This shouldn’t shock anyone reading this blog post. We live in a broken world. Few among us are healthy, whole, and living out our full redemption in the areas of gender, sexuality, and romantic relationships.
Through Christ, I am on a pathway to wholeness, but I, like everyone else, struggle with a measure of brokenness in this world. If I weren’t a Jesus-follower, though, I’d just be sexually broken.
One of the barriers I have in talking with people about LBTGQ concerns is that I don’t understand why our Christian culture insists on categorizing sexual/gender-related sins on a spectrum.
For me, this isn’t an “us vs them” conversation, as in hetero’s vs others. For me, this is an “us as related to Him” conversation as in, how do we humans, wrestling with the brokenness and sin of our most intimate relationships (that with our own gender, our own sexuality, our partners, and our God) find redemption, reconciliation, and healing this side of glory?
When we create a false divide as if some ways of being broken are more desirable than others, we lose a significant pathway to dialog. WE all struggle with lesser attractions than those to which we’re called. WE all are barraged by temptations from without and within to lust, to wander, to withhold, to twist, or to distort this gift of gender and sexuality created by God.
I’ve never wrestled with same-sex attraction, but I have done harm to myself and others by wrestling with same-sex repulsion. Hating, fearing, and hiding from other women has created significant sin issues in my life and the life of the church.
Certainly, there’s a well-documented history of misogyny in society and the church, but it’s no less damaging now to witness man-hating, male-bashing, and gender-centric fear-mongering made the norm in many circles, including some within the Body of Christ.
I do believe the Bible speaks against the practice of homosexuality, but it also speaks against sex-outside of marriage, lustful thoughts, pornography, divorce, abuse, and withholding sex from a spouse without cause.
I Timothy 5:24 (ESV) says this: “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.” We know that while some sins of gender distortion and sexual perversion are apparent to all, there are others hiding behind closed bedroom doors in relationships that appear as straight and godly as church pews.
This isn’t to say we should be suspecting or condemning everyone, but to say we should engage others with compassion knowing we all bear pain, scars, and private failings because of sin. There are people who weep alone in their bedrooms, who harbor deep shame, who try again and again to overcome a besetting sin made more insidious because they feel they cannot tell another soul.
The brokenness with which they struggle is no better than those who parade theirs for all to see. To hide sin or to embrace sin are coin flips in the world’s ineffective solutions to a problem only God can solve.
It’s a wise practice for us to have conversations around these issues as people mindful that one day, all things hidden will be made known. We would all benefit from practicing greater compassion, humility, and honesty.
Which is not to say, we should accept one another’s sins! If I confessed any sexual/gender brokenness to another Christian, or shared thoughts that were inconsistent with biblical truth, the other Christian would be right to encourage me in the direction of repentance. Why my brothers and sisters who confess to same-sex attraction feel their sin belongs in a separate category than mine is beyond me.
When God introduced us to ourselves in Genesis one, He immediately told us three things. One, we were created in His image. Second, He gave us dominion over the rest of creation. And third, we are created male and female –there is some mystery in that this gender-ness of us still reflects His image. Doesn’t it make sense that the evil one would make a full-on assault in this aspect of our lives?
In Genesis two, He expands our understanding of ourselves. He explains that although Adam was surrounded by all of creation and walked in union with God, it still was not good for him to be alone, so God created Eve, flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone.
There we were, male and female. Individuals and yet, intrinsically linked, necessary to one another, partners in every way. Doesn’t it make sense that the evil one would devise schemes to make us enemies, one to the other? Doesn’t this assault lead to a greater sense of isolation and loneliness than we can bear without God?
God explains that though separate beings, we can become one flesh. And He feels it important enough to mention that Adam and Eve were naked, yet unashamed. Of course, our enemy works to destroy this unhidden one-ness, just as a jealous painter might deface the work of the masters to appease his own inferiority.
This was all before the brokenness. Before the serpent whispered to the woman. Before she responded with a half-truth. Before he tempted her and she fell with Adam falling alongside. Before the sin. Before the impulse to hide from God, to blame, to shame. Before the need for curses, for covering, for exile.
We don’t live in the time before. We live in the legacy of brokenness and we all experience it in some way.
I am a woman who has always identified as female. I have always been attracted to men. I am the wife of one husband. And yet, I have experienced my own share of sexual brokenness, of gender frustration, of temptation and falling short of God’s intended design.
