The more determined men become to despise the teaching of Christ, the more zealous should godly ministers be to assert it and the more strenuous their efforts to preserve entire. And more than that, by their diligence to ward off Satan’s attack.
Let’s recap from last time how the plan of redemption found in the Scriptures can be illustrated in this simple schema:
Man’s Need + God’s Rescue = Our Response
This is our principle: When you change the value of one side of the equals sign, you change the values of the other side as well. We must begin with how we understand the two “addends,” as it were, before we can understand the “sum”. So just like in simple addition we begin with the first “addend” on the left: man’s need.
How do you begin to understand our need? Think about what the world’s like. When you turn on the news, what do you see? Between all the violence, war, and disease that we see I think we all agree that the world is not the place that it should be. More than that, have you ever noticed how all of us long and ache for a better world? Think about it. You could say that in the same way thirst implies that drink exists or that hunger implies that food exists, this longing for a better world we all have implies that a better world did or will exist.
And that is precisely what Scripture says. A better world did exist. God designed it so that the planet took care of us and we took care of it. That it was our purpose to take care of his creation as his vice-regents, and that included caring for one another; all the time giving him all the glory and honor he was owed as Creator and Father of all. It was all designed for good.
But it did not stay that way. We rejected God’s rule by trying to run our lives without him. We cut ourselves off from communion with God. With the result that everything and everyone is damaged by evil. The Scripture tells us its depth and extent. The damage is utter, touching the depths of creation. And the damage is total, extending to the limits of creation. This tragic condition is what the Scripture calls “sin.” This is how the 39 Articles summarized in Article 9 what the Scriptures describe human sinfulness as:
…the fault and corruption which is found in the nature of every person who is naturally descended from Adam. The consequence of this is that man is far gone from his original state of righteousness. In his own nature he is predisposed to evil, the sinful nature in man always desiring to behave in a manner contrary to the Spirit. In every person born into this world there is found this predisposition which rightly deserves God’s anger and condemnation. This infection within man’s nature persists even within those who are regenerate.
Notice how I had stepped back from the question of, “What should our response be to men and women who have a same-sex attraction?” to ask instead, “What is it that we all have in common? Where do we all begin before God?” After I had searched the Scriptures, the Creeds, the Prayer Book, and the 39 Articles, I discovered that they all affirmed the same thing: we are all sinful by nature, “…there is no health in us…” as the Prayer Book confession said. And because we are sinful by nature, every thought and action, every expression of the self, is affected by the fall.
The question I asked next was, “Is our sexual expression affected by sin?” The answer, according to the Scriptures, our oldest creeds and our own confession (The 39 Articles) is “Yes.” Man’s sexual expression, including our sexual attraction has been totally and completely corrupted and is in need of restoration.
Notice how I was not isolating same-sex attraction. I was clarifying what was common to every human being. “The world,” as Puritan John Flavel wrote, “is a great hospital, full of sick and dying souls, all wounded by one and the same mortal weapon, sin.” All human sexual expression is wounded in sin. Therefore the beginning of any examination of sexual attraction must begin in humility and repentance of our sinful sexual expression.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? We fail to apply the extent or depth of our hopeless sinful condition that is faithful to what the Scriptures describe. We reject sin’s totality in extent and depth. We describe human sinfulness horizontally in how I compare to others. We forget how Scriptures describes sin vertically in how it is an offense to our holy heavenly Father. Did you notice that in Article 9? The real depth of the fall of man and its tragic consequences for our sexual expression is that we are now totally disabled from God’s original purpose, we have fallen from our original righteousness and communion with God.
Can you see how the next question naturally follows from the first: “If all human sexual expression is fallen and in need of restoration, what would that restoration look like? What was it like before this fall? To answer this question will not only show us how we were designed to be in our sexual expression, but also the end to which we are now to live our sexual lives restored in Jesus Christ.