Sunday, February 1, 2015

Is Same Sex Attraction (SSA) Compatible With Salvation?

The good news is that more and more people are realizing that a homosexual lifestyle, like any immoral lifestyle, is incompatible with faith. The bad news is that rather than call homosexual attraction what it is, men, who disavow that homosexuality as either good or right, would like to simply suppress their feelings, and call what they are experiencing, Same Sex Attraction (SSA) rather than homosexuality. 

On Jan. 11th, 2015 TLC aired a show called, "My Husband's Not Gay" against the raging complaints of gay advocacy groups and others interested in normalizing the perversion of homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said this of TLC's desire to present the show and the messages contained within the show:
Sarah Kate Ellis
"Downright irresponsible"..."No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to,"..."By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”
An online petition, aimed at forcing TLC to drop and not air the show, was started by so called "Christian" and gay advocate, Josh Sanders, who said that the show was damaging because it:
"promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities." 
In addition to being outraged at what TLC wanted to do, gay Sanders claims to have started the online petition:
"because these men (gays) deserve compassion and acceptance. Instead TLC is presenting their lives as entertainment and sending the dangerous message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed. or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex"

The individuals that were a part of the show were all either practicing Mormons or either were previously affiliated with the Mormon church. The Mormon church does not condone homosexuality but states that according to their examination of the issues, SSA is not "inherently sinful"

Recently the Catholic church stated that homosexual Priests, who were not pursuing sex with men, were cleared to be Priests

An Interesting Argument & Question

The whole premise of the show questions whether one can separate homosexual desires from homosexual acts and if they can, does that distinction make any difference? In other words, is a person not gay just because he does not act on homosexual desires? Or is acting on homosexual desires the thing that makes a person gay.

Then a more interesting question for those of us who believe the bible, personal purity, integrity and sanctification, is the desire for sin (in this case the sin of homosexuality) the sin, or is acting out on those desires the sin?

Recently the Catholic Church leader said this of homosexual Priests within the Catholic church:
"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
He would go further to say:
"It's an empirical fact that lots of men are gay who are priests. And they are very good priests,"..."I would also observe that the numbers of gay men and women in the church ministry is probably larger than the general population, precisely because they are not seeking marriage."
In a strange accord with the Mormon church, the Pope is also affirming by his statement that SSA is not inherently sinful either.

So the question is, can one be attracted to the same sex in a sexual manner, and not be gay? Does the word of God make that distinction? I believe it does. 

I have dealt with this question in a previous 2010 article "Does The Bible Deal With Sexual Orientation?". I would like to restate some of what I said at that time and look more specifically at some of the questions that are raised here. 

Desire & The Heart

Prov. 4:23 ~ Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it 
are the issues of life.

From the history recorded in scripture, we can affirm that Solomon was a man that understood what it was to follow the desires of his heart. Having over 700 wives and 300 concubines is adequate proof of what can happen if a heart is not bridled, tamed or subject to the Lord. A person has great potential to damage themselves and do much damage to others through their own desire, unbridled passions and lusts. Countless homes and families are lost because of a lack of self control. Children are sometimes left to confusion and misdirection because parents lost control. Faith communities and even governments have been toppled because of out of control sexual desires and passions. 

Now, the "prince of this world" (the kingdom-less devil himself) even came to Jesus many times in effort to "tempt", test and try him. In fact the temptation in the wilderness for 40 days, which was expressly for the purpose of "temptation" was a demonstration that Jesus could not sin. There was never a question of whether he (Jesus) wanted to sin. To desire sin, was an impossibility for God in any form or manner. However, we note something that Jesus said just prior to the passion of Jesus on the cross as recorded by John:

