Tuesday, September 23, 2008

homosexuality and same-sex attraction

This past week on Sunday, Ryan tackled to tough issue of homosexuality. This is not an easy thing to do from up front is a "speaking" setting. These sort of topics are usually best done in conversation. But he did a good job laying out the hot button issue and the way we as Christians should address it.

The church has handled this poorly and has not understood the issue. Some churches try to stake their claim politically in the debate over whether gay marriage should be legal. But that is a political/legal argument. And while there is room to debate it, that shouldn't be we address on Sunday mornings.

What needs to be address from a Christian worldview are questions like "Is homosexuality sin?" and "Are homosexual lifestyles what God intended or did he intend something else?"

Where do we find the answers to these questions? Like all moral and theological issues, we have four pillars to stand on in our search for truth. Some call this the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. These four pillars are our tools in seeking truth.

But they are not all equal partners. As Christians we believe Scripture has supreme authority. Tradition (the way believers have interpreted scripture down through the centuries), Reason and Experience all come in tied for second.

Scripture is clear that homosexuality is not what God intended for humanity. Just as it is clear that He did not intend extra-marital affairs, or hatred toward others. "Tradition" supports this interpretation of Scripture. It is a "reasonable" conclusion and it fits with the "experience" of many who have come out of the gay community and have found freedom from that lifestyle.

Those who argue that homosexuality is part of what God intended usually argue that point by making "experience" the chief source of our pursuit of truth. They argue that if someone has "experienced" being gay, even from childhood, then it must be something God is ok with. And then they interpret scripture, read tradition, and use reason all based out of that "experience." But "experience" was never meant to be the chief source of truth. When it gets placed above all the others, our world view becomes skewed.

But what do we as the Church do with those who struggle with homosexuality? Well, first, let's get our terms in order. Homosexuality is an identity based on a lifestyle. As Christians our primary identity should not be found in our sexuality, or anything else for that matter. Our primary identity is "follower of Christ."

So the term that fits better is "same sex attraction." There are those who have found their primary identity in Christ and yet still struggle with being attracted to the same sex. And from what we know of that experience, people are not "choosing" to be attracted to the same sex any more than I choose to be attracted to the opposite sex.

But just because it seems natural to them, doesn't make it ok. There are lots of things that seem "natural" to me that are not right. It seems natural to me to blow up in anger at people but it is not what God intended. It seems natural to lust after women but it is not what God intended. We must accept the reality of our "Fallen-ness" when it comes to our desires.

There are three main issues to wrestle with when it comes to someone who struggles with same-sex attraction: behavior, identity and attractions. Let's start with behavior. Those with same-sex attraction should no more act on their attraction than I should act on my attraction to women who are not my wife. But not acting on the desire is just the beginning.

It is tempting for those who struggle with same-sex attraction to identify themselves as "homosexual." But I think this is a mistake. Our primary identity is in Christ, not in our sexuality. While our attractions are not necessarily a choice, how one identifies oneself is a choice. And our identity should not be what we struggle with or our sin, but instead the freedom and hope that we have in Christ.

This leaves us to the final issue of attraction. The reality is that once a person's identity is firmly grounded as a "follower of Christ," then behavior will likely line up with God's will. But while a person may win the battle of identity and behavior, the battle of having same-sex attractions will be harder. There are those whose testimony is that in Christ, they no longer feel a great attraction to the same-sex and instead find themselves attracted to the opposite sex. But this doesn't happen for everyone. Some Christians will have to deal with same-sex attraction for the rest of their lives. Some will deal with this struggle as single people, others as happily married people.

But is this really all that different than many of the other fights against the flesh that Christians must endure for a lifetime? Is it that different from an alcoholic fighting against taking another drink for the rest of her life? Is it that different from newly converted Wall Street executive battling against the temptations of power and greed for the rest of his life? Is it that different from a guy who is addicted to pornography fighting off the temptation of images all around him? Each follower of Christ must take up their cross and follow Him. Each must deal with the parts of their lives that don't line up with what God intended for humanity. Each must fight the good fight in putting to death the sinful nature.

This battle lasts a lifetime for all of us. But in the end, Jesus has won and the victory will be ours.


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Samuel Joseph Wilson said...

well said...Do we really have to struggle with it for a lifetime? maybe not....:)


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