But this is how God made me… so why?…

If gay orientation isn’t a choice, how can I believe that God says no to gay sex?

If the attraction to people of the same gender is not something a person chooses but is part of how they are, then how can I believe that God would expect them to go through their whole life resisting that part of themselves?

Isn’t it just their God-given nature?

Over a month ago, two people in two different online conversations presented me with this question. (There was a lot of debate going on about the Chick Fil-A thing in America at the time.) My feeling was: I know in my head what I think, but it’s going to be pretty complex trying to put it into words, there’s so much going on in this question. Part of me really wants to address it, to try and explain how I see it, and part of me worries about whether or not I can do it justice, whether or not I can explain it coherently enough, whether or not I will manage to express it in a way that other people can understand.

Also: I don’t like hurting people’s feelings and I know that each and every time I mention that I believe gay sex is a sin, I’m hurting people’s feelings. Including people I personally know and care about. I don’t like doing that.

Still, this question has been on my mind since those discussions, and after several attempts at drafting a post, I think I need to just go for it, write it as best I can and hit “publish” before I lose my bottle. It’s such a complex and emotive issue, that leaving it in draft means I will inevitably want to add and edit and polish and it will never see the light of day.

So, this is going to be an imperfect post. It will not address each and every angle. It is just my human, fallible and limited attempt to explain my understanding of something that is really complex.

And it is only my understanding of it.

This post will not address the question of why I believe gay sex is a sin – there’s been plenty written about that and I don’t feel I have anything new to add; and this isn’t a post about gay sex being a sin, it’s a post about how I can believe gay sex is a sin and at the same time believe that gay orientation is not a choice.

Also: I am speaking from my own point of view as a Bible-believing Christian. This is also not up for debate on this post. This post isn’t about why I believe in Jesus or why I take the Bible seriously, it’s about the question: since I do, how can I believe that God says gay sex is a sin even though people don’t choose to have a gay orientation?

Wow, that was a long preamble. Okay, here goes:

Accepting people as they are – that’s part of loving them, and I see it as part of my remit under God’s command to love my fellow humans as I love myself. I believe God loves each of us as we are. He doesn’t reject people because of any faults or problems or weaknesses or even bad stuff we knowingly do. He loves us as we are. The Bible says that while were still sinners, Christ died for us. God doesn’t wait for us to become perfect before we can receive his love, and he doesn’t withhold his love from us because of our imperfections. He loves us as we are.

Does he then say: carry on doing what you like? no. He does tell us how to live. When Jesus walked this earth, some of the religious people brought a woman to him who had been caught in an act of adultery. They wanted to punish her, he wasn’t really interested in doing that and he pointed out to them that they had no right to judge her as they weren’t any better. So they all scattered, and he was left alone with her. He was the one person who did have the right to judge her, and what did he tell her? He told her he does not condemn her, and then he told her to go and not sin any more.

So, God loves us as we are and isn’t into condemnation, but he does say things like: don’t do that any more.

But adultery isn’t the same as gay sex, and with gay sex there is this question about it being part of a person’s nature and why would God want them to resist it – isn’t it part of their God-given nature?

I started talking about acceptance earlier, and I think this is key: when a mother has a baby who is, let’s say, born with Down’s or with a physical genetic defect, will she not love her baby as he/she is? I’d hope she would. I know God does. But we still make value judgements about these things, we still regard some of the stuff babies are born with as defects, right?

There are things that might be part of what a person is like and not by choice (whether it’s down to nature or nurture is immaterial – we don’t get to choose our genes but neither do we get to choose the environment we’ll grow up in) and that we might regard as non-ideal. (Bear with me, I know some of this is very emotive but I’m trying to just look at it logically. I’m not saying gay sex is on a par with this stuff. Hang on in there and you’ll see where I’m going with this, okay?) So where was I? There are things that are part of how a person is, not by choice, but we still don’t condone them. If someone has kleptomania, we don’t say: oh, let them steal, it can’t be wrong because it’s part of their nature. If someone is sexually attracted to children, we don’t accept that as simply part of their God-given nature which we should accept and celebrate – we say this is a problem, because we regard sex with children as wrong.

No, I am not equating gay sex with the horror of paedophilia – absolutely not! I’m saying: look, there are things that are part of a person’s nature but we as a society in general do not condone. So it doesn’t make sense to say that just because X is part of someone’s nature, X can’t be wrong/sinful.

So what’s the difference? It seems to me that the difference is in our perception of harm. In general, the consensus in Western society has, over time, shifted from seeing something as wrong just because God says so, to seeing things as wrong only if we see them as harmful. We have moved from accepting God’s authority to evaluating things through human eyes. In the case of paedophilia, we see it as harmful – we regard children as vulnerable and we see it as wrong to use them for sexual gratification. In the case of kleptomania, we see it as harmful – we regard theft as wrong, we believe people have a right to own property and not to have it taken from them without permission. In the case of gay sex, when it is between two consenting adults, we say: but where’s the harm? who are they hurting?

