Question:I have a cousin who's been struggling about something for a long time. The problem is that he's gay, which he hates. He doesn't want to be gay, he wants to live for God, but he says he can't because of his homosexual desires. He has been waiting for God to suddenly change him because he believes in predestination (and so do I).†
We both know that humans have "choices," but those choices has been chosen by God before we even existed. And those who are going to be saved were chosen to be saved by God long ago. Before they did any act of good or evil (Romans 9:11-16). It even says in Romans 9:18, "Therefore, God has mercy of whoever He wants, and†hardens whoever He wants."
So my cousin doesn't change his habits because of this. He doesn't hang out with men, but he has homosexual desires. He doesn't practice homosexuality. Even though I see in him his desire to serve God, he waits because he says he needs to have an encounter with God.
Honestly, I don't know what to do. I want him to be saved, but my will means nothing, and I know he won't do anything about it because he's waiting for "something." What should my cousin do?
It would help if both of you opened your Bibles and paid attention to what God said and not what you were told.
If every decision was made by God before the world began, how is that a choice? If God made those decisions, then how is man held responsible for what God decided?
Joshua told the Israelites: "Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15). Joshua told the Israelites that they had to make a choice. According to your belief system that command would be impossible.
James tells us, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13). But if God predetermined every person's decision, then God decided that people would sin. Instead of the old phrase, "the Devil made me do it," the charge would be that "God made me do it." Thus when we read, "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5), you are saying that this is really God's doing -- in contradiction to James 1:13. But then explain how God regretted making man if this was going according to His plan? "And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:6). How could God be sorry for people doing as He decided if, as you claim, that all decisions are God's?
How could we read, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9) and claim at the same time that God already decided who is going to heaven and hell?
If everything has been predetermined, why be concerned about your cousin's salvation or your own. If God made all the choices, then what input do you have in whether you will be saved or not? I think that in your heart you know that your destiny is based on your decisions. That is why you want your cousin to make a choice to follow God.
The mistake you and so many others are making is that when you read about God's decisions in the past, you are assuming that the decision was about each individual. The passages don't say that; you have to add something to the passage to get that conclusion. What you don't consider is that God predetermined the type or kind of person He will save. God predetermined the standard by which men would be judged and predestined the means by which they could be saved from their sins.
People sin, not because God decided that they would sin, but because they choose to sin. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (James 1:14). God doesn't want people to sin, but people choose to go against God. Notice in the following passage that it is the man, wicked or righteous, who decides his fate:
"But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"
But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?
When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die" (Ezekiel 18:21-28).
God's way is fair because it is based on what a person does in response to God's commands. No one has to sin. Everyone has a choice of leaving sin behind -- including your cousin. By sitting on his hands, doing nothing, he is blaming God for forcing him to desire sin. He is waiting for God to force him to be saved, ignoring the free offer of salvation that always existed. When the Israelites wanted to know what they needed to do to be saved, the answer was not "wait for an experience." "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Romans 9 talks about how God makes use of the righteous and the wicked -- those who cooperate and those who do not -- to accomplish His will. He does it by working with who a person is, not by making a person into someone different. See "Predetermined Destiny" for a detailed discussion of Romans 9.