Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Borrowed ethics question: how to respond to an associate pastor who confesses to homosexual "orientation"?

Mark Lamprecht poses a question, framed as coming from a faithful good-guy associate pastor:
As you all know I’ve served as a pastor here for several years. You also know that I have remained single the whole time. What I am about to tell you is not easy to openly admit.

The fact is that my sexual orientation…is…homosexual.

But please hear me out. I am fully convinced, and professes to you now, that theonly justifiable and acceptable sexual expression is heterosexuality within a heterosexual marriage, one man and one woman committed for life.

I have put specific guidelines in place to protect myself and the whole congregation. For example, I always leave the door open when counseling people. I am accountable to other pastors about this issue and I even have internet filtering software on my computer.

Finally, it is important for you all to know that I have not engaged in any illicit sex and have no plans to. I also meet with a Christian counselor about the same-sex attractions. Please stand with me in prayer on this issue. Thank you.
My first, non-serious response is "What — now they hold orientation-meetings for this?"

But here's my more-serious response. First, I acknowledge that there are many good ways to respond. Mine will feature the response that I think is (A) less likely to be given, and (B) probably more important than the likelier touchy-feeling good-sounding responses.

I think it's important to tell him that the first step in dealing with any problem is correct diagnosis of both the problem and the desired solution.

Next, it is important to tell him that he does not seem to have done either.

Third, by way of explanation, I'd point out to him that there is no help from God for an "orientation." The Bible doesn't know of such an "orientation." This may be why his only goal as to his "orientation" is that he "[has] no plans to" act on it — as I have "no plans to" visit Canada or live in New Jersey... though either could happen, and there's no moral or absolute reason why they shouldn't.

What do you do with an "orientation"? Since it is an un-Biblical category, forget the Bible. There is no forgiveness or redemption for an "orientation." So I guess you have to do therapy, or meditation, or yoga or something. No idea. Can't help you.

Or perhaps by "orientation," he is meaning to say "I struggle with sinful temptations to have sex with other men"? Okay, fair enough. Now we are getting somewhere Bibley.

But in that case, how do you say you "have no plans to" act on them? Picture a man standing up and saying he struggles with temptation to commit adultery with the senior pastor's wife, but he "has no plans to" act on it? Or that  he struggles with temptation to have sex with little children in the church Sunday School, but he "has no plans to" act on it? Or that he struggles with temptation to rape some women in the congregation, but he "has no plans to" act on it?

Well now, that's very different, isn't it?

No, actually, it is no different. It's just that, at the moment, the particular sin of homosexuality enjoys a martyred, romantic celebrity-status among sins. It's a special sin. People tempted to it are special cases.

But you see, while I believe that a certain amount of motivation behind evangelicals who (should know better but) give in to this trend is loving and compassionate, the net-result is actually disastrous and unhelpful.

"Disastrous and unhelpful" because, as I mentioned, God offers no help that I know of for dealing with "orientation"... unless you mean that orientation to sin which afflicts all natural sons of Adam (Rom. 8:7-8). Now, if it's a sin, like every other sin in being a sin, then we're on Biblical grounds. Now there is all sorts of help to be found in Scripture and in the truths of the Gospel.

But then he does lose his romantic, martyred status, and has to queue up with the rest of us plain old, garden-variety sinners, who don't go up to the pulpit and say we have a "polyamorous orientation" or a "hyper-acquisitive orientation," rather than saying we struggle with lust and covetousness. Why don't we? Because we know it! Unless we're far off from Biblical truth, we already know that there are only two kinds of people this side of heaven, viewed in one way:
  1. People under sin's unchallenged lordship
  2. People struggling with sin
There is no saint this side of heaven who doesn't struggle. Period.

So on the one hand, he has to give up his "Special Sin" card. He loses Tragic Hero status. He also mortifies the "no plans" out. Sin is to be mortified, and that means "deaditized." On the other, he gets to tap in to the same glorious Gospel help that all struggling saints have enjoyed for 2000 years. Gospel, repentance, forgiveness, regeneration, justification, mortification, sanctification, with the sure promise of ultimate glorification.

Hopeless pop-psychology for redemption in Christ. Not a bad trade, I'd say.

