Many of you will know Vaughn Roberts who I have previously interveiwed on my blog. In this deeply personal interview he shares how he has chosen to respond to his own experience of same-sex attraction as a conservative Christian, and one of the most influential Reformed voices in the UK.
In all the heat of debate in the church and society about this matter we must never loose site of the personal challenges that are the daily experience of many. Here is an excerpt from the interview, and whatever your views about sexuality I would commend you to read the rest:
Julian: Does the disclosure that same sex attraction is one of your personal battles mean you are defining yourself as a homosexual?
Vaughan: No, it doesn’t . . . No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ.
All of us are sinners, and sexual sinners. But, if we have turned to Christ, we are new creations, redeemed from slavery to sin through our union with Christ in his death and raised with him by the Spirit to a new life of holiness, while we wait for a glorious future in his presence when he returns. These awesome realities define me and direct me to the kind of life I should live. . .
Julian: Evangelical Anglicans are widely reported as saying there shouldn’t be gay clergy. What does that mean for you?
Vaughan: The press is often very misleading here. There is no objection to people being church leaders because of a homosexual orientation. The focus of the argument is over teaching and practice. Evangelicals say that clergy should uphold the Bible’s teaching that sex is only for heterosexual marriage in teaching and lifestyle, both of which I do . . .Julian: As a pastor, you must have had folk who have confided in you pastorally about their same-sex attractions — has that affected your decision to be more open?
Vaughan: Certainly. I pray for them every Monday from a list that is divided in two: those who continue to seek to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching that the only right context for sexual intercourse is in a marriage between a man and a woman and those who have moved away from that view. Sadly the second group is growing.
Julian: Why do you think that is?
Vaughan: I’ve often wondered whether more might have persevered if they had felt there was another way open to them other than the affirmation of a gay identity and lifestyle advocated by the world and the isolation they experienced in the evangelical church with their largely private battle . . .
The development of sexuality is complex and is, I think, best understood as being on a spectrum, along which individuals can move, especially in the years soon after puberty, but also later. A small proportion of people, including Christians, find that they remain exclusively attracted to the same sex as they grow into mature adulthood. God has the power to change their orientation, but he hasn’t promised to and that has not been my experience. Research suggests that complete change from exclusively homosexual desires to exclusively heterosexual ones is very rare. While supporting the right of anyone to seek help to change if they wish, our emphasis needs to be on encouragement to be godly and content in current circumstances.