Longings and the Same-Sex Attraction Discussion

This month my church held a summit called “In His Image: Sexuality, Scripture and Society.” The purpose of the event was to grapple with homosexuality in the context of church life and wrestle with the question: How can we as a body value people with same-sex attraction while still living in harmony with what we believe the Bible teaches about the homosexual lifestyle? Some called the conference “anti-gay,” but that’s an unfair characterization of it. While our church’s official position at this point does not support the homosexual lifestyle, those involved with the conference affirmed and re-affirmed the value of those living it and a desire for relationship with them.

Miles of blogs, articles, films, posts, and threads on this matter stretch out in often-fruitless debate. I prayed earnestly about how to make a contribution that will perhaps at least simplify the discussion and maybe, prayerfully, lead us all closer to Jesus’ side. Here’s what I believe God gave me:

It seems the whole issue revolves around longings—relational, romantic, and sexual longings that God has placed in each soul. These longings predate sin, for God said it was, “not good for man to be alone,” and Adam was, after all, with God, so alone only in human sense. We all long to love and be loved; God has organized human life such that we get some of our love needs met horizontally. Inborn longings drive this give and take without which we’d descend into jungle mode. Imagine a world where, rather than seeing each other as potential sources of fulfillment and pleasure, we’d see only resource competitors and irritants? Longings and the relationships they buid, in turn help build society, marriage by marriage, family by family, community by community, and nation by nation.

But longings can be problematic.

The person who expects each longing to be fulfilled, who exercises no tolerance for the stretched-out empty hand of desire, ends up in mad chase for an unachievable goal. The idolatry of longing has fueled our astronomical divorce rate. Extramarital affairs imbibe of its spirit, as well as the wild, slobbering casual sex in our world. Consenting adults obey the “follow your heart” siren song of the age, eventually following their hearts right out of God’s will. Exalting our human longings to a place where they must be honored and fulfilled binds us in powerful chains to an unsatiable false god.

But keeping them within the design of the One who instilled the desire for love in the first place, creates a space for Him to work. They will at times lead to fulfilling marriages, friendships and communities. Other times a spouse in an emotionally dead marriage will ache for true intimacy, and a single person will long for the embrace of a lover they can’t find. But even in those less-happy times, longings will do something miraculous. They will drive us to the river of God’s love. There is nothing like the soft water of agape on the dry cracks of a lovelorn heart. I’ve hated my disappointments in love, but later loved them because of how God loved me through them.

Viewing the issue of homosexuality through the lens of longing makes the discussion much more fair than it has been. Those who argue against the homosexual lifestyle because they believe the Bible forbids it would also argue against longing-driven divorce and remarriage and heterosexual extramarital hookups. If homosexuals must deny their basic longings to stay within God’s design, so must everyone. If, on the other hand, longings constitute a justification for the formation of a sexual relationship, we must be consistent and give a pass to, for instance, the man who leaves his aging wife for a trophy half his age or the middle-aged single who, prospectless and frustrated, goes hunting for the night.

Before you conclude that my God coldly disregards our deepest desires for human connection, recall that He created and instilled those desires in the first place. And yes, He allowed for the frustration of them as a result of our planet’s slide into sin and brokenness, but only so that that emptiness could receive Him. If instead of fighting for our rights to the human objects of our longings, we would divert that longing heavenward, we’d enjoy a connection to Jesus like none other. There are benefits to unfulfilled longings. Don’t despise them. They may be your best friend in the quest for communion with the God whose love is “better than life.” (Psalm 63:3). “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God,” (Psalm 42:1, 2).

Come. Drink. Let your unfulfilled longings guide you to the water.

29 thoughts on “Longings and the Same-Sex Attraction Discussion

  1. Beth

    These are excellent points you bring out. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  2. Angelo

    Interesting thoughts Jenn. I believe I first encountered this question of longing while reading C.S.Lewis. He seemed to describe longing as an essential aspect of the christian experience. I’m reminded of Hebrews’ “not having received”, and ” clung to the promises”.
    I wonder though, if we haven’t demonized longing rather than idolized it. Perhaps what we’ve idolized are our chosen means of fulfilment. As a Christian culture, is it possible that we have idolized and romanticized marriage to the point of making singleness anathema? Our how about child rearing? I can only imagine the challenges a christian couple must face who decide they just don’t want children. Whenever I hear the argument that everyone deserves to be happy, or in love, or to make a family, I think, “We did that.”
    Marriage isn’t the answer for the longings of loneliness. The problem is, most of us have to get married before we actually believe that. And so the message we end up sending is “we can have our longings fulfilled, but, for some reason your gonna have to just suck it up cause you’re idol is not acceptable.”
    And while Jesus IS the answer to all our longings, there is still a “now, but not yet”, that we as Christians must bear. We must embrace longing. For without longing, there is no need for patience, no place for hope, and no use for faith.

    Until we stop idolizing God’s institutions, I’m not sure how much credence our call for others to honor them will have.

  3. Bert

    When I was in 5th, 6th, 7th grades, I built model cars. I recall a ’57 Tbird, a ’59 Corvette, a ’36 Ford, and several hotrods and dragsters. These projects always proved disappointing in a way. I worked with eager anticipation to complete them and then, when they were finished, the models just sat there on the shelf–inanimate chunks of plastic. It seemed like something more should happen but they were just done, and they just sat there. I guess I hadn’t heard yet the idea that “life is about the journey rather than the destination.” Or so many people now say.

    There is some truth there, of course, but this does inevitably mean that life consists of, among other experiences, unfulfilled longings. Now, how this relates to sexuality I am not entirely sure. As a heterosexual male, happily married for 40 years, I don’t believe I have a solid basis for instructing those with homosexual longings on how they should feel or live. Yes, there is Scripture, and I take it seriously. I also know that, over the centuries, it has been far too easy for students of Scripture to interpret key passages in a self-serving fashion. Everyone, of whatever sexual tendency, runs this risk. I am simply saying that I think it’s appropriate to question my objectivity in matters about which I have incomplete understanding.

