Struggling with same-sex attraction and desperate for love

July 23, 2014

In 1996, I was a young, newly married man struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction. My life had been centered around church and Christian activities. Yet, in all my years in the church, the only words I heard about homosexuality were condemning ones. I certainly had never heard anything redemptive with regard to homosexuality.

Embracing ear-tickling theology

Fearful of sharing my struggle in the church, and growing increasingly despondent, I began to look for hope elsewhere. Slowly but surely, like Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, I became unwilling to endure sound doctrine, and instead, sought teachers who would teach me according to my feelings. My ears were desperate to be tickled, and I found what I was looking for in the relatively young gay Christian movement.

Today, that movement is no longer young. It has been slowly moving from the fringe to the mainstream. Many mainline denominations have adopted its tenants, believing that the Biblical prohibitions against gay sexuality and identity do not apply to modern homosexual identity and expression. For many Christians, it is hard to understand how anyone could believe a theology that strays so far from orthodoxy. Why do so many people, gay and straight alike, seem so desperate to have their ears tickled?

Choosing what’s wrong in order to feel loved

In my personal experience, and in my experience with many people who either struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction or who self-identify as gay, it is not intentional rebellion that causes most gay-identified men and women to adopt a gay-affirming theology. It is, instead, a great desire to be loved, accepted, affirmed and simply ‘ok’ with God. Unfortunately, most of us did not find that in our more orthodox churches. My acceptance of a pro-gay theology was my final attempt to reconcile the feelings that raged inside of me and yet seemed to be unacceptable to God. The gay Christian movement spoke directly into my inner conflict.

While my surface likely looked fine, my insides were a mess. Imagine being a young boy with a deep, unquantifiable sense of being different and being called a fag in the 6th grade of your Christian school. Imagine the horror of attractions in junior high that seemed to validate the names that were more and more frequently hurled your way. Imagine hearing your pastor describe homosexuality as an abomination and wondering if you were an abomination. Imagine what it might have been like to attempt to forge a loving, trusting relationship with a God who seemed to be disgusted by you. Imagine names, and bullying and self-hatred and self-loathing and fear of what you might really be. Imagine praying every night for God to make you like the other boys and your prayers never seeming to be answered. Imagine dating girls to try to quell the rumors.

In the midst of all of that inner turmoil, I found myself living my life with an underlying, pervasive sense of fear and abandonment from God and I worked harder and harder to try and scrub my secret sin away. I was striving for perfection in almost every other area of my life to somehow make up for my struggle. But it seemed to follow me everywhere. Even as a law student who had never told anyone of my struggle and never acted on it, I read rumors about myself in a bathroom stall and got gay propositions in my school mailbox. I got married with the sincere hope that marriage might fix me, but ended up feeling trapped, illegitimate and completely unknown. My life felt like one giant lie after another until I found something that told me God did love me and He didn’t care what I was or what I did. I was finally ok being gay.

A theology that left me desperate . . . again

I found all of that that in gay theology. I didn’t find gay theology because I wanted to be rebellious. I found it because I was desperate. And my tickled ears felt incredible . . . for awhile. I began attending a gay-friendly church. As much as I wanted it to be good, it was shallow and fell flat.  I continued to read my Bible, but it too fell flat as my piecemeal study of it proved as shallow as the gay-friendly church. I began to pull away from any personal connection with my Christianity and plowed forward into a life more and more defined by my sexuality. Gay Christianity provided some sense of spiritual security for me, but I began to feel emptier and emptier. I had found a god who did not condemn me but who was also decidedly powerless and benign. Over time, I realized that I felt as far from Him as I had before.  

This new theology empowered me to leave my wife, but six months later I was feeling less and less connected with God and more and more committed to my gay identity. While my heart was still determined and my resolve to make homosexuality work for me was strong, I surprisingly found myself reading the testimony of a man who had walked away from homosexuality. In his story, I discovered the Jesus I had been looking for all along.  

The truth that sets us free

I hungrily re-opened my Bible and found that Jesus DID love me, DID accept me, and DID understand me just as I was. And He loved me too much to leave me there. He beckoned me on a journey–not sending me off on my own but offering to walk alongside me and empower me all the way. I found a mentor who persistently walked me through the Word in order to help me see the reality of who I was in Christ –not a straight Christian, not a gay Christian, but simply a follower of Christ and a child of the King. We found a church that offered both truth and grace; where people were real and changed lives were evident.

I thought I wanted license to be who I was, but found that license did not free me. I needed liberty–not liberty in the form of changed feelings, but freedom from being defined, identified and controlled by my feelings. I found that in a Jesus who was willing to get muddy as He personally rescued me from the pit in which I had not even realized I was stuck.  

I often wonder how my life might have been different if I had been introduced to this Jesus as a child. What if I had known more about the reality of living in a fallen world, the reality and purpose of struggle, and the fact that surrender to Jesus is very different than simply making demands of Jesus? What if I had heard stories of hope and power from real people dealing with real issues? What if my pastors had not used canned sermon illustrations but had revealed a little more of their own humanity and the way Jesus rescued them from their own pits? I don’t really know and, honestly, I am grateful for each component of my journey today. But I do know that there are many people, just like Paul told Timothy about, who do not endure sound doctrine because they, too, are desperate for someone they have never met through legalism or sanitized, cultural Christianity.  

Will we judge the precious souls who find solace in gay Christianity as rebels beyond hope, or will we introduce them to the true Jesus, who calls all who know Him to costly discipleship and offers every person transformation at a level far deeper than the surface of their feelings? Will we push them away to an empty world of licensed behavior, or will we do the harder work of introducing them to the great Liberator and Author of freedom? Sound theology should fill our minds and our hearts as we welcome desperate people and, in our mutual desperation, discover true identity in Jesus!

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24