Identity, Life in Christ, and Same-Sex Attraction

Vaughan Roberts, a respected evangelical biblical scholar and minister in England, recently gave an interview with Evangelicals Now about his ongoing quest to live as Christ’s disciple while dealing with the temptation of same-sex attraction. Roberts shares personal, biblical, and profound insights that are helpful for all of us, no matter what our struggles, for living a Christ-centered life.

Three insights from the article stood out in particular:

1) When we think about our approach as a church to the reality of same-sex attraction, we need to be sure to keep pastoral goals at the front and center: “The problem is largely caused by the fact that most of our comments on homosexuality are prompted, not primarily by a pastoral concern for struggling Christians, but by political debates in the world and the church. We do need to engage in these debates, but it’s vital that we’re alert to the messages that some of our brothers and sisters may be hearing.”

2) When we think about our identity – what defines who we are at our core – we need to think clearly and biblically, finding our identity in Christ: “No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ.”  Notice how Paul also roots the believer’s identity in Christ alone in Philippians 3:8-9:

“What is more, I consider everything a loss, compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

3) Roberts sees the difficult road of celibacy as a sometimes lonely and frustrating path, but he recognizes the great joy and fulfillment in Christ that can be growing behind the scenes as we die with Christ and experience his resurrection power: “Yes, the pain is real — I can’t deny that. The world, the flesh and the devil all conspire to make sin appear very attractive, so it will be hard for believers to remain godly in this area for the sake of the kingdom of God. To do that you need a clear understanding of the call to self denial in the kingdomand the dynamic of resurrection life proceeding out of sacrificial death. Christ does call us all to a life of costly suffering as we take up our crosses for him, but, just as it was in his experience, that way of the cross is the path to life: ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it’ (Mark 8.35).”

This again brings Philippians 3 to mind: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11).

There is great wisdom in this interview – I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

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Filed under Biblical Theology, Discipleship

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