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And the Lord's
servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness
(2 Timothy 2:24-25a).
The following statements and "talking points" may be helpful when discussing difficult issues of life with family members and friends.
"When it comes to homosexuality,
the Bible has been mistranslated and misunderstood."
Some people who advocate in favor of homosexuality claim that the authors of biblical passages against homosexuality "knew nothing about sexual orientation." Joe Dallas writes, "This argument is misleading because it assumes that orientation justifies behavior ... Nowhere in the Bible is any behavior condemned with a qualification, as in, 'Thou shalt not do this thing unless thou hast an orientation toward it.' Nor does the context of a 'loving relationship' justify any sexual sin mentioned in Scripture, as pro-gay spokesmen would have us believe. The love between two homosexuals cannot make homosexuality normal or legitimate, any more than the love of two people committing adultery justifies the breaking of marital vows. Besides, if orientation justifies sexual behavior, why stop at homosexuality? Pedophilia ... is believed by some experts to be an orientation; bestiality may be seen the same way ... Does biblical ignorance of these conditions nullify biblical injunctions against the actions they result in? Not if Scripture is truly inspired--and there's the crux of the issue. If the Holy Spirit indeed moved the biblical authors to write under His guidance, as 2 Timothy 3:16 asserts, then it's insulting to think the third person of the Trinity was ignorant of the human condition ... If the Bible prohibits certain behaviors only because its authors were ignorant of the 'orientations' leading to them, then it is not, as it claims to be, 'profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' (2 Timothy 3:16). Rather, it is outdated, uninformed, and irrelevant. There is no middle ground." (Joe Dallas in his book The Gay Gospel: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible. Harvest House, 1996/2007; 161-162.)
Some claim that "Jesus said nothing about homosexuality." Joe Dallas writes, "This argument wrongly assumes that because Jesus said nothing specifically about homosexuality, He said nothing about heterosexuality as a standard. In Mark 10:6-9, Jesus spoke in the most specific terms about God's created intent for human sexuality: 'From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder' (KJV). In this passage, Jesus had been presented with a hypothetical question: Was divorce lawful? Instead of giving a simple "yes" or "no," He referred to the Genesis account and, more specifically, to created intent as the standard by which to judge sexual matters. By citing Genesis, He emphasized several key elements of Gods' created intent for marriage and sexual relating: Independence was one--a man was to leave his own home to establish his own family with his wife; a 'one flesh' sexual union (between male and female--man and wife--was another; and, of course, monogamy." (Joe Dallas in his book The Gay Gospel: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible. Harvest House, 1996/2007; 192-193.)
"God created me this way."
"For the longest time, I really believed that God had created me this way--gay. I had told myself over and over, I am gay. I was born this way. This is who I am. I never chose to have these feelings. But now, as I searched the Scriptures for the way I should live, I began to ask myself a different question: Who am I apart from my sexuality? I didn't have an answer. As I continued to read the Bible, I realized that my identity shouldn't be defined by my sexuality. Paul said in Acts 17:28, 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' Christ should be everything--my all in all. My sexual orientation didn't have to be the core of who I was. My primary identity didn't have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions. My identity was not 'gay' or 'homosexual,' or even 'heterosexual,' for that matter. But my identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone. God says, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said, 'Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.' He said, 'Be holy, for I am holy." ... [Even] if I did become straight, I would still deal with lust. Therefore, I knew that I shouldn't focus on homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but on the one thing that God calls everyone to: holy sexuality. Holy sexuality is not focused on orientation change--becoming straight--but on obedience ... I must obey and be faithful to God." (Christopher Yuan in his book Out of a Far Country. Waterbrook Press, 2011; 187.)
"Sex is where true intimacy is found."
Ed Shaw writes, "I once googled the word intimacy and found the images to be 99 percent sexual. In our Western world today, intimacy equals sex. Want to experience intimacy? You need to have sex. The two are nearly always inseparable in our minds. We illustrate this in our instinctive interpretation of just one Bible verse. It records part of a lament the Old Testament King David composed on hearing of the death of his best friend, King Saul's son Jonathan. And it contains these moving words:
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women. (2 Samuel 1:26)
... Off the back of this one verse, some have even claimed biblical approval of gay relationships--all because David says Jonathan's love for him was better than a woman's ... But what about the more plausible theory that Jonathan's simple friendship was more precious to David than his complicated relationships with women? (First Samuel 25:42-44 lists three wives at this stage of David's life.) Why is it not possible that he enjoyed the non-sexual intimacy of his friendship with Jonathan (also a married man) more than the sexual intimacy of his relationships with Abigail, Ahinoam and Michal? Why not conclude that he's not saying Jonathan was better in bed than his wives--but that Jonathan's friendship was better than anything David did in bed with his wives? ... Sadly ... our sex lives are meant to be the best things about our lives. But I think that tells us more about our relationships today than David and Jonathan's back then. We live in a society whose only route to true intimacy has become the joy of sex. And the consequences for someone like me sound pretty tragic; no intimate relationships because I'm saying no to sex ... We need to read the whole of our Bibles again. In them, we will keep finding passages that urge us to promise and protect marriage (in just the book of Proverbs: 5; 7; 21:9), but we will also keep discovering ... a surprising number of passages that urge us to promote and protect friendships too (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24; 27:5-6, 9-10)." (Rev. Ed Shaw in his book Same Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life. Intervarsity Press, 2015; 73-75.)
"God made sex to be "good;' therefore, it is natural to relate to one another sexually."
