A Report on Africa Arise Conference & AU's Prayer Breakfast for African Heads of State (January 24-30, 2017). By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD Just in case you miss the thrust of my report, this is what I want to say: “Success without a successor is failure. True leaders train others to succeed the...
|Three Conflicting Views on Homosexuality||| Print ||
THREE CONFLICTING VIEWS ON HOMOSEXUALITY
(Which Position Must the Church Adopt?)
[This article is excerpted from the author’s book Must We Be Silent?]
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, Ph.D.
Director, Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference
The Christian church is, today, being called upon to decide what homosexuals should do when they become Christians. Should homosexuals change their orientation, control their orientation, or celebrate their orientation?
The answer to this question has given birth to three contending positions in Christian churches: (a) the non-acceptance view, which maintains that homosexuality is not compatible with biblical Christianity (b) the qualified-acceptance view, which argues that homosexuality can be compatible with Christianity, and (c) the full-acceptance view, which asserts that homosexuality is fully compatible with the Christian faith.
Seventh-day Adventists historically have adopted the non-acceptance view. But as pro-homosexual groups (like Kinship) continue their campaign for the full-acceptance view some segments within contemporary Adventism are moving towards the qualified-acceptance view. Since all three views are represented in contemporary Seventh-day Adventism, and since each is based on a set of theological and ethical assumptions, I will briefly summarize the respective views. In the next two chapters, I will raise some critical questions for those seeking to move the church towards qualified-acceptance and full-acceptance of homosexuality.
Historically embraced by the Christian church, this position maintains that homosexuality is incompatible with biblical Christianity. Despite the efforts by some thought leaders within our ranks, the non-acceptance view remains the official position of the Seventh-day Adventist church. The following are some of its basic tenets:
(a) Nature of Homosexuality: This view holds that homosexuality is a post-fall distortion of human sexuality. Whether constitutional (i.e., believed to be born gay) or situational (i.e., forced by single sex environments, e.g., prisons, military camps, monasteries), homosexuality is no different from other depraved sexual deviations (such as bisexuality, bestiality, adultery, fornication etc.). The popular statement, "If God had intended homosexuality to be a legitimate expression of human sexuality, He would have created Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve," aptly summarizes the non-acceptance position.
(b) Morality of Homosexuality: According to the non-acceptance position, homosexuality is both sinful (like pride, adultery, and murder) and evil (like sickness and death). Like all other morally corrupt tendencies, homosexual orientation or disposition does not excuse the sin of homosexuality. All people are tempted to act upon their besetting sexual desires, cravings or tendencies (homosexual and heterosexual). The temptation is not sin, but yielding to it is morally wrong.
(c) Way Out of Homosexuality: Believing that there is no sin that is outside the scope of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, the non-acceptance position maintains that the Creator of human sexuality can fix every sexual problem. Homosexuality and homosexual lifestyle can, therefore, be overcome by God's transforming power (in the conversion/new birth experience) and by God's enabling or sustaining grace (in the gradual work of sanctification). God is able to deliver a homosexual from his/her sin and keep such a person from falling. Therefore, the non-acceptance view denies the claim that homosexuality is incurable.
(d) Response to Homosexuality: The church should accord all homosexuals their full rights as human beings created in the image of God, show compassion, kindness, and Christian love to all those struggling with sexual sins, and point them to Jesus Christ as the Answer to all their needs. Homosexuals should be urged to repent and accept God's forgiveness.
Homosexuals who acknowledge the sinfulness of homosexuality, who accept Christ's offer of forgiveness, who cut themselves loose from homosexual relationships, and who, by faith, commit themselves to a life of sexual purity should be accepted into church fellowship. But those who do not acknowledge homosexuality as sin and/or those who are engaged in homosexual relationships or practices should not be accepted into church membership.
The non-acceptance view, therefore, rejects the view that “once a homosexual, always a homosexual.”
Because homosexuals presumably did not choose to be born gay, "we shouldn't hold a person responsible for her or his sexual orientation any more than we hold a person responsible for skin color (nature)."  Being a homosexual is not sin,  but lustful and inappropriate homosexual activity is sin and therefore, must be avoided. 
We must teach them to live with their condition. In a sense it is like being born left-handed. . . . However, it does not give license to practice homosexual acts, which violate Christian moral standards. In this situation we must consider the homosexual on the same basis as the heterosexual. . . . The homosexual may not be able to do anything about his attraction for his own sex, but by God's grace he can control his impulses. He may not have had any real choice regarding his condition, but he has choice about his actions. 
Cure or deliverance may not always be possible for those with homosexual orientations. But through prayer, counseling, human therapy, and other methods of behavior modification (skills of self-discipline or self-control), homosexuals can cope with their sexual predicament.
