If God Hates Homosexuality, Why Won’t He Deliver Me from It? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

After a summer vacation, the Questions That Haunt Christianity series is back. Readers pose questions – you can submit your questions here – I post the the question on Tuesday, readers comment throughout the week, and I take my crack at an answer on Friday. Nothing I’ve undertaken in my career has so sharpened my skills as a practical theologian, so I’m excited (and daunted) by a new season of QTH.

To start the new season of QTH, we’ve got a brief, but anguished and personal question, from William:

If God hates homosexuality so much, then why won’t He deliver me from it?

You respond in the comments. I’ll respond on Friday. See all of the past questions and answers here.

  • Neutron Salad

    God doesn’t hate homosexuality. The people who wrote Leviticus did. Ignore them.

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      If I shared that view then I wouldn’t have asked the question at all, lol ;^)

      • Neutron Salad

        There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Homer tries to get a free can of soda by sliding his hand up into a vending machine. It gets stuck, so they call a paramedic who, as he fires up the circular saw to cut off Homer’s arm asks Homer, “You’re not just holding onto the can, are you?” Homer groans, lets go of the can, and his arm slides right out.

        Why is it that you insist that Levitcus is God speaking to you? Your problem isn’t God, it’s the words others and now you are putting into God’s mouth!

        Let go of the can, Homer!

        • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

          :^)

  • Eric English

    I think language is important for this question. Unfortunately, I think that question is loaded with imprecise language because it makes two assumptions I am not sure we can make. I don’t think God hates anybody, and I also don’t think “he made” him that way. Perhaps, what he means is: “if homosexuality is such and egregious offense, then why does it seem natural for me to have these feelings (apart from him “choosing” these feelings)?”

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      Eric,

      First, the question is aimed at homosexuality — homosexual orientation — and not at any homosexual person in particular. So the comment “I don’t think God hates anybody” is disconnected. Moreover, Scripture insists that God actually does hate some people (cf. Ps. 5:5; 7:11; 11:5).

      Second, I agree that God did not “make me that way,” nor does He make anyone in any other way, whatever one’s particular “way” might be.

      Third, no, I’m not really aiming at the notion of why homosexual attraction seems natural to me at all. I, in simplistic terms, am asking why, if God views homosexual sex to be an abomination, does He not answer my prayer in “delivering” me from it. To me, it seems as though God would be all too eager to “deliver” me from such an “abominable” attraction — much in the same way that I’ve heard other Christians testify to God “delivering” them from alcohol or drugs, etc.

      • Craig

        Is it possible for the act to be abominable, but the temptation/inclination to so act not be abominable?

        To be tempted to do X seems to require that one feel inclined to do X (one isn’t tempted to do something that one has absolutely no inclination to do). If Jesus was truly tempted (to sin), then it seems we would have to say either that Jesus had an abominable inclination or that an inclination to do that which is abominable is not, of itself, necessarily abominable. What should we say?

        • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

          That’s very good!

          • Craig

            William, I’d like to follow up on the line of thought here, especially to note what I think will be the limited value of my previous remarks.

            Even though some inclinations to do that which is abominable aren’t of themselves abominable, it seems to me that some inclinations can be, of themselves, abominable.

            Here’s how I would explain what is going on. An inclination to act is an inclination to act-under-a-description. A single act, moreover, can fall under multiple distinct descriptions. Therefore, the inclination to eat a delicious-looking piece of fruit and the inclination to disobey God can be different inclinations to do one and the same sinful act (eating the forbidden fruit). However, the second inclination may be abominable but the first not.

            I’m trying to get at something of significance here. If homosexual orientation is anything like my own sexual orientation, I think it would be extremely difficult and frustrating to live with a commitment never to satisfy it on account of what I believe to be the commands of God. But suppose I thought that the inclinations that constituted my sexual orientation were themselves abominable (like the second inclination mentioned above). This would lead me to self-loathing, continual shame and guilt, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself thinking often of suicide.

            Suppose, on the other hand, that non-sinful inclinations comprised my sexual orientation. That is, suppose that homosexual inclinations are like inclinations to eat a delicious looking piece of fruit. They would be inclinations to do that which is not of itself sinful or abominable. Homosexual acts, like fruit-eating, could only be incidentally sinful–sinful, perhaps, merely because God happened to have made certain rules (likewise, instead of commanding Adam to not eat the fruit, God might just as well have commanded him not to touch a certain section of green and velvety moss). But while this might comfort me in certain ways about my own sexual orientation, it would be extremely frustrating in a new way: the arbitrariness of the rule that so deeply affects my life would cause me to question the justice of it. The command not to satisfy one’s sexual orientation is quite a bit different from the command not to eat a particular piece of fruit in a world full of delicious non-forbidden fruits.

      • Eric English

        William…you did use the word “me” in the question (I am assuming here that you are the William that wrote the question), which implies the “personal” part of which I was addressing.

        I would be more interested if you have anything other than psalms since those tend to exercise an abundance of creative license and act more consistent within their intended literary genre (poetry) than those texts that tend to be more propositional in nature.