Postscript: as I've often said, I have great sympathy for anyone struggling with this sexual temptation as a temptation. I can only imagine how difficult it is, I know that. In fact, I think it's too difficult and too important to abandon such folks to pop-psychological mumbo-jumbo with a sprinkling of God-talk. They're sinners. I'm a sinner. The Gospel is for sinners like us.

That's terrific news, and it's the news we should stick with plainly, emphatically, insistently, and confidently.


Stan McCullars said...

What should the strangely oriented pastor do?

Try to get a gig on the Elephant Room.

Robert said...

I see no mention from this guy about the fact that God hates what he calls an orientation. In fact, I am guessing that he doesn't understand that, either. That is the problem with coddling sin...we never get closer to appreciating how deadly and evil it is and how much God hates sin.

Did Samuel coddle Agag (who was just an Amalekite king who did what Amalekite kings do) when he found out that Saul had failed to kill all of the Amalekites? No, he hacked him to pieces. May God give us the grace and strength to hack the sins that we struggle with to pieces more each day.

Robert said...


That will only happen if he has 5,000 members or more in his church.

wv: basted - that's about a week late!

Eric said...


Thanks for another Gospel-focused Bible-based analysis of a topic that so often is handled with kid gloves. At its core it really is a simple issue, the issue of our sin and rebellion and the solution is also profoundly simple - the unadulturated gospel.

Lots of ways for me to apply this post to my sin today. Thanks again.

Rhology said...

Another question: Should this man have even made the announcement?

DJP said...

Brother, you and me both, and if I didn't make that clear let me do so now.

Talk to me about being tempted to have sex with another man, and I may look a bit blank.

Talk to me about being tempted to do something you know is wrong, something you shouldn't do, something that part of you seems to cry out to do and assures you that it is what you really need to do if you want to be happy... oh yeah, God help me, that I know.

And so do ALL Christians. That, we can help with.

DJP said...

Don't I sort of answer that, Rhology? I mean to, for instance in the paragraph starting "But then he does lose his romantic, martyred status..."

Rhology said...

Yeah, I guess so. Good call.

Eric said...


You did make it clear, I was just agreeing and applying to myself.

Actually, I appreciate your constant reminders that what you are "preaching" is first applied to yourself as a sinner. How better to minister to a sinner struggling with sin than to establish solidarity as a sinner - much more loving that obfuscating or minimizing their sin so that they feel better about themselves. It also tends to take out the "stop judging me" or "stop being holier-than-thou" retorts, because it makes clear that we all begin from the same unflattering position: sinners.

Andrew said...

Great stuff here Dan. I suspect that some of it, or even most of it, revolves around a difference in vocabulary. The measures the young man covenants to put in place sound to me (with the possible exception of therapy) as measures towards mortification.

As to whether he should confess it or not... If every servant of God got up and confessed every sin he could commit, there wouldn't much time left for preaching (!).

But there is a current zeitgeist in evangelical circles for Pastors to 'fess up to their people about the fact that they are sinners/might have pride in their hearts etc.

Maybe the guy should take a sabbatical or submit to a denominational enquiry while still fulfilling international conference speaker engagements?

As for the folks I pastor - well they know I'm a sinner saved by grace: I tell them that every time I preach the Gospel!

DJP said...

Right, Andrew. Isn't Paul something of a model here? We know "don't covet" nailed him; but beyond that, when he says he struggles constantly with the "flesh" (Rom. &:14-25), do we really need to know the specifics? And when he says he has a persistent thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12), do we really need to know the specifics?

In fact, isn't it by design and actually more helpful that we don't?

Andrew said...

Absolutely Dan, and 2Corinthians 12 and Romans 7 have been the more powerful as a result: 'thorn in the flesh' comes across to us as 'insert struggle here ______'.

The part that I find interesting here is that the ethics question is not about a young man per se, but a pastor.

The fact that this functions as a potential game changer for some people in terms of response perhaps betrays more about how we conceive of ministers and ministry than it does about how we approach the issue of homosexuality.

In a culture saturated with celebrity pastors it is earth shattering to people to realise that Pastors are men and redeemed sinners as much in need of daily repentance and sanctification as others.

