Some newspapers still do a commendable job of putting two opposing sides of a complicated moral issue fairly. I was reminded of this when I read my morning newspaper today. The Daily Herald, a Chicago suburban paper, ran two stories on the issue of homosexuality and Christian faith, side-by-side. Both accounts were written by the same author, James Fuller, a writer for the Daily Herald staff.
One account told the story of a Wheaton College graduate named Rev. Jay Johnson. Johnson, the son of a former Wheaton College professor, believes that he was given an orientation to “gayness” at birth. After many painful years of difficult struggle with his sexual and personal identity, as he tells the story, he decided to no longer fight against temptation any longer. He accepted his “gayness.” He not only “came out of the closet” but eventually became an Episcopal priest, under the oversight of Chicago Bishop Frank Griswold.(Griswold is the same person who led the Episcopal Church USA into its present disastrous direction while he served as its presiding bishop.)
The second account in the Daily Herald report tells the story of Christopher Yuan, a former drug user/seller and homosexual sex-addict, who came to faith in Christ while in prison. Chris eventually attended Moody Bible Institute and now lives a celibate lifestyle. He says his present life is not entirely free from temptation. He believes his faith continues to deliver him from the practice of evil. Chris openly rejects the sexual labels of homo, hetero and bisexuality. Believing he has experienced healing in Christ Chris now considers Christian marriage a real possibility. He adds, “Not everything that feels good is right. Attraction is not a choice, but acting on those attractions is. Acting on same-sex attraction is not encoded into DNA like ethnicity or skin color. Black people can’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’m no longer black.’ Gay people can wake up and say, ‘I’m no longer gay.’ I’m living proof of that.” The debate will go on for sure but the changes in the life of Chris Yuan are unmistakable.
His comments state the issue about as clearly as it can be stated. Is homosexual orientation hard-wired into some people from birth? The honest truth is that we do not know the answer for certain. The majority of people in the popular culture now think that the answer has been proven in the affirmative. This is not the case if you read the various studies conducted on the subject. More research is to be done and people on both sides of this polarizing cultural and moral divide ought to be more honest about the real facts that have surfaced from these very few studies.
What is at stake here is not science, even if we did discover some evidence to support Jay Johnson’s view. What is at stake is the Christian tradition of moral formation and sexual ethics. One side thinks the Bible, and the entire Christian tradition down through twenty centuries, does not favor gay-practice and the other believes that modern studies and conditions profoundly argue for a change in Christian interpretation and moral practice. Respect for people, and concern for the truth, often disappears in the heat of these types of debates. This is what made these two particular articles so worthwhile to me. I encourage you to read them. Check out the Daily Herald and see for yourself. After your read Chris’s story, which this link should open, then you can find the Jay Johnson’s story through the link at the bottom of the article.
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Is it possible that both can be right? Is it that black and white? I don’t know and the scientific community doesn’t know either, but I wonder if there might be a spectrum we are dealing with here; from those born with an orientation to those who have, because of their environment or a desire to experiment, have chosen such behavior. It seems quite possible to me.
Regardless I can’t see how arguing for the acceptance of homosexuality in the Christian faith necessarily precludes a gospel of moral formation and sexual ethics.
It may of course revise our thinking and our consideration on those issues, but it in no way means we will thus have nothing to say about moral formation and sexual ethics. Acceptance of homosexuality does not in my mind imply “anything goes.”
You are right regarding sexuality. It is very complex. Science has been definitive in proving that there are both genetic and non-genetic/environmental factors (Bailey & Pillard, 1991).
But even if one is “born” a certain way, this does not warrant sinful behavior. Scripture states that we are born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5) but this is not justification for us to sin, is it?
We all have an “orientation” for sin – it’s called a sinful nature. But as followers of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has given us the ability not to live according to our feelings or sinful “orientations” but to live in holiness and purity (1 Peter 1:16).
So Jim, in regards to the origins of sexuality, there is gray area. But in regards to homosexual behavior, it is black and white – God forbids it AND provides the grace and power to be redeemed and transformed from it.
I am living proof of this.
I pray that you continue to seek out Truth and draw closer to Jesus Christ.
With regard to the following comment:
“Is homosexual orientation hard-wired into some people from birth?”
We have our answer already and I’m sure you are already aware of this:
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
“Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”
What God states is “natural” is normal and programmed by His design, pure and simple. Modern science and research is a slippery and ever changing surface and increasingly pereverted for political and ideological influences. Take this from a professional who has worked in the research field as an engineer.