A couple of years ago I read a thought provoking account from a Holocaust survivor.
A Jewish woman recounted an experience of having her life spared. A German lady took her in and protected her from being shipped to a concentration camp. As I continued reading the testimonial I learned that the two women were lesbians. In her own words, the Jewish woman told of how she had fallen deeply in love. She described how she had entered into a depth of romance with her female partner that she had been unable to experience with a man. This affection was mutual, to the degree that the German lady risked her life in order to preserve the relationship.
As I read this story, I was struck by the use of adjectives in the narrative. Words like, “romance” and “falling in love”. Here in the midst of a book about Holocaust survivors I was caught off guard by a touching description of enduring affection. All of the emotions described sounded like those that would be experienced in a heterosexual relationship.
But these women were gay.
It’s Not Just About Sex
Reading this account impacted me because it crystallized the reality that same sex attractions are not just about sex. I think that Christians can tend to view homosexuality as an exclusively sexual issue. However, as I have pondered this topic and listened to those who have experience, I have discovered that it has much more to do with the longing for love.
We were made to be loved and to love. Human sexuality is a gift, a specific feature of intelligent design that enables us to express and make love. It is no wonder that our feelings of love and our sexual desires follow a single trajectory.
God Is Always Love, But Love Is Not Always God
Let’s go back to the Jewish lady who recounted her story of “falling in love”.
When these emotions are described, it is only natural for some to wonder, can feelings of love be intrinsically wrong? Some might say “If God is love and I love this person, what is the problem? Let’s move on and focus on the real problems in the world.”
God is love. Not, love is God. The semantics here are pertinent. I may deeply love my neighbor’s child, but if I abduct them to make them my own child, it does not represent God’s nature. I may fall in love with a man other than my husband, but if I act upon that love, it is not a reflection of God’s nature. You see, love is not always God. But God is always love. I understand that a man can have profound affections for another man. I believe that a woman can experience powerful lifelong intimate feelings for another woman. But I do not think that this is a reflection of God’s design for sexual relationships. I believe it may be love. But I do not believe it is God.
What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate
As a Christian, I believe that God created the institution of hetrosexual marriage. He designed one woman for one man as part of the creation story. In my opinion there is nothing else in the Bible that challenges this as a model for sexual union. Certainly there is no other way to fulfill the mandate for procreation.
Jesus affirms this when He recounts:
But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Though Jesus is answering a question about divorce, I believe that there is a principle in this statement that we can apply to the issue of same sex attraction. No matter what the feelings are, no matter how we find our disposition to be, we should not alter our concept of design. What God has designed to be joined together in sexual union is sacred and unchanging.
An Issue of Absolute Truth
In a post-modern society the religious philosophy is played to the tune of: “Personal truth is more important than ultimate truth”. As part of this, there is a strong emphasis on tolerance. We must respect everyone’s beliefs, because they are all valid. Ironically, the only people who are not to be tolerated are those who believe in absolute truth. I cannot help but chuckle at how illogical that seems.
When it comes to sexual design, I believe we are faced with an issue of absolute truth.
If we believe that human sexuality is something that God has specifically purposed, then we have to embrace our convictions. This morality is counter-cultural and can seem oafish in the face of so much political and scientific support rising up around the gay movement.
Are Some People Born Gay?
This question that has been the subject of much debate. It was also a question that was posed to me after I posted part 1 of this article.
Let me preface my thoughts by asking another question.
Are people born with an inclination towards sin?
I would like to broaden this discussion by veering off-topic and sharing an extreme example that has nothing to do with human sexuality.
In 1990 the British nation was deeply unnerved by an incident that occurred. Two 10 year old boys abducted a 2 year old child, violated him and and tortured him to death. Turns out these 2 boys were not from the worst homes in the world. Why would a child do this? It reminds me of the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer who began to explore his inclinations towards cruelty as a 8 year old boy mutilating animals.
Let me be clear: I am not trying to draw lines between the aforementioned horrific actions and homosexuality. That would be ridiculous and obtuse. It would also be unkind.
I am drawing the line between people and sin.
Born With An Inclination Towards Sin
The truth is, we are all born with an inclination towards sin. I see it amidst the unmentionable details of the cases already stated. I endure it in the actions of my own 4 children as they fight over toys or the front seat of the car. I remember it in some shameful actions of my own childhood. I read it in the Bible. Accordingly, I believe we cannot justify a persons actions due to the fact that they are born with, or experience a certain inclination from an early age. If this was the case, the course of justice would be turned on its head and anything could be justified by the defense of “I did not choose to be this way.”
Are some people born with an inclination towards same sex attraction? Do some people experience gay inclinations from an early age? Based on the logic of a sinful nature, yes, I believe that in some cases that is possible.
Did God design people that way? As a Christian with a biblical concept of creation, I believe not.
Deep Issues and Pressing Struggles
Let me say once again that I am not “gay-bashing”. I am not approaching this issue with a simple band aid of “off you go and stop sinning”. I know there are deep issues and pressing struggles. I know that there are real and powerful longings and desires. Sexuality runs to the core of existence. I believe that same sex attractions arise in the lives of people for a variety of reasons.
I have a great deal of compassion for those who find themselves to be dispositionally inclined to same sex attractions. Why? Because I believe that as Christian, I have no other choice than to say the following:
I understand that you feel this way. I believe that your desires genuinely steer you is this direction. However, though it may be love, it is not God. You must abstain.
As I write these words my heart is heavy within me. For I know that for those who desire to live as Christians and are gay, this counsel may sound like a life sentence of struggle and loss. I believe that there can be transformation, I believe that the Lord can change and heal the sexual disposition of a person. For those who do not experience this breakthrough, I believe that there is the grace to remain celibate.
I am not saying that it is easy.
I am saying that it is necessary.
Because I believe that a person cannot live in a way that honors God’s design for sexuality and simultaneously practice a gay lifestyle.
What Would Jesus Say?
Let’s imagine that we took Jesus to the gay bar. If we are very honest, the little Pharisee in all of us may want to see those flaunting gay sexuality get a telling off. But, as I imagine Jesus there, I think again of the woman caught in adultery, or the woman at the well who had 6 consecutive lovers. Apparently, telling people off for their sexual improprieties was not first on Jesus’s list.
I imagine that there, in the gay bar Jesus would say something brilliant! Something that would silence the condemners and open hearts. I see Him addressing the the real underlying issues. The brokenness, the shame and the distorted longing for love. The loneliness and the long buried questions of identity and the ache to be touched.
I see Him bringing healing and restoration.
I long to see the church do the same.
I believe it is time that the church faced this issue head on. It is time for us to get off our soap box and onto our knees. I believe that we need to cry out to God for some real answers. Some healing power and some overcoming love.
Stephanie Jones is the co-pastor here at New Day, alongside her husband Scott. With their 4 children, they moved from Michigan to Summerville to start New Day Community Church over 4 years ago. Stephanie has been radically impacted by the Father’s love and makes it her life’s mission to impart what she has with those around her – healing of the heart, hearing God’s voice, evangelism and flowing in the prophetic. You can listen to their sermons and read more about them on our main site: http://newdaychurchsc.com