By Mark Moore
Individuals with same-sex attraction make up as much as 6 percent of the male population and 4.5 percent of females (though some studies estimate half that). Those are not insignificant numbers, especially when same-sex attraction involves you or someone you love.
The church traditionally has not been particularly welcoming of such individuals, and a number of Scriptures have been cited to validate responses that are sometimes violent””verbally, emotionally, occasionally even physically.
Because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, it is unconscionable for me to reject in the body of Christ some of the most spiritually sensitive and emotionally/socially vulnerable individuals in our society. Consider that during Jesus” earthly ministry, he never got angry with sinners. Rather, Jesus” most vituperative responses were reserved for his own disciples when they rejected children (Mark 10:14), the Pharisees when they rejected healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5), and the Sadducees when they debarred the poor and foreigners from the temple through their economic structures (Mark 11:15-18).
Therefore, when we shout at, or about, marginalized sinners, and ignore the religious judgmentalism in our midst, we do not reflect the compassion of Jesus. And we may place ourselves in the line of fire for his wrath.
At the same time, Jesus was pretty inflexible with Scriptures. He refused to play fast and loose with the words of God. So where the Bible speaks against homosexuality, it is hardly an option for me to abandon God”s Word and adopt a politically correct view.
Some have used exegetical or linguistic arguments to suggest the Bible does not speak against homosexual behaviors among consenting adults. I can only respond that I”ve looked carefully and thoroughly at those arguments and remain convinced that the Bible is as clear in English as it is in Greek (though neither my mind nor ears are closed to ongoing dialogue).
Some have suggested that the Bible is archaic in certain moral values and needs to be jettisoned or altered to align with modernity. I can only respond that I”ve never arrogated myself or the wisdom of this world to a pedestal that could displace God”s ancient truth. There is nothing to convince me that political correctness has led to a nobler society or a brighter future than the revealed Word of God.
So where does that lead me? Here are some of my convictions, partially dependent on Scripture, partially massaged by a Jesus-centered ecclesiology, and hopefully undergirded by the love of the Holy Spirit.
Same-sex attraction does not make you gay.
Same-sex attraction is about a propensity to a behavior; it is not one”s identity. Only in modern times has identity been attached to the biological urges. Prior to the last hundred years, a person practiced homosexuality without necessarily considering himself to be gay as an inalienable identity.
But today many Christians who have same-sex attraction have subverted their identity in Christ to their sexual identity as being gay. Hence, their “gayness” trumps their “Christianness.” This is unfortunate because the consequence is that when the Bible rejects homosexual behavior, the gay person is rejected with it. Rather, I would like to think that God loves that person as they are while prohibiting behavior that doesn”t reflect the nature and character of God. I am not, I pray, defined by my desires.
Same-sex attraction may be biological.
Can we just admit for a moment that we are not omniscient? For many Christians, the idea that God would create a person with same-sex attractions is odious because that would imply God made a person with a biological propensity to sin.
Hello! That is reality. I myself have a biological propensity to selfishness, lust, greed, gluttony, and violence! It is hypocritical to say, “Well, my tendencies to sin are natural, but a gay person”s tendencies cannot be.” Why? Because it is a sin so much worse than all others?
Propensity to a behavior is not sin; the behavior is sin. This leads to a third crucial conviction.
Every spiritual gift has a commensurate spiritual danger.
Conversely, every spiritual danger has a potential positive expression. Simply put, propensity to sin is part of a larger set of human characteristics that can be harnessed by God for great good or by the evil one for destruction. For those with the gift of preaching, pride is a real danger. For those with the gift of compassion, gullibility is a real danger, etc.
Conversely, those with greater propensities to sin in various ways also have great potential for ministry because of those same human characteristics that also tend toward a sinful propensity. It is a spiritual truth embedded in the DNA of our souls: Gifts come with dangers; propensities come with potential.Â
If we accept this as true, then our cavalier dismissal of persons with same-sex attractions may have detrimental consequences to the body of Christ. If, in fact, a person with the propensity toward homosexual behavior was created by God for some specific ministry, then our attempts to reform that person may eradicate the very giftedness he or she might offer to church.
At the risk of abusing a stereotype, let me offer this example. In the Bible, the first person ever to be filled with the Spirit of God was Bezalel (Exodus 36). He designed and color-coordinated the tabernacle of God. I”m not saying he was gay, but he certainly could have had his own show on TLC.
The gay community has shown exceptional talents in the field of the arts (as one example). The church has floundered in that same field. Is it possible that our unwelcoming posture to people with same-sex attraction has pushed them beyond the pale, leaving a vacuum in our churches of a beautiful gift of God?
A call to celibacy is a call to dignity.
Protestant theology (repelled by Catholicism) has elevated sex. Most Protestant pastors have a strong deference to sex over celibacy (frankly, I”m a fan). Unfortunately, that has disallowed a positive theology of singleness. In many of our churches, singles ministry is a playground for predators, or is at least a rehabilitation ward where participants can be “fixed up.”
But where is the Bible critical of a person remaining single? Single persons in Scripture are honored for their purity and devotion to God. Paul honored celibacy as the superior way: “To the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Jesus was celibate. There were four virgin daughters who were renowned prophetesses (Acts 21:9).
All persons outside a heterosexual marriage are called to celibacy, and so the call to sexual purity is hardly unique for the homosexual community. Is this a tough path to walk? Honestly, I have little concept of what a lifetime of celibacy would be like, so I”ll make no disingenuous claims to understand it and no unrealistic promises of supernatural power to overcome temptations. As a theologian, however, I can say that celibacy places you on a biblical pedestal, not in the marginalized shadows of the church.
