I recently finished the book “Washed and Waiting” (Hill) which discusses homosexuality in the Christian Life. I found the book, which is written by a Christian who struggles with homosexuality, very helpful and insightful. I think that this topic is one that is often ignored or frowned upon in the church today because it is one that is hard to discuss without either offending or compromising with Biblical text. Though this is true, this book gives hope to future discussion of homosexuality within the church.
To better understand the topic at hand, I believe that it is important to first define some key terms in this discussion (often offense can be taken when the incorrect terms are applied to a topic). I do not consider myself to be an expert on these or other relevant terms but it is important to understand a distinction between, Same Sex Attraction (SSA), Homosexual Orientation (HO), and Homosexual Identity (HI).
Same sex attraction is a term to describe desires and feelings that someone has but those desires do not reflect their actions nor identity. People who struggle with SSA cannot control their attractions but can control their actions/behavior.
Homosexual Orientation is a term used to describe the situation of a person who has Same Sex Attractions that are strong enough and persistent enough that they feel themselves orientating themselves toward the same sex. They cannot control themselves from noticing the same sex in the way someone of Heterosexual oriented people notice an attractive person of the opposite sex.
Homosexual Identity is the socio-cultural label that people use to describe themselves, a label embedded with meaning in today’s culture. A person who describes themselves with this label are those whose tendencies/desires are strong enough that they embrace the lifestyle as a part of who they are.
Often times when talking about anyone of these tiers we assume that the person is gay. Whether they struggle with SSA, HO, or HI they are all the same in everyday conversation. That mentality within the church causes a divide between those who struggle with this temptation/sin issue. It is important to recognize these as three different temptations. Same Sex Attraction as stated above does not imply homosexual identity nor does SSA mean that the person is acting on those attractions. They do not identify as being gay, nor do they necessarily act on those feelings. This differs from Homosexual Orientation in a way that those who struggle with HO feel that they cannot control themselves from being drawn to others of the same sex. They may not act out on those feelings but those feelings are more persistent than that of SSA. Lastly, if an individual comes to accept themselves as “being gay” and embrace the lifestyle there of, than they are struggling with homosexual identity.
Those distinctions in mind, anyone of these tiers can include sinful action, which is to say that they engage in homosexual activity. Neither attraction, orientation, nor identity are inherently more sinful, but do help understand where the individual is in their struggle with this temptation.
Where does homosexuality come from?
There is the constant debate of Nature vs Nurture, but for now I believe as many have said, we know but we don’t may be the best we can do right now on this subject. There are people who have suffered from emotional or physical abuse who afterward have identified as being homosexual and there are people who have lived lives free of those things who also fall under this temptation. It is not beyond possibility that our sexuality can be corrupted by sin from birth. We can all as believers agree that homosexuality is a product of sin, as discussed below.
Where does the Bible come in?
“God created man, male and female He created them.”, God’s mandate “Be fruitful and multiply”, “You shall not lie with a male as with female, for it is an abomination.” All these and more have been used to claim that homosexuality is a sin and not from God. It is true that homosexual actions are sinful, but the Bible has more to say.
Romans 1: 21-32 Says that man knew God but did not give thanks nor honor him and that they began to worship images or created things in place of the immortal God. Because of this God gave man up to lusts and immoral passions. Men and women engaged in relations against what is natural. The passage continues saying, because they refused to acknowledge God they were given up to debased mind causing a multitude of other sins.
It is important to take this passage together because first it defines homosexual actions as sin, not attractions, but also because it lists this sin with all types of sin. The passage does emphasize that it is acting on these passions that is sinful “26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Though this passage tells us all the sins that we commit and that we are to receive due punishment, there is also hope. 1 Cor 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you. But YOU WERE WASHED, YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, YOU WERE JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
All sinners who come to know Christ have been washed clean of their sin and have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. homosexuality among them.
“God condemns homosexual behavior and amazingly, profligately, at great cost to himself, lavishes his love on homosexual persons” (Hill)
Though all believers, no matter what sins they commit, are washed clean by Christ, we are still waiting for His return and our Glorified bodies to be made. We are still struggling with our sinful nature. So just as I may lie to a friend, Christians can still struggle with Same Sex attraction, Homosexual Orientation, and Homosexual Identity and the temptations involved. We are all washed and waiting.