A Biblical Framework for Evaluating the Morality of Sexual Desire

Note: Articles classified as essays may be long, advanced, or esoteric.

This paper attempts a direct response to two claims: 1) the experience of sexual attraction for a person of the same sex is inherently sinful and requires repentance; and 2) that if a person has congenital same-sex attraction (SSA), then God is responsible for the attraction and there must be a God-honoring way for them to fulfill those desires. The first claim is being made strongly in both scholarly1 and popular venues,2 and the second occurred in private conversation with a respected leader on the topic of same-sex attraction. In regard to the first claim, I will contend that the experience of SSA is a manifestation of the fall but need not be sinful or require repentance. With regard to the second claim, I will argue that if SSA can be congenital, that divine responsibility for SSA does not entail divine approval of SSA but that there are God-honoring ways to fulfill the desires at the root of SSA. In this paper I will first outline briefly the position being taken by Denny Burk and others, explore a biblical theology of desire, apply that theology to sexual desire, touch on the implications of the biology of sexual desire, and then conclude with thoughts on pastoral responses to persons experiencing SSA.

Evangelical Claims Regarding Desire as Sinful

In his article, “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?,” Denny Burk defines “sinful sexual desire” by looking first to Augustine and Calvin to define the problem of indwelling attraction to sin. He agrees with Augustine that the “sinful nature consists not merely in sinful deeds, but also in sinful desire and inclination (a.k.a. ‘concupiscience’).” He notes that “Augustine understands ‘desire’ (conscupiscence) to be the key pre-behavioral component of our sin, and that desire accounts for the fallen inclinations that we all continually experience before ever actually choosing to sin.” Burk agrees with Calvin that “there is always sin in the saints, until they are freed from their mortal frame, because depraved concupiscence resides in their flesh, and is at variance with rectitude.”3

Turning from historical theology, Burk looks second to Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:27-28 that “everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” He argues that “the chosenness of a desire does not ultimately determine its sinfulness.” Rather, the sinfulness of a desire is determined “solely by its conformity or lack of conformity to the law of God.” Further, a desire’s conformity to God’s law is a function of the object of the desire.4 A sexual desire for a forbidden object, viz. “non-marital erotic activity” is sinful. A sexual desire for a non-forbidden object, viz. one’s spouse, is not sinful.5 Since, on the definition of the American Psychological Association, homosexual orientation includes “an enduring pattern of … sexual attractions to men,”6 Burk draws the conclusion that homosexual orientation is sinful and that “the very experience of the desire becomes an occasion for repentance. … it is pastoral malpractice to tell someone who is feeling a sexual attraction for a person of the same sex that they need not repent.”7

Burk concludes his JETS article with the following paragraph:

Insofar as same-sex orientation designates the experience of sexual desire for a person of the same-sex, yes, it is sinful. Insofar as same-sex orientation indicates emotional/ romantic attractions that brim with erotic possibility, yes, those attractions too are sinful. Insofar as sexual orientation designates an identity, yes, that identity too is a sinful fiction that contradicts God’s purposes for his creation.8

Although there are significant elements of overlap, my reading of Scripture’s doctrine of original sin and particularly Romans 7 diverges from that of Augustine and Calvin. For example, I believe Romans 7:14-25 describes Paul’s life as an enlightened, but unregenerate Pharisee. Indwelling sin does not reign in a believer’s life (Rom. 6:6-7; 14; 7:4-6). Nonetheless, attention to Burk’s theological argumenta­tion raises important questions about the nature of desire, its role in temptation, and its implications for Christology (the nature of Christ’s temptations). A careful reading of Burk leads me to conclude that there is room to refine and clarify his claims about the morality of desire, and that such refinements have significant pastoral implications.

