Today the Christian Chronicle published an article entitled Homosexuality and the church by Bobby Ross Jr.
My church is mentioned as are several of my friends who are quoted in the article. Please read and share – conversation about this is needed.
Here are some additional thoughts:
- It’s important for Christians to learn how to respond to those struggling with same-sex attraction because we haven’t been doing so very well. It is important for us to learn to distinguish between sexual orientation and sexual practice. The truth is the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexual orientation – that topic is never treated in scripture. When biblical writers mention the sin of homosexuality, they are talking specifically about practice – not orientation. Unfortunately, many Christians have treated people struggling with same-sex attraction insensitively because they’ve confused orientation (i.e. struggling with attraction) with practice (i.e. seeking to fulfill homosexual longings).
- I’ve never met a gay person who chose to be gay, but many Christians ignorantly believe that sexual orientation is a choice and that gay people have simply made a rebellious one. Orientation is not a choice – only actions are (that is, the way one responds to their orientation). We must distinguish between orientation and action, and must avoid sending gay people the message that they simply need to “stop being gay” to be loved by God.
- I lived in San Francisco, CA, and my first Bible study there was with a transgendered male in his 60s who grew up being sexually abused by his Catholic priest and members of his family. Not all, but many individuals who struggle with same-sex attraction I’ve known experienced abuse of some kind as children.
- I think people are becoming more open to conversation about homosexuality in the church simply because the conversation is playing out in our culture (news, media, mainstream church life, etc.). Unfortunately, many Christians seem to think homosexual practice is vastly different from other sins but it isn’t. All of us struggle with something – all of us need to be loved and steered toward Jesus in our own unique ways. What business do we have looking down on others simply because their struggle differs from our own?
- Some people get off track talking about homosexual orientation and biology. They think if scientists can find a “gay gene” that will serve as some kind of evidence that homosexual practice is okay because “God created people that way”. Today, I am a drug addict. I am not a practicing drug addict, but I’m still a drug addict and will always be a drug addict – that’s my “orientation”. While science has not proven a concrete link between genetics and homosexual orientation, it has proven a link between genetics and the proclivity toward addictive and/or alcoholic behavior. I believe I was born with that proclivity. Does that mean it’s okay for me to spend my lifetime drunk and high – since “God created me that way”? Absolutely not. If science does prove there’s a link between homosexual orientation and genetics, it will provide insight but ultimately will not matter. The Bible condemns homosexual practice – not orientation (biologically driven or otherwise) – and Christians must learn that truth.
- A ministry colleague of mine administrates an email newsletter for about 200 other Church of Christ preachers that serves as a resource exchange (members share sermon outlines, bulletin articles, etc.). When I was living in San Francisco, a country preacher shared a bulletin article he’d written railing against “the homosexuals” and how Christians must stand up to condemn the “homosexual agenda”. I responded by stating that instead of writing articles broadly condemning “the homosexuals”, we might see if we can become a friend to those with that struggle so that we can minister to them. The preacher responded harshly saying he was sorry to see that I’d “gone soft” on the sin of homosexuality. Remember now, this was when I was living and working in San Francisco. That little exchange was upsetting to me, but also typical of many Christians I’ve encountered. Why in the world would a gay person want to subject themselves to that kind of treatment? Give me a break.
- Love is the answer. Yes, homosexual behavior is sinful, but that doesn’t mean people struggling with it are unworthy of love – just the opposite. We must love them out of that sin and stop burning bridges before they are built.
SALLY GARY & CENTERPEACE
Sally Gary is doing important, front line ministry advancing conversation and thought related to this issue. If you are unfamiliar with Sally’s work, please visit centerpeace.net and check out what she’s doing. You’re also encouraged to pick up Sally’s book Loves God, Likes Girls – a very personal story that details her own struggle with same-sex attraction. Go here to ‘like’ CenterPeace on Facebook.
Sally facilitated two sessions for us at the 2013 CMU Workshop at Harding University. If you’d like to listen to those free of charge, you can access them here.
- Christian Chronicle: Homosexuality and the church
- Christian Chronicle: Same-sex attraction – Q & A with Key Voices
- Christian Post: ‘Loves God, Likes Girls’ Author Talks Myths Christians Believe About Same-Sex Attraction
great article wes, i admit i could do better at loving homosexuals better. i believe for me it a lack of understanding homosexuality or homosexuals in general. your right God comands to love all people no matter what. i pray i can show mlore love to than i ever have cause they are God’s creation too.
