Monday, May 08, 2017

Born This Way

Earlier this year I read on Facebook that a Christian acquaintance had decided to 'come out' and reveal himself to be gay.  I heard through a mutual friend years before that he had said he was gay, but this was the first time he'd announced it publicly.  Some Christians were applauding him, while others were concerned.  He kept throwing around phrases like, "We need to have a new conversation" and mentioning that he'd been to a conference for gay Christians in the US.  I'm not sure if he's declaring himself to be a 'practising'  gay, or if he's saying that he has homosexual feelings, but intends to be celibate.  This raises a very important question....can you be a Christian and gay?

In the light of the current push to legalise gay marriage in Australia, this is an important and much-needed book.  One of the reviews I've read of it is critical that it doesn't take into consideration that homosexuality is an emotive subject, that there are Christians struggling with these issues (or have family who are gay), that the author himself has no experience in ministry with gay people. and that the book should be more 'pastoral'.  There's no doubt that the subject will trigger all sorts of feelings, but there needs to be a place where we TRY to put that aside and look at what the Bible says about homosexuality - not our experiences, not our feelings, not our pre-conceived ideas, and certainly not what the world says.

Born This Way addresses both what the Bible says and challenges the world's commonly-held beliefs about homosexuality:
  • How the mainstream view of homosexuality has gone from 'homosexuality is a disorder, but now it's considered normal and natural. It used to be that homosexuality was opposed and suppressed, but now it's celebrated and nurtured.  If you don't agree with this view,  then you are likely to be verbally opposed and ostracised.  You may be called intolerant, a bigot, a homophobe or a redneck.  Almost every Christian I know who has expressed any disagreement with the mainstream view of homosexuality - however carefully expressed, however nuanced their views - has experienced persecution at some level. (pages 15-16)  This is the intolerance of 'tolerance'.
  •  The use of the word 'homophobia' - how what traditionally meant 'irrational fear' or hatred, now includes even simply questioning or disagreeing with homosexual practice.
  • The belief that homosexuals are 'born this way' (hence the title of the book).  There is no evidence for the existence of a 'gay gene'. Many gay people have expressed their dislike of the term 'sexual preference', because it implies sexual orientation is a choice.  Someone who experiences same sex attraction may have 'some biological or hereditary factors that play a role in causing this attraction - but to a much smaller extent than is often claimed.' (page 51)  It is certainly not in the same category as eye colour, hair colour etc.  'There are many psychological or behavioural traits that are only partly determined by genetics.  In those kinds of cases, a wide range of other factors will come into play to influence how a person ultimately lives or behaves. (page 51)  Some people are more inclined to smoke, overeat etc. and these are CHOICES that people still make, that should be resisted.  The book uses the example of a person born more inclined towards violence, but they couldn't claim being 'born this way' as an excuse.  The issue of bisexuality, dispels the argument that someone is either born gay or straight.  Studies have been done on identical twins, where one is gay and the other is straight.  Surely if it was genetic, they both would be one or the other.
The book emphasises that there is a big difference between ATTRACTION and ACTION (although lust is sinful, no matter what orientation you are).  Every single human being faces temptation - from Satan, from our own desires, and the world.  That is why Steve Morrison, the author, prefers to use the term 'same-sex temptation', rather than 'same-sex attraction'.  The Christian doctrine of original sin says every person is born with a 'motivationally twisted heart' (page 99).  Although some people are more prone to homosexual temptation, given the right circumstances, any of us be tempted this way.  Vaughan Roberts is an author and a minister at a church in the UK, who has admitted in one of his books that he has battled same-sex temptation'.  But he refuses to let this become his identity.  He sees himself as a sinner, saved by grace - like all Christians.  Although it is a temptation for him, he says it must be resisted, like all sins.  He says a supportive and loving Christian community is vital for him, as it is for us all, no matter what our personal temptations are.

So, who is this book aimed at?

Morrison says he wrote the book primarily for Christians who are being swept along and confused by society's opinions.  I have seen a number of Christians, who either have homosexual temptations themselves, or who have gay friends or family, try to redefine what the Bible says about homosexuality.  They try to say it's ok to be a practising homosexual, as long as you're in a committed 'marriage-like' relationship, that the verses against homosexuality are for homosexual rapists, or those who are promiscuous.  But it simply isn't true.  Despite this being such an emotion-charged topic, we need to look at what God says in His Word about His design for the world, not water down His truth.

I think this book would also be very helpful for a non-Christian who wants to know what Christians believe regarding this issue.  The gospel message is well-articulated about why God designed the world the way He did, and why ALL people, gay or straight, need a Saviour.  It reveals a loving God, who died for all.  No-one is beyond His grace.

 You can order this book from the Matthias Media Australian online store here. Or the US store here.

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