Preston Sprinkle republished a 2017 essay by Greg Coles: “You do not need to pray that God makes me straight” (“Do not beg God to make me straight”). He recently left at the Center for Faith, Spirituality, and Gender. Coles strongly rejects the idea of heterosexuality.
Coles’ message joins a huge group of books and symposiums that encourage Christians to involve them in LGBT issues. They are supposed to share “the truth in love.” There are outstanding leaders of this movement with ties in Christian institutions. For example, Mark Yarhouse is a professor at Regent University.
The Sprinkles Center resembles Love Boldly , Faith in America , Reformation Project , Revoice , Spiritual Friendship , New Ways Ministry , and LivingOut . There are also the Metropolitan Community Churches . There are famous people who collaborate with them, such as Jackie Hill Perry , Rosaria Butterfield , Karen Swallow Prior , Wesley Hill , and Sam Allberry .
These groups want to build bridges between two opposing perspectives. One adapts biblical exegesis to postmodern culture. When you consider today’s homosexual culture, that perspective supports identity, desire, or even homosexual acts (read here to study “Side A” versus “Side B”.)
The other perspective distinguishes the cultures of today valued by the authority of the Bible. Following what the Bible says, consider sins, identities, desires, and current homosexual acts ( here is an argument that links postmodern sexual movements with the biblical story of Sodom.)
Coles says that heterosexuality and homosexuality are similar because both are equally broken and full of sin. He states, “gay or straight, we are all vulnerable to lustful behaviors.” He presents a decision between two different options:
- reject all sexuality because everything is equally sinful, or
- Offer the same grace to all sexual desires.
The first option would deny Christians the pleasures and procreation of normal sexuality. This is impossible and is not according to what Jesus commands (He glorifies intimate relationships between females and men within marriage in Matthew 19: 4-12 and in St. Mark 10: 6-12 .) Readers will be forced to choose the second option.
Then the grace to all sexuality becomes de facto in supporting homosexual desire. This is rhetorical but it is not biblical.
If the differences between heterosexuality and homosexuality are erased, several pro-LGBT beliefs are strengthened:
- The wishes are “normal,”
- Desires make an “identity,” and
- It is “discrimination” to expect homosexuals to overcome their desires, if we do not expect the same with respect to heterosexuals.
Accepted these beliefs, it is very difficult to follow a chaste ethic, even if we have the purest reasons. Study the case of Julie Rodgers at Wheaton College.
Meanwhile, the Catholic and secular contexts, homosexual and heterosexual, all give reasons to the evangelicals to be very careful with this rhetoric. The Catholic Church suffers catastrophic consequences due to sexual abuse by priests. Between these eighty and five percent occurred between the same sex. The MeToo movement also focused on heterosexual abuse caused by the loss of sexual boundaries. Certain limits matter. However, the movement for “truth in love” is always becoming more popular.
I was editor of the book Jephthah’s Daughters (2015). It included a chapter of mine called “Women’s Problem.” In North America, the phobia of sex often produces a male fear of women and a female fear of men. Then men avoid women and women avoid men. The result is a culture that separates the sexes from one another. Nathaniel Hawthorne did not invent his stories of the fear the Puritans felt about sexuality. From “Rip van Winkle” to Walden,there is a very long history of Americans fleeing domestic heterosexuality (I also investigate this enigma in several chapters of Colorful Conservative. )
Coles presents a new idea? It really is centuries old. He and most others in this movement start with the wrong idea. The great challenge for Christians today is not “how do we react to homosexuality?” But “how do we cultivate a biblical heterosexuality?”
In Genesis 1-2 God designs males and females to accompany and benefit one another (and each other) through sexual intercourse. The fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 presents “mother” and “fathers” – papers related to sexual intercourse and procreation – as persons who must be equally respected, so that the entire “earth” may find prosperity. Rejecting a sex is rejecting God’s design in writing.
God did not create sexual orientations. He created sexes. God gave each sex a body capable of giving physical pleasure and children to the other sex. All are heterosexual because everyone is born in the bodies of a man or a woman. This truth does not change even if one has very difficult feelings against which one must fight. Homosexuality has nothing to do with heterosexuality and the first does not equal the second.
There are people who feel powerful desires towards the same sex. So says Greg Coles in his essay. But it does not change the truth that they are already heterosexual because God created them that way, so the Bible tells us. Men in such a situation have to stop analyzing themselves to guess if they can get straight-enough already with that very tired debate. They need teachers who can help them invite girls to see if they can marry one.
Ministries should help people prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for the deliberate courtship of the other sex. Coles recounts his own failures when he could not feel desire to see pornographic images of unknown women. There he loses his thread. God created this man’s body to be attractive to a woman. Then Greg Coles has a gift that he should share. Ministries should encourage Christians to use their anatomies given by God. Their sexual anatomy gives them a talent that should be shared according to their design, not deny it to the other sex.
We have spent too much time focusing on the question of whether Christianity prohibits homosexuality or not. In 2019, we need a new discourse on heterosexuality:
- that is an inherent good, if it is not abused,
- that is incomparable to homosexuality, and
- make it the goal of any ministry for Christians identified as LGBT.
Men and women-indeed all human-have equal rights and obligations to be in such a discourse. Everyone should stop saying “heterosexuality is not holiness.” That saying is uncertain and deceptive. It is a non sequitur. God designed us. His design for us is sacred. His design for us is heterosexual. Even a celibate has to recognize the beauty and intrinsic value of the other sex. No one can live his life believing that the other sex does not deserve affection and joy.