Your body is not your own.
Tom Vanderbilt”s book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do is a frightening psychological exposÃ© of commuter insanity. In it he points out a phenomenon that is nearly universal. When we put our bodies into an automobile, that vehicle becomes an extension of ourselves. Hence, when we get into a fender-bender, we say, “He hit me!”
Wait a minute, you were not hit; your car was hit. Nonetheless, we can”t help but take it personally. Furthermore, when we are driving down the freeway and someone merges ahead of us (almost always to our chagrin), we say, “He pulled into my lane.” Really? And what makes it your lane? Well, quite simply the fact that the extension of my person (i.e., the automobile) was occupying it at the time.
If we can”t even disentangle our emotional “selves” from an inanimate vehicle, how will we ever clearly communicate the biblical truth that our bodies are likewise vehicles on loan from God? We only have the right to do with our bodies what brings glory to God.
This message seems clear to most of us when we are imposing it on those with same-sex attraction. Does it not, however, equally apply to gluttony, vanity, and sloth? Let”s play fair here, folks. The call to glorify God with our bodies is universally applicable. So too should be our extension of grace and forgiveness for our failures.
For far too long, lovers of Jesus with same-sex attraction have had to live in the margins of the church with a “don”t ask, don”t tell” policy. If we could view their character distinctives as a gift of God to the body of Christ, and if we could celebrate celibacy as a high calling in the church, then many of the 6 percent of males and 4.5 percent of females could become cherished allies rather than damaged goods in the kingdom.
Mark Moore teaches New Testament and hermeneutics at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri.Â
Thanks for attacking this issue Mark with truth, love, and grace. I believe a lot of Christians acknowledge the “biblical truth” on the issue but fail to respond with love and compassion. Others bend to the culture of relativity we live in and don”™t hold to truth. I really like your observation that this is about a bent toward a behavior and not an identity. I wonder though about your caution of “reforming the person.” I agree that we are all gifted and that those gifts can lead to negative tempting behaviors. But is a pursuit of reformation meaning we that destroy the whole person or rather is it not the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) and thus the negative behavior? In my life; I see the negative thought patterns and sinful propensities in me, but I want to rise above them. I remember some readings for a psychology class a long time ago about practicing Homosexuals who were renewed. Their gifts and talents remained, but they also married women and experienced very fulfilling lives. Yes I know, way too much to unpack in one periodical. But thanks again. Too many times the Homosexual community feels hate from those who espouse “Biblical authority.” Your article says something different.
Kudos to Mark Moore for an excellent article on an issue most of our
churches have not dealt w/ well! As a Christian who has been involved
in community theater, sports and music, I’ve made friends w/ many who
consider themselves gay. They are among some of the most creative,
intelligent and interesting personalities I’ve ever known and Mark’s
comments totally align w/ what I’ve always contended about this
segment of our society. We need to reach out to them and be role
models of God’s indiscriminate love!
What a powerful article! You totally get it, and I am glad to hear a similar view to that of my pastor ( who is also my husband). I do, however think your numbers are off on those who have same sex attraction. If people don’t feel comfortable with you and trust you, they will never share this type of information with you. Especially survey form.
The most important thing that Jesus teaches is love. I wish the “church” would realize that. I am proud to say that our ministry follows this. Pastor Jakes doesn’t preach for it, or against- there are so many things that you can talk about it the Bible that have nothing to do with being gay or straight (I use that term loosely). Pastor Jakes does preach about ownership of your mess and working out your own soul’s salvation. This leaves little time to point the finger at others. Our congregation is 98% African American. Contained within are many professionals as well as the have nots. The love displayed in the walls of this 5 generation church, on the Southside of Chicago, is striving to live up to our motto: ‘Living to serve God by serving humanity (Galatians 5:13). The people who come to our food pantry don’t care about the sexuality of those serving them, or the sexuality of the person on the pew next to them. They are interested in a place that is full of the love of Jesus.
I thank you for your thoughts and God Bless you. Follow us at wpmbc.org
You have a gift for clarifying many things that I find myself trying to articulate.
Thanks for your courage in this article.
So well written and so well thought. I would also add there are different reasons a person may be same-sex attracted.
1. During adolescence most teens feel awkward toward the opposite sex. Sometimes same-sex attractions seem to be easier and is expressed in experimentation, however, as one matures, this can be worked out of to adult heterosexual attraction.
2. Some people, like the writer describes, are born with a leaning toward same-sex attraction, but, it should be something that person deals with, i.e,. celibacy. Same for those who have a tendency to have affairs with multiple partners “” it has to be dealt with according to God’s Word, which does not mince words.
3. There are those who are so depraved they just look for something more interesting.
All are in need of God’s saving grace. How can they call on the One they have not believed in? How can they believe in the One they have not heard? How can they hear unless someone tells them? The church has to love them and embrace them and this article gives such good thoughts on how to do that. Thank you.
Well said/well put
Thank you for a very fine and courageous article.
One point I would question is that the English Bible is as clear as the Greek text. The word translated “homosexual” is “arsenokoites.” It is my understanding that the word has been found nowhere else but in the two passages in the New Testament. How, then, do we know what it meant as precisely as we know the current usage of “homosexual”?
