Sexual Sin

Rosaria-ButterfieldThe Dead End of Sexual Sin – Article by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (original source here)

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, she developed a ministry to college students. She has taught and ministered at Geneva College, is a full-time mother and pastor’s wife, and is author of Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (2012) and Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ (2015).

Unbelievers don’t “struggle” with same-sex attraction. I didn’t. My love for women came with nary a struggle at all.

I had not always been a lesbian, but in my late twenties, I met my first lesbian lover. I was hooked and believed that I had found my real self. Sex with women was part of my life and identity, but it was not the only part — and not always the biggest part.

I simply preferred everything about women: their company, their conversation, their companionship, and the contours of their/our body. I favored the nesting, the setting up of house and home, and the building of lesbian community.

As an unbelieving professor of English, an advocate of postmodernism and poststructuralism, and an opponent of all totalizing metanarratives (like Christianity, I would have added back in the day), I found peace and purpose in my life as a lesbian and the queer community I helped to create.

Conversion and Confusion

It was only after I met my risen Lord that I ever felt shame in my sin, with my sexual attractions, and with my sexual history.

Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.

What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go?

Meeting John Owen

In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read an old, seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation).

At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am,” John Owen called “indwelling sin.” But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin, distraction of actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin.

Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope. Indeed, John Owen’s understanding of indwelling sin is the missing link in our current cultural confusion about what sexual sin is — and what to do about it.

As believers, we lament with the apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:19–20). But after we lament, what should we do? How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?

Owen explained with four responses.

1. Starve It

Indwelling sin is a parasite, and it eats what you do. God’s word is poison to sin when embraced by a heart made new by the Holy Spirit. You starve indwelling sin by feeding yourself deeply on his word. Sin cannot abide in his word. So, fill your hearts and minds with Scripture. Continue reading

Love, Truth and Sexuality

rosaria-butterfieldRosaria Butterfield is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University and author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Crown & Covenant, 2012) and Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ (Crown & Covenant, 2015).

Article: Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak Truth – by Rosaria Butterfield – A Response to Jen Hatmaker (original source here)

If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead. How amazing it would have been to have someone as radiant, knowledgeable, humble, kind, and funny as Jen saying out loud what my heart was shouting: Yes, I can have Jesus and my girlfriend. Yes, I can flourish both in my tenured academic discipline (queer theory and English literature and culture) and in my church. My emotional vertigo could find normal once again.

Maybe I wouldn’t need to lose everything to have Jesus. Maybe the gospel wouldn’t ruin me while I waited, waited, waited for the Lord to build me back up after he convicted me of my sin, and I suffered the consequences. Maybe it would go differently for me than it did for Paul, Daniel, David, and Jeremiah. Maybe Jesus could save me without afflicting me. Maybe the Lord would give to me respectable crosses (Matt. 16:24). Manageable thorns (2 Cor. 12:7).

Today, I hear Jen’s words—words meant to encourage, not discourage, to build up, not tear down, to defend the marginalized, not broker unearned power—and a thin trickle of sweat creeps down my back. If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.

Died to a Life I Loved

To be clear, I was not converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief. I didn’t swap out a lifestyle. I died to a life I loved. Conversion to Christ made me face the question squarely: did my lesbianism reflect who I am (which is what I believed in 1999), or did my lesbianism distort who I am through the fall of Adam? I learned through conversion that when something feels right and good and real and necessary—but stands against God’s Word—this reveals the particular way Adam’s sin marks my life. Our sin natures deceive us. Sin’s deception isn’t just “out there”; it’s also deep in the caverns of our hearts.

How I feel does not tell me who I am. Only God can tell me who I am, because he made me and takes care of me. He tells me that we are all born as male and female image bearers with souls that will last forever and gendered bodies that will either suffer eternally in hell or be glorified in the New Jerusalem. Genesis 1:27 tells me that there are ethical consequences and boundaries to being born male and female. When I say this previous sentence on college campuses—even ones that claim to be Christian—the student protestors come out in the dozens. I’m told that declaring the ethical responsibilities of being born male and female is now hate speech.

