Semi-Gloss Obfuscation

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I am afraid that The Gospel Coalition has not only given away the store, but also the entire inventory from three whole warehouses on top of that. The article is here.

The upshot of the article is that Christian parents should care about whether or not their children grow up to be godly, and that they really ought not to care — provided the godliness is there — whether or not their children grow up to have same sex attraction.

This is presented so smoothly, in an evangelical cliche sort of way, that it almost seems sweet, and yet it is so wrong-headed as to be stupefying. In other words, there is a way to take this that is not only defensible, but absolutely necessary to defend. That way of taking it is why the article might have some sway among unreflective Christians. The right way to take it, however, is not the path the article encourages.

Honestly, what would Jonathan Edwards think of this? I mean, look at his eyes.
Honestly, what would Jonathan Edwards think of this? I mean, look at his eyes.

So take the thesis as found in the title. “Godliness is not heterosexuality.” This is compelling because it is true, but is only compelling as far as it takes us, which is not very far. There are heterosexuals, considered as such, who are going to Hell, and homosexuals who are not going there. Great. So godliness is not heterosexuality. But we need to unpack this quite a bit more.

Being free of Lou Gehrig’s Disease is not godliness either. But what parent in their right mind would “not care” whether or not their kid came down with it, provided he was godly about the trial? Of course, if that heavy affliction were given, we would want the response to be godly. But the direction in which we are to labor and pray is the direction of health, away from ALS. When Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient for him, he did not respond by prayng for two thorns in the flesh.

When you have two variables, and you want to reason biblically, in the wisdom tradition, you can match them up. But if you do this, you have to remember that there are four options, not two.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, And loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1).

A man can have a good name, and no great riches;
A man can have a bad name and great riches;
A man can have a bad name, and no great riches;
A man can have a good name, and great riches.

Of course, given the option of choosing between a major blessing and a minor blessing, only a fool chooses the minor blessing. So if you needed to choose — and Proverbs teaches us to reason this way — you need to choose the great thing over the lesser. It is true that it would be better to be godly and have all your temptations be same sex temptations than to be ungodly and in bed with someone who was the total opposite sex from you. That’s certainly true, but we are not done.

A man can be godly, and have same sex attraction;
A man can be ungodly, and have opposite sex attraction;
A man can be ungodly, and have same sex attraction;
A man can be godly, and have opposite sex attraction.

All godly Christian parents want their kids to grow up into the fourth option. Why? Because it is the creation design (Gen. 1:27). It is God’s pattern. Now God’s pattern can be broken in more than one way. For two examples, we could have an ungodly heterosexual fornicator. For another, a lesser problem but still a problem, we could have a godly person with same sex attractions.

When someone desires sexual relations with a member of the same sex, something is wrong. The article is quite right in pointing out that it is not the only thing that could be wrong, but it is false, pernicious, misleading, and false, and also false, to assume (quietly, sotto voce) that (provided it is not acted on) there is nothing wrong with it at all.

If there is nothing wrong with same sex attraction (provided you remain celibate), will we ever be permitted to ask why people in that condition have to remain celibate? The restriction is not an arbitrary or capricious one. It is not as though God said that all persons with blue eyes couldn’t get married, sorry about that, nothing but raw sovereignty involved here. That would be an affliction, and I grant, under such an affliction, it would be better to be godly and have blue eyes than to be ungodly with marriageable brown ones.

But the affliction of same sex attraction is because all the sexual temptations a person has must be resisted at the point of origin because there is no lawful terminus for those desires. The only place those desires can go (because it is the place they want to go) is into an insulting degradation of the image of God.

What Christian parent would want that for his child, provided his child successfully resisted those impulses? There are godly Christians out there with same sex desires who resist their temptations. I am sure there are Christians like that who do a better job resisting their temptations than I do resisting mine. But to acknowledge this is to acknowledge something that is completely and utterly and totally beside the point.

Those godly Christians who successfully resist same sex temptations are godly for that reason, but not only for that reason. They are also godly because they know the direction of their sexual desires is detestable to God, and so they lament those desires, mortifying them from the first moment of their appearance. And when they do not deal with them properly, or soon enough, they confess their sin like a good Christian should.

The one thing they must not do is layer the whole question over with thirteen coats of semi-gloss obfuscation.

The Gospel Coalition really needs to fix this.

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Luke Pride
5 years ago

Let’s hope they do and fast. The whole same sex attraction isn’t wrong shtick is getting old.

