Coming Out

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “coming out of the closet.”  This typically refers to those who  announce that they have lived or struggled secretly with homosexuality. Some of my critics have said that I am a closet homosexual and that we at Hope for Wholeness are encouraging people to deny who they are and live as closet homosexuals.

There is a lot of information online to help men, women and teens “come out of the closet.” You could find actual scripts, instructions, and encouragement to help you to do so.  Teens are urged to come out at school. Everyone is told the importance of coming out to their family and friends.

It is touted as liberating and cathartic to those that come out.  I can not say that it was that for me, but today we most certainly live in a different culture. This liberation is actually a pseudo-truth. The truth is that the Lord does want us to come out, not in a celebration of our sin but in repentance to turn from it.

In addition to the Old Testament references to public confession (Numbers 5:7; Nehemiah 9:2-3), the New Testament shares very powerfully this need and example.

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:6); (Mark 1:5)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. (Acts 19:18)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Some churches actually discourage struggling Christians from confessing their sins.  They may encourage them to come to the altar and confess their sins to God, and I agree that this is good and right (Hebrews 4:16; Matthew 11:28; Psalm 55:22; 1 John 1:9), but it is not the complete step to freedom. I am certainly open to God’s miraculous and sovereign hand of deliverance, however as I showed, scripture tells us how to be set free or “healed” in James 5:16—“confess your sins to each other…”

God knows that the community of believers around us has power—the power to free us from bondage.  This however is an uncommon practice in many churches.

I have been at this for a very long time, actually twenty-one years.  The Lord had me start confessing my sin to others the very day I asked Him into my life. That day, I was traveling back from Florida with Phil Bailey and his family. I asked him questions, and told him that I had been living as a homosexual.  He said, “We knew that and we’ve been praying for you.” I had no idea that he knew about my homosexuality.  He blessed me by basically saying that they loved me through this and love me still.  They were excited for me in my confession to the Lord in repentance and blessed me in my confession to them as friends.

Pretty much every time I speak on this subject, I hammer down the importance of confession to our brothers and sisters in Christ, first with those closest to us and then to others the Lord leads our way.  I tell people that if they share my counsel with their family, pastor or counselor, that most likely they may urge them to not tell anyone. I understand their intentions, and you are possibly thinking the same thing right now. With good intentions, they want to keep their family member or friend from being rejected and hurt. This, however, is not Biblical and not helpful!

Secrecy, or closet struggles, is based on a fear of man; and hinders the maturity process. In our ignorance, we believe that if everyone knew our secret, they would have nothing to do with us.  We are isolated and alone. This is where the gay community has a pseudo-truth. They find acceptance and support in confessing that they are gay. They face the long-held fear of how their family will respond. They may not get the answer that they had hoped for, but they finally are free from the fear of how they would respond.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.  Matthew 5:10 (MSG)

It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9 – 10

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. John 15:18-20

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 1 Thessalonians 3:7

This is such a foreign concept to the majority of the church. This is a point I drive home all the time and I know that people think I’m crazy.  We all live in fear: fear of what everyone thinks about us and what they would think if they really knew us behind the walls that we’ve built up to protect ourselves. We have skillfully created a mask, a life, to portray ourselves as we wish to be seen. We even begin to believe that the false portrayal is who we really are.

I remember being in Amway where they used to tell us that if someone asked how we were doing, we should tell them “I’m great!” or “I’m fantastic!”  The idea was for people to want what we had. If we were excited about what we had—a dream to be financially successful with a plan – then they would want to join us.  It wasn’t long before I realized the emptiness of that dream.

The reality is that people, yes Christians as well, are not always great or fantastic. How many times have you heard at church, “I’m fine” or “I’m great”?  How often does someone say that they are not doing too well, that they’re really struggling, or that they’re battling depression? Fellow believers should be able to have a private conversation where someone says, “I need to tell you something about myself, I’ve got an addiction to pornography;” or “I’ve got this woman at work I need help staying away from because I’m about to fall.”

I tell clients every day to be free that they must “come out!” They must overcome their fear of people learning about their personal struggle with this issue, and even their personal falls, and let people into their lives. If they don’t, they will continue to be held captive through the double life that they will continue to use as an escape. They will continue to believe that they are all alone. They will believe that everyone will leave them. Outside of confession, they have no way to know the true relevance of, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13a).

Not everyone will receive you with Christ’s love, but certainly not everyone will reject you either.  Regardless, you will grow. You will be able to create a real community of Christ’s love and a covering of men and women to help you be strong. You will realize you are not alone and can now actually live one life within that reality.

Those who have taken me up on this had their life transformed over night.  Others who have been giving this a “try” for a number of years, yet refuse to do this one part, continue to struggle in fear and are bound to failure.

Which are you? Do you live with secrets, believing that you would lose everyone in your life if they knew?  Do you have a community of men and women in your life that know you intimately, that can encourage you when you are down, challenge you when you are off, and encourage you to greater heights?

I challenge you to COME OUT!   Do it today.  Don’t delay.  Whom do you need to confess to first—a spouse, parents, siblings, close friends, your pastor?  It may not be easy.  There may be a price, but you are paying it already yet are bound and miserable.

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:13-14

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