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Friday, December 09, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Getting Reoriented

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tertius drew my attention to this three-year-old blog post written by a self-described “twenty-something Christ follower” who says he is “same-sex attracted”.

That makes him a member of a small but disproportionately influential group. Infogalactic has this survey of the various attempts made to measure the demographics of sexual orientation. The numbers are all over the place, but nowhere do they exceed 5% of the population.

Temptations and Necessities

Tom: Without commenting on the origins of sexual attraction, if we accept that “sexual orientation” is a thing, Immanuel Can, and that the 4-5% number is a reasonable ballpark figure, that means same-sex attraction — whatever its cause may be — is probably an issue for 10-15 people or so in most medium-sized local churches.

Immanuel Can: I’d say that the number of people who have trouble sorting out the moral and personal dimensions of sex is closer to 100%. But “orientation”, so near as I can see, just means the various objects by which one is sexually tempted. It says nothing about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the particular temptation in question.

I think, though, the proponents of such language want us to believe that “orientation” means something like “nature”, “obligation”, “inevitability” or “necessity”.

Tom: Correct, except when it comes to impulses and temptations outside the boundaries of what is currently socially acceptable. Then we don’t call those impulses “orientation”, we call them deviancy. So it’s very unscientific, but the language is now commonplace.

The Cruel Subtext

IC: As with so many allegedly liberationist styles of rhetoric, there’s a cruel subtext in the language of sexual liberation. It’s tied to this idea of orientation. On the one hand, to act on such an “orientation” is held up as a liberating experience, almost a moral imperative. It’s more than an “I gotta be me” attitude; the liberationists hail it as the high point of integrity, truthfulness and self-knowledge. And so to declare yourself “out of the closet” is valorized as the ultimate act of courage and honesty. But the flip side of that rhetoric is this: that you MUST declare yourself “out”, and be loud and proud with it, or you’re a fraud and a coward. “Oriented” means no chance for anything else, no uncertainty, and no going back.

Tom: Well, as you’ll have noted, the writer of this article, our friend “Behind the Mask”, is not out. So his path is much more perilous. He’s decided to declare himself “same-sex attracted” while recognizing that acting on that attraction is wrong, and displeasing to his Lord. That’s an unusual position these days. And as you note, the Gay Police will not like that, and will have him outed the moment they can, if only in order to cement their own position.

Showing Moral Fortitude

IC: Ah, yes … that’s it. And he’s going to be very dangerous to them, if they discover him. Because he is showing a moral fortitude they have abandoned, and loyalty to the Lord that indicts them for putting the desire for fornication ahead of love of God. His struggle would be an ongoing indictment to their corruption: so they must corrupt him and make him committed to their evil, so that their own consciences can go back to sleep. At least, they think that’s how it will work out ...

Tom: And honestly, who knows how it has actually worked out? This post was from a young man in his twenties three full years ago, which is a lifetime for some people. And I can see some things about our friend’s worldview that might be potentially disastrous for his Christianity, even though he seems determined to obey the teaching of the New Testament.

IC: Yes, I agree. It seems he is going to have some real struggles. But I commend him for struggling, because overcoming this sort of thing is not easy. No one would think it is. But to do the right thing, not the easy thing, is a central value for Christians.

This condition of struggling is something that is not recognized, not acknowledged, and certainly not respected by the liberationists. In their view, those who capitulate to evil temptations are the heroes; and those who strive to do right are the villains. I would say the Lord sees the situation rather differently.

Adopting the Leftist Frame

Tom: Oh, I agree. But here’s the Leftist frame this young Christian has bought into, which seems to me to make his difficulty even greater:
“How could God ask me never to marry? Never to know the deep, unconditional, exclusive love of a wife? How can he tell me sex is good, and then tell me my own desires for sex, desires I have no control over, are bad? How can he expect me to remain celibate, to go through life ... to grow old ... to die ... alone? Would he really deny me the joy of holding my first child, watching him or her grow, hearing people comment how much they resemble me? Will I never get to change a filthy diaper in the middle of the night? To video-tape every single dance recital or tee-ball game? To teach my son what it means to be a man? To give away my beautiful daughter in marriage?”
Do you see the problem here? Can you count the ways the indoctrination of our age has inadvertently taken root?

