What are common misunderstandings that churches/Christians have when approaching the topic of SSA?
I think there should probably be a couple books about this question, right? Let me just list a couple misunderstandings that I’ve run into and hopefully these thoughts can spur you to dig deeper into these issues from really great resources (like “Is God Anti-Gay” by Sam Allberry, or “Same Sex Attraction and the Church” by Ed Shaw, or “What does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality” by Kevin DeYoung).
That homosexuality has a definitive cause. I think we want to believe that there’s some definitive cause of homosexual desire – genetic, environmental, relational. There are some similar themes in the stories of guys who experience homosexuality, but the chicken and egg problem – which came first the experience or the attraction – remains in many of those themes. Here’s the thing: I think, that we think, if we know the cause we can either solve homosexuality, like we’re solving for “x” in a math problem; or that we can avoid ever experiencing homosexuality, or keep our kids from experiencing it. The truth is that sexuality is so irreducibly complex that there isn’t one, single, definable cause. Furthermore, even if there was, I think we need to be disabused of the idea that we can control the hearts of others, or that we can even control our own hearts.
That “born that way,” would mean “ok.” So, if there might be some genetic component to homosexuality, does that mean we have to turn back biblical teaching? Is it possible the bible didn’t account for this possibility? If people are “born that way,” doesn’t that make it ok? I think one of the things we have to realize is that we are all born inclined toward self-serving, pleasure-seeking, self-love. In other words, we’re all born inclined toward sin. King David says in Psalm 51, “I am evil, born in sin, You desire truth within.” That a person might be “born that way” isn’t evidence against the biblical position, rather it is in line with the bible’s understanding of the human condition: we’re all “born that way,” whatever the natural sin pattern is for you, that’s how you were born. But that you were born that way doesn’t mean that it’s your identity. Jesus is in the business of giving people new identities.
That “natural” excludes “choice.” So, you’re saying that if someone might feel homosexual feelings naturally, then it’s not a choice? Nature means “no choice.” I’m not saying that precisely. I am saying that, though a desire might seem like it comes out of nowhere, we all make choices along the way. I know that I made choices to foster my homosexual desires. Those choices have had consequences. I think we need to accept that sexual is more complex than the “born that way” people vs. “it’s a choice” people want us to think it is.
That homosexual sin is a worse or different kinds of sin, needing a different kind of response. In getting ready for a conference about homosexuality, it’s hard not to admit that we might need to treat homosexuality differently than other kinds of human experiences. But if there’s one point I want to get across it’s this: homosexuality isn’t worse sin, it isn’t non-sin, it’s the same kind of sin struggle that everyone has. Therefore, it needs the same kinds of responses. If someone is struggling with drugs or alcohol they might need counsel, daily accountability, and so retreat from the stress of life. If someone is swallowed up by greed they might need counsel, daily accountability, and retreat from the stress of life. If someone is consumed with guilt, disbelieving the goodness of the gospel, they might need … you guessed it. Our culture, both Christian and secular, have turned homosexuality into a new kind of thing. But the bible lists it with other kinds of sexual sin, drunkenness, and disobeying parents. When we get over the political theatrics and the yuck factor, then we can begin walking alongside people who struggle with same-sex attraction in the same way we walk alongside others who struggle with sin. Maybe the problem is that we don’t know how to walk alongside people who struggle in the first place?
Next month (April 8th & 9th), Allan Edwards will be our speaker for the workshops Same-Sex Attraction and the Christian. Please consider joining us for this event. For registration click HERE.