Alyosha
Alyosha
5 years ago

That inscrutable first chapter of Romans again…

Matthew Groen
Matthew Groen
5 years ago

I read this same article yesterday and had precisely the same thoughts. I love the Gospel Coalition, but you are spot on here. I wonder along with you what Edwards think of this. I also wonder what Piper, Carson, and Keller would think of this. The tough part is that the thesis is true (to an extent as described above), but so under-unpacked that it is ambiguous, vague, and ultimately misleading. TGC needs to remind themselves of the role they play in reaching the marginal Christians of society, and that articles like these, while attractive to those on the theological… Read more »

gfkdzdds
gfkdzdds
5 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Groen

I tried to link to this article and it was deleted by TGC. If there hasn’t been a retraction by TGC within the next 48 hours I think you know where Keller, Carson and Piper stand. It is their site. If they support the article then it will remain on their site.

Eric Rasmusen
5 years ago
Reply to  gfkdzdds

I and somebody else tried to link a comment on the TGC article to a Baylyblog article on it and both of us had our comments vanish. gfkdzdds puts it well— we know their official policy is not just to support the article, but to ban all criticism of it.

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Groen

“marginal Christians of society” ??

Matthew Groen
Matthew Groen
5 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

What I mean is, TGC has the ability to reach and teach theology to Christians that don’t regularly study theology. Like those who just gain their news from the newspaper. If the newspaper is unclear with the news, that could mislead those who aren’t careful readers. If TGC publishes articles like these that are ambiguous and unclear in matters such as these, it could mislead those Christians who aren’t critical.

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Groen

Ah. Ok, thanks. For what it’s worth, the TGC seems to have changed and frankly I’m pretty close to done with it, if I’m not already there.

40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
40 ACRES & A KARDASHIAN
5 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

The typical TGC author/speaker doesn’t exactly exude masculinity. Many of them appear to be trannies waiting to happen.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago

“The upshot of the article is that Christian parents should care about whether or not their children grow up to be godly, and that they really ought not to care — provided the godliness is there — whether or not their children grow up to have same sex attraction.”

Which is odd because the upshot should have been that Christian parents ought not be paranoid about their kids growing up to have same sex attraction.

Matt Massingill
Matt Massingill
5 years ago

“Paranoid”?? Ah, but there’s the rub. Much of society and even some of the wishy-washy elements of Christendom want to portray due and attentive concern over the matter as paranoia. The implication is that there’s a general overemphasis of sexual ethics in Christendom and that flowing from that is a baseless paranoia. Now, it may be the case that some Christian parents can and do go too far – essentially putting the cart before the horse, worrying about homosexuality in particular when they ought to put that in the context of thinking more wholistically about raising kids in the fear… Read more »

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago

I don’t think actual paranoia is a problem for Christian parents in the main, just that in this excerpt from his book mr Ed gives a poor answer to those that are paranoid.

Gregory Hickman
Gregory Hickman
5 years ago

Great article Pastor Doug.

Bro. Steve
Bro. Steve
5 years ago

Big Gay, like Big Abortion, is one of those sins that its own public relations force. “Same sex attraction” is a tour de force of PR euphemism. If we used the word “sodomy” and spoke of same sex attraction as lust compounded by a self-hating desire for filth and degradation, maybe a few people could recover the idea that there’s something bad about it.

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago

Pastor, do you agree with Denny Burk that same sex attraction is itself sinful?

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Thanks for the reply. If you ever get the hankering to make those qualifications, I’d like to hear them, including your take on Denny’s JETS article.

Oh, and judging from the comments over at Denny’s whenever he brings this up, I’d like to apologize in advance.

Jim-N-NC
Jim-N-NC
5 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

I too would like to hear you address this as well. I have the utmost respect for both Denny Burk and Sam Allberry, but when they got to that specific point in their dialogue the whole thing became incomprehensible to me. Probably says more about me, but would like to have you unpack that a bit more. As always, blessings to you and your ministry.

Tim Mullet
Tim Mullet
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim-N-NC

Much of the difficulty with this subject centers around the language we use. When we speak of a person “having same sex attraction” we use the language of disease. It sounds like we are saying that an individual has cancer. If you do not fault a person for having cancer, then why would you fault a person for having same sex attraction?” It is entirely true that people do not consciously decide to be attracted to evil. We do not choose our attractions in that way, but that does not make our attractions neutral. Our attractions come from somewhere. They… Read more »

Drew
Drew
5 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Pastor Wilson,
You say in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhxteVaoLjY at 2:08:14 that you “don’t believe that homosexual orientation is a sin.” Do you distinguish between “same sex attraction” and “homosexual orientation”?

