Why is the Gospel Good News For Everyone Every Day?By Andrew Kischner on November 20, 2017
Laurie Krieg delivered a stirring talk at the Fall 2017 Talking Points conference entitled "Loving LGBT+ People with the Gospel." She gave a captivating first-person narrative about her lifetime struggle with sexuality and her walk with God.
As she shared, Laurie described how behind every sin lies a heart idol, and so the good news of the gospel must reach into our hearts if we are to be truly healed. Laurie revealed that she has always had an attraction to women, but she shared that this was not her root problem. According to Laurie, her struggle was a heart problem far more than a gay problem. In fact, her gay orientation, she emphasized, is only one of the many ways she has struggled with disordered desires.
Clinging to One "Savior" After Another
The same is true for all of us. Sexuality is just one of the many ways we can live out disordered desires, which are rooted in idols of the heart. We need the good news to touch our hearts—not just conform our behavior.
As Laurie shared, she took her audience down the twists and turns of her heart's search for fulfillment in different "saviors," looking to save herself after a traumatic childhood experience, then to the performance of good deeds and only finally to another woman. Each of these were idols, replacements for God's love, and each of them were sin. Each of them needed the radical grace of God to meet her, break her and heal her. Laurie expressed that only God could address the needs of her heart, which were left unfulfilled in each stage of her story.
Throughout her story, Laurie desired most to be seen, loved, accepted and worthy. These were heart desires, heart matters. While she affirms that these were good desires put in her heart by God, she pursued them outside of God's good design, and she was left wanting:
It was not a matter of simple re-prioritization; it wasn't even a matter of exchanging a she for a he. It was a matter of destroying all the old systems I had built up, starting when I was young [when] I said "yes, I need Jesus, but also me; yes, I need Jesus, but also my good deeds; yes, I need Jesus, but also her…."
After her long journey of replacing one savior for another—without addressing the reason she trusted in these saviors in the first place—she describes her experience of deep transformation at a heart level. She says,
I needed to metaphorically kill all my old saviors…and let [God] fill up all the empty spaces only with Himself. How could I do that? I could not stop being attracted to women. I could not cut the gay parts out as much as I begged God to do that. I could not hate myself into holiness. What did I need to do? The answer was to sink myself down into the soil of God's love as it says in Ephesians 3 and receive his grace and acceptance there.
God found Laurie in her story and in her wayward pursuits. She reveals, "I knew [my sin] wasn't God's best, but I didn't know how to live in the design that God wanted for me." She had "prayed the prayer" at a young age, received Christ, desired to please Him and even gave up each false savior after a time. But without addressing the heart, she would give up one savior and simply exchange it for another savior. She was mistaken about the nature of her sin and she was also mistaken about the nature of the gospel she had received. She had no understanding, she explains, about the way her sinful nature continued after she was saved and that the gospel continued to address her sinful nature and brokenness post-conversion.
Why the Gospel is Good News for Every Day
The gospel is, she powerfully declares, good news for us every day. It addresses our whole selves in every moment. She further explains that those of us who are Christians are Christians in the midst of our brokenness.
A beloved Christian counselor helped Laurie see when she was falling back on heart idols for her fulfillment. Her counselor did this by addressing her at the heart level. As Laurie put it, "She looked for pain and spoke the gospel there." This allowed her to see her idols and receive deep grace upon finding them. Through this experience, she fell in love with Jesus and came to understand what it means that Christ is Savior—over against her other saviors. Laurie's counselor taught her to walk with God through the slow practice of spiritual disciplines; she learned to die to herself and let Christ live in her in the midst of her ongoing brokenness. She described how she learned to grieve, lament and deal with her past pain, and she also came to understand the hurt she inflicted on others.
In all of this, something unexpected happened. She grew joyful in the midst of putting her desires to death. She began to change from the inside out.
In conclusion, Laurie may have been intrigued by women from a young age, and she pursued a relationship with a woman as a young adult. But that's not how she understands the core of her sin. The core of her sin was replacing the perfect love of Jesus Christ with numerous other idols, which is something we all do in various ways. That's what made her experience with her counselor so powerful. Our hearts are restless until they rest in God [to paraphrase St. Augustine].
In this way, Laurie's story is all of our stories. Our hearts cannot be satisfied unless God is the one quenching our thirst. Our primary calling, then, is to trust His love to fill us, no matter what sin we struggle with, no matter how long we have been Christian. Repentance and faith are daily projects for us all. If we expect to call gay people—or anyone—to come to God, we must (1) practice a regular pattern of heart-level repentance ourselves and (2) focus not just on specific sins, but most importantly on the hearts of the people we love and serve.
The following resources were recommended by the conference speakers for further reading:
- "Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity" by Gregory Coles
- "All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality" by Nate Collins
- "The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction: A Comprehensive Counseling Resource" by Janelle Hallman
- "Living in a Gray World: A Christian Teen's Guide to Understanding Homosexuality" by Preston Sprinkle
- "Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry" by Mark Yarhouse