Letter to a Struggling Gay Christian

Dear Joe,

I hope this letter finds you well.

I met your pastor last week, and he was very upset. He told me you mentioned giving up faith in Christ and leaving the church because, even five years after your conversion, you continue to experience same-sex attraction. He also told me that Rita, your wife, has suffered a lot, though you’ve been honest with her and haven’t been unfaithful.

As you know, your pastor was my student in seminary. He asked me to write you since I helped you in the first days after your conversion. I hope this letter will be used by God to encourage you amid your struggle and to remind you of your unshakeable status in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember when I warned you that trusting in Christ doesn’t mean immediate liberty from all spiritual, psychological, and mental consequences? Sin—homosexual or otherwise—leaves deep scars in our lives, branding our consciousness with images, impressions, experiences, tastes, and desires that often take many years to overcome.

Your pastor told me you’ve been reading books that claim homosexuals, once converted, are radically free not only from same-sex relationships but also from same-sex attraction. I don’t doubt in some cases this can happen; in fact, I know a few specific cases where it has. But this is not always the case. Please understand, Joe, that continuing homosexual desire post-conversion neither renders your conversion illegitimate nor suggests the Lord has failed you.

I fear you’re forgetting something basic about the Christian life, my friend: the distinction between sin and temptation. Same-sex attraction isn’t the same thing as same-sex relations. The first is temptation; the second is sin. Every believer this side of heaven has a heart corrupted by sin, a sinful nature at war with the presence of the Spirit of God. Our hearts daily stir up carnal and corrupt desires, leading us to dwell on godless thoughts and intentions. These temptations happen within ourselves, not to mention those brought about by the world, by others, and by Satan himself.

Every day, married Christian men are tempted to look a second time at women who aren’t their wife. But being tempted isn’t the same as fantasizing about these relationships or having them in reality. Joe, true Christians repress these desires, saying “no” over and over and over again. They think about their wife, their kids, and especially their God who hates adultery and their Savior who died for sin. Every resistance in the face of temptation, then, is a momentous occasion of victory and liberation.

The same applies to every sinful desire in the heart of a Christian. Joe, conversion to Jesus doesn’t mean perfection, and it doesn’t mean the absence of temptation. This you must understand.

Let’s go back to one of those Bible studies I shared with you at the beginning of your Christian life. The process God established to free people from sin is accomplished in three distinct stages. Remember the picture I drew for you?

Freedom from Step When How
Guilt of sin Justification Past One act of God
Power of sin Sanctification Present Imperfect and incomplete process
Presence of sin Glorification Future One act of God

The first step, justification, is an act of God whereby he considers us righteous on the merits of his Son. It’s a legal declaration made once for all, and it is the basis for all that follows.

The second step, sanctification, is our deliverance from sin’s power. This process begins after justification and continues our entire life. Sanctification does not entail complete eradication of our fallen nature, but it does help to subdue and slay it. This is the stage of salvation in which all Christians presently live.

The Lord provides us means of grace like biblical meditation, prayer, and fellowship with other believers to harness the Spirit’s sanctifying power. It’s also vital to pray specifically for the spiritual fruit of self-control.

Joe, this fight is a fierce and seemingly endless struggle, but the fight itself is not sin. Temptation only becomes sin when we yield to it. Victory, however, comes when we say “no,” hour after hour, by the Spirit’s power.

The final step, glorification, is our ultimate freedom from sin’s indwelling presence. It will occur when we die or when our King returns. There will be a resurrection of the dead and a transformation of believers still alive. All God’s children will become like God’s Son in immaculate, immortal, imperishable, glorified bodies. Only then, Joe, will you and I be finally freed from the fleshly desires that reside within our hearts.

I think you’re unnecessarily discouraged because you were led to think turning to Christ would bring full deliverance from prior desires. To that end, I hope this brief letter brings true liberation.

So stay strong and continue practicing the spiritual disciplines, talking with Rita, and enjoying the fellowship of your church. We’re all sinners-in-progress. And above all, Joe, don’t give up. Never stop trusting Christ’s work as full and complete. Though God never promised freedom from all temptation and sin the moment you embraced Christ, he has promised forgiveness. Indeed, your justification was only the beginning of your deliverance, the tiny spark at the genesis of a devouring flame.

