Ethics: Pastor Admits to Homosexual Orientation

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What would you do Wednesday!

Thanks to my friend Rhology for this week’s topic.

Your main preaching pastor is about to offer a Sunday morning pastoral prayer. Before praying one of your associate pastors steps up to the pulpit to make an important announcement and asks everyone for prayers on the issue. He begins.

As you all know I’ve served as a pastor here for several years. You also know that I have remained single the whole time. What I am about to tell you is not easy to openly admit.

The fact is that my sexual orientation…is…homosexual.

But please hear me out. I am fully convinced, and profess to you now, that the only justifiable and acceptable sexual expression is heterosexuality within a heterosexual marriage, one man and one woman committed for life.

I have put specific guidelines in place to protect myself and the whole congregation. For example, I always leave the door open when counseling people. I am accountable to other pastors about this issue and I even have internet filtering software on my computer.

Finally, it is important for you all to know that I have not engaged in any illicit sex and have no plans to. I also meet with a Christian counselor about the same-sex attractions. Please stand with me in prayer on this issue. Thank you.

This pastor serves the church faithfully and has a great relationship with everyone.

What would you do?

Let's connect!

tagged as , in Church Issues,Culture

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris Coppenbarger November 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

I think that what is important to note here is that the pastor has admitted to being a sinner. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6 that some of them were murderers, liars, fornicators, and even homosexuals, but the blood of Christ has cleansed them and made them new creatures. The pastor has not admitted to sin, but appears to admit a struggle with a particular sin. If he were active in the homosexual lifestyle, there would be a different story to tell here. There is a difference in admitting to sin and living a life of sin. Homosexual temptations are not sin, but it’s the giving into the temptation that becomes sin.

2 Dan Phillips November 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

Thanks. I’ll prolly answer at my blog and link to yours.

3 monty November 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

Praise God. Here we have a man confronting his sin and standing against the flow of cultural norms. We should support him, pray for him as he continues his fight and encourage him that he is on the right path.

4 Andrew Wencl November 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

First, I think I’d do what he asks: stand with him in prayer.

I’d be a little concerned by his saying “my sexual orientation…is…homosexual.” Since he was somewhat nervous sharing this and he might not be well-versed in the terminology, he might not know that sexual orientation is generally considered part of a person’s identity and is not usually changeable. He may struggle with it for the rest of his life, but it shouldn’t be part of his identity.

I recognize that “sexual preference” is not a wholly accurate term either. It might be redundant (or understatement) to say “I struggle with homosexual inclinations,” but wording is still something to consider, especially since these terms are loaded for both the church-going and secular crowd.

5 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

We need to look at the qualifications of a pastor. If he is single he should never have been placed as a pastor in the first place. To summarize, he is to be “presently” the husband of one wife and have children in submission and reverent. He is to possess leadership ability in the home before becoming a pastor. Here is the verses we ponder when looking for a pastor:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having [his] children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the [same] condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:2-7

He should step down because he is not qualified in the first place and if those tendences exist, seek the prayers and support of the church. He should submit to a very detailed examination outside the church, too. This is very serious and should only be handled by the utmost qualified people who know how to best approach this.

6 Chris Roberts November 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

First, I would first be very curious as to why he chose to make such an announcement to the church. While we are to confess our sins to one another and bear one another’s burdens, I would consider it very inadvisable for a pastor to announce from the pulpit the specifics of very personal temptations. Advise a group of leaders within the church? Sure, that’s good for accountability. Confess to the church if he has fallen? Yes, absolutely, then step down. But share from the pulpit his struggle with a temptation of this sort? No, not well advised.

Second, along the lines of what Andrew says, I would be bothered by how he identifies this as his sexual orientation. “I struggle with homosexual attraction” is one thing. “My sexual orientation is homosexual” is another. I would want to find out more of what he means by that and how he understands human sexuality and the root causes of homosexual desire.

Third, depending on how things turn out when exploring the two issues above, I would say for him to continue in this ministry. Temptation is not sin, and if temptation invalidated one from ministry, no one would be in ministry. That said, I do think certain temptations might be such that a person would be wise to avoid ministry because of the potential for failure, but I don’t think this particular situation would fall under that category.

