Gospel Relevance

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From Lesbianism to Follower of Christ: An Interview With Emily Thomes

In this interview, Emily Thomes stops by the site to share her story and give advice to Christians ministering to those who identify as LGBT. You can read the full interview below.

Emily Thomes

Emily Thomes, thank you for taking time to stop by the site. I’ll start broadly. Tell us a little about your life before God saved you. 

Before God saved me, I was an incredibly selfish person. I was pretty well liked by most people but had a tendency to overstep boundaries and act impulsively. I did what I perceived was best for me. This lead me to sleeping around, smoking marijuana, and doing other destructive behaviors. Even when it looked like I was helping and serving others, it was actually for my glory and pride. I had very little respect for others but knew how to act “upstanding” outwardly that few people saw the depths of my poor behavior. In short, my driving factors before conversion were pride and self-exaltation.

Take us through your conversion experience. Do you remember the moment you realized that you had become a Christian? 

I do.

I was in my apartment sitting on the floor with the book (God: As He Longs for You to See Him) from the Bible study I was participating in when I realized I was now a believer. I had been in a study only for a couple of weeks and was learning about the attributes of God. Slowly but surely my view of God and of myself began to change and the balance tipped to where God was bigger and mattered more than I did.

I read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and saw that I was in the “will not enter the kingdom of Heaven” group but that He could save me and make me new. In those verses I understood my need for Him and His offer to me; it was really incredible.

I remember feeling terrified and at peace at the same time. I realized where I had been until that instant and that scared me. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t understood before what was so clear to me all of a sudden. But there was no denying it and no suppressing it any longer. I didn’t know what I was going to do or what my life was going to be like but I knew what I wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to defy Him any longer. His will was my new life.

That’s very encouraging to hear. Now let’s talk about outreach. When you see the church attempt to reach those who identify as LGBT, what are things that encourage you? What are some concerns? 

Seeing the church reaching out with truth and love to the lost has been the greatest encouragement. I’ve seen Christians be humble and open with their struggles against sin with others. I’ve seen them acknowledge their own need for grace with those who have not yet received it. Believers should discuss their own fleshly pull towards sin while making it clear that in Christ we deny ourselves and follow Him. 

There are two major concerns I see in how the church reaches out to those in the LGBT community. 

The first is when churches speak with no love at all. We cannot approach those outside the church like they’re believers who refuse to repent; they’re lost. We must approach them with the gospel — all of it. We explain that He is holy and that we are fallen and in need of forgiveness and a heart change. Both the law and grace must be presented for either to make any sense. 

The second concern I see is when Christians cast aside what His word says on homosexuality in attempts to “love” those who are lost. God’s word stands forever; what He deems as sin will always be sin. To ignore that truth is incredibly unloving. Those who do not repent will not inherit the kingdom of God. Pretending that one can remain in sin and belong to Him is deceptive and cruel.

 So what do you think are some of the biggest obstacles in our outreach strategies? 

A poor understanding of sin in general, homosexuality specifically, is by far the greatest obstacle I’ve seen in our attempts at outreach.

A mindset has developed (whether Christian or not) that homosexuality is linked to identity. Obviously, the LGBT community embraces that wholeheartedly, but most Christians don’t realize that they have also embraced that idea. Believers inadvertently reinforce an unbiblical understanding of homosexuality when they treat those who are same-sex attracted as a segregated class of sinners who are more depraved than ‘normal’ people. In doing so, well-meaning Christians are unwittingly buying into the notion that homosexuality is part of one’s identity, much like one’s race or gender. 

Basic Christian principle regarding things like sin, repentance, and obedience are cast entirely to the side when dealing with homosexuality to the detriment of both the lost and those in the faith. An inclination towards a certain sin doesn’t mean that one is destined to walk in that sin; it means that they, like all other people since Adam, are born bent towards sin and are in need of forgiveness and a new heart.

Thankfully, our God offers us that in the cross. We can be born again and made new.

What are some practical resources you can recommend to help? 

The short answer is the Bible. We’ve got to be consistent and biblical in our dealings with all sin. 

On another note, some practical tools I’ve found helpful are ministries like Rosaria Butterfield and Matt Moore and Desiring God. Butterfield and Moore were both radically saved out of homosexuality and offer much insight into various circumstances and struggles. 

Two links to check out are:

Finally, Emily, what’s your #1 biggest piece of advice for Christians who are trying to reach those who associate as LGBT?

To put it simply, do not elevate or diminish the sin of homosexuality, and be humble and transparent in your own battle against sin.

Emily Thomes is a wife, speaker, and avid Facebooker. She aspires to be a homeschool mother and blogger. You can follow Emily Thomes on Facebook here.

If you enjoyed this interview with Emily Thomes, you may also like:

  1. Why Did God Make Me Ugly?
  2. The Best Gospel-Centered Resources on Homosexuality
  3. Why Love, Not Hate, Should Be The Christian Response

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more>

10 Replies

  1. So wonderful, yes had read this from the TGC a couple of weeks ago. The fact that she had been in a bible study studying bible doctrine, reminds us that we don’t have to have a canned evangelism program to reach the lost. Invite them to a Bible study! This is good that you put this out again, hopefully with some additional viewers. Thanks David! ~ Chris

    1. Chris – Yes, that’s a great insight! And they were studying God’s attributes, not just some feel good book to make it more comfortable for unbelievers. No, they were in the deep end! Very encouraging.

  2. what sort of drug is milo on

    Once again for the umpteenth time, Rosaria Butterfield was NEVER “saved out of homosexuality.” By her own admissions she has previously been attracted to guys. So while she might have identified as a lesbian in choosing to pursue relationships with women only, she was in truth bisexual. God didn’t transform or change anything.

  3. Kate @ majesticgoldenrose

    I love it and how she hints that we are all in this together. Its always a good choice to be inclusive of our friends and create healthy, safe communities. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Absolutely! Thanks for reading.

  4. Jereme Ray Kennington

    If she was indeed a true lesbian, I guarantee you that she will return to that someday.

    1. Jereme, you must not know many Christians.
      If you want to see what it looks like, I highly recommend this book by a lesbian university professor: https://amzn.to/29i1b7H

      1. Jereme Ray Kennington

        I do know Christians, even the one in this article who happens to be a Calvinist who thinks babies go to hell when they die.

        I do not know what that book has anything to do with my statement nor the fact that I “must not know many Christians”.

  5. wepa garrett

    Pretty Disgusting article.
    >To put it simply, do not elevate or diminish the sin of homosexuality, and be humble and transparent in your own battle against sin.
    The most sad thing I have read in a very long while. You do not turn from being gay you are gay for the rest of your life. God this is so sad for this woman and how she fell into this trap.

  6. A B S

    God Bless her and may she impact several others.