Thanks Kev – come visit us in STL sometime 🙂
I, personally have never known a Christian homosexual, but I have met some non-Christians who say, I like it, I love it, I want some more of it…please make this be alright, the scriptures don’t really say anything against it, just take me for what I am, I don’t want to change, just don’t judge me, I was just born that way! I Cor. 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man (or woman) does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body (that body is also Christ’s body, the Church, we are all one with God the Father and Christ). 19What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN (after the price that Christ paid for us we don’t have that right). 20For you are bought with a price: therefore GLORIFY God in your BODY, and in your SPIRIT, which are God’s. (FORNICATION IS ANY SEXUAL SIN OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE !) If you are a Christian and I am sad to say some us still do commit these sins, just remember Christ through the Holy Spirit lives in us, do we really want Christ along in our little escapades? If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will be telling you THIS IS WRONG. If you don’t have God’s Holy Spirit, you will be looking for excuses, I’ve been abused, I can’t help myself, this is the way God made me! God offers us a choice, just like he offered Adam and Eve a choice in the Garden…Life or Death the choice is ours to make, we can come out of our sin or we can live in it. God says in Deut. 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life….(This here may have been speaking of a physical life and death but it is still applicable.) Am I from the old school? Yes… Am I cold hard and unforgiving, No! We should love these people who are coming to God and repenting…Do we know for sure they are changing or repenting? No, Only God can read their hearts and minds, we just have to let them know we have their back!
Thanks for the comment, Dee
So it is ok to BE the way God made them, just not ok for them to ACT like God made them?
Is every heterosexual relationship simply a vehicle for sex? Then why would people assume that a homosexual relationship is so crass? My guess would be that the majority of the gay community wants marriage, they want romantic love, they want a family, they want partnership in this life. They will never be able to have this with the opposite sex, just as you would never be able to have it with the same sex. Would you describe your relationships with your spouses as “little escapades”?
“If you don’t have God’s Holy Spirit, you will be looking for excuses, I’ve been abused, I can’t help myself, this is the way God made me” I don’t know a single homosexual who chose their preference as a result of abuse, or who chose their preference at all. That god made them that way is a fact, not an excuse. And if you think abstaining is so easy, then why not show some real solidarity and refrain from the same thing that you would keep from others.
You are telling a whole community of people that the only way for them to be right with God is that they deny themselves what you would never dream of denying yourselves. Progressing through the human experience is not the award for genetic lottery winners who happen to be heterosexual, it is the right of every person who has ever lived.
There is nothing more to the core of who I am than my identity as a husband and father, how could I muster the arrogance to deny someone else this aspect of life. This is the dichotomy of Christianity; unconditional love “if”. This is why I had to leave the church; heartless judgment of others under the guise of acceptance.
I must say, imagined love is no comparison to actual love.
Thanks for the comment – little push back for you: one’s definition of love is conditioned by their understanding of God. If God is real, makes the rules, and wills severe consequences for breaking those rules, then it is anything but loving to tell others it’s okay to break those rules.
I thought Dee’s comment was a little insensitive too so I understand your reaction, but hope you don’t miss the point of the discussion due to annoyance.
What do you think about the Bible? Because the Bible teaches that being a father and husband is not the most important thing in life – living in submission to Jesus Christ is.
It also speaks frankly about homosexual practice –
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men r 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
See also 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Romans 1:18-32, and numerous other passages that condemn the practice right along with many other things.
If you don’t believe the Bible is the word of God, I can understand your position, but if you do then your position does not make sense.
Great reply, and I agree. I will admit that when we talk about God, it is likely that we have two very different ideas in our minds.
I struggle with the Bible. I have always felt that it’s only value lay in how true it was. However there are many things in the Bible that I struggle to reconcile in my own mind. Things that defy what we know through science or my own personal ideas about morality.
While there are many valuable tenants in the Bible, Christianity seems to lose its potency when it is only a collection of the parts of the Bible that I agree with while simultaneously dismissing those that bother me.
