A Response to Wesley Hill’s “Will the Church be the Church for Homosexual Christians?”


Wesley Hill wrote this article “A Few Like You”: Will the Church be the Church for Homosexual Christians? about his own struggle with homosexuality and loneliness within the Christian community. The following is my response to his article.

As someone who spent years struggling to incorporate my homosexual attraction with my professed Christianity, I understand firsthand the struggles of loneliness the author is experiencing. There is an incredible loneliness that is always present when you find your identity in a sexual orientation that Scripture tells you is inherently sinful. You fear being rejected by your friends, your family, and your church community. You are even certain you have already been rejected by God; after all, you think, He made me this way and then condemned me for it. But feeling lonely and actually being lonely are two completely different things. We may feel lonely, but we are promised in Scripture that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). And as for being in community with fellow believers, we cannot truly be lonely if we are participating in the body of Christ any more than my fingers or toes can claim to be isolated from the rest of my body. Those trapped in sin often believe they are the only ones who have experienced the torment they are going through. Their identity becomes entangled in their sin until they appear to be inextricably linked. The loneliness comes from believing the lie that you are alone in your sin and no will accept you or love you or understand you. Freedom comes from exposing the sin to the light and discovering that you are indeed not alone in your struggle.

The same can be said of anyone struggling with any sin in which they find their identity as a person. For example, someone who struggles with anorexia feels fat and identifies herself as overweight, but the objective truth is just the opposite. The sin of homosexuality has been made into the unpardonable sin, the nonredeemable sin, the “just leave it in the closet” sin. And it’s none of those things. It’s not an identity. It’s not an orientation. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s a sin. This seems so black and white, so harsh. I know. I used to feel that way about such statements. I used to think that people who claimed to have been “delivered” from their homosexuality were somehow different than me and their story could never be my story. My feelings of loneliness and rejection were only compounded by the idea that homosexuality was a sin because I found my identity and personhood in that title, homosexual. To most people who struggle with homosexuality, they have a problem identifying their problem as sin because it is their identity, not just a behavior.

We in the church have enabled this by identifying those struggling with same sex attraction as homosexuals instead of as believers struggling with same sex attraction. We have bought into the lie that homosexual is a noun, an identifier, instead of an adjective, a descriptor. But if we discussed any other sin in the terminology which we have accepted for homosexuality, we would think it absurd. “I know greed is a sin, but I was born a “greeder,” I can’t help it that God created me to obsessively want things that are not my own.” “I am proud to be an overeater. Sure, the Bible says that gluttony is a sin and that man makes his stomach an idol, but I can’t help it, I was born this way.” “I am a hitter. I like to hit people. When I am stressed or angry, I always feel better when I can just punch someone else. From the time I was a small child, every time I hit someone, I felt better, so I guess hitting people is ok.” Why has homosexuality become the sin du jour that humanity “can’t help” and we choose to excuse and even celebrate?

While I do not understand why the church has adopted this opinion of homosexuality, there is some truth in the statement that people can’t help sinning. The unregenerate human heart can’t help but be enslaved to our sin nature. Those who are not believers and identify themselves as homosexual sometimes do so with little struggle or reservation. It’s because the fallen sin nature that is common to every man is all they have within them. They have no choice but to sin. Freedom from sin comes only from surrender and obedience to Christ. The homosexual who chooses to identify himself with Christ must simultaneously choose to no longer identify himself as homosexual. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Often those who do not understand the forgiveness and restoration found in the work of Christ use 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 to condemn those who identify themselves as homosexuals: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Even though Paul lists a host of sins including drunkenness, greed, and theft, for some unexplained reason, homosexuality is pulled from this list and this verse is used to tell gay people they are all going to Hell. That is a heinous and sinful interpretation of Scripture. People don’t go to Hell for being gay. People go to Hell for not accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and submitting their lives to His Lordship. What is sad about this gross misinterpretation is that people who struggle with homosexuality believe it!

But saddest of all is that most stop reading at verse 10 and never read verse 11, which is one of the most redeeming verses in all of Scripture: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Each of those verbs is in perfect tense in the Greek, meaning they are actions completed in the past with effects that carry on through the present. The washing, the cleansing, the justifying were completed in salvation and we never again have to be that which we were. But as believers, we must learn how to walk in the victory Christ won for us on the cross.

The author wrote, “I have also never experienced the “healing” or transformation of my sexual orientation that some formerly gay Christians profess to have received.” Unfortunately, the idea that we should wait and God will transform our sexual orientation is a lie that I believed for many years; I often thought, “I have prayed and prayed that God would change my desires, but since God hasn’t taken the desire away, then He must have made me this way.” But that’s simply not the case. I had to learn that while this world tells us that we can’t help our feelings, we can’t help who we fall in love with, Scripture tells us that we can help it, and we must!

Paul again addresses the work required to continue in our sanctification as we battle sin: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9. 24-26).

