In an earlier NQN post, I said that to be a gay Christian was to be a hypocrite, by definition. What could be the basis for saying things like that? The guy who says that he is a gay Christian, although committed to remaining celibate, is a hypocrite? And he is a hypocrite because he doesn’t formulate it precisely the way I said he should, which is to say that he is a Christian who experiences gay temptations? Right. Exactly so.
In short, a gay Christian is a hypocrite while a Christian seeking to mortify/fight/resist/ his gay temptations is not? Correct. Aside from the problems associated with the history of the word gay, that summary is a good enough.
For some this is an inside baseball debate between American League fans and National League fans debating the value of a designated hitter. But it is not that kind of debate at all.
Or take a scriptural example. The casual observer might be forgiven if he thought to himself that everybody might want to adopt the posture of Gallio. “But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters” (Acts 18:15). Deal me out, in other words.
And this is why you can’t. This is why you have to deal with this issue honestly. Those who do not deal with it honestly will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:98-11; Gal. 5:19-21).
What the Issue is Not
The issue is not whether there can be such a thing as a besetting sin, or a recurring sin, or remaining sin that travels in predictable patterns. Christians are never to be dismissed as hypocrites simply because of a struggle with remaining sin. And this is not affected by what the sin might be. This is the case no matter how many times the sin pops up in their life. The issue is not the repented sin in question, but rather the unrepented sin that is actually the real question.
So the charge of hypocrisy comes from the act of naming oneself in an ungodly way, with a name that contradicts the name given in one’s baptism. The hypocrisy lies in the fact of taking the white stone upon which your new name was inscribed (Rev. 2:17), and taking it down to a tattoo parlor to see if you can’t get them to draw a lithesome little guy in Speedos on it. A stunt like that might indicate that what you have isn’t that white stone after all. The children of Israel were told to bind the law of God to their foreheads or right hands (Dt. 6:8). They were not told to bind there the name of the Canaanite nation that held the greatest allure for them. Which of them do you have the strongest yearnings to join? Nobody was allowed to be a Canaanite-attracted Israelite. People did do that, but it was usually considered a problem.
The mark of the beast cannot be taken on the forehead or right hand (Rev. 13:16-17) because that is the place reserved for the holy law of God. This issue of gay Christianity is like many before it in the history of God’s covenant people—there are those who want to offer the tiniest pinch of incense to the emperor, and the answer is as difficult as it is simple. You may not.
To make it simple and clear, and blunt enough for November, what I am saying is this: A Christian with such temptations may not identify himself as a gay Christian. He may, however, describe himself as a Christian who remains vulnerable to temptations of a same sex nature. The latter is simple honesty, and nobody should object to it.
And this is where a number of people think we are splitting the hair lengthwise, into four or more strands. The fact that it strikes us this way is a testament to just how powerful the homosexual propaganda barrage has been, even among Christians. We have been pounded with this lying message six ways from Sunday, and it turns out that being pounded with a big lie works, regardless of how outrageous the lie is.
Why Doesn’t This Work With Other Sins?
To show that we are not hair-splitting, not even a little bit, let us try this out with other sins, shall we?
Suppose you had a man in your fellowship, married for thirty years, and with five kids. He is a deacon in your church, and up until this hypothetical incident I am about to describe, well respected in the church. One day, he starts identifying himself, and quite publicly, as a porn-attracted Christian. This causes no small consternation in the church, not to mention with his wife, but that conversation happened mostly off-site. But during sharing times at the prayer meeting, say, he would say, “Speaking as a porn-attracted Christian myself . . .”
He agrees with everybody that he ought not to look at porn, and that for the most part he doesn’t. But, he says, “I feel that tug constantly. When something pops up on my screen, it takes everything I’ve got to look away.”
“I have come to realize,” he says sadly, “that this is just a fact about me that I must be willing to accept. This is just the way I will be until I die—a porn-attracted Christian. And when all the sinful dross associated with this sensibility has been cleansed away, I look forward to the time when my cleansed porn-attractions will be enabled by grace to bring something of true value into the New Jerusalem.”
But sin is not some beautiful thing that needs to have the sin wiped off of it. A turd is what it is all the way through.
So all God’s people said ummmm. Now nothing will be served by disputing with this guy over whether or not he is porn-attracted. Of course he is. Welcome to earth, champ. Have you been here long?
The main issue is not that tug he is describing. The main issue is the name he is ascribing. The issue is not the fact of temptations to look at porn. As John Owen put it, a man should not think he makes any progress in godliness if he does not walk daily over the bellies of his lusts. That part is uncontroversial.
Our quarrel is not with the fact of his temptations, but rather with his theology of those temptations. That is where the trouble is. A man can have a recurring temptation, and not be a hypocrite. We pray for him because we all pray for one another. If it comes to that, absolutely all of us are in the same boat. But when he crowns himself with the name of that sin, and puts that unholy name next to the holy name of Christ, he is a hypocrite. If he were to identify himself as a thieving Christian, or reviling Christian, or road-rage Christian, or pedophile Christian, he would have done something appalling. When he identifies himself as a gay Christian, he has done the same appalling thing.
The only reason it doesn’t seem appalling to us is because we have been conditioned to accept it. But bringing gay sensibilities into the presence of the God of our holy and new Jerusalem should be as unthinkable as asking Moses to offer up a pig on the altar of some high place borrowed from the Moabites.
Christ is at war with all sin, and all sin is at war with Christ. They are both seeking to occupy the same position or level in the life of the believer, and they both make total claims. Those claims are necessarily inconsistent because no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13).
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Cor. 6:9–11 (KJV)
Not one of those tawdry items on that list can be turned into an acceptable adjective for any one of God’s saints. It is spiritually oxymoronic to try—a dirty holy one. A holy one can fall and get dirty, but it is so inconsistent that he cries out to his Father for cleansing (1 John 1:9). But as soon as he makes his peace with the dirt, as soon as he tries to incorporate whatever his precious is into the name by which he was called, he has crossed a deadly line. And he who is filthy, let him be filthy still (Rev. 22:11)
What about other adjectives then? A man can be an American Christian or a Korean Christian because those identifiers are not inconsistent with each other. They occupy different levels on the identity scale, and thus they are not at war. Thus a man can be a baseball-playing Christian, or a guitar-playing Christian, or a sushi cook Christian. Sure. They are on different levels, provided no idolatry is involved.
And yes, I believe the first fatal step in this downgrade was taken some time ago in our approach to the treatment of alcoholics. Can a man be an alcoholic Christian? I would argue no. A man can be a Christian whose temptations revolve around the abuse of alcohol, but who is he? His identity is Christ, and only Christ.
We are defined by our Savior, and never by that which we were saved from. Our identity is Christ, and our identity is in Christ alone. Our name of Christian is grounded in Christ, plus nothing else and no one else. We are called Christians, and because Christ fills all heaven and earth there is no room there for any supplementary adjectives—and especially adjectives which challenge His power to cleanse and forgive.
You shall call His name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
Today’s Giveaway Deal
Given the topic of today’s post, the giveaway deal might seem like an odd one. But if you read it, you should be able to see the connection. Here is a link to The Man in the Dark.