        I am mostly interested in your last response. That clarification was very helpful. My humble thoughts:

        (Preface: I have no idea what your struggle is like. Though I certainly have my own, I don’t want to pretend they are anything like yours.)

        First, I think the idea of being “delivered” is highly sensationalized in the Church. Don’t get me wrong I do think God acts this way, but I do not think he acts this way to the extent that others think he does. However, I think the opposite is also true. There are many more people who pray as you do and get the same “result” as you do.

        Second, I don’t think God has an eagerness to him. If God wanted to change something he would have just done it to begin with.

        I don’t doubt your perseverance, but I would like to make a suggestion. I know there are times where I have prayed to the point of weeping, and saw no fruit. But my experiences of prayer within the confines of utter solitude are quite different. I would suggest you find your own sacred space whether that be somewhere at your home, or a retreat center. I can’t explain why, but prayer is a different act when its done that way.

        I am in hopes this response comes across as helpful and not combative; for that is its purpose.

        • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

          Eric,

          Your response was very well received, rest assured!

  • davehuth

    There are things that God also doesn’t know. God loves you.

  • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

    Since I’m the one who asked the question, I’ll jump right in.

    I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist environment which, no doubt, shaped many of my views — particularly my views of Scripture. I do not pit Paul or any other author of Scripture against God’s views on any matter (as noted in my post today). So, I cannot merely suggest that Paul was against homosexual relationships but God is okay with them.

    One could easily enough answer my question thusly: The reason God does not “deliver” you from homosexual attraction is because He does not care one iota about your homosexual attraction. Another could answer: God simply does not work like that. Even heterosexual men struggle at times with lust toward women to whom they are not married, and God does not “deliver” them from such.

    Some conservatives insist that same-sex sexual activity is not the only issue that God finds sinful: He also condemns the mere attraction. If so, and I have prayed that He would “deliver” me from it, then why hasn’t He? Why won’t He? Why is this prayer not answered in the affirmative? This issue causes great emotional and psychological (and, most likely, spiritual) anxiety in many same-sex oriented individuals, myself included.

    • Alex Guenser

      This made me think of another question about adultery – if “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” does that mean looking at someone they are attracted to? Or is lustfully something different than attraction?

      If God condemns the attraction, does God condemn the attraction to other women? So that if someone finds a mate and marries them, to not sin they will no longer be attracted to other women at all?

      I think it’s possible to not look at other women lustfully, but not possible not to be attracted to other women, and I think there is a difference. And I think it’s the same difference for homosexuals, that there is a difference between lust and attraction. And I also think it’s not sin to be attracted to anyone, male or female, whether you are male or female. And I don’t agree that attraction itself is a sin – lust is. I definitely know this causes anxiety in many homosexuals, but I doubt this causes anxiety in heterosexuals! Maybe it would be if people were so adamant that straight people would go to hell for simply being attracted to more than one woman!

      • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

        Excellent, Alex! Really, that was just plain ‘ol great stuff right there!

      • Craig

        I wonder if some “attractions” aren’t abominable/sinful/vile/perverse. Suppose that what I’m attracted to is not simply men, or the company of men, but rather the sexually inappropriate companionship of men (alternatively, replace “men” with “children”). Wouldn’t this “attraction” itself be perverse? If so, then why should William not think that homosexual attraction is perverse/abominable?

        • Alex Guenser

          Interesting, sounds like a very similar question to the one I posed where the man who looks lustfully at a woman might feel a desire for “sexually inappropriate companship!”

          And still at root is if the difference between attraction to the person, and attraction to sexually inappropriate courtship is a distinguishable difference?

          And then we’d ask, if God hates this attraction sexually inappropriate companionship of women or men or children, then why won’t He deliver me from it?

          Maybe we aren’t supposed to be delivered from it, and He won’t. He may be keeping people with their attractions, not turning them into normal straight laced people, and have them find their own constructive healthy relationships?

          • Craig

            I suspect that some (William perhaps included) would draw a distinction between homosexual sexual attraction and heterosexual sexual attraction towards persons other than one’s spouse. For some, heterosexual sexual attraction to your neighbor’s wife might be like one’s attraction to eating a tasty piece of fruit that, as it happens, belongs to your neighbor who is unwilling to have it shared. The attraction itself isn’t perverse (at least if you aren’t attracted to eating that piece of fruit because it is forbidden to you). This contrasts, for example, with the perverse attraction to beating your innocent neighbor to death with the piece of fruit.

            Perhaps an important difference is that acting on the latter sort of attraction (to beating an innocent neighbor with fruit) isn’t just incidentally wrong. Similarly, one might think that acting on one’s heterosexual sexual attraction to the neighbor’s wife is just incidentally wrong–wrong because the woman happens to be someone else’s wife. The same person might think, however, that acting on homosexual sexual attraction is necessarily wrong. As such, the homosexual sexual attraction might itself be perverse. (I should state here that I don’t share the assumption that acting on homosexual sexual attraction is necessarily wrong.)