A knowledgeable Christian praying that God will take away a sinful desire while doing nothing to rid himself of it would be like someone with Lance Armstrong’s knowledge of cycling but Chris Farley’s body getting on a bike and praying that God would allow him to win the Tour de France. All the head knowledge in the world will never get him across the finish line because the head knowledge has not been put to work. It’s the same way with the Christian life; knowing the Word is simply not the same as doing the Word. Knowing the Word is relatively easy. Living by the Word is immensely more difficult.

We can’t help what tempts us, but we can “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I learned that the more I took my thoughts captive, meditated on Scripture and surrounded myself with godly, biblical role models of right living and relationships, the less I was overwhelmed by “uncontrollable” homosexual desires and by loneliness. I found out that not only were those issues controllable, they were defeated.
Paul speaks about “putting off” the old man and “putting on” the new (Ephesians 4:22-24). As I put on the new man of thinking in a God-glorifying manner about those with whom I was in relationship, the more I desired to put off the old sinful nature of homosexuality. As I learned to view people as Christ views them, either as my brothers and sisters in Christ or as lost people who desperately needed to know their Savior, I was unable to view them as need-meeters for my own selfish and sinful desires.

I applaud Mr. Hill for remaining faithful to the Word and the Lord and for not giving in physically to the desires that so obviously torment him. At the same time, I grieve for him and his inner struggle against the flesh because I know how he feels and I would not wish that emotional upheaval on anyone. If I were to sit down with Mr. Hill, I would encourage him to continue reading about those who have struggled with same sex attraction, but instead of focusing on those who remained caught in their inner struggle, I would suggest reading the stories of those who have found freedom from the entanglements of the heart that lead to the desires of the flesh. Pick the brains of those who have come through this valley victoriously. While you are not where they are now, they were once right where you are and can help you as you seek the Lord and His will. Ask them how they did it. Get a couple of trusted friends to be accountability partners. Find someone who has walked the road before you and knows where you are. Find someone who is an example of what you want to be and model your walk after them. Paul instructed Timothy to follow him as he followed Christ. We are to mentor and disciple one another in all aspects of life. These are only a few of the things that I did as I searched for freedom from the entanglement of sin in my life.

But above all, cling to Christ! Immerse yourself in the Word. Soak in the knowledge of who He is and what He has done for you. Believe that He set His laws not just to condemn us in our sin, but to show us the loving standard of a Father who wants to protect us from ourselves and our deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Believe with all of your heart that He does have a plan to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust that He does have a better way and while it will seem hard, impossibly hard, the work is worth the pain and the effort.

There is a simple truth about human sexuality, and its implications apply to any sexual sin— pedophilia, rape, adultery, lust, homosexuality, even self-centered sex within a marriage—God created man in His good and perfect Image. He then created woman— equally made in His Image— and instituted the marriage relationship as the very good and perfect union within humanity that would reflect the unified diversity and intimacy of the relationship present within the Triune God. The problem is not within God or His creation. The problem is that mankind has found a plethora of ways to pervert God’s one perfect plan for human sexuality. Wesley is struggling with the same thing with which every believer struggles—the battle over the flesh as we die to it daily and submit to the will of Christ who, while we were yet sinners, died for us.

So, will the church be the church for homosexual Christians? In my experience, and in the experience of countless other Christians who have found freedom from the bondage of a multitude of sins, it already has been. There will be those who are ignorant, who scorn and persecute out of their own bondage to sin. But there are those who seek the face of God, who desire to be conformed to the image of Christ and who seek to walk alongside those with common goals. Seek out those people and walk with them. The church is still the church and will be the body of Christ until the day of His return. That is a hope to which we can unswervingly hold, because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

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31 thoughts on “A Response to Wesley Hill’s “Will the Church be the Church for Homosexual Christians?”

  1. I really enjoyed Wesley Hills article on Ransom, but it left me sad for him, and then frustrated and more sad (although distressed it probably a better word) as I read other articles and responses in Theologica in response, and I was thinking to myself “Yeah, but what about making sin captive and killing it? Why is no one mentioning that?!?!? I was ready to skip the rest of the comments and write about that and then I read your comment and I loved it. So thank you for writing it. You said it better than I would have.

  2. You can hold your opinions, where matters of opinion are to be held. However, you cannot make statements of opinion and claim them as fact. In your response, you say: “The sin of homosexuality has been made into the unpardonable sin, the nonredeemable sin, the “just leave it in the closet” sin. And it’s none of those things. It’s not an identity. It’s not an orientation. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s a sin.” Homosexuality is not a sin, however. One may assert that acting on one’s homosexual desires or engaging in homosexual acts is a sin. Have you not heard the expression, “love the sinner, hate the sin?” Even the Church disagrees with you on that point.

  3. C Smith,
    Thank you for your observations and for the link to moremusingson. I read the blog and appreciate what he had to say. The author is dead on concerning the issue of relating to the world from a homosexual point of view. Allowing the grace and work of Christ to alter that worldview is a long, painful journey; one that took several years for me to walk.

    What makes homosexuality a sin just like any other sin, however, is the fact that just like any other sin, the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to overcome its hold on the life of a believer. There are many issues, many thought processes, many wrong identities that take root in a person’s heart at a young age and then take many years to overcome. The extent of the sin is unique; the treatment for the sin is not.