A Biblical Theology of Desire

Before examining the Bible’s theology of sexual desire, we need to gain clarity on its wider theology of desire. The terminology for desire is extensive in both Hebrew and Greek.9

No distinct terminology is used to distinguish sinful desires from righteous desires. The same terms are used for both.10

A complex typology of desire emerges as one examines the data of Scripture. Desire may be innate (food) or acquired (wealth), natural (sex) or spiritual (relationship), sinful (covetousness) or righteous (heavenly reward), or involve a specific object (lust) or lack a specific object (hunger).11 Desires may be righteous or unrighteous because of their object (Exod. 20:17), their context (e.g., before marriage; 1 Thess. 4:3-5), or their motive (James 4:3). Prior to salvation, various desires (epithumias) and pleasures enslave us (Tit. 3:3). Through union with Christ, the flesh with its passions and desires (epithumias) is crucified, i.e., the power of those desires over us is broken (Gal. 5:24; Rom. 6:6-7). After salvation, some desires are to be put to death, others are to be put off, denied, abstained from, and yet others will be present but must not be fulfilled and require that we make no provision for their fulfillment.

For example, Scripture commands us to put to death evil desire (epithumia kakē) and covetousness (pleonexia; Col. 3:5; cf. Eph. 5:3). We are to put off the desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, i.e., malice (kakia; Col. 3:8; 1 Pet. 2:1). We are to deny worldly desires (kosmikos epithumias; Tit. 2:12). With regard to the desires of the flesh, we are to abstain from them (1 Pet. 2:11) and make no provision for them to be fulfilled (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:13). We cannot do just whatever we desire because the desires of the flesh and of the Spirit are contrary to each other (Gal. 5:17). To avoid fulfilling the desire of the flesh we must walk in and be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 18). Strikingly, in no case are we told to repent of the desires of the flesh.

Framing Sexual Desire Biblically

To hone in on a biblical framework for evaluating the morality of sexual desire, I would like to focus on natural, innate desires. By ‘natural’ I mean desires that both unfallen persons (Adam, Eve, Christ) and fallen persons experience. Natural desires are part of God’s creative design and are therefore good. By ‘innate’ I mean that these desires arise from within a person and are not acquired by previous choices, education, or association. The experience of what is perceived to be natural, innate desire provides one of the strongest arguments for its legitimacy since it seems to imply inability to be or feel otherwise. Like a child who might say, “I can’t help it that I’m hungry,” some argue that they can’t help it that they experience a certain kind of sexual desire; therefore, they say, it should not be regarded as immoral.

The key questions requiring exploration are 1) Does Scripture recognize innate, natural desires that are good unless or until they are fixed upon a forbidden object for their fulfillment? and 2) Is it necessarily the case that experiencing an innate, natural desire for an object contrary to God’s will is sinful? In answer to these questions, consider three biblical texts which deal with innate, natural desires.

Three Cases of Innate, Natural Desire

  1. The case of sexual intoxication in Proverbs 5. In Proverbs 5, Solomon exhorts his son to seek sexual satisfaction and intoxication solely in the wife of his youth (5:18-19). Here men are enjoined to pursue their desire for sexual intoxication when the object of that desire is their wife. The word tishgeh in Proverbs 5:19 translated ‘exhilarated’ (nasb), ‘ravished’ (kjv), or ‘intox­icated’ (esv, niv) is used elsewhere for the intoxication caused by wine or strong drink.12 In the very next verse, Solomon uses precisely the same verb to warn against being sexually intoxicated with an adulteress, “For why should you, my son, be intoxicated [tishgeh] with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” (5:20). The fact that the desired result is the same in both texts—sexual intoxication, and it is forbidden in 5:20 and encouraged in 5:18-19 indicates that the object of the desire determined its legitimacy. From this we may conclude that there can be innate, natural desires which can be righteous or unrighteous depending on the chosen object of desire. A second inference that may be derived from this text is that the desire for sexual pleasure itself is morally good (cf. Gen. 1:28) but is unshaped and thus highly flammable. It is not until an object is chosen for the fulfillment of the desire that it yields righteousness or sin. The flammability of the object-free, unshaped desire highlights the danger that Paul warns against in his “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its desires” passages (Gal. 5:13; Rom. 13:14).
  2. The case of beauty in Proverbs and Song of Solomon. Among the multiple warnings against the adulterous woman in Proverbs, Solomon addresses his son’s heart directly in Proverbs 6:25. He writes, “Do not covet her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids.” There is no denial of beauty or even hint that a rightly oriented heart will not find her beautiful. Rather, the very nature of this command requires that her beauty be perceived, that it be perceived as desirable, and that a choice be made regarding whether to desire her beauty for oneself or not. Obedience to this word from the Holy Spirit requires not the absence of attraction to beauty, but the rejection of the pull of desire. The desire for beauty is an innate, natural desire. Eve experienced this desire as she contemplated the fruit which was desirable to make one wise (Gen. 3:7). On the other hand, the lover’s desire in Song of Solomon was clearly fixed upon the beauty of his betrothed.13 The problem is not the innate, natural desire but the object it chooses to fix upon.
  3. The case of Jesus’ desire for the cup to pass from him. In the wellknown Garden of Gethsemane narrative, Jesus prays, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). All the gospel accounts of this event describe Jesus acknowledging, in a paroxysm of agony, his desire to have the “cup” removed from him. Ultimately, he chooses to pray that God’s will and not his own will would be done. However, I know of no other way to read this text than that Jesus was experiencing an innate, natural human desire to avoid pain. Jesus’ explicitly affirms that his will, his desire, was for something which for him was contrary to the will of God. He experiences the desire, he wrestles with the desire, and he conquers the desire by submitting his will to the will of his Father in prayer. Since Jesus was sinless (Heb. 4:15), this account argues 1) that experiencing an innate, natural desire for something which is contrary to God’s will is not necessarily sinful, and that 2) the test of whether an innate, natural desire for something forbidden becomes sinful is not the contemplation of the forbidden object but whether the mind assents to the pursuit of that forbidden object.14

