Orientations and the Body of Christ (resources)

Any Christian of any orientation who is seeking to be faithful to the Gospel is going to find stiff resistance from the world generally and possibly even from self-identifying as Christians. Living this out faithfully requires more than the solution to a question. There is a deep tension here that must be managed. It is a brokenness that must be carried, a burden that we must bear together. The point where truth and gracious love meet always seems to land within this tension, and that’s how it will remain until that final day.

I have compiled below some of the best and most usable resources I know of that can help you learn about the issues related to faithful Christian belief and practice and alternate sexual orientations. Hopefully this page will grow and be refined over time. Feel free to make suggestions if you know of something helpful I have overlooked or am not aware of.

As a blog of High Point Church, the perspective here is confessional, Biblical Gospel-centered, historically orthodox Christianity.

A few suggestions of where to start:

If you’ve been “educated” about this by the media or in university, I’d start with Stanton Jones’ piece “Sexual Orientation and Reason.” It deals with the science of what we know and the history of the evolution of that knowledge over the last 60 years. It is a great myth dispeller, and Jones is a very careful scientist and scholar.

If you want to read something from the perspective of someone who experiences same sex attraction, check out the book and videos by Wesley Hill. Dr. Hill has profound and lifelong same-sex attraction and has struggled with faithful Christian practice his entire adolescence and adulthood in relation to it. There are others, but a close friend of mine with the same experience as Wesley Hill has recommended this as the most helpful resource he has found. I have read it and I think his is a name worth being familiar with.

For those interested in the “defense of marriage” in relationship to same sex marriage, I find Ryan T. Anderson to be the clearest and most helpful (and least bombastic) of the voices I’ve heard. Note that his work is a public policy argument for heterosexual marriage rather than a theological examination. When we enter into this area of the discussion, it is very important for us to remember that gay marriage is not the greatest attack on marriage and family that has come out of the sexual revolution. The acceptance of heterosexual promiscuity, the worship of “personal fulfillment,” and no-fault divorce have been much more detrimental than anything we can project will happen if same sex marriage becomes a norm. However, that does not mean we should accept it.

We have to be, in an instant, a people of truthful, yet gracious words, embracing everyone who wants to look to Christ wherever they find themselves.

Some Christians will take a more historically, Anabaptist view that the church and government are not at common purposes, so the government can affirm what it wants, and the church will have to be itself regardless of the government’s action. Others, in line with the magisterial reformers (like Calvin and Luther) and the Catholic Church, will note that the legitimacy of the government is always in its affirmation of the good and punishment of evil. That is, the government must have a moral vision to uphold laws and institute order. The shift to a “secular morality” based around naturalistic flourishing, self-fulfillment and scientific definitions of “health” cannot be a sufficient moral basis for a good (or even civilized) society, nor can it maintain the individual calling to moral goodness that humanity has embraced since time immemorial. As this comes to the forefront of our cultural awareness, many Christians have noted a growing rivalry between the family and the State, or as some put it, the State and the father.

These issues are far more complex and broader than same-sex attraction and similar orientations. We, in the church, must engage in this discussion with compassion, courage and integrity. Those who call for the understanding of the church must appreciate the bigger picture which the church as a whole must think through. To manage the tension of living faithfully in our present world, we must, with equal vigilance and integrity, attend to the myriad of other issues, including issues of family, religious freedom and the tensions created by the increasingly different definitions of human rights. Charity and compassion need to flow both ways, and I think they are more and more.

We will have to be both more loving and yet stronger in faithfulness than we have ever been.

Tim Keller said not too long ago that how the church handles the issues of non-normative orientations is the single most important cultural fulcrum of the day. It has become the litmus test for many millions of heterosexual non-Christians as to whether the church has the moral foundation to be considered a worthwhile voice. The church has gotten 300% better on this issue in the last 15 years. That’s good. However, things have changed 500% and so we still seem to be lagging behind. Still, we have to be generous and yet circumspect and prudent at the same time. We need to accept that we’ll be managing this tension for the foreseeable future. It is both a test and a privilege for which we will have to be both more loving and yet stronger in faithfulness than we have ever been. We will have to become a people seeking God’s approval, who are willing to be called everything, yelled over and bullied. And then we have to be, in an instant, a people of truthful, yet gracious words, embracing everyone who wants to look to Christ wherever they find themselves.