Now if the question centred around an active and indulged sinful behaviour well that's completely different and means a totally different tack.

(Google Chrome has systematically underlined every English spelling of every word in this comment - so much so that I hope my American friends will be able to read it!)

DJP said...

We appreciate your doing us the favour.

Doug Hibbard said...

And somewhere, sitting out there, I'm cringing because my 5-year-old has heard sermons about honoring God with obedience and some indication regarding 'sexual sin' such that adults grasp it but he and the other 4-6 year-olds in the congregation don't get it.

And now I've got to answer the question "Dad, what's a homosexual orientation?" over lunch.

The question as a whole needs a good answer like yours. But I'm seeing the danger in the full-out confession to my family: just because you have no innocence left, why do you get to take everyone else's? My kids will deal with this soon enough, the other young families will deal with it soon enough.

So, yes, it is kind of a selfish response on my part. But I would react the same way to a public confession of his affair with the pianist, his cocaine habit or his porn addiction. Save it. Save it until you've dealt with it with close Biblical counsel and accountability and willingly call it sin and then glorify God that He saves sinners. Don't put the whole congregation on the task of being your confidant, that is not what they are there for.

Andrew said...

You know that the original autographs of Scripture had that form of spelling don't you?

Runs for cover

Todd Burus said...

So, I'm curious as to how this guy is sinning in order to justify a response that he has not correctly diagnosed his problem or the desired solution? Because he used the phrase "sexual orientation"? He doesn't sound proud of his situation or in anyway complacent that those are his struggles. His action steps seem to demonstrate that he desires change. Does the Bible tell him he has to be heterosexual?

If temptation to sin without acting on that temptation is still sin, then your theology has just disqualified Jesus.

DJP said...

Todd, you're asking questions and raising challenges all dealt with in the post. Please read it through, don't skim.

Robert said...

I think a clear line has to be distinguished between temptation and desire. That is the difference between Jesus and us, He doesn't have sinful desires.

Todd Burus said...

Slightly condescending. Anyways...

You said, "I think it's important to tell him that the first step in dealing with any problem is correct diagnosis of both the problem and the desired solution.

Next, it is important to tell him that he does not seem to have done either."

How is this so? Could he use other language to express his problem. Sure. But how does the actionable steps he's taking demonstrate that he does not view engaging in homosexual relationships regardless of the context as a sin. Let's be clear on what the Bible says--is it homosexual temptations that are a sin or homosexual behaviors?

You said, "Or perhaps by "orientation," he is meaning to say "I struggle with sinful temptations to have sex with other men"? Okay, fair enough. Now we are getting somewhere Bibley.

But in that case, how do you say you "have no plans to" act on them?"

Maybe because he is confessing his struggles, seeking accountability, and working with others to address his heart issues? These all seem like very biblical responses to an understanding of ones own sin struggles. Did you read the prompt or just skim it?

You said, "But then he does lose his romantic, martyred status, and has to queue up with the rest of us plain old, garden-variety sinners, who don't go up to the pulpit and say we have a "polyamorous orientation" or a "hyper-acquisitive orientation," rather than saying we struggle with lust and covetousness. Why don't we? Because we know it! Unless we're far off from Biblical truth, we already know that there are only two kinds of people this side of heaven, viewed in one way:
(1) People under sin's unchallenged lordship, or (2) People struggling with sin. There is no saint this side of heaven who doesn't struggle. Period."

So, you're saying that confessing specific sins, particularly sins that may be especially bothersome to some of your congregants, is not biblical? That it would be better if he hid this struggle and hoped that no one found out about it and began gossiping (as church members are occasionally known to do)? Really?

DJP said...

Actually, it is charitable to assume inattentive reading, rather than to assume reading-comprehension issues. Or that's my intent. It happens. People skim, then blurt. It's the kindest and most obvious explanation for asking questions already answered in a post.

But, since you want me to do this: the problem with calling it an "orientation" is what I try my best to explain, in basically every word that comes after "But here's my more-serious response."

And yes, as others have remarked, confessing internal struggles that do not involve the entire congregation to the entire congregation is neither called for, exampled, nor helpful — as I also explain in the post, and as has been further developed in this comment thread.