    So in a way, you’re right. Being tempted with homosexuality is not a sin. We can’t help what we are tempted with. But when your temptation has been exposed to the light of Scripture and you continue to walk in that lifestyle, to pursue that temptation, to view yourself through the lens of your sexuality instead of through the redeeming sacrifice of your Savior, then your identity has become sin. To believe something about yourself that Scripture states to be a lie is the sin of unbelief. For a “celibate homosexual” the sin is in believing that God made her that way and that there is nothing to be done about how she relates to the world. That is a sin that can be repented of and overcome. Right thinking is the root of right action. Right action is always easier than right thinking. Jesus knew this because he told the people that if any man even lusted after a woman in his heart he committed adultery. Sin starts in the heart; Calvin called an “idol factory.” The sin of false identity sets us up as god of our own lives—“I know myself better than God does, and I know this is who I am.”

    That is when the church must be willing to sacrificially love a person enough to walk alongside them as they seek to die to self and live as Christ. It’s a long process for anyone seeking to find their identity in Christ instead of themselves or their circumstances. But those of us who have counted the cost and made the journey will tell you the effort and pain is worth it.

  4. Bekah,

    I am so grateful to have read your response to Hill’s essay. I so appreciate reading someone who is honest, thoughtful and most of all biblical. It’s a blessing to my soul!

    Graham

  5. For me, I view “homosexual” as just another term for “a person who has same sex attraction.” “Active homosexual” refers to someone who is leading the gay lifestyle. You say that the latter isn’t an identity for you, but the former is. I don’t disrespect that, but could it be possible that some people may use the term “homosexual” or “gay” for themselves and it not be an identity, but simply a word that describes a trait? I’m not charismatic, so I don’t give power over words to define my life. They describe what already exists, so switching a label doesn’t change what something is or isn’t.

    Like, I am totally open to marriage. I know several homosexual folks who have married members of the opposite sex. Like any married person, they love their husbands or wives, even though they struggle with attraction for people outside of their marriage (they just struggle with attraction for members of the same sex instead of the opposite sex). I have never met a person who has gone from a 100% homosexual orientation to a 100% heterosexual orientation, though. Those who say they have usually admit to some gay temptations when pressed, so they are taking part in double speak.

    “Homosexual” is a trait, not an identity. I’m Southern, and I was born that way, but it’s not an identity for me. I’m brown-haired, and I was born that way, but it’s not an identity. I’m homosexual. I don’t know if I was born that way (and don’t care, really), but it’s not an identity. It’s just a word that accurately describes what I go through. My straight friends don’t understand what “same sex attraction” or “ex-gay” means. Those terms are confusing. So my duty is to use words they know.

  6. Jay:
    Are you saying that you believe homosexual attraction is a “trait” and only active homosexual behavior is sin?

  7. Yes. Although, to be clear, I think lust and sexual fantasy is active homosexual behavior (same as lust and sexual fantasy is adultery for anyone).

    Attraction does not equate to lust. It can be a temptation to lust, but it is for everyone, not just SSA folk.

    • Jay, I couldn’t agree more! So many people are convinced that they will struggle with this issue because they continue to be tempted, but temptation is not sin! We cannot help what tempts us, but we do have control over our responses to those temptations. We can also control being in situations which place us in the path of unnecessary temptation.

      Attraction does not equal lust, but it is also not morally neutral. While we are to fight our sinful natures, if we are to truly be conformed to the image of Christ, we sometimes must also dig a little deeper and discover the why we are attracted to a situation that God prohibits for our own good.

      And I was thinking about your earlier post; are you committed to a life of celibacy because you are attracted to men and you believe homosexuality to be wrong, or are you committed to celibacy because you feel God has granted you that gift in order to serve Him in this life without the encumbrances related to the marriage relationship?

  8. I’m committed to celibacy because I am attracted to men and believe homosexual behavior to be wrong. At the same time, that commitment doesn’t scare me or make me worry like it does other SSA folks. I really have no fear in celibacy anymore, because I trust Christ to completely provide for my needs, and I have lots of things that are going to keep me busy. So perhaps I am gifted with celibacy, coincidentally happen to be SSA, and am confusing the two? That’s certainly a possibility, but I do genuinely think that the majority of SSA folk have the talent and ability to be Godly, lifelong celibates.

    • I wonder, respectfully, if you’ll be saying the same thing when you’re 50 and looking back or, for that matter, looking forward to your remaining years.

      Frankly, “busy” doesn’t come near filling the void in my life.

      I think a lot of these posts missed the point of Wesley’s article (as I see it) which centered on the church community being family to those who don’t fit neatly into the Western nuclear family unit. The needs for connection and intertwined lives are as deeply felt by those on the fringe as they are by regular folk. I think that simply suggesting people to draw closer to Christ lets the community off the hook. A few hours here and there really doesn’t fit the fit the bill. After all, wasn’t it God who said that it isn’t right for man to be alone?