Space Between Desire and Sinful Desire

From consideration of these cases, I propose that between innate, natural desires which lack an object, such as hunger or sexual desire, and object-focused desires, such as hunger for chocolate or sexual desire for a specific person, there is cognitive and volitional space. In that space lie at least four things: recognition of desire, identification of a potential object to fulfill the desire, attraction to the idea of fulfilling the desire via that object, and mental assent.15

It is only after mental assent to the idea of fulfilling a desire via a forbidden object occurs that an innate, natural desire may be properly regarded as sinful. As long as the person rejects the idea of fulfilling their desire in a way that is contrary to God’s will, the desire itself is not sinful, and they have not sinned. As such there is no need for repentance.16

I am not arguing that in all cases people consciously move through the space between the native desire and the object-focused desire. I am, in fact, convinced that many people have habituated that movement so that their mental assent was granted long ago, and the movement itself is unconscious and automatic, like well-rehearsed muscle memory.

What I find striking about this cognitive and volitional space is that it is the focus of Paul’s description of the consequences of inherited depravity in Eph. 4:17-19.

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Notice the cognitive features of his description: the mind, the understanding, and ignorance. It is out of or through the filter of a futile, darkened, ignorant, spiritually lifeless, and hardened mind/heart that desires are volitionally directed to sensuality, impurity, and greediness.

This seems to suggest a framework for conceiving of how innate, natural desires experience attraction to forbidden objects and how they become evil desires in fallen humans:

  1. Unfallen persons: created desire + attraction to forbidden object = temptation
  2. Fallen persons:
    1. created desire + fallen mental filter + attraction to forbidden object = temptation
    2. created desire + fallen mental filter + choice of forbidden object = evil desire.

Christ, Adam, and Eve would not have had fallen mental filters.17 Since they lacked such filters, it necessarily follows that temptation to sin does not require it (Figure 1). However, all other humans are born with fallen mental filters which are more or less fractured and marred in many ways.

If this is the case, then it is reasonable to regard the existence of same-sex attraction (SSA) as a result not of desires which are sinful by nature, but as the result of an innate, natural desire for sexual pleasure, intimacy, etc. in combination with a sin-marred mental filter that wrongly makes same-sex persons appear to be sources of potential fulfillment for that desire (Figure 2a). Every part of the mind is liable to the fracturing and corrupting effects of the fall. That inherited depravity may be manifested in some persons as SSA should be no surprise.

If I am reading Scripture rightly, this means that total depravity does not entail the perversion and therefore sinfulness of all innate, natural human desires. Rather, total depravity seems to entail that the filter through which innate, natural desires view the world and seek fulfillment is broken so that apart from the gracious work of the Spirit we will inevitably be self-centered rather than God-centered, and sinful rather than righteous in our motives and choices of objects for the fulfillment of our desires.18 The fact that even after presenting our saved selves as living, holy sacrifices the believer still needs his mind to be transformed (Rom. 12:2) testifies to the remaining brokenness of the mental filter through which we all see life.