Calling God’s sexual ethic hate speech does Satan’s bidding. This is Orwellian nonsense or worse. I only know who I really am when the Bible becomes my lens for self-reflection, and when the blood of Christ so powerfully pumps my heart whole that I can deny myself, take up the cross, and follow him.

Calling God’s sexual ethic hate speech does Satan’s bidding. This is Orwellian nonsense or worse.

There is no good will between the cross and the unconverted person. The cross is ruthless. To take up your cross means that you are going to die. As A. W. Tozer has said, to carry a cross means you are walking away, and you are never coming back. The cross symbolizes what it means to die to self. We die so that we can be born again in and through Jesus, by repenting of our sin (even the unchosen ones) and putting our faith in Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation. The supernatural power that comes with being born again means that where I once had a single desire—one that says if it feels good, it must be who I really am—I now have twin desires that war within me: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal. 5:17). And this war doesn’t end until Glory. Continue reading

Article: The Sin of Soft

Doug Wilson article (original source lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb. 12:3).

Comes now the Ninth Short-Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding legislation in California that bans licensed counselors, pastors included, mind you, from helping young people who want to deal biblically with same-sex attraction. And since tyranny is never content with just a little bit, the law also bans counseling that seeks to steer young people away from gender confusion. Confusion. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law.Reparative

And this reveals, in high relief, the ratcheting techniques used by the forces of totalitolerance. A howl was set up against reparative therapy, causing even some stalwart Christian leaders to back away from it, and now, since we have ceded that ground, they are proceeding to take it. It is now against the law in California for a godly pastor to urge a teenagers to mortify his perverse desires, and how did we get here?

Incidentally, taking a stand for reparative counseling does not obligate you to endorse anything and everything someone might do in the name of reparative therapy, any more than a stand for free speech means that you agree with every stupid op-ed piece ever written. There could be hucksters out there running Acme Reparative Clinics, and I don’t care because this was supposed to be a free country. Because not only is Acme out there giving us a bad name, but the apostle Paul is out there too.

“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).

Some of you used to be gay, he says, but you called on the Lord, and prayed it away. Notice the tense of the verbs. Such were some of you. But you are washed. This does not mean that various temptations to lust just vanish, presto. But it does mean that it is no more permissible for Christians to claim a gay celibate identity than it is for them to claim an identity of celibate pedophilia, or the identity of being an incorrigible celibate flirt.

So what would we think of a celibate flirt? Suppose we were talking to a man who said he was maintaining the biblical standard of fidelity in marriage, but who said that he was also committed to the innocent recreation of flirting his head off with numerous women. All that matters, says he, is that the illicit and prohibited coitus does not in fact occur. That being excluded, all he ever does is tell a few inappropriate jokes, lower his voice confidentially, exchange a few knowing glances, and so on. Is he sinning? Continue reading

Engaging the Culture Regarding Sexuality

You Are Not Your Sexuality – Sam Allberry

You Are Not Your Sexuality from novels, articles, interviews, songs, TV shows, and real-life scenarios, the same broad outline has been reinforced time and again. People become aware of their sexuality; they embrace it as their true identity; they live it out; and, despite the presence of those still unable to affirm them, they flourish. The power of narratives has changed whole societies.

As Christians we need to respond, of course. But to respond to narrative with propositions (even biblical ones) misunderstands our culture’s discussion. It’s like bringing an excellent stir-fry to a bake-off.

We must respond to the secular narrative with a Christian one. This is the rationale behind LivingOut, and behind this video. The world needs to hear same-sex attracted Christians like me share their experiences of God’s goodness in this issue. The culture needs to know there is a different calculus for measuring human flourishing. There is another, better script available.

But the church needs to hear these stories too. We can so easily question whether God’s Word on this issue really is good. True? Sure. But good? That can be a harder question.