John 14:30 ~ Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

The last part, "hath nothing in me" or "in me has nothing" is very interesting. Ellicott says this of that particular phrase:
"And hath nothing in me.—The words are to be taken in their full and absolute meaning, and they assert that the prince of this world possesses nothing in the person of Christ. In Him he has never for a moment ruled. For this appeal to perfect sinlessness, comp. Note on John 8:29. It follows from this that His surrender of Himself is entirely voluntary. (Comp. Note on John 10:18.)"
Meyer's NT commentary says: 
"καὶ ἐν ἐμοὶ οὐκ ἔχει οὐδέν] and in me (antithesis of the κόσμος, John 17:16) he possesses nothing, namely, as pertaining to his dominion, which more minute definition flows from the conception of the ἄρχων; hence neither ποιεῖν(Kuinoel), nor μέρος (Nonnus), nor “of which he could accuse me before God” (Ewald), is to be supplied; nor again is the simple sense of the words to be transformed into “he has no claim on me” (Tholuck, Hofmann, and several others); comp. Luther: “cause and right.” In any case, Christ expresses the full moral freedom with which He subjects Himself to death (John 10:18). The sinlessness, which Cyril., Augustine (“in me non habet quicquam, nullum omnino scilicet peccatum”), Euth. Zigabenus, Cornelius a Lapide, and many others, including Olshausen, here find expressed, certainly lies at the foundation as a necessary causal presupposition, since only provided that Jesus were sinless, could the devil have in Him nothing that was his, but is not directly expressed. That He has already overcome the world (John 16:33) is not the reason (Lücke), but the consequence of His freedom from the prince of the world."
Cambridge bible for School's and Colleges says:
"and hath nothing in me] Quite literal: there is nothing in Jesus over which Satan has control. ‘Let no one think that My yielding to his attack implies that he has power over Me. The yielding is voluntary in loving obedience to the Father.’ This declaration, in me he hath nothing, could only be true if Jesus were sinless. On the import of this confident appeal to His own sinlessness see notes on John 8:29; John 8:46 and John 15:10.

Finally, my last reference is to the Pulpit Commentary which says this of the verse:
"The conflict between the second Adam and the devil culminates. Christ looks through the whole army of his opponents, and feels that he has to wrestle with the ruler of the darkness of the world, but at the same time is sublimely conscious that there is nothing in him on which the evil can fasten. Christ certainly claims a sinlessness of inner nature which no other saint has arrogated to himself. Accusations of the world were numerous enough, but those who brought them were ignorant. Now he has to do with one who knows him, but not so well as he knows himself. The double negation, οὐκ ἔχει οὐδέν, must be noticed - "absolutely nothing." Thus he virtually repeats his own utterance, "I am not of this world." This great word presupposes again the uniqueness of Christ's Personality and consciousness."
Apostle John would later go on to commend that we not "love the world" (have an affinity for the ungodly operation of this world and the desires in it that drive us away from God) by saying this in his epistle:

1 John 2:16 ~ For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

In summary, we find that Jesus affirmed that no matter how it would look to the disciples and the world, that the "prince of this world" did not have a place or hold within himself. That "hold" can be identified as the propensity or desire for something sinful, which would have to begin with desire, attraction or lust apart from God and desires to please God. 

The word, 'lust" noted twice in 1 John 2:16, is the same as the word used in James 1:15. 

James 1:15 ~ Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The word "lust" in these verses is the Greek word ἐπιθυμία (epithumia), which is constructed #1- epi- "focused on" and 2- thumia- "with passionate desire, strong feelings or urges for"

According to James, "lust" is born within the heart or mind of men and mankind and can only lead to destruction aka: death. Thus Solomon's appellation to "guard" the heart  or mind because the issues of life (the desires and passions of life) flow from it.  

Clarification: Let's Make The Distinction

Now, notice that James appears to speak of "lust" apart from sin. This opens the door of understanding that "lust" or "desire"  can be either a negative or positive thing. (Please note that the word is also translated from a positive standpoint and translated as "desire" on occasion. see: Lk. 22:15, Phil. 1:23, 1 Thess. 2:17) This makes sense if we understand that not all lust is inherently sinful. For example, a husband and wife can have lust for one another and not come close to broaching the path of sin. In fact, being "fruitful and multiply" cannot happen unless there is a certain amount of passion, lust or desire for one another (husband and wife) that would have to take place in order for fruitfulness and multiplication to occur. (under most circumstances)

Then we also note that there is no condemnation for a man "finding" a wife. This would infer that it is proper for a man to look! With this, one has to be careful because this scripture certainly does NOT teach an unmarried man to look "lustfully" upon an unmarried women, but there is a certain element of "attraction" or desire that causes one to be interested in the another, and acknowledging attraction is not in and of itself sinful. It is sinful if the desire and the "look" is perverted or taken to contexts that are disorderly and ungodly. 


