Sexual Identity: An Ontological Problem

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By Jeffrey A. Stivason - Posted at A Place for Truth:

Over the last several years, some in the church have argued that a person may be oriented toward homosexuality but not act on the inclination or tendency. That may or may not be the case. However, the burden of this article is not that. In this article, I will demonstrate that to claim that homosexual orientation is benign or neutral is an ontologically impossible position. Let’s flesh this statement out a bit more with the following scenario, “Say there’s a single man who has been teaching music in the local Christian school for 20 years or so. He is an excellent teacher and has a good rapport with the kids. He has been active in church, was a deacon, is now an elder. He has an unassailable reputation in church, school, and community. Then one day someone asks him if he is homosexual, and he says yes.”[1] Notice the formulation of this question. The man is asked “if he is homosexual.” Here we must see that we are speaking in ontological categories, the basic categories of being, categories that make man what he is. Now, some argue that a man like in the above scenario is either homosexual or heterosexual, and it makes no difference since both orientations are neutral.

However, to deny that sexual orientation, and specifically heterosexuality, is a basic ontological category of human existence is to deny two basic truths. First, it is a denial of the Bible's teaching specifically with regard to the imago Dei. According to Herman Bavinck, the human body belongs integrally to the image of God.[2] The body was created for the soul and the soul the body, the body is an instrument of the soul.[3] Bavinck says that it is “the same soul that peers through the eyes, thinks through the brain, grasps with the hands, and walks with the feet.” Thus, the body and soul are ontologically coterminous.

We must also remember what the image of God entails, what constitutes this body soul relationship. Reduced to the lowest common denominator the image consists in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Original humanity possessed these from the start. Man was not created a neutral being.[4] God made Adam physically and ethically mature, with knowledge in the mind, righteousness in the will, and holiness in the heart.[5] Bavinck says it well when he writes, “Goodness, for a human being, consists in moral perfection, in complete harmony with the law of God, in holy and perfect being, like God himself (Lev. 19:2; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 5:48; 22:37; Eph. 5:1; I Pet. 1:15-16).[6] Thus, man, body and soul, was created morally upright and in perfect accord with the law of the Lord. In other words, the soul exercised righteousness in and through the body.

However, when God created He established a distinction within the human race that is reflected in the human body: “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Hence, there are two sexes, male and female. Thus, the human body was deliberately shaped male and female – the Hebrew words referring specifically to biological, sexual distinction.[7] We should also bear in mind that this basic distinction is what gives rise to the “one flesh” union of marriage. The soul working in and through the body must function according to the righteous way in which it was constituted. Thus, humanity, created in God’s image, was created to function in a heterosexual manner.


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