So ultimately, I do not believe that it would be genuine to call myself a Christian or a believer in God (even though I would not claim to deny the existence of something that, by definition, transcends my own awareness and understanding of it).
What it boils down to is that I do not have the faith required to bridge the gaps of doubt in my mind. I do not see this as a particularly bad thing, but others certainly take issue.
So, I am left to make my way as best as I can. I do know what empathy is, and the things that it leads me to value. I would rather follow my heart than begrudgingly hold to a set of standards that goes against everything that feels kind and compassionate.
Whatever conclusions people come to, I would encourage them to weigh the sacrifice that they are asking others to make as if it were your own. Take on the pain and rejection that they feel as if it were your pain and rejection. I think that boiling homosexuality down to a matter of will power is disingenuous and fails to see the heart of the matter. We are talking about people denying the hopes and dreams that they have for their life, and something that is fundamental to their definition of self.
I understand – I was where you are at one time in my life too, but am in a different place now. I encourage you to keep searching – faith comes from hearing the word of God, and it often helps to have someone alongside you who can share a different perspective.
You are exactly right when you say it is silly to boil something as complex as sexual orientation down to willpower – there’s simply more to it than that.
But I would say that while one might have hopes and dreams for their life on their own, God is the one who helps us reorient our hopes and dreams in a way that will bring the most joy and fulfillment possible. I believe that may be where our understanding most differs.
Thank you for being kind.
I read some of your comments and I was rather disturbed with some of your beliefs. The comment from Dee was right on and you called it insensitive. I didn’t see that at all. I take that you are in agreement to the article by Bobby Ross Jr. Bobby stated ” I’ve never met a gay person that chose to be gay” REALLY! He either never met many gays or he is saying they were born that way. He goes on to compare being gay to his being a drug addict and that he believes that he was born with that proclivity, and so he is agreeing that one is born gay. He has become a false prophet and I hope that he will come to see the error of his way, for the sake of others being mislead. Why would God create someone in a way that would incline them to become one way or the other? That’s the same as saying that a murderer, rapist, pedophile, etc. was born with the inclination to be that way. Does God lead us into sin? NO! Man does. When we are born, we are not sinners just because we are born into a sinful world. We become sinners as a result of being in a sinful world. But God put choice among us, saying flee what is evil, cling to what is good and he gave us his commands so that we would know what was sinful. He defined sin and now we have the gay community full of pride, trying to redefine what is sin, so they can continue to live in their sin. YES they are worthy of love but not acceptance as long as they continue to live in sin and are proud of it! Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven, now go and sin no more. God disciplines those he love and so should we. If our child is taking a drug that will kill him, do we just say, well that’s ok, I love you just the way you are, you can’t help your that way. Do you know what the child will say? he/she would say Alright! I can keep taking drugs, and how does it end, they die. Pastors are becoming laxed on this issue, all in the name of love but discipline is also an act of love and is being thrown off to the side. When we are born we are like a blank slate, neither homosexual or heterosexual. But God said ” It is not good for man to be alone, I will give him a help-mate.” He did not give him a male, he gave him a female and said ” be fruitful and multiply” God decided then that we were to be heterosexual, It is a fulfillment of His command that we marry a woman and procreate because we were made in His image and the family is the image of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) Homosexuality is an attempt to destroy the family, thus destroying the image of God. Why do you think He detests it so much, calling it an abomination. Do you really think that God is saying, come into my house so we can build a bridge with you? Then why would He say of the sexual immoral, that continue to live in sin, not to even eat with them. Rather we should be crying out ” Repent for the kingdom of God is near” and “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire”. Now I know what God meant when speaking of cowards that would be thrown into the lake of fire. We need to be a man of God, speaking boldly the word of God, rather than giving them what their itching ears want to hear. Well, IF you even read this, I will probably get no reply or I’ll get some reply like, you have a right to your own opinion and I disagree with your interpretation of scripture or something of the like. I have said what God wants me to say and you can accept it or not, the choice is yours.
52% of gays would actually like to marry some day – http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/27/same-sex-marriage-research/2465023/
Hadn’t seen that before – thanks for sharing 🙂
Great article, Wes! We all need to be reminded that we fight a daily battle against giving into our sin urges. It doesn’t matter what the temptation is, sin is sin in the Lord’s eyes. I am guilty of judging the severity of sin based on a worldly scale, but we all know that is not what counts. I remember you saying on numerous occasions, “We love the person right where they are, but we love them enough to not leave them there.” (I’m sure I totally butchered that quote) Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks Regan – hope things are going well in your neck of the woods 🙂
Thanks for your article.
