(Permission granted to reprint; cite www.crossministry.org)
Recently I visited my family doctor for a routine checkup. While waiting to be seen, I could not help but notice a lady in her thirties, weighing – I suspect – no more than eighty-five pounds. She wore a blouse, shorts, and tennis shoes. Her legs were dangerously thin, her arms a bit larger than a broom handle and I could see her shoulder blades through her blouse. She reminded me of those who died in concentration camps under the control of Adolph Hitler. I struck up a brief conversation with her, hoping to get a better idea of her condition. We made small talk for a few minutes and then she rose from her chair. She walked to a set of scales in the waiting room. She adjusted the scales for a moment and when I thought she was about to step up she did something incredible. She reached down, unlaced her tennis shoes, removed them, and then stepped on the scales.
I am no doctor but I believe she was suffering from anorexia nervosa, “a psycho-physiological disorder usually occurring in teenage women characterized by an abnormal fear of becoming obese, a distorted self-image, a persistent aversion to food, and severe weight loss. It is often accompanied by self-induced vomiting, and other physiological changes.” An anorexic looks into a mirror and, although emaciated from self-starvation, sees herself as fat. Why? Because the anorexic has a severely distorted self-image.
Someone has said an illustration is like a window…it lets the light shine in. For that reason, I want to explain the complexity of homosexuality through the illustration of anorexia nervosa, a condition affecting women more often than men. At least three reasons make this condition an appropriate illustration. First, anorexia, unlike homosexuality, is a neutral issue; it has not been politicized. This illustration provides more light than heat, something conspicuously missing in most discussions on homosexuality. Secondly, society in general and Christians in particular are more understanding and sympathetic of this condition. And thirdly, anorexia and homosexuality share a few significant similarities.
A person does not choose to be anorexic, although she does consciously choose not to eat or eat and vomit; she likes food and is often obsessed with food and recipes. The anorexic’s primary problem is a severely distorted self-image, an identity issue. Because the anorexic’s primary problem is not her dislike for food, it is ineffective to tell her “all you need to do is eat.” The anorexic’s conscious choice, a stubborn refusal to eat, even to the point of death, is her feeble, illegitimate, and inappropriate attempt to correct the primary problem…a distorted self-image.
In most cases, a man or woman does not choose to be homosexual, although they do consciously choose to engage in homosexual behavior. The homosexual’s primary problem is not an issue of sexuality. The homosexual’s primary problem is a severely distorted self-image, an identity issue. Because the homosexual’s primary problem is not “how to become attracted to the opposite sex”, it is ineffective to tell him “all you need is to date more women.” The homosexual’s conscious choice, to engage in such behavior, even to the point of death, is his feeble, illegitimate, and inappropriate attempt to correct the primary problem…a distorted self-image. Homosexuality is an illegitimate response to a legitimate need.
I know of occasions where well-meaning family and friends (some Christian) have suggested a gay man find a woman who can “make you a man,” ditto the lesbian. I would make three responses to that ill-advised suggestion. First, exchanging one form of immorality for another is not how God provides healing. Second, since sexuality is not the homosexual’s primary problem, this advice is off-target. One might as well set an exquisite meal in front of an anorexic. Thirdly and most importantly, the homosexual’s difficulty is not in relating to the opposite sex, but in relating to the same sex. Because the male homosexual has a severely distorted self-image (a lack of masculinity or maleness), his acting out is his feeble attempt to import more masculinity into himself.
At this point a legitimate rebuttal would be, “This theory of a distorted self-image sounds good from a clinical, psychological perspective, but can you back it up with Scripture?”
Gen 1:26-27 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Is it not striking that God uses the Hebrew words tselem, translated “image” three times, and demuwth translated “likeness” once in three verses? Here man’s moral and spiritual image is created; man’s physical image is footnoted in Gen. 2:7 “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Sexual distinction is also created; contrast “in the image of God he created him” with “male and female he created them.” (v. 27) Genesis 2:25 states “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Note that while no shame concerning their nakedness occurs before the Fall, fear, shame, alienation from God, and embarrassment occur after the Fall.