IC: Yes. And this is what I was thinking of. He’s romanticizing homosexuality, imagining that it could answer the longings of his heart, and that perhaps obedience to God would cost him that. How long he can stare moon-eyed at this illusion before he gives in to it is a big question, and makes me very apprehensive for him. But still, I would want to commend this: that he senses that knowing Christ comes with a cost, the cost of dying to these kinds of selfish wishes and romanticized visions. I hope he’s able to do it. But yes, I fear for him.

A Moony Notion

Tom: Oh, I agree, and I don’t want to seem critical of someone who is genuinely suffering. Maybe I’ll get to the things I appreciate about his thinking shortly. But yes, you’re pointing to precisely what bothers me about his worldview: When you say “romanticizing”, that’s exactly it.

First of all, this moony notion that he is somehow “giving up” children because the Bible tells him gay marriage is the wrong way to go — well, that’s ridiculously modern. Men and women have dealt with same-sex attraction for thousands of years without the twentieth century tease that you might be able to be respectable, settle down in the suburbs and raise a child with a same-sex partner through sperm donation. Thousands, maybe even millions, of other Christians throughout Church history have managed their desires without the temptation of a “normal” life waved in front of them incessantly. That’s a cruel jest the modern world has foisted on the same-sex attracted Christian, and I have a lot of compassion for someone who has to cope with it. But ultimately, it’s a huge, sad lie.

Legitimizing Self-Gratification

IC: The line of logic that goes, “Because I desire it, it must somehow be legitimate” is a very dangerous one. Without being explicit, I think we all know people have had all sorts of desires and inclinations for all sorts of things, many of which we would rightly find appalling. But it’s not our emotional inclination that makes a thing right or wrong: it’s what God says about it.

Tom: Absolutely. And this is where our modern culture of self-gratification is so supremely indictable. As I was saying earlier, in other generations you never had to contend with the idea that romantic love was some kind of unassailable entitlement — not even if you were heterosexual. You might well be paired with someone you didn’t particular fancy at all simply because your parents thought the relationship made sense financially or pragmatically. It’s only in this last half-century that we have so frankly and openly deified our desires.

So I feel very sorry for young men growing up in this generation. They uncritically accept the notion that they are being cheated of something everybody else is getting. It’s simply not the case.

How Rich Is My Condition

IC: Quite so. But our media run on the provocation of desire. One thing you’ll never hear from them is, “You’re alright: you have enough stuff, you’ve got your needs met, and there’s nothing wrong with you”. As one sociologist so aptly put it, “Lost souls make good customers”.

Tom: Ain’t that the truth. Let me tell you what I like about this guy. After asking “How can God expect me to remain celibate?” he answers himself with this:
How rich is my condition! God and heaven are still my own. He never promised me a spouse. He never promised me sexual fulfillment. He never promised me offspring. He never promised me anything on my list of ‘must haves to be happy.’ He promised me Himself, and that is all I could ever need. He promised me the hope of a glorious future, one in which all the sadness and pain of this life will come undone.”
Isn’t that a wonderful paragraph?

IC: Yes, it really is. That’s the best of the man coming forward. It’s from that part of himself that he needs to act.

A Dream of Rock-Stardom

Tom: From the most recent statistics I can locate, the percentage of same-sex households in the U.S. with children amounts to about 1/5 of 1%. Of that miniscule percentage, we can be sure the number of same-sex couples that raise a child to adulthood is even smaller, and the number that do so successfully is smaller still. Our culture is holding out to people with same-sex inclinations as their gold standard a desire that is less likely to be fulfilled than the teenager’s dream of rock-stardom or NFL success; something that is neither moral nor realistic. To me that is epic trolling.

But when I read “He promised me Himself”, I start to think our friend is on the right track.

Do you see hope for Christians faced with these sorts of choices, IC?

IC: Of course. It doesn’t matter what the sin is: through Christ, it no longer needs to “have dominion over us”. The struggle is not easy sometimes; but what is secured for us is that it is not hopeless.

2 comments :

  1. A peek at the old blog's "About" page yielded a link to his new, "unmasked" one: http://www.stephenrmoss.com/. Sounds like he's still sticking to the same convictions, despite all the loneliness and opposition (even in his own church). God bless him.
    - RJA

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