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You Aren’t that Different from Your Gay Friends

You Aren’t that Different from Your Gay Friends

A Surprising Confrontation

Romans 1 has a rough reputation for those with same-sex attractions. At first glance, it looks like gay people are singled out from the rest of humanity, and that feels very isolating. Looking at it closer, though, and especially looking at Romans 2:1, we actually find that Paul is doing the exact opposite. He’s not isolating anyone. He’s grouping us all together, and he’s not being subtle about it.

Romans 1 is about all of us, and when Paul mentions homosexuality, he’s doing two things. First, he’s baiting you to judge gay people so he can later call you out. Second, he’s telling us important things about our sin problem.

Paul starts Romans with a conspicuous use of “they” language. Look at those people. Can you believe what they do? They deserve what they get. As readers, we join in. “That’s right, Paul, they do deserve it. How could they do things like that? It’s shameful. It’s unnatural.”

But then awkward things begin to happen. Paul says “they” are filled with covetousness. “They” are envious and deceitful. “They” are heartless and ruthless. “They” disobey their parents. “They” are prideful. I think at this point, even the most self-deluded reader is now realizing that Paul’s “they” isn’t just talking about gay people. What started off as a comfortable distance from which to judge others has now become something uncomfortably close to home.

Then Paul finally closes in on us in Romans 2:1. “Therefore YOU have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another, you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” What started off as “those people” has suddenly been turned on its head. Every last thing in Romans 1 was not about “them.” It was about me! Not my spouse, not my co-workers, not my boss, not my friends, not my kids. It’s describing me.

A Surprising Similarity

There’s something else that’s important to realize. We practice “the very same things” as those we want to judge. When you spin in anxiety about that deadline at work, when you placate your emptiness with entertainment, what you’re doing is no different than a gay person’s sinful lust. It merely looks different on the surface. Both of you are reaching past God for things you believe are better than Him. This means you understand those who seem different from you.

Our Shared Worship Disorder

Paul uses homosexuality to tell us important things about our shared worship disorder. He uses sexuality to highlight that we were made to be intimate with God. With that relationship severed, we reach for a broken intimacy that mirrors Him poorly. He uses homosexuality to highlight that our chosen separation from God is unnatural and shameful.

  • Broken Intimacy: “They” aren’t living out broken intimacy. We all are. For those of us who are married, how often is our deepest Earthly desire to serve our spouse and embrace them even when they hurt us? How often do we choose comfort over community? How frequently do we pray for our friends instead of thinking about ourselves?
  • Unnatural: “They” aren’t unnatural. We all are. Or do we think it’s perfectly in line with God’s plan for most of our thoughts to revolve around worldly rest, comfort, and security? Is this world our home? Is it mirroring God’s nature for us to focus on the attractive and wealthy while disregarding the poor?
  • Shameful: “They” aren’t shameful. We all are. Is it honorable to fail to be generous with the the church and the most vulnerable among us? Is it honorable to be impatient and harsh with those around us when we’re feeling bad?

We all share the same worship disorder. You understand your gay friends. Frankly, you understand everyone you previously thought was different from you. Can you relate completely? No. But when you ask good questions and listen well, you’ll find that on the ground level, we just aren’t that all that different from one another. We share the same disease, and we need the same rescue.

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Do People Choose their Sexual Orientation?

Do People Choose their Sexual Orientation?

There is a lot of confusion within the church as to how a person comes to be gay or bisexual. What we believe significantly impacts how we engage our gay neighbor and how well we love them. A great many Christians believe that gay people choose their orientation toward the same sex outright, often as some form of rebellion against the status quo. Another theory is that gay people arrive at homosexuality through extreme opposite-sex debauchery. As a man who is attracted to men, who knows many people also attracted to the same sex, I would like to speak into this. I also speak as a man who deeply treasures God’s word.

Some Confusion about Romans 1

I can the debunk the second theory from experience alone. I did not arrive at my desires for the same sex through straightness or debauchery. Rather, I simply seemed to find myself desiring the same sex. From my earliest memories, even before sex had any meaning, I was drawn to and infatuated with the same sex, not the opposite sex. These desires were with me near the start of my life.

Many who hold this belief do so because of a particular interpretation of Romans 1:24-27, where they think Paul is describing a path taken by individuals. The last post spoke to this, but I have a few more thoughts. First, I believe Romans 2-3 makes it quite clear that Romans 1 is explicitly describing every single one of us.

Second, if this interpretation is true, then you would have to also say that envy and disobedience to parents came through being gay since it is mentioned after same-sex attraction and there is no clear separator between that section and the previous text. I think it’s safe to say that none of us believe we have to be gay before we feel envy. I think it’s equally strange to say we have to be straight before we’re gay.

No Conscious Choice

I can also debunk the first theory from experience alone. There was no point in my life when I thought, “You know, I’d really like to be attracted to men instead of women. Yeah, let’s do that.” There was no crossroads. There was no series of choices through which I consciously geared myself toward men. It was that way it was seemingly from the start. There was no conscious choice to be gay.

Further, given the excessive bullying and oppression going on today, who in their right mind would ever choose to be gay? To me, it flies in the face of reason. I spent all the way through high school longing to be attracted to the opposite sex instead of the same sex. Of course, what I really wanted was acceptance, not straightness. But the fact remains that I clearly did not choose same-sex attractions. Neither did any gay person I know.

You Can Relate

I’d like to approach this from a different direction and ask: Did you explicitly choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? Was there ever a crossroads where you chose between being gay or straight? Did you choose to be straight in order to be obedient to God?

I think it’s safe to assume you would say no to all of those questions. Being attracted to the opposite sex was the most natural thing in the world for you. The same is true of me regarding the same sex. While both of us do choose sin, neither of us chose the flavor of it. We simply do what’s natural until we see Jesus with new eyes. I would also say that none of us explicitly set out to envy other people. There are a great many things we don’t explicitly choose.

Uncomfortable Empathy

I recognize that this might make some of you a bit uncomfortable. It sounds like I’m equating same-sex and opposite-sex attractions to some extent. “But homosexuality is a sin, and heterosexuality is not,” you might be thinking. That might be true in itself, but details matter significantly.

Was it your natural opposite-sex desire to remain sexually pure until marriage? If you’re married, is it your natural desire to be emotional, romantically, and physically faithful to your spouse? How about when they hurt you? If you look at the ground level, your natural desires for the opposite sex are actually just as sinful as my natural desires for the same sex.

Righteousness isn’t natural to any of us. We have the same problem, and we need the same rescue.

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