Christian Faithfulness and Same-Sex Attraction, Part 2

Editors note: Earlier this month, Fr. Chris shared a post on engaging the difficult issue of same-sex attraction. In preparation for Christ Church’s upcoming conference on Christian Faithfulness and Same-Sex Attraction: Listening to the Stories of Celibate Gay Christians, Fr. Chris continues this series of reflections below.

As we prepare for our conversation next Saturday with Wes Hill, Tim Otto, and Julie Rodgers on “Christian Faithfulness and Same-Sex Attraction,” I’m struck by the timing. First, next week, of course, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on challenges to the bans on gay marriage in four states. As I mentioned in my article a couple of weeks ago, the purpose of our time on May 2 is not to discuss legal and political issues surrounding gay marriage. However, our discussion isn’t taking place in a vacuum. We need to pray for the Supreme Court—and for our country—for wisdom, insight, and strength as they listen and deliberate next week.

Second, two weeks ago President Obama called for a ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” in which a person with a homosexual orientation attempts to change to a heterosexual orientation. This therapy, also called “reparative therapy,” has become increasingly controversial, and is already banned for minors in California and New Jersey.

While it wasn’t necessarily surprising that the President spoke out in favor banning reparative therapy, the reaction from the Christian community took many by surprise. Author Jonathan Merritt, an Evangelical Christian writing for The Atlantic, recently analyzed the trend opposing reparative therapy among conservative Christians, including Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the editorial page of the school newspaper at Liberty University, which was founded by the late Jerry Falwell (Julie Rodgers, one of our speakers next Saturday, is also featured in Merritt’s article). Aaron Taylor, a conservative Catholic, made a similar case two years ago in an article published on the First Things website.

The move away from reparative therapy leaves Christians who affirm the historic Christian teaching that sexual intimacy is reserved exclusively for a lifelong, covenanted relationship between and a woman in an awkward place. On one hand, we must continue to affirm the clear teaching of scripture on issues of human sexuality. On the other hand, as we move away from the simplistic (and dangerous) view of homosexuality as a “choice,” or that, with enough prayer and therapy, sexual orientation can be changed, we must readjust our posture toward gay people in our congregations. As Ron Sider, the founder of Evangelicals for Social Action and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, wrote last year in Christianity Today, “We deeply need a new approach to our neighbors and our churches’ own members, especially those who live with a same-sex attraction or orientation.” Our time next Saturday gives us an opportunity to do just that.

If you haven’t already done so, please register for the event here. There is no charge to attend (there is a lunch option for $10), but please register so we know how many people to expect. You can also find the event on Facebook here. Also, please share the information broadly. This isn’t just for Christ Church, but rather for the community. The body of Christ needs to grapple with this issue, and we are blessed to be able to offer this opportunity to do so.

Remember, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). This is an important conversation for us to have, and the timing is absolutely perfect. There is urgency, but there need not be fear.