Thanks for giving me a lot to think about. I wonder what you would have to say about the transformative power of the gospel message. You are spot-on when you said that Jesus never got angry with sinners. However, he also never told them it was OK for them to continue in their lives of sin.
I cannot accept your notion that same-sex attractedness “may be biological.” I’m certainly not saying it is or isn’t, but you are basing most, if not all of your argument on this possibility. While I, as a pastor, would never turn a same-sex attracted person away from our church, I don’t think I would be able to allow that person to continue to struggle with his or her sexual identity.
As a pastor, it’s part of my responsibility to not let my people off the hook for their sins, myself included. We all have our issues that we struggle with, and we mustn’t allow sin to go unchecked in our churches. What you’re suggesting sounds similar to allowing an alcoholic to have a drink or two every few nights, just as long as he doesn’t go on a bender. In one breath you condemn homosexuality as a sin (rightfully so), but then you say that same-sex attractedness should be celebrated in our churches. I’m not sure you can have it both ways…
Dear Mark, Thank you for outing us on our inconsistent views of sin. Thanks also for pointing the way forward. I pray this article will get read and discussed in many church gatherings. Yours & His, Jerran Jackson
We received the following comment about this article via e-mail. The writer requested that his name be withheld.
Perhaps Dr. Mark Moore”™s “How Should the Church Relate to Those with Same-Sex Attraction?” should have been put in a different section in your February 12, 2012, issue. It is found in the “In Opinions, Liberty” section. However, there appears to be quite a lot of opinion but not much liberty, at least not for the person with same-sex attraction.
Moore doesn”™t comment on which Bible passages prohibit the loving sexual expression between persons of the same sex, so I won”™t either. He only says that he”™s carefully considered the arguments. I would note that plenty of well-respected, conservative theologians have come to a different conclusion from his and it leads me to wonder how much his study of Scripture convinced him of what he already believed. And there are plenty of people in Christian churches/churches of Christ who have reached different conclusions but would not dare say so because then where would they end up? Where would he end up if he did come to a different conclusion?
The Bible doesn”™t speak to homosexual, loving, monogamous relationships. The passages in the Bible are not relevant, not because the Bible isn”™t authoritative but because today”™s issues were not conceivable to the ancients. Sex, whether homo or hetero, was viewed completely differently. They couldn”™t have even have had this conversation. Romance itself hadn”™t been invented. Mark Moore is as wrong as are those gay activists who say the Bible contains examples of homosexual relationships.
Moore has a problem with gay as identity. He says that in the last 100 years a person who practiced homosexuality might not have considered that his identity, that he wouldn”™t have called himself gay. That may be true, but for many reasons, a big one possibly being that it could have gotten him imprisoned. Or killed. Oscar Wilde wouldn”™t have said he was homosexual because the word hadn”™t yet been invented. Yet he was imprisoned for being something even without an identity name for it.
Not all of us believe that our gayness trumps our Christianness any more than Moore”™s straightness trumps his Christianness. It appears that he reduces homosexual relationships to nothing more than the manipulation of nerve endings. My relationship is much more than that and I can only assume that his relationship with his wife amounts to more than sex. But I don”™t know. Maybe that”™s all that male-female relationships amount to and they assume that we homosexuals are the same.
“At the risk of abusing stereotypes,” Moore promptly abuses stereotypes. Here he begins to use the word gay as identity. Apparently when you”™re discussing stereotypes, it becomes difficult to not say gay. So Moore would let a gay decorate his sanctuary because we know what magenta and chartreuse are; we can probably lead his choir and do other artsy things in the church, because that”™s what we”™re good at. Maybe he needs to come to my city and play with the gay rugby league for a day. I presume he”™d let the lesbian play on the church softball team. What if that person had a great gift of preaching? Would he even allow for that possibility, and if so, would he let him preach, even if people know that he has a same-sex attraction but believe he practices celibacy?
Moore says he”™s a fan of sex. How convenient for him! How inconvenient for any of those outside that pale that Moore automatically bestows the gift of celibacy upon whether or not they are so gifted. Perhaps he needs to practice celibacy in solidarity with those of us that he would elevate to the honor of celibacy.
In the end, Moore laments that for too long lovers of Jesus with same-sex attraction (we call ourselves Christians, or if you must, gay Christians) have been marginalized. He wants to change that by elevating us to the pedestal of celibacy. No doubt we will decorate the pedestal. I don”™t know, but it smells a lot like marginalization.
Moore “has no concept of what a lifetime of celibacy would be like” but he”™s willing to require us to walk that “tough path.” He then uses the same old, tired trick of comparing same-sex attraction with gluttony, vanity, and sloth. I wonder in what way God has gifted the gluttons of the church. The gays get to decorate the fellowship hall and the gluttons get to plan the menu. Somehow, though, it doesn”™t seem fair that gluttons can marry in our churches without question.
Dr. Moore, we already have these people in our churches. Some are married to people of the opposite sex. Some are celibate. Some are in same-sex relationships under the radar. Some may even be promiscuous (as may be hetero-sex attracted people). They are already directing choirs, playing keyboards (the organ players have mostly gone over to the higher church churches), and yes, even coordinating colors. Does he need more of us to go into hiding in our churches?
I would ask Mark Moore to consider one thing: that he practice the golden rule, that he might take my need for a companion as seriously has he takes his own.
Kris L, I think you misunderstood. As I understood it, Dr. Moore was saying that gay people must be celibate but as people, their giftedness must be celebrated just like all of the other people in your church with a bent to sin.
