Did I get it right?
Sometime ago I engaged in an online discussion with Brian Kirk, a youth pastor and well known youth ministry blogger. Brian wrote a post in which he mused
This all make me wonder: Why does the Church spend so much time pushing GLBT individuals away, labeling them, encouraging society to deny them rights and privileges, and motivating Christians to get out and vote by dangling anti-gay amendments in their faces? What would happen if the Church spent one tenth of that energy getting to know gay persons as people -not as an issue or biblical hot topic – but as fellow children of God? What would happen if the Church became the primary voice in our culture speaking out for justice, compassion, and inclusion of persons of minority sexual orientations? How might such a shift affect how our teens see other students at school and their call as Christians to work for justice and peace for all people?
As one who sees it it differently, I felt I needed to respond. Here’s the conversation.
Brian, let me start off by saying I have two girls in my youth group who have homosexual desires. I’ve welcomed them both and I’ve even allowed them to speak about there orientation to our group. I understand your concern for GLBT youth. I echo your compassion. Christ calls us, and our love for Him compels us to seek the last, least and the lost. My problem is not your compassion but rather the line which you’ve bought. Orientation does not equal identity.
I agree that the vast majority of homosexuals for whatever reason did not choose their desire. But ones identity is more than desire. The Word of God everywhere calls us to submit our desires to the authority of Christ and find our identity in Him. It’s clear that the average heterosexual male is oriented to have sex with multiple women. Yet God calls us to surrender our orientation to practice sex within the confines of a monogamous union. I’ve surrendered to Christ. If my orientation equals my identity why should I remain sexually committed to my wife? Should I not explain to her that God loves me the way that I am and in turn she also must accept my promiscuous ways?
Or if adultery is not an issue for you, take the orientation of a pedophile for instance. For whatever reason, he or she comes to the realization that they are sexually attracted to children. Most I’ve spoken to would given a choice pick a more culturally acceptable attraction. But despite their orientation, society demands that they actively choose against their desires. In this we admit that there is a distinction between the un-chosen orientation and the individual choice to either accept or reject those desires.
The homosexual movement has gone to great lengths to convince the public that there is no choice involved in there “lifestyle” and because it’s not a choice we should accept them for who they are. But as you can see this is a morally dangerous proposition. If we must accept homosexuals for their orientation then we must accept the promiscuity of heterosexual males and equally ignore those biblical commands. In fact isn’t sin itself, in whatever form we find it, an orientation? Or have you simply abandoned the outmoded notion of sin altogether?
I don’t believe the bible teaches that homosexual sex is the worst sin committed. Paul’s point in Romans 1 is simply that homosexual sex is an obvious abandonment of what God has revealed to everyone, it being committed against our natural design. So why the Christian uproar about this particular issue? It’s really the issue of sin itself. If orientation equals identity then we might as well abandon the notion of sin altogether. They want us to believe that what is unconsciously desired is never wrong. My brother, that’s Bull Shit.
Matthew – just one issue I’d appreciate your response to: you make analogies between gay relationships, promiscuous heterosexuals, and pedophiles. I would affirm that promiscuous heterosexuality and pedophilia are examples of relationships in which one person does not treat the other with respect and in fact most often brings harm to the other. But what of monogamous, loving, stable gay relationships where the partners have been togther for decades and have created a positive homelife together? How is this harmful, either to the couple or to others? I understand that you beleive the Bible says that it is wrong — but why is such a relationship wrong? To put a finer point on it – if you claim that it is wrong because God says it is wrong, then WHY does God beleive it is wrong? Who is being harmed? How can God object to two consenting adults mutually loving and caring for each other? I’m not talking here about DESIRE — this isn’t all about sex — I’m talking same gendered couples who live in partnerships no less loving or stable than the best straight relationships.
Matthew Miller said…
First off God does not object to two consenting adults mutually loving and caring for each other. You’ve entirely mischaracterized the issue. No one is objecting to such relationships. You’ve heard of lifelong friendships right? The issue is sex! – Is it loving and caring to engage in a sexual relationship with a person of the same gender? You believe that despite natural design, almost universal aversion and the clear scriptural injunctions against it that homosexual sex (done properly) is okay because no one is disrespected and no one is harmed? But such a premise and conclusion are clearly wrong.
Leaving aside the issue of scripture for the moment, just look at natural design. To use a wrench as a hammer is to disrespect its purpose and ultimately its wellbeing. Whether or not it knows it, the wrench is harmed. Believe me. I’ve done it more than once. This is why I believe the issue of loving mutual consent – the main premise of your argument – is completely awry. Mutual consent does not negate injury. Homosexual sex like pedophilia and promiscuous heterosexual sex is inherently disrespectful to ones design and harmful to ones wellbeing. Would you like me to describe the physical as well as physiological injury that those who consensually engage in such acts suffer? Such sex therefore cannot be loving, no matter the expressed feelings of affection. It is not love to give what is ultimately harmful to another. And we haven’t even brought in the Bible yet. What if the Bible’s right that homosexual sex damages your spirit, violates our design and ultimately severs our relationship with God? Shouldn’t that be classified as some sort of harm?
I’ve used comparisons to adult-child sex, not because I believe homosexual sex is equally sinful, but because the things on which the argument for homosexual acceptance depends can and do often cover it as well – along with a number of other culturally abhorrent behaviors (prostitution, bestiality, polygamy). You asked me to explain God’s reasoning. I ask you to explain to me why adult-child sex is wrong in a culture that is entirely okay with it. You think stable homosexual monogamy should be the Church’s standard of right and wrong but where do you get such a notion? Certainly it’s not from scripture or natural design because both have something quite different to say. Without any fixed point of reference I find your standard of loving monogamy just a mask for whatever is culturally acceptable. I very much doubt you would have been making the same arguments 50 years ago. In a society that doesn’t care so much about the injury of others (Nazi Germany for instance), tell me your standard would be the same.
Matthew, I appreciate your willingness to explain your point of view. Clearly, this is a complex issue that does not lend itself easily to a discussion in a forum such as this. You and I have very different viewpoints on this issue, perhaps due to different life experiences, cultural values, places we were educated, etc that we cannot readily identify in a blog converstation. Some of the objections you have raised in your last comments regarding same gendered sex and relationships would be hard to sustain if one actually sat down and spoke with a wide variety of gay persons and asked them about their experiences, in my opinion. That said, again I appreciate your willingness to articulate your understanding of all of this. Peace,
The conversation continued a bit longer but you get the gist.
What do you think? Was I ultimately successful or unsuccessful in making the point? Is this the right way or the wrong way to approach the issue of same sex attractions? How would you respond?
For a fuller discussion of my take on homosexuality please watch Sam Williams – A Christian Psychology of and a Response to Homosexuality.