There are unchurched people who fear becoming a new creation in Christ because they think if they adopt Christian behavior they won’t be able to have any more fun. Those of us living a Christ-filled life know better. But Christians have gotten a bad rap because the religious-political extremists are so flamboyant and shrill expressing their wrong-minded thinking. Many gay people outside the church also think that “becoming a new creation” means changing their sexual orientation. This is another example of the propaganda of the religious-political extremists. It is incorrect. Scripture demands no such thing.
When we become a new creation in Christ we are transformed by the Grace of God. Sometimes it is dramatic, and people describe a blessed assurance that they have become brand-new people. Other times we may not notice any appreciable change, and are disappointed. God has His own timetable, and He cannot be hurried. What can we do if we do not immediately feel different? Should we be concerned? We look at the saints of the church who seem like they’ve “got it all together” and we think, “How do they do that?”
Some years ago a friend of mine, (a young Ph.D. candidate) came to realize that he was not being the best friend and husband he could be to his wife. When the realization struck him, he was ashamed. But he did a remarkable thing: right then and there he decided to become a nice guy. A Nice Guy! Just like that. It worked, and he is now a nice guy. With conscious effort he re-created himself. He willed himself not to do unkind things. He kept at it, willing himself to be a nice guy until he didn’t even have to think of it any more. Niceness became a natural way of life for him.
There was a university experiment in which scientists measured the skin temperature, galvanic response, blood pressure, pulse, etc. of volunteers. The volunteers were instructed to make different facial expressions showing fear, hilarity, frustration, joy, amazement, heartbrokenness, depression, and rage. The results showed that when a volunteer expressed any of these emotions, their body created the appropriate response: increased or decreased heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, etc.
The point is not to just pretend. Pretending, at first, is just one method to achieve a desired effect. And, it can be quite effective. Take another example: A woman who had fallen out of love with her husband spent a long time in prayer, asking the Lord to help her learn to love her husband again. He was a great guy. They were both heterosexuals. He wasn’t mean to her. He never abused her. She liked him, but for a while, she just didn’t feel in love with him. However, after communing with the Lord, she felt it would be good to go on acting as if she loved him. More especially though, she did something that became significant to her success: she put “legs” on her prayers by putting some effort into doing what the Lord had told her was the right thing to do. She found new ways to show him she loved him. She treated him as if he were the best thing that had ever happened to her. Was she just a big fake? A fraud? No. She had prayed for insight, and this is what she got. She had prayed for a discerning spirit, for word of knowledge, and for guidance. Eventually, she fell back in love, and since she had maintained her close relationship with her husband, she still had a good thing going.
You who are gay Christians have my deepest admiration. You are under attack by the religious-political extremists because they think gays can’t be Christians. To them you are perverts who should “change.” You are also under attack by people in the gay community who think you have betrayed them. To them you are Uncle Toms. I sometimes wonder how you maintain your faith under such persecution. Then I understand that it is your faith in God that carries you through. The God who created you perfect, in His image, supplies you with sufficient grace for the journey.
In closing, let me say this: however people may argue with your understanding of Scripture, they can not argue with what you know is true in your heart. What the Lord has done in your heart is between you and your Creator. No amount of picking apart Scripture can touch what the Lord has done in your heart. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Jim Bilbrey has been married to his wife Cindy since 1972.