Thursday, May 28, 2015

Purple Cow Approaches To Homosexuality

Several weeks ago, during a sermon on Colossians 3:1-4, our pastor made a comment that helped me understand why such a high percentage of people who participated in ex-gay ministries like Love In Action (the one for which I worked) eventually fell back into homosexuality. Before I show you this Scripture and explain how my pastor's remarks turned on the proverbial light bulb in my head, however, let me briefly review the way several of my friends rationalize their return to the lifestyle.

Many of them claim now that God created them gay and that the Scriptures that appear to condemn homosexuality need to be understood in light of circumstantial qualifications. They interpret the prohibitions as pertaining to gang rape, pagan temple prostitution and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, maintaining that "loving, committed" same-sex relationships escaped the notice of those who wrote the Bible.

A free PDF ebook, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew, exposes the fallacies in such arguments, so I won't take the time to reinvent the wheel today. The Bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior, just as it condemns a wide variety of other attitudes and behaviors that demand gratification. No sin, including the sin of homosexuality, should be tolerated.

So many attitudes and behaviors have such a tremendous hold on us that sometimes we feel that we simply can't overcome them. My pastor showed us, however, how a Christian can gain victory over stubborn sinful habits.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ~~Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)
As we set our minds on the Lord, rather than fixating on whatever sin we can't seem to overcome, that sin loses its power. Putting it in less positive terms, when we focus on dealing with a life-dominating sin, we actually feed that sin all the more. 

By way of illustration, suppose I told you to break your obsession with purple cows by examining your childhood to discover why you find purple cows so fascinating. Obviously, you'd spend even more time visualizing purple cows, and praying that the Lord would help you overcome your obsession. If you then joined a group of purple cow addicts, you would talk about purple cows every time your group met. Additionally, if you entered a residential program with other purple cow addicts, you would most likely think about purple cows all the more. Instead of keeping your eyes on Christ, and how you could best magnify Him, most of your energy and thoughts would revolve around purple cows.

I quite well know, of course, that temptations (of any kind) don't automatically vanish just because we fill our minds with Christ and His concerns. Furthermore, I sincerely doubt that my pastor had any intention of implying a simplistic approach to dealing with sin. All Christians, if we're honest, experience life-long battles with our sin natures, including the apostle Paul (see Romans 7:7-25). I'd even venture to say that our most predominate struggles with sin usually involve illicit sexual desires. So please don't interpret me as saying that someone can vanquish homosexuality merely by concentrating on the Lord.

Yet, Scripture certainly does teach that keeping our minds on the Lord and walking in the Spirit does tend to crowd out fleshly impulses. Returning to our illustration, when I occupy myself with looking for ways to love the Lord and extend His love to others, I have less time to fill my thoughts with purple cows. I may still experience an inordinate fascination with them, but they no longer overwhelm my thoughts.

As my pastor preached on Colossians 3:1-4, it dawned on me that Love In Action and other ex-gay ministries actually defeated themselves by placing men and women in environments that kept homosexuality constantly before them. Yes, they needed people to acknowledge that they fought a heart-wrenching battle, particularly if they never developed an attraction to someone of the opposite sex. But how I wish their local churches had gently and patiently accepted them as fellow sinners who, like other Christians, needed to dwell on the wonders of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

  1. So true! That's the problem with SELF help isn't it? Then focus is continually on self, the who, what, when, where, and why of our problems increase our awareness of our problems, and attempt to justify them, instead of repenting and then looking to Jesus. Good thoughts.


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