The topic of homosexuality seems to be the biggest issue facing Christianity in the West today. As more churches/seminaries concede to societal pressures and re-define biblical truths about sexuality and marriage, what we are we to make of all this?
A bit about myself on this matter first. I’ve never struggled with same-sex attraction but ever since I first became a Christian about 20 years ago I’ve always been in contact with those who’ve struggled with it. I’ve developed some great friendships with gays and would never treat them any differently than I would a straight person (their orientation barely even comes across my mind). In both non-Christian and Christian worlds, there’s a whole lot I’ve gleaned from people’s personal stories that doesn’t make the answer so “cut and dry” as we would like to make it out to be. And I strongly believe before we can offer critique, we really need to take the plank out of our own eye (Matthew 7:5) by wrestling with the issue as well as taking the time out to listen to others plea first.
It’s not as simple as just telling a gay person that if they accept Christ, they will become straight again. Or that there’s some miraculous program that will reorient them back, or that some elevated form of spirituality will save them from their sins. In fact, there was a Catholic celebrity priest who struggled with homosexuality named Henri Nouwen, who wrote very deep spiritual reflections on Christ studied to this date, yet never became straight.
Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest, renowned preacher, spiritualist, professor, and social justice advocate. He lived in Toronto in his latter years helping in a mentally disabled institute. His writings, journals, and thoughts are considered some of the best by Christian thinkers today. Yet, he struggled deeply with homosexuality but remained celibate all his life.
The argument for homosexuality always goes back to question of original sin. It goes something like this – if I am born with a homosexual orientation, how can God call homosexuality a sin? In other words, how am I at fault for homosexual desires if God made me that way?
That’s a great argument that has some truth inside of it. The truth is that God is in control of everything, and so he did have some responsibility in our own sexual orientations. Just not as meticulous as the argument lays it out to be. Let’s take a look at one key components:
“born with a homosexual orientation” – Does God make a person gay or is it something developed since child-birth? If the former is true, then that is to say that a person is in an irreversible condition because it was in their nature from the start. If the latter is true, then that is to say that a person is in a correctable condition because it was something under their control.
That seems to be air-tight reasoning but its not. The first argument is defective – If God “makes” a person gay then they are “doomed”.
God doesn’t make a person gay, he allows (note that word) a person to be more prone to certain vices. For example, some people are more prone to become drunks, sexual temptations, lying, or greed, while others are not as easily tempted by them. I never had a desire to touch booze or get wasted but I do know others who just love alcohol and drink scotch all day. The bible calls this “the Flesh”. The flesh, our sin nature, tempts us in unique ways for each person. These things we are more prone to sin in than others, God’s word also assures that he will always give us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Is homosexuality any how more elevated than say alcoholism? It is not. Is it fair that God allows one man to struggle with homosexuality more than a straight man who struggles with lusting over another man’s wife? That’s really tough to say. Our sense of fairness in relation to God is skewed (Romans 9:19-20) and limited. The whole point is that there is no “doom” to sin once we are in Christ. There’s always an answer, victory, and hope in the cross. It’s not that we will experience complete sexual freedom here on earth (which is sometimes the case), but that we were brought out of sin, in relationship with a God we were alienated from, that Christ is coming back, that we will have new incorruptible bodies, that everything God has said in the Bible is true and he is greatly to be worshiped for that.
Back to “the Flesh” and our sin nature. We CHOOSE to follow the temptations of our flesh and in doing so disobey God (Ephesians 2:3). That’s the whole definition of what sin actually is – disobeying what God’s commandments in order that we would have our own way. A person who struggles with homosexuality can choose to live a gay lifestyle or choose not to. James 1:13-14 makes it clear – “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” Did you catch that? Homosexuality, while a pre-disposition (temptation), is also a choice. We were born into sin, and that body we live in is wicked and seeks to disobey God at every turn in life. But for us who have put our faith in Christ’s work on the cross, God has sown a new spirit into this body, to which we can die to ourselves and choose the path of life.
For those who are outside looking in, I hope this shows you that homosexuality is a complicated topic that strikes at the heart of our sin nature. These are real people we are dealing with that have real problems just like you and me. The old age saying goes, “love the sinner, not the sin”. We need to love our neighbors who struggle in this area, but we cannot tolerate homosexual acts within the confines of the church and our own family.
I might consider doing a part 2 on this next week, please leave a like or comment and I’ll pray about where this might lead to next.