On sexual inclination, desire, and activity

The subject of human sexuality, especially homosexuality and the gospel, has not particularly been on my mind lately, but I just read a post that quotes New Testament scholar and contemporary sage N.T. Wright on the subject. It's worth reading... here.

A few of the points on which I agree with Wright:
  • Scripture sets out a clear boundary for human sexual activity: it belongs within heterosexual marriage.
  • In Scripture, the monogamous relationship between a man and a woman is woven into the very foundation of covenant society.
  • This message has always been rejected as inconceivable by various forms of paganism, both ancient and contemporary.
  • We must distinguish between inclination and desire, on one hand, and activity, on the other.

We all have a variety of inclinations to sin. To argue that we have a "right" to act on our inclinations, or that God would want us to be happy and therefore condones us acting on our inclinations, is a baldfaced overturning of the heart of discipleship -- which I take to be laying down our lives (i.e., setting aside our inclinations and desires) and living as God wants us to (i.e., letting him define the best way for us to respond to our inclinations and desires). As it turns out, there is far deeper happiness living as God wants us to than there is living as we desire. But we easily become suckers when there is an apparently reasonable appeal to our desires, don't we?

Human sexual inclination is not a simple issue. Within any human being, there is a multitude of possibilities in genetic makeup, hormonal balance, family-of-origin relational influences, and other experiences. Inclination and desire are strongly affected by all these elements.

On the other hand, Scripture's instruction on human sexual activity is much more clear. We may wish it was another way, but our discipleship is determined by how we respond to the way it really is.


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