Hiding behind the mask of tolerance, the old Adam bullies people on social media. He kills conversations with that dreaded four letter accusation: hate. If you’ve ever posted anything about God’s design for marriage, sexuality, or male and female, the old Adam has probably pounced on you. But, you are a Christian. The Holy Spirit has given you His Word. He’s made you-the new man in Christ-ready for this.
But are you, Christian, ready to confront a topic, like LGBT issues, on a more personal front? What would you say if a Christian friend confessed to you that she wrestles with same-sex attraction? How would you respond if your brother told you he couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that he is more like a girl than a boy?
The Christian church understandably grieves when our culture encourages-at times-demands us to embrace homosexuality and transgenderism. But these are also painful thorns that our brothers and sisters in Christ bear in their flesh. They are Christians, yes: baptized into Christ; beloved children of our heavenly Father. And at the same time, we are all still in the flesh; the old Adam still hangs round our necks. Because of this, they may plead with God for years to remove these temptations. They believe God created male and female, and created them for each other. In His infinite wisdom, God’s answer to them may remain, “My grace is sufficient for you…”
Into this struggle enters the Master of Lies. Satan, the Accuser-the old Adam’s landlord. He knows he has no power over those who have been baptized into Christ. Instead, he must entice YOU to reject the gift freely given to you. First, he convinces you that you should keep your temptation hidden in the darkness. Others will shun you, he says, if they find out who you really are. He deceives you into thinking you are strong enough to resist this on your own, and that works at first. But after a time-months, years, or maybe even decades-you let down your guard. That’s when the Great Tempter launches an all-out attack on your Achilles heel. What is His ultimate goal? It’s either to entice you to do something so repulsive that you doubt God’s forgiveness is for you, or to lead you into a pattern of unrepentant sin that eventually hardens your heart to the Gospel altogether. You slip a little, and he seduces you to sin more, to keep that blunder hidden. He knows that light is the enemy of darkness. The last thing he wants is for you to reveal your secret temptation and confess your sin to another who can name it, forgive, and set you free to be a child of God.
As children of God, we often speak of witness, mercy, and life together. And when we speak of life together, we are pointing to the Gospel promise that raises people dead in sin to new life together with the whole body of Christ on earth. This promise announces to us that we do not need to earn God’s favor-a task we could never accomplish, even if we dedicated every waking moment to it. No, Christ won that favor for us, once time for all time. In His gruesome death and glorious resurrection we are set free from earning God’s favor. Through the Gospel promise and the Spirit’s work we are freed from worry, guilt and doubt to love and serve each other for what we are: the family of God.
In this family, the church, God’s Spirit works to drown the Old Adam. He raises up each day a new man in Christ who resists Satan’s lies and who clings to God’s baptismal promises. In baptismal grace and peace, the new man in Christ confesses the old Adam’s sins and receives absolution from a pastor in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The new man in Christ hears God’s Word spoken as life-giving promise to and for him. Together with the whole body of Christ he eats Christ’s Body and drinks Christ’s Blood. And in this body, when his old Adam flesh struggles against the Spirit’s work in the lonely darkness of pride and shame, the family of God is ready to walk with him in the light of Christ’s resurrection hope. Gospeled. Spirited. Togethered.
Cassie Makela currently attends St. John’s Lutheran Church in Port Washington, WI, with her husband and five children.