June is no longer just an ordinary summer month. Colorful flags are seen flying, and those who are part of the LGBTQ movement gather for “pride parades.” As Christians, it is easy to point out the sin of the world and talk about “gay people” as if they are a different kind of sinner. Yet, what if homosexuality is not just a sin “out there” but one present even within the church? Those involved in pride parades are easy to notice, but what about those within the church who struggle with homosexuality privately?
Ashley Prince, who was born and raised in a Baptist household, struggled with homosexuality, yet found redemption in Christ.
Ashley was a pastor’s kid who grew up in Kentucky with a good home life and a good relationship with her parents. She was the oldest of three sisters.
At age four, Ashley gave her life to Christ. She was confident of her salvation and said she never doubted it.
But around eight years of age, she was exposed to sexual content through a church friend. Ashley’s parents never knew about this exposure that led her to develop premature sexual desires. Yet, Ashley also struggled with a desire for attention and loneliness. The loneliness she felt ultimately fed into her sexual desires.
Upon reflection, Ashley said she thinks loneliness plays a role in those who are part of the “LGBTQ community.” They are known for being welcoming. And sharing the gospel with those who identify with the “LGBTQ community” is often difficult because LGBTQ participants are encouraged to hang around only those who affirm them.
Yet, before Ashley would become involved in homosexuality, God was already working.
“As a child, our vacation sometimes was [attending] the Southern Baptist Convention, because the church would send my dad, and that was like a free vacation for us,” said Ashley.
At one convention, a missionary asked Ashley’s mom if he could share a Bible verse with the girls, and he allowed Ashley to take a devotional from the table. Years later, God would use that devotional in a powerful way.
When Ashley turned 18, she moved to South Carolina to attend North Greenville University. During her sophomore year, she struggled again with loneliness since her roommate from the prior semester graduated. During this time, another girl showed interest in Ashley, and they began a relationship.
“I knew the whole time that it was wrong, what I was doing. I struggled with being convicted, but also wanting to do what I wanted to do — just kind of prioritizing myself,” said Ashley.
At the beginning of her junior year, she opened up to her parents and some staff members whom she worked for at NGU. This resulted in Ashley being kicked out of school, and she went home to live with her parents for about a year.
She returned to school after receiving counseling. She changed her major to media ministry. Her final semesters were difficult because she took 20 hours per semester and worked three jobs. After graduation, she had a job lined up with a church, but at the last minute the church no longer had the funds to hire her.
Ashley was confused. She felt that she had a desire to do ministry but didn’t get the opportunity. She felt like God was almost putting her in a time-out because she was not living like a Christian should. But Ashley’s story was not over.
While working for an email security company, an opportunity arose for her to potentially work for Child Evangelism Fellowship, but a prerequisite class was required. During her studies, she came across 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and noticed that the curriculum structured the verse to help with Scripture memorization in the same way that the devotional she had received as a child had structured it.
Ashley found the devotional that she had received long ago at a Southern Baptist Convention meeting and discovered that Child Evangelism Fellowship had published it — the same organization for which she now was hoping to work. At that moment, she realized the sovereignty of God over her life. The Lord already knew the choices that she would make, and God still loved her and had brought her to this moment.
After some time, Ashley was invited to attend Ridgewood Church, where she was plugged into a community group and saw that they cared about her. One day, she met with the group leader’s wife, Katie, and Ashley shared her story.
Katie told Ashley that nothing was going to change if she didn’t cut out the unhealthy relationships in her life. She encouraged Ashley, “Do it right now.”
Ashley was in tears, but she texted her old friends and told them what God was doing in her life, and that she could no longer talk to them. Katie told Ashley that she was going to hold her accountable.
Ashley also shared her story with her husband, who then was just a good friend — the same friend who had invited her to Ridgewood Church.
“I was always afraid that if I met a godly man and shared my story, he wouldn’t be interested anymore, because I saw myself as tainted goods,” said Ashley.
Yet even though he now knew her story, Ashley said he loved her like Jesus did.
Ashley and her husband have been married for three years now, and they have a son and are expecting another child. They both work with Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Ashley said, “Other than being a Christian, we shouldn’t put our identity in anything.”
She added that our lives should not revolve around a political party, skin color, sexual identity, preference, or sin struggles.
The Bible is clear that God condemns homosexual behavior.
For instance, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Notice in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, homosexuals are mentioned among other sinful individuals, such as idolaters, adulterers, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers.
Jesus is the hope for sinners. In verse 11, Paul says to the Corinthians, “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.”
Homosexuality is a sin that Jesus died for. The gospel is good news for all sinners. Every individual is born dead in sin, separated from God, and condemned to death. But Jesus took that death penalty for us and offers us hope. A sinner is not justified by works, but rather he is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
After speaking in Romans 5 about the abundance of God’s grace, in Romans 6, Paul writes that Christians are to consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Later in the chapter, Paul says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
Ashley’s advice to those struggling with homosexuality is first to be honest with themselves about what they know to be true (that homosexuality is wrong) and then be open to finding someone to talk to about it. Ashley added that if there is no one at church that they feel comfortable sharing with, then maybe find another church to attend.
“Because there should be somebody in every church body that everybody feels like they can come to and talk to about it,” said Ashley. “And I wish there were more resources for people who were struggling in the church.”
— Mary Margaret Flook is a senior communication major at North Greenville University and is serving as summer intern at The Baptist Courier.