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This six-part series is also available on our website. We love to receive feedback, so feel free to send us your comments!

A question often asked here at Harvest USA is a common one. “Why do people, Christians even, go back to a gay life after they have come for help?” It’s a legitimate question. For Christians who believe the Word, the Scriptures, and believe that faith in Christ makes one a “new creation,” the issue may seem confusing, but the answer must be honest and biblically grounded. Here is the fourth reason which explains what might be happening here, as we have seen some common denominators over the years in our ministry.

Demandingness

This is a very subtle thing, but it is something significant that begins to characterize the heart of the struggler. How does it show up? Well, in a variety of ways.

The most common way is the demand that one’s feelings and attractions change, usually on the person’s own timetable. Sometimes months or years later, a man will complain to us that he still feels strongly attracted to men, or a woman still feels attracted to women. Our response is, “Why does that surprise you?” It would surprise us if they didn’t.

You see, if you spend years cultivating desires, acting on attractions, and feeding temptations, it is perfectly understandable that one’s heart is still stirred by what has characterized his or her life. If a man or a woman has spent years looking at others in a way that diminishes the image of God in them, reducing others to what you can get from them, then that will be the first place their hearts will turn until they learn, steadily over time, to love others biblically. This is an important lesson to learn; else you will be surprised at the ferocity of the desires of the “old man” or “old woman.” Within this context, a struggler can demand that God stop those attractional pulls and desires now, but they need to understand that there can be a number of reasons that these temptations still occur.

What else is going on here? One, there is a false idea of what healing means, and there is a lack of understanding of what it means to have the old (sinful) nature and the new (redeemed) nature be at war within you. The latter ignorance is to be vulnerably exposed to the wiles and schemes of the evil one, which can lay a foundation of demandingness in the heart.

As for what healing is, there is confusion about, and sometimes a demand that, God remove feelings and attractions for the same sex, while at the same time cause feelings and attractions for the opposite sex. It has been our experience that God doesn’t bring one out of a general lust for the same sex and into a general lust for the opposite sex. Rather, as one begins to have an understanding of, acceptance and appreciation of who they are in their true sexual identity, they can begin to experience a lessening of same-sex attraction over time. What may also occur is an attraction for someone of the opposite sex—not generalized but specific toward one person with whom they are in relationship. But it is important to note that the ability to walk in obedience and to experience a sense of the wholeness of Christ can occur whether or not one ever develops sexual attraction for the opposite sex.

At times during their initial interviews, when someone is asked why they came to Harvest USA, we’ll get this response: “I want to be like everyone else. I want to be married and have a traditional family.” We tell them that, while that is a noble and good goal to have, it cannot be the reason for their being here. Why not? Because, invariably, when feelings don’t change and these expectations don’t materialize in the person’s timetable, they will grow disillusioned and want to give up. Often underneath is the demand, “God, you better come through for me! Look how much I have given up for you!”

God does come through for us, but often in ways we don’t expect or even want.

Updated 5.3.2017

This six-part series is also available on our website. We love to receive feedback, so feel free to send us your comments! 

A question often asked here at Harvest USA is a common one. “Why do people, Christians even, go back to a gay life after they have come for help?” It’s a legitimate question. For Christians who believe the Word, the Scriptures, and believe that faith in Christ makes one a “new creation,” the issue may seem confusing, but the answer must be honest and biblically grounded. Here is the second reason that could explain what might be happening here, as we have seen some common denominators over the years in our ministry.

 The cost of obeying Christ seems too high a price to pay

For many people, the call to obey Christ and live within the boundaries of God-designed sexuality is just too difficult, and its benefits too intangible and not immediate enough. Unfortunately, this is the kind of society in which we now live. If anything seems too difficult or doesn’t produce immediate results, then it’s not worth the time and effort. The downside of life in a technologically-based society is the false, utopian ideal that everything should work or should be fixable—now! Growth that can only take place over time, and the very idea of struggle itself, is dismissed as unnatural.

I remember something Gail Barker, our first secretary at Harvest USA, said to me one day. Gail was telling me that while she was growing up in the 1940’s, life was difficult, and everyone just accepted the idea of struggle as a part of life. She went on to say that was why people enjoyed times of respite from struggle. There was an awareness that life was not easy, and therefore one came to appreciate, as a blessing, the times when life was not so hard. But those moments were brief, which made them so much more valuable. It is especially important for for those who desire to come out of homosexuality to realize this intertwining of struggle and respite.

God calls us all to obedience to his will, to what he knows is best for his creation, and that entails turning away from those things which seem to offer life but, in reality, lead to the death of the soul. Those who have embraced homosexuality have opened a Pandora’s Box and have found false comfort and counterfeit life in a mistaken attempt to make sense of a broken and fallen world. This is true for anything that anyone embraces outside of God’s design, not just for this issue. Sometimes, then, God’s call to all of us to live a life of holiness (that is, a life live according to God’s call, separated from the innumerable ways in which the world encourages us to live) seems not worth the price to pay. Like I mentioned in point number one, that price is nothing less than a death—the death that comes from leaving behind those things which once gripped your heart and felt good and affirming.

There is suffering involved in self-denial. The book of Hebrews reminds us that to walk in self-denial, in order to live fully engaged in a life with God, is costly. In Hebrews 11:24-26 we read that, “Moses . . . refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (ESV). To deny oneself immediate pleasure and gratification is only possible when you look ahead to a greater future, one that is only realized by immersing oneself in God and in the people of God.

Of course, to speak of a road of self-denial and suffering is an unattractive option to most people. Yet it will be the path, at least most strongly in the beginning, for the journey out of a homosexual life. That is understandable, as many who come to Harvest USA say that they can’t imagine a future life without sexual involvement with a person of the same sex.

But there is an answer here. Unless that person comes to see Jesus as the one who takes center stage in their heart, displacing all others and the idols of the heart which draw us away from following him, then there will be an overwhelming and unending ache over what has been left behind and what is being denied. Seeking to end that ache makes going back into sin that much easier and more attractive. Jesus has to been seen as more attractive, worth much more than the denial of the flesh. Self-denial is not displaced by nothing; it is replaced slowly, over time, by a growing relationship with Jesus, and it is in that relationship that the grace and power to live a whole new life comes. It is a life that has its own joys and pleasures, made all the richer in the knowledge that such a life pleases the One who redeemed you by his death for you. We have learned at Harvest USA that unless people grasp that there is a greater reward that comes with obedience, then they don’t make it.

Updated 5.4.2017

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