I wonder though, if you feel the need to call out all sins in your church. Do you call out the gluttons on their sin?
I remember when I began preaching 35 years ago, divorced people who remarried for “unscriptural” reasons were told by churches I served that they were “living” in adultery. They were told that the only way they could be acceptable to God was to live celibate lives. Sound familiar to what gay Christ followers are being told today as represented by this article? Since those days, our churches have developed a more “evolved” theology of remarriage for the divorced that we see as more redemptively centered, more in line with the gospel. Conservative churches today ordain the divorced and remarried into leadership at every level, and I believe that is appropriate, yet we demand gay Christians must live celibate lives to be acceptable at any level. However, articles like this one remind me of the beginnings of movement toward something new and less wooden regarding divorce and remarriage and our overall approach to Scripture as, not a rule book but an unfolding story of redemption, in past years.
I think this article falls short of being realistic about human sexuality, but if it represents a new trajectory, a breach in the dam, then I am grateful for the progress
1. It is interesting in one Old Testament “list of things abominable before the LORD,” that homosexuality is #ll on that “Hit Parade”; a list of 13 other abominations. Where is “our” outrage at the others? I suspect all are equal abominations, but the writer listed it far down the list. As Yogi said, “You could look it up!”
2. “We” understand that “God opposes the proud.” What seems to be most irritating to disciples of Jesus is the “proud” factor among homosexuals. All have sins in their life, but it seems “pridefulness” concerning any sin is not the proper path for a disciple of Jesus””since “God opposes the proud.” Think one should show up in the congregation and begin acting “proud” of whatever sin du jour one thinks of?
While I understand the premise of this article, there are several areas I disagree with. If you say that the propensity for sin/gifts are at the core of our beings, you would be saying that Adam and Eve had a propensity to disobey. That, in my mind, negates the choice factor. Also, being personally acquainted with several situations that have resulted in same-sex attraction, it is a fact that environmental influences tend to cause this result. So again, I cannot say that it is a core part of a person necessarily. While I totally agree with loving and not being hateful to anyone, and that all sin is equal in being wrong/bad, I don’t think we should avoid saying what the Bible says about each sin.
The article and the following responses are thought-provoking and a real eye-opener. I’m very convinced following the line of discussion that the end is so near. The perilous time spoken of in 2 Timothy 3 is now here. No sin can be excused while none is bigger than the rest. While manifesting the love and compassion of Christ to the sinner, the sin has to be condemned. Whether it is lying, slothfulness, murder, homosexuality, and all the likes. Our liberty must not be taken for licentiousness. Maranatha.
@M – Your question about me calling out the folks at the church I preach at indicates that you missed MY point. When you begin to peel back the layers to Moore’s article, and I’ve read it many times, his point is toleration of sin, plain and simple.
To answer your question in the simplest way possible, yes, I do call out people for their gluttony, their pride, their lack of compassion. But your question is so typical of many people today who try to justify sinful behavior. Instead of reading Moore’s article critically, it appears that you would rather question MY practices as a minister of the gospel while ignoring the article altogether.
@Kris L. You’re hilarious.
While I may not agree with everything said by Moore, I don’t see this article as intending to excuse sin. It is trying to draw a distinction between something inside that draws toward sin and actually sinning (i.e. the temptation is not the sin). Man wasn’t created sinful, but sin is powerful and deceitful. Paul recognizes the power of sin in Christians in Romans 7 as he describes his own battles and their results. It seems to me that Moore wants us to examine our attitudes toward someone who faces the temptation but isn’t giving in to it, and certainly not celebrating it.
The power of sin is significantly weakened in the Christian, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence is to “strengthen the inner man.” I can respect a person who (whether as the result of biology or environment) faces a strong temptation and is able to resist. While I don’t give up hope that God could help them to rid themselves of the temptation altogether, that simply doesn’t happen in every case. If we cast aside everyone who consistently struggles with the same sin (without giving in), we’ll have few people left. But this point of view is far from excusing the sin. The sin is awful and ugly. It is unnatural and an abomination””all sins share these characteristics, in a way. Some are less natural than others. Some are more egregious than others (I agree that all sins are equal in their result of causing us to “fall short of the glory of God,” but not that they all receive equal punishment or are equally loathed by God). We should continue to condemn all sin. We should hold ourselves and our congregations to high standards. Christians in the Bible are held to very high standards. Paul even tells the Corinthian church to “expel the immoral brother.” Our emphasis on holiness must not be diminished in our quest to exemplify love. This doesn’t mean, however, equating temptation with the sin itself (even Jesus was tempted).
In summary, I see same-sex attraction as a temptation and I think that is what Moore is getting at. Giving in to that temptation, whether outwardly or inwardly, is a sin. If someone is faced with the temptation, but resists in all ways, that is good. It seems that he may dismiss rehabilitation too quickly. I still admire the goal of getting rid of that temptation (whichever it may be) altogether, through the process of sanctification.
On a side note: I think that the whole bit about stereotyping and equating same-sex attractedness with artistic abilities could have been left out. Is it not better to examine the gifts and spiritual state of the person individually when considering how he or she may contribute?
