This is the second of a two-part article. Click here for Part 1.
The only ingrained "orientations" that the real you possesses are those mindsets that you choose to continue embracing. A Christian who views himself as "gay" or herself as a "lesbian" is a believer whose thinking has been molded to "conform to the pattern of this world." A Christian who renounces such thinking, even in the midst of ongoing desires and temptation, is one who is being "transformed by the renewing of their mind." (Rom. 12:2) This renunciation of unbiblical terminology and faulty definitions is a critical step in experiencing lasting freedom from the burning desires of sexual lust. Millions of Christians over the centuries have discovered that straight thinking is a large part of living a righteous lifestyle.
If you have become a Christian, it had a lot to do with right thinking. Likewise, your Christian living also flows out of right thinking. As the truth is accepted in your mind, it will produce right living. Christians have freely received "the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness." (Titus 1:1) Martin Luther, like St. Paul before him, called people "to the obedience that comes from faith." (Rom. 1:5)
Interestingly, as we examine the "pathology" of homosexual lust in Romans 1, we see that this burning desire seeped into their hearts after "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie." (Rom. 1:25) Unfortunately, there will always be those "who reject the truth and follow evil." (Rom. 2:8) Have you been filling your mind primarily with psychology, or primarily with theology? Scripture meditation causes us to think straight! Straight thinking produces straight living.
Christians certainly experience the daily conflicts between their sinful nature and the Holy Spirit living in them. (see Galatians 5:17) As a Christian, you embody both saint and sinner. Your new man is the life of Christ in you and this new self always lives a godly life of perfect sanctification. Your old man is completely sinful and never gets altered in the direction of godly living. The real you, which includes your soul and mind, has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and saved by grace through faith in Christ. (see 1 Peter 1:18,19) The real you, while far from perfect, is earnestly seeking to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)
Those Christians who are praying to have their sexual orientation altered would do well to realize and believe the fact that the "spiritual handcuffs" to their old man have been removed. They are no longer bound to him or to any of his sinful sexual orientations. While some psychologists are focused on trying to help people alter their sexual orientation, biblical theology reveals to a Christian man that he is no longer gay and to a Christian woman that she is no longer a lesbian. Read 1 Cor. 6:9-11 very carefully. ("…and that is what some of you were…")
St. Paul never accepted a sinful label to describe his new life in Christ. You don't need to accept such a label either. These sinful labels are the way that our society and some psychologists describe Christians who struggle with sexual sin. That is never the way God describes you or the way God sees you. The Bible knows nothing of a "Christian slanderer," or a "Christian drunkard," or a "gay Christian." This unbiblical terminology was not crafted by the Holy Spirit and it only sets up a Christian for the expectation of repeated spiritual setbacks.
Psychologists, including some Christian ones, often tell their patients to "expect relapses." St. Paul, on the other hand, instructed the saints in Corinth to "aim for perfection." (2 Cor. 13:11) He never instructed believers to expect regular sinful setbacks. Obviously, Jesus is the only perfect One. As we rest in His perfect love and amazing grace, we find the freedom to aim for perfection without becoming a perfectionist. We need not get bogged down with discouragement when the old man rears his ugly head or if we make a wrong choice in the direction of sin. But neither should we dwell on an unhealthy expectation that such choices will be made. We rightly understand the freedom that we have in Christ to "hate what is evil" and to "cling to what is good." (Rom. 12:9)
We also rightly understand that a Christian does not have to give into sexual temptation or any other temptation. We aim for a holy lifestyle rather than expecting spiritual defeat. The old man no longer has the upper hand once a person becomes a believer. The devil tries very hard to convince us otherwise.
If Satan cannot get the "real you" to consistently toy with your "pet sin," he will work hard to at least get you to assume, with regrets, its inevitable place in your life. To accept this false assumption is to believe a lie. The acceptance of a spiritual lie produces a "stronghold" in the mind from which the devil bases his assault upon our point of greatest weakness. Those strongholds are torn down when we reject the lie and accept the truth. (see 2 Cor. 10:4,5)
Dear Christian – please know this – the sinful orientation of your old man, including any deviant sexual orientations, can never be altered in a godly direction. But something more wonderful has taken place. The real you – your will – has been completely set free from slavery to sin. You really are a new creation in Christ! The truth of Scripture offers much more hope and freedom than the psychological approach of reorientation therapy.
Oh Christian, who are you? Your answer to that question reveals how much freedom you are enjoying in your mind and in your will. St. Paul says that "we have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2:16) This new mind is usually way out of step with pop psychology. People receive eternal life and experience justification when they stop trying to earn their way and simply accept what Christ has done for them at Calvary. (see Eph. 2:8,9) Likewise, Christians experience tremendous growth in sanctification when they stop striving to alter their sinful orientations and simply accept what God says about their new condition. You cannot alter your old man, but the real you can always choose what to think.
Man's sinful pride makes him think he has to save himself and "fix" any of his problems. The Scriptures assure us that God has already done everything necessary to provide us with salvation and to free us from the control of the sinful nature. (see Romans 8:1-11) The critical question is this: "Do I believe this good news about my justification, as well as this good news about my sanctification?" If the psychology of reorientation therapy has caused you to become confused about your "sexual orientation," embrace the theology of Romans 6-8. It will alter your thinking, and as Jesus said, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) Now that truly is a liberating form of theological therapy!