Drew
Drew
5 years ago
Reply to  Drew

Also, could homosexual orientation be “sinful” but not “a sin”?

herewegokids
herewegokids
5 years ago
Reply to  jigawatt

Its disordered. Which is not the same thing as sinful. I can see Doug wants to acknowledge this but he can’t because Calvinism.

Tim Mullet
Tim Mullet
5 years ago
Reply to  herewegokids

Out of curiosity, what do you understand to be the link between understanding s.s.a. as evil and Calvinism?

Ryan David Shelton
Ryan David Shelton
5 years ago

The article is an excerpt from a larger book on the plausibility of celibacy for the same-sex attracted Christian. So TGC’s problem here is one of discernment. When is an excerpt out of context is permissible? Not in this case.

Dan Phillips
Dan Phillips
5 years ago

Really wonderfully well-put. Clear and clarifying. Thank you.

Don Shellie Martin
Don Shellie Martin
5 years ago

Just as the desire to rape is sin.And acting on that sin is also sin. Hopefully TGC will retract.

katecho
katecho
5 years ago

Well said. The desire to rape is easier to recognize as sinful, by itself. However, our culture wants to tell us that our desires are immutable and cannot be changed (although, apparently we can change everything else in the universe, including our gender and our ethnicity).

We shouldn’t pretend that changing our deepest desires is always simple or given, but if new birth in Christ means anything it means a change in core desire is possible.

Steve H
Steve H
5 years ago
Reply to  katecho

Double agreement here. Although some trans folks think that they “are” the “gender” that their body isn’t.
It’s only going to be a brief while here while those practicing divergent sex will actually defend themselves as being in line with their genetic nature. Already I have friends who were trans, now not, those who are into orgies, bi-sexual open relationships, etc.
No one is defending this by nature, rather personal preference and desire. It’s also silly to believe that dealing with JUST homosexual kids is the issue. The perversions go well beyond this. The church is behind on this one.

Chris Duncan
5 years ago

“The one thing they must not do is the layer the whole question over with thirteen coats of semi-gloss obfuscation.”

Are there one too many “the’s” here, Doug? “…the layer the”? Or, rather “layer the”?

Nord357
Nord357
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Duncan

There was a sale on the’s.

Caleb Joseph Warner
Caleb Joseph Warner
5 years ago

I think this is an over-reaction. Extreme reactions aren’t wrong in themselves (even though they tend to be boring), but saying that because of this article by Ed Shaw TGC has “given away the store?” I don’t think this SSA+celibate group will veer into insanity as a result of this position (or are already there). And as people think more about it, I don’t actually think this will be the standard position on SSA; that it is just as normal and okay as heterosexual attraction (I am stating it in the extreme here). In fact, I don’t even think he… Read more »

Nathan Collins
5 years ago

Well-said, Caleb!!!

Nate
Nate
5 years ago

Caleb, this reads like a slow intellectual dance of the seven veils. Occasional valid points and questions tucked in with large unfounded assumptions, complete with hand-waving and back-tracking, all leading to nothing more than a personal wish for more nuance (to protect the hypothetical future offended) tied up in a limp compound fallacy bow.

Duells Quimby
Duells Quimby
5 years ago

It seemed to me that Ed Shaw was the one doing the equivocating. If he wasn’t, or that wasn’t the original intent then it is in danger of taking that position.
The whole discussion needs to go back to Gen 1:27 and start from there.

David Trounce
5 years ago

Help me out here. Isn’t “godly” an adjective? Either a desire is godly or it is not.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins
5 years ago

Thanks so much for this post, Doug. Christians are often told that we are cavalier or callous with regard to the relative challenge of resisting same-sex attraction as compared to resisting other sinful impulses. I do believe that resisting homoerotic impulses is more difficult than, for example, resisting the impulse to gossip, because it requires more comprehensive sacrifices (e.g., no marriage, no sexual relations, and no children). Then we’re exhorted not to be “so afraid of [our children] growing up as same-sex attracted.” So, which is it–a huge deal or no big deal. Of course, it’s a given that all… Read more »

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  Laurie Higgins

Laurie, why does a homoerotic impulse mean you can’t marry?

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins
5 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

Hi David,

Well, of course, experiencing same-sex attraction doesn’t preclude anyone from legally “marrying” someone of the same sex, which is not in reality a marriage.

And experiencing same-sex attraction doesn’t preclude someone from marrying and having a fulfilling marriage with someone of the opposite sex.

I was really describing a situation in which someone experiences exclusively same-sex attraction and because of that is not interested in marrying. Because of the context (i.e., the comments section of a blog), I didn’t think it necessary to flesh out my thoughts on this completely.

