Q.I am 19-years-old, in my second year of college. From the time I was a pre-teen I felt different than most of my peers. As I entered my teens my friends showed great interest in girls, while I continued to experience same-sex attraction. I grew up in church and was baptized at 15. I love Jesus and want to be His faithful follower. Since starting college I’ve been pressured by friends to embrace a gay identity and be true to myself, they say. Is it possible to do this and remain a faithful disciple of Jesus?
A. Thank you for being candid about such a personal and sensitive issue, and for trusting us with it.
First, God loves you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). He died to save all those who believe in Him (John 3:16).
Second, all human beings are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). That includes us and you. The good news is that God’s gift to human beings is eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (Rom. 6:23).
Third, if we love Jesus we’ll keep His commandments (John 14:15). This means doing all He asks us to do (James 1:22).
Your question indicates ambivalence about your feelings (your orientation) and what you believe the Bible says about God’s intent for intimate relationships. We’ve been told by others confronting similar circumstances: “Why would God make me this way and then not allow me to be who I am? I believe I should be honest with myself and accept the truth that I am gay.”
To be sure, it is important to have a correct biblical view of who we are to avoid embracing a faulty personal ethic and identity. The Bible states we were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). This signals our identity is given by God and not based on what we feel or do. Our identity in Christ means we are united to Christ. Paul describes it by saying: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Only when we begin with a biblical perspective—a God-centered view of life that accepts we were created in the image of God, and acknowledge that God’s original intent was distorted by the fall (Gen. 3)—will we be able to understand where—as in your case—your same-sex feelings come from, decide to surrender to Christ, and accept His power to live a victorious life in Him (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
We assure you the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not against you or anyone who feels like you. On the contrary, we love you and want to see you saved in God’s kingdom. What we are clearly for, though, is what’s in the Word of God (Matt. 4:4). We know it will be difficult for you to deal with your feelings (your orientation) going forward. Still, the truth is, whether you’re dealing with same-sex or heterosexual feelings, you will need to manage your feelings to honor God. “. . .but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). You remain in our prayers.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist and certified family life educator, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. OliverW@gc.adventits.org
Elaine Oliver, PhDc, LCPC, CFLE a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. OliverE@gc.adventist.org