We are committed to understanding the central ideas of Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, Ex-Gays?, and to do this we want to work our way patiently through their book. The central thesis of this book is that same-sex orientation and gay identity (their categories) can be changed as a result of the Christian faith. Today we look at chp 2, their statement on the Christian understanding of sexuality.
I am not persuaded that the best rhetorical strategy has been chosen by J-Y. Here’s what I mean: they regularly assert that the APA (American Psychological Association) does not agree with their Christian faith and that the APA does not think orientation and sexual identity can be changed. I’m not convinced the way to make their case is to put their target audience on their heels. Instead, I would think it would be more persuasive just to show that there is evidence for change. Their strategy, however, does not change the substance of their argument or the evidence they provide.
Now to the chp… here are eleven theses inherent to a “conservative Christian” understanding of sexuality and same-sex attraction and identity.
I’m most interested in what you think of their #4, 5, 8, 9, and 10.
1. The Bible must be read from Genesis 1 to Revelation as the story of God’s covenantal revelation to humans.
2. Conservative Christians (CCs) believe in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and the veracity of the Bible.
3. Physical reality is good — and humans are embodied persons. Embodiment “grounds and subsumes sexuality” (48). Male and female are embodiments and “very good.”
4. Humans are relationally created: CCs reject homosexuality because of the creation story where we see God design one male and one female for permanent union.
5. Intercourse has a “determinate or fixed meaning” — “the establishment of a one-flesh union” (49). Sexual union transcends one’s intentions; whatever one’s intentions, sexual union establishes a one-flesh union.
6. Traditional religiosity, empirical studies show, is connected with “more positive experiences of sexuality and higher sexual satisfaction” (50). [This in contrast to stereotypes. This is the sort of rhetorical strategy they seem intent on bringing up.] In addition to one-flesh union, intercourse is also for reproduction, pleasure and need gratification.
7. Marriage is “iconic” (51): it opens up a window on our relationship to God.
8. Our sexual behaviors, desires, and beings are impacted by the fall — there are “such evil tendencies as selfishness, sensuality … or subjugation” (52). Sinful brokenness impairs also our desire to be good. Scripture is God’s design for us to know what God wants for us.
9. The biblical command — in Ten Commandments — not to commit adultery is an affirmation of monogamy, fidelity and heterosexuality.
10. Genital sex is not essential to human happiness and wholeness — denials are inherent at times to God’s will for our life.
Then they study in biblical passages on homosexuality in a traditional (CC) manner. And they survey a variety of Christian ministries to same-sex persons.