David Powlison on Biological Tendencies, Homosexual and Beyond

This beautifully written piece by Christian blogger Justin Taylor is well worth reading in its entirety at the website linked below…

Excerpted from Powlison on Biological Tendencies, Homosexual and Beyond, published Mar 5, 2007, by Justin Taylor on his “Between Two Worlds” blog:

In light of recent postings about the genetic causes of homosexuality, I received a helpful note from David Powlison. In the book, Psychology and Christianity: Four Views (IVP, 2000), one of the contributors to that volume, David Myers (professor of psychology at Hope College), advocates a genetic basis for homosexuality. Powlison addresses that issue in the course of his response to Myers’s essay…

The point is that our various “tendencies” are part of a complex picture of the way in which all of us — not just homosexuals — work.

Here’s the relevant section from Powlison’s essay:

…It is no surprise that people being redeemed out of homosexual lust still battle with temptations – and that some fall back. This is true of every pattern of sexual lust, not only homosexuality: a woman whose romantic-erotic fantasies are energized by reading romance novels and watching Tom Cruise in Top Gun; a man whose eyes rove for a voyeuristic glimpse down a blouse; a woman aroused by sadomasochistic activities and implements; a man obsessed with young girls. In each of these cases, lust has been patterned around a characteristic object; love will learn a different pattern in Christ’s lifelong school for reorienting the disoriented.

…I’m not familiar with the studies of female homosexuality, but let me offer an “unscientific” observation arising from pastoral experience. I’ve known many lesbians driven more by “intimacy lusts” than by the unvarnished eroticism of many heterosexual or homosexual males. In fact, most of them had once been actively heterosexual, unsuccessfully looking for love from a man or men. They eventually found that other women were similarly wired to intimacy and companionship as the context for erotic feelings. An emotional closeness initially developed that was progressively sexualized during the process of redefining oneself as a lesbian. Such a process makes lucid sense on the Faith’s analysis of the outworking and inworking of sin. And I’ve seen the fiercely tender grace of God break in, progressively rewiring some of these women. Statistics might give definition to words such as “most,” “many,” and “some.” But statistics could neither confirm nor disconfirm the point of view whose plausibility is established theologically, anecdotally, and pastorally.

…Sin is an unsearchable morass of disposition, drift, willful choice, unwitting impulse, obsession, compulsion, seeming happenstance, the devil’s appetite for souls, the world’s shaping influence, and God’s hardening of hard hearts. Of course biological factors are at work: we are embodied sinners and saints. That some people may be more prone to homosexuality is no more significant that that some may be more prone to worry.

Grace is similarly personalized. Some of God’s children find Phillipians 4:4-9 breathes particular comfort amid their besetting temptation to anxiety. Others find the Spirit pacifying their fierce temper and writing James 3:1-4:12 on their hearts. Still others find Proverbs 23:29-35 clobbers them about the madness of their heavy drinking, and that they grow wiser as they quit hanging out with old drinking buddies and spend time with new, wiser companions (Proverbs 13:20). Still others experience a keen-edged joy in earning a pay check, paying for things they once stole, and sharing money with people in need (Ephesians 4:28). Others find that Christ’s comprehensive vision for rearranging everyone’s sexuality – in the whole Bible, not just “a half dozen verses” – reaches into their particular form of disorientation, teaching them to love people, not lust after them. One and all, former neurotics, rageaholics, drunks, thieves, and gays find that truth rings true and rings with hope.

Each of us deals with what Richard Lovelace termed “characteristic flesh” (Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p. 110). Repeat temptations and instances of recidivism do not change the rules. Strugglers with indwelling sin genuinely grow in grace, but often the generic issue remains on stage in some manner throughout a person’s lifetime. Abiding struggles are no reason to throw over the Christian life which is defined as growth amid struggle unto a future perfection (1 John 3:1-3). Those being redeemed out of homosexualized lust are examples of the rule, not exceptions granted license to give up the fight and rationalize their sin.

Continue reading at Beyond Two Worlds…

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 1:17 am and is filed under A - What does the Bible say about homosexuality?, B - Ex-Homosexual Testimonies, Born that Way?, D - GLBTQ Pressure Within Churches, News. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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