To those who are like Greg Coles, let me tell you, “Stop thinking about homosexuality and be male as God created you!” If you turn your thoughts to darkness, pray and fill your minds and hearts with the Holy Spirit.
Preston Sprinkle republished to 2017 essay by Greg Coles: “You do not need to pray that God makes me straight” at the Center for Faith, Spirituality, and Gender. Coles boldly rejects the idea of heterosexuality.
Coles’s message joins an enormous genre of books and conferences Exhorting Christians to engage LGBT issues by speaking the “truth in love.” Key players in the discussion hail from Christian institutions, most notably Mark Yarhouse of Regent University.
Sprinkle’s Center resembles Love Boldly , Faith in America , the Reformation Project , Revoice , Spiritual Friendship , New Ways Ministry , and LivingOut , not to mention the Metropolitan Community Churches . They partner with Christians like Jackie Hill Perry , Rosaria Butterfield , Karen Swallow Prior , Wesley Hill , and Sam Allberry .
These groups aim to bridge clashing worldviews. One worldview adapts Biblical exegesis to postmodern culture. In noting homosexual culture today, this worldview condoms homosexual identity, homosexual desire, or even sodomy itself (see here for “Side A” versus “Side B”.)
The other discerns today’s cultures according to the Bible. Based on what the Bible says, it deems today’s homosexual identity, desire, and intercourse wrong (see here for an argument linking postmodern sexual movements to the Sodom story.)
Coles equates heterosexuality and homosexuality as equally broken and sinful, stating, “Gay or straight, we are all drawn to lustful behaviors.” He offers an either / or choice:
- reject all sex as equally sinful
- offer the same grace to all sexual inclinations.
The first would deny Christians the pleasures and procreation of normal sex. Since this is impossible and conflicts with Jesus (who glorifies male-female intimacy within marriage in Matthew 19: 4-12 and in Mark 10: 6-12 ), readers must choose # 2.
Consequently equal grace to all sexuality becomes a de facto endorsement of homosexual desire. This is rhetorical but not Biblical.
The leveling between heterosexuality and homosexuality reinforces LGBT tenets:
- the desires are “normal,”
- the desires form an “identity,” and
- it is “bigoted” to ask that homosexuals repudiate their desires if we do not ask heterosexuals to abandon theirs.
These tenets make it difficult to uphold chastity, even with the best intentions. Study the case of Julie Rodgers at Wheaton College.
Catholic and secular, homosexual and heterosexual contexts all provide grounds for evangelicals to approach such reasoning with caution. The Catholic Church faces catastrophic fallout over sex abuse by clergy, of which 85% was same-sex. A MeToo movement spotlighted heterosexual abuses resulting from the loss of sexual boundaries. Clear limits matter Yet the “truth in love” movement grows in appeal.
So what’s going on? Rather than scan the Christian responses to homosexuality, one can gain greater insight by examining evangelicals’ failure to understand heterosexuality .
In Jephthah’s Daughters (2015), I included a chapter called “Problem of Women.” In America, fear of sex has often led to a female fear of women and a female fear of men. In response, men avoid women and women avoid men through social arrangements that become sex-segregated. Nathaniel Hawthorne did not construct the Puritans’ fear of sexuality from nothing. From “Rip van Winkle” to Walden, one finds a long history of Americans dreading heterosexual domesticity (I explore this conundrum at length in The Colorful Conservative as well.)
While Coles appears to a new idea it is actually old. His first premise, like the premise of most others in this movement, errs: the major challenge facing Christians is not how to respond to homosexuality, but rather how to cultivate a Biblical heterosexuality.
In Genesis 1-2 God designs evils and females to fulfill each other through sexual intercourse. The fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 places “mother” and “father” -roles based on intercourse and procreation-as figures whose respect is flourishing on “the land.” Rejecting one sex goes against God’s design in scripture.
God did not create sexual orientations. I have created sexes. God gave each sex a body equipped to provide physical pleasure and children to the other sex. Everybody is heterosexual because everyone is either male or female, regardless of what feelings they may grapple with. Homosexuality has nothing to do with heterosexuality and can not be cast as its corollary.
Some people feel powerful same-sex desires, as Greg Coles narrates in his column. This does not change the fact that they are heterosexual already, because God made them that way, as the Bible tells us. Men in his situation need to stop self-analyzing to see if they can become straight-that is a moot point. They need coaching to help them date marriageable women.
Ministries should help people prepare themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually for deliberate courtship of the opposite sex. Coles relates his own failures to feel desire at random images of women. That misses the point. God created his body to be desirable for a woman, so he has a gift to share . Ministries should encourage Christians to use their God-given anatomies. Their sexed anatomy grants them a pleasurable talent to be shared according to their purpose rather than denied the opposite sex.
The focus on whether Christianity forbids homosexuality has taken too much energy. For 2019, we need to start a new discussion of heterosexuality as:
- a good in itself, provided that it is not abused,
- incomparable to homosexuality, and
- the necessary end of any ministry for Christians who identify as LGBT.
Males and females-indeed all humans -have equal right and duty to engage in such a discussion. People should stop saying “heterosexuality is not holiness.” That statement is vague and misleading, to non-sequitur. God’s design for us is holy and His design is heterosexual. Even a celibate person has to acknowledge the beauty and intrinsic value of the opposite sex. Nobody can live life believing that the opposite sex does not deserve affection and pleasure.
To people like Greg Coles, I can only say, stop thinking about homosexuality and apply your male body to its God-given purpose. If your thoughts go back to dark places, pray and fill your mind and heart with the Holy Spirit.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.