Click on the quote below to read the article...

For many years I have been bothered by the apparent inability of anyone in the church scene to get through to homosexuals. I first noticed it when working with Dave Wilkerson in New York City in the 1960's. We had made a significant breakthrough in reaching heroin addicts: a group which had previously proven to be fairly hopeless. But we were not able to offer much hope to the homosexual community.

My immediate explanation was that homosexuality was a spiritual dead end. There were passages in the Bible (most notably Romans 1:26-28) which seemed to support this impression. But I also knew that this did not sit well with the entire New Testament message of love and forgiveness. Jesus himself made no mention of homosexuality when he listed the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Certainly homosexuality existed in those cities, and it was definitely considered to be wrong. But there was a deeper problem, which Jesus apparently saw as the "root" of all the other evils that existed in Sodom and Gomorrah. He said that good respectable people were just too damned busy buying and selling, planting and building, getting married and getting their children married, to deal with the real spiritual needs of those two cities.

We as a community have long preached against the greed of Sodom and the greed in today's world. But getting married? What could be so wrong with that? Isn't that precisely what we should be encouraging homosexuals to do? Wouldn't a successful heterosexual marriage be the ultimate proof that a homosexual had reformed?

I started with a closer look at homosexuality itself. There are people today who will try anything sexual, just for the thrill of being different; but there seems to be growing evidence for the argument that at least a tendency toward homosexuality is genetically programmed into some people more than others. I do not pretend to understand all of the intricacies of the problem, but I believe in seriously considering all of the evidence, even if some of it challenges some of our most strongly held beliefs. Could it be that we need to take a more sympathetic approach toward homosexuality?

For many years epilepsy was regarded as demon-possession, and some very cruel attempts were made to drive the demons out of epileptics. Scientific research has thrown serious doubts on the wisdom of the old approach, and there would be very few Christians today who would still try to cure epilepsy through exorcisms. It doesn't mean that there are not genuine cases of demon possession, nor does it mean that prayer has no place in the treatment of epilepsy. But it does mean that prayer should not exclude humble consideration of other explanations and other avenues of cure as well. So back to the subject of homosexuality...

Getting married and getting your children married seemed to be at least part of the cause of the problems in Sodom, according to Jesus. Why was this? The answer came to us quite unexpectedly when we were trying to formulate our understanding of the Virgin Army mentioned in Revelation 14. (See also The Virgin Army.) Here were 144,000 people who had been called to remain celibate for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. It went along with Jesus' command to forsake wives and children for his sake (Luke 14:26) and it went along with Paul's instruction that even those who are married should (at least at times) be as though they were not married, for the sake of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 7:29)

About this time, Ron (not his real name), a practising homosexual, started to help us as a volunteer in India. We were in a quandary as to how closely we wanted to be associated with him. Although we disagreed with his lifestyle, he seemed to be sincerely interested in following God. We attempted to discuss homosexuality with him (despite our total failure to find common ground with homosexuals in the past), and surprisingly, our new emphasis on celibacy appealed to him. We were not condemning him for his apparently natural attraction to men, but we were asking him to identify with our own commitment to celibacy. (See Wanking, the Last Taboo for a fuller picture; we do not forbid masturbation as an alternative.)

Ron responded favourably, and even asked to become a member. He has been a member of our community for six months now (as of October, '99) and is fitting in quite well. Both Ron and ourselves are continuing to learn new things each day, as we seek to unravel the mysteries of homosexuality and its relation to Christianity. We do not want to say too much just yet. Maybe in a year or two we will be more confident about sharing further observations.

For now, however, we are pleased to announce that Ron has (like the rest of our singles) remained celibate while with us. He said that he was greatly encouraged by the fact that we were not asking him to do something that we were not willing to do ourselves.

The rest of us had to deal with our own homophobia as well. We had long practised hugging one another before going to bed, when coming and going, etc., and most of our men felt confident about hugging female members of the community, because we felt in control of the situation. We also knew that hugging brothers could fill an important emotional need. But the thought of another brother possibly attaching a sexual connotation to those hugs was a bit daunting at first. Nevertheless, Ron responded to the hugs, and the rest of us started appreciating the need to develop this tender side of our personality more, without fearing the consequences. In fact, the consequences were very encouraging. It is particularly significant that Ron says that he now questions whether he ever was a homosexual. It seems that he himself cannot fully appreciate how dramatic (and how unique) the change has been in his own sexual orientation.

With regard to sexual activity, our attempt at celibacy was, to Ron, a great source of encouragement. This is because it was not a simple case of heterosexuals looking down their noses at homosexuals, and saying that only heteros could know what it was to experience sex.

Because of our belief that masturbation is not a sin, we were not asking for something that was a physical impossibility; and because we were all in it together, Ron did not have to feel like a second-class member of our community. In fact, if anything, we believe that a celibate homosexual could be more entitled to think of a married heterosexual as being spiritually inferior!

We are praying that this approach may prove to be acceptable to other sincere homosexuals in the years ahead.

(See also I Will Have Mercy.)

Register or log in to take the quiz for this article

Pin It
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account