If you don’t know the name Emily Thomes, you need to. She is one of the most faithful, humble, and articulate voices on how the power of the Gospel of Christ can affect those caught up with sexually immoral desires. Emily used to choose to define herself as the world did – by her sexual attractions. She now chooses to define herself as Christ does – as a beloved, redeemed sinner. And for that reason alone, the world has unleashed a brutal attack on one that got away.
How brutal? Recently, Emily posted a powerful video that quickly went viral. It described in detail how walking away from her same-sex romantic and sexual desires was the result not of any rightly-maligned “conversion therapy,” but as the result of “conversion to Christ.” As any redeemed sinner knows, converting to Jesus often doesn’t make our sinful desires disappear; it merely marks a turning point where we surrender what we want for what Christ wants in and from us.
Those of us who have experienced this kind of true conversion knew exactly what she was talking about. Those who sadly have no knowledge of the power of the Gospel did not. And so they attacked what they did not understand with bitterness and confusion:
Huffington Post’s Carol Kuruvilla: “Viral Video Claims People Can Stop Being Gay If They Pray Hard Enough”
No, it didn’t.
No, it didn’t.
Newsweek’s Christianna Silva: “Christian ‘Ex-Lesbian’ Claims She Prayed the Gay Away in Controversial Viral Video”
No, she didn’t.
Flagrant: “Thomes is helping Anchored North spread the deadly message that gay conversion therapy is effective in bringing “grace” to a person and reversing his or her sexual orientation.”
No, she isn’t.
UK Independent’s Ryan Butcher: “ ‘Cult-like’ Evangelical Christian Group Condemned After Video Claiming Gay People Can Change Through Prayer”
Well, kinda, but not in the way he meant it. In truth, Thomes has rejected reparative or so-called “conversion therapy” for the very reasons she intimates in her video: it fundamentally misunderstands the problem that homosexuals confront. Anyone who doesn’t accept the grace of Christ in their lives is undoubtedly going to be made miserable and experience increased self-loathing through any “therapy” that attempts to alter their accepted sense of identity. She writes about how she “cringed” at some of the history of this kind of reparative therapy. Here’s what Thomes really is saying, in her own words:
“In my video, I stated that I looked at Scripture, believed what it said for the first time, and repented of my sins (practicing homosexuality, drunkenness, and others – see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). There was no therapy. The Bible study I attended was about the attributes of God, and not homosexuality. When I went to this study, as I mentioned in the video, I expected them to bring up my lifestyle immediately, and that I would then use that as an excuse to stop attending; but they never did. They shared with me their love for God and His work in their own lives. The Spirit and His Word took it from there.”
And no, Thomes also never says that she merely prayed and God took away her urges. In fact, she says she “staunchly rejects” that narrative. Again, her own words:
“God never talks like that regarding our sin… Biblically, we have no reason to expect God to totally take away our want for sin upon being born again. Can He remove your sinful desires? Of course! I believe at times that He does. We ought to be pleading with Him to do so, knowing that if His will is to remove it entirely, He’ll do it. Generally, though, that is not what we see in Scripture or what we should be relying on.”
Of course she’s right. Why would Christians be told to “abstain from sinful desires” (1 Peter 2:11) and to “not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) if God simply removed all those desires from us? This is why I pointed out earlier, any true Christian understands how absurd these accusations against Thomes from worldly sources are. They have no choice but to be because they come from a worldly heart that suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
There are so many wonderful people, loved dearly by God, who are caught up in sinful urges that seem so natural, so normal, so right to them. It’s the very nature of sin – sin would hold no allure if it felt unnatural or abnormal. The message of Christianity doesn’t promise a cheap escape from those urges, and anyone who says it does doesn’t understand Christianity.
The Gospel of Christ offers instead an opportunity to come face to face with who we are when we indulge the flesh versus who we can be when we crucify the flesh and live in the state of Christ’s redemption. And that opportunity exists for all sinners – those whose urges are like mine, those whose urges are like yours, and those whose urges are like Emily’s.
What a merciful Savior.