“For sin will not have dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

Your brother and friend,


  • http://brandatthebrink.blogspot.ca/ Ron Van Brenk

    Well Done Augustus,

    I wrote a very similar blog post about a month ago.

    Still,I have fewer sympathies for Joe than I do for Rita.
    I feel Rita has the larger cross to bear.
    Not unlike the wife of an alcoholic. Who suffers more?

    As regards Joe actually being faithful? Not buying it.
    Yet Rita is being faithful despite his coveting.
    Rita is next to godliness…

    • Meagan

      While I understand your sentiments, I just want to say a word of caution. We are judged by God as we judge others, and I would not want someone else to judge the size of *my* cross, *my* struggles. Guilt and torment are ugly things, and who knows how painful the root of Joe’s struggles with homosexuality are? (I don’t believe that God makes people who are gay, I believe that something happens in their life, even when they are very young, that allows that sin to enter their life.) I don’t wish that kind of damage and pain on anyone.

      Pain is pain, but as a fellow Christian, I feel we are too good at shooting the wounded. I think “Joe” needs support for his struggles, and “Rita” praises and support for her perseverance. They don’t need to be turned against each other by comparing their plights. They are married, thus one flesh. What hurts him hurts her, what hurts her hurts him.

      • Paul

        Well said Meagan! To claim that anyone besides Jesus is “next to godliness” makes me feel very uncomfortable, to put it lightly. She has her own sins that she struggles with that are different from his. Be careful not to be a Pharisee, or tempt another to become a Pharisee. Jesus embraced the prostitutes, adulterers and tax collectors while the Pharisees shunned them, and some of Jesus’ harshest words are directed towards the Pharisees. We don’t know this for sure, but I wonder if Zacchaeus ever again struggled with greed after his encounter with Jesus. We know that Peter struggled with sin after Jesus’ ascension from what is recorded in Galations.

    • Augustus Lopes

      No doubt, Ron. Maybe Rita deserves a good letter herself. I suppose lot’s of people undergo similar struggles. May the Lord bless and give His grace to all of them.

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  • Meagan

    Love, love, love this letter. Joe, where ever you are and whoever you are, I’m hugging on you.

    It is so easy for us as humans to try to struggle in silence. I just want to find Joe and remind him that loving his wife is a choice. Press in. Keep the communication open. Sin gains power in the dark secret places we try to shove and tuck it inside of us.

    Also, I came out of witchcraft and could not enjoy the night sky because of the things I had learned and information I connected to the moon and stars. I prayed for God to break those connections to His creation and renew my mind — and He has. Hang in there, and when you want to give into the fight, tap out and let Jesus continue it! :)

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  • Elias

    Why pressure two people with different sexual orientations to only make love to each other? It will only cause suffering for both of them. Having sex, and having it with the gender one is oriented to is an important part of having a happy and healthy brain. Telling someone to struggle and fight against who they were born to be is wrong, and telling them to do it until they die is even worse. They need some better options…

    • danny

      Because life is not about doing whatever you’re bent towards doing, it’s about glorifying God, which often requires that we sacrifice some of things we desire. If everyone simply did what was right in their own eyes, I fear for where humanity will go. We aren’t good enough.

    • Christian

      I think you’ve made a mistake in your thinking here- love and sex have nothing to do with each other. No one ever said anything about Joe having sex with his wife, or anyone else. Loving someone is always good, and almost nothing could be better than having a friend that loves you like she loves herself. Also, having intimacy with his wife *is* a better option, it’s just a much more difficult option. Having happy sex may be important to having a happy life and healthy brain, but I for one would be glad to lay those things down for Christ, becuase I don’t think his brain was very happy or healthy when he was out there in the garden, sweating blood. The important is to see the things we want in life, and measure it against Him. And nothing can ever compare to the joy, to the hope, to the meaning, there’s really no words for it.

      And finally, it is good when we fight against what we want and the way we were born. Saying ‘this is the way i am, so it can’t be wrong’ is denying the need for Christ- because honestly, I need him for every moment… because everything about the way I am is sinful, and desperately wicked (Jerimiah 17:9, if you’re interested). I know I need Jesus because the way I was born is sick and evil.

      Sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t understand. Abraham was freaked out when God asked him to sacrifice his own son. But God had a plan, and Abraham’s trust in Him those four or five thousand years ago have helped define who He is ever since. God loves you, loves ‘Joe’, ‘Rita’, and everyone else living on this tiny, blue marble we call earth. Just trust him, and your joy will grow and grow.

    • steve63

      “Telling someone to struggle and fight against who they were born to be is wrong, and telling them to do it until they die is even worse.”

      Something tells me you would never give this same advice to a pedophile. If I’m correct about that, it should make it obvious to you that our sexual impulses do not define what we were “born to be”. Our understanding of human sexuality needs to take into account man’s fall into sin and how it has distorted human passions and impulses.

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  • liz

    Letter to a Struggling Pedophile Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Rapist Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Abortionist Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Liar Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Thief Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Murderer Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Wife Abusing Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Child Abusing Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Terrorist Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Slanderer Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Drunk Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Satan Worshipper Christian.
    Letter to a STruggling Selfish Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Gossiper Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Drug Dealer Christian.
    Letter to a Struggling Pimp Christian.

    Such WERE some of you, but you have been washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    I guess we all could use a letter.

    • danny

      But none of these people are the person this author knew and specifically wanted to write to.

      We all need to chill and just read what’s here and stop needing every article to be what We want it to be. This is the definition of entitlement.

    • Joe

      Gay means “same-sex attracted”

      I think the vast majority of Christians believe it is possible to experience same-sex attraction and still be a Christian. That’s what this letter is about.

      • Liz

        It is good to be defined by who we are in Christ, not our lives before Christ.
        I often wonder if Paul, experienced murderous thoughts (habitual, ongoing) after coming to Christ?

        “Gay Christian” is a term becoming acceptable in the church, I wonder if it is to lead the church to accept, in time, the practicing homosexual as a true believer.
        To believe the sin of homosexuality is the ONE sin that is the hardest find victory over while living on this planet.
        Joe, is a christian who has temptations of same-sex attractions. Is it a lifestyle (then he has reason to examine himself to see if he is in the faith. 1 john & 2 Cor. 13:5) or periods of temptations? Is he taking these thoughts captive to Christ? Is he focused on himself? Is he running from temptation and exchanging the lie from truth? Is this the “struggling” he is going through?
        Is this not the struggle that all believers go through in putting off and putting on while in the flesh?

        The christian is not defined by their life before Christ, their sin, or their “struggles”. They are washed, and sanctified and justified through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is who they are, this is the victory we have in Christ.
        Joe is not a “gay christian” or a “practicing homosexual” he has temptations of same-sex attractions.

        • Joe

          As I said “Gay Christian” is shorter way of writing “Christian who experiences same-sex attraction”. That’s what it means.

          Nationality, race, ethnicity and sexuality are all categories that have social currency. We can debate the merits of doing so but it’s difficult to deny that most people do apply these culturally defined labels to themselves and other people.

  • Sarah

    I’d have to agree with someone’s comment on the facebook link to this article: the title of the article seems a poor choice of words to an otherwise wonderful letter. I think this letter is beneficial for everyone to read – because we all struggle with sin and long for the end of that struggle. But that said, I wonder how “Rita” would appreciate the Gospel Coalition calling her husband a “gay Christian.” So “Joe” was a homosexual in his past and still has struggles with homosexual-attraction, but please don’t call him gay now. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” We are no longer identified by our sins, but by our new identity in Christ! Joe is a Christian, plain and simple – no qualifiers needed!

    • zachary

      People who are attracted to the same sex are said to be gay(I know you know that). The title could have been “letter to christian who has same-sex attraction” but since there is a word for someone who has same sex-attraction I think it is quite appropriate to use it.

      I think your thought might not be practical for those fighting sin, such as this. We are no longer identified by our sins (woohoo!), but we still struggle with them.

    • Joe

      “Gay Christian” is a compound noun for ‘gay person’ AND Christian. Gay doesn’t modify Christian. Gay modifies person – which is then omitted. Language can be complicated.

      And as Zachary said gay is synonymous with “same-sex attracted”.

      Words and their meanings change over time but the Pope got it right recently when he used the word ‘gay’ in an informal press briefing. Catholic teaching hasn’t changed but he realised the benefit of acknowledging the more widespread definition of gay.

