Godliness is Not Heterosexuality

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TylerR's picture

Editor
TylerR's picture

Editor

This article is nothing more than a bit of syrupy sweet, smoothly written trash from the Gospel Coalition. The man who wrote it is unworthy to be a Pastor if he actually believes this. Here is the crux of his misguided drivel:

So I was helped enormously—hopefully like everybody else listening—by the reply of another panel member at that conference. A heterosexual minister, he runs his church’s support group for same-sex attracted church members. He’s also the married father of two sons. He said something like this: “We, most of all, want our boys to grow up as godly and mature Christians. Some of the most godly and mature Christians we know are same-sex attracted. So why should we be so afraid of them growing up as same-sex attracted?”

I now propose to draw out the implications of this idiocy from the rest of Lev 18. Ask yourself this, if you would:

  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their sisters?" (cf. Lev 18:6)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their mothers?" (cf. Lev 18:7)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their granddaughters?" (cf. Lev 18:10)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their aunts?" (cf. Lev 18:12)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their uncles?" (cf. Lev 18:14)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their daughter-in-law?" (cf. Lev 18:15)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with their neighbor's wives?" (Lev 18:20)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to sacrifice their babies alive in a burning fire?" (cf. Lev 18:21)
  • "So why should we be so afraid of them growing up wanting to have sex with animals?" (cf. Lev 18:23)

I mean, after all, that stuff doesn't matter. Ed Shaw says being like Jesus is "the true biblical definition of godliness." How could I have been so blind for so long? Thanks, Ed! I owe you one. You really opened my eyes today! Jesus really doesn't care if you have a sexual fixation on your neighbor's wife, your neighbor's cat, your daughter-in-law, your mother, or murdering your own child - Jesus just wants you to be Christ-like and Gospel-centered! Why didn't I connect those dots before? 

This man is a disgrace, and if his church has any theological maturity, they'll press their deacons to approach him and question him on the implications of this foolish and blasphemous article. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

RichardH_UK's picture

Let me start this post by saying that I am from England and it is a very sad reflection on the church in this country, that (as a whole) it is very inclusive in it’s attitude towards homosexuality. Even among “so called” evangelicals, there are those who argue that we have been misinterpreting Scripture on this matter (most notably Steve Chalke); many others have blurred the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable.

In this context I am delighted by the article by Doug Wilson.

None of us is sinless; regrettably - although I seek to live a godly life - I still continue to rebel against God by doing and thinking things I shouldn’t and by not doing and thinking things I should. I am aware of areas of weakness in my Christian life; therefore in order to purse righteous living I target these areas with prayer, I memorise and regularly revisit relevant Bible texts, I take action to avoid areas of temptation and ask others to pray and hold me accountable.

In this sense, I would rather have my daughter (I have only one daughter, no sons) struggle with SSA, but seek to live a godly life, than have my daughter be hetrosexual but not seek to live a godly life. That said I would rather than she didn’t struggle with SSA in the first place.

Where Shaw’s article breaks down (and where Wilson’s is so pertinent) is that  Shaw’s position legitimises SSA if it isn’t acted on. Would we (as implied by Wilson) take the same approach to paedophilia or beastility? The danger is that this says to someone who has SSA, that this is acceptable if it is not acted upon. It is not just semantics: there is - in my mind at least - a clear distinction between someone who merely accepts that they are SSA and someone who struggles with SSA (and who - as part of this struggle - seeks to change it).

In addition, we wouldn’t take the same position with regard to non-sexual sins: take the thief who becomes a Christian - we wouldn’t say it’s okay to desire things just so long as you don’t act on it; or take pride - we wouldn’t say that’s okay so long as you don’t do anything about it such as boasting or showing off or being envious of others. The inner attitude matters!

Our thought lives are extremely important in the context of holiness (see for example Jesus’s instruction on murder and lust in Matthew 6:21ff and James’s warning of dangerous desires in James 1:13ff). Whether it is homosexuality or any other worldly and corruptible desire we must strive to overcome them in the pursuit of holiness.

Joel Shaffer's picture

The problem with this article from the gospel coalition website (which is taken from a book) is that we don't know what he means by same-sex attraction.  Because of the vagueness, what I gathered is that both Doug Wilson and Tyler R are equating same sex attraction with sexual desire.  By the way, a  very helpful conversation over same sex attraction and sexual orientation was debated on sharper iron about a year ago..  http://sharperiron.org/filings/112514/30367  

I am going to quote Greg L from that conversation and ask you  a couple questions Tyler.  Do you have a problem with someone saying, that "I have certain temptations, certain tendencies, you might even say a certain orientation to same-sex attraction that I didn't ask for, don't understand, and constantly battle?" If the person does not give in to temptation in both thought and deed, is that "same-sex attraction" sin?  

