“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
Public opinion on gender, sexuality and identity has changed dramatically over the course of my lifetime. While I was growing up, marriage between a man and a woman was the law of the land. When the Supreme Court officially legalized same-sex marriages, a door opened to reimagining marriage, family and gender. American society as a whole has moved away from its traditional views to favor more progressive values which have reshaped the foundations of our society’s identity. For those in the LGBTQ community, this was a victory unlike any other, as their hearts have ached for acceptance and love. Scorn, hatred, judgment and rejection has comprised much of their experience from Christians and the church. Most Christians who hold strongly to their convictions, seem to not know how to love the people in this community. Other Christians have joined the LGBTQ community themselves or at least have embraced those who do. Really, all the LGBTQ community has longed for is love. That’s really a basic human need though right? We all desire to be loved just as we are. What is love exactly? I often see Pride signs display the phrase: “Love is love.” Does this definition of love really explain what love is though? The Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). For those of you who identify as LGBTQ, how many of you think of God as loving? My guess is that if you have faith in God, your idea of him may be anything but loving! A gay friend of mine was once surprised when he walked into church and did not immediately burst into flames. Certainly, if your idea of God has come from religious Christians, you may perceive God as angry and full of wrath. Would you like to hear God’s definition of what love is? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the Apostle Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Now that’s a beautiful definition! These are attributes of God since he is love. You see, the world has caused so much confusion around what love truly is. Many people have confused sexuality with love. Not all forms of sexuality accurately express God’s love. I’ve heard it said many times, “My sexuality is the most important part of who I am.” Is this true though? Should our whole identity be wrapped up in our personal form of sexuality? If God is love and we long for this, shouldn’t our identity instead be found in God’s definition of love? There is far more to our identity than gender and sex. Sexuality does not dictate who you are! This lie has been stealing true identity for far too long! God’s love for us defines who we are. Let’s expose this lying thief in the light of God’s love and find out who we are truly created to be.
In the song “Good Good Father” by Housefires, Pat Barrett sings, “You’re a good, good Father, It’s who You are… And I’m loved by You, It’s who I am.” Those of us who have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus, know we are loved by him and that our identity is found in his love. This is the very foundation of identity: We are the beloved children of God. Speaking about Jesus, the Apostle John writes, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). As we are rooted securely in the love of God through Jesus, our identity begins to take shape and flourish.
God is our Father and creator. He knows every intricate detail of who we are. He knows the depths of our soul. He has created our body and our inmost being (Psalm 139:13-16). Before we were formed in our mother’s womb, he knew us (Jeremiah 1:5). Just as children resemble their parents, all people are made in the image of our Father God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Not only do we bear the image of our loving Father, but he also specifically made us to be male and female. These two genders reflect the likeness of Love himself. Now, there is a great confusion in the world around the topic of gender. Many adults, teens and even children believe or wonder if they are really meant to be another gender than the one they were biologically born with. This has led many down the road of hormone blockers and physical surgeries. Contrary to popular belief, our loving God chose your gender before the world began because he knew who he wanted you to be. He mapped out your blueprint in his own image. You are not a mistake!
If you were born as a biological boy, God intended you to become a man. Likewise, if you were born as a biological girl, God designed you to be a woman. God does not make mistakes because he is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Some of you may find what I’m saying to be obvious, however others of you may be upset by what I’m writing. The truth is that lies around sexuality and gender have robbed many of their true identity. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ ” (John 8:31-32). Since truth is found in Jesus and his Word, we will find true freedom in our identity as we walk in relationship with him. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s here in the love and truth of Jesus that we reconnect with our heavenly Father and find our God-given identity as male or female. If this is hard for you hear, may I invite you to read on? My hope is that you will find truth about the loving identity you were always created for.
