That afternoon when I was seventeen still stands out as a marker in my mind so clearly. It was the day I finally spoke with my father about coming out as a lesbian.
Soberly, I walked into the room where he was sitting quietly on the couch. After our awkward interaction, in which I disclosed that I was a lesbian, he asked me if I wanted help. I had no confidence in his ability to help me and was completely disconnect from God, so I rejected the offer.
I go into depth further about my journey in my book The God of My Parents and other blog posts you can read here and here. However, in this blog, I’d like to talk about how certain verbiage that is thrown around by Christians in order to be effective in reaching the gay community is actually very damaging. I will be writing about the concept of choice.
To choose something you need to first see another option. During the time in my life when I came out to my dad, due to my disconnected and false understanding of God, I lived a desperately lonely and isolated existence. I was starving for affection and affirmation and had been for some time. I began to attempt to meet these needs, these deep longings for affirmation, validation and emotional safety through romantic relationships with women.
But did I choose to be gay?
This is a question I hear from many well meaning Christians when trying to communicate the truth of the gospel.
I experienced substantial deficits in my life but while I very much had a free will, I did not choose to be gay. Gay chose me. I believed what it had to say about me hook line and sinker. I did not chase Gay, tag it with a stun gun, nor did I wrestle Gay to the ground. Gay was pursuing my heart.
In my Christian upbringing I was taught homosexuality was a sin, but I didn’t know how a relationship with Jesus could bring truth to my brokenness in sexuality. The most transformative moments in understanding my attractions, longings, and needs were when I began to understand that Jesus chose me. He chose ALL of me. Yet, I didn’t understand the access that Christ’s love could have or the access that He wanted into my life.
Can I make a suggestion here? Perhaps conversations and statements about the gospel with others regarding sexuality should center on this proclamation: Jesus chooses you. This is more powerful than any other truth, because Jesus is truth and He is the one who can transform the heart.
When I began to walk in His truth and love for me the remorse over the cost of sin in my life was realized. In my opinion, you don’t understand needing a savior until you are saved. You don’t realize you have been sucking at the back end of a tail pipe, gasping for oxygen until you breath fresh air for the first time. The costs of our attempts to fill our hearts are something that time does not erase – even when Jesus wipes them from His books. However, God is a completely redemptive God that promises to restore me despite my own failures and insecurities.
It’s all to easy to dismiss people and express the opinion that their sin is a “choice”.
So for those who cannot see the heart of strugglers or unbelievers, I’d pose the question – what areas of unbelief do you have about God’s love for you?
What areas did He pay for that you aren’t seeing in your own life?
The world needs to be told He chooses them.
And from there, transformation of the gospel can take place.
Liz Flaherty lives in South Carolina with her husband Andy. They’ve been married since 2005, and have spent the majority of their marriage ministering to and mentoring people in areas of sexual wholeness and identity. In her book, The God of My Parents, Liz shares her powerful testimony in which she faced immense grief, rejection, drug abuse, pornography, and homosexuality. Her heart is to inspire the Christian community to address these issues with love, respect and honesty.
Liz and Andy have two cats, named Paddie and Ginger.