We are not called out to blend back in
The title of this article was spoken by a pastor of mine many years ago. She was summing up a dozen or so scriptures on the topic of making our election sure, and what a powerful word-picture this statement brings to mind! As Christians, we’ve been called out—we are God’s ekklesia, his representatives on earth. Even so, how strong is the lure to take on the various hues of the world and literally blend back in—just like a salamander.
For the same-sex attracted (SSA) Christian, God’s “calling-out” can feel like double jeopardy – battling on two fronts at the same time. We have the responsibility of “shining our light” in darkness (Matthew 5:13-15) and being “in the world, but not of the world” (John 17:14-16; Romans 12:2). But more and more we feel called out even within the church, as biblical morality is questioned and swapped for something more “affirming.” In this climate, being called out feels less like standing firm and more like swimming upriver. It can be exhausting and, at times, lonely. We aren’t alone, of course. Christ promises us His presence in our struggle (Matthew 28:20) and even offers to make our burden “light” (Matthew 11:30). Like Him, we choose to be “in, but not of.” But what exactly does this mean for us in the day-to-day?
Called out—for what?
- Called out means standing out. This means we are to be different from non-Christians. The most distinctive feature of our lives is the cross, which we both fall before and take up daily (Matthew 10:38). This means we set Christ’s commands above our own whims, knowing that doing so affords us blessing, both in this life and the next:
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29
- We seek the approval of God more than that of other people—including, perhaps, that of fellow Christians. In doing so, we keep close to our hearts Paul’s instruction not to “conform to the pattern of the world” (Romans 12:2). Since we have hope beyond this life, we live according to a higher perspective.
- We stand out among “revisionist” Christians. By submitting to the plain teaching of the Bible even when it doesn’t coincide with our intuition, we keep to the ancient path spoken of by Jeremiah 6:16, trusting that by doing so, we will find enduring rest for our souls. Our actions shine light on false teaching and give us confidence to contend for the truth.
“Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” – Jeremiah 6:16
- We stand out among homophobic Christians. Being regenerated by Christ, we strive to be “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), proclaiming an unswerving gospel tempered with compassion and forgiveness. Christ welcomed sinners into His presence and was not afraid to spend time with people different from him.
- We seek to build up the downtrodden. More often than not, the sacrifices and denials of being tempted towards those of the same sex have equipped us with special sensitivity to the hurts and needs of others, especially those worse off than we are. By challenging such social ills as bullying and inequality, we remind the world that the muscular love of Christ is alive and well.
- We are not superior or judgmental, but rather we humble ourselves even in adversity, since we have a strong, trustworthy advocate. Nor do we avoid those who disagree with us; though we are “shrewd as vipers” in our engagements with the world and even with fellow Christians, we remain in all our activities “as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
Specific ways Christians stand out:
- We season our conversations with those who disagree so as to be “full of grace” (Colossians 4:6) and the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).
- We shine our light clearly to all, not just to friends, family, and fellow believers (Matthew 5: 43-47), keeping in mind that we are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
- We are not easily discouraged when the world and its institutions respond to us with hostility or even hatred. Christ has warned that it will hate us because it hates Him (John 15:18-25):
- “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” – John 15:19
- Despite all this, we take strides to “keep [ourselves] from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
Ways SSA Christians stand out:
- We don’t “fit” worldly expectations of marriage and family and may even be viewed as curiosities in our marital status—or absence thereof. We may be single (and not seeking a spouse) or married to a person of the sex to which we are not primarily attracted.
- We defend and uphold the biblical definition of marriage, even though it doesn’t fit our personal orientation.
- We might feel little in common with “straight” people and “straight” culture (sport, entertainment, social activities); at the same time, we might express little or no commonality with the mainstream LGBTQIA+ community.
All of these points can be summed up with Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (6:9). By cooperating with our calling—to stand out without blending back in—we not only attest to Christ’s love and grace but also secure a great reward, in this life and the next.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Autumn 2023 edition of Ascend