Temptation

The Bible and "Gay Christians"—Are We Sending the Right Message?

Debate over whether there can be such a thing as a “gay Christian” has raged for a while now, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Much of the conflict is over deeply incompatible views on the authority of Scripture, and the right basic approach to interpreting it. Some of the conflict, though, might not be necessary at all—because it arises from a combination of unclear language and slightly (but consequentially) faulty interpretation.

If we could clear some of this up, we’ll relate the Bible better to the times we live in and—as much as possible—avoid sending the wrong message. Three principles may help.

1. Scripture doesn’t condemn anyone for an “orientation.”

The currently popular idea of sexual orientation as a person’s unalterable sexual wiring has no equivalent in Scripture. Many of us doubt that orientation, in this sense, is even a thing. That aside, what’s clear is that the Bible nowhere judges anyone for unbidden feelings of attraction toward those of their own sex rather than (or in addition to) those of the opposite sex.

Some passages may seem to do that.

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From the Archives: Getting Pleasure Right

Reprinted with permission from Spiritual Reflections.

In The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer made the following assertion in an insightful chapter entitled, “Why We Must Think Rightly About God”: “The most portentous [weighty] fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God” (p. 9).

Tozer does not mean that one’s words or actions are of little consequence. Rather, he means that one’s view of God serves as the control center for one’s words and actions (Luke 6:43-45, James 4:1). False views about God will naturally and inevitably issue forth in a lifestyle that, despite all pretensions to the contrary, dishonors God (Matthew 23:1-36). Conversely, right beliefs about God have the potential to fuel genuinely righteous deeds.

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Getting Pleasure Right

Reprinted with permission from Spiritual Reflections.1072078_rebirth_5.jpg

In The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer made the following assertion in an insightful chapter entitled, “Why We Must Think Rightly About God”: “The most portentous [weighty] fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God” (p. 9).

Tozer does not mean that one’s words or actions are of little consequence. Rather, he means that one’s view of God serves as the control center for one’s words and actions (Luke 6:43-45, James 4:1). False views about God will naturally and inevitably issue forth in a lifestyle that, despite all pretensions to the contrary, dishonors God (Matthew 23:1-36). Conversely, right beliefs about God have the potential to fuel genuinely righteous deeds.

A proper view of God certainly does not guarantee godliness—Satan himself holds many orthodox views about God (James 2:19). Nonetheless, Tozer is right to suggest that evil behavior is always rooted in false beliefs about God.

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The Progress of Temptation

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Christians often make mistakes in the way that they think about temptation. On the one hand, they sometimes see any temptation as an evil in itself, as if to be tempted were already to commit the sin. On the other hand, they can think that temptation is merely the initial inducement to sin (or to sin again), which terminates with the sinning. In reality, initial temptations are less insidious than some suppose, while the later stages of temptation are far more sinister than many realize. Temptation occurs in a series of stages, each of which involves a growing element of implicatedness in the sin toward which one is being tempted. In the following paragraphs, I will summarize the stages of temptation, explaining how each stage brings one more deeply under the domination of the object of temptation.

The first stage of temptation is inclination. At this stage, an individual encounters the object of temptation and is somehow attracted toward it. Neither the object nor the attraction necessarily involves sin in itself. A person simply experiences a desire that cannot rightly be fulfilled under the circumstances. This most rudimentary form of temptation can even be glimpsed in the first temptation of Jesus: He was hungry, and He was tempted to create bread. The desire for food was not wrong, but it could not be fulfilled legitimately under the circumstances. When temptation is dealt with at this stage, no sin is committed.

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