Yes, I believe he can. But I don’t think he often does — at least, not in the way many people think he does.
What God most often changes is not someone’s sexual attractions, but his or her ultimate desires. That is, we may continue to be attracted to the same sex, but our lives are shaped by an ultimate desire to know, love, and honor God with our whole being, including our sexuality. For some, that means pursuing marriage with the opposite sex (I have many friends who chose that path), and for others it means pursuing singleness as the happy alternative to marriage. This conformity to God’s will is a significant and miraculous change, but it’s not the kind of change many people think of when they talk about sexuality.
Growing up as a gay kid in the 90s, the only message of change I ever heard was from men in the “ex-gay” movement who claimed to have been “healed” of homosexuality and were now married to women. As I’ve learned, many of these men are now divorced and pursuing sexual relationships with men. So what went wrong? The narrative of “healing” placed too much emphasis on change in sexual orientation, and not enough on the gospel.
What we have today is a more honest conversation. The gay men I know who are married to women acknowledge their ongoing struggles with same-sex desires. This is a much more biblical and needed narrative. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we cease to struggle with sin — sexual or otherwise. On the contrary, we CONTINUE to struggle. The “good fight” is a sign of genuine faith and a reminder that we live with conflicting desires, which is the story of ALL Christians, not just those who experience SSA.
God hasn’t changed my orientation, but has he changed me? Is he sanctifying me? Absolutely. Through my continued experience with SSA, he’s teaching me to trust him, to patiently await his return, and to humbly submit to his design for marriage and sexuality. That’s not to say he can’t give me desires for a woman, but I’m living in the reality that he has not, and he may not. In the meantime, I’m learning other things: how to love my neighbor, how to be a friend who loves at all times, how to bear others’ burdens, and how to glorify God in all I do. You know, the lessons every other Christian is learning, too.
Sanctification is change — and there’s more to sanctification than becoming straight. Heterosexuality is something I haven’t been able to “achieve” by myself, and something God hasn’t seen fit to give me. For now, I’m serving him as a happy, single, celibate, changed man.