Wednesday, August 29, 2018

WED TIP: DON'T DROWN IN MUSH--HOW TO RESPOND TO ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE BY JACKIE HILL

[MAKE SURE TO READ THIS LINK FIRST IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME VISITING ENGLISH MANIF.]

Somebody forwarded me this article by someone named Jackie Hill Perry:


I don't know anything about Jackie Hill Perry. Judging from the date of publication this article appears to be part of the massive effort to discredit conversion therapy. I will comment on her article, which bears the rebarbative title "Don't Preach a Heterosexual Gospel," with the assumption that she has pure motives and is simply wrong about what she thinks she is reacting to. 

Irrespective of whatever pure motives Jackie Hill Perry may have, in context we have to be realistic about why this article is being published and pushed on social media. There is a well-funded and aggressive LGBT initiative to displace orthodox leadership in Christian churches. The goal is to replace Bible-based shepherds with carefully selected leaders who are sympathetic to LGBT Christianity. To pass the LGBT litmus test and get liberal backing to overthrow orthodox Christians, candidates must be steeped in the false theology underpinning so-called gay Christianity, and predisposed to enforce pro-gay conformity by attacking people who want to maintain a proper Gospel position on sexuality.

Behind all of this is a brain trust of activists. They have been coached and educated at the elite schools one sees at gatherings such as the American Academy of Religion. Well groomed in strategy, they know that not all activists can be aggressive street fighters like Dan Savage or ACTUP or the lawsuit-chasers hauling Christians into court over same-sex wedding services. Their master goal is elimination of Christian denominations that keep alive the Bible's position on chastity. To do this they know that some activists have to act in stealth mode. Stealth activists must present themselves as moderates or even as purists themselves, while they help the LGBT advance their next move.

Central to the LGBT agenda right now is the eradication of conversion therapy. Eradication must occur on such a scale that basic conversations about helping people cease gay identity and change toward heterosexuality will be illegal and thoroughly disdained by the culture. The LGBT apparatus' legal and institutional power hang on their claim that they form a stable constituency whose common identifier, their sexual identity, is innate from birth and unchangeable. If it is changeable, then people can leave. If people can leave their community, they will. For gay communities are notoriously unsupportive and mentally unhealthy. The sex acts associated with homosexuality are objectively dangerous and disease-carrying. 

If LGBT strategists can hold the line against any conversion therapy for long enough, they can convince just enough generations to remain in ironclad sexual classifications until new generations will be born who have never met anyone who has gone from gay to straight. As the LGBT movement already invades youth groups, schools, children's libraries, children's media, and church youth groups, the LGBT movement will have a captive constituency. This means a large demographic for whom the LGBT leaders can claim to speak and with whose capital they can bargain for power. These dreams of power will evaporate, however, if large numbers of people realize how easy it is to go from gay to straight.

So let's get to Perry's article. She begins with this confident topic sentence:

God isn't calling gay people to be straight.
You’d think He was by listening to the ways Christians try to encourage same-sex-attracted people within, or outside, their local churches. They dangle the possibility of heterosexual marriage above their heads, point to it like it’s heaven on a string, something to grab and get whole with. And though it’s usually well-meaning, it’s very dangerous. Why? Because it puts more emphasis on marriage as the goal of the Christian life than knowing Jesus. Just as God’s aim in my salvation was not mainly the removal of my same-sex desires, in sanctification, it is not always His aim that marriage or experiencing an attraction for the opposite sex will be involved.


Let me break down what she's saying. Then I will explain how this relates to the larger political issues I began this post with.

First, what on earth does she mean by "God isn't calling gay people to be straight"? I am sure she will claim she is Biblical. Yet this has no grounding in the Bible whatsoever. God designed males and females to be partners with each other, as explained in Genesis and reiterated by Jesus Himself in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. Additionally one finds copious affirmations of this design by Paul in the New Testament. Song of Songs describes a man and woman together; no book describes homosexuality in such a fashion. The fifth commandment says "honor thy mother and thy father," clearly referring to a male and female source of life rooted in the command that men and women form monogamous sexual bonds involving intercourse, mutual pleasure, and children.

That's the "pro-straight" stuff. The "anti-gay" stuff is quite voluminous as well. Sodom is destroyed when the city collapses into rampant homosexuality (and no, Ezekiel's prophecy does not override this and make it all about gluttony and inhospitality.) The "clobber verses" with which we are all familiar by now make it clear that from Abraham to Moses to Ezekiel to Jesus to Paul to Jude, the voices in the Bible are crystal-clear that homosexuality violates God's design for sex and that the punishment for violating God's design for sex is severe because it angers God.

As Christians we believe God wants us to honor Him and draw near to Him. God calls us to live by His design and love Him with all our heart, mind, body, and soul. The New Testament is clear that repentance matters. So does transformation into a new creation. The old person we were but are no longer, may be full of sin and violations against God's will. That becomes our past. As we come closer to God we will move away from violating His design and become more like the people He designed us to be.