However, there are other options beside "tell everyone in a church meeting what internal struggles I'm having," and "hiding my struggle from everyone in the hopes that no one notices."

But if I spelled them out, since they're so obvious, wouldn't you say I was being "condescending" again?

Eric said...


In addition to Dan's responses to you, I'd offer (since you introduced the idea) that when the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness it was not saying that he had an inclination toward something, but that an opportunity to sin was presented to him. And, even more pointedly, Jesus never announced that he had a "Satan-worshipping orientation".

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

This guy sounds more like a victim of sin than the perpetrator of it, which is why (I think, if my mind is working like yours is, Dan) the use of the phrase, "orientation" is a poor one. It clutters up the truth that the man has an affection for the sin, and so it makes him rather than God's holiness and Christ's testimony in his life the focus issue. I know that because I like to use language concerning my own besetting sins that makes me the victim - and it does nothing to mortify that sin.

Jugulum said...


I had the same reaction that you did, when it initially looked like Dan was simply leaping on the phrasing "orientation". And I agree with you: Simply because people uses the word "orientation", we can't conclude that they mean something other than "I struggle with sinful temptations to...". We can't conclude they're thinking in unbiblical categories. (It probably does imply that they think they have a "natural tendency" toward that temptation. And that isn't an unbiblical notion, as far as I know.)

And Dan recognize that (in the "Or perhaps" paragraph). And his subsequent comments (beginning with "But in that case") do explain where he's coming from. He's not just leaping on the word "orientation".

I'm not convinced that the hypothetical pastor said anything that explicitly contradicts a biblical worldview, but the language is at least odd--like "have no plans to", as Dan pointed out. It suggests that the pastor has some mixed-up assumptions. The language is at least compatible with a secular worldview, and it arguably reinforces one.

So that language does raise the concerns that Dan pointed to.

Best-case scenario: The hypothetical Christian counselor is teaching the pastor to shift his language & thought-processes to a more biblical view.

Pierre Saikaley said...

"no plans to" visit Canada..."

(We've got great wild Salmon, Nova Scotia Lobster, and Maple syrup-now how's d'em plans comin? :-D)

DJP said...

Pierre: likelier.


Daryl said...

Dan & Pierre,

Great illustration of the problem you (Dan) addressed in the post.

Good on ya.

DJP said...

That is a charitable possibility, Jugulum. However the fact that he's already an associate (not apprentice or junior or what-have-you) pastor heightens concern with (A) the language, (B) the mental nexus it hints at, and (C) the judgment that this is a helpful contribution to the congregation he's sworn to serve and edify. (For instance, see Doug's remarks, above.)

Frank Turk said...

Just to gadfly for a moment, isn't there a difference between saying, "I confess that I struggle with lust (therefore: adultery) every day," and saying, "I struggle with thinking about adultery with your wife every day."

The latter speaks to something a little more, um, specific and perhaps habitual rather than the former, which speaks to a troubling bout with inclination and being unable to hold every thought captive to Christ. The former is the statement that I have urges which shame me, and the latter say that I often give in to urges that shame me.

In the example Mark gave at his blog, it reads to me more like the former than the latter, and it seems to me that DJP has here made a subtle change in restating the confession which makes it something it may not be.


Jugulum said...

@Dan: Agreed, both that his status as an associate pastor heightens the concern, and that the forum was the wrong one.

DJP said...

Is there a point in him saying he struggles with perverted sexual desires? Well, worse with saying that perverted desires are his "orientation?"

I'd just copy and paste my whole post in response to your question.

Someone says, "Oh, he needed to do that so folks would stop asking him when he was going to get married." Really. What if the reason were that he only wanted to have sex with animals or small children. Good topic for the next post-pot-luck share-a-thon? Of course not; those perversions don't have Tragic Hero status, yet.

So instead, he gets up and says that he struggles with temptations to sin.

Appropriate congregational response: ...and...?

Because every Christian does.

And then, the whole post, again.

Rhology said...

Appropriate congregational response: ...and...?

Or, I'd suggest:

Appropriate congregational response:'re announcing this publicly...why?

DJP said...


