The last decade has brought a sea change in how scientific and religious communities practically address homosexuality. Let us briefly consider the following implications:
(1) Exclusionary policies and pre-conditions to church involvement are lessening. LGBT+ people can increasingly pursue faith in Christ in an increasing number of churches (not just gay affirming ones).
(2) The new APA language on self-determination and the importance of faith is beginning to recognize the validity of people who experience same-sex attraction but do not identify as LGBT+. This means that APA policies will increasingly improve the mental health of ALL persons who have non-heterosexual orientations.
(3) Internet pornography use among heterosexual believers in the church has tangibly leveled the playing field of faith and access to God. In short, evangelicals (in particular) are learning that “we” need to change! Yet as the addiction continues to expand, we are realizing the complexity of sexuality and just how needy “all of us” are for God’s mercy. In short, a Gospel without blind spots is finally surfacing. Hope in culture war victories is being replaced by God’s ancient promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14-15.
(4) The church is slowly warming to a biblical version of the APA’s policy of self-determination. From a biblical perspective (Matthew 7 and Romans 2), this means that we must refrain from making definitive conclusions about the authenticity of a person’s faith based upon a singular aspect of their life. Church leaders will increasingly nourish roots of faith that do exist rather than chopping at those roots. We can now enhance the way we shepherd LGBT+ youth into an adult faith – in the church.
(5) “Change” has historically been defined as a gay person becoming straight (inclusive of behavior, identity and attraction). Many claims of change have been disregarded as impossible, dishonest, unsustainable and even hateful. Today, “change” involving behavior and identity – absent change in underlying attractions – is increasingly regarded as legitimate and significant. There is growing recognition within the scientific community that change can allow – at least some – to pursue a heterosexual life path.
Join me next time as I wrap up this topic.