God Does Not Accept Your Lifestyle!
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost Responds
Dear Richard and Kimberly:
Thank you for your sincere questions and concerns about the multiplicity of books and information about Christianity and homosexuality. It is indeed often confusing. I have spent almost 20 years reading many of these books and have found that it is helpful if you think about the different religious traditions from which we come. Many Christians take an approach to interpretation that is a combination of Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. However, it sounds like you come from a tradition which considers only the Bible as authoritative. In your case, then, it would probably be most helpful to you to focus on those books which are written by reputable Biblical scholars, and let the other literature go by.
You are right when you say that there is nothing we can do, whether we are gay or straight, to make ourselves acceptable to God, if you believe Romans 3:21 that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." But God, because of HIS lovingkindness, when we were dead in trespasses, has made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2: 4-5). Do you think that this great salvation, or that God's great mercy is restricted to heterosexuals (a category, like homosexuality, which did not even exist in Biblical times)?
We -- everyone -- are created in God's image, as you have said. You say there is no text accepting the gay lifestyle, whatever that means, but neither is there one endorsing any one other lifestyle in the Bible. Indeed, there are at least 40 different types of family structure described in the Bible, none of which are lifted up as exemplary or exclusively approved. While God's Word does mention several specific sexual behaviors which do not honor or respect God's image in others, those injunctions about same sex behaviors are outnumbered by specific restrictions on heterosexual behaviors by about 40 to 1. Yet, we hear no sermons saying that God hates heterosexuals.
When you mention in your letter that you have been "delivered from the bands of homosexuality," I am assuming that you refer to Richard. As a Christian psychologist, let me address this issue about deliverance. I'm sure you know that there does not exist any body of scientific evidence or research studies which have demonstrated the successful "changing" of a person's sexual orientation, though some people, through great personal will power, have been able to change their behaviors for a period of time.
As you have experienced, coming to God, accepting Jesus as your savior, and inviting the Holy Spirit to transform you by the washing of the Word, has undoubtedly changed your life. Many gay and straight people, who were living lives of promiscuity, or who did not respect their own bodies or the personhood of others, have experienced deliverance from those disrespectful behaviors. As we mature in Christ, we tend to start living by Jesus' word to love our neighbor as ourselves. We tend to bring all of our lusts (flesh, eye, and pride) under obedience to the word of God as we learn to respect ourselves and others more. However, this does not mean that God has changed our essential selves, but that He is restoring us to wholeness. Did you ever hear a sermon telling heterosexuals to give up their heterosexuality when they were delivered from promiscuity? So, you may have mistaken your change in attitude toward others and your growing respect for the image of God in other men as a "deliverance," and in it way it is.
Another psychological phenomenon which happens to those who were "delivered" within the context of a Christian community, is that they generally gain support and public approval within the church as long as they adhere to the acceptable behavioral codes. This is often behind the pressures to get married and act like everyone else. Social approval is a very strong motivator, even moreso to those who have experienced the rejection and disapproval so characteristic of church people toward those who are gay, or perceived to be gay, regardless of their devotion to Christ. It is often amazing the things that people will do in order to be accepted by someone else, or by a group of people who are demonstrating conditional love. I hope that this has not been your experience.
Finally, in response to your questions about the scriptures relating to same sex practices, I will defer to the experts. Reputable Bible scholars, who have devoted years to studying scripture, languages, and the culture of Biblical times, have carefully analyzed these passages which you mentioned as well as others. I would suggest that you read the older classic on the subject, The New Testament and Homosexuality, by Robin Scroggs. More recent books, which closely examine scripture, are Daniel Helmeniak's What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, and Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott's Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? There are many others listed in the Bookstore on this website, but these maintain the high respect for the integrity of the Bible which you are seeking.
Richard and Kimberly, God has given you the Holy Spirit and has gifted you with your bodies and your minds. I urge you to trust what God is saying to you through them. Feast on communion with God's Spirit. God will show you the path. "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
In Christ's love,
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost