We all struggle with our sexuality
Probably all of us struggle with God’s guidelines in the field of sex. Indeed when it comes to our longings in any area of life, every one of us is a fascinating and often painful mixture of attraction to the admirable, the neutral and the forbidden. This mixture arises from the twin truths that we are constructed in God’s image and yet sinfulness has defaced that image.
Being morally and spiritually God-like, there is about us the glory of having a desire for the best. Being fallen we are also tempted to lifestyles incompatible with Christian discipleship. We are responsible to use our minds to discern which is which, and to instruct our consciences accordingly.
Choosing whether to behave in a given way, in that case, is not as easy as just saying “God made me this way.” For example it seems that there is sometimes a genetic component in alcoholism. Is a person then to say “I was born this way” or “God made me like this” and drink himself to death? No, we are responsible for the choices we make in the light of our varied proclivities.
The question becomes: which ones shall we give in to, and which ones are we to tread down? Thankfully our Lord Jesus gave a basic answer to that question:
“I have not come to abolish the (OT) writings but to fulfil them. They remain as long as the earth lasts. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to will be called least in the kingdom of heaven & vice-versa.”
And the OT, of course, has now had the NT added, to encapsulate the teaching of our Lord and his apostles so as to form the whole Bible.
That is to say, the good principles which, even when tough, are best and happiest in the long run are to be found in our ‘Maker’s Instructions’, holy Scripture.
When it comes to sex the manufacturer’s handbook says, “A man will leave his parents and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” In other words, and as our Lord Jesus later underlined,
Sex is God’s wedding gift to lifelong, exclusive, heterosexual marriage.
Every guideline in the Bible, Old Testament and New, positive and negative, is in harmony with and underlines that master statement. Hence the many instructions supporting faithful marriage (Prov 5: 15-20; Ephesians 5: 21-33) and those forbidding alternative routes to sexual climax, whether sex before marriage, homosexual practice, incest or adultery. Sex is God’s wedding gift to heterosexual marriage.
There is not a human being for whom this does not cause problems. Take some examples.
Here is a married man. He has to say no to desires every week with respect to his neighbours' wives and daughters and to females he sees on television. Here he is, a natural born adulterer, and God’s word calls him to self control: for sex is God’s wedding gift to heterosexual marriage.
Here is a Christian woman, just made for marriage and motherhood, full of fun and a capacity to love. But there are more women than men in Britain at this time - many more in the Christian church - and she never meets an acceptable man. “Heavenly Father,” she prays, “you have made me like this yet in your painful providence it seems this God-given side of me will never find fulfilment.” She remains chaste and physically childless because sex is God’s wedding gift to heterosexual marriage, and she proves by Christian friendships, ‘aunthoods’ and fruitful service the special rewards of those who take up their cross and follow Jesus.
Or here is a married person who experiences low sexual desire. They may not enjoy sex but God’s word calls them to master their preferences and be generous with their body because sex is God’s wedding gift to heterosexual marriage.
And here is a Christian who finds himself or herself attracted to members of the same sex. At God’s word and at cost they remain celibate, because sex is God’s wedding gift to heterosexual marriage.
Homosexual orientation, therefore, is but one example of a picture that applies to all of us. We experience temptation and we are called to evangelical obedience. We are all broken people, and those who seem the most “sorted” might be battling darkness that the rest of us know nothing about.
In that case let us ensure that Sandyford is full of a kind spirit where, more and more, one member can ask another for understanding and support. And since our Lord Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive, the more fortunate among us have a responsibility to the lonelier and the struggling.
One area in which this especially applies is the area of our marriages. Of course it is right to protect and nurture them, but they are a stewardship from God. They are not given in order to be turned in on themselves but to be an opportunity of serving others. Let married couples remain hospitable, thinking of others, retaining their pre-marriage friendships.
Since we all struggle with our sexuality, homophobia has no place among us. Sandyford is for all types of people whatever their orientation.
Let me apply this by telling you a true story. A member invited a homosexual friend to Sandyford. He replied, “I feel bad enough about myself already without being made to feel worse.” Well, we must make sure that such fears are never realised among us.
There is another way in which we can be sensitive. If a girl is 35 and single we are wise enough not to ask why they are not married. We know that they might long to be and the question would be painful. By the same token if one of our younger men is 35 and single, be kind enough not to ask them the same question.
Let Sandyford be a family where those attracted to the same sex feel safe, affirmed, able to let friends know their particular struggles. Let us be thoughtful, respectful, sensitive to others' battles and pains. Let our marriages generously serve others, not resting in comfortable inertia but actively committed to hospitality and to maintaining friendships: especially with any who might be less fortunate than we are in the matter of friendships and loneliness.
C. Peter WhiteView All Letters