Fight the Good Fight, No Matter What
by Alan P. Medinger
The battle to overcome homosexuality is long and difficult for many men and women. The temptations either to give up or to compromise can be great. The reasons to stay in the battle, however, far outweigh the reasons to give in.
"I've spent years trying to change. I've been through your programs. I've been to counselors. I've tried everything and nothing has changed. In fact, trying to abstain and failing has simply led to depression and more compulsive behavior. It's been terrible. What could be worse? Yes, I'm a Christian, and yes I want to be obedient to God, but for me it's just not possible. God knows my weaknesses, and He understands and forgives. I have decided to try and find one man and settle into a truly faithful relationship. I know it's not God's ideal, but for me it's the closest thing. He'll understand. We do serve a God of grace who knows our weaknesses."
Over the years we've heard these words a number of times; the Christian who has decided to give up the struggle with homosexuality and settle for the closest thing he feels he can manage to God's standard -- a permanent, faithful homosexual relationship. We are not addressing here the person who totally justifies the homosexual life, but rather, the one who admits that God has said that homosexual behavior is sinful, but who maintains that abstention for him or her is not a possibility, and therefore as a Christian, he or she must make what seems the best choice from among alternatives, none of which are ideal.
This approach has gained considerable theological support in recent years. The Catholic theologian Father Charles E. Curran, who taught at Catholic University in Washington until the Vatican took away his authority to teach, believed that his church should follow this path. I have read and heard this same position stated many times by mainline Protestant church leaders as well.
It seems so reasonable. We are all sinners, and given our nature, perhaps this is the best possible life for some people. A committed relationship can keep a person from worse sin. We serve a loving God. Does He want us to lead a life devoid of any hope of ever experiencing intimate love, a life of unending frustration? The fact that one person changed, doesn't mean that everyone can. When we talk about physical healing, we know that sometimes God heals and sometimes He doesn't. Why should it be any different with homosexuality? The fact that he healed you doesn't mean he will heal me.
I have to admit, that as I have witnessed the struggles some men and women go through in trying to overcome homosexuality, and how long the struggle sometimes lasts, a part of me has cried out to say, UOh go ahead, just find one person and settle down and do the best you can." In a way, this seems to be the loving approach.
I know, however, as a Christian and as one who knows the nature of homosexuality from years of personal and ministry experience, that this would be horrendous counsel. Referring to this as "compromise," let us look at both the practical and spiritual consequences of making such a decision or of leading someone else to make such a decision.
First, there is the serious spiritual danger in such a compromise. Implied in the decision is the premise that I am as good as I can be. This can be the worst deterrent to repentance. To say that I am as good as I can be is to make a judgment that none of us can make. That is why, I believe, Jesus called us to "... be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48), even though He knew our sin nature meant that none of us would attain such perfection in this life. Setting a standard for ourselves that is different from God's is the utmost in presumption. It is to be our own god. No, we are to seek perfection, and to rely on His wonderful grace when we fail.
Such a compromise is ends oriented, rather than means oriented. One thing that sets the Christian apart from most of the world is that our focus is to be on how we live our lives in obedience to the Lord, not on end results; they are up to God. Whether we are to be healed, whether we are to live sexually and emotionally fulfilled lives, are "ends" that are up to God. Today, I am called to live one day at a time as my loving God has directed me.
Then there is the matter of the heart; it is really "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." If such a compromise is put forth as an acceptable alternative for the Christian, when does one give up and make the compromise? After six months in New Directions? After five weeks, or five years, of intensive struggle. Knowing my own deceptive heart, I can assure you I would have made the compromise earlier, rather than later. What is the difference then, between a rational compromise and self justified sin?
From a practical point of view, how many who would have found great healing and a blessed heterosexual life, would never have found it had they taken the compromise route when the going seemed too difficult. In fact, it is often when the struggle is most intense and the future seems most bleak, that the words of deepest surrender are spoken, "God, no matter what -- your will be done, not mine," and the doors to real change finally swing open.
Our compromises can have serious social implications. We are created to be social beings, and we must consider the effect of our decisions on others. "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I will not stand against a woman's right to have an abortion," and so we have a million and a half abortions a year in this country. "Divorce is never good, but sometimes it is the better way," and so one half of the marriages in this country break up, leaving millions and millions of children without one parent and too often living in poverty.
History is showing us that compromise on moral issues, even when it is motivated by compassion and reason -- perhaps most often when it is motivated by our standards of compassion and reason -- can have terrible consequences. To declare that homosexuality is not God's plan, but it is the only reasonable and compassionate answer for some, is to say that chastity or a faithful heterosexual marriage are not really the only options open to us. Such a compromise approach would lead many young people who might have successfully resisted it, to accept a homosexual life.
To offer counsel that would substitute our standards for God's in the name of compassion, is akin to declaring that God is not compassionate, that His standards are arbitrary. History should be showing us that God's standards are never arbitrary; they are always totally consistent with His love for us. God says no because He loves us. God said no to homosexual behavior because He loves us. We are seeing that the alternatives to God's way are not freedom and self-actualization, they are poverty, disease, and death.
Finally, there is the simple matter that the compromise being discussed here simply doesn't work in the vast majority of cases. Most gay men do eventually seek a permanent, faithful relation- ship. But we know from experience and abundant statistics that such relationships are terribly elusive.
The compromise simply cannot be justified on spiritual, moral or practical grounds. Jesus, said: "If anyone loves me he will keep my word..." (John 14:23). Nowhere did He suggest that we simply do the best we can and compromise with sin. For the Christian, loving obedience to God is our calling, not personal satisfaction.
The Church is called to stand for God's Word. In many ways, it is called to a parental role, standing in for God who is both the nurturer and the lawgiver. When the church is out of balance in its masculine and feminine roles, it will veer into either compromise or legalism. We live in an age when the greater danger seems to be compromise.
The church is called to love the sinner, and to be an agent of grace for those of us who fail; it is never called to compromise with sin.
The road we have chosen is the difficult one -- the narrow road that few will take. But it is the road that leads to life. For me, I would rather fight the good fight and fail than compromise. For if I fail, I know that I have an advocate on my side. If I compromise, who knows where I stand?
Copyright © 1992 Alan P. Medinger and Regeneration. All rights reserved. Posted on the web with permission.