A friend who was a counselor had a pretty terrific response. She noted a friend who had these temptations, and how he kind of circled the wagon around special status. I mean, one moment it was "Goodness, don't make such a big deal about homosexuality! It's just a sin like coveting and lying!" and then the next it was "No one understands my struggles, it is a lonely and special struggle only we who have it can know."

To which she said, "Well, which is it? Is it a sin, like all Christians struggle with; or is it a special-category malady?"

(Hint: A)

Jugulum said...


I can't really see how adding "with your wife" changes it from a confession of urges to a confession of giving in to those urges, or makes it more habitual. (And I don't think Dan's response treated the pastor's confession as one of giving in to sinful urges vs having them.)

Aside from that, I'd ask whether it's appropriate to be confessing a particular target of one's recurring lust. But that's not the question you posed.

DJP said...

...or if he confessed to not being married because he had an orientation to want to have sex with other men's wives, but he had "no plans" to act on it.

Scooter said...

It only took 3-4 readings to actually get what Dan was saying. That means he's either a great wordsmith or I'm a terrible reader.

You make a great illustration about what happens when we use the wrong words to describe the wrong things. If we can't call sin what it is, we can't use Scripture as a remedy. If we don't do what Scripture teaches to do with sin, then why call ourselves Christians?

When you said this:

But you see, while I believe that a certain amount of motivation behind evangelicals who (should know better but) give in to this trend is loving and compassionate, the net-result is actually disastrous and unhelpful.

If the net result of this trend is disastrous, wouldn't that mean evangelical motivations, however loving they claim to be, need a serious re-working?

DJP said...

Thanks for your persistence, Scooter!


mikeb said...

On urges vs. actions, some would benefit from reading Matthew 5:28, over and over.

DJP said...

Okey doke.

trogdor said...

There's a problem with describing yourself by your sinful desires, whether it be identifying as a homosexual Christian, alcoholic Christian, greedy covetous Christian, or I-want-to-kill-all-nearby-males-and-make-all-the-women-my-harem Christian. (Hey, it's what lions do, and as everyone who's addressed this topic knows, if you can find an animal that does it, it must be morally upright. But I digress.)

Such a self-description declares that the sinful desire is the defining aspect of your life, that sanctification consists of nothing more than finding ways to avoid acting on the sinful desire. It says that this is how I was, it's how I still am, and it's how I'll always be.

It implies that Christ's lordship extends to my actions but not the root desires. That I'm reborn as a new creation, but my sinful desires are the same and will always remain as strong as they ever were.

Sanctification is not just getting better at suppressing sinful acts while leaving the heart untouched. It's being conformed more to the image of Christ - all of me, actions, thoughts, desires, all being redeemed and ever-increasingly reflecting God's design. It is not enough to just avoid acting on perverted sexual lust; I must fight to kill those lusts and replace them with God-honoring sexuality.

Self-identification as a homosexual puts the sin battle in the realm of restraint rather than mortification. Not acting out on sinful desire is good, but not nearly so good as killing it. And this type of talk says that not only am I not going to kill it, I'm not even going to try.

Frank Turk said...

Dan --

As I said in the comments at Mark's post, I think the context of the confession is wrong. I don't think confession is wrong, and I don't think you do, either.

To the point, "well, what is he really confessing?" I'd say he's confession real sin -- just not physical action Mat 5 and all that -- the truth about his own heart.

Does it require the drama that Mark's post made it out to be? I don't think so. But confessing it plainly that there is sin which he struggles with in an appropriate context is solid conduct.

DJP said...

Well, if you're asking whether I think he should admit his struggles and temptation to some faithful, trustworthy, godly Christian friend, and receive help and encouragement and counsel and prayer — absolutely yes. I'd be a dead man a million times over if I'd not had such friends over the decades, and you're one of them.

The focus of my misgivings is what I tried to focus on in the post: "orientation," "no plans," purpose, results, and context.

Robert said...

I'm with trogdor. I'd still draw a line to Samuel and Agag and tell this guy that is the attitude he needs to take towards his sin. And sin isn't just the action, it is the desire behind the action. Just read through James 1:13-15 and you can clearly see where the root of the problem lies.