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  Laurie Higgins

Thanks for the clarification. I was referring to hetero marriage and your comment about having to make a more comprehensive sacrifice.

I suppose if you had no interest in hetero marriage it might not feel like such a sacrifice.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins
5 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

I know that it’s possible, perhaps even common, for those who experience solely same-sex attraction to feel sorrow or a sense of loss that they will not experience the kind of family life that marriage and children constitute. In other words, it’s possible for a person of orthodox faith not to be attracted to the opposite sex and yet feel sadness that marriage and children are not in his future.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Laurie Higgins

I think there is also an issue of prudence and fairness to be considered when someone with almost exclusive same sex attractions decides to marry someone of the opposite gender in order to experience family life. I have known several men who, knowing their dominant orientation was gay, went ahead and married women. Infidelity is a huge issue for many such men, and the consequences to the wife can be literally deadly.

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I think this is a sensible pathway for the man who has same sex-attraction with significant sexual desire.

Zachary
Zachary
5 years ago

TGC deleted a comment of mine left on the blog which was critical of TGC and the author.

Arthur Sido
5 years ago
Reply to  Zachary

TGC habitually deletes and often blocks anyone who fails to confirm the narrative.

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  Zachary

Lesson learned. From now on only speak smooth words.

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago
Reply to  Zachary

Lesson learned. Ignore TGC.

Leslie Taylor
Leslie Taylor
5 years ago

All dogs are animals but not all animals are dogs. Likewise, all heterosexuality is not godly, but all godliness seeks to become heterosexual. This is done through the renewing of the mind, repentance of ungodly desire, learning to despise sin, learning to love what God loves, and cutting off your right hand.

David Henry
David Henry
5 years ago

Is temptation sin?

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  David Henry

Great question. James 1.14 talks about the temptation that arises from the desires of the sinful nature. But there is also the kind that is external such as the temptations that Satan put before Jesus.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

Are the two kinds delineated in Scripture by different words? (Note: I can go do a concordance search if you don’t know. let me know)

Here is a Strong’s link http://biblehub.net/searchstrongs.php?q=temptation

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  timothy

Don’t know, Tim. But the source of the temptations in the James case and the wilderness case with Jesus are clearly different.

Love is another example, I can love the best seats or I can love Jesus. The Greek may be the same but the implication is entirely different.

David Henry
David Henry
5 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

It goes on to say that desire gives birth to sin, implying (it seems to me, and I make no claims at being an excellent exegete) that the desire itself was not sin. Or am I reading too much into that language?

David Trounce
5 years ago
Reply to  David Henry

As I read it, the temptation arises when they are dragged away by sinful desire. So the sinful desire preceeds and leads to a temptation. Jesus, on the other hand was not tempted by sinful desire. So, I would say that the temptation to look on a woman or man lustfully is a result of the fall, the sinful nature, and must be admitted, confessed and abandoned.

Ed “seems” to want to justify or neutralise the proclivity rather than admit the problem and lean more fully on grace. Better to say, “Oh wretched man that I am”, in my view.

David Henry
David Henry
5 years ago
Reply to  David Trounce

Thanks. I’ll chew on that.

bethyada
5 years ago

I think the fear that one’s son might turn out gay is real, though probably overblown. All sorts of people have a range of feelings as they are growing including, but not solely, sexual ones. Frustration, aggression, fairness, selfishness, vanity. In our culture that would fan into flame an inkling of transient same-sex desire in combination with hypersexualisation of everything and easy access to pornography it is a problem. Our culture would funnel boys into this lifestyle which in another may hardly be a blip in their adolescence.

I think Keller has an important point here.

Greg Smith
5 years ago

Doug, at Around 2:08 of THIS video, you say in the plainest language possible, that:

“I don’t believe that homosexual orientation is a sin”.

This is a question. Not an attack. Are we then to assume you have since revised your view on this topic? There is nothing wrong with that and I for one would be happy for it to be the case. The question does certainly beg for an answer though.
Thanks,

gfkdzdds
gfkdzdds
5 years ago

Question for the “regulars” that visit this blog. TGC isn’t allowing much in the way of dissent. Links to Wilson’s articles are deleted by the moderator. I just forwarded Pastor Bayly’s response to the TGC articles/excerpt to our pastor and he said he saw nothing wrong and then I responded by just linking to several of Wilson’s blogs on the same topic. He deleted the whole post (he does attend Piper’s seminary). I have a lot of respect for Piper but the censorship and content of the TGC bothered me. I’m going to my safe zone now.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  gfkdzdds

So what is your question?