The growing acceptance and promotion of homosexuality and the popular fluidity of sexual identity in our society will prove itself to be one of the most important topics for the future of the church in America. As the traditional Christian perspective on sexuality is challenged and chastised, Christians and church leaders will have to think critically about their stances. As the Biblical position is increasingly seen as the bigoted position, Christians will need not only to know what they believe the Bible says, but they will need to know how to have the conversation compassionately and yet unwaveringly. That means that Christians need to stay clear of debates that are unhelpful and distracting.
A Flawed Debate
One of the distracting debates among evangelicals has been whether people with same-sex attraction were in fact born with that inclination. Put another way, is there a “gay gene”? Unfortunately, I have heard many Christians along the way dismiss homosexuals as “attention seeking” as if there are no real desires for the same sex. In rejecting that homosexuals could be “born that way”, many minimize any real attractions that homosexuals may actually have. Some attribute the same-sex attraction phenomenon to cultural conditioning, estranged family relationships, and/or previous abuse. Much time and energy have been spent battling scientific evidence for and against the biological naturalness of same-sex attraction. But all of this is a distraction. To engage in this debate is a serious misstep for the Gospel-believing Bible-affirming Christian.
We Are Born This Way
Foundational to the Christian faith is the belief that when the first humans sinned against God they invited curse into the world. Everything has been impacted by this curse. (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-24) Natural disasters, disease, pain, and death are all consequences of corruption in a now fallen world. As a result, there is much in the world that is natural but does not appear to be the way it was supposed to be. Cancer cells are “natural”, but they are obvious corruptions of an original design. The curse of sin affected the natural order of things including humanity itself. The sin committed in Genesis has spread to all men and is ingrained into the very nature of humanity from birth. (Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3) King David rightly states in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” To argue so adamantly against the “natural” inclination to the sin of homosexuality is counterintuitive to the Christian message.
We are born this way – sinful. We don’t have to be taught to steal, lie, or lust. We don’t have to be taught pride, greed, or selfishness. Those things are natural to us. Certain sins can even be more natural to some rather than others. The higher sex drive of some men leads to more heightened risk of adultery. Some are more prone to anger leading to abuse or even murder. I cannot argue before a judge, however, that I stole my neighbor’s Corvette because I was born with a strong covetousness. In his book Sam-Sex Attraction and the Church, Ed Shaw writes,
Our knowledge of what is right and wrong cannot be derived from what comes naturally to us because everything that is wrong with this world came naturally from us. Morality has to be defined by someone outside of us. And it is – God who created us. (Shaw, 57-58)
The naturalness of our desire cant justify us, rather it only further condemns us. We are not only those who act on sin but we are sinful at the core of our being. We are born this way. Thus, we need a savior, someone not born this way, who can take the curse and the punishment on himself in our place. We need Jesus. This is foundational to all Christian doctrine.
A Call for Sensitivity
While same-sex attraction is a sinful corruption within the human nature according to the Scriptures, it is different than the examples above. It is different than the lust that leads to adultery, the anger that leads to abuse, and the covetousness that can lead to theft. People who experience same-sex attraction have real “passions” for members of the same sex according to Romans 1:26-27. Though they are corrupted desires, they are real desires and unlike other sins, they are desires that more naturally become a part of their whole identity. For someone who struggles with anger outbursts, their fight against anger can ultimately lead to an obviously better way of life with healthier friendships and a happier family. For someone who struggles with same-sex attraction, however, the warfare against those tendencies could mean a lifetime of lonely and difficult celibacy. If the same-sex attracted person follows Jesus instead of their sinful desires, they will ostracize themselves from the homosexual affirming culture, but they won’t exactly fit into what has become the common Christian family mold either. This means that the church must answer the call to be the family of God the Father to those who are fighting same-sex attraction in their love for King Jesus.
One of the worst things for a Christian to do is to trivialize the reality or strength of the homosexual temptation in their effort to prove its sinfulness. To waste time arguing whether or not same-sex attracted people are born that way or whether their desires are real at all is to simply drive a deeper wedge between Christians and those same-sex attracted people who, likewise, need the glorious promises and power of Jesus. Acknowledge the reality and strength of homosexual attraction as a sinful corruption of fallen humanity and then point to the Jesus who promises eternal freedom from sin’s bondage.
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley
St. Rose Community Church