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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Does Christianity Cure Homosexuality?
Can Christianity cure homosexuality?

The best place to start with a question like that is to lay all my cards on the table at the outset, then go from there.

First of all homosexuality is not a disease, therefore the notion of curing it is irrational. One does not cure homosexuality anymore than one cures lechery, or pride, or arrogance. So the short answer is that Christianity cannot cure homosexuality, because cures are for diseases, and have nothing to do with giving in to sinful desires.

In the first chapter, book of Romans, in verses 26 and 27, the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul communicates what God the Father thinks about homosexuality:

"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." - Romans 1:26-27 [NASB]

Which is to say that when a person desires to gratify himself or herself (sexually) with a person of the opposite gender, that desire is in accord with the natural, created order. Conversely, when one desires to gratify himself or herself contrary to the created order, that desire is contrary to the created order, and as such is described as abominable, as opposed to only sinful.

Note that in both cases, the desire is to gratify one's self sexually, but what makes this gratification abominable is when one attempts to gratify that desire contrary to the created order.

I describe desire in this way (the desire to gratify yourself sexually) because it is more precise than saying having sexual desires for people of one gender or the other. The desire you have is to gratify yourself - that is the desire - you may excite this desire according to nature, or contrary to nature, but the desire itself is a desire for sexual gratification.

I want to frame the discussion in this way to avoid the sort of confusion that arises when we dig deeper into the issues at hand. It is common and easy to come at these things rather superficially, and then with a bigoted mindset, and as much as I am able, I want to avoid that. So I am careful to be as precise as possible, lest what I am saying be misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Every married person on the planet eventually experiences a desire that will tempt them to consider gratifying themselves sexually with someone other than their spouse. It can be a passing thought that is immediately dismissed (that is, it can be a temptation that is not pursued, and therefore does not become a sin), or it can be an unchecked desire that the one who experiences ends up fostering, whether or not that leads to a consummation or not. Even our Lord Jesus Christ was temped by sexual desires when He Himself walked among us in the flesh, we know this because the scriptures tell us so (c.f. Hebrews 4:15 - "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." [NASB]), but our Lord by no means indulged or pursued these temptations. In the same way there is no sin in being tempted by a desire, but there -is- sin in pursuing that desire if the desire runs contrary to what God has allowed you as an individual.

You see, sin is, in its simplest expression, willful rebellion against God's rule. God says, "No", and you say, "Too bad, I want to do it, so I am going to do it even though you have forbidden it." Not that you coherently express these things when you sin, but rather that you set aside the way God has ordered things in favor of the way you want things to be. That is what Paul describes in Romans 1:18 when he writes, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," [NASB]. In order live with your own conscience when you pursue a known sin, you must suppress the truth about what God has commanded. Sin is rebellion, and no one who honestly believes there is a God whom they will answer to one day, will willingly rebel Him, so that in order to pursue things that God denies mankind, that is, in order to willingly rebel against the command of God, one must convince himself or herself that there is no God - that is, one must suppress the truth of God.

Thus the married man who pursues a desire to gratify himself sexually with someone other than his wife is sinning. It isn't defined as sin according to whether the man desires to gratify Himself in accord with, or denial of, the created order, rather it is defined as sin because it goes against the command of God. Yet if the man desires to gratify himself contrary to the created order, his sin is not only sinful but abominable as well - which is worse in that it is doubly wicked.

Now I want to be clear here. It is the pursuit of a gratifying yourself sexually through some forbidden avenue that is sinful, and not the temptation to gratify yourself through some forbidden avenue that is sinful. In other words, whether the desire to gratify yourself sexually is excited through a heterosexual temptation or a homosexual one, unless you pursue that temptation there is no sin.

That might be difficult for some to swallow, but what I am saying is that the problem with homosexuality isn't that you want to gratify your sexual desires contrary to nature (though that remains an abominable desire); the problem is that have decided to gratify yourself sexually in a way that God forbids.

You see, God doesn't just forbid things that run contrary to His created order, He forbids things that do not run contrary to the created order as well. You are not allowed to have sex with your sister - even if your parts are compatible. You are not allowed to have sex with anyone or anything outside of marriage - even if their genitalia is compatible.

If we are going to suggest or pursue a Christian "cure" for homosexuality, will we also pursue a Christian cure for those heterosexual desires that, while not abominable, are equally sinful (adultery, premarital sex, etc. etc.)?

