Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Folks Should Not Get the Trademark on Sexual Disorientation Labels by the Church

There is a trend in our culture where if you are attracted to the same sex, attracted to both sexes, or identify as a different gender than your birth gender, the cultural tide tells you to go with how you feel, be yourself, and live into these feelings and attractions.

It can feel like there are only two paths: the cultural path of living by your feelings / orientation or the biblical path of living according to what the Bible says.  This dichotomy that’s been set up by the Church and by culture doesn’t give the whole picture though; it’s like we’re playing a game of chess with only a quarter of the board.

A primary breakdown in this dichotomy is that “the biblical path” is often seen by both culture and the Church as meaning “the straight path,” as in, if you’re straight, you’ve met the Bible’s standard.  Heterosexual sin within the Church is no big deal, while homosexual sin gets all of the attention.  This dichotomy also assumes that the solution for someone who is gay is for them to become straight, something that is usually not possible.

Is heterosexual sin spoken against in the Bible?  Yes.  Clearly and directly and repeatedly.  From lust, to adultery, to divorce, heterosexual sin is called out as direct rebellion against a holy God.

Why is Jesus so harsh against lust and divorce? (Matthew 5:27-32)  It’s because God created sex to be between a man and a woman in the context of marriage alone.  Does that line feel familiar to you?  It might remind you of debates that go on between culture and the Church (or between the Church and the Church) about homosexuality.  And it begins to reveal a few more of the missing squares on the chess board…

Those who are gay, lesbian and transgender get all of the spotlight when it comes to conforming to the Bible’s design for sex—not that they are asking for it, but as a heterosexual with tons of sexual disorientation issues, I have to say I’m a little jealous.

What I’m going to say next is for those who are followers of Jesus and who are sexually disoriented, like me.  I make the distinction between a follower of Jesus and one who is not because I do not expect someone who is not following Jesus to follow anything in the Bible.  That wouldn’t make logical sense.  I fully expect non-Christians to live in all kinds of sexual ways (and financial ways, and many other ways!) that go against the Bible, as they’ve never agreed to follow God in the first place.  The challenging part is that there are many who are following Jesus who have sexual orientations other than what the Bible states, and who feel quite limited by the quarter of the chess board that has been shown to them.

Raise your hand if you do not feel sexually disoriented.

Raise your hand if you do not feel sexually disoriented.

What I mean is: raise your hand if it is your natural birth / biological orientation to only want sex within marriage?  So when you were single, you never desired sexual intimacy with anyone (not bf/gf, not fiancé), and you never looked at someone in a sexual way or entertained thoughts about someone’s sexual attractiveness?  Nobody in real life and nobody on TV or in a movie?  And once married, keep that hand up if all of this remained true for anyone outside of your spouse? 

How many hands are up around the world right now?

Honestly there might be a few.  Maybe 4 or 5.  How lucky those people are that they are naturally and biologically oriented to God’s sacred design for sex!

What I mean when I say I’m a little jealous of the spotlight that gay, lesbian and transgender folks get in the “culture vs. Church” sexuality debate is that my issues get treated (by culture and the Church) like they aren’t a big deal.

I need to make one thing clear, comparing sin / temptation issues and the pain they bring is not a competition.  The person with cancer doesn’t fight with the person with muscular dystrophy over who has it worse.  I’m not laying out the issues I deal with as a way to say they are equal to or worse or better than what someone who is gay, lesbian or transgender is dealing with.  It will be the knee jerk response of some readers to quickly judge me and say, “How dare a married heterosexual talk like his challenges are the same as those facing someone in the LGBT community.”  To that my first response is, I am not saying they are the same and my second response, and this is for all readers, is be very careful before judging someone.  You have no idea what someone is facing beyond the surface; I don’t meant that about me specifically, I mean it about anyone.

You have no idea what someone is facing beyond the surface.

Because I’m married and my story involves both me and my wife (and now my kids!), all whom I love very much, I will not get into the nitty-gritty specifics of myself, but will speak broadly in reference to the hundreds of heterosexual men and women I’ve pastored and counseled over the years who have confided in me with their struggles.

And let me start by saying it is very difficult to be attracted to the same sex and not be able to act on those attractions because you want to follow the Bible’s design for sex.

And it’s very difficult to identify with a different gender than your birth gender but to remain in your birth gender, trusting God’s sovereignty, believing you are still fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-18), and that while you may not fit the cultural stereotype of male or female, you fit how God made you, and you’re staying how God made you out of surrender and obedience to him and his will.