Christians should relate to all people the same . . . with the LOVE of Jesus Christ. There is no separate standard, and Christ did not adjust his views based on what sin people were involved in. (However, you might want to research and discuss the unpardonable sin.) He simply said, he had come to call sinners to repentance. That is exactly what we are called to do. We were all born with that Adamic nature. But, the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit of God knows no bounds. “If a man be in Christ, he is a new creature . . . old things have passed away. Behold, all things are become new.” The Bible lists all kinds of sins throughout the messaging of these great warriors of God. Were not going tiptoe through the tulips here. Sin IS Sin, and the Blood of Christ was shed for the SIN of the world. He is well able to deliver from all unrighteousness. Not WE, but HE! Without the cleansing of Christ, we would all be lost. People are searching and desirous for truth. And the Scripture states that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, and whom the Son of Man hath set free is free INDEED!
Their is only One Sin God will not forgive. blasphemy. The eternal sin Mark 3:28-29 (blasphemes
against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven)
@M, Thanks for the compliment, but I wasn’t kidding.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone.
The anonymous writer who responded to Mark Moore’s brief article makes valid points. I personally know a young man who has same-sex attraction, yet he’s been a disciple of Jesus longer than I. We talk often, pray and serve together in the singles’ ministry of our church family. His struggle may be with same-sex attraction; mine is with opposite sex attraction.
However, since we do have a relationship with the Lord Jesus, first and foremost—these struggles become battles because we take the time to call and/ or meet together often for accountability. And that personal accountability is something a lot more so-called Christians need in their lives on a daily basis. After all, does not Jesus say, “By this all men and women will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” [John 13:35]. And amongst many ways to show the love of God, especially to one another is to be in one another’s life, and not just on some sort of weekly Sunday morning type of weak-kneed Christianity.
Although it’s been said before, still, it bears repeating, it matters not what temptation a person has a tendency to give in to; as disciples, we are promised: “And God is faithful; HE will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, HE will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” [1 Corinthians 10:13]. For this subject of “same-sex attraction” it’s called “abstinence” and/or “celebacy.” Plus, I don’t know if anyone has of yet mentioned it, but one of the fruits of the Spirit plays directly into our shared committment to being abstinent for God . . . it’s called “SELF-CONTROL.”
So whether it is temptation to lie, steal, slander, lust, whatever; Jesus has been down this same road. HE has and will give us the same victory. Sometimes we will sin; but then, that’s also why God is the God of second chances. It’s called repentance, and continuing to walk in the Light of Christ [1 John 1:7-9].
Finally, while we’re at it, here is another appropriate suggestion. If you are really struggling with sexual impurity, go to http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com. These people provide a confidential Bible-based, and Christ-centered course on a number of things we humans can and are enslaved in. No strings attached; read the personal testimonies for yourself. Then when you decide “enough is enough” and want to committ to getting free of “the sin that so easily entangles” you . . . then enroll. The SCF staff will even provide you with an online mentor to offer advice, feedback, and prayer. And going through your chosen course is IN ADDITION to having an accountability partner in your church family . . .
Randall, thanks for your post. It encourages me that there are men like you out there. I’m 38 and have struggled most of my life with being a Christian who is also gay. I should clarify that when I use the word “gay,” I simply mean that I am same-sex oriented: 100%, unfortunately. And though it is a part of me (like having green eyes), I choose to identify as a follower of Christ, not a homosexual. I don’t let my particular manifestation of the Fall dictate who I am as a person. And frankly, that is an unusual attitude for any gay person to hold nowadays. The church is quick to love the sinner and hate the sin, but to most gay people the two are one and the same. “How can you both love me and hate me?” they wonder.
As a Christian, I believe the Bible is 100% the inspired and complete Word of God. Like the author of this article, I have considered the “pro-gay theology” (and I daresay my stake in the outcome was much higher than his), and I was grieved to find that I just couldn’t buy into it. The Holy Spirit kept gently pointing me to the hard truth: a marriage of one man and one woman is God’s only allowable context for sexual expression. For me, this conviction means a life of celibacy. That word has been thrown around a lot in the various responses to this article, but as one on the inside of this, I truly wonder if anyone on the outside can understand.
The author says: “All persons outside a heterosexual marriage are called to celibacy, and so the call to sexual purity is hardly unique for the homosexual community. Is this a tough path to walk? Honestly, I have little concept of what a lifetime of celibacy would be like, so I”™ll make no disingenuous claims to understand it and no unrealistic promises of supernatural power to overcome temptations. As a theologian, however, I can say that celibacy places you on a biblical pedestal, not in the marginalized shadows of the church.”
First off, I need to say that the call to celibacy for the homosexual Christian IS unique. For me, embracing celibacy was acknowledging a death to my dreams and my longings for an intimate relationship with another living person. All my secret hopes of the fairytale ending of having someone to “do life with” are gone: coming home after work and telling how my day went; having children; sleeping in late on a Saturday morning and sharing coffee while reading the paper together; going on vacations; gathering as a couple with family at the holidays; being an “us;” being comforted when I was sad; being known by and knowing another person deeply as the result of a lifetime of all the little things married people take for granted (and single heterosexuals at least have the potential to take for granted one day). So many dreams . . . gone. It is very painful.
But what is amazing is that Jesus has been there all along, and though He has required this of me, I wouldn’t know Him as deeply as I do know if it hadn’t been for this struggle–a struggle which has brought me to the end of myself again and again–a struggle which has shown me my own sinfulness, my own brokenness, my own desperate, utter need for a Savior. And every day while the other 96% of Christian men are out there dealing with their “normal” lusts, I am struggling too, and not just to resist the obvious temptations, but to resist the temptation to despair in facing a life of loneliness.
