We have been looking for the last few posts at celibacy with what Jesus teaches in Matthew 19 as the background. We have looked at the overall picture, those that are born in a way that makes them celibate for life (either physically incapable or without the mental capacity for marriage), made that way by the fall or those that choose Celibacy for the Kingdom.
Last time we started to look that the second category – those “made that way by the fall of man“. In that post I promised a post about those that are attracted to the same sex but remain celibate. Today that is exactly what I want to talk about.
First of all, I do not believe this is what Jesus was talking about when he said some were born that way. I believe Jesus meant those who are born without the physical capability for sex or the mental capacity for marriage. He is not talking about attraction. Therefore I do not believe that those attracted to the same sex fit in that category.
I do however believe that many are in the second group Jesus mentioned. The fact is that because of the fall we are all born broken. In every single area of our life we are a born as some mixture of being created in God’s image and yet fallen because of original sin. We still bear God’s image and yet we are not who we were created to be. Every single one of us. Every area of our life. This includes our sexuality.
Let me also say that I do not believe that the feeling of attraction is choice. In other words as I’ve stated over and over on this blog, the feeling of attraction is not an in that moment decision by that person. I am certain however that what we do with that attraction is a choice. Every time. This includes not only how we act on it with another person physically but whether or not we give into to, surrender to it, or submit it to God.
I think that any intellectually honest look at the scriptures would say that homosexuality, including the attraction part, is indeed a result of the fall. I know that is not popular in many circles, but then a lot of the scriptures are not popular. That does not make the feeling of attraction a sin. The homosexual act is a sin.
However, this is where we have to create space for the person who wants to follow what the scriptures teach about sex and marriage all the while living in their context of same sex attraction.
I believe that some people who have been or are attracted to the same sex can indeed have that desire changed in this temporal life. I’ve seen it personally. I have met some of these people. We should not dismiss that potential. I also believe that some people won’t have that desire changed in this temporal life. Therefore, there should be space, and in fact encouragement, for those folks who are committed to remaining celibate rather than following the secular culture’s message of fulfilling that desire with a homosexual relationship.
Now it is also important to point out that the choice that the person who is attracted to the same sex makes to remain celibate is different than the choice of the third group that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 19. That is what I’m terming Celibacy for the Kingdom – which is both a choice and a supernatural gift or grace from God.
The choice the person attracted to the same sex makes is for sure one of obedience to a teaching of the Kingdom. It is a choice not to sin. It is a choice to forgo sex out of reverence and love of Jesus. The choice that Jesus talks about the third group making is different. That choice is different than a choice not to sin. That is instead a choice to forsake non sinful marriage, and therefore sex, for the sake of Kingdom while also being a spiritual and supernatural gift from God. I do not believe that same sex attraction is a gift or grace from God. Therefore the two choices are different.
So while it is not the same choice it is indeed one that should be honored and appreciated by those in the Kingdom. We all should recognize how hard it is to choose to not fulfill a desire (even a desire born out of sin and the fall) out of obedience to God. None of us should take that lightly in any way. Should we not encourage and even at some level commend those choices? Someone who loves God and says, “Even though I desire this, I know that it’s not what God desires and I’m therefore choosing obedience to God in my actions”, deserves our support and encouragement in such decisions.
We are all heading to a time when we will live in the final heaven and earth when none of us will be married and all of us will be redeemed and holy. We all have to work towards that day. It looks different for each of us but we are all supposed to be trying to go there together. The beauty of this teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19 is that it means that we can all work toward holiness while advancing the Kingdom together.