Homosexual desires are sin...

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[This post is third in a series (the firstsecondfourth, fifth, and sixth) working through Pastor Scott Sauls and Christ Presbyterian Church's "Same-Sex Attraction Forum." More will follow.]

Under the post by Pastor Andrew Dionne yesterday, second in a series on the forum Pastor Scott Sauls sponsored on being willing to come out as gay within the church, there was a comment that deserved a longer response. Thinking the response might be helpful to those not following those comments, here is part of the comment and my response:

COMMENT: My pastor, who is a Tim Keller fanboy, put it like this: "we have [self-identified]gays and lesbians in this church who remain celibate because they know that this is what God asks of them".

What this post is saying, if I have read it right, is: it is not enough for people in this situation to remain celibate; they must move past the desire as well. As I have observed before, too many pastors think it achievement enough to get someone in this situation into living a celibate life; they then put the 'orientation' question into the too-hard basket.

Maybe I'd want to quibble over the way you put it—"it is not enough for people in this situation to remain celibate; they must move past the desire as well"—but not much. If I meet with a man or woman tempted by homosexual desire, my counseling method would not be simply to demand, "you must not only abandon same-sex relations; you must also abandon same-sex desires." Desires hit us from the side, the back, and under the belt. They are sneaky and momentary, as well as pertinacious and stolid. Desires, then, cannot be handled with brute force as sexual relations can. It's a lot easier to tell a woman she may not drink than she may not desire a drink. But what lover of a man or woman's soul would tell her to publicly identify by her sinful desires; to identify herself to everyone by her lust for same-sex flesh; and following that, to tell her, also, to limit her pursuit of holiness merely to making sure she never acts on that desire by actually getting into bed with a woman?

When a male opera singer or woman basketball player tells me of their line of work...

I make it a habit to caution them concerning homosexual (at least) relations. Some assure me they are the anomaly in their business—they are not homosexually inclined. I respond that I'm not cautioning them because I think they are homosexually inclined, but because I know male opera and female basketball are chock full of gay men and lesbian women, and they ought not to assume that because they don't suffer constant desires for same-sex intimacy, they won't be tempted when they're out on the road, it's late at night, they're sharing a hotel room with a gay man or lesbian woman, and they're lonely. I warn them against homosexual desires—how sneaky Satan is through them; and how weak and susceptible we are to his seductions through those temptations.

If I warn straights against homosexual desire, exhorting them to be on guard against and flee those desires, why on earth would I not warn gays and lesbians against those desires, telling them to be on guard against and flee those desires?

As Pastor Dionne said, this is simple Christianity. This is the sanctification without which no man will see God. This is the holiness to which God calls us. These are the good works for and to which we have been saved.

Those who, like Pastor Scott Sauls and Stephen Moss, deny the sinfulness of homosexual desires, attributing sinfulness only to acting on those desires by engaging in homosexual relations, have an unbiblical understanding of the extent of the corruption of original sin every one of us suffers. Thus Calvin writes:

...even infants themselves, while they carry their condemnation along with them from the mother’s womb, are guilty not of another’s fault but of their own. For, even though the fruits of their iniquity have not yet come forth, they have the seed enclosed within them. Indeed, their whole nature is a seed of sin; hence it can be only hateful and abhorrent to God. From this it follows that it is rightly considered sin in God’s sight, for without guilt there would be no accusation. (Institutes II:1:8)

And again:

We ...deem it sin when man is tickled by any desire at all against the law of God. Indeed, we label "sin" that very depravity which begets in us desires of this sort. (Institutes III:3:10)

The sins of our wicked desires are difficult to fight against and have victory over. They require mortification and often seem so intense as to be irresistible. We were reborn for freedom in Christ. What Pastor Scott Sauls and Stephen Moss are selling is tantamount to bondage in Satan. As needs to be said over and over again to a church luxuriating in what it mincingly refers to as our "brokenness," is that homosexual desire is itself evil. Homosexual desire and homosexual identity are not value-neutral. They themselves are the sin from which Christ came to set us free.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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