God designed more than just our gender and physical bodies. He chose our personalities as well! When God made our inmost being, he didn’t just create our internal organs, but he also chose our temperament. Most of us are aware of society’s general stereotypes when it comes to men and women. Men in American culture are expected to be strong, unemotional, logical and adventurous. We assume all men love sports and while growing up, boys are encouraged to play with trucks, toy weapons and tools. If a boy wants to play dress-up or dolls, people begin to wonder about whether or not they might be gay. Men who gravitate toward the arts, fashion, bright colors and showing emotions are assumed to be gay. On the other hand, women are expected to be emotionally sensitive and enjoy talking, shopping, fashion, cooking, arts, crafts and wearing makeup. Little girls are encouraged to play with dolls and toys that mimic household chores like cooking centers. Girls who want to play football, work with tools or who refuse to wear dresses, may confuse adults. Women with short hair who do not wear makeup and prefer working in the trades or outdoors, are often judged as lesbians. These stereotypes have damaged the identities of so many! Boys and girls who do not fit society’s typical molds of masculinity and femininity are often lied to about their identity before they get a chance to even figure out who they are. While observing people and learning more about temperament and personality, I have found time and again that God’s design for gender and personality defy the stereotypes.
Both Isabel Myers and Dr. David Keirsey described the building blocks of temperament and personality in the form of four dichotomies. Perhaps no other dichotomy of personality contributes more to gender stereotypes than Thinking versus Feeling. Thinkers have a tendency to be logical, cool-headed and unemotional, while Feelers tend to be soft-hearted, warm and emotional. Now many people may suppose that Thinkers must be men and Feelers must be women. Does it surprise you to hear that some women are Thinkers and some men are Feelers? This is per God’s design. Both men and women are found in all of Myers’ and Keirsey’s 16 individual personality types. This means that God has made women who are logical, calm and adventurous and men who are soft-hearted, sentimental and artistic. If God has made men and women outside of society’s box, then why would people assume those who don’t fit the typical gender mold must be LGBTQ? Artistic men who appreciate beauty are not gay, and neither are those who are emotional and show their feelings. These men reflect the creativity and compassion of God. The Bible is filled with men who share these attributes like Joseph and King David. Even “Jesus wept” when grieving for his friend Lazarus (John 11:35). Women who are strong and logical are not lesbians, nor are those who enjoy technical work or adventures. Women demonstrate the mind and strength of God just as men do. Just look at Deborah and Jael in the book of Judges! These are some bold and tough women. These examples show us that each person is an individual, created by God to fulfill the purposes he has made them for (Ephesians 2:10). God’s careful design of both men and women is perfect. It’s the lying enemy of this world (Satan) who has distorted God’s loving plan for our identity and sexuality.
A few years ago, when my husband and I were on a retreat, the power of God’s love to overcome the lies of this thief of identity was put on full display. One of our friends who came was a part of the LGBTQ community. Her relationship with her partner (who was a woman) had recently ended and she was on the retreat to learn and grow in her relationship with God. During a time of worship, a few people gathered around her to pray. Overwhelmed with God’s love, she gently fell to the ground and soaked in God’s presence. After the worship time, she shared with me how she had only ever felt God’s love on the outside of her body. She told me that during the prayer time, something dark came up out of her and she felt God’s love come inside of her for the first time in her life. She exclaimed that she didn’t even know that it was possible for God’s love to be felt on the inside of us. This encounter changed the course of her life and her identity. She no longer identifies as a lesbian or a member of the LGBTQ community, although she still has friends in the community that she loves and cares about. She actually is praying and believing for God to bring a man into her life to be her husband. If you ask our friend what has changed her identity, without a doubt, she will tell you: God’s love! She is one of the most sincere and loving friends we know. She shines brightly in her identity as a strong and dearly loved woman of God.
My friend’s story is one which is difficult for some people to comprehend. If some of us are born with a different gender identity or an attraction to members of the same sex, then how can her story be true? Some would certainly argue that she is either not embracing her true identity as a lesbian or that she was never actually born a lesbian. The idea that gender, identity and sexuality is a choice is no longer welcome on the discussion table, but is rather seen as hateful and bigoted. With so many Christians embracing and defending the LGBTQ lifestyle, such as Rob Bell and, more recently, the Pope, how could anybody think otherwise? Certainly the vast majority of Christians who hold to the traditional Biblical views of homosexuality as being sinful, have been unloving and judgmental toward those in the LGBTQ community. I’m sorry to say, I also fell into this camp of judgment… until I wrestled with this thief of identity myself.