I have a brother and sister who were/are homosexual. My brother died of AIDS years ago, but my sister is stil living.
I have prayed and wrestled with how to love her well, like Jesus would. I am a first generation Christian but I don’t have a problem with biblical authority over my or our cultures understanding of sexuality.
I know my sister was treated terribly by our alcholic father. And I’m sure there are many other things that impacted the formation of her sexual identity that I have no clue about.
So I love her. I share with her that Jesus loves her. I remind her that God the Father loves her. And I encourge my kids to love her.
The homosexual people I know have deep wounds just like the rest of us. I have never met anyone who chose a sexual preference (gay or straight.)
I struggle with the gay political agenda and the misinformation about gender that is now dominant in our society and growing more so in our churches. But there is not much I can do about either of those.
But I can love people with words and actions like Jesus. And once He has their heart there is not end to the transformation the Spirit will bring. In His time and in His way.
Thanks again for a much needed article!
Wow – I am very sorry to hear about the struggles in your family, but appreciate your attitude. You’re right – the Spirit works through love and has the power to transform – saying a prayer for your sister and ministry to her right now.
Thanks for the article, Wes. I really appreciate how you point out that what scripture condemns is giving in to a life of lawless sensuality. It seems clear that these passages are not directed at that small percentage of the population that genuinely experiences same-sex attraction. At least, it isn’t condemning anyone for feeling anything. Certainly gratifying that sensuality is being condemned regardless of the reason, but it’s easy for the church today to confuse the temptation for the action as you said.
If I could make one critiqueto point #2, I think it’s good to try to be as fair to both sides as possible (without excusing the church’s behavior). You say that you’ve never met a gay person who chose to be gay. Well, I believe I have known both. No one can prove or disprove this, of course. But I have known people who struggled intimately and sincerely with same-sex attraction, and I have known others who deliberately “tried it out” as part of a truly defiant, counter-cultural outburst.
It is individuals in the latter group that make things harder for individuals in the first group. And it is the latter group that the church has made a habit of reacting to, since they are often the loudest and ugliest.
I think as a church, we could do better to be much more concerned about loving the first group than reacting to the second.
Thanks again for speaking up, Wes.
Thanks Allan – good point regarding #2, but I don’t know that those individuals would describe themselves as homosexual in orientation. Good point regardless
You’re probably right, at least in the long run. It’s how they align themselves with the gay cause in an angry and reactive way that makes it hard. But as you said, if the church was already aligned with people who experience same-sex attraction, it might not be a problem.
A major issue that the church faces is with precisely defining what is and what is not sin. In the above quoted passage from 1 Corinthians 6, what does “slander” mean?
Did Paul slander the Galatians when he called them fools (Gal.3.1)? Even though Jesus specifically forbade that (Matt.5.22)?
Or what does it mean that we should not lie (Rev.21.8)? Wasn’t Rahab counted righteous before God for deceiving the city guards and protecting the spies?
We’re struggling with understanding the, often euphemistic, ancient words translated by Victorian prudes as 100%, all encompassing and accurate by modern definitions.
But the Greek words that Paul uses for homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6 don’t exist (as far as we can tell) in any Greek literature before that time. According to the best evidence, Paul made up those words.
So it’s not a cut-and-dry answer to just say that Scripture condemns homosexuality when the actual meaning of the handful of verses is difficult to determine due to the sexual embarrassment of the ancient writers as well as the unwillingness to research the ideas by modern scholars and translators.
We’re left with people arguing for one side or the other and reading their interpretations back into the text. There are few, if any, unbiased attempts to understand what the passages on homosexuality in the bible actually mean.
Interesting – I’ll look at that again, but don’t remember translation being an issue when I looked before. Will check – thx for the comment
It’s a weird issue because none of the lexicographers cast any doubt on the translation, but it is as in doubt as any word made up by a biblical author.
Specifically in 1 Corinthians 6 it appears that Paul made the word up by creating a compound word from the LXX of Leviticus 18:22.
