A few days ago, I posed a question to my good friend and pastor Rob Harrison. Rob is a master of teasing out the truth when it requires precision and subtlety. My question is one I have long felt is met with a steamroller approach. The question is, simply, “What should a same-sex attracted Christian do?”
For those of you not familiar with me, let me lay out my understanding. To wit, the Bible is the true Word of God, a God who does not change. Within the Bible, God says homosexuality is sin.
Now, I need to tread carefully here, because I’m talking about this from the outside. I am a happily married man, with a wife and 18 month old. I’m more concerned about the issue because of two former friends who are bisexual. (They are former friends not because of their sexuality, but because I told them, perhaps too bluntly, to pay their rent.) Also, I see a need in our culture at large, of a compassionate and righteous response, to a people whose desires would take them away from God.
To that end, if you’re a Christian struggling with homosexual desires, you may or may not wish to read this with the intent of getting help. However, I would be interested in getting feedback. I might get something wrong. Instead, I’m going to try to target this more at the man or woman in my situation, asking the same question.
I’m not going to pull any punches. There is no single, simple, satisfying answer. The answer can be complex, multi-faceted, incomplete, and, at times, deeply challenging. But I feel like I’ve pulled back a layer or two of the answer which, ultimately, lies within God himself. And it is those discoveries which I wish to share with you.
First, love is greater than sexuality. Belgau, in his study of St. Aelred, points out that our culture has too intertwined love and sexuality. If friendship is defined by love, then we can see that just as there are different kinds of friendships, there are different kinds of loves. Steve Cudworth & Rich Mullins parsed the difference between carnal and worldly friendship, and created space for spiritual friendship, when they wrote “There’s a love that is fiercer/Than the love between friends/More gentle than a mother’s/When her baby’s at her side”.
Second, friendship is greater than sexuality. “Well duh”, you may say. But think about it for a second. It’s common -for us conservative, straight Christians- to try to make our closest friendships (spouses excluded) same-sex. But why? Is that based on a fear of falling for another woman? Or maybe a fear of appearance of impropriety? In either case, I have to say, fear is a dangerous response. I do not say it is incorrect; but I can confidently say it is dangerous.
I am able to form powerful friendships with women, married or not, and learn from them. I have female friends who are more learned, more logical, more giving, or more passionate, than I. Perhaps this situation is helped by the fact I am married; but it is certainly not prohibited by singleness.
Third, there are celibate gay Christians out there, trying to figure things out as best they can. One of the things they point out is that we are culturally indoctrinated to see celibacy as a “fall back” position, a second (distasteful) choice. However, this is not how the Bible puts it! In fact, if anything, the Apostle Paul says celibacy is better than marriage, because there are fewer distractions, and the potential for a greater focus on ministry.
One last thing I will bring out. I don’t recall the mental connection I made, but I was listening to a sermon from Timothy Keller on missions. Although he doesn’t mention homosexuality directly, this sermon is what prompted me to ask Rob the question in the first place: http://www.gospelinlife.com/missions-5778