7 Chris Roberts November 30, 2011 at 10:46 am

Bruce,

I think most people – myself included – understand that verse to mean he must not have multiple wives, not that he must be married.

8 Thom Cole November 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

I have been in Church’s where if a pastor made this kind of confession, he would not be employed by the church on Monday morning.

But, I do not think that would be the Godly, appropriate thing to do, at least in the case mentioned. I think scripture bears out that in a case like this, we should practice Galatians 6:2 and come alongside this brother in prayer and encouragement.

I don’t know if this is a real life example or not, but oh the courage and trust in God it would take to stand in the pulpit and make a request like this if it is true.
It is sad and a bit depressing, at least to me, to think that so many Pastors, and laity also, are afraid to admit that we are sinners. As the Church, we have become so adept at never allowing our imperfections (read sin) to show. I personally think that that is a huge detriment that most church’s try to turn into a strength. When we admit that we are nothing but sinners basking in the light of God’s glorious grace, Christ shines forth. That is the Gospel.

9 Rhology November 30, 2011 at 11:00 am
10 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

Chris Roberts – then explain whose children he must have in submission. You may want to explain the whole thing to me because whether you see it as a one-at-a-time wife it is still a wife. That is before he is a pastor because it is a position in God’s church that requires a consistant walk in the family and personal life. This man has confessed to something that is very serious and should step down.

Sin is a monster of such freightful mein,
To be hated need but to be seen.
Seen to oft, familiar with its face,
We soon endure, then pity, then embrace.

A better definition of love is what we need when it comes to what is now open to all. The man should have kept these things within a small circle and tells me that he is having more of a problem than he thinks.

11 Frank Turk November 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

I think the forum for the announcement is the wrong one.

Other than that, given that if he said he was prone to any other sin he would not likely be asked to do anything but die to sin daily, we should do what we would do with any other sin.

12 Chris Roberts November 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

“then explain whose children he must have in submission”

His own, if he has them. Again, I don’t read this as saying, “He must have a wife and children or he cannot serve” but “if he has a wife, it can only be one. If he has children, they must be well behaved.”

How about two hypotheticals: what if your church has a married pastor and his wife dies? He is no longer married, he is no longer the husband of one wife (Romans 7:2-3, etc). Should he step down immediately? Does he get a grace period to remarry? Second, what if your church has a pastor who is married but for one reason or another they are medically unable to have children? Are they thus disqualified?

In both of these cases, I would see no issue since I don’t believe Paul says the pastor must have a wife and children; he is saying what their family should look like if they do.

“The man should have kept these things within a small circle and tells me that he is having more of a problem than he thinks.”

I strongly agree and as I noted above, I would want to know why he decided to speak about this before the whole church.

13 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

Chris Roberts – I would suggest that we use your and other’s method of interpretation here to disect each of the other qualifications and come up with something different than what it says. Where do we get this kind of knowledge from? Why is it that we only take a phrase like, “the husband of one wife” and make it something different than what it says on the surface? Let’s go through the plan of salvation and disect it to mean whatever we want it to say so it fits our lifestyle. I would forfeit my education if I had to rewrite the bible. Could you give the the bible version that has stated, “one wife at a time”?

14 Blake November 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

I agree with Bruce that the pastor should not have shared it with the Church, at least not initially. It should have been kept within the circle of elders. I would be thankful for such a man being outward and repentant. I don’t think I would word it “orientation” either, as the Bible neither speaks of, nor alludes to such a term. Ultimately, because this is a hypothetical situation, there are still questions that would need to be answered about the fine details, in the event that this actually occurred.

15 Adam November 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

Bruce, so on your view would Jesus not qualify as an elder/pastor if he was not married?

Thanks.

16 Chemist November 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

I enjoyed reading Daniel Phillips response on his own website. Here is another perspective by someone else.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5339

Cheers!

17 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Chris Roberts – The qualifications are set. If a man desires the office of bishop, then the qualifications come into effect. If he does not have a wife he does not receive the laying on of hands because he has no track record. The pastorate is much more important for a man not to have a resume with none of the qualifications on it. If he is qualified and his wife dies or leaves him Paul said that he should remain even as he is, single. I would have no problem if the wife died and he never remarried because his testimony would remain. If he had a strong sex drive he should remarry. Easy. If his wife left him there would be a reason. If it turned out to be her fault and he remained single, and could, he should remain pastor until he considered remarrying. This ain’t flying the Space Shuttle.

