Occasionally I come across something that provokes a strong response in me and screams “Wrong!” This article at ChristianPost.com provided me with that type of reaction: Homosexual Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, by James R. Aist. I have to say that I found a lot of truth in the author’s article, but there were also aspects of it that just seemed to me to be a little off-base and confusing.
I believe and support the view that the Bible clearly speaks to the sinfulness of any sexual behavior, be it same-sex or opposite-sex, outside the boundaries of a Biblical marriage between one man and one woman. What I initially took issue with was Mr. Aist’s singling out of homosexuals in this article, and the sensational headline proclaiming the existence of “Homosexual born-again Christians”. Perhaps we could expand on the author’s thoughts here and develop a whole series of articles. I would put forth the following headlines to get us started: Prideful Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Unjustly Angry Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Lying Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Idolatrous Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Envious Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Fornicating Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!, Adulterous Born-Again Christians: They Do Exist!.
In the article, Mr. Aist writes:
Same-sex attractions are powerful temptations, but biblically speaking, they are not sins. To have such attractions is akin to a married heterosexual man having opposite-sex attractions to women other than his wife. These attractions are temptations to sin and nothing more; they are not sin, although they would lead to sin if acted upon. Apparently, same-sex attractions are not something that anyone chooses initially. Rather they seem to occur initially in homosexual persons without their volition or intent. This is an important distinction that Christians need to be aware of. The Bible condemns homosexual sex acts, but it does not condemn the initial experience of being tempted by same-sex attractions. If the Bible did condemn the experience of being tempted, then Jesus would not have been without sin, would He?
Furthermore, Jesus said “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). Thus, “acting” on either opposite-sex or same-sex attractions includes “looking lustfully” as well as the physical, sexual act itself; both are sin, and, as such, they are to be renounced, resisted and repented.
And finally, same-sex attractions are not of God; they are of the devil and are evil, as are all temptations to sin. There is nothing good about either same-sex attractions or the practice of homosexuality in any context.
First off, I would propose that despite the authors claim to the contrary, ‘same-sex attractions’ per se are not powerful temptations anymore than opposite-sex attractions are powerful temptations. To be ‘attracted’ is not necessarily equivocal to being ‘tempted’. I can and do have a myriad of attractions, some sexual, most not, and by and large, I am not tempted by all the things I’m attracted to. Further, even as a man with a homosexual orientation, I am able to perceive attractiveness in various women without the presence of any sexual temptation whatsoever. I believe a more accurate way in which to word this line would have been “same-sex attractions can lead to powerful temptations…” But to confuse the two, attraction and temptation, does nothing to further the understanding of homosexuality, sin, or faith in Christ. As one of those ‘same-sex attracted’ individuals whom the author is speaking of, I can assure you that I am not walking through life daily, fists clenched, tongue hanging out and drooling while in some sort of relentless, permanent state of temptation!
The author goes on to declare that “same-sex attractions are not of God; they are of the devil and are evil, as are all temptations to sin“. Further, he states that “there is nothing good about either same-sex attractions or the practice of homosexuality in any context“. Again this author seems to be confusing the terms ‘attraction and temptation’. He may perhaps also be going on the assumption that all attractions are sexual in nature. I think it goes without saying that many characteristics and situations can cause us to be attracted to another person. And this attraction can have nothing to do with sex. We are attracted to some for friendship, to others as a leader, I am attracted to certain preachers and seek out their sermons and teachings, particular people hold more attraction for me in all kinds of ways. That aside, I would have liked it if he gave more detail about his belief that same-sex attractions are not of God, and are, in fact, evil and of the devil. If he was referring to the fallen nature of all of humanity as a result of Adam and Eve’s temptation and sin in the garden, then yes, perhaps we could entertain that same-sex attractions are not of God. That being said, if you ascribe to that line of thinking, you would necessarily need to declare a host of other realities as being not of God, evil, and of the devil as well.
To label various behaviors and actions as sin is a necessary thing; for without each of us realizing our own sinfulness there can be no repentance, no appreciation of just how unworthy each of us is of the love which God lavishes on us; no understanding of just how amazing it is that God could love someone such as me…and you. But understanding our own sinfulness is something different than believing that a core part of one’s existence is especially evil and of the devil, in a way different from non-same-sex attracted individuals. The only logical conclusion to this line of thinking is that upon coming to Christ, it would be necessary for me to purge myself of my evil same-sex attractions (and my pride, envy, etc.) in order to find favor with God – and to no longer be of the devil. To my knowledge, I’ve never repented of my same-sex attractions, nor do I find any Scriptural reason to do so. Lust and sex call for repentance, a mere attraction or orientation, sexual or otherwise, no.
Part of the difficulty, in my estimation, that I and likely others have when encountering articles such as the one I am referencing here is in the use of terms which perhaps mean different things to different people. ‘Same-sex attraction’, same-gender attraction, homosexual, gay, etc., to many who would be classified as those things, it encompasses so much more than simply a desire to have sex with certain individuals. While that’s usually a part of it, it also involves our desires to find companionship & love, it can give us different perspectives on issues and people, it can influence who we are and aren’t comfortable with, our various likes and dislikes, mannerisms, how we bond with others, and so on. To boil down homosexuality to a sexual act alone, and to say that because I am homosexual, that aspect of me which influences so many areas of my life and so big a part of me is not of God, is evil and of the devil; carries with it not a notion of Christian love, but a very sharp message of hate and disdain. I do not at all believe this is the message which Mr. Aist is meaning to convey, I am simply pointing out that even though unintentional on his part, it is the message that I and others are receiving when we read articles such as this one.
Growing up I was not at all thankful to by gay, in fact I denied it to myself for a while and hated it. For many years I hid it well enough that few ever suspected. And then I went through a long period of being open and proud of my homosexuality. And today, I find myself unashamed of who God has and is fashioning me to be. And just like the author, I’m worthy of God’s love and grace because He says I am. There is nothing in me or about me that is any more or less evil or of the devil than anyone else.
When Mr. Aist says that there is nothing good about same-sex attractions, I couldn’t disagree more! It is largely through wrestling with God about my homosexuality that He strengthens my faith in Him. And by having to trust Him to meet desires in me, some of which I formerly suspected could only be met in sexual relationships with men, my relationship with Him and my understanding of His love for me grows.
I suspect that much of what I’ve found in Mr. Aist’s article to be troubling is largely a result of he and I assigning different meanings to certain labels. But I think it is important that we are as concise as possible in choosing the words we use to label others in a public forum, and to not single out certain people or paint with a broad brush a picture of those who are and aren’t going to hell, or assume that we know what is and isn’t tempting for other people.
If you would like to read more from James Aist, you can check out his blog here: http://rethinkingtheology.com/.
Agree or disagree? I welcome your comments below!