Godliness, Same-Sex Attraction and Gender Dysphoria

Greg Strand – January 13, 2016 Leave a comment

Below is an excerpt from the book by Ed Shaw, Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life. The British title is The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction. The former highlights the issue of same-sex attraction and the church, while placing in the background the plausibility question. In reversing this, the latter highlights the plausibility problem, while placing it in the context of the issue of same-sex attraction and the church. The titles do give a slightly different emphasis. My preference is the British title.

Following this excerpt below by Shaw are a number of responses, which are, as you would probably expect, a bit mixed. We heard this when we discussed our draft of our A Church Statement on Human Sexuality:Homosexuality and Same-Sex “Marriage” – A Resource for EFCA Churches. Some concluded that sanctification means that one’s same-sex attracted feelings ought to be completely sanctified, i.e. overcome such that there is no longer any struggle with it. This overlooks the fact that in the Christian life there is ongoing struggle to put to death the sins of the flesh and to put on the graces of Christ (Col. 3:5-17), both of which are made possible by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. There is transformation (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:20-21) into the likeness of the Son (Rom. 8:29), but completely overcoming sin awaits glory. And until that time, we fight the fight of and for faith.

This is an important issue, which we still need to consider, to think through, to ponder, etc. Although there is unanimity among Evangelicals regarding the authority of the Bible in all matters pertaining to life, doctrine, history and science (even though it is not a scientific textbook, it does speak authoritatively when addressing matters of science), or one is not an Evangelical, there is no unanimity among Evangelicals about how to process this biblically, theologically and pastorally. However, I think there is a growing awareness in this realm, with increasing nuancing which is important and helpful, without compromising biblical and theological truth.

Here is the excerpt from Shaw’s book: Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality

Douglas Wilson takes issue with this excerpt: Semi-Gloss Obfuscation

And then Wilson posts again, reading it slightly differently but still with issues of concern about it: Multiple Women in One Day Attracted

Both Tim Challies – The Plausibility Problem – and Ron Citlau – The Plausibility of the Celibate Life for the Same-Sex Attracted – give affirming reviews of the book.

Denny Burk mostly affirms the work of Shaw, and takes slight issue with Wilson: “Giving away the store” on same-sex attraction?

Although these links above address a work focusing on same-sex attraction, an added dimension to our contemporary human sexuality discussion is gender dysphoria, which we will address at our upcoming Theology Conference: The Ministry of the Gospel and Gender Dysphoria. If there are strong differences regarding how to think and process biblically, theologically and pastorally the same-sex attracted person(s), that is multiplied when it comes to gender dysphoria, with transgenderism being the most commonly known expression of gender dysphoria. This also requires a keen sense of the biblical, theological pastoral truth and implications/applications based on that truth. And because we are holistic beings, one also ought to consider biology, psychology and sociology. These are not absolutely definitive, which is reserved for sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, but they do shed light, even if some of that light is on our depravity, it still also is with a hint and glimmer of the imago Dei that remains in all.

Please plan to join us for our Theology Conference on The Doctrine of the Church, followed by one of the questions/challenges experienced in the church today, gender dysphoria. We remain grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ as we seek to minister to those struggling with gender dysphoria with that uncompromising, explicit and loving truth of the gospel. You can access the Theology Conference site here, and you can register here.

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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