Biology and Sexual Desire

That there is a biological basis to heterosexual desire in both men and women is without dispute. This is evident in the change of sexual desire experienced before puberty, during puberty and into adulthood, and the change of desire experienced with the onset of menopause in women and decreasing testosterone levels in aging men. Both ancient observation and modern science confirm that congenital eunicism as well as post-birth castration has multiple physical and psychological affects upon the afflicted male. These are crucial pieces of data for our understanding of sexual desire.

The point I want to raise here is that if the absence of testosterone can so drastically affect the eunuch, I can see no reason to deny there may be yet unidentified biological components to SSA. If one may be born a congenital eunuch or intersex due to the fall, then one may also be congenitally disordered in other ways related to sexuality.

These observations on the possibility of a biological component to SSA raise the issue of God’s sovereignty.  Scripture affirms that God is completely sovereign over the process of procreation and person formation in the womb (Gen. 30:2, 22; Psa.  139:14-16). If there is a physical basis for SSA, God is necessarily responsible for permitting it to exist. But the idea that what God permits God also approves is directly contradicted by Scripture (Psa. 50:20-21). It is only if we remove the doctrines of the fall and inherited depravity from our confession that we can equate the “natural” with the divinely ordered and approved. Any way in which a person diverges at birth from God’s original creative design, whether physical defect, psychological defect, and especially spiritual defect, is directly related to the fall and sin’s destructive impact.

None of this, however, changes the nature of God’s instructions regarding the limited scope within which sexual desire may be satisfied: heterosexual, monogamous marriage. But it should change our attitude toward those who suffer such disordered desires. If we feel compassionate toward those born with physical effects of the fall, how much more should we feel compassion toward those born with psychological or mental effects of the fall.

Some have claimed that this view shuts up the person who persistently experiences on SSA to a pain-filled life of loneliness and repressed desires. At least three considerations refute such a claim. First, the universal experience that the satisfaction of sexual desires has no direct correlation to a meaning-filled, satisfied life exposes the lie that life-long chastity robs a person of an essential component to happiness. Second, the fact that Christ lived his entire incarnate life without the fulfillment of any of his innate, natural sexual desires testifies that following him in the path of celibacy is not a lesser, diminished path. Third, I can find no biblical basis to assert that God makes sexual attraction to one’s future spouse a necessary condition for heterosexual marriage.

Admittedly, sexual attraction to one’s future spouse seems to many preferable. However, there appears to be no corollary at the spiritual level: Christ loves us in our unattractive fallenness and betroths himself to us while we are yet greatly fallen. Scripture denies that the absence of sexual attraction is grounds for failing to persist in a marriage. Additionally, the fact that Christian women testify to experiencing no sexual desire for extended or indefinite periods in their marriage while continuing to self-givingly love their spouses also supports the conclusion that mutual sexual desire is not necessary for marriage. For these reasons, celibacy is not the only viable option available to persons who experience persistent SSA. Heterosexual marriage remains a viable option for such persons who will commit to meet the conjugal responsibility to their spouse outlined in 1 Cor. 7 regardless of the presence of sexual attraction.19

Implications for Pastoral Approaches to Persons with SSA

Consider the following scenario. When seeking advice from a spiritual mentor prior to marriage regarding appropriate boundaries for physical expressions of affection, a young man was cautioned to avoid behaviors that caused sexual arousal. The advice was sound. The young man affirmed that he was keeping a pure mind. He was not dwelling on sexual thoughts. The problem, he replied, was that he found simply being in the presence of his fiancé a sufficient cause for sexual arousal. To which the mentor responded that he should then refrain from behaviors which added fuel to his passions.

I suspect that many pastors would concur with this mentor’s advice. I would give the same counsel. At the theological heart of this counsel is the recognition that one’s body may respond to relational, emotional, and visual input in sexual ways without either choice or intent on our part. The young man was responsible to manage his passions in a holy and God-honoring way (1 Thess. 4:5). He was not responsible for the experience of the passions within the context of heading toward heterosexual marriage.

