A Referendum On Depravity: Same-Sex Attraction As Sinful Desire -- By: Owen D. Strachan

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 020:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: A Referendum On Depravity: Same-Sex Attraction As Sinful Desire
Author: Owen D. Strachan

A Referendum On Depravity:
Same-Sex Attraction As Sinful Desire

Owen Strachan

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and
Church History Boyce College and Southern Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
With nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
So I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And thy truths seep away
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.

The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers edited by Arthur Bennett, has trained Christians for several generations in the daily confession of sin.1 Rarely is the book’s verse more poignant than when it considers the problem of indwelling sin in the Christian. As with much of the Protestant tradition, the Puritans understood they were shot through with iniquity.

For some time now, it has been customary to appreciate this humble spirituality. What we could call the Puritan worldview, or Puritan spirituality, has had a tremendous effect on the “big gospel” movement of the last decade of evangelical life. Included in this retrieval has been a revival of belief in the comprehensive sinfulness of humanity. Sometimes this is called “total depravity,” sometimes not, but a fulsome confession of human sinfulness is quite common in mainstream evangelical life. Many agree in theory with the words of Martin Luther in the first of his famous 95 Theses: “When our Lord

and Master Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”2

In recent days, evangelicals have considered how this theoretical belief bears on the everyday life of the believer. A lively conversation has developed that is centered in the nature of sexual attraction, and in particular, same-sex attraction (SSA). The core issue is this: when we experience SSA, do we need to repent if we turn away from the sexual element of this desire? Some have argued that while this impulse is not ideal, neither is it sinful. It is part of our disordered post-fall condition. We need only repent when our will actively fastens on the object of desire, to use language associated with Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic moral tradition.3

I am thankful for this fruitful conve...

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