      The church needs to do more than just say “No. Now, grit your teeth and wait for heaven.”

    • Drew,
      Thanks for your comments. You are absolutely right that the Western church has missed the point of community and living life together for those who aren’t “married with children”. I was a bit confused by your statement about “busy” filling the void in your life, so I went back and re-read my post as it had been a while since I had read it. I can assure you that staying busy is never a solution I would give to anyone seeking to fill the void of needed intimate connection in their life. In fact, those who just grit their teeth and wear themselves out daily are actually avoiding what they need most and are most likely living in denial of the God-given need for connection and community.

      Looking back on the last couple of years since I originally wrote this post, I have learned much about intimate spiritual connection; but mostly I have learned that intimacy and community have nothing to do with sex. Those who seem to think that they are missing out on the ultimate human connection by not having a sexual partner have missed a deeper intimacy and community that they will never have met, even in a sexual relationship. I have met married, sexually active people who are miserably lonely and I have met single, celibate people who are fulfilled and content with the relationships they are in with the people with whom they surround themselves.

      The church most definitely needs to do more than say, “Grit your teeth and wait for heaven.” And we do that by meeting intimate spiritual needs that have nothing to do with sexual identity or relationships. If I live the remainder of my life celibate, I will, in no way be able to say that I have somehow missed out on intimate community with other people. Man should not be alone, and living in community is an integral part of intimacy and completeness for humanity. But drawing near to Christ should, by default, also draw you near to the community of believers who are also clinging to Him.

    • And, by the way, I haven’t heard at all from Jay lately. I was hoping that he had subscribed to the feed for these comments and would reply to your statements. I’m going to check out his site and see what he’s up to these days and see if his stance has possibly changed in the last couple of years as well.

    • Hi Bekah,

      Thank you for your feedback. Some further thoughts:

      Don’t want to split hairs but I’d say that while intimacy and community don’t necessarily have anything to do with sex they often have a LOT to do with sex. At the very least, sexual relationships and the familial relationships that ripple out from that are typically where you’ll find the commmitments and charactertistics that mark intimate relationships: loyalities, finances, touch, and TIME.

      Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but I’m afraid I’m no Corrie Ten Boom.

      Perhaps you’ve been more successful at this than I have. However, my experience has been that unless or except when one is in obvious distress (illness, or some other crisis) the level of commitment and connection is sorely lacking. It’s not all about me getting my needs met either. It’s about having your lives interwined in a way that provides purpose and direction. It’s that quality of being essential to each other that provides the fuel that keeps the engine going…on daily basis.

      Let’s face it. Most people (and again there are exceptions) will find their needs for connection and intimacy mostly met with the confines of their sexually based (or sourced) relationships. They pour themselves into these relationships, as they naturally should.

      So again, I ask, where does that leave individuals like me? I’m not looking to get “looked after.” I’m looking to enter into a relationship, relationships, of mutual care and commitment. I don’t see a place for that in the traditional Christian set up but if anyone has any ideas I’m all ears.

      It’s easy for those in traditional and reasonably happy families to talk about Christ meeting one’s needs when they’re rarely forced into that position. It seems to me that they are actually fed and fueled by their family relationships.

      However, you, being in a similar position, do present somewhat of a challenge for me.

    • Bekah and Drew,

      Thanks for continuing this conversation!

      Drew, I think you hit the mark with this: “I think a lot of these posts missed the point of Wesley’s article (as I see it) which centered on the church community being family to those who don’t fit neatly into the Western nuclear family unit. The needs for connection and intertwined lives are as deeply felt by those on the fringe as they are by regular folk. I think that simply suggesting people to draw closer to Christ lets the community off the hook.”

      In the Western Church generally, and, from my experience, in the Evangelical community specifically, there is indeed a lack of knowing that to draw closer to Christ is to draw closer to the community of believers. Since we are so individual-oriented in the West, particularly in America, this means that the broader body of Christian believers thinks it’s up to individuals to try to meet their needs alone. I used to belong to a college-age group at a church in my area who lived community. We loved each other and discipled each other and prayed with and for each other and we took care of each other (people with no cars got rides to work, those who needed winter clothing were taken on shopping trips, etc.). We were with each other as often as possible, and we invited others into our lives. We weren’t exclusive. But as we got older, we let jobs and school and children become priorities *over* our Christian community, instead of making these things priorities *along with* our Christian community. Now, even though we’re all friends on Facebook, it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to do anything together! A group of us who are single still hang out, but, even though we invite our friends who are married couples with kids to go to local parks and other family-friendly places, they don’t do it! My single friends and I miss our married friends. We would like to know their kids. We keep inviting, in the hope that one day our married friends will be interested in us again, but it hurts to be rejected by them.

      Bekah: “In fact, those who just grit their teeth and wear themselves out daily are actually avoiding what they need most and are most likely living in denial of the God-given need for connection and community.”

      Amen! And on that note I seriously need to find a new job. To stay busy, I intentionally took a job that gives me so many hours I don’t work to live or live to work, I just work. I miss people!