On the other hand, if this same young man were to confide that he was experiencing such passions when in the presence of a woman to whom he was not engaged and with whom he had no plans to pursue marriage, my counsel would be different. In such a case, I would argue that if he continued in a relationship that aroused sexual passions, he would be making provision for the flesh to fulfill its desires. He may be maintaining the same purity of mind, and have the same purity of intention, but the passions are flammable, and one should not linger near flames. He should back off the relationship to the point where sexual passion is not aroused or discontinue the relationship entirely.

I believe this is the same pastoral response that should be given to someone who experiences SSA. The experience of sexual attraction or even sexual arousal in reference to a person of the same sex may occur unbidden and unwanted. The experience itself testifies to a mental filter that has been marred by sin. The experience, though the result of the fall, is not sinful. However, since same-sex sexual activity is contrary to God’s will for humanity, a person experiencing SSA around specific persons may need to limit the depth of his/her relationship with those persons to avoid creating an environment where they will be drawn to give mental assent to fulfilling that desire and thereby sinning.

Perhaps one more scenario may be pastorally helpful. Men who are opposite sex attracted (OSA) have to put limits on their relationships with women other than their wives to avoid allowing an inappropriate level of intimacy to develop that opens the door to sexual desire. In the same way, persons who experience SSA will have to learn sensitivity to and avoid relational developments with the same sex that open the door to sexual desire.

Speaking the Truth in Love

Love for God and love for others both compel us to speak the truth regarding all that deviates from the standard of God’s word.  Love for Christ seeks to feel the compassion he felt for people who were distressed and dispirited (Matt. 9:36). Love for others impels us to seek their well-being, which can only be achieved in the way God prescribes. Love for others prompts us not to “be quarrelsome, but kind to all, … patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Love for God and other enables us to speak redemptively and hopefully as we testify that God says, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

In conclusion, it would be helpful return to Burk’s conclusion which motivated this paper and articulate how the cognitive and volitional space I have argued for correlates with his conclusions. Again, Burk wrote,

Insofar as same-sex orientation designates the experience of sexual desire for a person of the same-sex, yes, it is sinful.20

I would qualify this statement in the following ways: Insofar as SSA (or OSA) designates the experience of objectless sexual desire aroused by a person of the same/opposite sex it is not sinful and does not require repentance. Insofar as SSA (or OSA) designates the experience of unchosen sexual attraction to a specific person of the same/opposite sex it is not sinful and does not require repentance, but it is an experience which one should seek to avoid in order to make no provision for the flesh. Insofar as SSA designates the experience of sexual attraction for a person of the same sex to which one gives mental assent it is sinful and is an occasion for repentance.

 


 