    Which leaves me longing for a conclusion that brings more clarity than I can claim on this subject. Jennifer, your thoughts are clearly heartfelt and compassionate. They dive deeply into Scripture, yet they leave me, in a sense, dissatisfied. I have nothing better to offer. I fear, though, that those who don’t find fulfillment in heterosexual relationships will feel that this is just a few crumbs swept for them off my bountiful table. Yes, I agree with you that heterosexual relationships also often come up lacking. Heterosexual marriage is far from fulfilling for a great many. And yes, Jesus is the answer to our longings. I think, though, that a great many people find it very difficult to find that peaceful center in His love.

    I just feel dissatisfied, every time I work this subject over in my mind, with the options that seem to be available. I am coming to think it’s likely that there simply are no fully satisfying answers. If so, I guess it isn’t the only life issue in which the realities of a sin-filled world leave us needing something more.

  4. Scott

    Seems like a well-intentioned piece. But it falls way short IMO of being a tolerant, non-judgmental approach. With statements like “to grapple with homosexuality,” and “the issue of homosexuality,” it still looks like the religious minority think of this as an issue to be dealt with. It isn’t. These are fellow people, none of whom “made a choice” or have an “issue.” They are just our neighbors living the lives that have been set out before them. I look forward to the day when religious people give this up and focus on the myriad of actual issues in the World that warrant this level of attention.

  5. Kris

    When I feel lonely I think about how precious I am to God. He loved me so much that He let His only Son suffer and die for me! I’m ok with whatever my lot may be, and I do believe He wants me to be happy. I pour out my heart to Him, knowing that He wants to hear me, and that to me is exciting! The God of the universe knows me. He made me. He loves me. He cares for me. He has a good plan for me. I’m ok with that. I choose to give up my ways for His. Moment by moment. He created me. I am a woman. He will perfect me and give me the longings of my heart.

  6. Shelley

    Jennifer – thank you for your thoughtful comments. When we read some of the things Jesus did while on earth and compare them to the societal “norm,” we discover He was ahead of His time in the acceptance category (think Woman at the Well, the woman with an “issue of blood,” and other stories). We can get so “stuck” in our thinking that we don’t take time to reflect on what is right, what is kind, what is loving. Above all else, Jesus says, love. I am glad your church got together to consider a loving response to those with lifestyles that are contrary to God’s ideal as set forth in scripture. I’m thankful you included reference to extra-marital sex in any form (something not at all popular in today’s society, nor even in the church) as not following the Creator’s plan either. I pondered if this sort of gathering could happen in my church, and then I did a little digging (went to your web site) and discovered chances are we are part of the same brand of “church.” I live in a conservative part of the nation, and my local church reflects to a degree this conservatism. However, we have many open-minded and very loving individuals who would echo your sentiments and resonate with your thoughts. Thank you again for digging past the surface and putting the issue of “longing” at the forefront. I long to live what Charles and Steven Schulz (in A Life to Die Fo) call the “Exchanged life,” where we die to self (Pauls “I die daily” thoughts) and quite literally ask Jesus to remove our self-centered heart and replace it with His. It is truly an amazing journey. This is my highest longing. In doing this – having Jesus replace Shelley – I will love. Above all else, I will love.

  7. Shelley

    Jennifer – thank you for your thoughtful comments. When we read some of the things Jesus did while on earth and compare them to the societal “norm,” we discover He was ahead of His time in the acceptance category (think Woman at the Well, the woman with an “issue of blood,” and other stories). We can get so “stuck” in our thinking that we don’t take time to reflect on what is right, what is kind, what is loving. Above all else, Jesus says, love. I am glad your church got together to consider a loving response to those with lifestyles that are contrary to God’s ideal as set forth in scripture. I’m thankful you included reference to extra-marital sex in any form (something not at all popular in today’s society, nor even in the church) as not following the Creator’s plan either. I pondered if this sort of gathering could happen in my church, and then I did a little digging (went to your web site) and discovered chances are we are part of the same brand of “church.” I live in a conservative part of the nation, and my local church reflects to a degree this conservatism. However, we have many open-minded and very loving individuals who would echo your sentiments and resonate with your thoughts. Thank you again for digging past the surface and putting the issue of “longing” at the forefront. I long to live what Charles and Steven Schulz (in A Life to Die For) call the “Exchanged life,” where we die to self (Pauls “I die daily” thoughts) and quite literally ask Jesus to remove our self-centered heart and replace it with His. It is truly an amazing journey. This is my highest longing. In doing this – having Jesus replace Shelley – I will love. Above all else, I will love.

  8. Shelley

    Jennifer – thank you for your thoughtful comments. When we read some of the things Jesus did while on earth and compare them to the societal “norm,” we discover He was ahead of His time in the acceptance category (think Woman at the Well, the woman with an “issue of blood,” and other stories). We can get so “stuck” in our thinking that we don’t take time to reflect on what is right, what is kind, what is loving. Above all else, Jesus says, love. I am glad your church got together to consider a loving response to those with lifestyles that are contrary to God’s ideal as set forth in scripture. I’m thankful you included reference to extra-marital sex in any form (something not at all popular in today’s society, nor even in the church) as not following the Creator’s plan either. I pondered if this sort of gathering could happen in my church, and then I did a little digging (went to your web site) and discovered chances are we are part of the same brand of “church.” I live in a conservative part of the nation, and my local church reflects to a degree this conservatism. However, we have many open-minded and very loving individuals who would echo your sentiments and resonate with your thoughts. Thank you again for digging past the surface and putting the issue of “longing” at the forefront. I long to live what Charles and Steven Schultz (in A Life to Die For) call the “Exchanged life,” where we die to self (Pauls “I die daily” thoughts) and quite literally ask Jesus to remove our self-centered heart and replace it with His. It is truly an amazing journey. This is my highest longing. In doing this – having Jesus replace Shelley – I will love. Above all else, I will love.