18 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Adam – I anticipated a question with Jesus in it. He is the Son of the Living God and lived before the church. For your entertainment only, I answer this. Jesus has all power given unto Him in heaven and earth. Only He could figure out a way around what the Holy Spirit set as qualifications for the pastor if that is what Jesus wanted to do. The thing is, the church is now the body of Christ. Why would Jesus want to step down from His position and be a pastor?

19 Andrew Wencl November 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

It certainly would seem odd that the associate pastor would choose now to share this with the congregation, but I would assume he had good reasons. I don’t know of many pastors who are antsy with anticipation to share their secret struggles with the church. Still, you would expect the other church leadership to stand with him to make the announcement.

Since the associate pastor has kept it under wraps for some time and has managed the temptation well with accountability from others, it would make sense for this announcement only if a rumor was spread or there was fear that knowledge of the pastor’s struggle was getting around. Maybe he grew tired of questions about when he’d get married and settle down.

20 Adam November 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Bruce: With all due respect, Jesus is a pastor. He is The Pastor of His Church. He is the Good Shephered. I understand the qualifications in 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1 to qualify men to the extent that they reflect His holiness. If that is the case, then it would be a curious position which would insist on a level of holiness for undershepherds that our Shepherd does not meet. I take the one-woman-man interpretation to better reflect the character of fidelity which Christ would meet, as he is our example in all things.

Thanks.

21 Dave Miller November 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I have to disagree with Chris Coppenbarger. I don’t see anywhere in the pastor’s speech where he says it is a sin – he says it is an “issue.” Christ didn’t come to save people from issues, He came to save them from sin. DJP addresses this very well at his blog.

On the other hand, Chris Roberts makes a valid distinction between temptation and sin. It is possible that he hasn’t committed the sin, but is only sorely tempted to do so. Hopefully, this hypothetical pastor’s announcement is no surprise to the senior pastor and elders of the church and this admission is part of their plan to restore him biblically.

22 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Adam – Jesus is God. I understand your points about Jesus but they are incomparible to human pastors. There is a standard that exist for positions in the church and have only changed in the last 100 years or so by men. The pastor’s position should be held to the highest requirements. I simply do not understand how all of the qualifications for the pastor can be dodged and explained away for what we want. That mindset will affect many more areas of sanctificaton and holiness in our churches.

23 Mark November 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Bruce, why can’t you argue from Scripture instead of assigning motive for the position by charging that “all of the qualifications for the pastor can be dodged and explained away for what we want.” It is possible that others disagree with you because of how they understand the pastoral qualifications in 1 Timothy.

24 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Mark – Your last statement threw me a curve. Scripture says, “ knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20) Since it is the Holy Spirit that gave us the book of 1Timothy we must not allow the idea that one can believe it one way and one another. It is very clear as to what it says. Others are not using scripture to support their statements either. If item 2 below means “one wife at a time” then the remaining 14 items are subject to open interpretation as they come up. If he is single he doesn’t have to have item 13 because taking care of a church is based upon something completely different than a living testimony, then all he would have to do is find a book written by a successful SBC pastor to run the church. I am being sarcastic because of how obvious this is even on the 100th reading.

Now, about using scripture; In the 5th comment on this stream I used 1 Timothy 3:2-7 which are all of the qualifications I am referring to. Let me dissect it;

“A bishop then must be:
1. blameless,
2. the husband of one wife,
3. temperate,
4. sober-minded,
5. of good behavior,
6. hospitable,
7. able to teach;
8. not given to wine,
9. not violent,
10. not greedy for money, but gentle,
11. not quarrelsome,
12. not covetous;
13. one who rules his own house well, having [his] children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
14. not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the [same] condemnation as the devil.
15. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
1 Timothy 3:2-7

I guess my question here is, “Do we see these as requirements or options for the pastorate? If not, I need scriptural confirmation that we can pick and choose what we want in a pastor. Please exclude Jesus in your response.

My response is in no way against this “pastor” for his admission. I admire him but think it inappropriate to announce this information to the church. I do not see the wisdom in how it was handled, however, that is just an opinion.