I am going to give you an example of what we are dealing with in our church right now.  I am one of the elders at our church, but I am not the elder who is counseling him right now.   

A certain man that has struggled with same-sex attraction has begun attending our church over the last 3 months.  His wife (whom we've never met) just divorced him because of his same-sex attraction, yet he wanted to stay married to her because he believes in Biblical marriage.  Although they have two young children, their sexual intimacy had been very very difficult because he struggles with with impotency.  Yet with his former life (experimentation with homosexuality and homosexual porn), that wasn't the case.  He tried counseling, memorizing Bible verses, praying over and over and over again asking God to help him have a natural sexual attraction to his wife, but with no avail.  He was willing to take viagra or whatever to help him with the impotency, but his wife felt that if he was a real Christian and was living a godly life, then he would be more attracted to her and they would have a normal sex life that Christians are supposed to have and they wouldn't need the extra help.    So she divorced him on the grounds of immorality because she equated his actions of not being able to sexually perform as a rejection of heterosexuality and and embracing of homosexuality (even though he was faithful to her).   And of course their fundamentalist church believed that he wasn't doing enough to change and were fine with the divorce.    

When he talks about his same-sex attraction, he has never indicated that having a sexual desire for men is ok because of what scripture says in James 1:14-15 and he strives to live out Romans 8:13.   Through all of this, he still holds out hope that God will bring him and his wife back together again,   If not, he will stay celibate and pursue Godliness and try to be the best father he can be to his children.   

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Thanks for your response. You asked:

Do you have a problem with someone saying, that "I have certain temptations, certain tendencies, you might even say a certain orientation to same-sex attraction that I didn't ask for, don't understand, and constantly battle?" If the person does not give in to temptation in both thought and deed, is that "same-sex attraction" sin?  

The answer is no. The response you described above is the proper Christian response, just as it would be with the sin of pornography, drunkenness, drug abuse, adultery, etc. 

What I fear is that Ed Shaw, and others, are opening the door to legitimizing besetting sins, to legitimizing the notion that a Christian shouldn't feel ashamed and repentant when these sins threaten to move us to immoral thoughts and actions. If this is what they're driving at, then they're legitimizing thoughts that should be fought against and suppressed because they're unholy. No Christian should fall into the trap of rationalizing a fixation and attraction for a particular sin, be it homosexuality or anything else.

This is what I fear Ed Shaw is speaking to. I find that position to be a fundamental betrayal of the Gospel, which is why my initial response was so strongly worded. If that, in fact, is Shaw's position, then it is a betrayal of the Gospel. We all have besetting sins. We're all wrong if we rationalize their existence and hold on our life. 

Because it will probably be asked, yes, I do believe people can be born with an innate and sinful sexual desire for the persons of the same gender. It's a fallen world. Some folks are born with a propensity to alcohol abuse. Others have violent tempers. Others are prone to drug addiction. Others are plagued with pornography issues. Still others (a minority) are plagued with same-sex attraction. There is no excuse for rationalizing or legitimizing that lust in your life if you're an adopted child of God. Our natural desire will be to always be fighting against those sinful urges and attractions, not excusing them.  

I am saddened to hear about the treatment the man you mentioned received. I believe some independent Baptist churches don't know how to deal with this issue with love and firmness. They have a knee-jerk reaction of disgust. That's not the way to go, Biblically or practically.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

For those who are interested, I just finished a short read in this subject."Is God Anti-Gay?" The man who wrote it, a pastor, has struggled with SSA his whole adult life. He drew a distinction between SSA and homosexuality, although at times I wish he would have been clearer with the terminology. Overall I thought he was quite clear on the biblical testimony regarding homosexuality. I recommend it for anyone wanting a short read on the subject.

I'd be interested to hear everyone's opinions on what they think of a pastor who is single and openly struggles with SSA. I fully believe that a person can have SSA as the result of the fall but it still seems like we are overemphasizing it as a defining characteristic. I for instance could not tell you what my pastor's besetting sin is. It just seems strange to be identified by it as a Christian. 

Greg Long's picture

I'm attaching a pdf of a list of resources on homosexuality we have distributed. I have only listed short, non-academic books that could be used and understood by the average Christian, as well as videos and articles. I have also categorized the books under the heading "What's the best book if...?" according to each one's strength and emphasis.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bughtuxhah9s1gm/ResourcesOnHomosexuality.pdf?dl=0

One that I did not include because I think it is more for those counseling people struggling with homosexuality is Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church. You can read Tim Challies' recommendation of it here: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/love-into-light

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University