When The Church Affirms Homosexuality
It was not until I read the testimony of a Christian man battling against homosexual lust that I realised what the leadership of the American Episcopal Church is doing. This so-called ‘affirming church’ – and there are Baptists and Presbyterians who declare the same message – is saying that homosexuality is God’s plan for the lives of many men and women, even though everywhere in the Word of God it is forbidden and called a sin. Christians battling with their lusts are being encouraged by these church leaders to submit to their desires. The leaders claim that they love homosexuals, and are trying to help them, but they are actually strengthening the bars of a prison which is the homosexual’s own making.
An anonymous Christian man resisting sexual sin said that he felt cheated by these religious men. In an article last year in Christianity Today he asked whether anyone thinks that God gains some mysterious personal benefit by prohibiting homosexual practice? His own exposure to homosexuality has convinced him of a far more basic rationale for the biblical prohibition: Homosexuality is bad for man. He was aware of sexually transmitted diseases and knew those who had died of AIDS. Going off to college thirty years ago he had decided he would withhold no homosexual pleasure from himself, but God in his great mercy acted before he could carry out his plan and one Sunday in the autumn of 1971 Jesus Christ changed his life. He feels he would have been another AIDS statistic by now if it were not for that grace.
But the area where the affirming church cheats people the most is not health. It is relationships. You don’t hear the affirming church discuss the lasting damage this sin inflicts on homosexuals and their loved ones. He says that twenty-five years ago, God blessed him with the gift of being attracted to the wonderful woman who is now his wife. Because of fear and lack of faith, he hid his struggle from her for 23 of those years. “I am told by many of my ex-gay friends that I am ‘lucky.’ While I had two boyfriends in my teen years, God, in his grace – not to mention my fear of discovery – kept me from engaging in explicit homosexual activity. My experience was limited to simple physical affection and the indulgence in homosexual pornography. But I don’t feel lucky. I wanted to believe the message of the affirming church – that I was born this way, that I couldn’t be happy without accepting my homosexuality, and that I couldn’t change. I had the occasional fall to gay porn bought at an ‘adult’ shop on business trips.”
Then he discovered online pornography. Suddenly, he could indulge himself whenever he wanted. Unlike many of the ‘straight’ porn sites that charge fees, many gay sites operate at no charge. He was quickly hooked. He says, “I spent several years in bondage to lust. Over and over, I would quit, shamed beyond measure. But the church’s message that I should embrace my identity as a ‘gay Christian’ continued to entice me and I would return to my self-made prison. My sin separated me from God, and I lost the joy of my salvation. My conscience didn’t side with the affirming church.”
What happened next was that after so many years of stimulation, his senses became dulled. He no longer could get the rush he needed so badly. Encouraged by the message of the affirming church, he was “embracing” his homosexuality. But as he fell deeper into sin, his marriage grew increasingly boring and his wife’s love seemed more and more distant. The affirming church had a bigger lie: “I had been ‘guilted’ into a heterosexual marriage by a gospel church that lied to me about my orientation. I listened to the lie and decided to call a gay friend for sex. But as I sat there, receiver in hand, listening to the dial tone, I realized that I was about to throw my whole life away. It didn’t feel like freedom; it felt like I was about to be further enslaved. I simply could not complete the call; I decided to get help.”
True Christians did help him, but he is still in the process of rebuilding his relationship with his wife. “She lost her trust in me, and why not? When she finds me at the computer, she wonders if I have again become ensnared by porn. To alleviate her concerns, I have made my computer use an open book to her and my accountability partner. My wife lives with the embarrassment that is not of her making, and never knows how friends will react if they dig out about my past. She must deal with the damage I have done to her self-image. After all, what does a woman think about herself when her husband has desires for men? You never hear this question raised by the affirming church.”
But the Lord has brought them healing. Even though they still have ups and downs, their commitment to each other has grown in ways that he could not have imagined before all of this. Most of all, each of them has grown in their relationship with Christ. It’s not easy to escape the slave of homosexuality but there are tens of thousands of people who now identify themselves as ex-gay, and enjoy a full and happy life. There are several times more who had never identified themselves as gay in the first place, who have moved beyond their same-sex attractions entirely.
His evangelical pastor likens affirming Christians to the doctor who examines her patient and discovers life-threatening, but treatable, cancer. However, knowing that the patient cannot bear the thought of the painful treatment, she sends the man home with the “good news” that there is nothing wrong with him. Instead, the good doctor tells her patient that the symptoms of cancer are something “quite natural” that she should “accept.” In the same way, he has had professing Christians tell him that homosexuality is “natural,” that he was “born this way,” and he should “accept” the way he is. They have said that his marriage was mistake; he should divorce his wife and affirm his gay identity, but he has heard countless stories of men and women who came out from affirming churches because they realized that they were not being who God wants them to be.
Believers can act like the false physician, telling people tempted by homosexuality that same-sex orientation is part of their identity and that they should accept it. They can act as judge, jury, and executioner, driving them away from the Saviour who loves them. Either way, they risk the same results: spiritual death. Or we can respond like Jesus would, with grace and truth: “Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Those words called this man in his battle with lust weary and heavy laden with sin. Shouldn’t all Christians bear that message of freedom and hope?
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