And it’s very difficult to be single and celibate when you don’t want to be.  To have sexual urges you can’t act on.

And it’s very difficult to be married and your spouse doesn’t want to have sex with you.  Your spouse rejects you when you try to initiate sex.  Or they just reject you in general.

It’s very difficult when your spouse doesn’t think you are attractive.

It’s very difficult if your spouse is selfish and doesn’t care about you.

It’s very difficult if your spouse puts unrealistic demands and expectations on you.

It’s very difficult when you have affirmation and validation issues that your spouse can never fill, on their best days and especially on their worst days.  So you have a continual desire to get this affirmation and validation from other sources like pornography or lust and temptations for adultery or divorce.

It’s very difficult when your biological orientation constantly wants to look at the breasts and body parts of women you are friends with, the wives of your friends.  Where you just want to physically rip your eyes out.

It’s very difficult when you pray to God to take away your urges and He doesn’t.

It’s very difficult when you are attracted to multiple women or men.  To unlimited numbers of women or men.  Difficult and painful because you want to be faithful to your spouse (or future spouse), you want to be faithful to God’s design for sex, and don’t want to dehumanize all of these women or men, but your biological orientation continues to pull you like magnet in this direction.

It’s very difficult when your biological orientation begs you, in every ounce of its being, to do and think things that are contrary to God’s design for sex, the design that God created sex to be between a man and a woman in the context of marriage alone.

You see in many ways, we are all in the same boat.  None of our paths are the same, but very few of them are easy.

The quarter of the chess board the Church and culture spends all its time on sells everyone short.  Culture acts as if the solution for someone who is gay is to jump into a gay relationship or gay marriage, just as if the solution to the person (me!) who is attracted to multiple women is polygamy.  But nobody is saying that about me; that would require a much bigger chess board, and a different paradigm to the one we’ve been so accustomed to fighting within.

So if the answer to my issues is not polygamy, then there must be other options available.

I’m not writing this about legislation.  There are valid arguments within the Bible-believing Church that gay marriage should be illegal and there are valid arguments within the Bible-believing Church that legislative rights (like tax breaks, medical permissions, etc.) should not be deprived from non-believers based on a biblical standard.  I’m trying not to get into that debate here.

for Christians, our response to our sexual disorientation is never to just do what it tells us

What I want to show is for Christians, our response to our sexual disorientation is never to just do what it tells us, as if it were the final authority.  The Church has messed this up for so long.  We have made gay, lesbian and transgender folks feel as if they were the only ones with sexual orientations that were different than the Bible’s standard!  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  If it were a competition, I’d put my sexual disorientation up there with the best of them!  And that is not something I am proud of, but it is something I have to deal with every single day.  All of us who are following Christ are to submit to the Bible’s design for sexuality, and it’s not going to be easy on any of us.

our temptation, attractions, and orientation are not sinful

We acknowledge that our temptation, attractions, and orientation are not sinful and we don’t shame ourselves for them, but they are also not an authority and excuse to do whatever they tell us.

For some this will mean a life of singleness and celibacy.

For some it will mean a happy and fruitful marriage, and their biggest pains and struggles will lie in other hidden areas that you don’t struggle with.

And for others it will mean sexless, affectionless marriages full of struggle and pain.

Click for a list of Bible verses to meditate on that will remind you of the love, validation, affection, and approval Jesus has for you.

The good news is the solution is the same for all of us.  The solution is not divorce, it’s not pornography, it’s not a gay relationship, it’s not taking hormones or dressing like the gender you truly feel you are inside.  It’s having our desire for affection, validation, approval and acceptance met in Jesus and nowhere else, submitting to his loving will and sovereign design out of trust and surrender.  It’s acknowledging our thirst, acknowledging how we seek to have that thirst met through our sexuality, and acknowledging it can only truly be met by Jesus, sometimes very painfully.  It’s knowing we are loved and made whole when we become adopted (Romans 8:15-17) as sons and daughters of God and this adoption brings us more love, acceptance, validation and approval than we could ever earn or deserve (Colossians 1:22).

Is it fair?

I don’t think we understand fairness.

I know it’s not fair that we aren’t thrown into hell the first time we sin.

I know it’s not fair that we are given gifts of mercy every day instead of punishment for our sins.

I know it’s not fair that salvation and heaven is made available to us.

I know it’s not fair that a perfect and holy Jesus had to suffer and die for my sin and rebellion and your sin and rebellion, so that we could live and be saved.

I know for sure that’s not fair.

So it if ever doesn’t feel fair, go to Jesus!  He of all people can relate.

 

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