      • Sarah

        Zachary and Joe, interesting thoughts and maybe my semantics are a bit off, but I still stand by my position that “Joe” should not be called a “gay Christian.” I think the comment by Dennis a few more down support this very well. He stated, “It is very important not to go on thinking of ourselves as ‘gay Christians.’ If we have truly been converted, then we are no longer characterized that way. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 states clearly that there is a radical transformation that happens at conversion, so that we say of ourselves regarding sinful ways of living that that is how we once were, but are not that way now. Referring to the list of sins in these verses, we can no longer be homosexual Christians any more than we can now be fornicating Christians or adulterous Christians or idolatrous Christians or stealing Christians or drunk Christians, etc.” That was my main point…even though he said it so much better! :) My more minor point was bringing up the fact that calling Joe a “gay Christian” was a slam to his wife. Joe is no longer a homosexual; he is a married heterosexual who still struggles with his past same-sex attractions. A big difference. I wonder if your wife (if you have one) had had a past as a lesbian but had now chosen to be married to you, would you like people calling her a “lesbian Christian”?

        • Joe

          You have a point. A married man might not call himself a “gay Christian”. Without knowing the individual it’s difficult to say what his or his wife’s reaction would be to that title.

          TGC editors are also in a difficult position. They might be trying to find ways to show that Christians aren’t ‘homophobic’. If ‘gay’ is used to imply something more than ‘same-sex attracted’ (which is now the more mainstream meaning of the word) it plays into the hands who complain that Christians reduce gay people to sex acts. I trust that whoever chose that title didn’t mean to slam anyone.

  • Jeanie

    Should be titled the struggling sinner who sill never find perfection this side of heaven

  • Johnny Appleton

    While I’m sure this is of value to gay ministry, I’d like to see a letter in this series called, “Letter to a straight Christian couple that refuse to have children, or, if biologically unable, refuse to adopt.” Taboo topic, sure, but definitely Biblical (and far more Biblical in passages numerically than the gay issue.) Why can people talk about the gay issue ad nausea but never address this issue?

    Homosexuality is a sin, agreed, but just as equal of a sin is contracepting the fruit of the womb for the sake of convenience or ignoring the plight of the orphan. Don’t cherry pick TGC.

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  • Dennis

    This is excellent counsel, Augustus. As a man who was converted from a homosexual life over 30 years ago, it may be helpful for Joe to know that I have never known a complete cessation of the workings of this sin in my members even after so much time living the Christian life. God deals with all of us in different ways, but most of us converted homosexuals will very likely not know complete deliverance from this sinful inclination until we are glorified. At the same time I think it’s important to believe that the progress of sanctification can and should result in a lessening of the power of this sin in our lives. This requires continued and dogged repentance, resistance, and redirection on our part with dependence on the work of the Spirit in us.
    One practical bit of advice here from my own experience may be useful. It is very important not to go on thinking of ourselves as ‘gay Christians.’ If we have truly been converted, then we are no longer characterized that way. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 states clearly that there is a radical transformation that happens at conversion, so that we say of ourselves regarding sinful ways of living that that is how we once were, but are not that way now. Referring to the list of sins in these verses, we can no longer be homosexual Christians any more than we can now be fornicating Christians or adulterous Christians or idolatrous Christians or stealing Christians or drunk Christians, etc. We have to think of ourselves and behave as Christians who have been saved from homosexuality. It really does help to think right about these things in the battle against remaining sin. It’s also crucial to understand that the homosexual attraction or inclination is itself a sinful inclination that we must focus our sanctifying efforts on mortifying and redirecting. We must ‘cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’ (2 Cor. 7:1) If we simply go after the outward conduct without also directing our sanctifying efforts at the heart sin that it proceeds from, we won’t win this battle. And above all we must do this bolstered by hope that the grace and Spirit of God really are powerful to change us.

    • Cameron Sandel

      I really appreciate what you had to say here.

      It is my firm conviction that as believers, our sin no longer names us. Our identity isn’t derived from our failures, our mistakes or our sinful habits but rather, from our death, burial and resurrection with Christ Jesus. (Rom 6v3-10)

      Same sex attraction may very well stick around after conversion; my lust sure does…but I am not lust-filled man. Homosexuals very well may be born with that disposition, not arguing that point, but they weren’t born again that way. May still have pulls in their flesh in that direction but that’s not who they are anymore. We learn to say about ourselves what God says about us.

