Love the Sinner: That Means You Too!

Tony SigBecause of the nature of the blogging medium it will inevitably seem that my approach is haphazard. That is not my intent, but I will sort of operate on a stream of consiousness type flow because it is hard to nail down how and in what order I should comment on the various aspects of this topic.

Now it has not been the case in all, perhaps not even in most, instances that “Official” institutions have said that a person with “Same Sex Attraction” (SSA) can change, but there are many “gay” camps and other similar places where struggling gay Christians can (should?) go, where through prayer and study they will (hopefully?) overcome their SSA. The theme seems to be of good intentions gone theologically astray and of missional intention flying blind. Assuming SSA is inherently sinful (the argument goes) then in order to be a communally received fellow-believer, ones SSA must be dealt with. “Be holy as I am holy” Many quote Paul that the flagrant and unrepentant sinner must be expelled from fellowship. And most have full confidence that the “power of God through Jesus” “overcomes sin” and their “sin” can be overcome by that power.

I am not sure at all where such an idea came from. When I was in Junior Bible Quiz there was a question, I think a 10 pointer, which I vividly remember. It asked: “Is it a sin to be tempted?” The correct answer was “No, it is only a sin to yield to temptation” I don’t know why I have always remembered that (I have remembered a LOT of my JBQ material) but I have drawn on that at many times in my life when I have struggled with pride or lust or whatever. Now I do not have the card offhand, and so I do not remember the Scripture verses that it references, but I am sure they are there. In fact Jesus was tempted, quite severely (I am not here concerned with the “literal” understanding of Jesus temptation), and so we know that being tempted is not a sin. And I doubt anyone would disagree with me on this.

The question that immediately arises then is why do we send homosexuals off to camps to be “cured” of their “sinful” inclinations?”

More importantly, why we ask that they be “cured” before they are incorporated into active Christian fellowship?

Thank our Lord Jesus that I don’t have to rid myself of all my “sinful” desires before I can participate in Church.

What’s more, it is painfully obvious that attempting to remove any and all SSA from a person causes severe mental trauma. How else would one act if they were being told how unnatural they were, how inherently sinful they were. The desire is there to not be “unnatural” and “sinful,” they are trying as hard as they can but nothing is happening. So they feel as if they are letting themselves down, their family down, their church down, even letting God down. I cannot imagine that kind of trauma. There are significant numbers of young gay people who commit suicide because of incurable guilt and we only exasperate the problems when we expect the impossible.

Now as far as I am aware, by the various research I have done, there is as yet no “conclusive” proof that SSA is a genetic or biological development, but it is observable in multiple animal species, and in various cultures throughout the world and time. Besides, even if it was found to be so it should not necessitate a threat to fellowship (or doctrine). After all we do believe in a fallen humanity. The point is, whether biological or not, “born with it” or not, most gay people have SSA from a very young age, and as the attraction is emotional as well as physical, then we can say that from youth most gay peoples identity is decidedly tied to their SSA. Neither is that attraction merely physical, or sexual if you will. There are real emotions, even self-giving emotions, even love, between gay couples and that must not be denied just because it is inconvenient.

Might I suggest that efforts to make gay people “not gay” anymore is at least ignorant and at worst absolutely devastating. Not least because it is not a standard that we hold to other people and other “sinful” inclinations. If we did nobody could be a Christian!  It may be the case that some have been able to be “freed” from SSA, but the cases are rare and not universally applicable.

This leads to some questions, questions to which I do not suppose I have all/any of the answers, but they are questions that I feel need to be asked and the consequences taken seriously.

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