      Drew, one last note: I think Bekah means one can have intimacy and community without sex. The human race cannot survive without sex, but human individuals can. But we cannot develop well or in a healthy way without either intimacy or community.

    • Hi Bekah and Woodrow,

      So here we have three same sex attracted people voicing similar concerns. I guess we’re preaching to the choir. Is anybody else listening or are we just talking to ourselves? Dunno.

      So what’s the solution? Is it even to be found in the larger Christian community? It should be. Sometimes I wonder about non sexual partnerships between same sex attracted individuals. Tony Campolo suggested this as a possibility in one of his books but wondered how realistic that is. I do too.

    • It does seem as though we are preaching to the choir here, but I really think the church at large is silent on the issue because the church at large is desperately lonely as well. I direct the women’s ministry at my church, and the overwhelming need expressed by women, regardless of marital status, age, employment, etc., is that they crave connection and community.

      This is not a same sex attraction issue; it’s a people issue, and many churches are failing to meet that need in the lives of all people. But part of the issue is that, while we crave connection, we also want to protect ourselves; from vulnerability, from accountability. I know for myself at least, as much as I want relationship, I don’t necessarily want people in “my business”. It’s the Western ideal of having it all. We want close connection and fulfillment without the accountability and responsibility of living together as the body of Christ.

      The solution for us has been small, committed communities of women. They key is commitment. We mix women with varied struggles, in varied stages of life, and they make a commitment to one another to live in community for a year. It’s biblical covenant, an they have learned that the commitment is what makes the community; they don’t flake out, they don’t leave when someone hurts their feelings, they don’t bail when the discipleship gets hard. Regardless of the society we live in, someone’s word still means something, and that commitment is vital.

      It’s not something our “whole church” is involved in; but it starts with individuals living it out, walking together, alongside one another. And when people around you begin to see the changes, Christ’s love really does compel us to change. It’s slow, it’s hard, it’s messy, but it’s so real, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  9. I appreciate reading your thoughts on this. As believers in Him, our identity in Christ is under attack on a daily basis and will intensify as the end of this world draws closer. While I agree that sin is equal and comes between the love of a Heavenly Father and His children, I do read that God has specific words to say about homosexuality and acting upon it. I read the same instruction given for heterosexual sin. Why is this? I believe we are given special instruction for sexual sins because we are made as sexual creatures and to procreate and with the innate need to be loved and to love. This is who we are and who God made us to be. Therefore, our sexuality does become our identity without us even trying to make it our identity.

    Also, the act of a fruitful, sexual relationship is not just two bodies bumping against each other in the night as the world would lead us to believe, but is an emotional sharing of our body and soul with our mate.

    I believe we as Christian’s do have a responsibility to this community just as we do to everyone which is to teach the truth as it is written. Sure, we are to love the sinner and hate the sin as we read in scripture where Jesus spent time with tax-collectors and the prostitute (woman at the well). I don’t believe that Jesus wants us to condemn or judge, but let Him take care of that.

    I believe that both right and wrong are written on each individual heart and we have a knowledge of what is and is not acceptable in God’s eye’s. It is this knowledge of our sin that leads us to looking for acceptance from others. Our sin becomes more palatable if we gain acceptance from believers.

    Let me tell you, it should not be the acceptance of people that we yearn for, but for the acceptance and favor of God. God has spoken in His Word and has laid down the race track in front of us and told us how to run the race. All the argument/debate may change the mind of men, but will never change the way God has instructed us to run the race.

    Is homosexual thoughts sin? Yes (see Paul’s writings). Is homosexual actions sin? Yes, but there is abundant grace for all who seek forgiveness just as there is grace and forgiveness for heterosexual sins. Did God create us this way? I don’t think so for in the Genesis account of the creation, it says that God created man and then created woman to complete him and to satisfy his earthly loneliness. Notice that He could have very well created another male to satisfy his loneliness but chose not to. Did God create us with the ability to choose? I think He did because if we read about the fall of man, it says that Eve was tempted by Satan and chose to eat the forbidden fruit which she then persuaded Adam to eat. So yes, I do think we are born with the ability to choose sin over righteousness.

    Just as Satan distracted Adam and Eve from the wonderful gift that God had in store for them in the garden, Satan is still working to distract believer’s from the goal of running the race just as he has Mr. Hill.

    • In your response you write:

      Did God create us with the ability to choose? I think He did because if we read about the fall of man, it says that Eve was tempted by Satan and chose to eat the forbidden fruit which she then persuaded Adam to eat. So yes, I do think we are born with the ability to choose sin over righteousness.

      I think you are mixing up what Hill is saying. God does give us the ability to choose, but look at what you write. Eve was tempted by Satan. She did not choose this temptation, she could not choose to avoid this temptation…it just happened. Her response to give into temptation was her sin. Being attracted to men is not a sin. Acting mentally or physically on this attraction is a sin. Hill is claiming that he has no control over his temptation, and only his mental and physical response.

    • Hey Tyler,

      Thanks for replying. I agree with Hill on this point; temptation is certainly not sin. But I believe choice can be taken a step farther than that. Some take their temptation on as their identity, they identify themselves as homosexual or celibate or even try to deny everything and exist in some sort of asexual place, thinking that is what will make God happy.