So there is an orderly or God ordained form of desire, passion and lust that does not produce sin or sinful acts or activities.

On The Contrary  

If there is an orderly desire that produces good fruit, then there is also a disorderly desire or lust that is negative and that will produce wrong or ungodly fruit. James, speaking of the ungodly or negative order of lust, says when lust has "conceived, it bringeth forth sin". There appears to be an incubationary period in which lust comes and then matures by becoming sin. How long this time lasts, the period between the time that lust is conceived and when it brings forth, is indeterminate from scripture. 

However, there is an indicator in which we know whether "lust" is either positive or negative and where lust has become something other than what God has ordained. I believe that is easily found out when we examine the nature and object of the desire itself. eg: What is being desired and how it is being desired. 

Can A Person Desire What Scripture Condemns And Yet Remain Without Sin? 

Most Christians would hold that heterosexual sexual sin, such as adultery, are wrong both in desire and in action. Most of the same individuals would also admit that heterosexual sins, although thoroughly condemned, at least follow the natural order of things. I don't believe that any Christian seriously believes that heterosexual sin should be desired at any level, whether in thought life or in deed, by anyone who has subjected themselves to Christ or are believers taking their faith seriously.

In other words, we normally don't tell a person that they can desire to commit adultery all they want in their minds, but they are OK as long as they don't act it out. We normally tell those persons that they need help and need to repent of their sin with the understanding that sin separates from God

Homosexuality, like adultery and many other immoral heterosexual sexual arrangements, is condemned within scripture. Is the church willing to believe that homosexual sexual attraction is OK as long as it is not acted upon when the arrangement of homosexuality is so adequately condemned within scripture? 

If so, then we are treating homosexuality with a double standard and an exception that certainly does not exist within scripture and is disingenuous civilly. 

Take this further and build upon my previous point, remove homosexuality from the conversation for just a minute...I find it hard to believe that God says that an ungodly desire for anything that is contrary to his word and nature, is somehow and under certain circumstances acceptable to him, as long as it is not acted upon. 

Can you imagine a person lusting after children, by obtaining child pornography, as being "acceptable to God" and holy? Can you imagine that a man placing cameras in a woman's shower or bathroom, keeping the incidents to himself, can be considered "acceptable to God" while performing the activities of his sin in secret and in private? Remember, in those situations, the person is not touching anyone and may never come in contact with anyone. They are looking at video, pictures, or simply fantasizing in their minds to fulfill their desire. So we further ask the question:

Can A Person Lust Without Acting Upon It? 

Whether positive or negative, if a person has "passionate urges, strong feelings or desire" for something, and they do not act upon it in some way, can that be defined as lust or desire? In fact, what is that? 

I believe that James was affirming that lust, (whether positive or negative) immediately produces some sort of action, and or affinity for the object of the lust or desire. There is no neutral ground or ground whereby one can sit and simply "decide" what they will do or rehearse the "fantasy" of the sin in the mind without, by virtue of that fantasy, already having acted upon the sin itself. Physical interaction, though certainly important, (as some sins are much worse when acted upon) means little when assessing the truth of desires.  

The Principle Of Two Masters

Jesus seemed to be much more specific than many of our leaders and churches care to be in this politically correct and "your truth/my truth" culture. As it pertained to the "LUST" or "love of money" Jesus said it like this:

Matt. 6:24 ~ No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Jesus did not allow for a "middle ground" where desire is distinguishable from actions. If we can apply the principle of serving two masters, which I believe we can, to other aspects of life and existence, then we have a Jesus that does not cower to culture in the belief that one can desire something without yielding to it. 

