Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Did God Make You Heterosexual?
Nobody who knows me would say that I embrace change.
A former co-worker of mine coined the phrase, "Tim does not do new well."
Yet recently, I am finding myself in a curious position. I'm actually considering a new way of looking at something. Which is unusual for me.
What makes it even more unusual is that this evolution involves Biblical morality, a topic that has been a guidepost for my life since I was born. My parents raised my brother and me in a robust, definitive evangelical environment, with faith in Christ's Gospel at the center of everything we did as a family. My definition of morality mirrors the same one that untold generations before me have embraced, or at least acknowledged. In fact, even among people who don't personally adhere to conventional Biblical morality, this version of morality remains widely recognized, albeit much maligned.
Nevertheless, at least when it comes to sexuality, I am gravitating towards a view that casts doubt on the way most of humanity has traditionally considered heterosexuality and homosexuality. To me, and to others who've voiced similar opinions, it appears that mankind has historically erred by presuming that God made "man" and "woman" as distinctly heterosexual beings.
Not that God makes any mistakes. He has created us as sexual beings, and the sexuality He gives us is both a gift and a responsibility. In its pure, created state, it is holy and just.
But is sexuality automatically heterosexual? I don't think so. I'm doubting it's the "default" position. I'm saying God probably doesn't pre-program us as heterosexuals.
Yes, heterosexuality is what honors God, while homosexuality does not. Heterosexuality is the basis for the family unit, which is the basis of any society, because heterosexuality provides the framework for procreation and the perpetuation of our species. It is also within the imagery of heterosexual marriage that God describes the relationship between Christ and His church.
But this heterosexuality, indeed, is only holy within marriage. Everything else is a form of deviant sexuality. A result of our corruption because of the Fall of mankind and Original Sin.
God created Adam and Eve as man and woman respectively because His holy design is for the mutual pleasure of man and woman bound by a covenant with their Creator. That part of Biblical morality isn't in question. Technically, no part of Biblical morality is in question here. Lust is still wrong. Sex with a person who is not our spouse is still wrong. But heterosexuality has been presumed to carry some sort of special dispensation of normalcy, while homosexuality has, throughout history, been widely perceived as aberrant and nasty.
And yes, according to God's Word, homosexuality is aberrant and nasty. But it's as nasty to God as any form of heterosexuality that is expressed outside of a marriage covenant. Lust is nasty to God, even though we seem to enjoy it a lot, because we do it a lot. Every sin is nasty to God. And when it comes to sexuality, all of God's teachings about marriage and sex are provided to us in the Bible with the expectation that we embrace everything that is good and everything that is bad about the sexuality God has given us.
Have we done so? Probably not.
You see, when our sexuality was corrupted in the Garden of Eden, it wasn't just heterosexual adultery that entered the realm of possibility. Original Sin also opened the door to homosexual desires, at least in some people. You may personally have never experienced any homosexual tendencies at all. But that doesn't mean you never will. Temptations can be latent and deceptive, and they vary from person to person. Homosexuality is believed to be the dominant sexual desire in approximately two to five percent of humanity. But might it be dormant in many more people? Has it been suppressed by forces of socialization that have historically penalized it and made it taboo? And might our world's current infatuation with homosexuality have been exacerbated by a growing acceptance of it - or, at least, ambivalence towards it? Might our flaunting of heterosexual sins made homosexuality seem relatively harmless, or at least not any more dangerous as heterosexual fornication? Might people be experimenting with various forms of sexuality and discovering that, for whatever reason, homosexuality seems to be more pleasurable for them?
Perhaps because so many kids these days are growing up in single-family homes, the proper functionality of heterosexual affection is lost on them. Maybe political correctness encourages people to explore feelings that society used to cloak. But I don't believe that homosexuals were "born that way." Just like I don't believe heterosexuals were "born that way." I'm coming to the point of view that most people, at least, have the capacity to be either or both when it comes to being aroused by the same gender, or the opposite gender. It's just that, during the course of our life experiences, most of us develop a traditional sexual appreciation for the opposite gender, because that's how we've been raised. Or, we've been convinced by the Holy Spirit that anything else is contrary to God's design for sexuality.
After all, I'm told that monogamy is very hard! Popular opinion says that for every person there's a mate, but that's a romantic fallacy. In a completely heathen context, just about any of us could probably have sex with an untold number of other people of either gender, and probably fall in love with many of them. Well, at least, a sort of lust that looks an awful lot like love! Monogamy may be Biblical, and practical, and moral, and conventional, and historical, but it's not easy. What is easy is blurring sexual lines and trying to get as much fun as possible out of our sexuality. Staying with one opposite-sex spouse isn't exactly a reliable definition of fun.
But that's what followers of Christ are called to do with their sexuality. It's called "faithfulness," and it's a Fruit of the Spirit. Which means it doesn't necessarily come naturally.
Of course, another Fruit of the Spirit particularly applicable here is self-control.
We were all born with a God-given drive for sexuality, and I suspect that it's been through the overwhelming forces of normative socialization, over the course of millennia, that heterosexuality has been by far the most popular form of sexuality. Much of heterosexuality's dominance likely came from the influence of religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all three of which teach that heterosexuality is what best honors their respective deities. And frankly, I imagine that since our holy God, the Creator of sexuality, has designated heterosexuality as His only ordained venue for sex, He probably has given us the biological and emotional resources to embrace it more than homosexuality. After all, God does not tempt us, so why would He create some people to be predisposed to something that displeases Him?
What happens is that, because of sin, sexual temptations abound. And any sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage covenant is sin. Therefore, we can't say we were born with a proclivity towards a certain sin, whether sexual or otherwise. Think about it: Saying we were born with a proclivity to gluttony doesn't excuse gluttony, does it?
If we're going to honor God with our sexuality, we need to admit that homosexuality is a form of adultery, just like heterosexual adultery. Whether it's with somebody of the same sex or the opposite sex, deviant sexuality is not holy. The whole question of "nature vs. nurture" becomes mute at this point. Plenty of contributing factors can nurture various sinful behaviors. We can justify just about anything by evaluating whether something is our fault or not, or whether a sin pattern appears to exist as a viable alternative to righteousness. Feelings can be interpreted all sorts of ways, and emotions, and even things we consider erotic and provoke sexual arousal.
But just because something turns us on sexually doesn't mean it's Godly.
Temptation is still temptation.
Meanwhile, God expects His people to resist temptation, whether it's that extra piece of candy, or those lustful thoughts about a person of the opposite sex who is not our spouse, or even those lustful thoughts about a person of the same sex.
It's not the way centuries upon centuries of humanity has thought about sex.
But where in the Bible does God explicitly say that He's created people as heterosexuals?
For a follow-up essay on this topic, please click here.