      If sexual temptation of any sort is really just a temptation (and I wholeheartedly believe it is) then it comes from an already defeated enemy and can be destroyed. Scripture talks plainly about how to fight temptation, how to destroy it, how to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. It is possible to no longer be effected by the occasional temptation thrown by the enemy. It’s not that I condemn those who choose to live celibate lifestyles while still identifying themselves as homosexual. I have the utmost respect for them. I believe people are attacked time and again by equally condemning temptations of the mind, not just body, and we don’t take our fight for a renewed mind seriously enough sometimes.

      Temptations are not sins, but remaining in a frame of mind that consistently allows the same temptations to barrage you daily is irresponsible at best, sinful at worst. If Jesus died to give us abundant life, then seek til you find the abundant life that can free you from finding identification in the one who attacks. We don’t identify those stricken with cancer by their disease, why should we identify those tempted with homosexual thoughts and feelings as homosexual?

  10. I’m over a year late to this conversation, but want to throw my two cents in. First, some explanations of terms. “Celibate” means unmarried, nothing more, nothing less. A man may be single and sexually active, but he’s still celibate because he’s not married. A married couple may be refraining from sex for a month, but they are not celibate because they are married to each other. “Chaste” means using one’s sexuality in a virtuous way. It doesn’t mean “refraining from sex”. Married persons are called to be chaste just as singles are. Marrieds can focus their sexual desires on each other. Singles must focus their sexual energies in other, creative, morally licit ways (it is not surprising that much of the poetry, hymns, and prayers written by great saints who were priests, nuns, or monks are very erotic). “Sexually continent” means refraining from sexual activity.

    “For a ‘celibate homosexual’ the sin is in believing that God made her that way and that there is nothing to be done about how she relates to the world.”

    Not all sexually continent homosexuals (I assume “sexually continent” is what you meant by “celibate”) hold the view that God created them that way. I am one of them. I tried changing my sexual orientation, but found little to no success in doing so. Does this mean God made me that way? No, but I think it does mean that we live in a fallen world and that, while I must remain open to the possibility of God healing whatever caused my sexuality to deviate from the design He placed in human nature*, my sexuality may remain significantly broken for the rest of my life. And since I didn’t and don’t choose to be gay, there is nothing morally wrong with my sexual orientation. It is a cross to be borne, at times a very heavy cross, the weight of which I have fallen under often. The heaviness doesn’t excuse my sin, but neither the heaviness nor my bearing of the weight are sinful.

    “…there is nothing to be done about how she relates to the world.”

    My attractions cause me to take more of an interest in men, obviously. As a result, I am more interested in building men up in Christ. This is a very positive way to focus my sexuality. My same-sex attraction gets channeled into ministry, into finding practical ways of demonstrating my love (love as in the virtue of charity) for my fellow brothers in Christ. When I’m focused on Christian men in this way, and focused on winning non-Christian men to a living faith in Jesus Christ, I tend to *not* have sexual feelings towards them. (I wonder if this is true of all singles who seek to channel there sexuality this way, or if it’s a special grace given me by God because He knows I desperately need it?) My sexuality itself contributes in no small part to this way in which I relate to the world.

    If this helps you better understand my position, I am more a “fan” of Dr. Warren Throckmorton than I am of NARTH or Exodus International. Also, I’m a Catholic, and the Catholic Church does not teach that one must change one’s sexual orientation. Indeed, paragraph 2359 of the Catechism states: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they *can* and *should* gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (emphasis mine).

    (The section on Chastity and Homosexuality is online here, paragraphs 2357-2359: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm)

    *I continue to pursue that healing.

  11. Pingback: Wesley hill | Biocarediag

  12. How does one view his or her sexuality in relation to his or her overall identity as a human being? What does it mean when someone says that “I am gay”?

    The famous belief in the Christian evangelical world is that gays and lesbians see their sexual orientation as the center of who they are as a person. Well, it is true that I’ve heard some openly gay people who say something like that, they simply place their sexuality as their main identifying characteristic as a person. BUT, not all in the lgbt community see themselves that way. Mark Feehily, an openly gay Irish singer said, “My sexuality DOESN’T define me as a person, but it’s a huge part for anyone to be open about it.” Now, notice how he phrases his sentence: he’s saying his homosexuality/orientation DOES NOT define him as a human being, but it is still a part of who he is.

    There is a difference between saying that “I’m gay, it’s who I am at the VERY CENTER of my being,” and “I’m gay, but it’s JUST A PART of who I am. It DOES NOT identify me as a person.” You can argue that most gays and lesbians fall into the first category …it just seems that way.

