Did God Make Me This Way?

Juan Carlos Cruz, a Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse survivor from Chile, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April 2018. Cruz, who bravely brought his abuse into the light, self-identifies as gay. In a post-visit interview with CNN, Cruz reported what he says the Pope said to him: “You know, Juan Carlos, [being gay] does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this, the Pope loves you like this, and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”

The Vatican, when asked, would not comment on whether the reported comments from the Pope were accurate as presented. So, the topic of this blog is not about what Pope Francis said or might have said. Rather, the comments themselves, as reported, are reflective of a growing sentiment in the Church today. Whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline, more and more church leaders, members, and attendees embrace the concept of “God made me this way” when it comes to people who self-identify as LGBTQ.

But is that statement true? Did God make me this way?

That’s a question I asked myself repeatedly growing up. As an adolescent and young adult, I wrestled with same-sex attraction—and even to this day. Between the ages of six and eight, I was molested several times by Jim, a neighborhood boy. I don’t remember much about those experiences. But I do remember that they made me feel loved, special, wanted. Jim was the first male friend I ever had. He taught me that friendship was expressed through sex. He taught me that I could be someone who could bring him happiness.

He also taught me that I needed to keep secrets. He taught me how to feel ashamed. And in teaching me all this, he opened the door to my being sexually abused by others.

In some respects, my story mirrors Juan Carlos’s. As I struggled as a young man to interpret everything that happened (along with my growing sexual attraction to men) I came to conclude that I must be gay. Why else, after all, would these things have happened to me? What other rational explanation could there be? And like many others, I asked myself, Did God make me this way?

Over the subsequent years, I struggled with depression, self-loathing, and doubt. Deep, suffocating doubt about whether I was really gay; whether I would ever change; whether God made me this way; and whether God loved me.

The answers offered by many compounded my doubt: Two secular counselors I went to in my twenties told me my problem was my religion. Go to a church where they accept you. Men with whom I had sexual encounters told me, Be true to who you really are. Don’t deny yourself the happiness you deserve. A gay friend told me I should question whether or not I was really a Christian, because Christians couldn’t be gay.

And I was forced to agree. I thought I had come to faith as a child. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t know and love the Lord. But there was no way I knew to bridge the gap between what I knew the Lord wanted of me (obedience) and my pitiable record of 20 years of life-dominating same-sex attraction and homosexual sin. How could God love me this way?

Then, the Lord brought me to a place where I had to grapple with 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, an all-too-familiar passage, one I avoided like the plague, especially verses nine and ten. Those verses are the ones that talk about “men who practice homosexuality” not inheriting the kingdom of God. Every time I read through 1 Corinthians I breezed past those verses as quickly as I could, because I didn’t want to hear the refrain of doubts in my mind and my heart.

But the Lord led me to sit with verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I sat with it, and sat, and sat, and sat. And I began to wonder: who is Paul writing this to?

Surely, if he were writing to people who no longer struggled with all the patterns of sin listed in verses nine and ten, then verse eleven wouldn’t make any sense. The only reason why Paul would say: “And such were some of you…” was if those in his audience were still struggling, still living as if they had no hope.

Paul was indeed writing to these people, people like me who were still stuck in patterns of sinful behavior. Paul tells us “Such were some of you,” because he’s trying to get us to see that the identity to which we cling can’t define us any longer. It can’t. Because we were washed, sanctified, and justified—new identity-defining words given to us by Christ and the Holy Spirit.

I began to realize God did love me—but not “this way.” He didn’t love my sin; he loved me in spite of my sin, in spite of my continuing struggle with sin.

And I began to learn there is power in realizing that love: gradually living a transformed life. Paul tells us in Titus 2:12 that Jesus “[trains] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” In other words, there’s no way to be in authentic relationship with Jesus without being transformed by his love and the work of his Spirit. We are, over time, becoming people who look and act more and more like Jesus every day.