            • Craig

              But what’s wrong about (merely) thinking lustfully about your neighbor’s wife then? This is quite a bit different, it seems to me, than thinking lustfully about your neighbor’s plums. Here, I suspect, one difference is the way in which the wife is a person and not a piece of fruit. Thinking lustfully about her of itself can damage your relationship to her, and it degrades her in a way that no piece of fruit can be similarly degraded.

            • Alex Guenser

              If he thinks that, it does explain his question. If he thinks that homosexual attraction is like attraction to murdering your neighbor with fruit, then why doesn’t God help him out? Why doesn’t he repent for his thoughts, try to be a good person, but want to murder someone with fruit rather than eat their fruit?

              And then, if God hates murdering people with fruits, why doesn’t He help them? If anything is possible, why doesn’t he help replace the desire to murder people with fruit with the desire to eat fruit, like normal people have?

              I think I’m agreeing that it doesn’t make sense. That God really would help someone out who really didn’t want to murder someone, if it’s what God and the person both wanted and both aimed for. So I think if that’s not happening, then it just doesn’t make sense that homosexual attraction is like a murderous impulse – and that it’s much more like heterosexual attraction. And in the same way, you can let yourself degrade someone and damage your relationship, or you can have responsible and respectful relationships.

              Thanks for the discussion!

      • Andrew Dowling

        “I think it’s possible to not look at other women lustfully”

        Evolutionary biology declares you wrong.

        • Alex Guenser

          I was trying to be quite clear about asking if a distinction between lust and attraction exists. Of course, evolutionary biology says we all have an attraction – but does looking lustfully mean something more than that?

          • Sharla Hulsey

            I think it does. Attraction is natural and can’t necessarily be helped. Lust has an element of objectification, treating another human being not lovingly but as a thing to be possessed or used. The one is natural and inevitable, but the other can and should be avoided.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

          That’s nonsense and a totally nonscientific statement.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      God simply does not work like that. Even heterosexual men struggle at times with lust toward women to whom they are not married, and God does not “deliver” them from such.

      But on that traditional view, God provides a non-sinful outlet for sexual attraction and activity. For a gay person with no attraction to the opposite sex, there is no outlet at all, only celibacy.

      • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

        So true . . .

        • Sharla Hulsey

          If so, then maybe the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 can be called into play. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”

          Not to say that God made you gay as a test of how well you can resist sin, but that just as there is the outlet of committed, monogamous relationship for straight couples, to allow them to avoid the sin of promiscuity, perhaps God means for there to be a similar outlet–monogamous commitment, not lifelong celibacy–for gay people as well.

          It’s very difficult to figure out what God’s will is when the Bible doesn’t speak clearly. Regardless of what some voices within Christianity say, the Bible doesn’t speak clearly with regard to homosexuality, particularly with regard to committed relationships between two people of the same gender. There ARE things that the Bible speaks fairly clearly about (such as the expectation that we are to care for the poorest and most vulnerable people among us); but this just isn’t one of them.

          In some Christian traditions, we’re taught to rely on Scripture alone as our guide to faithful living. In others Scripture is but one element that informs our faith, alongside (although perhaps weighted more heavily) tradition, reason and, yes, experience. Six passages in the Bible appear to say that homosexual behavior is sinful. Tradition may go along with that. Yet your reason and your experience say that you have this orientation and you didn’t choose it. So to come up with an understanding of what it means for you to live a faithful life as a gay man and (if you choose) a Christian, you have to bring all four to bear.

          And above all, when it’s all said and done, there are WAY more texts calling us to love one another than there are saying that being gay is a sin. Not only that, but we have determined that some of the stuff in the Law found in the Hebrew Scriptures is no longer operative for us. For instance, we no longer execute our children for backtalking us, we wear mixed-fiber clothing, and we eat bacon, cheeseburgers, and shellfish. If we can safely determine that those commandments don’t need to be obeyed, then why do we hold so tightly to another commandment from the same part of the Bible as “God’s Unchanging Word for All Time”?

          • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

            I’ve asked this question before, even on my blog: But what if you’re wrong? What if I believe what you think, form a same-sex partnership, and then go to hell?

            I know how that sounds — really, I do. All kinds of images are formed to the effect that God is a terrible and unmerciful being, so forth and so on. Still, what if?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

              Because, William, unless you’re Catholic, you probably shouldn’t believe that sins committed on this Earth are what determines a person’s eternal destiny.

              • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

                I wish you knew the level of butterflies in my stomach right now: a mixture of excitement and fear — excitement that you just may be right, and fear . . . well, you know.

            • Alex Guenser

              Is “what if you’re wrong” any different to ask here than in anything else? What if you’re wrong about marrying someone of a different faith? What if you’re wrong about not marrying your rapist? What if you’re wrong about not having kids and not going forth and multiplying?

              Many people can ask themselves those questions, and I personally believe everyone will find themselves on one side or the other of those “what if you’re wrong” questions at one time or another.

              I think the more pertinent question is, are you called to have doubt, or to have faith? Which should be leading you? Should you tell God I had faith in you and in doing what I believed you called in me, or I had doubt in what you called for me? That’s simply my perspective in similar matters, of course!