What men like me need are Christian brothers and sisters to come along side and just “sit with us,” like Job’s friends did. Friends to help us grieve, help us struggle well, and know us as complete persons (no longer hiding). Randall, I would give anything to have a friend like you–someone who could look past the gay and just love me as a struggling brother in Christ. I have been rejected by nearly every Christian male friend I have shared my story with. That hurts so bad, I just can’t tell you. Yet still, Christ has loved me through several dear friends in my life. He is breaking down my long-held belief that I am unloveable.
We are all “damaged goods,” and it’s only when we meet that reality head-on that we truly grasp the magnitude of what Christ has done for us.
I’d encourage anyone with a heart for ministering to people like me to read “Washed and Waiting” by Wesley Hill. It certainly changed my life. Wesley discusses his own road to celibacy as a follower of Christ who is same-sex attracted.
I’m glad Christians are finally having discussions like this. I’ll close with this: just some Scriptures that have comforted me at those times when I’m worn down and feel I can’t go on.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is wholesome and my burden is light and easy to be borne” (Matthew 11:29, 30).
“Woe to you lawyers! For you load men with oppressive burdens hard to bear, and you do not personally touch the burdens with one of your fingers (to help)” (Mark 11:46).
“But Jesus looked at them and said, with men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).
“Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
I read your article concerning the (bad) attitude of the church toward homosexuals. Firstly, may I commend you for attempting to address the matter. As one who has experienced this (former) lifestyle I can assure you that your observation/s, that persons leaving this lifestyle, and who exhibit certain odd mannerisms, are not generally welcomed with open arms by most churches, is indeed correct. I assume that these effeminate mannerisms are what you are referring to? The church does need to address this behaviour. Who knows how many have been withheld from salvation?
In your article you state that some (actually should be: ‘many’) try to change scripture to justify the practice of homosexuality. I agree with you that their interpretation is incorrect. There can be no doubt, in the mind of the reader of scripture, of God’s position on homosexuality. It is a sin. However, with regard to all your other observations as to what the causes of homosexuality are, and the reasons you have given which are supposed to govern our attitude toward them are, although sincere, I am afraid to say profoundly incorrect.
You approach homosexuality as a behaviour disorder and not as an identity disorder or spiritual state. By doing so it totally changes God’s position with regard to sin, redemption and righteousness. God does not address behaviour or attitudes. God addresses the condition of the spirit man – which leads to a change in my behaviour, attitude and desires as I complete the process of transformation. Scripture clearly tells me that I am spiritually dead. For God to command me to change my behaviour is spiritually, physically and emotionally impossible for me to accomplish. I cannot change my desires as I want to – that is the whole issue! Scripture was given to reveal to us our spiritual state and God’s plan of redemption for us. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the sinful nature and it is the eventual end for all mankind. The problem, with the church, is that she views homosexuality as an external problem and must, therefore, require an external solution. The reason why men like you reach out to doctrines such as these is because you believe – that as you have never felt such desires – some are born so and others are not. The idea that a man such as you could have such a desire is an irreconcilable and alien concept. When we study scriptures like Romans we should do so with the attitude and mindset that God is addressing the state of all mankind. In Romans 1 Paul states what this condition is. He firstly points out the consequence of separation from God. God pours out His wrath on mankind. How does He do this? By withdrawing! He leaves man to his own devices. In other words God is saying to mankind: ‘If I separate myself from you, you will no longer have control over your mind and body (choices and desires) and you will eventually destroy yourself’. This Paul tells us is what eventually starts to manifest. They lose control over themselves and what is the eventual end of this state of being? Sexual perversion! This must be and will be the end for all men. Notice when Paul states: ‘even the men’ and ‘even the women’ He does not say: some of the men and some of the women. Neither does he say: some manifested so and others so. The spiritual state for ALL mankind is the same.
To further illustrate how God does not address behaviour and attitude but only the spirit man let me present to you the following. In the Gospels Jesus speaks to the disciples on two occasions. In the first address He calls them together and makes a statement something like this (I am writing in my own words): ‘If a man has a lustful thought regarding a woman then that man has already committed adultery’. The second address goes something like this: “If a man has a hateful thought toward another then that man has already committed murder”. Now, on the surface it appears as if Jesus is trying to teach good behaviour and attitude. However, this is not the case. What The Lord is actually saying to them is this: (again in my own words) ‘You are all adulterers and murderers – the whole lot of you. It doesn”™t matter that you have not yet committed the act or deed. You are spiritually dead and therefore have no power over your thoughts and desires. Power can only come from the spirit dimension. All of you will eventually commit the most heinous of sins and crimes – it”™s just a matter of time. Salvation can only come if you allow your spirits to be regenerated and to be further transformed by the renewing of your minds by the word’.