    I think there needs to be a clarification of what the term “homosexual Christian” and/or “gay Christian” mean. It can mean:
    1. The “Side A” Christians who have the homosexual orientation AND believe it is biblical for them to have a long-term, committed relationship with another person of the same sex.
    2. “Side B” Christians who stay celibate and single because they believe the EXPRESSION of their same-sex attraction/propensity/orientation/proclivity/predisposition…what have you….is sinful. I tend to see same-sex attraction/proclivity/predisposition = temptation that I can’t help to feel and that none of us Christians w/ SSA can be made responsible for. It is NOT my fault that I feel that way, but I can let it from mastering me. It’s the same just as we’re not at fault when we feel compelled to lie to get out of a sticky situation, but we’re wrong when we CHOOSE to lie. I can reject from dwelling in emotionally romantic and lustful thought fantasies (emotional, romantic attraction and sexual/physical attraction may be related but they do NOT ENTIRELY overlap with each other!) regarding someone of the same sex. I can also say “No” to the temptation to have a relationship and have sex with another woman—ALL with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    For those in the Side B, like most of us here and Wesley, there seems to be a debate over that “homosexual Christian” term. ”

    Now, let me put it this way, is it okay for Christians with the HETEROsexual orientation to call themselves “straight Christians”? Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church is the only Christian leader, to my knowledge, who seem to reject this thinking because he knows the double standard hurts Christians with SSA. Most heterosexual Christians that I know have NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER saying, “I am straight,” and NO ONE in the church will object that. Instead, when they have sexual immorality issues involving the opposite sex, they tend to say, “I struggle with with porn, I cheat on my spouse, I have issues with promiscuity, etc.” However, the Christian with the SSA struggle, a struggle that they NEVER ask for, will say, “I am gay,” and the entire church congregation will snidely say, “Why would you call yourself that?You’ll never hear the term: an angry Christian, a fornicating Christian, a lying Christian, a lazy Christian, etc!” They insist that the “homosexual Christian” MUST instead call themselves “Christians with SSA struggle.” Why is it that that when straight Christians have sexual issues, the church all of a sudden forgets their heterosexuality?

    Be careful when you judge a Side B Christian who calls themselves gay. Some of them MAY still think erroneously that their sexual orientation defines who they are and that’s why they call themselves that. In this instance, they MUST be corrected, no ifs, ands, or buts. A Side B like myself, does not mean it that way when I say, “I’m a gay Christian” and it is perfectly interchangeable with the term “Christian with SSA issues.” It really depends on the individual and it is the Christian church, mainly populated by heterosexuals, who MISTAKENLY claims that Christians who call themselves gay ALWAYS mean that as their MAIN IDENTIFIER as a person. Is it too hard to ask what’s meant by the term when someone uses it?

    I believe that if Adam and Eve did not sin, everyone would be straight. Science has not determined what causes homosexuality. I have a degree in psychology and I believe in what’s called the biopsychosocial paradigm for homosexual orientation: it’s a complex, mutlifactorial mixture of biological/genetic, psychological, and environmental elements that cause one’s orientation. Any gays who say “I’m born that way” may actually be correct, but it doesn’t change God’s design for human sexuality and his decree, not one bit. If you’re straight, that’s from God. Anything but the heterosexual orientation: bisexuality, homosexuality, pansexuality, propensity to bestiality, and propensity to pedophilia MAY have an underlying biological factor, BUT, these orientation/temptation are distorted versions of heterosexuality and certainly NOT FROM GOD! Anyone who says that God gave them their SSA is wrong. A person who doesn’t know why they have the SSA MUST NOT immediately be accused of thinking that God gave them their SSA.

    The only difference b/w homo and heterosexuality is their God-approved expressions. For homosexual orientation: NONE whatsoever. For heterosexual orientation:
    1. Long-term, monogamous marriage
    2. Chaste courtship/engagement/dating relationship. Thoughts also must be kept pure in pre-marital relationship.
    3. Sexual abstinence while single, even if the single straight person feels attracted to someone of the opposite sex.

    If I’m not allowed to call myself a “gay Christian,” I also ask for fairness and urge Christians with heterosexual orientation to refrain from calling themselves “straight Christians.” Otherwise, you’re being very inconsistent. When I say I’m gay, I’m simply identifying my sexual orientation, the way the straight people do. Straight people don’t identify themselves PRIMARILY through their heterosexuality. Just because I have a distorted sexual orientation that is not my fault, doesn’t mean I cannot identify it by its name. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MAKING THAT SEXUAL ORIENTATION THE CENTER OF MY IDENTITY. My identity primarily rests in Christ and that’s also the same for the redeemed straight Christians. Think about it, there are only THREE expressions in which you can express your heterosexuality without sinning. There are SO MANY MORE ways to have the sinful “heterosexual lifestyle”: promiscuity, monogamous fornication, adultery, polyandry/polygamy, viewing pornography, lusting after the opposite sex in your heart, lecherously check out the opposite sex person you are not married to, BDSM, swinging,etc.

    Straight Christians need to stop thinking their heterosexuality is holy or whatever. It is only holy in its proper context.

    • Riley,

      Thank you for sharing this. This post is a couple of years old now, and there have been many shifts and growths in my thinking concerning terminology and attitudes since I first wrote this. It may be time for an update.

      I particularly appreciate this statement: “Straight Christians need to stop thinking their heterosexuality is holy or whatever. It is only holy in its proper context.”