            • Sharla Hulsey

              Imagine you are standing face to face with Jesus–the Jesus you know from the Gospels and from your personal relationship–as you are, knowing that you have (like all of us) done the best you can but have made some mistakes, and some of them are pretty big. What does Jesus say to you? How does Jesus treat you?

              Many Christians believe that Jesus is the best revelation we have of what God is like. “If you know me, you know the Father,” he said in the Fourth Gospel. So if you can picture Jesus welcoming and loving you, as you are, sexuality and mistakes and loves and hopes and everything of a piece, then it’s safe to assume God will do likewise.

              Above all, if you’ve searched the Scriptures and prayed and discussed a matter with other Christians, and it’s decision time, if the way forward isn’t totally clear, err on the side of love–love for God, for your neighbor, AND for yourself. And remember that “perfect love casts out fear.” I think the “perfect love” the apostle refers to here is God’s love. You have that; God loves you. Period. Therefore, I don’t think you need to live in fear of “what if you’re wrong?”

  • Jake Litteral

    God does not intervene and suspend the laws of nature. He does not unilaterally affect anything; he is behooved to “act” in accordance with the laws of nature. So, in a direct sense, he doesn’t deliver anyone from anything.

  • Craig

    Most readers will reject the question’s “if”-clause. But when I think of replacing “homosexuality” with something else which God more certainly hates, I wonder what to put here. Does God hate mere inclinations to pedophilia, greed, violence etc? Does God hate cancer? Do all such questions collapse into the old question of why God allows evil?

  • Sharla Hulsey

    The Scriptures that are used to claim that “God hates homosexuality” probably aren’t about the homosexual orientation as we understand it today, nor are they about committed intimate relationships between two people of the same gender. My understanding is that those texts are probably about unequal relationships (such as pederasty) and prostitution, especially prostitution as part of religious rituals. Thus they don’t really have a lot to say about homosexuality as we understand it. We know what the ancients probably didn’t (well, some did, I’m sure, but no one admitted it): sexual orientation and gender identity are not consciously chosen.

    People who will claim that “God hates” homosexuality or homosexual people like to throw around that “abomination” term from Leviticus. It’s a very strong and horrible word in English. But the original Hebrew word means something more like “We don’t do that.” In other words, other nations and other ethnic groups may engage in homosexual ritual prostitution/eat shellfish/whatever else Leviticus labels “abomination,” but we don’t. The laws in the Hebrew Scriptures are often concerned more with distinguishing the Israelites from the neighboring peoples who engaged in what they thought were offensive religious practices and worshiped deities other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    All this is to say that God made you the way you are; God does NOT hate you; you are created in God’s image and redeemed through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, just like every other human being. Your sexuality is but one part of who you are, but every part of you is beloved of God. I understand that if you had it drilled into you throughout your life that these things are not the case for you (no doubt your church taught those things without awareness that there might have been LGBT people listening and taking those teachings tragically to heart); but you need to figure out a way to take hold of the assurance that God does not hate you, and the reason God does not change your sexual orientation is because there’s nothing wrong with it.

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      Sharla,

      That was much appreciated. I wonder, though, at Paul’s use of certain words in Romans 1:26-28: “degrading passions”; “shameless acts”; “God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done” (NRSV). I get the whole notion of pederasty, temple prostitution, etc.; I think the Sodom and Gomorrah judgment had nothing to do with homosexuality whatsoever, but of violence. But why the description of homosexual sex in these terms? (But, of course, I’m also assuming that Paul’s words are how God feels on the matter. That perspective is paramount.)

      • Sharla Hulsey

        Well, again, I don’t know that Paul understood homosexuality as an orientation, nor did he, most likely, have any experience with committed homosexual relationships. He likely was thinking about the practices of those who engaged in what he saw as idolatry. That seems to be indicated by the context of the passage you reference here.

        But what’s also important to notice is that this “unnatural” homosexual behavior (more on that presently) is but one of a whole list of sinful behaviors Paul mentions here as the consequences of idolatry. He also speaks of (among other things) covetousness, malice, envy, gossip–which, in my mind, are far more dangerous than someone being gay and having a lifelong, loving relationship with a partner of the same gender. Yet homosexual acts get a lot more airplay when someone is quoting from Romans 1. It could be that “Lord, I thank you that I’m not like that tax collector over there” mentality that is operative in those cases.

        Now, as to Paul’s use of the idea of “unnatural”: As I noted, Paul likely didn’t know anything about sexual orientation, so he probably assumed that the only “natural,” innate way to be was heterosexual. We know differently now. (This is one reason we have to filter what the Bible says on a lot of subjects through the lens of modern science–not to say that the Bible doesn’t contain the Word of God, but when the Bible assumes a particular scientific point of view, I think we can safely draw what God says from those texts apart from scientific understandings that have been disproven. Paul may well have understood the world as flat and existing beneath a dome called “firmament” that separated the waters above from the waters below, but we don’t have to assume that understanding is also God’s understanding, do we?)