  9. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Angelo, I thought I really emphasized the vital role of longing. At least I tried to. And how longing leads to God.

  10. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Kris, that’s cool.

  11. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Shelley, thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Blaine Fults

    Your comments are helpful in looking into the heart of the matter! Everyone has an aching empty spot the size of Texas, that only God can fill! Without Him, we are prone to seek to fill it with anything and everything else. As the saying goes, “the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.” It is helpful for us to walk a mile in someone else’s sandals, because we all understand that longing to be loved.

  13. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Thanks, Blaine. I think you got my meaning 100 percent.

  14. Wayne Blakely

    Thank you Jennifer for your inspired insights. As you indicated.. this is what God impressed you with… and I believe He did indeed.

    I was blessed to have been an invited presenter at the “In God’s Image” conference. I along with my colleagues are seeking to reach out with clarity, the experience and guidance God has provided. This is not about “religous people.” This about God given life, the controversy of the effects of sin and responding to what Jesus offers every soul with breath.

    Heterosexual may not be able to relate to the “feelings” of someone homosexual and vice versa. Therein lies a trap that Satan thinks He can use to divide us and ultimately prevent us from recognizing who holds all the answers.

    The sympathy for “longing” that has been generated by multiple perspectives can lead to a focus that continues to be “self-absorbed.” But that is not the focus or result of your observations. I find it refreshing that you point to Jesus regardless of the type of longing one may be expereiencing. And this is in agreement with God’s love letter to us.

    Some of the post article observations concern me as they again focus on self satisfaction no matter what means one might use to achieve it. This was what was key in my life from the earliest experiences of rejection. Satan doesn’t care how he can nab us as long as our focus in on something other than what God intended. I can relate to many of the comments here. I lived, longed, loved and still my focus was on satisfying self. This is prevelant in the lives of many today. We thirst … and yet we seem to be looking everywhere except where the springs of life are flowing from.

    God is gently calling and persuading. But He will always honor our decision. He does not force. There was no promise given from His Word that we would all find what we hope for on this earth. We have many examples throughout His Word of those who kept trying to fill up self and failed without the ultimate life giving focus being on Jesus and a relationship with Him.

    He asks that even in the most perfect of situations, that we be married to Him before we enter into becoming one with a member of the opposite sex. Failing to put God first compromises everything we set out to do without Him.

    It took me more than forty years to discover that Jesus must come before anything and everything else in my life. If Jesus is first, I will seek to please Him rather than self. If we would live in agreement with Him, we would not be so focussed on the longings and heartache that we get tangled and confused in.

    Without studying and searching God’s Word under the guidance of The Holy Spirit, we can appear to be stone throwers. There is a huge difference in being judgmental and pointing to the Word of God that does judge. There should be no shame in pointing to the clarity of thought and reason God has instructed us with. Because “IT” all points to Him. “IT” never compromises or justiifies sin.

    True love… the pure love of Jesus Christ heals all who seek Him. The focus must be on life sustaining truth. In it is the true defintion of love. Jesus tells us… “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we love Him we will seek to live in agreement with Him, not continually trying to see if we can get away with something that is not grounded in the instruction He has given us.

    I urge the readers to love one another in ways that clearly draw each of us to honoring God and His perfect plan for us. His ways.. not ours. As you develop intimacy with Jesus and His teachings, you will not be confused, nor will you seek to compromise His Word and His plan for us.

    Every one of us are broken. We live in an imperfect world, yet wtih instruction to come apart from the world and live as a peculiar people that will honor and glorify God in the truth and love that He has outlined in His Holy Word to us. Under this plan.. His plan… you will discover clarity, peace and continual healing.

    He has not abandoned us. With Him… we are never alone. Once more, we have many who had similar experiences and trials from the Word that show over and over that our hope is in Jesus.

    “Feelings” can deceive and destroy us. We must be accutely aware of the dangers of our longings, feelings and heart motivated desires. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

    Is sacrificing self for Christ too much? Jesus holds out to us… that we would choose Him.

  15. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    Wayne, thanks for your comments. You speak from a much higher platform than I. My article is a thought, but your comment is a testimony.

  16. Leonard Pollack

    Why is it you people need this Christ in your life. Are you all so mistrusting in your own Judgements as to right from wrong. Not here to insult anyone for the personal GOD of their choice but it really is delusional.This coming from a very early age.I never quite got it.Wish I could.

  17. Jennifer JIll Schwirzer

    Leonard, thanks for your comment. Maybe the fact that you wish you could “get it” hints toward the existence of what you desire.

  18. Adel Torres

    The salvation within longing seems to be the theme of God’s work in my life. I thought keenly about in many times this week, as some dear friends of ours grieved the loss of their baby a week before his due date. I even attempted to write a song about it: “Longing is a guiding light, leading us home–to the only place where life’s guaranteed, to the only place we belong.”

  19. Leon King

    Just for starters on the Conference in South Africa (I will get to its violation of Biblical and SOP principles later in this tome), Mr. Blakely and his 2 co-presenters share their stories, from the perspective of 3 people involved in active ex-gay ministries. Ex-gay ministries that depend on financial support from the SDA denomination and/or members, offerings from people who use the ministry, and money from other sources, to pay salaries and the expenses of these ministries. These monetary motivations are furthered, especially in the SDA church, when one is asked to speak at a worldwide conference on gay people (stop using homosexual). So while I am not accusing anyone, people who are reading Mr. Blakely’s comments, or this chain, should reflect on the fact the Mr. Blakely and his co-presenters are hardly “unbiased” reporters in this process. If I had him on the witness stand in a court of law, I could have great fun with his cross examination, but I digress.

    Secondly, if I had led Mr. Blakely’s life (as I understand it from talking to folks and looking on the Internet) I would have concluded being gay is bad as well. It sounds as if he led a very hedonistic, lust filled and driven (promiscuous), lifestyle which included prostitution on his part, and while I have not read this, I bet drug use as well. His mother did not want a boy baby and apparently took it out on him and it caused issues and pain. His life seems very sad, made me feel sad for him. I praise the Lord he has had a revelation to stop said behavior. It is wrong to assume this is the story or path for the vast majority of the rest of us.