Linda Bartlett writes, "Sex education misses something vitally important when it focuses primarily on God's 'good' creation of sex and sexuality, but gives very little time to God's 'good' creation of manhood and womanhood. We do not need sexual intimacy to be a man or to be a woman, but men and women do need to be relational.
The single man or woman might ask, 'If God created us to be sexual beings, am I not fully human?' The mistaken identity of 'sexual' ... may tempt us to think that we'll never be all we were meant to be if we don't marry and enjoy sexual intimacy. But this tempts us to forget Jesus Christ. Let's recall that Jesus Christ was not married and yet He was fully human. It is our personhood that defines us and not our sexual desires or urges. Oh, but some insist, our sexuality is part of our personhood; we would be incomplete without it. But Jesus Christ, fully human, never entered into a sexually intimate relationship. There is liberation in this truth for the single man or woman. Let's also remember that in heaven there will be no marriage. We will be the person--body and soul--that we were on earth only perfect in every way. This, too, refutes for the single man or woman that our identity is 'sexual.'
The exaggerated place of sexuality in cradle to grave sex education is destructive to all relationships between men and women, married or single. It takes our focus off the identity bestowed upon us at Baptism. For Christians, mature manhood and womanhood is about relating to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ ... and enjoying the respectful interaction of male and female perspectives on life ... The baptized child of God in Christ can live fully as a male or female without ever being sexually intimate. Self-control, as evidenced by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 7:7) is a gift. We can say that with the gift of self-control comes order and strength for life. Mature manhood and womanhood receive the gift of self-control and are not dependent upon sexual intimacy. (Linda Bartlett in The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity. Titus 2 for Life, 2014; 106-107.)
"But, my feelings are passionate."
A girl may have "passionate" or emotional feelings toward another girl. A boy may have "passionate" or emotional feelings toward another boy. But in a culture obsessed with sexual attraction, we must clarify the difference between phileo and eros love. The feelings and emotions of friendship (phileo or "brotherly" love) must not be confused with sexual or erotic (eros) love.
"The result of this distortion is either a rejection of phileo--they fail to engage in meaningful friendships, choosing to remain shallow and disconnected--or they sacrifice phileo on the altar of eros, engaging in sexual behavior that really isn't an expression of their true selves. If they're truly gay, that erotic expression would be a relief, but for so many it isn't. It's a time of confusion and struggle (and not simply because of society's disapproval). That confusion happens because there's a disconnect within them, a disconnect that could be fixed if they had the freedom to enjoy the deep intimacy of love between friends, fully expressed and fully appreciated in a nonsexual, but stimulating way. I think one of the greatest dangers of our sexualized culture ... has to do with the deterioration of true, deep friendships. Friendship is the greatest guard against a tyrannical society that wants to divide individuals and control them. Friendship fosters healthy communities and promotes mutual affection, which brings about the greatest good for a society. Friendship makes people happy and actually strengthens marriages. The rise of polyamory is one example relating to this final point. One of the biggest arguments for polyamory (many sexual partners in a relationship) is that on person isn't enough. 'I need more than just my husband,' one polyamorist told me. I agree! Nothing (besides being completely alone) is more unfulfilling than to have no friends and just be with one person your whole life. That person simply can't meet all your emotional needs (especially if you're a deep-feeling personality). You need more people. But what you need are friends--real, loving friends--not more sexual relationships ... The beauty of friendship, as opposed to erotic relationships, is that we can have many as we connect and love without jealousy and suspicion." (Denise C. McAllister, "How To Stop Sexualizing Everything" in The Federalist.)
"Expecting gay people not to act out their desires is old-fashioned and oppressive."
From a young age, Wesley Hill has experienced the tension of same-sex attraction. But because he chooses to trust the Word of God and cling to his Baptism, he endeavors to live as a child of God and heir of God's Kingdom. His book, Washed and Waiting, challenges us all to live a life that is radically out of step with the prevailing norms and customs of an unbelieving culture.
“On the surface,” writes Wesley Hill, “the Bible and the church’s demand for gay people not to act on their desires can seem old-fashioned, life taking, oppressive. But could it be that if I place that demand into the larger story, then perhaps—just perhaps—it won’t seem as irrational, harsh, and unattainable as it otherwise might?” The “Christian story of what God did for the world in Christ” helps the “rules” for a life of chastity—whether single, same-sex attracted, or married—"make sense.” The Christian story of what God has done for us in Christ becomes the framework of our own lives and choices.
Resisting same-sex attraction (or any other sin against God) begins to make sense for us when we look at the bigger picture of God’s Story and our lives as characters in that Story whose purpose is to glorify Him. “The message of what God has done through Christ reminds me that all Christians, whatever their sexual orientation, to one degree or another experience the same frustration I do as God challenges … and transforms all of our natural desires and affections.”
Hill has made the difficult and extremely frustrating decision to say “no” to his same-sex attraction. “In the end, what keeps me on the path I’ve chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church’s traditional teaching against gay sex. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions and teachings as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ—and the whole perspective on life and the world (Excerpts from Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA.)
Wesley Hill invites us to remember that “one of the most striking things about the New Testament’s teaching on homosexuality is that, right on the heels of the passages that condemn homosexual activity, there are, without exception, resounding affirmations of God’s extravagant mercy and redemption. God condemns same-sex sexual acts and amazingly, profligately, at great cost to himself, lavishes his love on homosexual persons. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-11, 15; Romans 1:18-32 and 3:23-24.
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