I have been listening to Tim Bayly’s Shepherds’ Conference on ministering in a post-Obergefell World. Tim has worked with homosexuals and lesbians in Bloomington for over 30 years. He is not speaking as someone who has read a book or two, watched a couple of Youtube videos, or had a homosexual friend in college. He speaks as a pastor who has prayed with and for sodomites, has loved them, preached to them, cried over them, and seen them repent. He has many stories about working with homosexuals as well as stories about compromise in evangelical circles. These add substance to what he is saying even if it makes him long winded at points.
He makes the suggestion that we drop the term “sexual orientation” and use sexual temptation instead. So instead of saying “same-sex orientation” we would say, “same sex temptation.” I have thought about the term sexual orientation quite a bit lately as I read Preston Sprinkle’s book People to be Loved. Terms and words matter. Sprinkle throughout his book nuances words to death. Every word is carefully chosen. He parses out why we shouldn’t use “homosexual,” “gay,” etc. He knows words matter. Conservative Christians need to understand this as well. What words we use to describe things will often shape the entire discussion. I like the suggestion of using temptation instead of orientation in connection with homosexuality for several reasons.
First, it will help us see sodomy as one type of the many sexual temptations we all face. Those who struggle with this sin are not worse than us nor better than us nor different than us. Tim talked about his own fornication and how when he got married his wife was pregnant. All of us struggle with sexual temptation of various kinds and to various degrees throughout our life. I saw my first porn magazine (yes real paper) when I was eleven years old. It lay beside the road. My friend from church said his dad, a deacon, had videos with more of that. We went back and watched porn on VHS. This struggled continued through Bible college and the early years of marriage until I was about 25 years old. I am so grateful there was no Internet when I was young. Many of you I guess have similar stories. Some of you still watch porn on your phones during your lunch break or at night when your wife is asleep. Some of you slept around in high school and don’t want any of your Christian friends to know. We could do this with any temptation not just sexual ones. The point here is if we label it temptation it puts that sin or the struggle with that sin on level with the sins all Christians struggle with. We are all sinners working, agonizing to fight the lusts which wage war against our souls (I Peter 2:11). Continue reading