    Make no mistake the gay world, as it were, and the straight world both have their negatives. We have shallow, promiscuous, lust driven straight people who don’t know the meaning of the word love and or how to create a stable relationship. Likewise we have gay people on the same path, many also otherwise emotional damaged because of the way society and the Church has treated them. I myself don’t like that when I see sometimes in the gay community, makes me sick to my stomach. Mr. Blakely picked the shallow, lust driven path, was rewarded with misery (as should be expected) and now has therefore concluded that what he was always “told” by the SDA Church is true. Leading a bad gay life, does not therefore confirm that being gay is against God’s will. To the contrary, it confirms that being selfish, lustful, and shallow is against God’s will and leads to pain and misery. Mr. Blakely also apparently wants everyone to believe all us gay people act and behave as he did? Not true. Have we had some childhood trauma that made us gay? Perhaps some would say so, but for an overwhelming majority, not true. The sickest thing I heard was allegedly said at a GYC Conference, namely that gay couples are possessed of the devil (later revised by the speaker to make clear that it was only his gay relationship that was possessed). Really? His relationship was possessed by the Devil, so therefore gay is bad? Really? Sounds like the Salem witch trials in the 1600s.

    While it may be a bit too harsh and personal in its tone, the following quote about Mr. Blakely that I found on the internet is I think the likely the sentiment of many gay Christians. The author says of, and to, Mr. Blakely: “I am glad to know that you have left your self-destructive lifestyle and found faith again in your latter years as have many heterosexuals. This however has nothing to do with your sexual orientation except that your poor choices in life were guided by an ill-informed message embedded in you by the church and society that being gay meant you weren’t good enough. It’s called internalized homophobia and it can drive people to suicide. Please stop repeating the message that sent you down such a tragic path in life. You will only create more pain and harm.”

    I would also note that ex-gay ministries are dangerous and destructive. I had my go at this type of thing with the infamous Colin Cook, one of the SDA Church’s first “companions” of ex-gay ministry. The entire experience was one of the most creepy in my life, lots of touching and hugging, and telling me what a horrible father may Dad was (complete rubbish, but it did serve to wound my father emotionally for years – the SDA church’s pronouncement that I was possessed of the Devil made it worse). Stories of “Pastor” Cook hanging out in peep shows giving men blow jobs while he was a married Adventist pastor. He had mid-blow job epiphany from God he claimed (and he told this to me a young man of 22 at the time, who he had known for exactly on night and part of the next morning). After two days I left, still makes my skin crawl. Well apparently, we found out a short time later, Mr. Cook had been having sex with the people he was trying to turn straight. He appeared on the Phil Donahue show to confess. Turns out that 85 % of the men he was counseling, had sex with him. I was apparently part of the 15% who had a brain and fled in disgust. While I am in no way accusing Mr. Blakely of this, people should be aware that the Church’s history has been bad on this issue.
    Also, the media has spotlighted more than one Christian ex-gay ministry and their leader who after years of preaching change, publically admitted that they are still gay, and had mislead people into thinking change was possible. Even the Adventist World Magazine article on the South African conference skirts this issue. It talks all about the ex-gay folks at the conference, and then summarizes that the group discussed the issue of whether the participants at the conference were still gay, without elaborating either way. Um, I wonder why? As I am told two of them admit to still having same sex attraction, and one claimed no longer, no one emphasizes this, but is necessary to consider when thinking about all of this. If you are really gay, you’re gay, it does not change. Time will tell.

    Likewise, while I only looked at one of the participant’s websites, I can’t recall which one, in answer to a FAQ on the subject, the ministry had to admit that there are no statistics on the success of these ministries in turning people straight. That is because it does not happen. As I say once you are gay, you are gay. Maybe some stop having gay sex, or even get married, but that does not mean you are not gay. It means you are celibate and/or many times lying to your wife about whether you are gay or not. We gay Christians already knew all that. Across the country ex-gay ministries are frowned upon in professional psychiatric and psychological circles, and some states have moved to ban by law their use on minors. Even the ex-gay ministries have recognized this now (at least some) and are now moving to teach what gay folks call “forced “ celibacy, abstinence, or more aptly put “forced loneliness”. NOT GOOD. Thus, Jennifer’s proposition about everyone controlling their “longings”.
    It is also very noteworthy as we consider ex-gay ministries, or recommending a life of forced celibacy, abstinence, loneliness etc. that it is very easy for most straight Christians to recommend these things. Why do you ask? Well if you are straight, married with kids and a family, with a girlfriend, hope for a girlfriend or boyfriend, it is real easy for you to say “hey be by yourself, it’s not that bad”. It is easy for them to say “hey prayer changes everything, even being gay, or even makes the hell of being lonely ok.” Really? Or “oh, it is just like not being able to find a mate, or your wife not wanting to have sex”. Well no it is not, nothing like it at all. While people such as this should be admired for their love of God and belief in the power of prayer, they have no idea what they are asking, or how it will work out. As I and most gay Christians have concluded, God did not answer our “please let me be straight prayers”, or “please make me happy all alone” prayers because He did not have an issue with the gay thing. Just the hedonistic, lust driven, UN-hygienic acts described negatively in the Bible. Remember, we gay people collectively have been there, doing, thinking, and trying out these things people suggest, collectively for centuries, most of you have not – you are new to this.

    People should note further that many in the Church agree with gay people and their interpretation of scripture, but are afraid to say so publically.

