Investigating the divine perspective on the modern move to comfort the homosexual and redefine his boundaries.
The “evolution” of humanity continues, and another hint of expanded freedom is in the air. As usual, our culture is tipping its noses into the wind and following the scent with abandon.
It is nothing new—this longing for progress—it is only the expression that has changed. As a wise man of 3,000 years ago once said, “There is no new thing under the sun.”1 Today, culture delightedly applauds the release of what has apparently been held behind the bars of decency for too long—our sexuality must now be allowed to express itself, varied though the expressions may be.
A Celebration of Liberation
Cultures have tolerated homosexuality before, but mere toleration is now too cold-hearted. Acceptance—indeed “celebration”—is the mantra of our time, and we are hoping that generations to come may bask in its warmth. The liberty of a person is hampered by the old-fashioned gasps and glances, and so these must be shown the door.
The Cost of the Exchange
Few stop to ask if somehow the vision for the common good of all humanity might have been usurped by the rush for the good of all humanity’s feelings.
Few notice that with the passing of eternal absolutes sensuality has become king. Truth, it is firmly believed, is not a firm thing. And since it is hidden behind the obfuscation of myriad religions and sects, society has opted for what is more immediately obvious—sensation. The mood of the moment has become our monarch.
Quite frankly, this is a lazy bargain, and one that sets us in dire straits. The obscurity of something lost only makes it more precious once found, and truth is no exception. To lightly exchange timeless values and understood truths in favor of our erratic titillations is bartering questionably at best.
The Cost of Pleasure
From every good childhood, we are taught that we cannot always do things just because we feel like it. The tenth cookie might be delicious, but vomiting is no reasonable price to pay for it. The learned assumption is fundamental, but profound. We learn that there are two kinds of pleasure in this world: the legitimate and the illegitimate. Both must be bought at a price; the difference being that for legitimate pleasure we pay beforehand, while for the illegitimate we pay later.
But, in a world where pleasure is pursued ever more fervently, the distinction between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” is blurring fast. As tragic and painful as it will be for society to lose the definition of illegitimate pleasure, it will be equally tragic when the definition of legitimate pleasure is inevitably lost along with it. For if pleasure has no boundaries, its significance is self-referenced; and when your only reference is something as fickle as feelings, meaninglessness results.
The Cost of Love
But pleasure is not the only thing that becomes pathetic when self-referenced. Love, by definition, needs boundaries. I will borrow Michael Ramsden’s brilliant illustration to make my point. Michael recalls speaking to a class of girls who were around the age of 9 years old. He asked them all to close their eyes and imagine that the boy whom they most admire has just said, “I love you.” Smiles spread around the circle. “Now imagine that the next day you come across him telling another girl ‘I love you.’” The expressions changed dramatically.
Let me repeat: Love, by definition, needs boundaries. And the alternative agenda of homosexuality is inherently fueled by the affection that men have for men or women for women, in defiance of love’s timeless boundaries. Is love still love if we’ve redefined the very nature of love?
Lost in a quandary of swirling emotions, humanity is in great need of some absolute definitions. Left without limitations, the pleasure-seeking agenda will inevitably implode. Eventually, in all consistency, we will no longer be able to object to the feelings of the one pulling his gun on us and asking for our wallet.
Just where are these definitions to be found, and who defines them? Humanity has already proven itself too varied and unpredictable to be the absolute reference.
Thankfully, then, there is more to life than ourselves, as the very fact of our existence indicates. At our deepest roots, whether we like to admit it or not, we know there is a Designer behind all of this.2 If this Designer has taken time to comment on the purpose of His creation and its sexuality, it goes without saying we would do well to listen.
God does in fact exist, and He has taken the time to reveal His purpose for human sexuality through His Word.3 And yes, He clearly states His repudiation of any redefinition of sexuality—including adultery and homosexuality.
Why haven’t we then listened? I believe the biggest stumbling block on our way to celebrating divine definitions is, quite simply, that we neglect to see them for what they are. It is most unfortunate that society has confused God’s statement of our purpose for some harsh list of rules.
It is even more unfortunate that the church must plead guilty to instilling this impression at times. Friend, if you happen to be outside the faith, let me sincerely apologize for how the church may have offended you by holding you to a line that you were unable to keep. The fact is, God’s perfect plan for our sexuality is beyond the reaches of our most valiant efforts. It is spiritual abuse to try and engrave His beautiful plan (and it is beautiful!) in stone, then drop that stone on the back of a person trying to come to terms with the complexities of his or her sexuality.
Dealing with the Divine Definition
So, what is the answer to the dilemma that I have only just extended? Are we left stuck with the fact that humanity is too frail to build its own standards and too weak to follow God’s? No! Embedded in the Christian message is the understanding that God has given us the undeserved option of confessing our futility before Him. In short, we must surrender before we can win and die before we can live. All of us, whether “straight” or otherwise, must come to terms with the stark reality of our hardnosed rebellion against the flawless standards of God.
We live one of the most valuable moments of our lives when we take the time to kneel before God and confess that we have tried our own definitions and found them wanting, and that we have investigated His standard and found it daunting. It is only then that the very power of heaven will be unlocked, and you will find yourself rising with the power to live a new life—a life that enjoys the beauty of a standard custom-fit for humanity by the Designer Himself.
As ironic as it sounds, it works. And it is not long after we’ve entered this new life in Jesus that we uncover another paradox: we learn to tenaciously love God’s plan without hating the person who violates it. We learn that there is nothing wrong with us, as originally designed by God as beings of intrinsic worth, but that it is our despicable sin of pursuing our feelings at the expense of God’s perfection that has turned us so terribly wrong.
