(This article has been adapted for JONAH with the permission of Alan Medinger, Alan was active homosexually for many years and is now married with children and grandchildren.)
Greg is a long term friend who has been involved with Regeneration off and on for a number of years. In his usual cheerful voice he told us that he had just returned from a vacation in Greece with a homosexual friend. "The men are so gorgeous over there, I couldn't resist. Not surprising, I brought back a few momentos with me - a case of chlamydia and crabs."
Gwen, too, has been in and out of Regeneration for a good many years and she too is a special friend. But Gwen has gone back into a lesbian relationship. "I know its wrong, but I just couldn't handle being alone any longer," was her explanation. The struggles that Greg and Gwen face are real and our hearts should go out to them, but both seem to acknowledge the true nature of homosexual sin.
More and more we are seeing what amounts to an almost casual attitude towards transgressions involving homosexuality. People in our ministries are showing a tendency to not take homosexual behavior seriously. I see several reasons for this.
First there is the "we all sin" attitude. It is true that all people, whatever their religious affiliation, do sin; that's our nature. And it is also true that God forgives us, but if we stop right there we are into a form of reverse legalism. I sin and God has to forgive me. This ignores the vital relational aspect of our walking in the path of God and it also fails to take into account our need and obligation to become who He created us to be.
Closely related to this is the "all sin is the same" belief. My homosexual sin is no worse than your eating that second piece of pie. Biblically, this is not valid, and from a practical point of view, all sins are not alike. There is a vast difference in the consequences of different behaviors.
In the third reason there's a real irony. We may take homosexual sin less seriously than we should because of the efforts of groups like Regeneration or JONAH. For years, gender-affirmative groups like ours have battled the prejudicial attitude held by many people that somehow homosexual sin is the worst of sins. We point out, for example, how it is just one of many prohibited behaviors listed in Leviticus. It fits right in there with deceit and gossip.
Finally, all of us are affected by the world's program of "normalizing" homosexuality. Even for us it can become just another part of life. One simple example is using gay or lesbian relationships to advertise everything from toothpaste to dungarees. These images become an accepted component of our daily lives.
However, I still maintain that few activities outside of homosexuality bring with them such dire consequences. To be more specific, I don't believe it is too dramatic to say that homosexuality is intertwined with death; death on many levels and in many forms. For this reason, I believe that it behooves the Gregs and Gwens who are openly playing around with homosexual behavior, and for that matter, all of us who almost daily have to make decisions to yield or to resist homosexual temptations, to take a look at where our hearts are with respect to homosexuality and to examine the long term consequences of the choices we make.
In reality, if we continue to yield to homosexual temptations, we will have chosen to move in the direction of death and away from life. In the deepest sense, death surrounds homosexuality, whereas healing and growth into heterosexuality brings forth life. Let's consider:
1. Procreation - In their sexual relationship as husband and wife a man and woman join God in the great act of creation. One of the primary purposes of the sexual act is the creation of life and the creation of a oneness between a man and a woman. The children that are produced, the new lives, are a joy. We grow tremendously in meeting the challenges of parenthood. In contrast, homosexuality is anti-life. It is sterile and cannot produce life.
2. Physical Death - A study just a few years ago involving an extensive review of obituaries in gay papers revealed that the median age of death for homosexual men was 39. Although the statistics were shocking, the causes are well understood. That homosexual acts have been the principle vehicle for transmitting AIDS in this country and for the extraordinarily high levels of other sexually transmitted diseases among homosexual men are well known facts.
Not as well known, but consistently showing up in various studies, are the much higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide among homosexual people. One study showed that even domestic violence - especially among lesbian partners - is substantially higher for homosexual than for heterosexual couples.
A life outside of homosexuality - whether in faithful heterosexual marriage or in chaste singleness - offers none of the deadly risks of homosexuality. It is pro-life.