I do not live in the time before, but through Christ, I have stepped into the Kingdom Come and so I have glimpses of that glory that makes me long for more.
Loved ones, our gender, sexuality, and marital relationships are designed by God, gifted from God, and governed by God for His glory and purpose beyond our pleasure, procreation, and politics. We would be wise to lessen the discourse that divides, and with the mind of Christ, bushwhack our way through the rhetoric to words that carry with them the hope of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.
There is a more excellent way; let us walk in it together. Let us unite against the one who has only our destruction at heart to move toward the One who desires that we would have life to the full.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) July 26, 2017
A vacationer on a tube down a lazy river
A swimmer body-surfing in the sea, inching further down the shore each time
An entire civilization
A soul without a habit of daily realignment with God’s Word, sound doctrine, and mature supports.
Five statements that should not create debate, but do –
The world and humanity are clearly the design and creation of a higher mind.
Human life has value no matter how small, old, diseased, disabled, poor, or far from God. Continue Reading →
I get it now.
Ever have a moment like that?
more than I care to number,
I encountered wave after wave after relentless wave of trial. Continue Reading →
Maybe you’re living a quiet, simple life and there are moments when you wonder if that’s enough. You don’t feel particularly important, accomplished, or noticed as you care for your family, serve at your church, or show up for your job. Let me tell you, I work daily with people who fail to do these things and you have no idea the value of a simple life, well-lived, until you’ve seen the fallout from the hundreds that fall apart. Be encouraged by this post I first wrote in 2014 about George and Shirley Sherman.
In 1960, a boy kissed a girl in a small town in the smallest state and she saw stars.
One cold Saturday, fifty-four years later, he said good-bye as she took her place among the stars who wait with Jesus for the rest of us.
Seated at the funeral of this woman I didn’t know (there to support my father), was like being privileged to glimpse our future arrival in heaven when all our works will be judged. Continue Reading →
I’m not sure how they can avoid seeing it since it’s so apparent to those of us sitting in the pews every week. Something’s very wrong with us.
Oh, it’s not just one something. It must be many things or some systemic problem because like a twisted version of the blind men and the elephant, each of us describes the brokenness of our little congregation in a slightly different fashion.
It’s the music, the pastor, the prayer, the lack of . . ., the abundance of . . ., the pewsitters, it’s them, it’s her, it’s him, it’s me. Continue Reading →
I have a confession to make.
Many of you people make me uncomfortable.
It’s true. But, I try hard to hide it for a million reasons.
Reason one: I don’t see Jesus ever being uncomfortable – ever. Read the gospels. He walked through this world like He owned it. (Okay, He did, but still.)
I don’t ever see Him dodge a situation, or stumble over words, or mumble an answer. He just related to other people. All kinds. Sinners and would-be saints. He loved them AND He said hard things to them without ever skipping a beat. That, alone, is enough reason to want to be like Him.
Since I represent Him, I figure I shouldn’t be uncomfortable either, but I’m still in process of becoming like Him.
So, sometimes, I am living and speaking from the new growth part of my soul; but other times, I’m sticking up a cardboard likeness of Jesus between myself and others hoping that will hold up until I can figure out what He would say or do in this situation. It’s not really working for me or the others in my conversations, so I must find a way of not doing that.
Reason two: It’s not okay to be uncomfortable in these times. We’re all supposed to know what to say to everyone all the time. If you don’t know what to say, hesitate a heartbeat too long, it’s a signal that you are suspect (of whatever is worst to be at any given time).
It’s especially bad from someone who works with words for a living. Of all people, I ought to have the patter down. But, you know, I just don’t.
And, it’s not for lack of trying. My goodness, I’m in my Bible every day. I watch the news (more than one station). I view Ted Talks and read writers who think differently than I do as well as heroes of my faith.
I’m honestly trying to be open to people who think and live in ways that I don’t, but still represent the bold truth of the Bible. I have to tell you, one thing I’m truly looking forward to in Heaven is a long, long nap.
I study people who articulate well the truth I live, and try to do what they do. But, it’s a lot harder in the lunchroom at work than it is from a stage surrounded by people who already agree with what you’re saying.
I listen hard to people who reject this truth and try to love them with my ears, with my attention, with my attempts at empathy, knowing full well that we may connect while I listen, but the moment I open my mouth to voice what I believe, they’re just as likely to feel that all my listening was a sham, a smokescreen, a baited hook, (and are they that wrong? for I am, after all, a fisher of men – make that men and women. Make that humans. Make that . . . never mind. You know what I’m trying to say.)
