Empty beer cans and bottles lined the kitchen counter. Music played in the background as my neighbors and I danced and chatted the night away. They were probably anticipating what I’d do next. I have to admit, I was a bit of a spectacle when I got drunk. My bottle was empty, and for whatever reason I was standing ––Or was I dancing?–– next to my neighbor, Casey.
In my right mind, I wouldn’t have given the impulse to kiss her a second thought, but I was a friendly drunk, pumped full of liquid courage. My discretion and self-control had already dissolved by the time I leaned in toward her.
Perhaps the guys thought I would throw up on her? Or maybe her boyfriend wasn’t cool with her being kissed by someone else? Whatever the case, the guys rushed me and Casey was safely escorted out of my line of fire. I was so embarrassed by my failure. All I could do was laugh it off and hope that the topic wouldn’t come up later when I was sober.
While I can confidently say that that outward expression was a before-Christ experience, I did slip back into watching lesbian porn for a short while after committing myself to Christ. Even though I haven’t watched it for years now, there are still days when something I see during my day triggers a dream later in my sleep ––a product of images I used to entertain in my weakness.
Maybe you’ve had a moment like I did ––where you contemplated acting on an urge that you’ve carefully hidden from yourself and others? Or maybe you’ve actually acted on this urge ––and even enjoyed it–– but the guilt and shame are weighing down on your heart, and you’re wondering if God will still accept you? Is there hope for the woman who wants to live for Christ yet finds herself attracted to women?
There are many conflicting responses to this controversial question, but the short answer is “Yes.” In the scriptures we find a clear picture of Christ’s heart towards those who have committed sexual sin in the biblical account of the woman caught in adultery. Since the Bible doesn’t distinguish any brand of sexual immorality––all are equally sin before God (1 Cor 6:9-11)–– theoretically the woman caught in adultery could easily be the woman caught in homosexuality. Consider that as you read John’s account.
At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11, NIV)
First things first, let me paint a backdrop of this story for you. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees described here are a group of respected religious leaders. However, throughout Jesus’ ministry (outlined in the New Testament) we see that these men were really prideful and worldly-minded leaders who were more concerned with their status and position rather than authentically loving God and living out the law.
They barge into Jesus’s Old Testament Bible study, dragging a woman who would’ve made headline news for her sin. It might be hard for us to imagine this ––considering the sex-saturated society we live in–– but in Jesus’ day, adultery was seen as an abominable, heinous crime. Jesus was being put to the test by these leaders, but for the sake of brevity, let’s turn our focus to Christ’s response to their demand for judgment. From it we discover two encouraging, yet challenging truths:
Just as the teachers and Pharisees’ of Jesus’ time painted the woman’s adultery as a heinous death-deserving crime, there are many who profess Christ today that do the same with homosexuality. For the woman battling same-sex attraction, the obvious question is the same as the woman from the text: “How will Jesus respond?”
Before we jump to the “grace” extreme or the “condemnation” extreme, we have to acknowledge two facts. First, Jesus didn’t recognize the teachers or Pharisees as genuine lovers of God (Matt 23:13-14). This matters because these leaders weren’t concerned about the woman so much as they were about their reputations and trapping Jesus.
Some people who profess ––Christ but don’t necessarily have a genuine relationship–– with Him will hypocritically point out that practicing homosexuality is a sin. Yet they fail to address their own sinful lifestyles. This is the judgment that Jesus discourages believers from committing when he says, “‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV).’” It’s not that a fellow Christian shouldn’t confront you on your sin. The point here is that we must be sure we’re not practicing habitual sin ourselves before we try to correct others.
Secondly, God is the author of the Old Testament law condemning adultery. In other words, while the religious leaders were not truly worshippers, they were correct in pointing out that the penalty for the woman’s adultery was death.
So where does that leave us? Yes, committing adultery is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But the fact that the woman sinned didn’t stop Jesus from applying the same grace to the woman caught in adultery that He would’ve gladly applied to any repentant teacher or Pharisee. Jesus uses grace to demonstrate that her accusers were overlooking one major point: It’s not that there are selective sins that lead to death; it’s the presence of sin that leads to death. God doesn’t see some sins as little or others as big. From His spiritual bird’s-eye view, all sin is equally bad. This is why Jesus invites the sinless one among her accusers to throw the first stone.
Yes, practicing homosexuality is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). However, like adultery, homosexuality isn’t more sinful than say overeating or taking God’s name in vain. (Unfortunately, this is what many Christians fail to understand or address.) We all need God’s grace regardless of whatever sin we’re bent towards, and the same grace that applies to the woman caught in adultery can be applied to the woman battling same-sex attraction.
The same grace that applies to the woman caught in adultery can be applied to the woman battling same-sex attraction.
One-by-one the woman’s accusers decide to drop all charges. After all, there’s not much to be said after Jesus bursts your “religious-bubble” like that. Speechless after His powerful demonstration of grace, the woman is motionless, waiting to hear His final verdict.
When a guilty criminal stands before a judge, he is completely at the judge’s mercy. It’s within the judge’s authority to sentence the criminal lightly or severely ––according to his own pleasure and discernment. There are often what’s called precedent cases. These cases send a shockwave throughout the legal world and become a benchmark for judging similar cases and even go on to inspire new legislation.
I believe this trial was one such case. Jesus approaches the woman, asking her if any of her accusers have condemned her. “No one, sir,” she says. Jesus closes her case with these final words ––filled with both overwhelming grace and conviction–– “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” In this national-news-caliber account of a guilty woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus sets a new precedent for grace and bookends it with a call to holiness. Jesus demonstrates that it’s His desire to show sinners grace ––not condemnation–– but He doesn’t sweep her sin under a rug either. We must understand that Jesus doesn’t short-change justice here. Soon He would be on the rugged cross, paying the full price for this guilty woman’s sin. On this authority, He shows her grace, forgives her, and commands her to go and leave her life of sin.
What does that mean for you, the woman battling same-sex attraction? It means that the same gospel of grace that applies to the womanizer, the pornography addict, and the adulteress applies to you. And it also means that Christ’s call to holiness applies to you.
Hey, Beautiful, I want to stress one thing as I close this article. Struggling with same-sex attraction does not exclude you from a relationship with Christ, but yielding to the habitual practice of homosexuality ultimately will. This is the point Christ stresses after forgiving the woman caught in adultery. Every repentant sinner lives unto Christ and dies to his or her sin. We all gain Christ, and we all must lose sin. The good news is that this isn’t a change of heart that you have to work up on your own. I’m living proof that if you keep showing up with God every day ––through the good, the bad, and the ugly–– the gospel of Christ will transform your story, too.
If a relationship with Christ is something you desire, read about that here. If you’re ready to actively submit your sexual desires to God, pray with me.
God, I’m so glad that when You see me that You don’t label me according to the sin I struggle with. You love me unconditionally, and You proved that at the cross of Jesus Christ. God, you know where I have struggles and doubts, and You know that they aren’t exclusively tied to same-sex attraction. But God, I lift up my sexual desires, my shame, and my guilt to You. I thank You for applying Your grace and Jesus’ righteousness to me and my situation. Please surround me with godly mentor and friends that will help me work through this. Supply the strength I need daily to honor You in all areas of my life. Keep me far from temptation and help me actively seek to surrender this struggle to You. Thank You for Your forgiveness and unfailing love. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
This post first appeared here on Nia's website and was reprinted with permission.