3. Fatalism - To a certain extent, this is a product of the linkage between homosexuality and physical death. In the later years of my homosexual acting out, I had developed a fatalistic attitude towards life involving my ultimate demise. I felt I could not stop my homosexual behavior and at the same time I firmly believed that it would eventually cost me everything: my wife, my children, my reputation, my career. Being involved in dangerous sado -masochistic encounters with strangers, I believed that there was a strong chance that I would lose even my life. Feeling helpless and powerless, I saw no alternative but to simply live out my life and wait for the inevitable to happen.
Gay publications today regularly report on younger homosexual men who have adopted an attitude of, "Eventually I'm going to get AIDS anyway, so why not have the most fun now and get it over with." Some gay men, in an almost cultish way, have come together to celebrate death.
To choose to come out of homosexuality is to choose life, and life becomes a celebration. How radically different my life is today from what it was when I was into homosexuality. Today I truly believe that with my faith in God I can do all things and I am excited about what tomorrow will bring.
4. Retreat Into One's Self - With some plants, when a leaf dies, its edges curl up and the leaf turns in on itself. This is a perfect metaphor for homosexuality. Heterosexuality contains an energy that is designed to cause us to reach out and find our completion in one who is designed to be our complement; man to woman and woman to man. In homosexuality we become turned inward. We seek someone who is like us, someone who can fill the empty places in our manhood or womanhood. Homosexuality is inward focused too, in that it is rooted in neediness and carries with it large elements of self-protection. Interestingly, for both men and women this is often self-protection from men; for women, protection from their abuse and control, and for men, self-protection from the competitive , aggressive, physical world that brought us such humiliation in the past.
To come out of homosexuality is to come alive to the world around us, the world of men and women and families. It is to gradually emerge from extreme self-focus -- narcissism for men, being in control for women. It is to be set free from oneself, and to truly live.
5. The Death of Hope - Homosexuality seldom, if ever, fulfills its promises. The deep needs that empower and direct the homosexual drive are never met in a lasting way. That perfect man or woman never comes along. Over and over again the newest relationship brings with it the promise, but too soon it has failed and the search is on again. Eventually, the realization sets in that this person is never going to be found, and besides, age takes its toll and one's ability to attract the type of ideal person desired is less than ever. Hope is lost.
I was speaking recently with Karen Woolen who co-leads our women's drop-in group. The subject of death has been coming up a lot lately with these women. Some of them are in the process of letting go of their hope that lesbianism was going to meet their deepest needs. Although this brought on feelings of despair in some, Karen refers to this as the "good death," that which will lead them, as it has Karen, to understand the root causes of their homosexuality and to find fulfillment in their relationship to God Almighty. When this happens they will have passed out of homosexuality.
In Jeremiah (21:8-10), God advises the Jewish people to leave Jerusalem in the face of the approaching Chaldeans. He says to them, "I set before you the way of life and the way of death." Those who remain in the city will die; those who leave will live. Of course some chose not to heed God's warning but to stay with the familiar. They stayed and they died.
In Deuteronomy (30:19), in calling the Jewish people to obedience, God says to them, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live." I fear that there are some in our ministries who do not take these words as seriously as they should. In their attitudes of "we all sin" and "all sins are the same" they have become far too casual in their dealing with homosexual sin. In focusing on God's forgiveness, they forget the price they may be paying in this life. They forget, too, how sin damages our relationship with the Lord, and how it is in this relationship that we can find our healing and purpose in life. A few go back into the gay life "for a season," not recognizing the increasing power that homosexuality is gaining over their lives.
To choose the heterosexual way is to choose the path to true freedom. It is difficult, but believe me, it is worth every bit of the cost. A few weeks ago my family - my wife, our three children and their spouses, and our six grandchildren, were at our house to celebrate my birthday. I was there with them that day because God blessed me. God had given me a choice. I chose heterosexuality. I chose life!
Every time you are tempted to go where you should not go, or to look back at what you should not be looking at, or to dwell on thoughts that you should be resisting, or to go back to your old ways of relating, declare boldly, "No, I won't do that; I choose life!"