25 Blake November 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm

“Since it is the Holy Spirit that gave us the book of 1Timothy we must not allow the idea that one can believe it one way and one another. It is very clear as to what it says.”

-Bruce, how does that imply that every other person in the room who disagrees with you is wrong and that you alone are correct?

26 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Blake – That is my point, Scripture only says that a pastor “is the husband of one wife.” I have asked for proof of the “one wife at a time” interpretation. I have heard it said before but it always comes as, “I heard someone say…”. No one has provided scriptural evidence or the exegesis of that one point. No one has said the 15 requirements listed in 1 Timothy were “options”. Proof of that would be enough for me to admit that I am wrong. It should also be proof enough to change scripture, too.

27 Mark November 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Bruce,

What Blake asked.

Now, it’s almost as if you’ve never heard of the understanding of 1 Timothy as not excluding an unmarried man. Plus, you have assumed that 2 Peter 1:20 supports your position. Are you one of the holy men of God that Peter writes about in that verse? If not, then we go back to Blake’s question.

Even if someone is misinterpreting 1 Timothy 3 that does not mean their motives are rooted in self-interest. They just may be wrong.

Two examples of understanding 1 Timothy 3:2 as not requiring marriage maybe found in John Gill’s commentary and from J. Hampton Keathley, III writing at Bible.org which I will quote below.

Addendum: Support that “the husband of one wife” means “faithful to one wife”

Does this clause mean that an elder or deacon must be married, or married only once? Some have interpreted this to mean, “married only once.” But there are several reasons this is not the best way to understand this passage.

Ed Glascock has an excellent explanation of this clause. Writing of the view that the passage means “faithful to one wife,” he says:

This view holds that the translation “husband of one wife” is not the best understanding of the Greek phrase mias gunaikos andra, but that it should be translated “a man of one woman” or a “one-woman man.” This understanding emphasizes the character of the man rather than his marital status. Thus even a single man or a man who has been married only once must demonstrate that he is not a “playboy” or flirtatious, but that he is stable and mature in character toward his wife or other females. A man who demonstrates a character of loyalty and trustworthiness in such personal relationships is qualified in this area. He, being a one-woman type of man, can be placed in this high position and trusted to deal in maturity and with discretion in a situation involving female members. This view shifts the emphasis away from an event that took place in a man’s life before his conversion and properly concentrates on the character and quality of his life at the time of his consideration for this high office.

28 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

We could have a war of the commentaries here. Adam Clarke says, “he should be a married man, but he shouldn’t be a polygamist; and have only one wife; one at a time.” The “one at a time” means if his wife die and he chose to remarry. If he is divorced or single he would not qualify. Matthew Henry says, “He must be the husband of one wife.” Jamieson, Fausset, Brown says, “It must, therefore, mean that, though laymen might lawfully marry again, candidates for the episcopate or presbytery better to have been married only once. As in ch. 5:9, “wife of one man” implies a woman married but once; so “husband of one wife” here must mean the same.

A one-time married man with children properly leading by “example” would be the qualification best and foremost for Christ’s church. In 1 Peter 5:3, “nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being “examples” to the flock;”. An example is “in the technical sense, the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made”. The marriage to one wife until death parts them is the idea of them being “one flesh”. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY, BUT I SPEAK CONCERNING CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.” Eph 5:31,32

One wife at a time does not mean a pastor can be single or divorced. If we disagree on being single there is no further evidence I can give you. It says nowhere that if a single man anticipates to be married he can be a pastor. The widower would be fine if he had children and a good track record. A divorced man would never qualify even if he had a good excuse.

I was a member of a church with a “pastor” who was married and had no children. I never gave it a thought. Over a three (3) year period he never preached or taught on marriage or raising a family. He wouldn’t even update the children’s area in the church that was dated. Families were leaving because of that and the attention that was “not” put on children or youth. I have settled my concerns with “husband of one wife” and the “children” issue since then. The best churches I am aware of are run by men with the right qualifications. By the way, I do not meet the qualifications any longer due to divorce. I never was a pastor but would give anything to be able to change the past.

Hope everything is spelled right and makes sense. Thank you.

29 Blake November 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Bruce, it appears that there are Godly men saying each thing. Peter’s mention of ‘private interpretation’ basically means, “If someone comes up with an interpretation that has been rejected throughout history or never proposed at all, you had better abandon that interpretation.”