    You should also note that I think that more often than folks realize, people involved in this debate are liars, or sad and miserable people. All because of the SDA Church. The other night I was on a Christian blog site, standing up for us gay Christians again. All night there was one particular fellow who was a loud and long winded (like me – lol). He was an opponent of Christian gay people and their interpretation of Scripture on this issue, and therefore everything I said. I was blown away when at the end he sent me FB “friend request”. He made me promise not to “out” him and proceeded to tell me he was in his 50s, an “ultra conservative SDA” and gay. He spoke of being on his knees crying his eyes out for decades asking God to change him, God has not, and he has concluded sexual orientation cannot be changed. He acts like he is straight and takes aim at gay people in chat rooms who are telling folks things like their prayers to be straight, or be lonely and happy have not and will not work. While no one really knows it, he is miserable, feels completely alone and stuck, and believes the opposite of what he says. My heart cries out for him, I am going to give him support. Yet he misleads people, a great sin indeed. Don’t you think?

    Ex-gay ministries do not work either to make a gay person straight, or to make forced celibacy, abstinence, or loneliness a helpful or successful for anyone. I will repeat what I said when I was a CEO, if things work so well SHOW ME the numbers. The failure of these programs I predict will become abundantly clear to everyone in the Church in the next 5 years or so. Hopefully it is not at the expense of the Church through public embarrassment.

    So my point? For gay Christians we have been through the praying and examining all the reasons our prayers might not have been answered (praying upside down, after a fast, etc, etc), many have tried the ex-gay ministry thing, the being married thing, celibacy, abstinence etc. To wit, any and everything well meaning Christians (yes there are some, not most, but some) are putting forth as ideas on these issues these days. As some gay people might say “been there, done that”. I would say most gays who were Christian then just reject God entirely (certainty the SDA faith) and forever because they think, based on what they were taught, that they are going to hell, thus they go out and make sure they have fun before this happens, or they just say God can’t exist. Or God is not with the Christians. Since the SDA Church in particular is 50 or so years behind its gay members, and much of the world on this issue, it puts forth ideas and methods that have been tried and been found wanting (mene mene tekel upharsin), and it comes off to gay people (at least this gay person) as insulting since it all assumes we did not think or wrestle with these things ourselves, or consider that we have been doing so for many, many years collectively and individually. To me it is also infuriating in the sense that for all these 30 years since I left the Church it says nothing on this subject really, but all of a sudden now that gay marriage is sweeping the nation, has a conference in South Africa I guess to tell us gay people it now cares? While I think some SDAs care, most I think do not, it has more to do with feeling threatened.

    If the Church continues on this path of ex-gay ministry, and/or forced celibacy, abstinence, or loneliness, they are in effect conceding that gay people are not worth saving, since gay people are not going to respond to this approach, will reject Christ entirely, and if they do try the course set by the Church, they will be severely psychologically damaged like the man in the FB blog above and then reject Christ. My FB friend thinks it is better to lie than be who is he is, or at least tell more than 3 people that about it. Are we serious here?

    In any event, for me my “oh my God I am 50 epiphany” with Jesus was the opposite of Mr. Blakely. I left the Church in the early 1980s feeling lost and separated from Jesus (he and I were good buddies). Jesus had afterall not answered my prayers to be straight; I thought prayer was supposed to work, it did not, so I left in a huff, extremely pissed at the Church and God. I stopped praying for the most part, but everyone once and a while I would still pray to find someone who would love me for me. My partner of 28 years came into my life at during this time period, through very weird circumstances. I was convinced Satan sent him and was further convinced of my need to go to hell, I acted accordingly. I believed the “God thinks gay is a sin theory of the Church and society”. Long story short, I have had a great life (mostly) and last summer I woke up a realized that Randy (my partner) was not Satan’s curse, but God’s blessing. God’s answer to prayer. I was humbled that God had been looking out for me afterall. I thought of the great successes I have had in my life, that if you looked at the whole picture most of it should not have happened, and I realized and gave glory to my Creator that he had been looking out for me afterall. I then felt ashamed for being so ungrateful, for blowing my best friend off for 30 years. Jesus and I had a very tearful reunion in prayer. I cried in confession the most for me being so ungrateful for my blessings (the biggest one being Randy) and/or for being so disrespectful in blowing off the first 4 Commandments all those years. My second most tearful confession was over the 28 years I had not shared the Gospel with my partner, had not shared anything good about God with him. I feared he was not ready for Christ’s return. I am now slowing explaining things to him, getting him to like keeping Sabbath (he is what they call “culturally” Catholic). He supports my walk with Jesus but does not understand it yet.(of course Mr. Blakely’s approach would be to throw Randy out to the curb since we are in a “sinful” relationship – yes I am sure that will win Randy’s soul to Christ – Really ?). Of course taking him to Church is out of the question since, in part, folks like Mr. Blakely , bear false witness and make people think both of us have been unwanted by our mothers, and have led lives like his, etc.

    Several people at Church know I am gay and know I have partner of 28 years. I am in Church every week, no one has ever asked me to invite him? Don’t you think Randy notices that I never say “oh this one at church wants you to come to church so they can meet you (I do afterall talk about the people there constantly), or “oh, they all want you to come to church”? (I did get an invitation to dinner, and 4 members have been very understanding, loving, uplifting, healing, and willing to listen for many hours on the bright side and to Gods glory) Yet no one says “hey bring Randy to church sometime”. I bet you Randy does notice the lack of invitation to Church because that is what happens in every other situation I have been in when it comes up that I have a partner. Often people meet him and like him better than they do me (lol). Not in the Lord’s Church however. I do not bring him because I am afraid people will react badly, and then he will never listen to me about how great the Lord is. I think people who know and are otherwise very Chris-like don’t ask for the same reason. This is the sin of the Church not these individuals. They are likely scared to death. Do you think all this makes Randy more or less likely to get to know more about this great person named Jesus Christ whose followers are supposed to be known by their love? Ponder on that before you start preaching in response to this.

