Homosexuality and the Church: The Symptom of a Larger Problem?
For those who haven’t noticed, traffic here at the two cities has taken a considerable focus on sincerely contributing to the discussion of homosexuality. Always a hot topic, and pinging especially large on our reader’s radar in light of President Obama’s Statement on the matter and the recent publication of the Biola Underground, we at T2C feel it especially relevant to contribute towards the conversation.
Following Andrew’s helpful positioning statement, and Bryan’s penetrating evaluation of the biblical paradigm for marriage, I think it’s helpful to remember another reality of our world- our imperfect world, our sin-shaped world- of which we must all seek to guard our eyes and hearts.
Scripture and other historical documents testify that homosexuality as a practice, and same-sex attraction, appears to have existed from the earliest times. Yet, I feel that the boiling topic of homosexuality and its compatibility with Christianity as it exists on the stove top of American culture today can be diluted to a core issue that is really a weakness in American (and all Western) culture at large. That core issue is that the primary virtue of American culture is individual happiness and the gratification of every person’s individual desires. Indeed, those raised in the post-modern and relativistic milieu of the last few decades are raised with an understanding that my unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means that the only ethic that exists is the fulfillment and satisfaction of my desires… so long as nobody else gets hurt (although, I believe that we are all woefully shortsighted when it comes to evaluating the damage our desire-driven obsessions take us).
Certainly, the enthronement of individual desires for personal satisfaction above all else is a core virus at play in the epidemic collapse of hetro-sexual marriage in the Western Church. In fact, just in the last year, I heard that the marriage another family whom I have known for years just ended in divorce. Why? Because one member felt like they weren’t getting the love they needed or deserved (which probably certainly true), and that since “what God would want most is for me to be happy,” they filed the divorce papers, and has within two months married another.
“What God wants most is for me to be happy…” THIS has become the ultimate authority for millions in the Church today, whether heterosexual or homosexual in the orientation of their sexual desires. The basis for their life and ethics is not “thus says the LORD,” but “thus yearns my desires.”
This mentality has been inbreed in generations over the last 50 years, as discipline, didactic instruction, and saying “no” to a child have all seemed to have become cultural taboos. The self-esteem movement that I know characterized my own public school education has only contributed to this new cultural virtue, which I believe is as strong inside the church as it is outside.
Satiating what I personally crave, feel, or long for is the new authority for many in the church, and has replaced the Scriptures as the authority for determining how one should live.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1). But, what is the biblical perspective of freedom? Perhaps one of the most difficult blindspots of Western culture is the difficulty in entertaining the idea that freedom in the theological frame work of Paul and Jesus doesn’t mean “freedom to do what I want.” Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount, which actually escalates the standards for morality in the life of a disciple (Matt 5:22,28, 39, 44-45) make it pretty clear that the cross does not make lax the Scripture before it, nor nullify it (Matt 5:17). There is little appetite in an entertainment driven culture to consider that Paul reads Jesus and sees freedom as release from the bondage we have to the domain of sin (Rom 8:21), and that the application is not to justify the flesh’s desires… but instead to serve others in love (Gal 5:13). Indeed, the response of one’s heart to this freedom out to be a self-identification and assignment as a slave of righteousness (Rom 6:18), and a servant to one another (1 Cor 9:19).
Thus, the heart tension most at play in the inner turmoil of those trying to reconcile acting upon same-sex attraction and identification with Christ is the same tension every believer lives in day by day: when temptation arises, to what authority do we submit our will? We all need to remember how loving and gracious our God is, who designed us to only be satisfied when we walk in and worship our Lord? Piper truly says it well, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”
 This sad trap is nothing new. In fact, this was the Serpent’s very ploy in the garden scene, where argument of the great deception was to convince mankind that God does not in fact know what is best for us, and that instead of acting in obedience to Him and His word, the true good, and experience of true happiness, is achieved when we act on desires that seek to serve ourselves, and on this side of the fall, whatever my flesh might crave. And the deeper the crave, the more intertwined it becomes in the entanglement of love, sexual drive, and the human appetite for relational filling (most intimate fibers of the human soul), the truer we feel these broken desires to be.