Think of what substantive people we might become. Think how humble, wise and self-controlled we might become. And think of what good could come from this as our LGBT brothers and sisters force us to regain a theology of friendship that we lost in the blind spots of modernity.

MORE RESOURCES

Homosexuality:

Nic’s sermon from the Questions series in November, 2014.

Orientations and the Church – 9:00am service

Orientations and the Church – 10:45am service

Nic’s sermons from the 1 Corinthians series a couple years back (nothing interesting has happened in the science he talks about in that sermon since then)

On Sexual Morality (in general)

On Homosexuality and Other Orientations in Particular

Sam Allberry Is God Anti-Gay. Short book, 85 small pages.

Helpful. Sam Allberry has been a pastor at St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead, UK since 2008. Prior to that he worked as the pastor for students at St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, UK.

Wesley Hill. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. Book.

Hill speaks from the position of a man with stable same-sex attraction who has accepted the Christian call to live celibately.

Wesley Hill Youtube videos: Reflections on Faithfulness and Homosexuality.

Wesley Hill at The Agora Institute. 30 min interview with an orthodox priest who is a little odd: Forging a life of integrity.

Hill’s belief is that one of the most important parts of helping and honoring people with same sex attractions is that there has to be a profound recovery of friendship as a covenantal relationship. He talks about this here and here. For most of history, non-erotic covenantal love in friendships was considered much more important than romantic love. This has been entirely lost in the modern world for many reasons. Lifelong single people are deeply hurt and damaged by this development.

Stanton Jones, Sexual Orientation and Reason

Stanton Jones Same Sex Science, First Things, 2012 (condensed version of Sexual Orientation and Reason)

Stanton Jones and Darrel Bock. Lessons from the front: Sexuality and ministry.

Bock, a New Testament scholar, and Jones, a psychologist, talk about homosexuality and ministry form a Christian perspective. Skip to 6:45 to where the talks start.

YouTube Brown Bag: Questions on ministry to Homosexuals

Mark Yarhouse, Christian psychologist Cultural Engagement: Sexual identity on Youtube.

How do we get sexual orientation? Can it be changed? Yarhouse and Jones are the most articulate and well researched Christians I know on this issue.

Engaging with LGBT people YouTube video

Narth (a group of mental health professionals)

Narth functions on the assumption that those with unwanted same sex attractions should be able to access and find available therapies designed to lessen or remove such attractions that are as advanced as possible.

Full book on the Bible and homosexual practice by Robert Gagnon.

This is the magisterial tome on the issue. It is very scholarly. I have seen no real refutation of this that holds any water. Gagnon clarifies every relevant text with clarity, reason and scholarship. I don’t recommend this for most people. I do have a copy that can be borrowed from the library.

Nic’s blog on attending a same-sex ceremony.

Prominent younger preachers on the Gospel and homosexuality:

Matt Chandler on homosexuality part 1 and part 2

David Platt the Gospel and Homosexuality

Definition of Marriage:

Ryan T. Anderson What is Marriage? Youtube video Youtube talk highlights: 3:30 minutes (mainly about public policy)

A marriage is a “permanent, monogamous, and exclusive union, and is the type of a relationship a government takes interest in…there is nothing about intense emotional union as such that says it has to be between two and only two…” (Anderson is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.)

Anderson getting grilled by Piers Morgan and Suze Orman about gay marriage.

It’s a great example of how civility is treated, and the self-control necessary to interact on these issues. Ryan is a great example here. The only mistake I think he makes is not calling out the demagoguing that Morgan and Orman resort to when he answers their questions very clearly. When he tried to talk about marriage being redefined “40 years ago” he is referring to the adoption of no-fault divorce laws that made divorce much easier and put all marriages at the mercy of the person least interested in the relationship.

Anderson’s book What is Marriage?

Dr. J. Budziszewski The Meaning of Sexual Powers talk at the Anscombe Society at Stanford

Intersex/hermaphrodite experience:

Linda Seiler, campus ministry at Purdue University An Ethical Response to Intersex

Traditionally hermaphrodites, ‘intersex’ usually refers to people born hermaphroditic who have had their gender assigned by surgery, the normal response to children born this way.

Linda Seiler’s Masters Thesis: Compassion without Compromise.

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