I’m not going to try and debate that question here, I just wanted to show that this really is the issue. We have two opposing world views here: one which says human beings have the right and ability to decide what is right and what is wrong (and tends to look at harm as an important indicator); and one which says God is the ultimate authority on right and wrong, and he knows a lot better than we do about what is good for us. Under the second world view, it is perfectly reasonable to accept that X might be wrong even if X is part of how a person is – in fact, this is a strong thread weaving through the whole of the Christian faith: we believe that we humans are sinful by nature and that, while God loves us despite that, he wants us to live a better way, and that when someone puts his/her faith in Jesus for their salvation, that person receives the Holy Spirit to help them live a better way. The Christian life is not one of “do what you like”, even though we know that Jesus has atoned for all our sins and we’re okay with God no matter what we do; the Christian life is one of battling against our sinful nature, going against some of the strongest pulls of our natural human desires. So, yes, I believe that includes the strong pull of sex in any context in which God says “don’t do it” and I believe that includes sex between people of the same gender, but I also believe that includes sex before marriage, not to mention sex with someone else when you are married, so there’s quite a lot of people in the West today living a life that I regard as sinful. And hey, that also very much includes the old me, before I put my faith in Jesus and was born again. (not that I’m perfect now, obviously, just better than how I was before.)

Okay, like I said I’m sure this post is imperfect but I know my weaknesses and I know that if I don’t hit “publish” now it just won’t ever get published. I hope it does in some way help people understand a little bit better how I see this whole issue. I don’t expect you all to suddenly agree with me, just to understand my view.


P.S. Thou Shalt Not Hate

I’ve had lots of reactions to this post on Google+ and this has helped me to get a better understanding of one type of reaction I sometimes get when I mention this issue.

There are people out there who hate gay people and who go around beating people up for being gay. (So far, not news to me. I’ve known enough gay people to be well aware of this stuff. I had friends back in Tel Aviv who spoke of the gay-bashers who would go deliberately looking for victims in the gay cruising areas and beat them up. So this is stuff I’ve known about for the whole of my adult life.)

From what I hear, it sounds like some of these gay-bashers in America use the concept of gay sex being sinful as an excuse for their behaviour. This is the bit that was news to me. I don’t think the thugs in Tel Aviv use that rationale. (If you can use the word “rationale” in the context of such irrational behaviour.)

Also, sadly no longer news to me but it still horrifies me whenever I hear about it and I hope I’ll always remain horrified by it: the Westboro Baptist Church syndrome – people who go around telling gay people that God hates them. Why? Where on earth do they get this from? They must have some bits in the Bible rubbed out, or do they just skip them? (No, I’m not looking for answers. I don’t think this is a rational thing.)

So when Americans who are aware of this stuff hear me say “I believe gay sex is a sin” they think of those people, they think of the haters. I’m saying the thing that those haters say. And even if they can understand that I don’t hate gay people, they can see me as feeding that hate machine, adding fuel to the fire, giving ammunition to the gay-bashers and the Westboro types.

And obviously if you’ve actually had someone close to you beaten up by these people, it would take superhuman strength not to react emotionally when you hear this.

So I feel it is my duty to add this p.s. here, to use my virtual megaphone to say:

I don’t condone hate. I don’t believe God does. Jesus told us to love other people as we love ourselves. He told us to love even our enemies!

Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He said: let him who is without sin cast the first stone. The people of that time and place at least had the wisdom to recognise that they weren’t without sin, and left without stoning her. How dare you presume to be righteous enough to look down on others? The Bible says we have all sinned. It says if we say we have not sinned we deceive ourselves. But oh, it is so much easier to pick the speck out of other people’s eyes, right?

I could go on… but I think by now you either get the point or you are for some reason incapable of getting it. So I’m going to end with this very simple summary:

God loves everyone, and he expects us to love everyone too. He doesn’t allow us to hate people.

I wish this didn’t need saying.

(I’m going to post this p.s. as a separate post too.)

5 thoughts on “But this is how God made me… so why?…

  1. You expressed yourself really well, I think. And, I think you have accurately represented the Biblical Christian view of sin and Grace, too.

    Like

  2. This is quite an impressive post. You have very clearly explained your view on this complicated issue.
    I’m glad you did.
    As English is not my native language I find it hard sometimes to express exactly how I feel or what I believe in matters like this. If you don’t mind I will keep your post as reference as it says exactly what I believe too.

    Living in the Netherlands, where the gay movement has gained control of most of the media and a lot of the political landscape it’s extremely hard to say out loud what I believe about this matter. Some of it might get me even arrested here, for discriminating gay people.

    I like the way you described the two world views. Honestly, I hadn’t really articulated it that way. It will help me tremendously to explain to people why I have a different opinion than most of us here.

    Thank you!

    Like

    • Thank you, Riete, for your encouragement. If my post is of help to you, that makes it well worth the effort – I can understand how difficult it is for you, there is a trend which I see here too towards legislating on what people can or can’t say, and even without legislation there is just the fear of people’s reactions. But I know that Christians in your country have shown great courage in the past, so I pray that God will give you the courage you need. And of course you are very very welcome to point people to this post if you need to!

      Like

  3. Hello! I’ve been reading your website for some time now
    and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Tx!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

    Like

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