Tragic Confessions of a True Homophile
I’ve lost count of the times I have been called a homophobe, both publicly and privately.
And I suspect that in the months and years to come the name-calling will only intensify in frequency.
But as blind-spotted, prejudiced, racist, classist, sexist, xenophobic and sinful as I am, I don’t think I have ever feared or hated a same-sex attracted person whether they are active in same-sex sex or not.
I have had, and have, same-sex attracted people amongst my closest friends, acquaintances and parishioners (I have spent many years as a parish minister) for almost as long as I have been an adult and as long as I have been a follower of Jesus. They have been a blessing and joy to me and, I think, or at least I hope, I to them as well.
I have met and befriended, and been befriended by, same-sex attracted people at the gym, pool, church and neighbourhood and have never hated nor feared them. I love them.
With many I have laughed and cried, eaten and drank, played and prayed, holidayed and enjoyed hospitality. We have hugged each other in affection and comfort. We have stayed in each others’ homes and helped each other through difficult times.
I have spent many long hours trying to be a good friend to people who are same-sex attracted by listening to them as they talk about their struggle with sexual identity and the temptations they experience.
Early in our marriage Helen and I lived with someone for several years who experienced same-sex attraction. Throughout life this person sought to be chaste, believing, as we believe, that the place for the expression of our human sexuality, and the procreation and nurture of children, is within the safety of an acknowledged, exclusive, permanent male/female relationship.
I have also urged people who are actively and stridently pursuing same-sex sexual activity that there is forgiveness, help and a better way. As I have urged them to repentance I have never withdrawn my love or commitment to their welfare.
The Bible is very clear. We have been created to express our sexuality within an acknowledged exclusive and permanent male/female relationship.
This principle defines marriage.
Jesus tells us this. Genesis tells us this. Old and New Testament tell us this.
It’s a theological, anthropological and physiological first principle.
God made us to be sexual people. That’s by far not the sum and total of who we are, but it is a part of it, and the key part of it for this discussion. We are either male and female. We have been created to complement one another. We have been made so that our spirituality, psychology, sexuality and physicality meet and match.
This is not resorting to some oppressive, archaic and cruel religious dogma.
It’s simply getting back to first principles. But in the debate that rages, where any minority view is at least given an airing in our culture that, we are told, celebrates diversity, this is the one view that is vilified and not tolerated on an otherwise diversity spectrum.
Our sexuality is one of the casualties and consequences of our foolish rebellion against our Creator and his design for how life is to lived in his world. Our world is now flawed, broken and this brokenness even extends to our genetics.
Even if same-sex attraction is ‘nature’ rather than ‘nurture’ (and despite the protesting of some, most respected research leans towards nurture); if it is genetic, then is it not the genetics of a flawed universe?
We recognise that there is a whole range of genetic ‘abnormalities’.
But on a recent episode of Q&A our former prime minister, overreaching his expertise on a number of subjects, savaged a man who was seeking to make a stand on the framework for human sexuality that is taught in the Bible and has been the bed-rock principle for marriage and family for societies and cultures for thousands of years.
As a follower of Jesus who is completely committed to the teaching of the Bible, I want to make it absolutely clear that same-sex attraction is not a sin. Nor is the temptation to infidelity by an opposite-sex attracted person.
Temptation to sin is not sin.
But acting out those attractions in the mind (lust) or on the mattress (sexual activity) is. So heterosexual sex (outside marriage) and homosexual sex are both wrong.
If the Christian community makes out that one sin is more serious than the other then we have much to answer for, and I think we do!
My heterosexual lust, for I have often failed to overcome temptation, and another’s heterosexual activity (outside marriage) or homosexual activity are symptoms of the same failure to obey God.
Sex outside of marriage may reap more bitter social consequences and more devastating family upheaval than lust (lust is not harmless but that is another issue) but both are sinful and symptoms of our fallen humanity and flawed sexuality.
For most of my Christian life, almost every Sunday, I have exhorted others and been exhorted myself with these words:
You must not commit adultery.
This has not just been a call to repentance for the adulterers in the congregation, or those in the congregation engaging in same-sex sexual activity. It has also been for the loving benefit of people guilty of lust, like myself.
I have responded, with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with the prayer:
Lord, have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law.
This prayer, we can pray with confidence, relief and joy, only through the sin-bearing death of our life-giving Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And it is Jesus, the true friend of sexual sinners of every variety, who calls us all to a life of repentance and faith, of sexual purity and Christ-like love for others.
Feature photo: umjanedoan