In many ways, our worst sin has simply been this attempt at self-definition, and it is not unique to homosexuals. It is just as real in heterosexuals who hunger after adultery or in youth addicted to sexual violence via pornography. And it pervades non-sexual sin as well.
The Perfect Plan
But what exactly does God’s perfection look like, and is His design a sustainable standard? To their shame, men have caricatured this benchmark and made it look unreasonably restrictive. I hope this assumption will be undone as we go along, but it is a pity that we have to sweep away these intellectual cobwebs before we can see the divine order that has been functioning beautifully among God’s people for thousands of years.
- The monogamous relationship between man and woman is naturally completing, complimentary and procreative. Not only is cross-gender love and union conspicuously intended, God’s call to be fruitful and multiply obviously calls for such relationships.
- The marriage commitment is to be lifelong. As off-topic as this sounds, it is a spectacular standard that many straight couples have failed, let alone same sex couples. By putting such extremely firm definitions on love, God has made it come alive in a way that no man could. When making their commitment to each other for a lifetime, Christian couples are embracing each other in a love that runs very deep, and runs deeper as the years roll by.
- God’s established order of men with strength and women with beauty and grace is essential to relational fullness, when it is governed by His love. I enjoy seeing the undying intimacy of couples married long enough to raise children to adulthood. It excites me because I know it is so pleasantly far from society’s norm. These relationships could be devastating pits of strife where each fights for dominance and manipulates for control. But because a man and woman chose God’s roles without reinvention, and filled them well and intuitively, stability, beauty and the fullest experience of love has resulted.
- This established order brings together the diverse contributions of the man’s masculinity and the woman’s femininity to provide a stable foundation for children. The bold new cultural experiment to place two men or two women over the welfare of a child is not yet entirely proven, although the preliminary results are far from pleasant.4, 5 To see a man of God who is strong enough to lead his children without the controlling hand of human strength is a wonder to behold. But give him a wife that has the tenderness of a nurse and the strength of God’s purity, and you have every essential need of a child met. The man is called to lead with a love too firm to back down and of too much integrity to fight. And the woman shines her best when suggesting without demanding and teaching without completely punishing.
Perhaps this sounds so ideal that it borders on arrogant. Let me assure you that I laid out this standard carefully, lest I infringed on my honest Father by ascribing Him a standard which I haven’t seen working among His people. I simply testify that I have seen this standard work. Honestly, I hesitate to attach the name “Christian” to this standard, as these ethics have originated, along with creation, from the hand of God.
I quickly admit that Christianity has not always lived by this standard as faithfully as it should have. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed to some extent the devastation that can result when Christian homes lose their moorings in holiness and love.
It is also important to note that God nowhere promises that this standard will be easy. The demands of integrity and love are great, and can wear the patience of any human. This is not due to any error in God’s design, but to the flaws of our fallen nature.
Meeting the Demands of Perfection
This lifestyle, though, is most certainly possible if we learn the strength of surrender. It is not by default that men come before the throne of the Father and confess that they need grace they do not deserve in order to lead their families. But such self-abasement is essential to a life endowed with divine power.
It is men of just such humility who are also equipped to rise above the brokenness of an orientation that does not cooperate with “normal.” I understand that the homosexual orientation is a very personal issue, touching the very core of a person’s identity.
It may seem like I am attacking the person when I call him broken, but I am only saying that he is stuck with the same condition that all of us have from birth, whether “straight” or “gay”. We have all been born with a bent to evil, and those of the homosexual orientation have the same bent, only in a different direction. The solution lies not in riding the bend, but in calling help from above to have it straightened out.
The process of change is demanding, and the implications vary from person to person. But the journey to freedom from perverted lust of any kind must always start at the cross of Jesus. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [emphasis added]”.6 The message is simple but, I remind you, radically different from our defaults.
For those of you who have taken this step and hailed Jesus as your King over every decision of your life, you will need to pursue intimate fellowship with others of His kingdom. I have learned that one of the primary factors in the making of a gay orientation is a lack of intimacy from childhood.7 Young boys need fatherly affection, and when that goes missing, starvation results. If this starvation is seen for what it is, the unbalanced impulses can be rejected and healed by healthy Christian brotherhood. I pray that you can find a church honest enough to diagnose your problem and intimate enough to intensely help you towards full freedom.
The Last Word
In the end, truth will triumph. Men will continue down their bent to do evil, and the excuses will fly thick and fast. The urge to reinvent and redefine God’s terms will continue to appear in a thousand voices.
But some day, we will find ourselves under the gaze of God, and the truth He has planted deep within us will be obvious. There, all the redefinitions will melt, and we’ll be left with the knowing we did not want to know, faced with the plan we did not want to follow, and overwhelmed with the love we insisted was too restrictive. We will be left speechless as our works are reviewed. It could be most terrible…or most glorious. That depends on our choices now. It will be too late then.
I mean to face up with my responsibility to learn God’s terms before it is too late. Will you do the same?
1. Ecclesiastes 1:9
2. Romans 1:20
3. See, for example, Romans 1 or 1Corinthians 6:9.
4. http://focusonthefamily.com/about_us/focus-findings/family-formation-trends/regnerus-family-structures-study.aspx, accessed 30 January 2014.
5. Gary Bates and Lita Cosner, Gay Marriage: right or wrong? Creation Book Publishers, pp. 24-26.
6. John 1:9
7. Desires in Conflict, by Joe Dallas. This book has been a very valuable resource for me in trying to make sense of the cause and, most importantly, the remedy for the homosexual orientation.