Pastor Bob O'Bannon
One of my favorite books from last year was Is God Anti-Gay by Sam Allberry. In the book, the author, who himself struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA), makes a suggestion that I had not considered, and that many gay rights activists might not even consider a remote possibility. Here’s what Allberry wrote:
“It will be possible for some Christians with SSA to marry. This may be because they experience a measure of change in their sexual desires, or else because they find that, despite ongoing homosexual temptations, they are able to enjoy a happy marriage to someone of the opposite sex.” (p. 50-51). He goes on to mention people whose “desires remain predominantly homosexual,” but who nonetheless are able to find “deep companionship” and even “sufficient sexual chemistry” in a heterosexual marriage.
Really? Is that possible? One of the calls upon any follower of Christ is to “abstain from the passions of the flesh,” which “wage war” against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). We are to put off our old selves (Eph. 4:22), to lay aside the sin that clings to us so closely (Heb. 12:1), to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).
In other words, we are to resist those sinful cravings that are contrary to God’s will for us. For some of us, that means we must restrain our desires to overspend when we walk through the mall. For others, it means we must hold our tongue when we are ready to explode with anger. For others, it means we must push away from the table when we’re tempted to over-indulge. And for Christians struggling with SSA, it means a willingness to struggle to reorient desires toward a person of the opposite sex.
I am not suggesting this is easy. I am not suggesting that it can even occur in a fully satisfactory way in every situation. But the Christian life is not about giving up and submitting to our sinful cravings; it’s about continuing the fight against the sins which our Savior died to forgive and to slowly eliminate from our lives.
If you doubt whether a person with SSA can flourish in a heterosexual marriage, you must listen to this 10-minute NPR interview with Allen Edwards, pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church, a congregation in our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America). He’s married to a woman, and they are expecting their first child in July. (By the way, kudos to National Public Radio for asking good questions and treating Pastor Edwards with respect).
Pastor Edwards is at least one example of how it is possible for a homosexual to flourish in a heterosexual marriage.