That puts the exegesis of the concept back into Leviticus where we have a one-off statement in the midst of other laws (most of which we no longer observe), that seem to have more to do with differentiation from pagan cults than anything else.
It’s a problematic exegetical issue with no clear-cut answers.
I apologize Wes and Fed-Up, did not mean to be insensitive. I guess we are all just victims of our past. I am trying to come out of my “old self”, and with the help from the Holy Spirit I will some day be perfected. May God be gracious to us all!
I did not think that you were being insensitive to be hurtful. I just was trying to speak to my own feelings on the matter. I am sure we share a lot of common ground, even as we disagree on other matters. I don’t know about God’s grace, but I will accept grace from anyone anytime. Thanks for yours 🙂
Hi, Fed-up, It’s been a pleasure to blog with you today! I kinda got off on the wrong foot with you at first, but I didn’t feel any animosity from you after I apologized to you (that’s a good sign). A lot of times we Christians try to do and say good things to help people, but sometimes our best is not good enough. God loves us all, and calls us into His Church whenever He deems it to be the best time for us. I Tim. 2:3,4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. If you don’t go to church right now please read your Bible as often as you can…(if you don’t already) the more we read the Bible the more we understand, God does not show us everything all at once. There is a fairly new App on the computer called the YouVersion of the Bible and it has just about any version you would want. It also has an Audio Version of several different versions, its good if you exercise or walk or want to listen to it as you go to sleep at night. My personal preference is the NIV but if I find something I’m not sure of I’ll will compare all the different versions, the book of John is one of my favorite books of the Bible. You seem to be a very warm-hearted sensitive person, may God be with you and bless you always!
No problem – sometimes when all you have is text to read without a person sitting across from you, non-verbals, facial expressions and the like, things get communicated that were unintended. No worries
There are those who say we are insensitive to say that our homosexual brothers and sisters must abstain from homosexual activity. If this is true, then I suppose we are also insensitive to our hormone driven teens by expecting them to abstain until marriage. Sexual immorality comes in many forms without one being any worse than the other. Sexual purity comes in only one form, that being between a man and a woman in marriage. Some have commented that they have never known a Christian homosexual. Well, I have. A young man who had grown up with our children “came out of the closet” at a youth meeting, saying that he was a homosexual, and that he realized homosexual activity was a sin. He made a commitment to abstain. Over the years he discovered his masculinity, married a Christian woman, and has children of his own today. I am not so naive as to believe this can happen for every homosexual, but I do know that it is possible for some. In the meantime, I will simply love them with the love of the Lord and pray that they don’t engage in any sinful activity.
I know two lesbian women who have been in a relationship for 20 years. To compare them to teens unable to control their hormones is the very definition of insensitivity. Also, the key word for those teens is “until”. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel for those attracted to the same sex?
The VAST majority of peer reviewed science would say that the youth you know was never homosexual (or that he is simply living a lie to this day). But even if that is his story, it is not the norm. Just as Sally Gary insinuates in her book that her same sex attraction is causal. These are a minority of stories that people use as ammo to defend their position that the gay person can change and just chooses not to. This is not the story of every homosexual though.
Also, homosexual men have not lost their masculinity. To say so is just your own misconceptions of what that word means being projected onto them.
I struggle to see the compassion in statements like “I will love the person and not the sin” or “I will love them with the love of the Lord”. In this context, these statements come across as backhanded. Homosexuality is not something they DO it is in the fiber of who they ARE. Stating that you will love them in spite of who they are is not as gracious as it may seem.
My SIL is a 40-year old, heterosexual virgin. Because of her faith in God and her belief in the Holy Scriptures, she too may never have, as you put it, “light at the end of the tunnel” concerning sexual release. Please don’t dare assume that homosexuals are the only ones that deal with that issue. Many Christian believers are single, whether by choice or circumstance.
That’s a good point
Living for an audience of One,
I try not to assume anything, and did not do so in my previous post (though, what I dare to do is up to me and not you )
Your sister does have an open door though. She at least has the option if it ever arises. To my knowledge, if her will power failed her, she would not be considered an abomination.
One person is making a choice, another is having a choice put on them. Also historically the church has been far more forgiving of the sexually promiscuous, divorced and remarried (who according to the bible are committing adultery in most cases), and even those who have cheated on their spouses.
