Yesterday in my Couples, Marriages, and Families class, we had a panel of singles and couples come and answer questions. The board consisted of a gay man, a single mother, a cross dresser and his wife, and a married mother of three. It was very quite interesting. To be honest, I went in with preconceived notions on almost all of the panel, especially the gay man and the cross dresser, but I tried to leave it at the door and learn from them. One of the things that stuck out to me as I tried to be understanding of their strange, if not sinful, attitudes, was that they always mentioned this “inner desire” to be with a man (in the case of the gay man) or to wear women’s clothing. They stressed the point that they had tried to suppress it and to get rid of it, yet these desires never went away. The next step that each man took, was to act upon the desires of their hearts.
I wondered then, how these things could be sins, if they were an desire embedded on their souls. The answer becomes clear to me in Romans 8:5-8
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
I think that it is pretty clear that the sinful nature is natural. It is a desire that we are born with. It is something that we will struggle with for the rest of our natural lives. The thing here is that we must not live according to that desire, but according to the Spirit. It never says this will be easy. In fact by reading the Bible, we find that it is anything but easy. It is obvious here that we are not pleasing God when we live this way (by our natural desires, that is).
The idea of the sinful nature is further expanded upon in Galatians 5:19-26
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
When I look at these verses, I feel very convicted. I see myself in the beginning. I also see that if I continue to live by my flesh, I will not inherit the kingdom. Yes, Christ died for my sins, but if I truly accept His gift, I must take up my own cross, crucify my desire and live in step with the Spirit. It is clear that works do not save me, but works are a result of my being saved. They are the evidence. It’s like this. When I pass a class, its not the letter ‘A’ on my transcript that got me the passing grade, its all the studying that I did. The ‘A’ is just the evidence. Similarly, its not the works that saved me, but accepting Christ’s payment that saved me. The works are just the evidence of it.
So, back to the panel….
I cannot condone what the gay man and the cross dresser do. Do I feel for their pain of having those desires? Yes, as all humans, we should, because we experience the sinful nature as much as they do. But they are living according to it, ignoring God’s call to live not by our desires, but the Spirit’s. I have compassion as far as that they need a Shepherd to lead them from their sinful desire, but I do not have compassion that they are offended at people calling them to do so.