Gabrielle Rehmeyer is the author of Ransomed Heart: Out of Homosexuality and Into the Father's Arms. She grew up in a Christian home, as a missionary kid in Swaziland. As a young teen, she found herself struggling with her identity, in the midst of a battle she never imagined would be her own and one that very quickly became easier not to fight.
After nearly a decade of identifying and living as a lesbian, proudly advocating for the LGBTQ community, she was overcome by a relentless, passionate Love she faintly remembered but never truly knew. This Love did not condemn her, but called her to know Him. And in knowing Him, revealed to her all of the broken areas of her life, while loving her through the healing, and showing her who she always was, in and through the eyes of Jesus.
Bear with me as I try to put words to all that is going on inside. Something is stirring within and I believe He is showing me a glimpse of what it is going to look like moving forward, what standing for Him will require. Which has been a very interesting thing given where I have come from, how hard I fought Him. Discipleship, following Christ, comes with a cost, but in losing everything, life is gained.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).
Something I learned this week broke my heart. There was a time a few years ago, which I wrote about in my book, where I was invited to a church in the city by a friend I used to bar-tend with. I went to their annual women’s conference, and at this conference had an encounter with Jesus that I will never, ever forget, as a (now) dear friend of mine prayed for me and my struggle with homosexuality. Her conviction was real. The women I met at this conference were some of the most loving and steadfast Christian women I have ever met. This has not changed, I pray these women are still pursuing Christ and allowing Him to work in and through their lives as was so evident on this weekend in Pennsylvania, where a broken young woman, though she was not yet ready to surrender her heart fully, was gently corrected and so lovingly held in the arms of her Savior.
The pastors of this church have decided to wed gay and lesbian couples. This news is actually not surprising, given where our society is headed, given the great change and shifting in our beliefs, given widespread confusion, and a missing, key element in the midst of all of it. It is not surprising, and that, in and of itself, is incredibly heart breaking.
Hear me out.
I am currently reading a book by David Platt, called Counter Culture. I only just finished the first chapter, but this is one of those books that is so loaded and powerful that it took me a few days just to read and meditate on the introduction! So powerful. And so convicting. And this is exactly what we need. Leaders, pastors, messengers, to stand up and speak the truth, to call us out when we are slipping, when we are missing the mark, when we are not looking to the instruction manual we have been given and are instead looking to our own very faulty and lacking knowledge and experience in efforts not to offend or make anyone uncomfortable. I am thankful for leaders such as David Platt, who are preaching and writing, who are delivering these difficult messages.
Platt starts off his book by discussing and expressing his concern on how Christians today are zealous for certain social issues, yet lack zeal for others. For example, on issues such as poverty, slavery, sex trafficking, Christians are quick to stand up and speak out. Yet on ones such as abortion and homosexuality, ones where standing up and speaking out would most likely mean criticism not only from the world, but sadly, also from other Christians, we would choose to remain silent. This picking and choosing is dangerous, which leads to the most important question, one Platt says is the fundamental question and concern from which all else stems:
Do you believe the gospel? Because if you do not, yet are professing to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, there is a major inconsistency. It is impossible to be a follower of Christ while denying, disregarding, discrediting, and disbelieving the words of Christ.
Being a follower of Christ requires one to believe the gospel, despite its offense, and to follow Christ for who He is and not who we want or try to make Him to be to suit ourselves. We must remember that the gospel is in and of itself offensive, simply in that it tells us that that we were created by God and that He who created us owns us. We do not make the rules, nor are we masters of our own souls. We do not deserve the love we are freely shown, but through His grace and mercy, we are given a means to reconcile with a holy and just and loving God who wholly and equally displays each of these characteristics and cannot do otherwise, for that is His perfect nature. I am sure you have been in a place, perhaps when you first heard the gospel, or perhaps witnessing other’s reaction to the gospel, where this offense has been evident. We do not like to be told that we are wrong and that we are in need of a Savior. I know I was offended.
Therefore, if we are truly followers of Christ we are called to break the silence, for our silence speaks louder than we think. We are called to recognize and stand by our convictions, and then to act in compassion, with courage and boldness, because to do anything else would be to do an eternal disservice to all of those around us who are lost, hurting, broken, and in need of Jesus. The world needs to see Christians stepping up to the plate, ready to fight. And not in the violent, rude, judgmental, shove the Bible down your throat kind of way. Simply in our sharing the gospel, the entire gospel, sharing Christ in a manner that would represent Him well. And even in sharing in the most humble and gentle and loving manner, expect that you will still offend. Because again, we do not like to be told that we are wrong and that we are in need of a Savior.
It is the truth which is assailed in any age which tests our fidelity….If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. Elizabeth Rundle Charles
Due to fear and the cost of holding to biblical conviction in our society, many Christians today are finding it easier and easier to dismiss the gospel. Due to this fear, churches are choosing to accommodate and adapt, rather than confront these issues. And I do not just mean homosexuality. Yes, this one stands out a little more to me because this is the area I have struggled with. And this is the area, the issue I feel God is calling me not only to stand for Him in, but to reach out and compassionately and courageously share my story and convictions, because there are plenty of people who are being told by many in their Christian community that living a lifestyle, which contradicts the gospel, is permissible.
And I am afraid because I know the messages He is calling me to share, to speak out, to deliver…will not be taken well by many. And I am hurt because so many churches, so many leaders, are giving in, are choosing to basically ignore what the Bible says on matters such as homosexuality and same sex marriage, which in a way, renders my testimony and the testimony of so many others who have chosen Christ over their sin struggle, meaningless. Which means that if I were in a different place today, if I were still struggling to the extent I once was and were to go to one of these churches and ask for help, for shepherding, for counsel, for prayer to be able to work through my struggles- because we all have them- knowing that though it is not fun or easy, He is the God Who has already granted me victory many years ago on the cross, that they would not be in a place to direct me to word of God for direction, to see what He says on the matter.
Well, they would, and I do know that God still uses us in our stupidity, in our disobedience, in our failures. I also know there is a difference between being human, being imperfect in humility and in vulnerability, in recognizing this and still being in a place where you can lead, and then intentionally rendering the word of God meaningless and leading your flock down a path that could mean eternal separation from God. Your actions could mean that the people who look up to you for guidance and direction are eternally separated from God, who has called you to stand and to lead for Him, regardless of how it makes you feel, because your feelings do not trump His word.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28).
Conviction, compassion, and courage. They go hand in hand. We cannot dismiss one for the other. We cannot dismiss His word. Or at least, we cannot dismiss His word and in the same breath call ourselves His followers. For the sake of His sheep, whom He loves fiercely, the line must be drawn.
Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).
Lord, teach us how to recognize the lines You have already drawn….and how to walk in conviction, compassion, and courage. Teach us to be more like Your Son. And forgive us for falling short.