P.S. My sister has been with the same man for 10 years and they have children, though they have never officially married for their own weird reasons. I don’t personally understand it, but would never dare to promote the idea that someone thrice divorced and remarried has something more sacred simply because they said some words in front of a crowd. Like many things in the church, it seems that people are more concerned with form over function when it comes to marriage.
The light at the end of everyone’s tunnel is Jesus! They just have to walk in the light as explained in 1 Jn 1:5-10.
If she continued in a sexually immoral relationship (sexually intimate with a man without the sacred covenant of marriage), she would be considered an abomination to the Lord. In this life, we should not be so much concerned with happines as we are with holiness. The perfect life comes when Jesus comes back to take us home. Until then, we are in a spiritual battle for our souls.
“she” being the 40yo SIL.
The light at the end of my tunnel is not Jesus, but I respect that he is for you.
Your response is the kind of glib “Christianese” that ignores the heart of an issue.
That is a great sentiment, but why would God’s yoke be easy and his burden light if he is not concerned with our comfort and happiness? How can he be the peace that passes understanding and not a source of happiness? How can we live life to the fullest without happiness? Why would God require a life of misery and self loathing in favor of a life of happiness?
I am not talking about promiscuous “hormone driven” relationships, but the deep meaningful intimacy that comes from sharing your life with someone as a partner and spouse. A lot of you seem to think of the seediest ideas concerning homosexuals, as if they are all just struggling to keep it in their pants.
Philipotts, you are correct in saying the simple statement that “Jesus is the light at the end of the tunnel” is a sort of “glib Christianese” speak. However, it doesn’t matter how simple, short, or if it was Japanese, Chinese or Christianese, the truth will always be the truth. As Christians we believe Jesus is the only light at the end of the tunnel. He’s the only light anyone will see. But because he loves everyone he gives them the choice to walk in the light or go away from the light and be in darkness for eternity. You appear to be looking more for an argument than answers unless the answers agree with what you want them to be. I’m a Christian and I don’t always do what God would want me to because his answers aren’t what I want to hear at the time. He promises discipline in these cases because he loves me.
The other reason I kept such a short answer was because I took up a lot of Wes’ space prior to the short answer on this thread. There are a lot of Christians that have a wrong concept of God wanting them to be happy and comfortable. It’s nowhere in the Bible! In fact he uses the word “joy” but not happiness. They’re 2 different things. I doubt if the Apostle Paul or any of the others were happy about being in prison…but they were joyful. 2 Timothy 3:12 promises persecution to Christians if they’re living God’s way.
We don’t set the standards, God does! If humans set the standards (which for now they think they’re doing and getting away with it) then no one would be in prison, because after all they might be happiest and most comfortable when killing, robbing and raping. Who then would you or I be to tell them they couldn’t do these things?
Jesus came not only to comfort the afflicted, he came to afflict the comforted! (The last part meaning the lazy Christians who like to play church on Sunday but not help the people searching for answers the other 6 days.)
I hope you look for answers not arguments in your search. The answers are there, and glib as it may sound, there is only one light, or Jesus is a liar.
Not looking to argue, just open some eyes and hearts about the gravity of the issue of how Christians tend to treat homosexuals.
I am not looking for a theological debate, because that would be fruitless and inappropriate in this forum. My hope was just to provide some insight from the perspective of an outsider on this issue. Value it or don’t. It is your choice.
When reaching out (or relating) to others we can’t deny the validity of their experiences or feelings. Just telling people that their behavior (orientation, disposition, etc.) is immoral or wrong won’t set them free. We need to cultivate a church culture that facilitates healing and growth. Whoever we minister to, we must minister to their humanity. Blog posts and reminders like yours serve to help and encourage us all. Thanks Wes.
Thanks for the comment, Darrell. Was just perusing your site – looks like you have some great resources there – also appreciate your heart.