        What I was intending to say, before I so rudely interrupted myself, was that if Paul had known that some people have–maybe inborn, maybe developed in some other way, but certainly not chosen–a homosexual orientation, he might have modified what he said here. If he had known about homosexual orientation perhaps he might have been equally condemning of gay people who turned away from what was “natural” for them. But that’s conjecture, and we can’t really go beyond guessing.

        And even more important for the Romans 1 text is what it says in Romans 2:1: “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” What Paul is doing in this first part of Romans is making the case that all people are sinners and are thus in need of a Savior. He is not giving commandments for all time. He is not saying, “Thou shalt not be gay.” He is saying, we’re all sinners, but through faith in Jesus Christ we are all justified by God’s grace. (He gets to that point in 3:21-26, and reiterates it later as well.)

        A subject for another day might be that there’s some textual evidence that it’s not “through faith IN Jesus Christ” that we are saved but “through the faith (or faithfulness) OF Jesus Christ.” That’s a reading that I find compelling, especially in light of the Christ-hymn in Philippians 2.

        I don’t know if I’m getting too long-winded for Tony’s purposes here; if it’s more appropriate to continue in private messages I’m happy to do that.

        • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

          Thank you, Sharla, for not being brief. I think that, because of the complexity of this subject, being brief may actually hinder the conversation.

          • Sharla Hulsey

            Thanks. I do have a tendency to be windy… someone once told me that a preacher never uses one word when six will do, and I’m sometimes living proof of that…

            • Jacob Crawford

              William, thank you for posing this question … and Sharla, thank you for your responses. This struggle … this wrestling back and forth between antiquity, culture and present knowledge is something I do on a daily basis. The son of a minister, I have been deeply conflicted for much of my life on this issue. Although the struggle has lessened in recent years, it is still a struggle. Trying to educate my family by living my life as a living testament to who I am in Christ as a gay man … sometimes I feel it simply isn’t adequate enough or compelling enough of an argument against the traditionalist view of the church.

              • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

                Wow . . . we could talk for days, hahaha!

                • Jacob Crawford

                  Ha! Yes sir, I am positive that we could!

    • RollieB

      “…take hold of the assurance that God does not hate you, and the reason God does not change your sexual orientation is because there’s nothing wrong with it.”

      Spot on!!

    • PAULA K. SCHMIDT

      reminds me of Anthropology 101 where we learned that things which were “bad” for the continuation of a society became “taboos”–merely because when societies were smaller a same sex trend could destroy a whole village by not reproducing…

      • Sharla Hulsey

        Indeed, and I think a lot of the sexual rules in the Hebrew Bible (if they weren’t about distinguishing Israelite identity from that of the surrounding peoples) did have to do with making sure they lived the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply.” If it didn’t result in children when children were needed to grow the nation, it was not to be done. That puts such commandments thoroughly in a context that is not our own, and should lead us to question whether they are God’s Law for All Time, or just God’s commandments to that particular people at that particular time.

        • RelapsedCatholic

          When it comes to be fruitful and multiply we seem to have accomplished at mission.

  • Michael Toy

    My first thiught was, as a theological conundrum, I think this question isn’t that useful, it sounds a bit like “if god had meant man to fly he would have given him wings” it is ridiculous to assume that the way things are is the perfect expression of God’s hopes for our relationship with creator and creation.

    However, I am coming around to the idea that it really is an awesome and haunting question for that very reason. The asker of the question is not really that interested in the relationships between metaphysics and theodicy. The asker of the question is someone who is in pain. This then is real theology, thinking about God which we judge good or bad, not by how well the arguments are structured, but how well our response echoes and dances with the unexplainable and unstoppable love of Jesus.

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      Michael,

      Yes, the question is asked through the context of pain, you are correct.

  • CAB

    It strikes me that we have a flawed warrant in this argument: “God delivers people from things he hates.” This strikes me as totally untrue. I think God hates cancer, but he doesn’t heal everyone from it. God hates infidelity, but married people tend to face temptation to adultery, porn, etc. If God would remove homosexual desire from people merely because he does not desire for that activity to be enacted, he would be providing more deliverance than he does in almost any other case. I don’t mean this critique as word of harshness to those desiring to be rid of these feelings, just pointing out I find it to be a logical misstep.

    • Lausten North

      Agreed CAB. To William I would say that God does not hate
      homosexuality at all and I see nothing wrong with exploring his understanding of God to determine if that is true. I hope Tony skips that part of the question and speaks to the deliverance part. It is the larger issue, the truly haunting part.

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      CAB,

      That was probably the best response yet. Thank you for it.

  • S_i_m_o_n

    His grace is sufficient

  • Thursday1

    Isn’t this question just a subset of the problem of evil?

