[Editor’s note: It was surely God’s hand that resulted in “Sarah”1connecting with the author of this article, who then extended Christian-focused help to her. The author was a volunteer with the organization, Global Media Outreach.]
“Sarah” (not her real name) contacted Global Media Outreach (globalmediaoutreach.com)2 in May 2018. She indicated that she had received Christ as her Savior, but she opened with this comment: “I’m a FTM (female to male) and want to serve Christ, but I don’t want to leave this life. . . . . I’m confused.” Eventually, I learned that prior to her transition, she lived as a lesbian for seventeen years. How would you answer? Can someone like this ever change?
Even more challenging, how can someone outside this lifestyle begin to understand, much less help, those who are struggling with homosexuality or transgender issues?
Over the years, I have worked with many individuals as they looked for answers. Following are some of the things that I have shared with individuals with whom I have contact.
I start with this: We all have sinned. God loves all of us and the Lord Jesus died for all of us. The ground is level at the cross. I care for them and want to help them.
I don’t take hostility, defensiveness, or verbal attacks personally. I remember where they are coming from. I try to defuse any anger that they may have. I’ve found we should treat hostile individuals graciously, with kindness, and with reasonableness. We must treat them differently than they are treating us. Their impression of us may be the only impression they have of Christianity and the Bible.
A very important first step is to probe their motivation for wanting to leave homosexuality or wanting to make a change in their life. Wrong answers would be, “I’m afraid of AIDS,” “I’m picked on by society,” “I want to be accepted by parents,” or “I’m just so unhappy.” The right motivation is, “I want to love and obey God. I want to bring my life into conformity with the Word of God.” The right motivation is paramount for leaving an ungodly lifestyle.
In order to get to this point, of course, they must hear and receive the gospel. Getting motivations right involves getting right with God.
Then comes this big question: Are they willing to do whatever it takes to get into conformity with the Word of God?
We must be careful about saying all sin is the same. In God’s eyes, the remedy for sin is the same, but the consequences of sinful choices and behaviors are different. We don’t punish a child who lies in the same way that we punish someone who commits murder. Consequences for sins differ.
Keys for Victory
Separation—The individual needs to separate himself completely from homosexual and transgender friends and activities. This is critical, and can be very hard. He may need to get a new job. When we ask this of him, we are asking him to give up everything. He is weak, and it’s a war. He is in a spiritual battle for his life. He will also need to separate from wicked influences of the media and other activities that will pull him down.
Immersion—He must immerse himself in Christian things. He will need to get new friends, to be in church, to study God’s Word, and to establish a solid prayer life. He needs someone to disciple him and be an accountability partner. (He should not have an accountability partner who is struggling to overcome homosexuality or is a transgender. Some support groups do this to their peril.)
Change of focus—He needs to get the focus off of self and on to spiritual things. The answer is not looking deeper into one’s self for the answer. The goal is to move the person away from focusing on self and his issues, putting the focus on Christ and maturing spiritually.
Renewing the mind: The individual needs to get the focus off of sex. He shouldn’t dwell on the struggle with lust and sin. When the temptation comes, he should ask, “Is this a biblical and pure thought?” (Phil. 4:8).
A key question: “What things am I doing that feed my desire to sin?” With God’s help, he needs to stop doing or looking at things that feed the lust.
Eventually, the frequency and intensity of temptation will decrease. God will change the perspective of the temptation. Change takes time. Most often, it’s a process, not instantaneous. Trust in God and obey God. Say “no” to the flesh. God is patient. Draw near to God.
The Battle in the Mind
The battle is not just about stopping bad behavior. An individual must deal with his thinking by the washing of the Word of God. Often fleeting thoughts can awaken lust in a moment. The one who struggles needs to slow down the thought process:
Analyze the thought by asking, “What does God want me to do with this thought and desire?” “What does God say about it?” He should use discernment, make a decision on it, and ask God’s help to make a choice moment by moment to do the right thing.
Those struggling with homosexuality or transgender issues are dealing with the same issues of the heart that are common to all. Even believers struggle with sin and sinful desires (Rom. 7:15–24; 1 Cor. 10:13).
God’s greatest desire for believers is holiness.
2 Corinthians 10: 5: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
1 Corinthians 6:11: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Psalm 103:11–14 “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
As I began with Sarah, I shared the gospel with her, and wrote, “I would counsel you to reach the place where you love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. Whatever decisions we make about life must be done out of love for God and wanting to obey Him.”
For nearly a year, she fought this battle with God’s help. She is a transformed person. Her transformation is due only to God’s power and work in her life. Changing her name back to her birth name, coming off of hormones, leaving her transgender friends and all associated with that lifestyle did not come easily. It was a spiritual battle of giant proportions. She wrote, “Please pray that the Lord will mend this broken heart and crushed spirit because this journey is no picnic.”
Over more than six hundred e-mails, we covered many Bible truths: God’s holiness, His plan for our lives, applying practical Bible principles to her life, and many more. Recently she wrote, “With His sovereign power and His ways . . . He transformed me. I want to give my life completely to God, obeying Him, serving Him, and living for Him. Living who He created me to be . . . with a new body and mind. . . . God’s Word helps me to live my real identity.” She also wrote in another e-mail, “In the beginning of this wonderful walk, I was making my own plans. I would say, ‘I gave my heart to God; I will be a good person.’ So this meant I could stay with the hormones. . . . WRONG! God let me know He wanted 100%. So like a little kid, I cried and told Him, I did not like it.” “Sarah” wanted to do it her way, but she realized God wanted her to depend totally on Him. To her, it was impossible, but God reassured her that nothing at all is impossible with Him. She said, “Now I live to please the Lord.”
Annetta Small and her husband, Gary, live in Washington State, where they now serve in a ministry of helps to local churches, with Gary supplying pulpits and holding special meetings. Annetta also serves in an online ministry discipling people in despair over “alternate” lifestyles.
[Originally published in the magazine Frontline (May/June 2020) at the website, https://fbfi.org/frontline ]
1 “Sarah” gave permission to share her story because she wants God to get the honor and glory.
2 Individuals wanting help with these issues could submit their names at sites such as jesus2020.godlife.com or 4steps.godlife.com. Currently it isn’t possible to make submissions directly on the GMO website noted here.