Wes, just a question here, and I hope it is taken in the manner I intend it. I believe the analogy to alcohol is a false analogy. Alcohol is a chemical, which, when it is consumed, interacts with a chemical property (or imbalance) in the system to create the addiction that leads to alcoholism. By making the claim that homosexual orientation is no different than alcoholism we make a logical leap – and one that is not defendable, in my opinion. To say that a person has a homosexual orientation means that *without any external stimulation* that person is drawn sexually, emotionally, and psychologically to a person of the same sex. There is no *alcohol chemical* to introduce into the system, in other words. Thus, as has been mentioned already in these responses, how can you then say that acting on that orientation is sinful? It seems to me, and here is my question, that saying that a person is created by God with an orientation and an inclination to release his or her sexual desires with a person of the same sex, and then stipulating that sexual release is an “abomination” makes God to be the worst of tyrants – a despicable hypocrite. Am I wrong? Where did I make my wrong turn? It seem to me that if we grant the one foundation upon which so many homosexuals build the the defense of their behavior (God made me this way, you have no right to condemn my behavior) and then try to teach against the logical extension of that central premise, we surrender not only our appeal to logic, but also our appeal to revelation. I look forward to your response.
Thanks for the comment Paul. Current science has not proven conclusively that there is an inherent inclination toward same-sex attraction without external stimuli – the only conclusive studies I’m aware of indicate the opposite (i.e. social factors are largely responsible for a person’s sexual inclinations). Thus, the “God made me this way” argument is currently without a scientific basis. I do see your point though.
While there is no current evidence to support that argument, there one day could very well be, and that doesn’t bother me because I think all of us are born with certain inclinations that are less than honorable to God. For instance, and in addition to a proclivity toward alcoholism or drug addition, one might be prone to fly into fits of rage. While that proclivity could also be due to social factors, I believe science has shown that certain personality traits (like a tendency toward being bad-tempered) is often linked to genetics.
I don’t think God’s prohibition against certain behaviors that come more “naturally” to one person over another makes God a tyrant – I believe it is simply an indication that we live in a fallen world and are in need of redemption – some from this, others from that, but all from something.
Thanks for the response, Wes. My follow-up would be that God never said anger was an abomination – even Jesus expressed his anger, but it was rightly placed. Gluttony is a sin, soundly judged as such in the Bible, but God never said our appetite for food was an abomination, or a perversion (however you choose to translate the word). However, several sexual sins are identified as such, and in my opinion it is the opposite of compassion to allow those who participate in such sexual sins to do so under the impression that “God made me this way, get over it.” I think we have redefined the word “compassion” to mean, “without pain, without confrontation, without judgment.” Rather, compassion means, among other things, a sense of shared feelings, not exactly empathy, but close. As a medical example, many surgeons are deeply compassionate, yet the scalpel that they use cuts through skin, muscle, and even ligaments and tendons. It causes great pain in the service of bringing health.
Thanks for writing the article and for bringing this to our attention. I agree that we do need to have this conversation.
See Galatians 5:19-21 – the Bible identifies “fits of rage” as one of many sins that excludes one from fellowship with God. That’s not the same thing as anger, and more could be said about genetic links that lead to certain proclivities.
And I think you misunderstand my point in the article – I too believe it is the opposite of compassion to allow people to PRACTICE sin without speaking up. My point throughout is that orientation and practice are not one in the same.
Thank you for your comments.
No, Wes, I understood you – I was not commenting to challenge you, simply to clarify my earlier comment. And I agree that fits of rage, the uncontrolled outbursts of anger, etc., are certainly sinful. But the human emotion of anger in and of itself is not sinful – just as sexual attraction is not sinful if channeled in the direction that God intended. I see no conflict between us, and I apologize if my comment came off as accusatory. Mea Culpa.
No worries – just wanted to make sure that was clear
I always feel bad for those who refuse to believe what Christ said in 2 Cor 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Those people who think that once they’re called a drug addict or an alcoholic and will always be one can never feel the true freedom of being a new creation. In fact, 1 Cor 6:9-10 says if they remain that, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. It doesn’t mean you should test God by trying to have just a little drink or drugs. James 1:12-14 Your propensity to sin is because of a fallen world, not God testing you.1 Cor 10:12-13. You make the choice because God does give you a way out. Mt 5:27-28 Explains sin is more than the action; it is by God’s own words…thoughts…lust in the heart! Heterosexuals get no break on this and neither do homosexuals! True compassion and love is not soft-selling God’s word. Ro 3: …”Let God be true and every man a liar”…. It’s not about saying what people want to hear. Jn 8:31-32 ….The truth will set you free.” Heb 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful……..