It is at this juncture that I believe that the Pope, the Mormons and many Christians today have failed as it pertains to this argument. We believe that a person can serve the thoughts of sin with the mind on one level and with the body on another level however, Christ does not seem to make that distinction. 

An individual cannot give themselves to ungodly attractions without also desiring to act upon that ungodliness or attractions. Separation and understanding is in order, because no one can control temptations, however it is yielding to the temptation or the attraction itself, where sin is identified and many times that yielding occurs before sins can even be acted out or acted upon. To suppose that sin is only realized by actions, is to overlook the whole of scripture that all men have sinned, even if men have not performed the actions of sin in or with their flesh, Jesus came to save sinful hearts and minds by saving both body and soul. Simply put, even if a person is a paraplegic, he or she is still in need of salvation and is a sinner, not because of acts or actions, but because of what has been born within the heart and mind. It does not matter if one is restricted in their actions or prohibited in their actions, sin is conceived within the heart of the individual.  

Conclusion

Now, be clear, no one associated with this blog gets ANY pleasure from claiming that homosexuals are sinners and must repent of the homosexuality and place their desires on the alter of God and be purged. I feel the same way of any and all sins, including the ones that I liked when I served and lived after the flesh! However, the truth is that ALL sin, including the sin of homosexuality must be denounced and God can save any sinner from their sins. 

I believe that the desire for inclusion or normalization of homosexuality has caused many within the church to make a weird and unbiblical exception and double standards for the sin of homosexual desire and activity. We would hardly try to convince a pedophile that his desire was acceptable to the church or to God. We would hardly try to tell a man that desires to rape that he is OK as long as he doesn't act out on his desires.  We would hardly tell a man that desires relationships with many women, even to the point of polygamy, that his desires are acceptable to God as long as he does not act out on them. 

Those sexual desires, some more serious and urgent in nature than others, are meant to be more than merely "managed", they are to be done away with. 

Ephes 4:22-24 ~22-That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23-And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24-And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness

One's "concerning the former conversation" is not limited to a fleshly act or action, however, it develops out of the inner actions of mind and consciousness. The bible is somewhat absent of teaching that there is some sort of gulf between what one desires and what one does. (See my treatment of Paul's comments of Romans 7 HERE). Sexual desire is of particular interest and is specifically named as both being sinful if it is contrary to God's will and purpose:

1 Thess. 4:3-5 3-For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4-That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5-Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God

The phrase "lust of concupiscence" ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας καθάπερ καὶ is interpreted as it is indicating a negative implication of "lust" or desire in its most strong or highest context.

So I see a some things working here:

1- Men who realize that homosexuality is wrong, have a strong desire to get away from it, that learn how to tame their desires enough to not go after physical homosexual intimacy, but because of their simultaneous desire to do right, want to rename their homosexual attraction by calling it SSA in effort to distance themselves from homosexual advocacy. 

2- I see a church and church leaders, both Christian and non-Christian who desire to accept the persons caught in homosexual sin, but are afraid to tell those same people that the desire for sin and unbiblical behavior is an offense to God. 

3- I see families, who have approached the subject and issue as rationally as possible, willing to accept a person no matter what their desires may be, but who may be in a very fragile condition with such important issues at steak.  

4- I see a gay advocacy movement that wants acceptance and tolerance of the gay lifestyle so bad that they are willing to show the epitome of intolerance when any voice comes along that doesn't agree with their assessments. 

Although gay advocacy claims that they are working for the "children" and to "save lives" quite the contrary is true. They are destroying more lives than a little bit and their efforts to suppress voices that do not desire to be associated with homosexuality is no more than bullying. The fact is that being gay, like all other sins, is a CHOICE that people don't have to choose. Gay advocacy actions are SAD (Sinful And Destructive) as they continue to confuse issues and trap children in the gay lifestyle. Their actions are deplorable!

Blessed! 

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