I certainly hope that this guy is just at the beginning of attacking this sin and that is why his wording seems to show some areas of concern. I also hope that his counselor will direct him to attack the desire and try to see his sin as God does. That is the struggle that we all have...if we really saw sin as He does, would we still sin?

Andrew said...

I think that orientation is the key word here.

I'm working through Alex Tylee's treatment of homosexuality Walking with Gay Friends published by IVP. Its a good read and provides a helpful insight into homosexual and lesbian temptation from the pen of one who has faced these things first hand.

Tylee acknowledges that her particular area of temptation, her orientation, is sinful and has vowed to live by God's Word on these issues.

But she constructs an excellent argument for why this sin does carry some degree of 'special' status, in that homosexual attraction is bound up with issues of identity and sub-culture. Because homosexuality was a taboo for so long it has led to an alternative society which accepts those who indulge in this behaviour - leading to exaggerations of attitudes and ideas.

It is little wonder, then, that those who face these kinds of temptation are prone to prescribe it as an orientation, precisely because it is a way of viewing the world, as well as a way of being tempted.

I know that this doesn't sit easily with us, but if we are going to reach people with this particular set of temptations, and care for them effecitvely when they come to Christ, then we need to be pastorally sensitive to his.

As a Pastor I would approach this issue differently than other sins, precisely because of the complex identity issues that it entails. Whether we credit it as an orientation or not, it is in the eyes of those with this inclination much more than a sinful thought or attitude.

I think the 'special' status of this is probably confirmed by your post Dan - if you'd adapted your ethical question to read 'an associate pastor who confesses to alcoholism' I doubt it would have garnered over 40 comments. And yet alcoholism could just as easily be read as a cover for the sin of intemperance.

On the other issue raised by this of confession before the gathered church, I'm totally with you that its out of place.

DJP said...

That's a good word, Andrew. Thanks.

So I transfer it instead to adultery, and I think, "But hasn't the same sort of thing been done there? And doesn't that not in actuality make the sin any cleaner, shinier, or more special than any other dirty, God-defying sin?"

I mean, how many movies have you seen featuring adultery where, convinced Christian though you are, you find part of you, yourself, sympathizing with the adulterers? His/her marriage is so bad, his/her husband is such a wretch, he/she is such a fine, noble, lovable person... you feel yourself pulled to cheer on the adultery. Hollywood is really good at such things.

And that is what's been done for homosexuality. I can't see why it shouldn't progress to things we find repulsive today; we've noted on these cyber-pages attempts, already, to ennoble "different" loves.

But every Christian reader will recognize that they've had to do the same thing I've had to do with my own internal temptations. Sin always, always wants to depict itself as noble and special and not-like-that-other sin; and if we're to mortify it, the first step is to rip off the mask and try to see it for the filthy, repulsive, destructive thing God sees it to be.

Which "orientation" and "no plans" just doesn't really do.

Again, thanks.

Solameanie said...

Sin always, always wants to depict itself as noble and special and not-like-that-other sin; and if we're to mortify it, the first step is to rip off the mask and try to see it for the filthy, repulsive, destructive thing God sees it to be.

Dan, if you please, I am stealing that last comment for a FB post (with credit of course). I think that phrase really sums up the whole battle. I even see it beginning in Genesis 3, with Adam and Eve doing their finger-pointing at each other, the serpent, and eventually at God.

DJP said...

No! It's my own, my Pr...

Oh, sure, go ahead.


Joey Phillips said...

Sorry for jumping in late but I had to say I think this post raises a very important issue, namely the idea of "orientation", and Dan I think you addressed it brilliantly.

Orientation is a buzz word because it explains the temptation positively. It says that the individual is as naturally inclined to same sex attraction as others are to opposite sex attraction, which causes most heterosexuals to think "Poor luck, I'm glad that's not me!"

None of that is necessarily bad, in that there is nothing wrong with empathy for someone's struggle, and there is no need to single out homosexuality as the grossest sin of all (which some definitely have done).

The problem is exactly what Dan said though. It ignores the fact that same sex "orientation" is an orientation to sin...whereas opposite sex "orientation" is not. So saying that you are oriented to be attracted to the same sex is more like saying you are oriented to be attracted to children than it is that you are oriented to be attracted to the opposite sex (categorically).

