Gospel Inclusivity and Same-Sex Attraction
I am incredibly thankful for people and ministries that devote themselves to minister to people who experience same-sex attraction. In fact, I’m glad whenever anyone establishes a ministry geared toward the “LGBT” community in general. After all, everyone needs the gospel! But here a crucial distinction that needs to be made and I believe is often overlook by those who embrace “homosexual Christianity.”
Here’s the distinction: Identifying as a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction (SSA) is not the same as being a “gay Christian.” The latter denotes someone who identifies as a Christ follower and nevertheless openly embraces homosexuality and sees no moral problem with it (often knowingly or unknowingly reinterpreting Scripture in order to support a lifestyle it clearly does not.
On the other hand, being a Christian who admits to experiencing SSA is quite different. A Christian who experiences SSA is someone who recognizes two things:
- First, that regardless of their desires, they find themselves romantically attracted to people of the same gender. For these people, it probably matters little whether this attraction developed through nature or nurture—the attraction is there and is real. But, the second realization is key.
- Second, they also embrace Scripture as God’s word and agree with Scripture’s diagnosis of homosexuality as contrary to God’s creative purposes for human sexuality, and they seek to obey God even though it hurts to do so.
To my mind, this is incredibly commendable.
In the spirit of sympathy, we should recognize a distinctive challenge for Christians with SSA. The heterosexual Christian can pursue romantic relationships before marriage (as long as in doing so they follow the other moral commandments of Scripture). The Christian with SSA cannot “date” (insert whatever term you think appropriate here) whoever they wish. This is rough. They may want something at one level (their SSA), that at another level they know that cannot do without displeasing the God they love. We need to be willing to love, support, lose sleep over, and stand with those valuable image bearers as they struggle, fight, and claw their way to mortify their flesh as an expression of their treasuring Christ.
And yet, in another sense the call to sexual mortification is perfectly normal in the Christian life. Whether we are same-sex attracted or opposite sex attracted, all people everywhere are called to submit to the lordship of Christ through their sexuality. Our sexuality is given to us as something that comes with an instruction manual (Scripture). The Creator knows how best it functions and shares this information with us for maximum earthly fulfillment and flourishing. So heterosexual desires have only one proper channel through which will bring God’s approval (heterosexual monogamous marriage), and the person with SSA has the same channel. The standard is the same. The Bible does not teach that heterosexuals can do whatever they’d like with their sexuality with homosexuals oppressed with an unfair restriction.
In response to the struggles same-sex attracted Christian experience, our churches need to be places of inclusivity. But I am not advocating the kind of postmodern inclusivity that ultimately denies the reality of moral rebellion against God. What needed is gospel inclusivity. This is the kind of inclusivity that’s affirmed throughout the Bible itself. Biblical inclusivity affirms that each human being is valued and dignified by their Creator because we are fashioned in his image (Gen. 1:26). But it also includes every human being as equally fallen, in moral rebellion to their Creator apart from his grace (Rom. 3:23), and all subject to the effects of the fall (Rom. 8:20). Lastly, gospel inclusivity affirms that in Christ there is neither male or female, Jew nor Gentile, but we all have equal access to our Heavenly Father, and no one has any standing before God except the sole merits of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Gospel inclusivity looks like a bunch of broken sinners clinging to the cross together.
This is an inclusivity that is pleasing to God, and though humbles us to the dust is ultimately what—through God’s redeeming grace—will exalt us to the heavens.