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She was 32 years old and a graduate of an established Christian university. Her parents were renowned for their life-long, full-time vocational ministry. She had been living a lesbian lifestyle for 12 years. She had visited four previous churches before coming to ours. She said that after telling someone her story at the last church, she became the sermon illustration the following Sunday.
We talked for a long-time.
Lesbianism was not her primary sin issue, though a significant one. The primary entanglement began long before she embraced “the lifestyle,” a manifestation of something more profound deep in her soul. Our behaviors act as fruit, always implying a root system that develops and gives life to the eventual fruit. It’s our hearts where sin grabs us and begins to grow into our unique lives. It’s fair to say that everyone is totally depraved but uniquely fallen; my struggle is not yours nor yours, mine.
Any sin will put Christ on the cross, though all sin is not the same, consequentially speaking. It’s also true that some of our choices receive a harsher condemnation from God, and a homosexual lifestyle is a label that elevates its heinousness according to His Word. Still yet, none of us are out of the reach of God’s grace.
Here is part of what my new friend told me in that first meeting:
Rick, I remember the first time I walked into that lesbian bar. I went in with a friend because I was curious and had never been to a bar like that. All these ladies were sitting at the bar, on those stools. Most of them turned and looked at me when I entered. Rick, I can’t tell you how good it felt when those ladies began to show interest in me.
It was one of the first times in my life where I felt accepted and loved while not being required to be perfect.
I had no interest in becoming a lesbian. I just wanted friends with whom I could be real with them. In my [Christian college], I could never tell anyone my innermost thoughts. Rather than getting help, I would get demerits. If I dared to share the real me, I would “get told on.” I just wanted someone to listen to me and not condemn me.
There was no way I was going to talk to my school. And my parents? Never! All they cared about was how they looked to others, which was the problem: how things were and how things looked were miles apart. They cared about what things appeared to be rather than dealing with what was happening in my heart.
These ladies at that bar accepted me. It felt good.
Rick, do you think if I confessed my sin to God, he would give me a demerit? Would He kick me out of school? Would He put me in a penalty box?
My friend was willing to sacrifice all her Christian experience, including her theology and all she knew about Christ, plus the Christian community, to have a relationship with someone where she could be honest and not judged. (It’s essential for you to know that she did not come to me because she wanted to change her lifestyle. She came to me because her girlfriend had broken up with her and had begun another “committed” relationship.) Her reason for coming was similar to ours: We don’t always want to change, but circumstances can push us toward change even as we are resisting.
She was resisting but desperate for help. When your desperation is more intense than your resistance, you’re in a good spot and possibly a candidate for change. She had enough God-awareness to get help and assumed a Christian counselor or pastor was an option, not realizing she would have to try four churches before she could find help. She was at the bottom—the end of herself.
She asked me at our first meeting what the “end of counseling” would be like for her. Her question was good, and the answer is always the same. The end of counseling is never for a person to get better. To only get better is still “in-process.” The end of counseling is when the counselee can go out and become a disciple-maker. I’ll never forget her response. She burst into tears. It was uncontrollable and a bit uncomfortable. I asked her why she was crying. She said it never dawned on her that God would not only forgive her but that He would use her for His fame, her good, and the benefit of many. She thought her sin was beyond the scope of God’s grace.
I introduced her to my God rather than her legalistic, demerit-toting one. It is the kindness of God that leads to change (Romans 2:4). She learned about grace. She understood that Christ died for lesbians too. She changed.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).