me on how much more natural, comfortable, masculine I was. These were not signs of becoming someone else. They were signs of settling into who I really had been all along. No longer demanding my right to define myself. No longer running from those parts of myself I viewed as substandard.
The radical demands placed on homosexuals -- and the presence of the hosts of us who have taken them and been changed -- are evidence of the nature of Christ's call to each of us. He does not demand any less of the heterosexual. He calls for a complete, radical, deathlike change -- something that is as unbelievable and as possible as moving from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Our churches need to be a place where this is demonstrated and suffered. Is it any wonder that gay seekers are turned off and away? We have no right to demand such a price from them if we are not suffering to pay it as well.
The glorious surprise in all of this, all of this surrender and death, is that in the end, you get what you gave up. Not only does God give you back your self, He gives it back patched and polished and ready for use. The cells of a caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly are the exact same cells. The creature has never really become something else. Isaac was not transformed on that mountaintop to the cries of the ram...was he? Christ was not transformed in the garden to the sounds of Elijah and Moses...was He? We were not transformed on that mountaintop to the cries of the Lamb...were we? Not really. Not changed. Revealed.