30 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Blake – I agree. The two (2) issues; “single”, meaning never married and “one wife at a time”, meaning divorced and remarried would be the miss-interpretation for me. “One wife at a time” would have been better described as “widowed and remarried” and we would not have much of a disagreement. I have known divorced men who want to remain pastors and remarry or become pastors with their new wife. My thoughts were not on a pastor who was widowed and remarrying.

31 Chris Roberts November 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm

“Over a three (3) year period he never preached or taught on marriage or raising a family.”

I’m trying to think if I’ve done much preaching on marriage or raising a family in my three years at my current church, and here I am with a wife and five children. If I have, it hasn’t been much. Fortunately, the gospel has, however, been preached.

32 Jugulum November 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

After reading through all the responses, my synthesized answer would be:

1.) Ask why he made his confession/announcement in the time & place & manner that he did. (An out-of-the-blue Sunday-morning announcement of sinful inclinations seems unnecessary and problematic.)
2.) Address whether the language he used (e.g. “orientation”, “have no plans to”) is the best way to describe his tendency toward certain sinful urges and his commitment to “put to death the deeds of the flesh”. (Ensure that despite his language, he does believe the biblical worldview. And encourage him to use language that actively reflects a biblical worldview.)
3.) Determine what the nature of his counseling is. (Is it pop-psych methods of dealing with fallen human nature? Or is it biblical counseling, encouragement, accountability, prayer, etc?)

Given all that, then it’s like Frank said:
4.) Treat this like any other recurring urge to sin which is being actively mortified: Pray for him. He deals with temptation–he’s not in a state of sin that requires discipline or that disqualifies him from his position.

33 Jugulum November 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Bruce,

A key exegetical piece the argument that Mark pointed to is: Should the phrase “miav gunaikov andra” be translated as “one-wife husband” or “one-woman man”? (The word “gune” can mean either “woman” or “wife”, and “aner” can mean either “man” or “husband”.) In English, “one-woman man” means that you’re a monogamous, faithful man–it doesn’t mean you’re in a romantic relationship.

That’s why this isn’t just a matter of people trying to treat that requirement as optional. It’s a genuine question of what the Greek phrase means.

34 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Chris – We do need stronger families. I hope your example is great enough so you do not have to preach it often and your members have strong families, too. It wouldn’t hurt to add that topic or series soon since the church divorce rate is about the same as the world. Since I have been teaching my Sunday School class for the past 12 months I have inserted “Husbands love your wifes” 12 times now with some added points. We have too long emphasized “Wives be submissive” and I am preparing the class for an after hours bible study for combining both.

If you have been preaching the gospel that Paul was not ashamed of you have been preaching on family. You would have had to know the circumstances with this “pastor” and his wife. There was not enough room to explain and it would open old wounds.

I’m glad the Security Question is simple math!

35 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Jugulum – Thank you. Then would the issue of children being in the list and the emphasis on “if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” cause one to lean toward “husband” and “wife” rather than “man” or “woman”? My response was because this man was single and I said he was not qualified to even be a “pastor”. If he knew he was called by God to be a pastor he would, first, have to address his “issues”, then marry, then raise his children. Even if he had to wait (like Abraham for the promise) to be married and then raise children he should do so in order for God to display His power in the matter. Even if he was only able to preach one sermon in his first church before he died he would have waited until he was qualified and God’s calling wouldn’t be in vain. We don’t seem to want to do that today.

36 Blake November 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Bruce, were you being facetious?

37 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Are you talking about comment #33? That was not me. I did laugh when I read it just now. Never saw it before.

38 Michael November 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Chris,

In the first comment, you said “Homosexual temptations are not sin, but it’s the giving into the temptation that becomes sin.”

Are adulterous thoughts a sin (Matt. 5:28)? If yes, then why is homosexual thoughts not a sin?

39 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Michael – The difference is that “temptation” and “lust” are not the same. Jesus was tempted by Satan but did not lust for the things Satan used.

40 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Mark,

Can you confirm that comment #33 was not me? Thanks

41 Michael November 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Bruce, it is more than a temptation when people say “same-sex attractions”. To be attracted to something we shouldn’t be, something that is against the law of God, is sin. Change out “same-sex attractions” with “murderous attractions” or “idolatrous attractions.”