Anyone who chooses to follow the lies of the man-made programs probably isn’t a “new creation.” Of course AA and other 12 step type programs have done some good. Just remember rat poison is 99% good food as well. How do you know it’s rat poison? The first clue is the refusal to acknowledge God by name and his Son Jesus Christ. “Higher Power” is a condemnation to the program and those who use that term.
So Dwight, just for clarity’s sake, are you saying that those of us who struggle with an addictive nature are separated from God if we continue struggling after making a commitment to follow Jesus? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying.
If you mean those who continue living in rebellion are separated from God, I would agree that’s what the Bible teaches. But if you mean people must simply “get over” their proclivity towards addiction (notice I didn’t say practice), then I believe you err in stating that’s a biblical precedent.
No Wes, I was afraid that even though the word “propensity” was used, initially as humans we get defensive (me included). You either are or are not a new creation. I’m not telling someone they are or aren’t. If the Bible is true, and you’ve accepted Christ, you can say, I am no longer an addict or alcoholic. There is freedom in that. But with freedom comes responsibility. Does the urge or propensity for that sin immediately if ever leave you? Maybe not. That’s different than negating the power of God by hanging on to the old when he says you’re new. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol or homosexuality the struggle may be there, but to say I still am one completely goes against that verse.
Since my primary gift is evangelism I talk to quite a few people. Put yourself in the position of one of these lost people for a minute. They say to me, “I’m so bad God would never want me.” I say, ” I’ve got great news for you! You’re always going to be a drunken murderer but just accept Jesus as your Savior and it doesn’t matter.” Or, more what I really say, ” Jesus doesn’t promise you won’t have some of the same struggles and sins that want to keep you down, but he does promise that you’ll be a new creation and that he gives you the way to fight against those temptations. You are no longer a drunken murderer according to God.” Wes, which one not only sounds more comforting to a lost person who is truly repentant but closer to God’s word? People are looking to be rid of the old “Them”, not I’m going to have to drag around my old baggage the rest of my life. It sort of dilutes the Word of God don’t you think? Those in the world are the ones who like to keep people in the sewer. They’re the ones that say, you’ll never change. You’re always going to be just what you are. Shouldn’t we sound different and present the message of change through the power of God…if he indeed meant what he said in 2 Co 5:17?
Thank you for clarifying
Well written essay. We as Christians have a lot to learn when it comes to loving the homosexual person.
Earlier Fed-Up says that “Homosexuality is not something they DO it is in the fiber of who they ARE”. Do homosexuals really feel that way? As a heterosexual woman, if I really believed that my sexual orientation was the essence of who I am, I think that would be really limiting me from reaching my full potential as a person.
How much of your life centers around your role as a wife and mother (assuming you are one)? Is this not a direct result of your heterosexuality?
How you relate to God is generally manifested through those relationships, is it not?
You are asking people to know they are Christian’s by their love, who do homosexuals love in the most intimate way? Is your deep love for your spouse only sexual, or does it transcend that?
if you don’t think your heterosexuality is so engrained in your sense of self, then I would ask you to imagine that being a heterosexual made you an abomination in the sight of God.
P.S. I am “fed-up”
[…] The issue of homosexuality is not going to go away and churches need to think through how they are going to respond. Wes Woodell offers some helpful thoughts on the subject. I recommend you read Homosexuality and the Church […]
I don’t claim to know everything about homosexuality, but have a couple of thought. Soon after graduating from Pepperdine College in 1969 a coworker and I found ourselves at the Fawn Club in Inglewood, CA. We were looking for a woman who frequented this bar who was behind on her car payments. We went inside the bar which was dark and we noticed there was a difference, only woman (Lesbians) were in the bar and did not receive any help. The woman we were looking for turned up a few months later back east where she had killed her lover. In 30 years working for a major corporation I only encountered one coworker and sometimes we would work assignments together, but I only strived to show the real answer was to follow to Jesus. Homosexuality is sin per God not me and people who follow that sin will be judged by God not me. Today I’m blessed to walk with Jesus in the county jail for 1100 men. There all types of problems, but God loves each one and they are his children.
I received a call from a brother in Christ who is involved in Prison Ministry and gave me a new name visit, as he murdered his son.