Our Sad Gay Situation:
Analogy C. Many people compare the sexual condition of homosexuals to that of singles. Whether divorced, widowed, or never married, Christian singles are to remain celibate, abstaining from sexual intercourse.
This is where for many in the Christian community the big debate resides. Paul referred to celibacy as a gift: "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do" (1 Cor. 7:7,8). Has God given the gift of celibacy to all homosexuals?
It may sound arrogant and self-serving for me, a joyously married heterosexual, to state that homosexuals should stay celibate, but we advocate precisely the same state for singles. (And all singles don't have a choice in getting married. We should avoid using heterosexual relationships -- even marriage -- as a "cure" for homosexuality, anyway. Such an approach leads to fractured lives.) As is the case with singles, this is different from advocating a life of loneliness, or even aloneness.
Christian homosexuals say that the nub of the problem is not promiscuity -- we're all in the same boat up to marriage. Chastity is required of all singles. The nub to them -- using their phrasing -- is this: Is it all right for homosexuals to enter into a loving, committed relationship (read "marriage") with a person of the same sex?
There is, of course, a sense of completion and bonding in human sexual intercourse that is not found elsewhere, and God intended it so. But Americans especially tend to overestimate the importance of sexual activity. Marlene Dietrich put it this way: "With Americans sex is an obsession. With the rest of the world it is a fact." This obsession is in part a result of Americans' worship of the entertainment industry.
More to the point, as long as "straight" people buy and spread the message that we cannot really live without sexual gratification, then homosexuals are going to feel that it is an inherent human right. As Tim Stafford comments, this is an argument that "makes some sense in our modern therapeutic society, but none at all in biblical thinking: the claim that desires -- particularly sexual desires -- have a fundamental claim on us and that those who cannot fulfill their desires must be unfulfilled."45
Stafford also points out that "the Big Lie of the sexual freedom revolution is that you have to follow your sexual preference (whatever it is), that you have no choice. If I fall in love with someone, it's inevitable we'll end up in bed....
"But this is sheer nonsense.... One difference between human beings and animals is that we can control our sexuality; it doesn't have to control us."46
Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:11).
In the end, true and total healing comes from God's unconditional love and forgiveness toward us, His fallen, failing children. It also involves radiating God's unconditional love and His Holy Spirit of forgiveness to others. We are all healed in working toward the healing of others. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of godliness. Look to yourself, lest you to be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 5:26-6:2).
The Seventh-day Adventist Church can reach out in practical, new ways to help homosexuals. Task forces, seminars, communiqués, brochures, and streamlined referral service to responsible support ministries are a start.47 Churches compound the problem of homosexuality when they provide nowhere to go and no one to talk to. Churches and church members ideally should be the first place homosexuals want to go to, not the last.
Cruel and uneducated comments also demoralize the parents of homosexuals. Enough pain already exists for them without our adding to it. Many of us have become conceited not realizing that "homosexual sins are not a special category meriting our hatred and disgust."48
The good news is that we can do our part in relieving the pain, and in promoting the healing process. We must distinguish between the state of being a homosexual and being a sexually active homosexual, between the orientation and the practice. We must understand that acceptance does not mean agreement. And we must not allow the world's irrational fears to dominate us. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). When we are thus transformed, we know that the will of God is to defend and hearten people who are on the fringes. In characterizing the fringes of society, we may at once think of the poor, the handicapped, the elderly. Let us enlarge our vision to include the singles, the emotionally addicted, the homosexuals.
I didn't want to write this article. For a long time I put it off. And I don't intend now to become a spokesperson for homosexuals: for me this is not an all-consuming platform. I'm telling you this because (probably like you) I wasn't naturally drawn to this topic, but heard too many desperate, heartbreaking cries in the wideness of our church to ignore them.
It is our duty -- mine and yours -- to alleviate suffering and to generate awareness, spawn understanding, and foster healing where we can, even when we are not "naturally drawn" to do so. To encourage, uphold, and point to our all-sufficient King when others are fearful is also more than our Christian duty -- it is our joy.
Homosexuals, as long as they are not practicing homosexuals, can be members in good and regular standing of any Seventh-day Adventist church. They can hold church offices. If an alcoholic who never drinks alcohol can hold any church office, a homosexual who never practices homosexuality can hold any church office.
Did we go too far? Please consider this: susceptibility is not a valid reason for exclusion. Imagine what would happen if all who were susceptible to the sin of pride -- the very first sin, the very worst sin -- were excluded from the ordained ministry. How many pastors would be out of their profession? Many people succumb to the sin of pride when discussing homosexuality. Or when discussing pride, for that matter.
My fervent hope and prayer is that our church accept people with homosexual tendencies into our midst, that we will be known truly as Christ's disciples: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). May God rain His mercy on us.
Finally, if Jesus hung around with prostitutes, lepers, and tax collectors, would He hang around with homosexuals? with lesbians, gays, "faggots" and "queers"?
You know the answer as well as I do. Yes, He would.
And yes, He does.
46. Tim Stafford, "Love, Sex and the Whole Person," Campus Life, September 1984.
47. Dr. Springett emphasized that his work was a preliminary study, and said that church is to gain a clear picture of homosexuals within its organization and how to relate to them, much consideration remains to be done beyond his book.
48. Stanton Jones, "Homosexuality According to Science," Christianity Today, Aug. 18, 1989.
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