I’m a total wimp. Seriously.
And I am becoming more of a wimp every day.
And I think that is a good thing.
Here is what I mean…
I used to think I was strong — strong enough to fight, strong enough to stand up against sin and evil.
Now I know that is pure hubris. I am weak… and the best thing I can do when facing sin and temptation is to RUN LIKE MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT, not fight.
This is especially true in the area of sexual sin.
The Apostle Paul counsels that we should flee from sexual immorality. Not fight it. Flee from it. Here is what he writes in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 —
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
When I tried to fight it, I lost almost every time. When I had the wisdom to flee from it, I could avoid it.
Here are some truths I am learning about myself:
– No matter what anyone tells you, it is really easy to fall into sexual sin. Even today, I know it wouldn’t take much to fall and that scares me. But it scares me in a good way, in a way that leads to vigilance, not slavery; a way that leads to life, not death.
– Fighting seems right, but is the way of the fool. I need to flee from temptation and from sin. That means some simple things like really good accountability and avoiding places that used to get me in trouble. That also means things like internet filters and not watching certain kinds of movies and TV shows — not because those things are in and of themselves evil, but because I am weaker than I like to admit and it doesn’t take much to trigger me.
– I think these things are true for just about everyone, especially if you take following Jesus seriously and take sexual purity seriously. This is not about being gay, it is about being a frail human being. Being gay is not my problem; sin is. Being gay is not a sin; but there are lots of ways to sin as a gay person.
– This does not mean that sex is bad or I have some major hang up on sex. I know that is the rap a lot of Christians get… and in some cases it may be true. Let me be clear. I think sex and sexuality is a really good thing. I think it is a blessing and gift from God. I think it is core to what makes us fully human. I think it is powerful and good and beautiful. And that is why I am committed to seeking sexual purity in my life. Have I failed in the past? Yep! But my yesterday does not define my tomorrow. Will I fail again? Yep. But failure tomorrow does not negate the good work God is doing in me today — nor does it mean failure forever.
– I don’t think that God is most concerned with what I (or you) do sexually. I think God is much more concerned with my (and your) relationship with Him. I think he is far more interested and concerned about the quality of my prayer life and worship… and about what I am doing to feed hungry people and care for the sick and point others towards Him. I don’t think God has the same hang ups about sex that we do. I really don’t. But you know what I do know? When I get entangled in sexual sin — whether in thought or deed — my relationship with God suffers, my prayer life suffers, my worship suffers, my pursuit of justice suffers… and God cares deeply about those things.
– I have spent the last 6 months (OK, more like the last 4… the first two were spent mostly crying and depressed and hopeless…) learning to live a life of sexual integrity as a gay follower of Jesus. I spent the previous 17 years believing that there was no way to do that. That it was an impossibility. That my only choices were to change who I fundamentally was or to somehow shut off my sexuality all together. I chose to try that root… shutting it off. And in doing so I managed to also shut down most of my emotional life, huge parts of who I am relationally… and it was deeply destructive to my soul. Plus it didn’t really work that well any way. It was a vicious cycle. I tried to shut down my sexuality and in doing so killed my emotions and feelings and a part of what being human is all about… and when you shut those things down, sex becomes little more than just a physical thing… and when that happens, it is pretty easy to stumble into deeper and deeper sexual sin… and never really feel a thing… no shame, no guilt, no emptiness. I had already learned to ignore those feelings… to ignore all feelings… feelings betrayed me, I thought. But now I am learning how wrong I was. I am rediscovering feelings and emotions and my heart again. And I am learning how to live with integrity as a gay guy who passionately loves Jesus… and follows Him as my Lord.
So I have become a total wimp. I understand the power that sin has. When we are in Christ, we no longer need to be slaves to sin — but sin is powerful. It seeks us. It is not passive. Scripture describes it this way:
“Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)
And so I flee from it.
Maybe someday I will be strong enough to fight it.
But not today.
And so I flee… like a wimp… and that is wise.