The Missing Link – Gay Christians and the Gift of Celibacy

Opposite-sex attraction is natural but same-sex attraction is not. The word “natural” is not a neutral scientific word, but it denotes the manifestation of God’s created order and will.

Something is missing in this discussion.  I’ve been scratching my head to find the missing link.  One gaping hole that comes to my mind is that the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:26-27 calls same-sex attraction unnatural and degrading.  It is not equivalent with opposite-sex attraction.  Opposite-sex attraction is natural but same-sex attraction is not. The word “natural” is not a neutral scientific word, but it denotes the manifestation of God’s created order and will.

 

I have been reading with interest the many articles published on The Aquila Report about Gay (or same-sex attraction) Christians (e.g., here, here, here, and here).  I must confess that this is all new to me.  I am trying to be fair and analyze biblically the new terminology and the idea of the celibate Gay Christian.

From what I gather from my reading, this viewpoint teaches us that some persons are born with the nature of same-sex attraction (rather than God giving them over to it as Paul mentions in Romans 1:24, 26, 28).  Even though same-sex marriage is sinful, yet same-sex attraction is no different than opposite-sex attraction.  As long as they are controlled, then there is no sin—only temptation.  Temptation is common to all of us.

Therefore, Gay Christians should now come out of the closet and enjoy the full fellowship of the Church.  In my opinion, this would include holding office in the Church.  Soon, your pastor may be a Gay Christian.

However, something is missing in this discussion.  I’ve been scratching my head to find the missing link.  One gaping hole that comes to my mind is that the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:26-27 calls same-sex attraction unnatural and degrading.  It is not equivalent with opposite-sex attraction.  Opposite-sex attraction is natural but same-sex attraction is not. The word “natural” is not a neutral scientific word, but it denotes the manifestation of God’s created order and will.

If we grant that some people are born with same-sex attraction, the greater and more problematic issue then becomes what Paul calls “passions.” Now, passions are common to both same-sex and opposite-sex attracted persons. Those attracted to the opposite sex have desires just as same-sex attraction persons have desires.  Paul calls them burning passions.  They are like fires inside of the mind and body.  If they are not quenched, they will cause destruction.  Temptation is real for both gays and straights.  When lust conceives “it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it gives birth to death” (James 1:15).

Thus, there is at least one area of equality in the Bible common to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Burning passions!  So, in my opinion, the real question becomes the issue of how does a Christian (whether gay or straight) control his or her burning passions?

The church has commonly gone down two avenues on this issue.  First, there are those Christians who have a special gift which has generally been called the gift of celibacy.  This is a special gift given at the discretion of God. There are no burning passions, or if there are, they can be controlled.  This category appears to be a very small minority in the church.  This gift is not based on any quality inherent in the calling or character of the Christian. Paul was never married and did not need to be married.  Peter was married.  It is not inherent to being male or female, master or slave, Greek or Jew (nor gay or straight).  God is randomly selective here.

For those who do not have the gift of celibacy, the only alternative is marriage.  Paul says it “is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:9). Burning passions will seduce a person outside of marriage, or even persons inside marriage who for short periods practice abstinence.  He calls this danger “incontinence,” the inability to control one’s self (1 Cor. 7:5).

Thus, for all those who burn with passion in this particular arena, for all those who do not have the gift of celibacy, the only remedy is marriage.  Now, here is the problem I see or the crux of the matter. If Gay Christians do not have the gift of celibacy, then the only alternative to burning desires is marriage.  Since marriage between those of the same sex is clearly forbidden by the Bible, what are Gay Christians to do?  God have mercy on all of us!  This is the missing-link.

My fear is that most Gay Christians will succumb to this burning desire at some point in their lives, or the church will sanction homosexual marriage.  I see no other option. Most churches (including evangelical churches) are choosing the latter. Repentance and faith are no longer seen as a solution.  How the PCA handles this problem remains to be seen.

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.