Genesis 3:7-10 says “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made covering for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” Dr. Guy Greenfield writes, “Sin has produced a hesitancy and reservation about sex among the biblical characters and writers as compared with the lack of shame in the Garden of Eden.” (Holman Bible Dictionary, p. 1251)
Note that before the Fall, or as Vance Havner used to say, “before Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home” only the male/female relationship existed; after the Fall came myriads of immoral relationships (adultery, polygamy, incest, prostitution, and homosexuality, to name a few).
Notice a shift in whose image we are created! Genesis 5:1-3 says “This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man.’ When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” Verse one reiterated that man was created in God’s “image.” Yet two verses later the writer records that Adam had a son named Seth who was in Adam’s, not God’s “likeness” and “image.” (Note that the same words for “image” and “likeness” are used here as in Genesis 1:26-27.) What I believe the writer is doing is contrasting the family of God with the family of Adam, or put another way, he contrasts God’s family with the Adam’s family?
The question is often asked why freedom for the homosexual takes so long. I believe Scripture can answer that question; more specifically, the arrangement of Scripture answers that question. What God created in Genesis 1 & 2, man quickly distorted in Genesis 3. Although the distortion of God’s creation occurred quickly, the restoration/transformation of God’s creation takes time. We must look from Genesis 3 all the way to Romans 8 before we get a fuller understanding of transformation. But, struggler be encouraged. By knowing the real issues associated within same sex attraction, freedom can be accelerated.
Romans 8:29 reads “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” During the summer of one of my college years, I served as a music evangelist through a denomination agency. My team of three students conducted ten revivals over ten weeks. At the close of a great revival in a rural church, a saintly, elderly lady stood to share a brief testimony. She began, “My goal is not heaven.” I was struck with bewilderment; why would she say such a thing? But she continued, “My goal is not heaven. God’s promised me that. My goal is to be more like Jesus.” She was right; our goal is to become more like Christ. As I struggled with my own homosexual feelings, I realized that my ultimate goal was not to develop opposite sex attractions. My goal was and remains Jesus Christ, who is not a means to an end. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:13)
First Corinthians 15:49 says, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man (Adam), so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Christ).” Second Corinthians 3:18 reads “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…” Colossians 3:9-10 states “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
Satan is a liar, he is a liar, he is a liar, he is a liar. In fact the only time you can believe Satan is when he says, “I am a liar.” Jesus said of Satan, “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) If Satan can distort or destroy our perception of who we are, he has accomplished much. Even Christ was tempted to doubt His Deity, both at the Inauguration and Culmination of His Earthly Ministry.
The Inauguration of His Ministry
Matthew 4:3 reads, “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Again the tempter says, “If you are the Son of God …throw yourself down.” (Matt 4:6)
The Culmination of His Ministry
When Christ was dying on the cross, four people groups tempted Him to doubt His Deity. (The people groups are in bold print while the verbal temptation is italicized.) Matthew 27:39-40 says, “Those who passed byhurled insults at him…saying, ‘Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ ” Luke 23:35 reads, “and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ ” Luke 23:36-37 states, “The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’” Luke 23:39 records, “One of the criminalswho hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ ”
One could rightly say that all sin originates from a distorted self-image, but just as there are degrees of darkness, so are there degrees of deception. Homosexuality is dark deception and the person deceived by it rarely responds to a glib, “all you need to do is repent.”
What I am is not based on my feelings or experience. What I am is based on God’s Word. God’s Word says I was corrupted by sin, that Christ died in my place on the cross and if I accept Christ, my sins are forgiven.
I am redeemed!
Thought Question by Victor J. Adamson: If the goal of the converted homosexual and the Christian in general is to be more Christlike, then must we not contemplate “What was Christ like…?”, and “What is Christ like…?”
This article is by Tim Wilkins