    At my father’s funeral in September, I gave a 15 minute (maybe 20 min) sermon on the resurrection, death, the last days, and my father’s walk as a Christian. Without going into detail I told the entire Church how I had come back to the Lord over the summer and even got several amens during my talk. My high school friends from Academy already new, they were happy and proud of me, my brothers were happy and proud of me, I even got a few FB messages about how this was great from members of the Church I have known for years and know Randy. My brothers told me how they benefited spiritually and how my parents would be very proud of me. But you know what, not one thing from my home Church pastor. I started paying tithe to the home Church over the summer, I have come back to the Lord after 30 years, one would think the Pastor would have some encouraging words (he has seen me several times since). How about a “welcome back Leon”, “let me know if you need anything”. Yet nothing. I wonder why? Might it be because he doubts my testimony because he knows I am gay, saw my partner walking with me behind my father’s casket as we walked out of the Church (Randy was also a pall bearer at my mother’s funeral), and concluded “what an Agent of the Devil Leon is? Or am I being too dramatic?

    In any event after my epiphany, I re-examined scripture on everything, including the gay issue. Read the Bible cover to cover, did research. My conclusion is different than the SDA Church and most SDAs. My relationship with God is better than it I has ever been. Yet, SDA people who have not, like me and others, walked my walk, or read or studied the scriptures in detail (based on real life facts not fantasies), continue to be condescending (unintentionally for the most part I think) in implying that my relationship with God is somehow tarnished or not real since I am gay, admit I am gay, and love my partner, and hope we go to Heaven TOGETHER! They say things like (I paraphrase here a lot) “I wonder how long he would be gay if he allowed Jesus in his heart, or “making God the first thing in your life will lead you to healing”, or ”don’t you think homosexuals should control their ‘longings’ like everyone else ?”, “oh Lord he is a wolf among the sheep”, “well this issue (i.e. in part brining your partner to Church) would be distracting don’t you think ?”,or my favorite “what you need to do is just let the Holy Spirit into your life, and He will heal you”. Really? My partner, a child of God who Jesus died for would be distracting in Church? Really? You are the judge of my relationship with God because we read the Bible differently? I don’t tell him these things people say, since they are not very nice. Jennifer says Mr. Blakely’s experience comes from a higher plain, now she has heard mine, is their further judgment for me now? I am possessed of the Devil, or could it be the Church is just wrong and God is using me to make it known to people? Will Jenifer and invite us to her church and introduce Leon and his partner Randy to all the saints?

    I have heard about a Pastor, despite the Bible’s instruction that those to add words to prophecy that are not there are evil, go ahead and modify SDA last day teaching to say that gay marriage is a sign of the times equal to the Sunday Law. This happened at Southern Adventist University (my niece attends) a couple of weeks ago. No public censure from the Church for making things up. You mean EGW missed this? There is a little horn somewhere in Revelation that really represented gay marriage? Really? Is it that anything goes and can be said in opposition to gay marriage and gay people? Where is the Church summit in South Africa decrying the genocide, death and lack of religious freedom in Somalia and like African Countries? Where the Church summit on Uganda’s formerly proposed laws to execute gay people? Nowhere.

    In any event, I have concluded that a loving God who knows I and 99% of gay people are simply born this way, who sent me Randy and the Jesus who died for the both of us, did not call me back to Him so I could insure Randy does not get to know Jesus, by throwing him to the curb. I have concluded that a loving God did not call me back so that I could go through the psychological torture of being programmed to be straight, or to be happy in forced loneliness (a practical impossibility). I am called to bring Randy to the Lord, and to bring His love to other gay people, transsexuals (is that evil as well folks?), and like outcasts, and to be a witness to the wrongheaded, and unloving path of the Church’s interpretation of scripture and its treatment of gay people. I am sure I will get a lot of crap for it, but I do what I am called to do, not what most of the world and its masses tell me I should do.

    Why? Aside from all the rest, it is because Jesus is not in the Church’s approach. I recall looking in my father’s Bible after he died last September, in it was a very long prayer list. My name of course was at the top (I am the oldest son), my brothers, and about everyone he ever knew. Absent from that list was my partner Randy, who my father had known for 28 years, who cooked him Thanksgiving dinner every year for 20 years, and who made his son happy and secure. I was so very crest fallen and hurt when I saw that. My partner is not invited to Church for the same reason my father did not include him in his prayer list. Simply put: Jesus is not part of the Church’s position on this and it causes otherwise good, faithful Christians to act like my father did. This is the Church’s sin alone.

    Now to slant thing just slightly to the South Africa Conference:
    At the outset, I do not think the leaders of this conference had some evil intent. I think they meant well. Nevertheless, it was all wrong in the way it spoke to gay people, heard from gay people, and related to those in the Church who were trying to get a complete picture of things.

    To be sure, the leaders of this conference did not place it in Africa for a bad purpose (it was really about President Wilson’s schedule and travel plans) For me a gay man, I was outraged. Africa is the most popularly known homophobic continent in the world. As noted above, Uganda recently considered a bill to execute gay people just for being gay (supported by the SDA church in Uganda I am told & the campaign to pass it was largely funded by money from Christians in the USA –spread the Gospel through force and prison? Which book of the NT is that in?). Uganda ended up just keeping it to life in prison. Life in prison for “being” gay, engaging in gay sex, I think even for just “associating” with someone who is gay. Many of the African countries (I think most) have the same penalties as Uganda. The SDA General Conference VP under whose chain of command this summit fell, while I hear he is a nice man, comes from Tanzania, and was educated in India. Both places are places were gays are imprisoned, beat up, and lynched by mobs. So the symbolic message to many gay people, unintentional as it may have been, was “hey we have not really cared about you gay people for decades, however we are here to reaffirm that gay is against God, and we meet in Africa where they like to kill you. Said fact has been front page news over the last couple of years, but we say nothing about state sanctioned murder of gay people on the continent of Africa at our conference”. As Onslo would say “NICE”! Yes, Jesus loves me, but does my insensitive Church? It does not sound or feel like it. No matter your theology on this issue.

