If you are just joining the conversation, there are two previous posts you should consider reading first. These will give you some much needed background. You Be The Judge and LGBTQI, part one can be found as you continue to scroll.
This post which is part two in the series is inspired by a conversation I had recently with a dear friend. He asked about my statement in part one regarding same sex attraction being a sin even when nothing is done to act on that desire. Here are some more thoughts on that matter.
There is an important phrase at the end of Galatians chapter five verse 23, just after the listing of the fruits of the Spirit... "against such things there is no law." My opportunity in my human experience as a devoted follower of Jesus is to see those things against which there is no prohibition flourish and those things against which there is a prohibition diminish.
My life is filled with compulsory feelings, feelings I am not choosing, feelings and desires that are attached to my humanity...I don't wake up every day and say, "I think I am going to be self-centered today." That comes without trying. How did I get that way? I agreed that there is a nature/nurture tandem effect always shaping every life. However, the depravity of mankind is a baseline Christian doctrine. My humanity as a natural, instinctive, not needing any nurturing into all things prohibited will always lead me away from Godliness. Then, when you add the nurturing component, it exasperates my already fragile condition. But even without any nurturing, my nature is flawed enough on its own.
I think all people tend to have varying degrees of compulsory feelings "against which things there ARE laws." When someone declares they were born into same sex attraction, they are inappropriately attributing their fallen nature to God. God created people with a will, yes. But that will was given to us to choose righteousness. That will was given to us to exercise dominion over our lives and over every compulsory feeling that is not God honoring. God said to Cain that sin is always crouching at the door desiring to have us and we must master that temptation (Genesis 4:7). Self dominion is a vital part of this life. This is why one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.
Self-dominion means you are choosing to not act on a compulsion that you know is not God honoring. I applaud those who have same sex attraction but acknowledge the Biblical prohibition against same sex marriage and the prohibition against sex outside of marriage and therefore choose a life of celibacy. My humble caution to people whose lives are described by this circumstance is be careful not to identify with that desire. For a person to say, "I am gay but I am choosing a life of celibacy because I believe the Bible prohibits same sex marriage and sex outside of marriage," is attaching your identity to a part of your human nature that is in rebellion against God. Sex was created by God to be enjoyed only by a man and woman in marriage. Therefore sexual attraction that is same gender is sin. Why, because the only way to fulfill that desire is to commit a sin. I cannot say that because my desire is a result of my human condition it is not sin. That is the very nature of humanity...we are effortless sin factories! Every person has desires that are the result of the human condition. Some of those desires are shared by all people, some shared by many, some shared by few, etc.
When I say same sex attraction is sin, it is not to condemn or to be insensitive. Everyone person who has made a vow of devotion to Christ has desires that are sinful, desires they did not choose, desires that are a result of their own fallen nature. I have desires that are sin. I don't walk around stuck in shame, stuck in self loathing...I understand that this is the battle of my existence. My life before being a Christian was ugly, steeped in hedonism. I understand what it means to fight unGodly desire. Guess what...those desires don't disappear. Now one can argue that I have it easier because I am married so my sexual appetite has an outlet. But that is a myth. That doesn't cause unhealthy desires to disappear. Ask any Christian counselor how many patients they have who are married but are battling sinful compulsions that are sexual in nature? But I must not identify myself with the part of my humanity that desires that which God calls sin. I identify with being a new creation, ever moving forward in my journey of transformation. I love Hebrews 10:14... "by one sacrifice God made perfect those who are being made holy!" I choose to identify with the "perfection" I will never fully attain. The "perfection" purchased for me by Jesus' death on the cross. My responsibility is to now learn to work with a reliance on grace to achieve ever increasing measures of holiness knowing that I can succeed where Cain failed. I can with the power of God's Spirit in me as a devoted follower of Jesus rule over the temptation that is always crouching outside the door of my will.
James is key too. Chapter 1:14-15 talks about how sin begins as desire. I fear people try to make a false distinction between desire and lust that for them becomes inappropriately permission giving. I have read or heard people say that same sex attraction that never becomes lustful and only remains as a desire is not yet sin. I only see one definition of lust in Scripture...lust is simply an unhealthy desire. And James inspired by the Holy Spirit gives us clear warning of what can happen if we do not see the danger of such desires.
Next week I am going to tackle the controversy surrounding the word "arsenokoites" which is found in only two texts: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. In the New American Standard translation, this word is translated as "homosexual" in both instances. There is no record of this word in other ancient non-Biblical writings. So with Paul using this word twice and apparently having created this word, there is much conjecture over what Paul actually intended to say...but that's for next week! I will also be writing in the coming weeks regarding a parent's sacred responsibility to lead their children in both a Godly journey of gender identification and understanding personal sexuality. In addition, we will get to pressing questions about genital deformity at birth as well as chromosomal disorders.
A word of caution. This series is not to be used as permission to further hateful feelings or comments. I am writing this series so we as Christians can better understand what God expects of us when we ourselves struggle as such, how to respond when pressed with questions about our views on this pressing issue, and how to engage in loving conversations with our own family members who may find these posts intensely personal. If ever I use someone else's condition to treat them in an unloving way...well, you should read John's three epistles. He has some choice words for you!