A I agree with the above Dan Phillips article:

“It’s just that, at the moment, the particular sin of homosexuality enjoys a martyred, romantic celebrity-status among sins.”

42 Bruce H November 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Michael – I may have misunderstood due to the quote that had “temptations” in it. Actually, I think there could be several reasons for this “pastor’s” thoughts. First, after Paul made his thesis statement in Romans about not being ashamed of the gospel he went on to describe how debased man gets in sin and God gives them over to that kind of a mind. Second, the man’s parentage could be the issue. A domineering mother produces feminine men. I’m guessing here with a little reasoning, but a feminine male would be attracted to a masculine female or, possibly, male. Third, I have heard many gay’s say that they were born that way. In God’s design and the corruption of sin the DNA has its course to take in life. Fourth, demon oppression is hard to identify. Prayer and fasting of Christians would be in order for them to determine if that is the case.

This is one subject that has a tremendous affect on me because I am 180 degrees from were this “pastor” is right now. I cannot imagine, nor will I try, how a male is attracted to a male or visa versa. I would not be the one to call on if this existed in my church. I could, however, pray for those who would be dealing with it. Bottom line, I do believe a decision should be made by him to step down since he made the announcement in the first place.

43 Chris Roberts December 1, 2011 at 12:20 am

Michael,

I can look at a girl and think, “I think she is very attractive,” without thinking, “I want to sleep with her.” My sinful heart will not want me to stop there, however, but will want me to follow up the attraction with the lust. The challenge is to keep temptation from leading to those thoughts.

With homosexual temptation, the challenge is made more complicated by the fact that “I think …. is very attractive” becomes “I think that person of the same sex as me is very attractive.” I still don’t think that in itself is sin. Feeling attraction – even for one of the same sex – is not natural, is not how God created us or intends us to be, but it is not sin. The sin is taking the next step past attraction to lust or sexual activity.

Would you say that it is sin when an ex-smoker feels a desire for cigarettes? Or when a former cocaine addict craves another fix? That initial feeling/desire/attraction is not wrong, even if it is an attraction for something that is against God’s commands. It becomes wrong when the person says, “My desire is okay, no matter what God has said.” Even worse, “I will pursue that desire, no matter what God has said.”

44 Joshua December 1, 2011 at 2:15 am

Mark,

I would say “Praise God!” and continue the mission of the church.

45 zilch December 1, 2011 at 5:41 am

I must say that I tend to agree with Bruce’s interpretation here- it seems the plainest reading, and if God inspired the Bible, then He could have plainly said in 1 Timothy that a single man is also acceptable.

That said, I find this a good example of how even if one believes in the “literal” truth of the Bible, that it is not always obvious what it “really” means.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

46 Michael December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Chris, you said:

“I can look at a girl and think, “I think she is very attractive,” without thinking, “I want to sleep with her.”

Yes, but your example is one of taking a natural, created-order attraction and using it wrongly (gluttony or drunkenness are other examples). Same-sex attraction begins with an UNnatural attraction and get worse from there.

“Feeling attraction – even for one of the same sex – is not natural, is not how God created us or intends us to be, but it is not sin. The sin is taking the next step past attraction to lust or sexual activity.”

I feel your line of argumentation is simply a shell game with definitions. Is it sin to desire a person of the same sex?

Attraction is desire. Oxford’s English dictionary: the action or power of evoking interest, pleasure, or liking for someone or something.

Attraction is not just some chemical reaction, but from the mind itself.

To be consistent with your argument, you would have to say a person can be attracted to murder or idols or covetousness, and it would not be a sin unless the person takes the next step or acts on it. Ho would you counsel a person who says they are attracted to idols, or attracted to murder?

What about being attracted to an animal, as long as you don’t take “the next step past attraction to lust or sexual activity”?

The bible sees no dichotomy between acts and orientation. Consider Romans 1:26-27. Paul answers the question of “how can Gentiles know that homosexuality is wrong?” Because it is unnatural, i.e. against God’s created order (which has been revealed to everyone in creation and conscience.) The men and women described by Paul are rejecting God’s created order by doing things unnatural. This he calls a “degrading passion”, or “desire” in other translations. And Chris you said yourself that same-sex attraction is not natural.

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