      I am who God says that I am.

      Holy, blameless, beyond reproach, sanctified, redeemed, justified, chosen, blessed, accepted, made new, free from the slavery of sin, dead to sin, alive to God, the righteousness of God, accepted by God, NOT still possessing a sinful nature (sorry Augustus-too much biblical ink to agree with you on that one)but rather partakers of the divine nature…(Rom 3v21, 24, Rom 6v1-10, Rom 15v7 1 Cor 1v2, 2 Cor 5v17, 21, Eph 1v3-7, 2 Pet 1v4)

      I could go on.

      We don’t HAVE to continue living in sin, whatever the expression of our unique flesh is. We are dead to sin. (Rom 6v2) dead to its penalty AND it’s power. (Again Augustus, apologies)
      Our experience may not line up with this truth, our feelings may never validate it, our behavior and performance will seldom coincide with it yet God declares that we are dead to sin.

      Let’s begin acknowledging what is true of us. Behaviors tend to change when belief takes root. Doesn’t mean we can’t start behaving or walking in a manner that reflects what is true of us even in the midst of struggling to believe what is true about us. John Stott once said, “We do no damage to our faith when we believe something we don’t believe.” (Still looking or the ref-apologies)

      It’s why Paul would declare we are dead to sin in v2 yet give us the imperative to “reckon or count ourselves dead to sin. (Rom6v11)

      I encourage Joe and all believers, when assaulted with their own unique flesh tendencies, whether they are same sex addictions or not, to learn to say in the face of that temptation: I am dead to that. That’s not who I am.

      We’re not just talking about mind over matter here. We seek to understand the emotional pull and the “mind ruts” that are up in our brain and lodged in our flesh, and we are trying to learn to speak the exact opposite.

      We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2v16), which is adequate to overcome those natural flesh tendencies…

      How? We learn to say in the face of it, even right when it’s assaulting us: “I am dead to that, that’s not who I am anymore!” and we are trusting, not by magic, but by the grace of God, that at some point the reality of our confession will dissolve into a knowing.

      We learn to say: “I will not allow that line of thinking to name me. I will not let my sin name me.”
      We must speak the truth to it…into those situations, those struggles.

      Prayers go out to Joe and Rita and all of those in Christ who, “by one offering Christ has perfected for all time those who are sanctified”. (Heb 10v14)

      Praise God that our sanctification is our growing up into the fullness and completeness that is ours in Christ that will one day be fully known through our glorification with Christ. (Rom. 8v17,18,21,30; Phil. 3v20-21; Col. 3v4; Titus 2v13; 1 Pt. 4v13)


  • Andrew M

    Anyone else waiting in the sidelines for the gay lobby to spot this article and send their foot soldiers in to argue we are hateful for calling sin sin, and calling people to turn from their sin? and even that it constitutes hate speech to express these sentiments?

  • Richard

    Well done Augustus, one of the best letters and outlines I’ve read in a long time!
    We as Christians still struggle with sin, probably all our lives here, the name ‘former’ is applied to us when we follow Jesus. Former liar, former adulterer, former homosexual, the list goes on. We fight (by the strength of God) not to do the things we use to do, in our former life, but slowly change to be like Jesus.

  • danny

    I’m honestly blown away that so many of you are nitpicking the “gay Christian” title. This is insane. Epitome of missing the forest for the trees. It’s simple semantics, not a theological statement in itself. Read the article, engage, but can we stop with our high horses?

    The article is very good.

  • Mike

    Have you guys seen this little diddy? http://gaywithoutgod.com
    I must say I am intimidated by this mindset which we will all have to reckon in time. But this will help me as I form my apologetics.

  • les moore

    this letter needs to be shared with all new christians. So many people I talk to seem to think that once you accept Jesus you will be free from sin and temptation. I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour 15 years ago.I now tell my friends that my walk through this world is harder than before I was saved; but I do not ever want to live without CHRIST in my life. This is because in HIS {GODs} strength I can resist all temptation. This is what new christians need to know; and this is how much we need to love our GOD and then HE will strengthen us.

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