I recently read one of the finest (albeit sadly too brief) expositions for how the church ought to deal with issues of same-sex attraction. It was an article written by Dr. Melody D. Palm (of the Assembly of God Theological Seminary) in the latest issue of Enrichment entitled: Desires in Conflict: Hope and Healing for Individuals Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction. It was both generous and gracious, while being biblically sound and highly practical. I would hope that there might be more teaching (and practice) like this in the church that has tended towards over-reaction (one way or another) to any issues related to homosexuality. It was VERY encouraging to read something this positive in the Assembly of God journal and I do hope more such articles are regularly printed.
Briefly, Dr. Palm discusses the terminology (both positive and negative) that is a part of this discussion, then proceeds to debunk five common myths associated with homosexuality (they are child molesters, inherently promiscuous, its “contagious”, it is the result of molestation and/or abusive parent/child relations, its a choice), five things to avoid in dealing with persons who have same-sex attraction (trying to do what only the Spirit can do, being preach-y or simply quoting scripture, denying their personal experiences, recommending marriage or opposite gender relations to “fix” their problem, breaking confidentiality), and five recommendations for the church to put into practice (creating a safe, non-judgmental environment for sharing, being educated about such issues, offering hope, helping to find identity in Christ, support towards holiness and wholeness).
Homosexuality is something inherent to certain persons, but this in no way justifies acting upon personal inclinations. We all struggle with various things that we by nature desire. There is nothing inherently righteous about opposite-sex attractions (which just as often tend towards obsession, sin, violence, or infidelity), which also must be yielded to the Lordship of Christ. It is not a matter of simply denying our desires and inclinations, but of learning to use them in a godly manner that glorifies the Lord. Our individual inclinations (whatever they may be) are no excuse for inappropriate action or sin. Each of us must learn to yield ourselves to the Lord in all things…our thought-life…sexuality…bodies…indeed, our whole being. May we do this with grace and charity as one people made holy through the obedience of the Gospel. May we all find freedom in this obedience and healing through the reconciling Spirit-empowered ministry of the Church.
Help us Lord to be a holy people, pure and undefiled!