But, it’s not about catching fish to eat them, but about fishing people out of the drink, so they can be safe on deck when the storm comes because you want to be in Jesus’ boat as the lightning strikes.
You get this, right? I mean, I didn’t expect this struggle. I was always the kid in class with my hand up, the one who volunteered for the speaking parts, the girl most likely to have something to say,
but more and more I’m resembling a bad mime doing an imitation of a fish drowning in water. (Wonder if that’s the symbol I should have on my rear bumper? I mean, truth in advertising, right?)
Reason three: (Okay you knew there was a third because there’s nothing a Christian loves more than truth that comes in threes.) This reason is hard to say because you’re not likely to believe it, but it’s about the fact that I really love you.
You don’t believe that because there are so many things on which we don’t agree. And in these times, to disagree apparently means we must wish each other dead or into non-existence, but that’s not where I’m coming from, as ancient and archaic and retro as that makes me.
I love you and want you to live. I want you to live forever, in fact, but the only way I know for you to do that is through Jesus Christ and with Jesus comes this narrow road, hard truths, and transformation from the way we are to the way He is and that means change – not just for you, I’m changing, too, but I already know His love so it’s a different story, isn’t it? (When I get nervous, I forget to punctuate, I know, but bear with me.)
I think, for all our sakes, I’m going to have to just move this cardboard Jesus-poster I’ve been lugging around, own up to my own humanity, and start entering conversations like this:
“Hey, it makes me wildly uncomfortable to engage in this conversation, because I know just from listening to you that my views aren’t likely to make us friends, but I feel like I’m being dishonest under this cover of silence.”
Or, if I have more time and some Holy Spirit gumption:
“Look, I want us to be at peace. I respect you and the boldness with which you share your views. I’m not looking to judge you or add to the challenges in your life, but you and I see things differently. I hold to ancient truths that have been shared by Bible-believing Jesus-followers for centuries, and I’m not ashamed of them. I’ve been quiet because I don’t want to hurt you (and I admit, I don’t want you to hurt me), but while times are changing, these truths have not. I’ve been building a closet of silence for my own protection, if I’m honest. But for your sake, it’s important for me to come out as a Jesus-loving, Bible believing, modern-day sinner saved by grace. You may choose not to share my views and I will still love you and want to live in peace. You may not feel the same about me.”
Or, you know, maybe I’ll come up with a shorter version.
Thank you for listening. I hope you’re still around after I start talking,
Love, The Jesus-follower in your life.
“If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:9
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) July 3, 2017
I gasp across the entrance to home,
soul swirling with other people’s problems,
hoping for a momentary reprieve before I face my own.
The troubles of this world are so powerful some days, and I’m not a stupid person. Continue Reading →
There is always so much to do. I mean, it’s right there in front of us all, isn’t it? Jobs, goals, ministries, visions, dreams, passions, callings.
These glorious God-ordained pursuits stand in constant tension with other concerns looming in front of us: dirty dishes, the bathroom scale, a nagging cough, a spouse’s worries, the postponed date with a friend.
But, those common, every day, mundane items on our attention list have little sparkle. No one is likely to give a testimony about how seeing me wash my own dishes spoke to them about the nature of Jesus Christ, or about how knowing that I watch what I eat gave them a glimpse of heaven. Continue Reading →
I write this blog to express my heart for God and to serve you, all of your faithful readers.
Every few years, I like to find out more about who you are and what you need from a Christian blogger. It will help me improve my writing and this website if you’ll take just a moment to complete this survey. It’s anonymous to allow you to feel free to share your heart!
Thank you for taking time to let me in on more about you and thank you for your faithful, kind support.
Mercy and grace, Lori
My daughter was babysitting on the other end of town one night when she called to let me know she’d locked her keys in her car – BOTH sets!
I suggested she call the road service, but she thought of my father. As the local fire chief, Dad kept a variety of tools in his car trunk specifically for getting into locked vehicles in case of emergencies. She called, and he agreed to come. “I know right where you’re babysitting. I’m on my way over,” he said.
Twenty minutes later, I received a text from her. “Mom, I called Papa to ask where he was, and he said he’s working on my car – except, he’s not. What do I do?” Continue Reading →