This talk is one attempt to outline some of the key lessons for the whole church that those of us with same-sex attraction are learning. Here are five:

Your identity is in Christ.
Discipleship is hard.
God’s Word is good.
The church is vital.
The future is glorious.

I hope it’s a blessing.

Sam Allberry

Christians and Pre-Marital Sex

“John Piper may no longer lead a church, but he still has the heart of a pastor.” – Tim Challies

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/i-slept-with-my-girlfriend-now-what

Four Propositions

rick_phillipsOn the issue of sexuality, as in all things, we as Christians must display much genuine compassion while at the same time maintaining a biblical worldview. In this regard, Rick Phillips written an article entitled “Four Propositions on Homosexuality and Holiness”:

In response to the cultural tidal wave of gay-rights advances in America, Christians and churches are seeking categories to make sense of our situation. As the Supreme Court has legally normalized homosexuality, more and more people feel comfortable admitting to homosexual desires (i.e. “same-sex attraction”). A good number of them make this claim as church-going people who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, one of the most heated topics for Christians today is how to relate same-sex attraction to the Christian life.

This topic came to my mind today as I read an article titled Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality. The author expresses concern that Christian parents are worried that their children might become same-sex attracted and thus be barred from a godly life. His answer is that same-sex attraction is not contrary to godliness. Having formerly thought that the “pursuit of holiness. . . equaled the pursuit of heterosexuality,” he now understands that “godliness, not heterosexuality” should be our aim. In reading the article, one sympathizes with the struggle that it reveals. Nonetheless, its argument involves a confusion of biblical categories. Can Christians, in light of the teaching of Moses and Paul, consider homosexual desire as compatible with godliness? In dealing with this question, let me offer these four propositions on homosexuality and holiness and then work them out in more detail:

1. All believers in Jesus are positionally holy (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:10).
2. Personally, all believers in Jesus are imperfectly holy in this present life (Phil. 3:12; 1 Jn. 1:8; Eph. 4:22-24; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Tim. 6:12-13).
3. Homosexual behaviors and desires are contrary to holiness (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
4. Believers with homosexual desires must therefore strive for Christ-like sexual holiness, which is categorically heterosexual (Gen. 2:24; Rom. 1:27; Rom. 13:14; Phil. 4:13).

Let me explain these propositions and defend them from God’s Word: Continue reading

Why Dr. Packer Walked

stormsThis post was adapted from Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit by Sam Storms, which is part of the Theologians on the Christian Life series.

“Why I Walked”

In 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster

authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions, to be used in any parish of the diocese that requests it. A number of synod members walked out to protest the decision. They declared themselves out of communion with the bishop and the synod, and they appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican primates and bishops for help. (1)

J. I. Packer was one of those who walked out.

When asked why he walked out, he answered, “Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.” In other words, it was Packer’s confidence in the functional, life-directing authority of Scripture that led to this decision.

“My primary authority,” wrote Packer, “is a Bible writer named Paul. For many decades now, I have asked myself at every turn of my theological road: Would Paul be with me in this? What would he say if he were in my shoes? I have never dared to offer a view on anything that I did not have good reason to think he would endorse.”

Here we see that, for Packer, affirming biblical authority is meant not merely to provoke a debate but to give ethical direction to life. Regardless of what personal preferences one might have, irrespective of the cultural trends in play at the time, the Bible is the ethical standard by which Christians such as Packer judge their responsibility.

What’s Really at Stake

Packer then proceeds to exegete Paul’s thought in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 as justification for his decision to lodge this protest. There are only two ways in which we might miss Paul’s point and his directives. One is to embrace an artificial interpretation of the text in which Paul is conceived as speaking of something other than same-sex union. Continue reading

Did Jesus ever talk about homosexuality?

Voddie Baucham on the common claim by many non-christians (and many liberal, compromising christians) that Jesus never addressed the issue of homosexuality.

The Clash of the Worldviews

Matt 19:1-6

In light of the Supreme Court ruling this week, here is a clarion call to Biblical faithfulness, knowing we pay a very high price for doing so.