I never understood how or why people would choose the LGBTQ lifestyle. As a Bible believing Christian, it just never made sense. I was always a very girly girl and was always attracted to guys only. I could just never imagine how people could have feelings of attraction toward people of the same sex. Then God allowed me to walk through one of the scariest trials of my life where I came face-to-face with the lies of Satan in the area of identity and sexuality. While in college, I began to be bombarded with lies about my sexuality. The enemy told me that I was a lesbian and attracted to women. I was completely bewildered! I had never been attracted to women, so it scared and confused me. The lies were often accompanied with physical feelings, especially on occasions when I was around other women. They didn’t feel like the natural attraction which I have for my husband. When the feelings came on my body, I felt terrified. Then the enemy would begin to accuse me saying, “See! You really are a lesbian” (Revelation 12:10). I would argue with the lies, trying to defend myself with what I knew to be true. I thought, “I am a strong Christian and I’m married to a man, so how can this be happening to me?” I struggled occasionally with paranoia when I was around women, so I isolated myself at times. I love my husband and I did not want to be with women romantically, so the fear and doubt I experienced around my identity and sexuality troubled me deeply. These attacks went on for several years and were unpredictable. There would be times where I felt fine, and other times when I struggled to hold onto the truth of my identity in Christ and the faith I professed. Through these years, I was as honest as I could be with my husband. He always showed me love and prayed with me, while reminding me of who I really am. Though I never gave into the lies, the battle for my identity was real. Finally, I experienced a turning point in this battle when I shared this struggle with my Christian counselor. She compassionately listened to me and then presented me with a new thought that set me free. She said, “Ok, let’s just say that even if you are attracted to other women, you do not have to live a lesbian lifestyle. You have a choice.” The powerful word “choice” gave me hope. The fear I had began to flee. This sexual identity thief that Satan sent to steal my God-given identity in Christ, lost its power to bully me around. After this point, when the lies came, I stood up to this thief and told it I didn’t have to do what it said. The lies and the physical feelings began to come my way less and less as time went on. I overcame this thief and my identity in Jesus is stronger than ever.
Reflecting back, I believe God allowed me to walk through this struggle for a few reasons: to humble me, to give me understanding and compassion for those in the LGBTQ lifestyle and to empower me to help them find freedom and walk in their God-given identity. I learned that our feelings do not dictate our identity. Our feelings can lie to us. Just because you experience feelings of attraction toward someone of the same sex, does not mean you should identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer. You have a CHOICE! You do not have to become a slave to your feelings. In fact, when we bring our identity and beliefs into alignment with who God says we are, our feelings will eventually follow. Freedom is possible with Jesus!
I have walked through many trials in my life other than the struggle I just shared. Through it all, God has taught me how to love people more with each passing season. If you currently identify as LGBTQ or are currently struggling with attacks on your identity like I was, please know that God loves you! The Father God sacrificed his own Son Jesus to save us from our sin because of his great love for us. In John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus wants to save you from your broken identity and start a loving relationship with you. In order to start this relationship, you have to surrender your sexual identity to him. We have to die to ourselves. This will likely feel very painful but God has a new identity and a better life for you than the world could ever offer. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul exclaims, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” As God heals you in his love and grace, he will walk with you through a process to dismantle your old identity and old life. This refinement process is difficult, but God will rebuild and restore your identity with love, piece by piece. You were created to be a child of God who lives in true love and purity.
If you’re not convinced that the LGBTQ identity is broken and falls outside of God’s loving design for you, then I encourage you to study the Bible for yourself on the topic of sexuality. The Apostle Paul describes same sex relations as shameful, lustful and unnatural (Romans 1:26-27). I know this sounds harsh, but love without truth is not love at all. The good news is that Jesus hung on a cross and paid for every wrong, shameful, lustful and unnatural thing any of us have ever done. He took our place. We deserved punishment, but he gives us grace instead. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul explains that “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Since God gave us his love and grace through Jesus, let’s get rid of our old identity and embrace the new identity he’s always had in mind for us from the beginning. If you’re ready to discover your new God-given identity, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on The Overcomers “Contact” page. The reign of this identity thief is over! The enemy’s lies about your sexuality no longer have power over you. Victory is yours! Be filled with hope today, for the love you’ve always longed for is found in a relationship with Jesus. Receive him and step into your new identity as a beloved child of God. It will be the best choice you will ever make!