More Emerging Conclusions (LGBT 6)

The best scientific research I have seen, at least from sources not biased against Scripture or religion, have concluded that a gay or lesbian identity is changeable. A person embraces a gay or lesbian identity by choice, it is not inherent. This means that a person can have a homosexual orientation but still embrace the gospel call to accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and the master of one’s life. Accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is core to what it means to be a follower of Jesus, so this finding is very significant. There is no immutable barrier to LGBT people accepting the gospel and participating in the life of the church.

At the same time, research indicates that, in most instances, homosexual orientation is not a choice, but is ingrained into the person’s being. So-called “change therapies” have had very limited success over a period of five or six years (there may seem to be a “change” over the short term, but it usually does not last). It is likely that where a change can be scientifically verified, the person was actually bisexual rather than homosexual, but these categories can be hard to separate clinically. If one’s orientation is ingrained, and not subject to change, that is extremely significant for how Christians should treat LGBT people. To demand a change in inner thought processes and urges when such a change is unlikely or impossible is more abusive than godly.

How do we explain the presence of immutable characteristics that incline a person contrary to God’s original creation design? From a biblical perspective, these are a consequence of human rebellion and sin, but not necessarily the individual’s own rebellion and sin. Sin is not just a legal breaking of the law. Sin is a poison or an infection that is ingrained inside all human beings from birth and distorts everything we do and everything we are. In this we are all on the same ground. We are all broken people whose brokenness may manifest itself in different ways, but from the standpoint of the gospel, we all start in a similar place. We are “out of compliance” by nature. That means “temptation” is not the same thing as sin. In a broken world, sexuality of all types can incline a person toward sin. In this the homosexual and the heterosexual are on the same ground. Both are broken, in the biblical sense, and both need the redemption that comes in Christ and the support of the Holy Spirit. Sin and its consequences cannot be eradicated by effort, they require divine intervention, which will only be experienced in its fullness at the Second Coming (Rom 8:22-23; 1 Cor 15:51-54). Until then, we are all in need of compassion, understanding and forgiveness.

This tells me that any Christian outreach to LGBT people must occur in full awareness of a common brokenness. If heterosexual Christians act as if they are morally superior to homosexual people, they are not only abusive, they are wrong from a biblical perspective (don’t worry, we will be looking at the biblical texts themselves soon). They are like those Jesus describes as seeing the speck in another person’s eye while missing the plank in their own (Matt 7:1-5, NIV). The biblical perspective on sexuality is not biased against gays, its analysis penetrates deep into all human self-deception and delusion. LGBT people are not exempt from the biblical analysis, neither are they to be singled out as uniquely lost or depraved in some way.

Another emerging conclusion is that bisexual and homosexual are not the same thing. If one thinks of orientation as a continuum with full heterosexuality at one end and full homosexuality at the other, bisexuality is a condition in which the person is somewhere between, attracted at times to the same sex and at times to the opposite sex. Most people are at one end of the spectrum or the other, but some are at various places in between. For church communities that like everything simple or “black and white,” sexuality and its manifestations are more complicated than they would like. Add in intersex and transgender, and things are far more complicated yet. Bisexuals may have more choice in how they express their sexuality, but bisexuality is also more a symptom of human brokenness than the result of a person’s decision and action.

In this generation, people and human sexuality have proven to be more complex than we realized before. I would like to turn in the next blog to some of the biblical data to see what “word from the Lord” we can get to help manage the complexities as church communities.

7 thoughts on “More Emerging Conclusions (LGBT 6)

  1. Ernest Kusi Boakye

    We are waiting patiently for the next blog to know how to deal with this issue biblically in our various churches

    Reply
  2. Denver

    Perhaps you have not noticed, but modern science is in a massive crisis of irreproducibility. Not only are a majority of research results not reproducible but those that are show another majority are tainted by declared predispositions, confirmation biases, effects lacking statistical significance, and blatant abuse of scientific and statistical rigor.

    That’s before we even mention another significant proportion that are simply deliberate lies, or that this crisis is enormously greater in the so-called social sciences than in the traditional hard sciences, i.e. it pervades the very disciplines on which your essay depends.

    To cast one’s beliefs on the basis of “science so-called” is outrageously risky. For a noted theologian of a fundamentalist Christian denomination, allegedly holding the word of God to be far above any wisdom of man, to do so is … well, risky hardly begins to describe it, does it?

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      The best evidence conservative mental health experts have found tells us that changing orientation is almost as rare as miraculous sight to the blind. I wish the evidence were otherwise but science and experience both indicate that. Orientation is not a sin, acting on it is. There is a difference.

      Reply
      1. Denver

        It’s not a question of whether or not orientation is a sin – we’re all sinners, we’re all born with a natural orientation away from God, who must perforce call to us, “Repent!” and “Return to me!”.

        No one sin is more or less deadly than any other. Adam ate a piece of fruit.

        It’s a question of whether we interpret the wisdom of men through the lens of scripture or interpret scripture through the wisdom of men?

        I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded.

        Reply
  3. Robert Whiteman

    “In this generation, people and human sexuality have proven to be more complex than we realized before.”

    Do you believe that people and human sexuality was somehow less complex in Sodom and Gomorrah, which today cannot be found?

    God’s word lays out a clear path for all sinners to follow that will lead them to eternal life, so why are we eager to make it complicated? Our role as Servants of God is to point to the “perfect” Law of the Lord while uplifting the sinless Lamb of God above all other concerns, through whom every sinner will find pardon and healing of every disease, no matter how “complex” some might think them to be. We don’t need to redefine sin, we only need the Law and the Gospel. If doing this faithfully as Jesus did, the Holy Spirit will do the rest. We witness, the Holy Spirit convicts, Jesus saves.

    What a simple and blessed task we have as laborers together with God!

    Reply

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