  • Ric Shewell

    Will, I think you hit on an important issue of biblical authority. I’m not sure where you are on whether or not the Bible is the inspired verbatim words of God and therefore infallible and inerrant. But I think that might be the hang up on issues like this. When Martin Luther exposed that the papacy was not sufficient for authority in the Christian life, he quickly said Scripture alone is. That was a good shift in that time, but we are finding out that perhaps Scripture alone is not sufficient for what the Christian must face in life. Take issues of slavery and divorce. Both testaments condone slavery as regular practice and even forbids slaves to rebel. Many thought we were acting against God’s will and word when fought to free slaves. Divorce is expressly prohibited by the words of Christ in our Gospels, but we can all understand situations beyond infidelity where divorce is the best option. These two big issue, in my opinion, in recent years has exposed Scripture alone as insufficient for all authority. We need the Bible, but we also need more. And God has been good and given us more. God has given us each other (the church) to share the journey and each others burdens, and God has given us his Spirit, to comfort, cheer, guide, and express to God when we cannot ourselves. I hope this helps. It might not. I agree with many people here in saying that God does not hate homosexuality. When we interpret those few verses in light of the whole of Scripture and how the Spirit is speaking to and through the churches, I think it is a flawed conclusion to say that God hates it.

  • RelapsedCatholic

    The Bible is many things; many many wonderful things. What it is not is the direct word of God. It is the collected history of God’s people and their encounters with divinity. It is not the direct word of God handed down on golden plates. Just because the writers of the Bible had an imperfect understanding of homosexuality does not mean we are obliged to hold to their prejudices. Our understanding of the Bible has changed and changed drastically.

    One great instance of this was slavery. Search the Bible for an unequivocal repudiation of slavery and you will come up empty. I do not mean to downplay the wisdom or validity of the Gospels. What IS said about slavery was incredibly revolutionary, and would have destroyed slavery as it was known had it not been so completely ignored. But most Christians now would feel completely at ease condemning slavery in all its forms without equivocation or exception. Sometimes a change in understanding is a deep improvement in justice. The Christian church becoming more accepting, affirming, and inclusive of LGBTQ Christians is another improvement

    Another is evolution. While the story of genesis contains great poetry and truth, it is short on scientific facts. Evolution perhaps more than any other discovery has illuminated the act of creation itself. In short it has turned creation from an event into an on-going process. The advances in science have had the simultaneously decreased the importance of the Bible as a history or science book, and increased its importance as a moral an ethical guide. As MLK once noted, ‘We have guided missiles and mis-guided men.’ The Bible is also directly silent on fertility treatments, stem cell research, and genetic engineering. It is also silent about airplanes. Because just like homosexual orientation nobody has a clue what any of these things were.

    Even when it comes to something as basic as marriage. Marriage itself did not become a sacrament until the period 700-1000AD. The idea that a woman could choose whom she married, or that a marriage might be based on love was unthinkable until recently. Marriage in the time of Jesus was different than in the time of Moses. Our understanding has changed, and in most cases, improved. Same sex marriage is just another evolution in our institution of marriage. Granted it is a departure from previous understanding,, but I would argue it is closer to Genesis 2 than any other type of marriage mentioned and condoned within the Bible.

    In short, homosexuality is not taken away from you by God because like all his other gifts it was given to you out of love. It has simply (and tragically) taken his church far too long to understand this truth.

  • Dustin Ryman

    How about “God hates those who say God hates homosexuals.”

  • RollieB

    The problem I’m having with this discussion is the starting point. Many start with the assumption that same-sex attraction is bad, sinful, evil – comparing it to a disease. I do not believe that at all. If “God is Love” how can loving another person be evil? Those of us who see same-sex attraction as part of the norm start from a different place – that love is love and to be upheld as good.

  • Connie

    Hey guys, I am gay and this discusion is hurtful.. If you weren’t God, could it be possible that “we” are born this way?

    • http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/ William Watson Birch

      I’m gay as well, but this discussion is benefiting me greatly. Why is this hurtful to you?

    • RollieB

      Sorry, Connie, that this discussion is hurtful to you. I get it. Who wants more abuse at the hands of the “religious.” Not all religious folks think same-gender attraction is “sinful.” I happen to believe it’s normal. I’m a believer in a creator all who loves all, you included, unconditionally!

  • R Vogel

    It is a difficult question to answer in the current formulation since many of us take issue with the premise ‘G*d hates homosexuality,’ which makes it hard to get to the much more interesting part of the question, why won’t G*d deliver me from it. If you take a literalist view of the bible, there is little way forward. Perhaps if it was excised of content, and asked ‘If G*d hates X so much, why won’t he deliver me from the desire to do X’ then we could get to second half since I assume all of us have an X of one sort of the other. Or is the question really about whether or not we believe G*d hates homosexuality?

  • http://www.ryanpeterwrites.com/ Ryan Peter

    As a man who battled with porn and lust of a particular kind for ten years, I can say that there are a few things I learned during that process which I think can help or encourage, at the very least, with this sort of question.

    1. God does not heal everyone instantly from everything, whether it be a sinful addiction or a disease. We live in a McDonald’s culture where we expect healing to be instant, and if it isn’t, we question its validity, whether God exists, or whether we think God really cares about the struggle, or whether we’re right about how we define what’s sin and what isn’t. Those questions are perfectly normal and part of our wrestling over the matter, so we needn’t feel guilty about the questions! However, if we look over Christian history and the testimony of many people, God does not always deliver instantly.

