I write this in contrast to a letter which argues that accepting homosexuality denies God’s hope for homosexuals.
In discussing homosexuality with Christians, you will generally find that most of them agree that the Church has treated the LGBT community wrongly, and I would agree. I have had multiple conversations of the sort in very recent memory. But unless you’re in a church community which actually accepts homosexuality, you will find that everyone has their own pet caveats for why it’s not okay, even though the Church is not treating homosexuals as it should. You will hear comparisons of homosexuality to addiction to pornography or alcohol. You will hear slippery slope arguments, like how will we say no to one night stands or even bestiality if we can’t say no to homosexuality.
I know that I personally used to offer these sorts of arguments, and I may have even devised a few of my own. As a church, it seems we come up with every other method of rectifying our relationships with people of different sexual orientation other than to realize that maybe calling their sexuality “sinful” is damaging in and of itself.
Many Christians to whom I have spoken, however, will readily accept that homosexual desires do in fact develop on their own through no fault or moral failing, which is at least an improvement on calling it a choice. In fact, the Catholic church acknowledges this much, but it requires that homosexuals not act on their desires and live lives of celibacy. The argument here is that there are many natural desires which are not conducive to Godly living, and we must train our emotions such that we do not act unethically. I agree this far. I do not agree that training people to live Godly lives includes completely disallowing homosexual desires to manifest in any sort of homosexual action.
We don’t do this with other sorts of desires. There is a right time, place, and manner for anger, sadness, erotic affection, and for every other sort of natural affection which we have — unless, one might say, that erotic affection is homosexual in nature. Yet there is no evidence that anyone can reappropriate homosexual desires into heterosexual desires. This is the unanimous opinion of every major health organization in the United States as well as the World Health Organization and others. There is no solution for someone of homosexual orientation trying to live up to conservative Christian expectations of complete abstinence except for a life marred by unfulfilled sexual and emotional desires.
Whereas Christianity would help the man with anger problems to find the right way of being angry, there is apparently no right way of having homosexual desires. Any way of expressing them is sin to the conservative position. This is a hopeless position to maintain. We would say to the homosexual, “You will live a life of frustration with no chance of God restoring right order to your emotions.” But this is not the message we offer to anyone else. The alcoholic, the adulterer, the liar, the thief — all of these have hopes of moving in the direction of righteousness by training their emotions to align with God’s, but not the gay man.
Because we have learned that some men and women are homosexual through no fault or sin, we are in a better place to understand them than we would have been in the first century AD or any time prior. It’s not that we are functionally any smarter, but we have in fact built up knowledge over time. The ancient people were not stupid, but they did not have the knowledge we have and would have written the Bible in accordance with the way they understood things to be.
If, in fact, homosexuality was a disordered desire which one could rectify with the right sort of heterosexual desire, then I would have no problem saying that homosexuality was a sin. This is the assumption of the Biblical writers, but there is no evidence supporting this position.
I argue that homosexual Christians should learn to order their desires in the same manner as all other Christians, that they express love and commitment alongside any sort of eroticism. That is the Christian ideal for all sexual desire. That is my hope for homosexual Christians, that they are able to live lives where they can express their homosexuality in a healthy manner and in a way which glorifies God.
For us to put forward anything less is to deny the hope of Christ, and no creative reasoning will allow us to escape this conclusion. If there is no right expression of homosexual desire, then there is no hope of restoration.