In America, various forms of ministerial groups and bodies have sprung up claiming to have a mandate from the Holy Spirit to minister to the repentant homosexual or ex-gay. Groups such as Exodus int, Narth and the like. I have studied their doctrines and methods and I can categorically state here and now, without any doubt, they are not established by the Lord and what they teach is the worst form of heresy! All of them, without exception, centre their approach on behaviour and behavioural adjustment procedures. All claim to possess a ‘program’ that if entered into will produce change of sexual orientation. All claim to have marked success. However, if deeper research is made one discovers that this is not the case. The internet and YouTube are full of accounts of men and women who entered these so-called adjustment programs – some willingly – desperately seeking a solution for their condition, others forced to (mostly minors) by their families. Virtually all testify to failed so-called “˜therapy”™. To get to the point: these programs are always designed to convince the ‘patient’ that his or her unwanted sexual feelings have come about as a result of them, in the case of men, not acting, functioning and making the choices that ‘real’ men would choose or make. The reason, I am told, for these feelings to have been conceived within me is due to an absent father figure (or overbearing mother – or both) which resulted in me developing a confused sexual identity in the formative years of my sexual identity. I am apparently, therefore, seeking a gender identity replacement in pursuing sexual relations with men. I am supposed to have confused the difference between sex and identity! In the case of women, vice versa, etc. In other words: my sexuality will start to ‘normalise’ as I start to ‘act like a man’ as I apply the various techniques I am taught. I am also supposed to start “˜normalising”™ as I develop “˜normal”™ heterosexual relationships with both men and women. What the patient discovers is that these behavioural changes bring about no change in orientation whatsoever. These theories and hypothesis have come about as a result of men falling under the belief that straight men are ‘normal’ and the homosexual are ‘abnormal’. Although homosexual behaviour is abnormal to God, in the world of the unsaved there is no such thing as normal. All are abnormal to God! The only one who is normal to God is the one who manifests, by the power of a renewed spirit and a transformed mind, the fruit of the Spirit. Heterosexuality is not an automatic ticket to heaven! Heterosexuality is not the goal! Righteousness is the goal! Behavioural change is the effect ““ or result. In conservative and religious cultures there exist a number of wrong stereotypes. One of these is the belief that only effeminate men can be gay! Nothing further could be from the truth! Effeminate men are easily recognisable as they cannot hide their orientation. One can also not say that all effeminate men are gay. Most are – but not all are. Most gay men are ‘normal’ average, boy next door types. Interested in sports, etc, etc. They are just able to hide their orientation. As we see moral standards relaxing, and even falling away all together, we will see them revealing themselves more and more. They just want to be sure that when they reveal their identity they will be safe from persecution.
Why does none of these techniques and therapies work? They fail because they attempt to change the spirit man through behavioural change, modification adjustments and psychological rehabilitation. This is like putting the cart before the horse. It will never work. Furthermore, failure is a certain guarantee. A psychologist can be of use to a child with a speech impediment or a person suffering from some trauma resulted from loss, etc, etc. A psychologist, using standard psychological techniques, can offer no assistance to the homosexual who wishes to leave the lifestyle. Homosexuality is a spiritual condition and not a sexual or emotional condition. It manifests in and through the sexual and the emotional! Scripture tells me that by one man”™s offense sin entered into all. In many, many instances men and woman who have been promised changed feelings through these methods discover these promises to be false and many end up losing faith altogether. This is the most tragic of all. However, can a person who once was in the homosexual lifestyle start to develop sexual feelings for the opposite sex? Of course yes! Absolutely. Can feelings for the same sex dissipate and disappear completely? Hell yes! Jesus said: “˜he who has been set free is free indeed’ and ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’ If a “˜normal”™ heterosexual man develops an addiction to sex and becomes born again, we do not consider it acceptable for him to continue such behaviour. Can he change his desires and thoughts by the power of The Word and The Holy Spirit? Of course! We would expect nothing less. It may take several years to do so ““ especially in extreme cases. If He can change his sexual desires why, then, can the homosexual not do the same? All my desires, feelings and emotions can change ““ and must change! Change came for me when I learnt what my spiritual state was and what the consequences would eventually be for me if I remained in that state. Change comes through revelation. Am I not a new creation now? Has not all things been made new for me? Do I not possess the mind of Christ? Have I not been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light?
In conclusion, let me explain it in another way. Should a normal straight man (who believes that nothing could ever make him be attracted to the same sex) start flirting with sexual impurity he will soon find himself in a place of addiction. At this point he may find himself not yet open to sexual experience with the same sex. However, should he choose to continue he will ““ even if it takes years ““ eventually arrive at the destination of total sexual perversion. It is at this point that he will say to himself: “˜Now I am prepared to do anything with anyone”™. All men who have experienced this level of sexual perversion will testify to this. Many will say had someone told them 10 years before that they would ever have done something such as this they, possibly, would have punched that one for suggesting such. This is the end for all who reject God! It is true! I will concede, for the sake of argument, some might not be exclusively gay. But as far as I am concerned anyone who touches another member of the same sex for sexual gratification is gay. Just because one man comes out the womb and discovers that he is already there and another man requires time and a sinful environment to reveal his spiritual condition does not mean that we are different spiritually. That just identifies differences in personalities. My personality may determine areas of sin which might be the most attractive for me to begin expressing my sinful nature in and through. My spiritual condition will determine where we will all end up. For example: Whilst it is true not all will become serial killers ““ all will, eventually, commit murder. Maybe not all will be womanisers like Casanova ““ all will commit adultery. Maybe not all will become kleptomaniacs ““ all will steal from their neighbour, etc, etc. We all possess the same spiritual identity. I end with Romans 3. Paul is quoting from the Old Testament:
There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God; They have all gone out of the way; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes!
This “˜them”™ that Scripture is identifying is the same as us today! We are all the same Galatians 5: 17 KJV states: “˜For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”™ This verse is phrased such in The Message: “˜For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.”™
This is a fantastic discussion! The thoughtfulness and civility of most of the commenters, considering how divisive this topic normally is, is a testament to the quality of The Christian Standard and its readership.
Thanks, Mark, for writing an article that causes each of us to pause, seek God’s wisdom, and consider how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Shaun – your hunger and thirst for righteousness inspires me. I, for one, would be happy to call you my friend.
Grace and peace.
Great article, however, I believe people should keep their sexual desires to themselves. If you are Gay, don’t blame it on God or other people. I do not go proclaiming I am “straight” i do not care if you are “straight” or “gay” , just do not expect special treatment! We all have our “cross to bear” for we must all stand before God someday! People are different, and we take the “hand” we have been dealt and live a life that is pleasing to god, for some, “better to marry” and for others, celibacy is also mentioned, so let scripture speak and lets try to follow.
What was the first command given in Scripture? It was God telling Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), and this command still stands even after the fall. So if man is supposed to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth, and clearly God made humans as sexual creatures, how could someone claim that they are a celibate gay Christian? This makes no sense, and to say that being gay but you don’t act on it, is absurd, because the sin starts in the heart. I am not bashing anyone, but this disguises me to the utmost. When Christ sets someone free, they are free indeed (John 8:36). The church needs to be honest and admit that THEY DONT KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE, and let me say, yes, I am a dedicated Christian, Bible teacher, and apostle to the entire body of Christ Yeshua (Jesus). It’s so sad when the church tells people to just remain celibate and live for Christ, while dealing with their SSA feelings. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us to the direct answer, as opposed to guessing, or trying to use scientific research. There is total healing for people from all walks of life. Any time Yeshua healed people, they were restored to the natural state. In Mark 3:5 it states that Christ Yeshua healed the man with the withered hand, and that his withered hand was restored as whole AS THE OTHER. There is healing in the Word(Christ). Psalms 107:20 states that God sent His Word and healed them from all their destructions.
Ah, honesty! We don’t know! When your son or daughter announces that he or she is gay after struggling against it for years, it will surely affect your perspective. It’s not likely you’ll tell him he’s bound for Hell, and throw him out.
I appreciate the compassionate, open approach of this article and most of the comments, particularly those of David McVey, Shawn, and a couple others. You do not know how many people you have blessed and comforted. I am acquainted with Christians who personally struggle with same-sex attraction. How I wish people in the church would welcome them with open arms and the loving attitudes I see reflected in the article and so many of the comments.
This is the stupidest article I’ve ever read. This is why countless people are leaving churches. Bigotry disguised as righteousness.
Mark (I hope you read these comments),
A copy of this article was pasted to the OCC Talks: Homosexuality and the Church group on Facebook, and I responded there. I’m not sure if you read that group’s messages, so I wanted to forward my response (from the group) as a comment on your article itself.
If you can view my email address here on the site, feel free to contact me for a personal update on my life (it’s an intriguing story “” I’m in Israel now, as you might know). I hope you are well.
— My Response (from the Facebook group) —
I love Mark Moore. In fact, I love so many of the great people who were there for me when I came out while at Ozark. Mark never had a bad word to say, and I appreciate that even today if I were to run into him, he would bear a smile and a warm greeting, ask me about where my life has taken me and genuinely be interested in what I had to report to him. He’s an amazing man with deep insight into the human condition in so many senses (and I say this as one who disagrees with him completely on his theological positions).
On this issue, however, I think it’s safe to say that he hasn’t gone far enough. Because he teaches at Ozark (this is my assumption), there are things that he is allowed to go along with and things that he is not allowed to go along with. He stated that the linguistic arguments are unconvincing, and I would say that this is true in and of themselves. Yet, taken as a whole together with the modern sense of human sexuality and psychology, the general “don’t judge others” theme of Jesus’ preaching and the fact that so many gays and lesbians choose to be Christians and to struggle with a religion that, let’s face it, has hated them for the past 2000 years “” his answer is, to put it lightly and steal from the above contributor, unsatisfactory. It’s not about the linguistic arguments. It is the linguistic arguments that create the basis for doubt of how the Church has treated gays and lesbians throughout its history, and it is the sense of social justice that we have today that compels us to look further, and this taken with the stories of those Christian gays and lesbians who have finally found a voice for their struggle in the modern Gay Rights Movement and over the Internet.
Perhaps Mark can be forgiven on this account, though, if we create an addendum for his position: that Christians should *assume* that a gay person is celibate (even if they are in a long-term relationship) and not ask questions about other people’s bedroom activities, and the Church should come out strongly against harassment and ill-treatment of gays and lesbians in the Church and society in general. That’s a compromise I think we could all live with.
This is by far the best article and series of responses I’ve ever read on this difficult topic. I can’t think of anything to add that hasn’t already been addressed. Gabe, I can only think that you’ve been treated poorly in the past. I am sorry for that.
No sin is greater than another. Human beings are sinful beings. WE have to strive to overcome all our fleshly desires to follow God/Jesus. Saying that homosexuality is any worse than, say, Unmarried sex between the opposite sex pair, is wrong. It is the Same. Read the ten commandments. Where does it mention that Gay’s are the number one target that righeous Christians can hate. That’s the main thing I see out in the world are the Haters’ believing that God’s word will justify them judging others. People are people. It wasn’t long ago that the races were supposed to stay separate by law and I’m sure by the Bible. Best wishes to all those who struggle with being Gay and Christian in America. Jesus loves them just as they are. Jesus hopes we will all repent and do God’s will, no matter our sins.
“6 percent of the male population and 4.5 percent of females (though some studies estimate half that)”
Then the studies are wrong because the percentages are significantly higher.
It don’t take a weather man to look around and see the weather.