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Same-Sex Attraction

Tuesday, 28 June 2022  | John Kidson

After 3, seemed like 33, days of inconclusive conversations, we failed to even produce a 'Conference Communiqué'. I returned home, exhausted. As my meandering mind mulled over the conference proceedings, I came to a few conclusions. Years before, I had understood that, if it hadn't been for Adam and Eve and the infamous fall of humanity, everything would have been alright. The conference laboured with the old 'hereditary vs environmental' debate. Blame was being levelled at the elusive 'gay gene' or at the anecdotal evidence of perceived parental fault. I felt convinced that neither could be totally responsible. Genes only indicate tendencies; anecdotal evidence is not proof; it all simplistically comes back to the fall. And our response?

Even a casual look at church history reveals a number of mistakes. For example: our clumsy disproportionate emphasis on family values, falsely promoting the fallacy that heterosexuality is the opposite to homosexuality. This needs correcting: the opposite to all humanity's brokenness (sexual and otherwise) is godliness. We need to confirm the Westminster Confession which declares that each person's whole duty is 'to love God and enjoy him forever'. Our desire for intimacy with fellow humans is a reflection of our desire for intimacy with our maker. Romance and family are good, but, like prophecy, knowledge and tongues, each will cease. They will all pass away. The Church needs to give time and energy to wholeheartedly responding in ministry, as it declares that old creed's truth.

In promoting family, home and romantic love, the Church has over-played 'the family card' so that the position God reserves for himself has seemingly been usurped. In all of this, tragically the Church has failed to fully recognise a key minority of its membership: the 'same-sex attracted'. Unfortunately, Israel Folau's meme, his clumsy attempt 'to warn of coming judgement', quoted only an incomplete Bible passage of two verses (1 Cor 6.9-10). Regretfully the Church had not adequately been following Paul's advice to the Galatian Church (Gal 6.10): ‘doing good to all, especially to believers’ was kept on the back-burner. Otherwise, we would have been acutely cognisant of that minority of our members who identify as same-sex attracted. Their membership could have been affirmed. Some may have once belonged to those for whom, in Folau's meme, 'hell awaits', but it is a pity that Folau did not refer to the complete passage: 'such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of Jesus ...’ (1 Cor 6.11). Each now freely lives either as a celibate gay or as a member of a monogamous mixed-orientation marriage. Church membership, since the first century, has always comprised a motley group of forgiven people.

Heeding Paul's Galatian advice, 'to do good to all, especially to believers', is an obvious first response to the reality of same-sex attraction. Let's stop perpetuating the media myth that the Church and 'LGBTIQA+ people' are separate homogeneous groups. We'd do well to replace that old standard sign, 'LGBTIQA+ welcome here', with a vibrant welcoming that ensures each member of the congregation is in fact welcomed. Where s/he feels 'at home', comfortable in every church setting and enjoying the preaching in a congregation where sharing Gospel truth is recognised as an expression of love and care, highlighting the central message of possible, complete and lasting reconciliation. The old confusing adage, 'love the sinner – hate the sin', is thereby transformed, as the forgiven (begin to) minister in the name and power of the Forgiver.

The world at large, in its constant pleasure-pursuit, needs to hear the Church break the shackles of hesitant proclamation with positive teaching that joyfully affirms and lovingly invites everyone to the 'marriage feast of the Lamb', to love God and enjoy him forever. This is surely part of the simple answer to the conference question; in following Jesus' summary of the law and the prophets, ‘Love God with your whole being and Love your neighbour as yourself’.

I can well imagine the church at Corinth and other first century groups of believers caring for same-sex attracted brothers and sisters in the name and manner of Jesus – with grace and truth.

What prevents us from undertaking a similar ministry? We need to be salt and light in our society, remembering that Jesus never 'soft-pedalled' his message. His love for the rich young ruler, the woman 'caught in the act', the Samaritan woman at the well and confused old Nicodemus compelled him to speak with truth and grace. To each he offered more than expected: no compromising of truth or grace!

We are called to tread this 'tight-rope' path of discipleship. Fear must never paralyse, nor prevent us from attempting this walk. The ever-present risk of falling to either side is simply a further guarantee that Christianity ain't for sissies! We need to (as Jesus did in Matthew 5:17-18) affirm God's original two-fold purpose for sexuality: a] reproduction of the species (Genesis 1.27 – 28); and [b] mutual comfort and enjoyment of the couple (Genesis 2.18–24). By stating reproduction first, the Bible is not declaring an order of importance, rather it is describing the context in which the comfort and enjoyment of sexual union may take place. This context is freely begun, of mutual interest, and where reproduction is generally desirable and possible. Thus same-sex unions are ruled out, as are various other sexual couplings, in which reproduction is either impossible or undesirable.

Let's continue to learn, and wisely employ the best of both old and new strategies. The family unit can be extended by 'adopting' uncles, aunts and cousins for discussions, meals and car-pooling. The gains may include meaningful company for individuals, handy help for stressed parents and a larger source of role models for the young. Children need to have their interests and skills recognised and validated. When mentors collaborate with the young on meaningful projects, the result is that concepts of adulthood, gender identity and body image may be substantially de-mystified. Church-sponsored ‘mums and daughters’/’dads and sons’ weekend camps, with mentors, could become highlights of the calendar.

The Church is well known for its important 'thou shalt-nots'. Its vulnerability needs to be seen as it seeks to bind up the broken-hearted, sharing the joyous message of reconciliation and generally doing good to all, especially to fellow believers. 

John Kidson is a former uni chaplain and now assists in local part-time ministry in Grafton Diocese. He is a regular contributor to Engage.Mail.

Further reading

A War of Two Loves by David Bennett (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018).

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016).

A Bigger World Yet by Tim Timmerman (Huron, OH: BirdDog Press, 2012).

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