I think it is the business of every believer to turn from sin. If you consider yourself a "homosexual" - that is, if your desire to gratify yourself sexually is excited contrary to the created order - it is my duty to Christ, to call you to turn from this sinful desire, and if you engage in it without repentance, it is my duty to come to you and both encourage your repentance, and support you in it. If you reject that, I am to come to you with other believers, and together we are to encourage you to turn from this course of rebellion in following these sinful temptations into sin - not that we call you to try and change what excites you sexually - for that is not what we are called to do - we call you to turn away from indulging in that which is forbidden, and if you still persist, I am to take you before the whole congregation, giving you another chance to turn from your rebellion, and if you love your sin more than obeying the Lord, I am to cast you out of our fellowship, since you unrepentant heart is like a cancerous leaven that must be purged, lest others in the congregation are emboldened to rebel against God according to whatever sinful desires they want to indulge.

I will be the first to say that the desire to gratify yourself sexually is a universal desire amongst physically mature human beings. I don't think that this desire is excited in us, one way or the other, because of genetics. I mean do we mean to suggest that the man who finds overweight women more attractive does so because of his genetics? What about liking blondes? or preferring long legs to a nice smile? I expect that we will never know entirely (or at least definitively) what it is exactly that moves us to be excited by one thing over another. Maybe we have control over these things, maybe we don't - but I think the answer to that is moot.

In other words, Christianity is not interested in "curing" people who have desires that run contrary to the commands of God. Hello? I have a thousand desires (er, that's an hyoperbole) that run contrary to the commands of God each morning before breakfast. Newsflash - this flesh in which we find our souls presently bound, is called "sinful flesh" for a reason. Even we who are believers have not yet had our flesh redeemed - we still live in it, and it continues to churn out (daily) ungodly desires. There is no cure for these desires, that is, we cannot make our flesh stop desiring sin - and guess what? This is true whether our sinful desires run contrary to God's created order, or are in harmony with it. There is no cure for the flesh, therefore there is no cure for its sinful desires. We cannot "cure" homosexuality anymore than we can cure greed, or gluttony, or selfishness, or adultery.

I say, we cannot cure these things, but we are called to live apart from them - to put those desire to death daily. This is the work of the believer, and every believer that sets that work aside, and refuses to take it up, but wilfully sets his or her mind to continue indulging their sin rather than turning away from it, must be (if we are to be faithful to God's command) put out of the church.

Here is the kicker: If we attempt to put to death the deeds (note: deeds, not desires) of the body, by denying our sinful desires in any other manner than by faith - our efforts will remain superficial, and powerless. We will not overcome sin, but sin will overcome us. The Israelites did not take the promised land from the Canaanites because they were stronger or more numerous than them - they took the promised land because they believed that God was giving it to them. So also we must overcome sin, not in our own strength, but rather by faith.

Make no mistake, some people use Christianity as an excuse to foster a xenophobic hatred of homosexuality. I hope that nothing I have said here will be used to encourage such behavior. My point is that Christianity does not, and cannot cure homosexuality. What Christianity can do is reconcile you back to God, and put in you a new desire (through the indwelling Holy Spirit), to turn away from your sinful desires, and obey God's will.

That means that the Christian man, even if he wants to engage in sexual activity outside of a God sanctioned (ie. consenting man and woman) marriage, denies that desire and instead conforms himself, heart and hand (meaning, in both his thinking and his acting) to the will of God. No special case is made for, or required for, the person whose sinful desire would be called by the world a "homosexual" one. There are really only two categories of desire - righteous, and sinful, and one need not have homosexual desires to have sinful desires.

Thus I regard the whole curing of homosexuality as seldom more than glorified reprogramming. Human effort, with human results. God doesn't call us to stop having sinful desires - for we cannot stop that from happening - he calls us to stop acting on them, the very thing He died to make possible.

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posted by Daniel @ 8:56 AM  
  • At 4:16 PM, June 08, 2011, Blogger donsands said…

    Excellent Daniel. I may refer to this from time to time. Our Lord Jesus has me reaching out to the homosexuals at times. My brother Tommy died of AIDS, and I seem to be able to share at times with this particular area, I guess is the best way to say it.

    Grace is what it's all about. If God has poured out His grace in an abundant way so you are able to live a very godly life, then we need to remember, "But for the grace of God, there go I." And then go and encourage your other brothers who are struggling, and pray for them, and be available for them with loving arms and hearts opened, to speak the truth in humility.

    Have a great week in our Savior's joy and peace.

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