    People should also know that based on the proportions I read about, from 2% to 11% of the population is gay, which applies of course to members of the SDA Church. Therefore we have from a low of 360,000, to high of about 1.8 million gay SDA members (the Church has 18 million members). This does not include the SDA parents of said members, nor their sisters, brothers, and other family members. It does not include former members and their families. Yet the Church could only find 3 people willing to admit that there were gay (or that they allegedly used to be gay) in the entire world? Really? If these ex-gay ministries were so successful, we should have people tripping over themselves to give their testimony. Why were they not there? Simply put, it is because they don’t exist, nor will they ever. I single handedly, could have people lined up around the world twice, waiting days at time in line to share at the conference, their testimony would be basically similar to mine.

    In a related vein, the Church did not invite people like me, who have had the opposite epiphany with Jesus from Mr. Blakely to present our testimony and view of scripture. Why? Well that was not their intention, and it would probably never occur to them that we exist. The Church purposely did not invite SDA members with different views on this issue from more progressive areas like the Pacific Union Conference, or the Loma Linda area for example. Why? Because the Conference was designed, not to find out the problem and what the correct Biblical solution was. Rather it was to confirm a doctrine we really NEVER have prayerfully examined, and to soothe our collective and irrational fears of gay marriage. It was not, “gay people born that way? A disorder? a choice?, history and experience in the Church ? Biblical views? What do we do? ” Rather it was “Alternative sexualities, a disorder or a choice?”

    The Bible demonstrates in the NT how Paul advised us to address issues in the Church (or more specifically issues between brethren – and this is one) and that was to bring the issue to the elders of the Church for a decision. I am sure he did not mean to bring just one side of the issue to the elders as was done in South Africa. The discussions in the NT around eating meat served to idols and circumcision were not one sided discussions designed to lead to a particular outcome, as was the SDA South Africa debacle. Go read them. If you study the writings of EGW, she indicated (I think in relation to the controversy over sanctification in 1888) that “the truth can stand the light of day” (or words to that effect), she advocated for everyone having their say at that point in time. If Holy Mother Seventh Day Adventist Church believes its “truth” on gay people is in fact THE “truth” why will it not let it stand the light of day? Stand the test in comparison to alternative interpretations of Scripture? Why will it not acknowledge that even Sister White believed that a great sin was the Church’s belief that it had all truth, the complete truth, on every subject, for all times, and that truth was not something that continually unfolded?

    Satan’s deception is not what Mr. Blakely described in his response to Jennifer’s original post rather it is much better plan that has sucked in us SDAs. The first part of the plan is as Sister White put it: “Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.”–White, Ellen G: Signs of the Times, May 26, 1890. People may go and try to argue context in regard to this statement, but it is to no avail as it is supported by the entire course of Christianity history on many important issues. Sister White is right “much [will be}lost”, and it will be any sort of effective outreach to gay and lesbian people, and thus many gay and transsexual people will not hear, or shall I say not listen, to the good news of the Gospel. SDA people are so indoctrinated that they have the truth, the whole truth in every area, and nothing but the truth in every area, that when a discussion comes along on an issue no one has really studied or informed themselves about, the average SDA is threatened to his core about ALL his beliefs. If you are SDA and really don’t know any gay people, many may be culturally threatened, they will not consider new light. Many will be defensive. Why? Well because SDAs know all truth. As EGW says this is Satan’s deception: we do not have 100% truth on all things.

    The second part of Satan’s deception is to focus people’s attention on a biblical issues they really have not studied, are mostly ignorant about, and make an easy way for them to feel good about themselves by condemning gay people’s very being as people and basic needs of life. Gay folks are truly “the least of these” in the SDA church. Satan focuses the Church on controversial issues of the day (gay marriage for example) so it becomes more like the Pharisees Jesus disliked so much, and ignores and places at near the bottom of the list the Beast and his very public consolidation of power and influence. Ignores the scores of dead SDA churches across America, and a whole host of other evils. Yet people feel good because they have taken a stand against gay people. It is real easy.

    Satan takes a Christian’s loyalty to God and his creation and twists it. He makes one think that re-examining scripture on gay and being gay, means disregarding God’s “original” “main” plan for human relationships, namely a man and a woman committed to each other for life. In their zeal people miss the subtle deception. Namely, that while it is clear that God made man and woman, wanted them to populate the earth by having sex in a loving, lifelong relationship, and that this was the primary plan for populating the earth, that does not mean therefore that being gay is evil, that gay people born that way were not in God’s original plan, or that a loving, monogamous gay relationship is therefore evil either. The jump I reasoning is constantly made, but the factual and logical foundation of the connection does not exist.

    Satan was also good at getting some gay person somewhere to insist on using the term marriage in regard to committed gay relationships. Straight people get fired up, scream evil and the end of the world. When all it is really is two people of the same sex (like Randy and I for example) publically proclaiming their love for one another, and promising to take care of each other until death do them part. We then have it blessed by the state for legal reasons. This all of Christendom calls evil. A threat to “traditional” marriage. Really? Are you really serious? Anybody remember the straight divorce rate? The straight adultery rate and all the evil that causes in the world? Well of course not, we are focused on the gays. Satan is quite good.

    In a related vein, the Christian Church as a whole changed it views on slavery being biblically blessed in the USA, despite the fact that nowhere does the Bible condemn it out right, and inspite of the fact that people thought for sure God’s curse on Cain was black skin. The SDA Church debates in secret the ordination of woman (it has taken 5 years and we are not done) despite Paul saying they should be silent. The SDA Church was chastised (by EGW) and over time had to change its policies on recruiting Black people again because of Biblically held beliefs on Black people being the cursed decedents of Cain. A belief supported further because many believed Black people to be the descendants of unholy unions between angels and beasts (or something like that). The Church has changed it policy on interracial marriage based on reinterpretation of scripture and underlying facts of life. The Church was wrong about what occurred in 1844 and the apostles were wrong about Jesus having an earthy Kingdom without his death and resurrection. We SDAs believe almost 2 billion people are wrong about the 7th Day. We don’t stone adulterers, or do any of a host of other things mentioned in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Science and practical knowledge of gay people has increased greatly in the last 30 years, yet this does not matter. Many people say to me “solo Scriptura” and basically assert that infallibility exits with the SDA Church (much like the Pope) on gay people in the Bible. Simply amazing. When I on occasion tell a female (merely to make a point) that I am ordering her to be silent, to not assert her authority over me as a man by disagreeing with me on the gay issue (so saith Paul), all of a sudden, we have to take things in context and with a look to the times in which people live. Really? Come on give me a break! This is not debate on whether we should keep Sabbath afterall.

