For Paul, God’s ideal was exhibited in creation, the natural order of things (Rom 1:25). It was all “very good.” Among other things, human beings were created in the image of God, reflecting His character, not only in their choices and actions, but in their very being. But with the Fall God’s natural order of things was marred and distorted. That distortion included the marring of God’s image in human beings. So one of the consequences of the Fall is the kind of sinful desires that plague us all. Another consequence of the Fall is the three levels of homosexuality mentioned in earlier blogs. Homosexual identity, homosexual orientation and homosexual attractions are all contrary to God’s creation ideal. When someone experiences a homosexual attraction, it is not the way things were designed to be. It would not be true to the Bible to say anything else.
But heterosexuals also experience attractions that are contrary to God’s ideal. Whenever a married Christian is deeply attracted to someone other than their spouse, it is a sign of human brokenness, just as much as homosexual attractions are. In a fallen world we all struggle with desires and attractions that are contrary to God’s ideal. We can follow Paul’s lead and exercise control over them or we can allow them to rule us and to do that which is not in our own best interests or in the interests of the other person for us to do. To act on sinful attractions not only works against God’s ideal for us, it also defrauds others (1 Thess 4:3-8), not only the ones we are relating to but others they will engage with in the future. Any counselor will tell you that promiscuity fractures the personality (sometimes called “splitting off”) and makes it harder for people to truly bond with a single individual in marriage. Acting on the sinful desires moves us further and further way from God’s ideal. That is not the progression to which Christians are called.
The bottom line for Paul and the rest of the New Testament is this: Is our identity in Christ or is it in our sexuality? Promiscuous individuals (this includes engagement with pornography) find thoughts of sex consuming their whole lives, you can never get enough sex (in whatever form) to truly satisfy. It doesn’t matter if the sexuality is homosexual or heterosexual, if it is the central focus of our lives, we are not identified with Christ. While in promiscuity the focus may seem to be on others, it is really an obsession with self and with trying to satisfy needs in a sexual way, needs that can only truly be satisfied in Christ. When you identify with Christ, He calls you away from this obsession with self to be focused on Him and learn from Him how to focus on others in a healthier way. So the core decision of the Christian life is to develop and maintain one’s identity in Christ. Being identified with Christ will more and more wean us away from the focus on self that leads us to gratify the desires of the flesh.
What does all this have to do with LGBTIQ issues? The realization that LGBT people may be different from the rest of us, but they are struggling with the same core issues. They too have a need for Jesus Christ. They too struggle with sinful desires. If we demand that they change their orientation, something most seem not able to do even in Christ, the burden becomes exceedingly great and discouraging. It actually hinders their ability to overcome their sinful desires and maintain a life of Christ-like purity in relationship with others. When we appreciate the commonness of our struggles we can team up with each other to obtain the best possible outcome in a very challenging world. But when we hide our own faults under a guise of moral superiority in relation to LGBT people, we do them a disfavor and make our own moral recovery less likely. Through a recognition of our common brokenness and our common call, we can find our way to our common destiny.