Homosexuality and heterosexuality are two aspects of sexuality, neither being the counterfeit of the other, both being right or wrong depending upon the context of their expression. . . . Both the homosexual and the heterosexual are capable of lusting or loving, worshiping the creature or the Creator, and of seeking salvation by works or accepting it as a gift of God. 
Homosexuality may be eccentric, but it definitely is not sinful (like murder, or pride) or evil (like congenital blindness or the sickness of alcoholism).  The abuse of homosexuality (e. g., promiscuity, rape, or prostitution) is wrong, but not its legitimate expression (as in loving, consensual, monogamous, homosexual relationships).
 Ronald M. Springett concludes his study on homosexuality: "The church must accept the individual of homosexual orientation who needs help and support and [who] struggles against same-sex tendencies. But those who insist on and promote the active homosexual lifestyle as normal, natural, or even superior to heterosexual relations by that very act disregard and undermine the sole authority upon which the church's very existence and mission is based, namely, the Scriptures" (Springett, Homosexuality in History and the Scriptures, 164).
 Helmut Thielicke, The Ethics of Sex, trans. John Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), and Lewis Smedes, Sex for Christians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976) adopt this view. While the latter is a more popular version than the former, they both seek to deal pastorally with the tragedy of "an ethically upright, mature homosexual who is struggling with his condition" (Thielicke, 271). They seem to accept, as equal partners, both the Bible and the testimonies of homosexuals and research by social scientists in their theological discussion of the issue.
 Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation," Insight, December 5, 1992, 11.
 Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation: A Christian Response to the Question of Homosexuality," Insight (December 5, 1992):7.
 "I don't deny the evil of the thing, for evil it certainly is, but I do deny the sinfulness of it. The homosexual condition is to be classified with disease, weakness, death, as an evil; not with gluttony, blasphemy, murder, as a sin. Both sin and evil are the work of Satan, were brought into the world at the Fall, and will one day be destroyed by Christ, but they are not identical. Sin, which we must avoid and need never commit, is represented in our situation by homosexual lust and the activity to which it leads. Evil is different. We pray to be delivered from it, but may nevertheless find ourselves left in it, and then have to aim at using and transforming it. In our situation that means a homosexual nature. I'm sure that in this sense it is morally neutral. . ." (Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love: Letters of a Christian Homosexual [London: Intervarsity Press, 1970], 80).
 Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation," 11, equates homosexual orientation with temptation, and states: "We cannot condone homosexual activity. Homosexual sexual activity is sinful--it is apart from God's will. Yet a difference exists between the person who fights against homosexual tendencies and the one who experiments with or revels in them. It's a sin to cave in to temptation. It's not a sin to be tempted."
 Sakae Kubo, Theology and Ethics of Sex (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1980), 83.
 Kate McLaughlin, "Are Homosexuals God's Children?" 29.
 Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation," Insight (December 5, 1992):16. Blake, who wrote this long before reading my response in the next chapter, insists that the difference between our positions is primarily semantic and that his use of terms is in line with the Church Manual. I would say that an alcoholic who never drinks alcohol is no longer an alcoholic, and a person who does not practice homosexuality is no longer a homosexual. That individual may have been born gay, but once converted (i.e., once reborn as a Christian), he cannot claim to be a homosexual. He may be tempted to go back to his former ways of homosexuality (it is not a sin to be tempted). But unless he acts upon the temptation, it is incorrect to refer to the former homosexual by the label homosexual
 Representing this position are Norman Pittenger, Time for Consent: A Christian's Approach to Homosexuality (London: SCM Press, 1970); Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?--Another Christian View (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), a work that draws heavily on findings of social scientists. The same position is advocated by SDA Kinship International, Inc., "a support group for gay and lesbian Seventh-day Adventists"--and a group which maintains that "God can bless a committed homosexual relationship."
 See J. Stuart, "Counterfeits," SDA Kinship Newsletter (May 1980):4 (cited by Pearson, Millennial Dreams and Moral Dilemmas, 257).
 In 1973, Trends, a publication of the United Presbyterian Church, devoted a full issue to the topic: "Homosexuality: Neither Sin or Sickness" (see Trends 5 [July-August 1973]).
 For example, Scanzoni and Mollenkot, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, 111, 71, 72, argue for "the possibility of a permanent, committed relationship of love between homosexuals analogous to heterosexual marriage." Adventist ethicist David R. Larson, "Sexuality and Christian Ethics," Spectrum 15 (May 1984):16, also writes: "Christians therefore have every reason to encourage homosexuals who are honestly convinced that they should neither attempt to function heterosexually nor remain celibate to form Closed-Coupled homosexual unions."