All that to say, as usual, Dan's exhortation to speak biblically is right on. It makes things clearer, because as you frame the problem in biblical terms, the biblical solution fits right in. The bible offers a solution for sin, including even our inclination toward it.

Joey Phillips said...

Andrew said it before, and better than time I will refresh before posting :)

DJP said...

Joey, that was worth saying. It all takes us to that treacherous balance point:

COMPASSION for the repenting sinner
NO COMPASSION for the sin

We seem always to err one way, or the other. We beat the crud out of the poor bro who's trying his level-best and just needs a good word; or we make sin look better than it is, because we feel for the poor sod.

That's what I tried to say - I think the good motivation behind the "orientation" nonsense is compassion. But I also think it's misplaced.

It's like saying "Gosh, to get all that cancer out, I'd have to make such a massive incision... it's kinder just to leave a little, and not cut as deep."

Yeah, except NO.

Andrew said...

The beatification of adultery is a great example of how palliative language leads to diluted ideas about the gravity of sin in God's eyes, and its enormous social consequences.

I have spoken at length with people who more than a score of years after adultery ravaged their homes have still not come to terms with what has happened to them, or to their family. Not for them the happy-go-lucky wife swap that Hollywood loves to envisage.

Maybe its here that the power of media on morality is most felt too. People enshrine the ideas of made-for-TV movies more readily than imbibing what God has to say.

The case for or against homosexuality hasn't been won in society's mind through careful thought or engagement with the moral issue or its consequences - but by having their hearts softened to sin and hardened to God by clever depictions of just how harmless it is. The orientation issue springs from this soil and is probably more of an unconscious worldview for many than a deliberate cover for sin.

That's what frightens me most. As you say - what next? No one will presently entertain that other more 'shocking' behaviours will ever be accepted - but we're only nibbling on the thin end of the wedge on those at the moment.

I think the importance of what you share here resonates beyond a mere ethical question too. This affects how I approach parenting my children. I can't rely on society to give them any normative teaching (or even clues) on family or sexual ethics, and so an alternative worldview needs to be taught and communicated in our home.

The irony is for a Christian to teach their children in this way is portrayed by the media as brainwashing. The terms kettle, pot and black spring to mind (I trust that translate across the Atlantic?!).

God bless you Dan. Posts on this issue by you are singly courageous, provocative and a wee bit world tilting. Someone should really write a book about that kind of Gospel.

DJP said...

Thanks, but who'd read it? And what high-level sorts would raise visibility?

Andrew said...

True. But then I'm reading Acts in preparation for Sunday preaching and am being reminded that it was the low-level sorts (people of limited influence and affluence) who turned the world upside down. I think if the evangelical church could find the gears and the get-go to live this, and demonstrate their worldview on following Christ, even to the point of pain, that the message might reach grass roots, and change people's hearts.

The scary thing is many churches and individual Christians have bought the package on these issues and diminished the power of their witness.

Sorry for the constant nattering on this. Its just a fascinating subject.

OI said...

I couldn't really tell, so I apologize in advance, but is this pastor seeking help from God, so that He can be able to say one day that he is no longer tempted in this area, and has been delivered?

Robert said...

By the way, I was born with a lying orientation...also prideful, selfish, theiving, the list goes on and on. But God saved me and released me from slavery to sin to become a slave of Jesus. I am not nearly as faithful a slave as I should be, but He loves me nonetheless. And God has even adopted me as His son...and Jesus claims me as His brother!

When we focus on Jesus, then we can truly see our sin as part of earthly trappings and also as something we are freed from. Yes, we struggle mightily to fight against it, but it does not control us.

DJP said...

Exactly. Picture a brother/sister getting up and saying "I just want to confess that I've realized... I was born with a sinful orientation."

Appropriate Congregational Response: Yep. See Gospel, The.

DJP said...

OI, I don't think anyone knows, and there may be no answer since it is presented as a hypothetical. So we've all just had to focus on the wording we were given.

OI said...

- DJP -

Okay. Sorry about that.

DJP said...

Oh, please, don't be sorry. I'm sorry I don't know the answer!