Like many other commentators on this topic, Jackie Hill Perry may play games with the terminology, saying "straight" and "heterosexual" carry specific cultural freight tied to our context. Even if that is true, there is no other word available to us that clearly refers to the model of a man and woman enacting God's design for sex---one man having intercourse with one woman. If we just want to call that chastity or true marriage, fine. But heterosexuality is an intrinsic part of chastity or true marriage. Chaste sex always involves a heterosexual act. True marriage is true to the extent that it is heterosexual and monogamous.

Jackie Hill Perry has no grounds to claim that God does not want gay people to become straight. Nothing in the Bible gives us license to attribute lifelong "gay" identities to people. We know from the Bible and from world history that "being gay" is a modern concept with very little basis in human development and no basis in God's Word. Nobody is gay. Behaviors, events, cultural tendencies, and ideas may be gay. But "gay" does not describe a person.

Every person is created by God to be a male in a body designed to copulate with a woman, or a female in a body designed to copulate with a man. The genitalia are part of God's design; Paul explains in Romans 1 that even people who have not yet been won to Christ can see from our bodies what God intended for us.

If any occasion calls  for saying someone "is" a sexual identity, then everyone is straight. People whom Jackie Hill Perry calls "gay" are really straight people who are acting gay. They need to stop acting gay and be what God wanted them to be. We can spend years playing around with the vocabulary, but the basic truth here is unavoidable. God's will is that people who say "I am gay" stop saying that and act the way people who say "I am straight" tend to act (allowing, of course, for the fact that many "straight" people commit other sexual sins that God does not want.) 

The bottom line is that someone who is acting gay is always better off moving more toward straight behavior and identity. This is not a minor issue. I minister to many young men who struggle with homosexual impulses that came from porn, abuse, social contagion, personal trauma, or other corrupt influences. When I coach them, it is not healthy to tell them that they have nowhere to go on their journey, other than to repeat empty phrases to themselves about how homosexuality is a sin but they don't have to become heterosexual. That's mush. It's a mess. I expound on this in the video below:


Okay, let's move to the next claim of Jackie Hill Perry's opening paragraph. She uses a classic straw man tactic. She opens up with the revolutionary and invalid idea that God does not want gay people to become straight. Then she softens the obvious weaknesses in her claim by contrasting her claim against the supposedly ridiculous claim by other Christians who, she says, are "dangling marriage" before gays as if it is the only answer. She says these Christians make everything about becoming heterosexual instead of about coming to Christ.

If I came across Christians who reduced gay people's life issues to becoming straight and who didn't really care about these gay people coming close to God, I would be rightly horrified. I haven't seen such people. All the Christians I know are working from the playbook given to us by Jesus and Paul. Jesus talked about eunuchs in Matthew 19, so He carved out a status that would involve refraining from sex and marriage altogether. In 1 Corinthians, Paul expands on this to talk about the joys of celibacy for those who can handle it. But Paul qualifies this very importantly, saying that "it is better to marry than to burn." In order to avoid immorality, unless one is gifted with a lack of sexual urges, Paul says, each man should take a wife; each woman should take a husband.

I cannot speak for who fits the model of discipleship Jackie Hill Perry has in mind. I know from the people I disciple that overwhelmingly they burn with sexual passion and need to get married. Most men I disciple also do want children. There is nothing wrong with them wanting to be fathers and certainly nothing wrong with wanting to have a sex life within proper marriage. God rejoices when a man and wife lie together. I am confident that it pleases God when a man thinks positively in his mind and heart about his wife or about one day having a wife. God is never pleased when someone engages in homosexual acts or homosexual thoughts. So even somebody who is celibate has to become "straight" anyway; such a person needs to think positively about the idea of a man and woman being together. Such a person must also think of homosexuality as a sin, something to be rejected and avoided. So no matter how you slice and dice the words, the main part of ministry in this area involves getting people who say they are gay to stop being or acting gay, and to go straight.

So why does this matter so much?

Let's say Jackie Hill Perry's motives are pure. She may have spent a lot of time thinking about these issues and this may be the idea she has come to. I feel certain she is wrong but that says nothing about her character.

The larger context is most certainly not pure, though. The fact that her article got published and promoted with this carefully phrased verbiage reflects the political threat to Christianity of the LGBT movement. By discrediting (by misrepresenting) the ministry of those who help people go from gay to straight, her work boosts the LGBT movement's ultimate goal which is to build for itself a captive constituency. If the LGBTs can shut down and destroy ex-gay ministries, then most people Jackie Hill Perry calls "gay" will muddle around in a no-man's land of ambiguity, confusion, and wasted time, and will probably slide into identifying as gay Christians.