on “same sex attraction” and homosexuality

Just wanted to write a quick blurb about homosexuality, or what I’d prefer to label “same sex attraction” (for reasons explained later). In my opinion, I think homosexuality will be THE main issue which the church (by which I mean the collective body of Christ) will have to grapple with in this generation. That is not to say that such issues were never a big deal in the past – homosexuality was prevalent in the Greco-Roman world which Paul and the other apostles addressed in their epistles. Rather, I believe that how the church (both in Singapore and globally) addresses this sensitive issue in our current moral pluralistic age is going to have significant consequences for society in general and the practice of religion in particular.

The impetus for my writing is a facebook note written by Joel Joshua Gunawan which is going viral at the moment. He is a Christian who struggles with same sex attraction, and in this note he gives an account of the difficulties he encounters trying to reconcile the two. I am extremely grateful for his sincere and honest admissions, and I pray that he would continue to find hope in Jesus and the Gospel. I am not so certain of the theological points which he raises, and I hesitate to endorse his conclusions. I myself haven’t come to a fully formed view. But please, do read this as I believe it shows us – we who are ignorant of attraction to the same sex – what’s at stake; and it shows us how to love properly.

A few points. First, “same sex attraction” is but one of the myriad of sexual configurations within the category of “sexual immorality” which the Bible prohibits. For example, while we might be attracted to the opposite sex, this does not preclude us from falling into the sexual immorality of lust and indulging in pornography – which if anything I am sure more people struggle with than they do SSA. It’s a sad fact that in this fallen world we live in, all things that were created “good” by God have been twisted from their original purpose – including sex. A discussion which I found helpful on this point can be found here (panel includes Al Mohler). 

Secondly, my preference for the term “same sex attraction” (over “homosexuality”) has more than just philological significance. The term “homosexuality” assumes a connotation of permanence, a bit like how you write “Male” or “Female” on an application form. However, same sex attraction is anything but permanent. We are promised, if we believe in Christ, that we will be gradually sanctified from sin. It might be slow and indeed painful, but He who called us is faithful, and it will happen (cf Romans 8:29-30; Phil 1:6). I have seen friends overcome struggles with suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, lust and pornography, habitual dishonesty, low self-esteem, and many other sins through the hope of the Gospel and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus satisfies our ultimate needs; he seeps into the deepest crevices of our hearts and comforts us; he knows what it is to feel human pain at its worst, and he sympathises with us (Hebrews 4:14-16). I do not mean to downplay the struggles faced by my brothers and sisters who grapple with same sex attraction; I believe it is probably the most difficult sin to struggle with. But I believe, with even more certainty, that the Gospel is Good News for Gays (link).

Finally, I have tried to in this short post consolidate some of the resources I have found helpful while thinking through this issue of same sex attraction (a few links above). This fourth and final link is an interview with Vaughan Roberts, rector of St Ebbes Church in Oxford. It’s a heart-rending interview where he talks about his own struggles with same sex attraction – yes, even a Christian Minister is not spared. It’s lengthy but I think it’s very worth reading, especially as Vaughan Williams is quite a renowned evangelical leader and author of books such as Battles Christians Face

I hope these might encourage you, reader. But more importantly, I hope that you might find encouragement in Jesus. Because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins (both sexual and otherwise) we have been reconciled to God. Once, we were sinners and deserved the penalty of death; now, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ which is freely given us if only we trust in Him. Before, we were powerless against sin; now, sin has no hold over us. Its power has been broken, and we are now enabled to live Holy lives for God. And He gives us grace to walk with Him, every step of the way. 

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