The desire to be free runs deep in the human soul. Perhaps one of the most gripping scenes I’ve ever watched is in the movie “Braveheart.” It depicts Scottish Patriot William Wallace choosing to be disemboweled rather than yield to his British oppressors.
Though Wallace dies externally bound and mutilated, inwardly he’s free and triumphant. In contrast, the man who betrayed him, and the cause of Scottish independence, survives in seeming freedom. Yet inwardly, he’s bound to the guilt and shame of his actions.
This scene graphically depicts a truth central to Christianity: that the path to freedom often requires suffering – confession and repentance. Christianity also teaches that true freedom is an inward reality that often defies our external circumstances. In contrast, license is the world’s counterfeit to this freedom. It allows a person to do whatever he wants, but leaves him bound by guilt and shame. It promises freedom, but delivers bondage.
I thought about freedom and license as I read the webpage of OneWheaton – a pro-gay group of Wheaton College students and alumni. This group boldly proclaims that one can be a faithful Christian and also embrace a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered identity. And, it promises freedom to those who identify as LGBTQ saying, “After Wheaton our lives became stories of liberation.”
I graduated from Wheaton and I know several alum who have struggled with same-sex attraction. Some have embraced that identity and walked away from the Lord. Some have worked through their attraction – an incredibly grueling process probably the emotional equivalent of being disemboweled. Yet, these courageous brothers and sisters have emerged whole and remarkably at peace.
I admit I don’t have any close friends who have embraced a gay or lesbian identity and yet stayed in the church. But, I have friends who do who insist these gay and lesbian Christians genuinely possess a passion for God. Yet, I wonder, are these believers truly free?
I suppose, there’s a certain amount of relief in openly admitting your desires and finding people who not only accept you, but allow you to comfortably satisfy those desires. But, if homosexuality is sin, which Scripture clearly indicates it is. And, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, which convicts us of sin – then living as a gay Christian hardly seems liberating.
I wonder sometimes if the constant push by gay Christians for the entire Christian community to affirm their lifestyle doesn’t betray their inner turmoil. As Queen Gertrude said in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I’m glad Wheaton College responded in truth – maintaining an orthodox view of human sexuality. Yet, even if Wheaton hadn’t, I don’t believe it would have relieved these gay and lesbian Christians from shame and guilt. Only God can do that – and His way requires renouncing, not affirming, sin.
Before writing this, I consulted with a follower of Christ and Wheaton grad who struggled with same-sex attraction years ago. He’s now married and has children. Below is an excerpt of one of his e-mails printed with his permission.
“In response to your question about whether I know Christians in the gay lifestyle who are at peace, the answer is a resounding no. They are happy and often very loving. But the conflict is obvious whenever issues of faith enter the conversation.
“I have a number (probably less than 15) of friends who are in the gay lifestyle. I love them and still ache for them when I see what they seem to want to ignore. You captured that perfectly in your commentary.