There has been a lot of talk recently about homosexual men living godly Christian lives. They claim to do this by living celibate lives. You can read about a book written on this subject here.
I will be the first to acknowledge that I might be missing something here, but I don’t understand how a person can have desires that are contrary to what God has said and still be a godly man. How can someone do what God has said He detests and still claim to have a close, even intimate, relationship with Him?
Okay, I can see how a person can struggle with a particular desire, in the sense of being dragged off and into sin on occasion, even regularly (Jas. 1:14ff). But this does not seem to be what these folks are advocating. The Bible normally talks about desires as being good things. When you do a search on the words related to ‘desire,’ you find all kinds of passages that condone and encourage desires. But there are certain desires, that when directed toward behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, which are contrary to the character, nature, and architecture of God for his people and the world. The Bible calls this sin.
Sin is never encouraged in the Bible and, in fact, is condemned in the strongest terms. A person is not allowed to desire his neighbor’s wife, his field, his male servant, the neighbor himself, or anything that God has not given him (Deut. 5:21). Of course, I added that part about desiring his neighbor, but it is certainly in line with Biblical principles. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
What is being said, in the book referenced, in the blogs, and FaceBook posts, is that the people are living as celibate homosexuals, and since they aren’t touching other people everything is good. But desires themselves can be evil. The James passage referred to above says that some desires are not automatically evil. It says that when our desires are dragged away and enticed, the sin is produced. Good desires can be dragged away and can become evil desires. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Just because someone has a desire does not make that desire either good or neutral. In this case, God does not distinguish between desires and actions. A desire to have sex with someone other than your opposite sex spouse is sin, whether you act on that desire or not.
As a pastor and counselor, people come into my office all the time confessing sinful desires. These sinful desires don’t need to be desires for same sex partners, they might be a desire to steal things, take drugs, be perfect, be more beautiful, whatever. Of course, I tell them that to desire a thing is not the same thing as doing the thing. So, living with the desire, but not the action, is certainly a good first step. But it is not the same thing as repentance. And I would never tell a person that they can go ahead and live with the desires as long as they are living a godly Christian life otherwise. If they are desiring sinful things, especially if they desire them to the point where they characterize their life (I am a kleptomaniac, I am an alcoholic, I am a homosexual, etc.), they are not living godly lives in any other area. God and our relationship with him cannot be compartmentalized like that.
In these cases, the person needs to confess the sinful desires as sin. He needs to come to God and tell him all about it, just as the Word of God talks about it. He needs to beg God, based on the sacrifice of Jesus, to accept him back into fellowship. Then he needs make up his mind that these desires are sinful, study the Word of God in order to begin thinking about himself the way God thinks about him in this area, and determine to think God’s thoughts after Him, making God’s desires his desires (1 Jn. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:22). And he needs to make a plan of escape so that when temptations arise, he will be able to withstand the arrows of the enemy and to stand firm in the Lord (Eph. 6:11).
Again, I may be missing something here, but it seems like a really cruel joke to tell someone that they have to live the rest of their life with desires that are sinful. The guilt, the shame, the depression that must attend that kind of life must be overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be better if Psalm 37:4-7 were actually true? “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” (Psa 37:4-7). Wouldn’t it be much better if God would give the repentant sinner new desires? The Bible holds that promise out to those who will draw near to him.