John Piper's old outfit has sponsored a couple of articles on "same-sex attraction." This may be catching on. I notice a PCA pastor who plugged it, saying:
Roen believes there is a distinction between experiencing temptation and engaging in sin. I believe this is a helpful and, most importantly, biblical distinction. Our Lord was tempted in every way as are we yet without sin. Certainly, since we are fallen and "groaning" (Rom 8) we know what it is for temptation to give way to lust which then gives birth to evil deeds. But this does not change the fact that being tempted is not the same thing as being carried away by our lusts. Indeed, to equate the experience of temptation with sinful lusts and evil deeds is to place a burden upon our brothers and sisters that Scripture does not.
It's good for Christian churches to have outreach ministries to the homosexual community. That said, the analysis by both parties suffers from serious confusions:
i) I'm struck by the "same-sex" as a substitute for "homosexual." Is this a studied euphemism to avoid the more invidious connotations of "homosexual"? Should Christian churches accept this euphemism?
ii) How can Pruitt say homosexual attraction isn't equivalent to sinful lust? Homosexual attraction is contrary to God's design in a way that heterosexual attraction is not. Therefore, we're dealing with something intrinsically perverse, whether or not you act on it. It's not the way you're supposed to feel.
iii) Likewise, how does Pruit distinguish between sexual temptation and lust? Is he using "lust" in a specialized sense, which he differentiates from sexual attraction or erotic desire? If so, is that hairsplitting dichotomy psychologically plausible?
Perhaps hovering in the background is a particular interpretation of Mt 5:28. I happen to think D. A. Carson's interoperation makes the most sense. Cf. REBC 9:184.
iv) How does it place an undue burden on Christians to say homosexual attraction is sinful? What's wrong with stating that some Christians struggle with homosexual impulses. Those impulses are sinful. However, all Christians struggle with sinful impulses. As long as we are contrite, as long as we resist temptation, as long as we seek daily forgiveness, we are faithful, heavenbound believers?
v) It's true that feeling tempted isn't necessarily sinful. And resisting temptation is virtuous. However, to say feeling tempted isn't always sinful doesn't mean feeling tempted is never sinful. To begin with, sin isn't confined to what we do. Sin includes thoughts and feelings. Indeed, a sinful act is commonly (but not necessarily) the outworking of a sinful desire.
vi) Apropos (vii), some desires are innocent, but it would be sinful to act on them. I don't think finding someone's spouse desirable is sinful. But acting on that desire would be sinful.
By contrast, pedophilia is not an innocent desire. An adult shouldn't feel that way about prepubescent children in the first place. That reflects a twisted inclination or disposition.
vii) Pruitt's appeal to Heb 4:15 needs to be qualified. The statement is hyperbolic. The point is not that Jesus felt tempted by everything that Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer found desirable. Some sinful desires are an acquired taste. Second-order desires which presuppose sinful indulgence. You have to be hardened to find that appealing.
Conversely, Jesus was subject to some unprecedented temptations. Temptations unique to his redemptive mission–a distinction which the author of Hebrews expounds in some detail.
We also need to distinguish between "tempted" and "tested." In the social context of Hebrews, with its focus on Christian persecution, the author's point is that Jesus doesn't call on his followers to suffer anything he didn't suffer. Indeed, he suffered more than they ever will, and suffered in ways which will spare them ultimate suffering.