Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rejecting "Sexual Identity"

In addition to following the news, American pop-culture, social media and politics regarding the same-sex controversy, I am also reading actual books. Y'know, those things with no ads beside the text? Multi-page writing that might take a week or more to finish? First and foremost, of course, I read the Bible. Every day. And here are some of the Christian books I've read (or am currently reading): "Is God Anti-Gay?" by Sam Alberry, "Homosexuality and the Christian" by Dr. Mark A. Yarhouse, and "Compassion without Compromise" by Adam T. Barr, Ron Citlau.

There's a growing body of research showing young people identify themselves as "being gay" at an earlier age than would have been imagined a generation ago. If a teen in the 1980s experienced a same-sex attraction (like author Citlau above), it could be a harrowing experience, but a phase that passes. Not these days. The steady drum-beat of the "gay movement" in recent years has crescendoed with no less than the President of the United States declaring himself in favor of same-sex "marriage." A handful of states voted to legalize it, and several others have been forced by courts to institute it. In a week or two the U.S. Supreme Court will announce whether all states must not only recognize such unions formed in other states, but also be compelled to legalize such "marriages" themselves.
(Update: SCOTUS did indeed mandate recognition and compelled legalization in 2015.)

The kids don't have a chance. American pop culture is actually celebrating their confused emotional/sexual feelings as "heroic" and "natural." The politically-correct theory is that the kid was born that way, and must embrace it. Of course a teenager's grasp of good judgement is fleeting at best, and their inability to keep things in perspective is an understandable fact of their limited years on the planet.  But those vulnerable ones who may struggle with same-sex attraction are pressured into anchoring their very identity in sexual terms. The Weeping Prophet quotes God commenting on those who put their children through fire: "I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind!"

It's no shock in this fallen creation that some teens will experience a same-sex attraction—often prompted by someone older (perhaps another teen, often an adult). I myself was propositioned by a fellow student at Bible school. Everybody on earth is tempted to indulge one or another appetite. Absent the recent societal tsunami to embrace same-sex couplings, these attractions could more easily be resisted. But with all the voices today calling out to define-deviancy-down,* the teen's attraction will more likely be nurtured, acted upon and reciprocated. We haven't even mentioned the "normal" teenage perils of raging hormones, peer pressure, and who-am-I angst. Answereth today's PC culture: you are The Misunderstood Gay Teen, Who Was Obviously Born That Way. 

Balderdash. No scientist has discovered "the gay gene," though not for lack of trying. So-called sexual-identity is an example of the psychological process called cathexis, wherein we invest ourselves deeply in a chosen direction. What is it everybody tells me about forming good new habits or disciplines, like dieting or exercise? "If you can stick it out for 30 days, it'll become second-nature." Uh-oh, that applies equally to bad habits. 

Attractions, like all appetites, can be resisted. We all do it, with varying degrees of success, every day. Those who quit resisting their temptations are on a death-spiral, whether via debauchery, rage, gluttony, thievery, or a myriad of addictions. Think of the ramifications if what we've been saying all along is true—nobody is "born gay." Just like nobody is "born a smoker," or "born a drunk," or "born a thief." There are different propensities, but I believe susceptible youths are convincing themselves they are "gay," and surrendering the fight. A teen whose first romantic experience is with a same-sex partner has imprinted homosexual desire onto their psyche. They don't need much pushing to believe they were born that way.

What Christians believe is that everyone born into this world is a sinner needing a savior. We each struggle with different temptations, act out different youthful misbehaviors, and arrive at adulthood humbled by our weaknesses. If we've come to Christ by this time, we have come to hate our own sin more than anybody else's. Jesus followers have always proclaimed—and most of us live by—the concept of hating the sin, loving the sinner. These days, of course, the cultural threshold for hatred could hardly be lower: just stating you are an evangelical Christian will be deemed a "trigger warning," and you will be required to shut up immediately. You hater.

So a Christian teen has a same-sex fling. A married Christian friend of mine had romantic affairs (yes, more than one), and told me it takes about 90 days for the bloom to come off that rose. Emotional attachments to the paramour begin to weaken—especially for married Christian guys who have kids and a loving wife. But my friend hadn't been romancing other guys, so when he repented and came back to his wife, he didn't have to unlearn long-term attraction to the same sex. 

When our hypothetical teen's first tryst ended—badly, I'm sure—he was already pretty far down the road. At this first speed-bump of his "gay" lifestyle, if he is in a church that faithfully teaches scripture, and if no other partner comes along, then his development of normal affections could be restarted. No easy road, perhaps, but since the same-sex coupling isn't natural anyway (per scripture, and per ninety-five-plus percent of humanity), the shorter his fling, the more time that passes without a relapse, the better his chance at love, marriage and family. 

But if instead of Biblical input, he seeks out voices assuring him the Bible doesn't really condemn same-sex relations (hello Tony Campolo & Justin Lee), or if he embraces the cultural drift, he is backsliding. Sitting in a Biblically-committed church during this phase must be difficult. But the truth is preached to everyone sitting in those church pews. Strong preaching calls out all sinful behavior, and good preachers get very specific about bad behavior happening in their own congregations. Hearing those words, the same-sex attracted teen has a choice we all have to make: follow the Savior, or follow our own base desires. 

* "defining deviancy down" is a phrase famously coined by the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D–NY)