10 Theses on Mortification and the Gay Christian
Earlier this year I wrote 10 theses on same sex attraction, mortification, and the gay Christian. The larger context can be found in the original post and in my essays on the subject. I thought it would be helpful to have the 10 theses as a separate post for ease of reading.
1) Sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. “Activity” includes encouraging or cultivating erotic desire outside the bounds of God’s design and end for marriage. Encouraging or fostering an orientation to sinful sexual activity is itself sinful.
2) Sinful desire is both the result of original, indwelling sin, and is itself sin. Sinful desire must be hated, denied, and lamented.
3) Orientation towards sexual sin, including sinful desire, is a result of sin, and may be properly sin itself. The sinful condition of misery in which humanity finds itself is manifested in propensity towards sin springing up from within the person, as well as a tendency towards frailty with temptation being inflicted upon the person from the brokenness of the world around them.
4) Orientation to sinful temptation does not necessarily entail indulging the sin. Being oriented towards a sinful temptation means that a besetting, regular propensity towards sinful desire is afflicting a person. A gay or homosexual orientation is an orientation to a sinful sexual desire. It is not an increased affinity or appreciation for the same sex, but a tendency towards temptation to sinful sexual activity.
5) Orientation towards sexual sin is a post-lapsarian wound borne by the sinner. It is not necessarily sin itself. Sinners must repent of sin, including sinful desires, whether conscious or unconscious. Sinners must also mortify orientations to sin. Mortification is the active resistance of sin and temptation. It is reliance on the grace of God to crucify the body of weakness (Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:24), which tends towards sin. Orientations to sexual sin must be mortified as part of Christian duty. Failure to mortify orientations to sin is sin itself, and should be repented.
6) Since orientation to sexual sin is a wound of the fall, it will be healed in glory. Since it is a wound that tends its bearer towards sin, it is distinct from other post-lapsarian thorns in the flesh (e.g. Down syndrome) and therefore is neither good nor to be celebrated or encouraged.
7) Sanctification of sin and all misery will be complete in glory. Sanctification from sin will be partially complete in this life. No particular besetting sin or weakness is promised full relief in this life, but progress in sanctification over all indwelling sin in the believer is promised in this life. Healing from orientation to sexual sin now is not guaranteed, but it is possible and should be pursued in the course of the mortification of the flesh (1 Thess. 4:3).
8) To identify with an orientation to sin (e.g. gay Christian, same-sex attracted) can mean labeling one’s self in terms of social experience or labeling one’s self spiritually in terms of struggle against temptation. In this regard, though the term should be used with caution to avoid confusion, identifying as a gay Christian is fine. To identify with an orientation to sin as an expression of solidarity (this orientation is good and should be celebrated) or normativity (this is ontologically who I am and is my true, fixed and unalterable self) is to encourage or foster orientation to sin rather than the mortification of it, and is not acceptable for the Christian.
9) Those who identify as having a LGBT/SSA orientation are not called to repent of that orientation, but to mortify it. The impulse (temptation) to sin needs to be killed, not repented. Inordinately ordered affections need to be rightly ordered, not repented. Failure to mortify sinful impulses, sinful affections, is sin and needs repentance. Acquiescing to sinful impulses and affections is sin, and demands repentance. Mortification precludes the celebration of any orientation towards sin.
10) All Christians are called to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. Those who are oriented to sinful sexual desires are no different. Repentance is a constant turning from sin to find forgiveness, and the penitent sinner should sin less and less. Holiness in conduct and mind should define the penitent sinner. Mortification is the constant struggle to not only resist temptation, but to kill it. The besetting weakness may endure for some time, without appearance of change or any success in leading into sin. The church should resist prescribing normative timelines, postures, vocabulary, and experiences in the mortification of sin lest additional burdens be heaped upon the cross of Christ.