I realize his book relates to what he calls, “the church’s failed attempt to cure homosexuality.” Really! Let’s face it, none of us are “cured from” sin or any sinful propensity or proclivity. We are “covered” by Christ’s blood, but not necessarily “cured.” I’m sure there are many heterosexual men and women who would confess confidentially that their sinful propensities and desires remain strong and are a continual struggle, but they are able to resist due … by the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
I appreciate the Ascension Presbytery’s report inasmuch as is made available in this article. Most books dealing with such controversial issues such as homosexuality or any sexual sin may not be totally flawed. Yet their aim and emphases have serious influence and ramifications in diluting biblical truth by either softening the exceeding sinfulness of sexual sins or ignoring the universality of total depravity that affects all people, not only those with homosexual desires. The latter relates to the tendency of homosexuals and lesbians considering themselves exceptional or unique. No, immoral sexual desires afflict heterosexuals, pedophiles, and more. Universal depravity in the area of sexuality implies in Scripture that regardless of the direction such desires, temptations, or urges take, God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit would be the same for all.
Nonetheless, when it comes to the issue of same-sex sexual desires or actions, we cannot escape the fact there is nothing in Scripture that even hints at sympathy for either. The same can be said for heterosexual adultery, fornication, or addiction to pornography. Throughout God’s divine revelation and Church history, sin—and particularly sexual sin—is/was treated as egregious. Perhaps we are dealing with what Carl Trueman refers to as The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.
Additionally, nowhere in God’s divine revelation do we find any positive reference to identifying ourselves or our personhood with sin, sexual or otherwise, especially not as Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ. We cannot escape the fact that God hates sin or that Jesus clarified that even the mental or emotional lust is sin. I realize this requires boldness on my part to say, but I believe Greg Johnson desperately needs to be encouraged to repent. Whether he realizes it or not, he is normalizing and promoting an identity that God has clearly communicated to be serious, to be unnatural, to be abhorrent, and to be renounced. Both sadly and unfortunately, he is wrongly influencing others. Any and all sexual sins must be fled.
I realize his book relates to what he calls, “the church’s failed attempt to cure homosexuality.” Really! Let’s face it, none of us are “cured from” sin or any sinful propensity or proclivity. We are “covered” by Christ’s blood, but not necessarily “cured.” I’m sure there are many heterosexual men and women who would confess confidentially that their sinful propensities and desires remain strong and are a continual struggle, but they are able to resist due to their knowledge of God’s will for holiness and purity, determination, and by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Joseph fled Potiphar’s wife; Paul warned Timothy to flee youthful lusts. It’s the same with many other sins unrelated to human sexuality.
So, Greg Johnson probably relates to some who admit they are unable to abandon or stop their particular struggles, but that ignores they are not alone or unique. All Christians struggle with some besetting sin in their lives. He would do more spiritual good by counseling them to abandon their mental and emotional sense of uniqueness and aloneness to join the rest of Christianity. And a vital first step is to stop identifying one’s Christian identity with sins and sinful lusts.
One thought about the issue of orientation might be helpful. The majority of people are orientated to opposite-sex relationships. That doesn’t preclude or dismiss their sinful propensities, temptations, or urges to sexual immorality. And they don’t identify themselves as “straight” or “heterosexual” Christians. They are also in the same boat as to desires and actions.
Greg Johnson ends his book with this statement: “I’ve been walking with Jesus in celibacy as a Christian adult for more than thirty years. I’m here to say it’s worth it. Jesus is worth it. And the best is yet to come.” That is definitely laudable, but . . . But it’s based also on identifying himself and his walk with Jesus with a sin Jesus died for and for which He cleansed and covered him with His blood. Many of us are life-long single men and women living chaste lives (I prefer that definition, as it puts us in the same company with chaste married people), but . . . But we are not choosing any of our many sins or sinful temptations to identify ourselves for which Jesus paid such a high price and penalty to atone for and our natural propensity to sin.
Dr. Johnson definitely means well, but he is called to be a shepherd to a large diversity of people struggling with the diversity of the fall’s consequences. He certainly wouldn’t ask everyone to publicly identify with some prominent sin or temptation in their life, would he? Neither should he. No biblical shepherd, apostle, bishop, elder, pastor, teacher identified with sin. Nothing could be clearer to us as Christians: we are redeemed not only from the penalty for our sin; we are also redeemed from identification by or with our sin. And it’s because we really do care both in truth and love that we are compelled to resist a false approach to sin, and a trend never before allowed or imagined in the Church of Jesus Christ and to humbly and graciously warn against.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.