  1. Denny Burk, “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 58, no. 1 (March 2015): 95-115. See also, Owen Strachan, “A Referendum on Depravity: Same-Sex Attraction as Sinful Desire” Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood 20, no. 1 (2015): 24-34.
  2. Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality: How to Live Faithfully with Same-Sex Attraction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015). Burk has also blogged extensively on this topic at http://www.dennyburk.com.
  3. Burk, “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?,” 99.
  4. Burk, 100-101.
  5. Ibid., 102.
  6. “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.” “Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality” (American Psychological Association, 2008); online: http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/sorientation.pdf.
  7. Burk, “Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful?,” 108.
  8. Burk, 114.
  9. For example, Louw-Nida list the following terms in the semantic domains “Desire, Want, Wish” and “Desire Strongly”: αἰσχροκερδής, αἰσχροκερδῶς, ἀξιόομαι, ἀξιόω, ἁρπαγή, ἅρπαξ, βούλημα, βούλομαι, βούλω, διψάομαι, διψάω, δοκέομαι, δοκέω, ἐπιζητέομαι, ἐπιζητέω, ἐπιθυμέομαι, ἐπιθυμέω, ἐπιθυμητής, ἐπιθυμία, ἐπιποθέομαι, ἐπιποθέω, ἐπιπόθησις, ἐπιποθία, εὐδοκία, εὔχομαι, εὔχω, ζηλόομαι, ζηλόω, ζητέομαι, ζητέω, ἡδονή, θέλημα, θέλησις, θέλομαι, θέλω, θυμός, καταστρηνιάομαι, καταστρηνιάω, κοιλία, νοσέομαι, νοσέω, ὁμοιοπαθής, ὀρέγομαι, ὀρέγω, πάθημα, πάθος, πεινάομαι, πεινάω, πλεονέκτης, πλεονεξία, πλησμονή, πυρόομαι, πυρόω.
  10. The primary terms under consideration are חמד chamad in Hebrew, ἐπιθυμέω epithumeo in Greek, and the associated nouns and adjectives of both terms.
    For example, God desired (chamad) Zion for his temple (Psa. 68:16). One may righteously desire (chamad) a lover (Song 2:3), the appearance of a tree (Gen. 2:9), or the “judgments of the Lord” more than gold (Psalm 19:10). On the other hand, one may covet (chamad) silver (Josh. 7:21), another’s fields (Mic. 2:2), the beauty of an adulteress (Prov. 6:25), or the booty of evil men (Prov. 12:12). James K. Bruckner, “On the One Hand … On the Other Hand: The Twofold Meaning of the Law Against Covetousness,” Covenant Quarterly 55, no. 2-3 (1997): 97-118. In the NT, epithumia is primarily used of ungodly desire, but may also be used positively (Luke 22:15; 1 Thess. 2:17; Phil. 1:23). Where epithumia is used negatively and has a positive counterpart, the positive word used is ‘will,’ as in ‘will of the Father’ or ‘will of God’ (1 John 2:17; 1 Pet. 4:2).
  11. Some would add to natural and acquired desire, infused as a third type of desire, one imparted to a person apart from any choice on their part. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (repr., Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999) 2:107.
  12. Prov. 20:1; Isa. 28:7.
  13. Cant. 1:8, 15, 16; 2:10, 13; 4:1, 7, 10; 5:9; 6:1, 4, 10; 7:2, 7.
  14. The peccability or impeccability of Christ does not impinge upon this question because it addresses ability or inability to sin whereas the question here is presence or absence of desire for something contrary to God’s will. Since Christ was sinless, and he explicitly affirms that he desired something that was not God’s will, it necessarily follows that his ability/non-ability to sin is not impacted in this question.
  15. Burk seems to head this direction when he says, “temptation begins as a testing that is external to desire and that is therefore not necessarily sinful” (105). However, he quickly passes from the experience of a temptation to the desire for evil, which he describes as “sin is conceived when desire fixes on evil.”
  16. To be clear, I am denying that innate, natural desires for forbidden objects are inherently sinful. I am not denying that even our innate, natural desires may be tainted by our fallenness. However, not all that requires atonement requires repentance. Exodus 28:36-38 provides a framework for thinking about how Christ our High Priest makes atonement for non-volitional, non-behavioral iniquity. In this passage, the holy things sanctified by God’s people as gifts to Yahweh nonetheless had iniquity attached to them. It is important to remember that all gifts sanctified to Yahweh were required to be perfect to human perception. Yet, these holy gifts had iniquity which the High Priest’s golden plate inscribed with “Holy to Yahweh” had to bear, i.e., atone for (Exod. 28:36-38). I assume that the iniquity of the gifts was a function of the fallenness of the believers making the gifts. In Christ, the non-volitional, non-behavioral ungodliness which is ours due to being born children of divine wrath by nature and that taints our best gifts receives its atonement. In the language of 1 John 1:7, as we walk in the light as God is in the light, which necessarily implies that we are not walking in darkness, the blood of Christ His Son is cleansing us from all sin. What sin is there to be cleansed from if a person is walking in the light? Of course, sins of ignorance and unintentional sins are cleansed. But I see no reason not to understand that residual ungodliness or unrighteousness in disposition, character, or desire due to our fall is not cleansed as well.
  17. Although not human, Satan and the angels which followed him in his fall would not have had a fallen mental filter as a part of their temptation.
  18. Andrew Wilson comments, “All of us live with a dissonance between what we are and what we feel ourselves to be. Something can be true of us objectively, but we may feel it isn’t—and we need to keep hearing God say to us, “this is who you are.” The beauty of the gospel is that the Word and Work of Christ define us, not our feelings or experiences. And we long for the day when the dissonance will disappear altogether.” https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2016/06/16/gender-and-intersex-andrew-wilson-on-how-should-the-church-interact-in-love/. Accessed 10/24/2017.
  19. Should a person with SSA be unable to envision himself/herself meeting the conjugal needs of a potential spouse, then he/she should not marry. Christian marriage requires the fulfillment of each partner’s sexual due (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
  20. Burk, 114.