Today’s question comes from a podcast listener named Kathy. “Hello, Pastor John! I write because my best friend just told me that she has been wrestling with homosexual desires for years and will now give in to them. She recently said this to me: ‘I’m going to date a girl. I just am. It just feels more right, and I just have to try it. I’ve agonized over this for years. I didn’t ask for this, and I’m not guilty or ashamed anymore. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed and studied, and I don’t really feel condemnation from God. I just feel it from people. I feel fine about it, free, unconvicted, and not scared anymore.’
“Those are her words. My friend clearly professes faith and has come to the conclusion that it is okay to pursue this lifestyle. But her strong defensiveness makes me unsure how to best voice my disagreement.”
Words of Truth
Kathy, my suggestion is that you go back and review what you know, because seeing it in black and white in God’s word strengthens us and gives us guidance for what to do.
“Perhaps the best thing you can do is draw your friend’s attention to the powerful role that feelings play in her life right now.”
I have in mind Romans 1:26: “God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.” That’s the most important sentence right now for you and your friend.
This is very frightening because she is your best friend, as you said. It seems to me from what you say that God is doing this very thing in her life. He is giving her up to passions, and it is a terrifying prospect that should make her tremble and you for her.
Notice two levels of activity in this verse.
God Gave Them Up
One level is that God is giving her up to dishonorable passions: “God gave them [these women] up to dishonorable passions.” There are three implications for your friend here.
1. God’s Blockade
First, God ordinarily restrains sin for millions of people. He restrains sin, but sometimes, in just judgment, he stops restraining. This is called giving them up or handing them over to their desires. He’s just pulled back on your friend’s passions for sin. And he’s letting her go.
2. Enslaved to Passion
Second, instead of God being the dominant restraining force now, passions take complete control. I hear this over and over in the way you describe the state of her heart. This is what you say she said: “I’m going to date a girl. I just am. It just feels more right. I just have to try it. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed anymore. I don’t really feel condemnation from God; I just feel it from people. I feel just fine about it.”
That’s the language of a person who has been given up to feelings, or what Paul calls passions — dishonorable passions. They are her new god. Once the power of feelings and passions had a governor in God’s restraining grace,;now these passions are like a tsunami. They are knocking down every tower of truth, every sign of warning, every barrier to destruction.
She is now, it seems, enslaved to her feelings, her passions. There is no slave master in the world that feels more freeing than this one. But he’s very cruel.
3. Friends Become Enemies
Here’s the third implication of this level-one observation in Romans 1:26. This new god that she has is called passions. Paul says it is dishonorable. She is in the bondage of dishonorable passions. Not only do these passions lead to utterly unnatural and pathetic substitutes for the way God created women, but they turn friends into enemies.
“She is now enslaved to her passions. There is no slave master in the world that feels more freeing than this one. But he’s very cruel.”
She says she feels only condemnation from people. Feelings are not God. It doesn’t matter whether the friends really are condemning her. All that matters is what she feels. That’s the way this god enslaves its victims.
Reality doesn’t matter anymore. Feeling condemned is all that matters. Whether you love her doesn’t matter to her if she feels condemned by what you say. Feelings are god.
Self-justification is right at the heart of these dishonorable passions. They are morally superior. They feel morally superior to her than all the people around her who are now judgmental. They are dishonorable passions in that they take friends, speaking truth in love, and turn them into enemies.
Acting on the Passions
Now, I said there are two levels in this verse. That was one of them: “God gave them up to dishonorable passions.”
Here’s the other one: “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.” First comes the dishonorable passions — the bondage to the god of feelings — then comes the action. First there’s dating, then touching, then kissing, and then who knows what pathetic, utterly hopeless attempts to make the unnatural feel natural.
The cruel god of feeling will let her succeed for a while. But the end of Romans 1:27 will sooner or later explode with misery. It says, “committing shameless acts with men” — in this case, her and her girlfriend — “and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Now she can say, if you quote that to her, that she feels condemned by you. Just realize that that feeling is bondage to her new god. And you need to speak.
Only God knows in the short run what that penalty will be. All that from Romans 1 is what you would do well to remind yourself of.
Confronting in Love
It seems to me, Kathy, that perhaps the best thing you can do is somehow draw your friend’s attention to the powerful role that feelings play in her life right now. They are all out of proportion to the truth and the authority of Scripture.
“Don’t be afraid of being condemned as being judgmental by her. It may be the price you will have to pay for loving her well.”
“I’m just going to date this girl. I just am. It just feels more right. I just have to try it. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel ashamed. I don’t really feel condemned by God. I just feel condemned by people. I feel just fine about it.” Notice: feel, feel, feel, feel, feel.
If there’s truly a vestige of submission to the lordship of Jesus in her, perhaps she will see that this is code language for the god of self. Perhaps it is not too late for you to sound a wake-up call. Don’t be afraid of being condemned as being judgmental by her. It may be the price you will have to pay for loving her well.