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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Celibate Homosexual

Back in 2008 when California was heating up the discussion over gay mirage as if it was a real thing, I wrote an entry titled "Homosexuality is NOT a Sin". I repeated the thought more recently in an entry titled "Is it a sin to be gay?" The idea was that the sin involved was in the choices people make, not in their temptations. "Temptation." I said, "is not sin." As far as it went, it was true.

The term "gay" or "homosexual" these days is typically not necessarily a reference to a behavior, but to an "orientation". For instance, sociologists have noted a tendency among homosexual women -- women who classify themselves as "lesbian" -- to end up in platonic, sexless relationships. They still call themselves "lesbians", but they're just not doing anything "lesbian". They're not doing anything "heterosexual", either. They're not engaging in sexual behavior. So "gay" or "homosexual" or "lesbian" (if you prefer in the case of women) would not necessarily refer to acts, but inclinations -- an orientation. And, as I've expressed on multiple occasions, defining oneself by this inclination seems foolish and arguing that "I'm born that way" is neither proven nor an excuse for any selection of behavior in that direction.

I think, however, that it is important to be clear here. While some states are outlawing so-called "conversion therapy" (or "reparative therapy") and others are trying to outlaw it nationally, it's an important question to revisit. Is it a sin to be "homosexual" (in the sense that it is used today)?

I still believe that temptation is not sin, but the moment we go there we appear to say, "So, leave the poor Christian who has same-sex desires alone as long as he/she is not acting on them." And that is a problem. Why? Because in the "same-sex attraction" there is nothing biblically sound to go to. The Bible affirms the marriage bed (Heb 13:4). In heterosexual attraction, then, there is a viable, godly, God-honoring direction that can come from it -- marriage. But the only thing that a "same-sex attraction" can take you to is sin. So, if you suffer from kleptomania, it would be considered good if you practice self-control and don't steal, but it would be more Christ-like if you weren't tempted to steal. In that sense, then, while the temptation is not sin, neither is the temptation something you can just "manage". It is something that should be handed over to Christ, repeatedly, again and again, wash, rinse, repeat. The goal, you see, is not to avoid bad fruit or even to produce good fruit, but to be good trees (Luke 6:43). The process of sanctification is just that, to conform us to the image of Christ.

The Bible is clear. Homosexual behavior is sin. Can't change that. On the other hand, clearly "reparative therapy" isn't a sure thing. Can't change that, either. The truth is that the problem, whether in "same-sex attraction" or heterosexual lust or the tendency toward greed or whatever other temptation we face, is a problem of the heart. A "twelve-step anti-theft program" isn't what's needed any more than "conversion therapy". A renewed mind (Rom 12:2), a new heart (Ezek 11:19), God at work in you (Phil 2:13) is what is needed. Real change is needed. So while the non-stealing thief is better off than the stealing thief and the celibate homosexual is better off than the practicing one, every one of us sinners needs to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14), to be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). Pick your temptation. We all need this. "I'm not doing that sin" is better than doing it, but "God has transformed my heart" is best.

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