    A final characterization as to the “why” of the Churches actions, and resultant pain it causes to its gay members, present and former, is because its policy has nothing to do with caring about gay people or a Jesus. It has to do with power, politics, and the “threat of gay marriage”.

    Ironically, 1st Corinthians 13 call us to love one another. My view is that in order to love someone, you have to be able to empathize. You can’t empathize, if you do not listen to a person’s life experience, their experience with God, and their revelation of Scripture. If you can’t empathize you can’t love. A conference on concerning potentially over 2 million Church members does not love, those it does not listen to or invite to be heard.

    The Church will no longer be allowed to discuss its gay members while we sit moot waiting for a decision, and/or let the Church continue to think we do not exist or have valid spiritual lives. The dark ages are over.

    Things need to change! When is the next conference when we all get to share?
    Thanks so much

  20. Jennifer JIll Schwirzer

    Leon, this is indeed a tome 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story. Didn’t think all of your points were fair, but I read it all with interest. You are most certainly welcome to bring Randy to church, (although I’m not a member of REACH). In fact, I’d like to make dinner for you and Randy some time at my house. I didn’t mean to relegate you to “forced loneliness,” in fact, I don’t see it as that. I see it as some of our denied earthly longings actually creating a space for more divine love in our lives, which ends up being more earthly love in the long run. I could say a lot more, but I burned up my time reading your post :).

  21. Jennifer JIll Schwirzer

    Adel, that song is beautiful! Finish it! I want to hear it in your beautiful voice.

  22. Tom Owiti

    Jill,
    Very well written and I particular like how compassionate you are. I have read your articles in Vibrant Life magazine too, and have found them refreshing. However, I know one thing that we tend to downplay; that “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9. So I have learnt to distrust my own heart’s longings and desires and chosen to submit them to God’s control. Much as I would like to fulfill these God-given longings and desires, I know that how I fulfill them matters to God – self-control is part of the FRUIT of the Spirit. I also have the confidence that what I cannot do for myself, God can give sufficient grace to do. So, just like Jesus, let us be compassionate but we must not compromise. Jesus met every person where they were and gave them something better – He did not stroke their longings or justify their sin. The woman caught in adultery, John 8, is a classic example; “Go and sin no more.” With these words, He gave her power to overcome. We can appropriate Jesus’ power and encourage our brothers and sisters who have longings and desires that are contrary to God’s will to follow “It is written,” and say “we love you and God loves you even more that He can give you power to channel your longings and desires in accordance with His will. The choice is yours for the asking.”

  23. Jennifer JIll Schwirzer

    Thanks, Owiti, very good thoughts.

  24. Terry Rice

    I appreciate the author, Jennifer’s reflecting deeply into the longing for love each of us has. The first 3 paragraphs were of discoveries I mostly agreed with (despite the author’s usage “lifestyle” as one kind for all when in reality all gay people’s ways of life are different and it’s better not to make sweeping statements). It’s beautiful to see some of the world’s actions of relational love as expressions of God’s love for us. I truly believe that.
    Some gay Christians believe that celibacy is God’s call on their lives as they read the passages on gay issues as applying to all kinds of homosexual relationships. This may be compatible with the author’s perspective.
    Other gay Christians believe that the Bible speaks only to negative, promiscuous, non-consenting or power issue, same-sex acts. And so the longing they feel may be healthfully directed to monogamous, loving, committed, same-gendered couples that we can find in our every day lives.
    Both interpretations have merit in the Scriptures, to which I honor all as earnest believers in Jesus. However I love author’s focus that helps us live within our unfulfilled longings – to be fulfilled best by Jesus. Very True B).

  25. Jennifer JIll Schwirzer

    Thanks, Terry. That was my main point.

  26. Carolyn Lord

    I’m posting this for Carolyn-JJ- I am responding to your comments on “Longings and the Same -Sex attraction Discussion” here because my computer will not let me into your blog. But I just want to say “THANK YOU,” this is the clearest, most logical, and Biblical response I have ever heard or read on this subject! I do believe in a very loving and “other-centered God who clearly understands all of our human brokenness and still has a way of healing and restoration for every problem known to man. We often single out one aspect of human desire to stigmatize as “the awful one,” and don’t even address the many ramifications of that situation. But as you have beautifully explained, the answer to our deep longings and needs is always to seek God’s heart and thus His healing first and foremost, and He will always guide us to the clarity of understanding what is the best decision regarding truth in all matters of our earthly sojourn.

  27. Amanda C.

    I long for a day when Christians will stop trying to force everyone to be like them. I resent the notion that homosexual “longing” should be suppressed in the name of Christ or whatever. The conference does sound anti-gay, and so do you. Why do you care if people are gay? Why do you need to portray it as an “issue”? I’ve never know a gay person who had an “issue”. They just are what they are, like me. Apparently not like you though, because it sounds like you’re pretty perfect and without “issues”. Furthermore, your characterization of homosexuality as a “lifestyle” demonstrates that you don’t understand homosexuality in any context other than a religious one. Lifestyles are chosen, not biological.

    The reason I’m an atheist is because I don’t like feeling like a bad person, when I’m not. Everything that is different (not in your Bible) is “evil” and “a sin”. Christians are always talking about their faith lifting them up. It’s because you are standing on the backs of those you judge and condemn. And your article does condemn, in a wicked way that masquerades as psuedo-acceptance.

  28. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer Post author

    No intention to condemn anyone, Amanda. Just trying to offer and alternative view.

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