    2. God works in relationship with us. For some people, an instant deliverance is what is needed to get them to draw closer to God. For others, an instant deliverance will actually do more harm than good. We think we know which one will portray God’s goodness to us in a better light (we usually believe that instant deliverance will make us see God as more good) but, as it turns out, God is usually more right about what’s better for our relationship and our faith than we do.

    3. Sin addiction is usually an issue of faith, not willpower, ability, or ‘stopping’ whatever it is we struggle with. So how do we encourage our faith? Only by the Holy Spirit.

    4. We believe in the wrong promises. My deliverance actually came when I accepted John Wesley’s interpretation of ‘sanctification’ and a few things that came with that idea – that God has given us promises that he will, one day, sanctify us completely, if we continue to seek him and his presence. A few practical things came with this out of the blue.

    One, I realised that if God indeed promises that he will bring “holiness to completion” (2 Corinthians 7) and that all his promises around these lines all pointed towards a need to live in the Spirit to do it (as Romans 5 – 8 indicated) then I needed to stop the whole idea of ‘stopping’ and rather approach it from an angle of ‘starting’ – in other words, finding ways where I could live in the Spirit, where I could ‘start’ a new lifestyle which would gradually, over time, replace the old one.

    Because these promises also lined up with the idea of ‘maturing’ (Ephesians 4) and ‘growing’ into perfect love, it began to make sense that this is something that takes place over time and only happens with consistency and practice. The more you get yourself into a position to be ‘baptised’ by the Spirit, the more that baptism becomes permanent (a picture of going in the water and out, as opposed to staying in the water). Think of it like free diving – the more guys do it, the longer they can stay in the water. Or think of any task – the more we do it, the more natural it becomes.

    Two, with this understanding, I realised that a few practical things needed to happen. I started making sacrifices in my life and looking at what some of the monks used to do, which is rather a difficult thing to navigate without feeling guilty! (The idea of life in the Spirit helped me to not worry about the guilt or adopting techniques, but look for the single pattern that runs through all their stories – a trust in God’s Spirit to do it).

    At the fear of making this sound simplistic, a simple act of waking up at 4:30 every morning to pray and speak to God (I used the Common Book of Prayer and the Scriptures to prevent me from falling asleep, and I asked the Spirit to help me do this) brought breakthrough in my life. Not because of the getting up, but because I allowed the Holy Spirit to actually, practically, work personally in my life. I stopped running to the books, the how-to’s, the clever blogs, and all the ideas and philosophies and interpretations of the Bible and all that and so forth. I decided God needed to deal with me himself and I would have it no other way.

    To summarise: God does deliver, but only by His Spirit, not by anything else, and so we have to walk and live in His Spirit as Paul so encourages us to do in the book of Romans. Note also how Romans speaks of us HAVING (past tense) died to sin and being made to live for righteousness, so God has given us His Spirit and therefore given us the ability to overcome, if we continue to walk in that Spirit. (Romans 7 is in historical-present tense, if you read it…).

    5. God will never reject you and take away what he has given you (a saving relationship with him) but any sin can take away what he wants to give you (sweeter fellowship with Him; more life and eternal life; a joyous, holy life). He has given us ‘everything for life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3).

    6. If we turn away our focus from deliverance and healing, and turn it towards only pursuing God and forgetting everything else, counting everything else as rubbish, counting even the desire to be free as rubbish compared with knowing God personally, ourselves, deliverance will come. That’s certainly been my experience! It may not be instant, it may take 30, 40 years, but when you finally get to the end of the battle, the battle makes sense, His goodness is sweeter, and the reasons why it all needed to be such a struggle begins to make sense. In the end, your faith has been refined and in one sense comes to a maturity (I wouldn’t say I’m completely mature in faith – don’t read that into what I’m saying!)

    That’s my story. Maybe it helps. Maybe it doesn’t. But my hope is it, at the very least, it encourages.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    Because God doesn’t hate it.

  • Francois Neethling

    What is Tony’s belief on being gay?

  • lisa62

    I have been reading these comments and would like to add a few things. God hates sin and homosexuality is a sin
    The devil on the other hand will do anything in his power to keep you where you at
    If you are a believer then you also need to know that nothing is impossible with God
    and God works for the good of those who love
    him. We all fall short of
    the glory of God but God
    can do all things you
    need to ask yourself do
    you want to continue
    this lifestyle or not.

