This Spring Life Counseling Center and Chapelgate Church are excited to welcome Allan Edwards as the presenter for our workshop Same Sex Attraction and the Christian. In this week’s post we invite you to get to know Allan through this interview blog post. Registration for this event is now open on our EVENTS page.
Allan, please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Allan and I live with my wife, Leeanne, son, Everett, and beagle, Charlie, in the little town of Leechburg, PA along the roaring Kiski River (it’s more of a big creek, really). We grow brussel sprouts, tomatoes, and peppers in the summer, watch reruns of “Parks and Rec” and “30 Rock: on Netflix at night. I am also the pastor of a small PCA church in the same town where we live.
I’ve struggled with same-sex attraction since I was a teenager. I don’t really remember any significant time when my desire for sexual intimacy was not directed toward other guys. I went through battles with pornography and acting out on those attractions through high school and college. I struggled with questions about my identity, my value, my salvation, the authority of the Bible, the reality of Jesus, and the realization that homosexual sin wasn’t even my biggest problem. When I was in my early twenties, through discipleship from Tim Geiger at HarvestUSA, I came to understand that the grace of God in the gospel, and the power of repentance and faith, were for me and my struggle.
Why do a workshop dealing with SSA?
Our culture has shifted more rapidly than anyone thought it would and orthodox, historic, biblical sexual ethics are widely condemned. Because, the church is finally talking about same-sex attraction within her walls, and she needs help having that conversation. And because, Christians are struggling with same-sex attraction personally or in their families and need to hear the gospel implications for that struggle, and be given a vision for grace-based, biblically faithful living in the midst of that struggle.
If a person is experiencing SSA does that mean they are gay?
Boy, that’s the twenty-five hundred dollar question, right? There are some people who would have you believe that your identity is inexorably linked to the objects of your sexual attraction. If you’re attracted to the same gender, you are gay. If you’re attracted to the opposite gender, you are hetero. If you’re attracted to both genders, you are bi-sexual. If you are attracted to money you are greedy. If you are attracted to your couch, a bag of chips, and Netflix you are lazy.
Of course, I’m getting a bit absurd and showing my hand here. I think, in short, that “gay” as an identity means something culturally, but is insufficient to describe the whole of the human heart or experience. I believe people who understand themselves to be gay would even say that there’s more to them than who they want to have sex with.
So, I don’t think that sexual attraction is enough to make an identity. For Christians, the Bible teaches that their identity is in Christ. That Christ is the way that they have to understand themselves. More needs to be said about identity and community, but for now I’d encourage people not to pigeonhole themselves based on one part of their heart, powerful though that part of the heart may be.
How is the church doing with balancing a firm stance on the truth and loving those in the LGBT community?
In my opinion the church walks along a tight-rope on this issue. I think the truth is almost always a tight-rope walk. On one side, we fall off into legalism and self-righteous pharisaism. This side has been the side that some corners of the church haven’t so much fallen into accidentally, but jumped into with both feet. Anger, vitriol, and homophobia characterize some of the church’s reaction to the LGBT community, and that community’s success in the broader culture.
The other side we fall into is the open and affirming, culturally accommodating, bible-de-emphasizing side. Many Christians who are appalled by the lack of love on the other side, often times, in what amounts to an over-correction, end up stuffing the truth into the back closet in favor of a watered-downed gospel of mutual tolerance.
Maybe we’re not on a tight rope. Maybe that’s the wrong metaphor. Maybe we’re a rookie wrangler learning how to ride a steer. We hop on thinking we know how to handle things but as we go we keep falling off on one side or the other. We need to learn to stay on but we sometimes fall. But when we do, we climb back on.
What I mean to say is: we have to keep checking ourselves against the Word. Are we showing the kind of love to the LGBT neighbor that we’re to show to all our neighbors whether they believe or not? Are we, when we’re asked, ready to give a gentle and respectful defense of our beliefs (1 Pet. 3)? Is love for God, his word and his way, first in our hearts? Does love for our neighbor flow out of that? What about my own life? Am I living faithfully, humbly, repentantly, gracefully?
If we keep coming back to the Word, maybe we’ll stay on the horse a bit longer this time.
We want to invite you to join us for this event as we hear how we as Christians can interact better with this very important topic. For more information visit our EVENTS. If you have further questions please call 443-419-3884.