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.
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.