      That has become the consistent theme of my writing concerning homosexuality the last year or so. My concern is, honestly, less for those Christians who identify as homosexual and more for those who identify as heterosexual and, therefore, see themselves as somehow inherently more holy.

      Sexual sin is sexual sin. Getting the church back to a point of realizing that all of it apart from your description above grieves God would be a huge step in the right direction. At this point, too many people really seem to be saying, “I wish you’d sin (or be tempted) sexually more like me.” And I’m just not ok with that.

      I’d love to talk with you more about this subject, if you’re willing. Shoot me an e-mail and we can dialogue a bit more. I’m curious about your take on some things, but it’s probably more than will fit in a comments section of a blog post.

      Thanks again for responding!

    • Riley,

      Thank you so much for your perspective. You’ve explained some things that I never even considered. I fully embrace your call to listen and ask questions before jumping to conclusions. I just never thought of applying the principle to someone who calls himself a gay Chrisian. I’m just blown away by the power of listening before judging in every conceivable relationship and conversation!

      Thanks again! May Jesus bless you in all your endeavors to serve him and may be give you and me success to resist EVERY temptation, sexual and otherwise.

      Graham

      Sent from my iPhone

  13. I thank Bekah for her insightful commentary on what it means for a Christian with SSA to live a celibate life.

    What makes it harder for us is the wrong misconception in BOTH in the secular society and within the church that no romantic relationship/marriage = a lifetime of miserable, lonely singleness.

    The heterosexual marriage is a wonderful gift from God and it symbolizes the sacred mystery between Christ and His church….this is why I strongly believe that a homosexual relationship cheapens and ridicules God’s idea of the marital union, no matter how loving and committed that gay relationship is or how much the gay/lesbian couple love Jesus.

    It is true that marriage has a lot of benefits: that advantage of lifelong companionship is just beautiful, and research has shown that married people have better life expectancy. The social support that comes from a life partner who’ll be there for you in sickness and health, rich or poor, for better or for worse = great blessings for your mental, emotional, and physical health as well.

    I say these things to emphasize that I’m not trying to paint a gloomy picture of marriage. BUT, marriage is so challenging because we are by nature are self-centered people and for a husband to gives himself the way Christ did and for a wife to submit herself to her husband require HUGE sacrifice. This is a sacrifice that us celibate, single people are spared from, in a sense. To paraphrase Paul, we are freer to be concerned with matters of the Kingdom. Also, most importantly, marriage is still not the purpose of one’s life. Instead, for those who are called to marriage, God uses the relationship to make each half of the couple more and more Christ-like. Keep in mind that Jesus said that in resurrection we will all be like angels, not given in marriage to each other.

    If we are ever discouraged with a life without a spouse, let’s think of, the celibate gay Catholic priest (OK, fine, a celibate Catholic priest with SSA) Henri Nouwen, Paul, and Mother Theresa. Anyone who says that miserable singleness is the hallmark of the their lives and services on earth are grossly mistaken. I’m sure they all probably had moments of painful loneliness, I know Nouwen did, but I think they had an overall joyful and fulfilling life because their faithfulness to God. Celibacy is a gift, even if it’s not easy (just as marriage is a gift, but it’s also not easy). To look down on it is to also look down on the Giver of celibacy.

    So celibate/sexually abstinent singleness can be tough even when we are intimate with God and connected with our church community. Well, marriage is also very difficult to the point where plenty of married people wish they were single sometimes. Admit it people, the grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges, really. Everyone must pick up their own cross for Christ’s sake and God’s promises in the Bible indicate that our sacrifice will not be in vain. Let’s not forget that God had already made the biggest sacrifice of all: giving up His Son to enter humanity and to die on the cross for us. I think what we give up is nothing compared to that and the reward is more than we can ever imagine or ask for.

  14. Interesting conversation.

    I’m moving past some of this, having shifted from relatively conservative Christianity to agnosticism. However, I continue to chafe at the suggestion from straight Christians that I compartmentalize my sexuality or refrain from wearing it on my sleeve. If they were honest, they’d admit that their sexuality and the relationships that ripple out from that are integral to their lives and that simply in living day to day their heterosexuality is on display. Their motivations, priorities, investment of time, money, and emotional resources are are woven into the matrix of connections that have started with sexual relationships. This even evidenced by how most Christian bloggers deliberately identify themselves, i.e. as a spouse and parent. The double standard is astounding.

    • Hi Drew,
      I don’t know why you shifted to agnosticism, but if the Christian church and straight Christians pushed you to this point, I apologize.

      That being said, I agree with you that the double standard is astounding to a certain degree. The straight people’s heterosexuality, Christian or not, play a bigger role in their life more than they think. They’re just less consciously aware of it because their sexuality is the norm.

      Cheers,
      Riley

  15. Hi Graham,
    Sorry I can’t click the “Reply” button in your post…it doesn’t show up.
    But thanks for the reply and for your prayer.
    I’m happy that I can make a difference in this debate, however slight it is.
    Cheers,
    Riley

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