To Juan Carlos, I say, don’t be deceived, my friend. God doesn’t love you “that way.” As a matter of fact, he loves you so much more that he gave his only Son to become the sacrifice, slain for your sin—so that you would be brought in as a dearly-loved son, someone fitted for uninhibited relationship with the Father. God loves you as a son being perfected, made perfect, made whole.

Pursue God’s grace to rest not in your identity as a gay man, but in your identity as a dearly-loved son of God. One day, your gay identity will be taken away—through repentance or death. On what else will you stand before God?

And to the Church of Christ, I say, don’t give same-sex strugglers the false hope that God is okay with their sin. Lead them to the knowledge that in Christ the power of that sin to rule over them and define them was defeated on the cross. Help these little ones to pursue holiness, peace, love, and joy in repentance and reconciliation with the Father through the Son, instead of glorying in things that will only pass away.

Tim Geiger
About The Author
Tim Geiger is President of Harvest USA.Tim came to Harvest USA himself in 1997 as a Christian who had been struggling with secret same-sex attraction for 20 years. After two years receiving ministry, Tim became a volunteer and then came on staff in 2003. Originally serving as part of the Men's Ministry Staff, he planted the Pittsburgh office for the organization in 2007, and served as Executive Director of the organization prior to serving as President. He is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary, and lives with his wife and family outside Philadelphia.


  • By Terrell Silver 31 May 2018

    This one of the best post I’ve read thus far; not saying that any of your other post weren’t as encouraging; but, this one resonates so much with me because I still struggle with same-sex attraction & lust; sometimes feeling so hopeless & in despair. I’ve come to realize I have to trust in God’s word- not in how I feel. God cannot lie. His word is true.

  • By Steve Krieshok 31 May 2018

    Excellent article! I, too, struggled with same-gender attractions, partly a result of being sexually abused and partly a result of the choices I made after the abuse. No one chooses to have same-gender feelings, but no one is genetically hard-wired to be gay. That’s a dichotomy that we must help those with same-gender feelings understand. If you want to live a purely heterosexual life, you absolutely can! It means dismantling the lies you’ve believed and grasping truth, but that’s what Jesus does for those who are willing to put in the work. The societal message that one is “born that way” and “can’t change” is a lie, a lie that sentences people to years of heartache and pain. Thank you for an excellent message.

  • By Scott Barber 31 May 2018

    Tim: Thanks so much for this article. I am hearing the claim “God made me this way” more and more often. Thanks for being willing to share your own struggle and point us to the truth of the gospel in such a warm and caring way. I hope to see you at the PCAs General assembly in Atlanta.

  • By Kileeo 31 May 2018

    Brother Tim!
    Thank you for this article. As a fellow struggler, I too was nearly confounded by the Pope’s words. You helped to discern the real danger in them. You said, “He [God] didn’t love my sin. He loved me.” And that’s so powerful! God is the one who looks at sinners and says that’s not who you are—you are not your sin! In Christ, you are more than the sum total of your most base passions and desires. What the pope said to that man showed itself to be the exact of opposite of what he may have intended—he actually expressed love for the man’s sin and hatred for the man himself in failing to distinguish the two from one another. I’ve heard it said that the friend who loves you the most is the one who will tell you the most truth. “Love rejoices with the truth,” and does not delight in lies. Homosexual identity is always a rejection of the role which God has assigned and ordained for an individual and is therefore an hatred of it. To reduce men to anything less than the image of God for which they were created to reflect in creation is hatred for them and not love. It is rather love for the sin and hatred of the sinner. I am thankful for those who love me enough to tell me the truth and condemn me to living a lie. The pope is Juan Carlos to death. Thank God that Jesus loves us to life. You’ve encouraged me and helped me brother!
    God continue to bless you and strengthen you in the fight!

  • By ellen dykas 02 Jun 2018

    Even though I am one of Tim’s colleagues, I still want to say how much I appreciated his words here. Knowing him for several years, and serving alongside him as well as underneath his leadership, I can say he is a man who lives what he preaches!

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