    Have you repented? Sometimes people
    expect God to be a
    genie in a bottle and
    other times they dont
    want to hear what God
    has to say but want to
    continue on their way
    and for those that think
    that it is okay you are
    seriously mistaken
    God does love us all but
    he hates the sin and
    when you sin you are
    separating yourself
    from God. If you are a
    believer and by that
    have asked the Lord
    Jesus into your life not
    just believe that he
    existed you need to ask
    God to help you through
    this I would also get
    some prayer ministry. You know that there are demonic powers at work all the time to deceive every human being and their aim is to kill steal and destroy and to distort Gods truth
    People dont like hearing the truth but the truth will set you free
    I know that if you truly repent and ask God to help you then God is true to his word and whatever comes against you just keep confessing Gods word dont let anyone tell you otherwise. People have distorted Gods word and omit what they dont want to hear. Believe just believe and trust in the Lord Jesus you know sometimes things dont happen overnight because God is trying to teach you something in the process , sometimes he uses a situation to draw you closer to him. May God bless you and I pray as you are on this journey in knowing him and getting the answers ro your prayers that he leads you into all his truth

  • Mark Camacho

    I first would like to start by sweeping aside all the nonsense that the “what the Bible REALLY meant was…” (Gen. 3:1) speeches here try to declare, namely that the Bible is soft on this issue or is addressing cult prostitution or any other such thing. Luke Timothy Johnson, estranged Catholic theologian and ardent anti-Biblical supporter of homosexuality, before he goes on dismiss the Bible as a product of human understanding, says: “I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? ”

    What are we to do, Luke, old boy? Obey Him. (Proverbs 9:10)

    God is sovereign. And while man may try to charge Him with unfairness or carelessness, it is only our carelessness that leads us to the charge. As a cursory example, one may wonder why we live in a world of consequences when one might just as easily have been built without them. Isn’t it after all the pain in the world that makes evil evil? Is it? This is where we are left to struggle with God and ask Him to show us and give us wisdom until we hear from Him and understand, “Sin isn’t evil BECAUSE it hurts people; You are evil because, at the time you are sinning, you don’t care if it does.”

    It is we who are flawed. We are so steeped in sin that we don’t understand any more our condition than a fish knows that is inundated in water. It’s just our natural state. There is, however, a blessing in this struggle: a better knowledge of who we are with respect to God.

    Jesus said “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” We so often read the beatitudes as platitudes: They are not! Closer to the original Greek would be “Blessed..” –not ‘happy,’ which is contingent on circumstances, but “blessed” (This is a state of being that is God’s gift, by grace) “Blessed are the destitute in spirit, because to these very ones belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.”

    It is when we are fully empty of ourselves that we realize “I have nothing to offer and nowhere else to go and nothing else will satisify my peace and make me whole if not You”. Then we understand the cross, why THAT price, and the debt of love we owe to One who died that we might be called “flesh of His flesh and bones of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30)

    As it is written: “1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, WE WILL BE LIKE HIM, BECAUSE WE WILL SEE HIM JUST AS HE IS 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3)

    But first comes the submission of our will and our sufficiency, and total reliance on Him. We can’t “help God out” one bit with our own self-righteousness. The Jews rebuilding the second temple found this out:

    “Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
    Where is the house you will build for me?
    Where will my resting place be?
    2 Has not my hand made all these things,
    and so they came into being?”
    declares the Lord.

    “These are the ones I look on with favor:
    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
    and who tremble at my word….” (Isaiah 66)

    But to obey it, we must believe it, and to believe it we must read it. Regularly. (Romans 10:17)

    In synagogues, after a person comes up to read the Torah, it is customary that the congregation wishes “Chazaq!” They are telling the reader “Be strong!” Why? The gospel may be for gay people (1 Corinthians 6:11), but it’s not for sissies! It takes soul searching and struggling with God and prayers for honesty, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE. You are just blessed with the knowledge of what your struggle is. Straight people also have their incongruities with God’s word, it’s just that they, for the most part, have a whole society as their cheerleader in self-deception. So, take courage.

    Have faith. That’s all. “Keep on asking… keep on seeking… keep on knocking” (Luke 11) God is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

    Billie Holiday used to sing, “God bless the child who has his own.” But we don’t have our own anything. We need His faith: a faith transfusion from Jesus, as it were. Faith, repentance, wisdom, love for Him– all of these, like blood, cannot be manufactured. (Romans 8:7) They are gifts from God. He has to even give us the “want to” (Philippians 2:13) –ah! but it’s our ours for the asking! And if we ask Him for wisdom, to know Him, to grow in love for Him, will He turn us away? (James 1:5)

    The travesty that is modern evangelicalism tells us that Romans 10:9-10 means one can just say a magic prayer and voila, you’re good with God. All the while they forget that works, even this incantation, can’t save anyone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul is making a reference here to Deuteronomy 30, which is an admonition to keeping God’s law. Is this double-speak? No. We’re reminded that it is loving God that causes us to keep his word (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-4) and Paul equates this with faith in Jesus. To get to the point where you can definitively say “Jesus is my Lord.” And what is faith? Merely trust in God’s fidelity to keep His own word about you. (Hebrews 11:11) Don’t trust Him? Tell Him! (You’re not going to shock him.) And ask for faith. Then…

    “31 Jesus told the people who had faith in him, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

    Perhaps not tomorrow or the next day, but know that all who seek Him find Him. Make THAT the priority, not how you feel.

    To sum up: Seek God. Trust Him. If you’re persuaded, be baptised to declare it. Then: Keep on. Be strong.

    But most importantly, go to God often and lean heavily on Him. Make him your priority. Everybody has sin in their lives. Focus on God, not yourself.
    (Sorry I couldn’t open up a box of ready-made.)


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