My problem with Julie Rodgers’ hire as Wheaton chaplain and as a speaker (she is a celibate lesbian) is certainly not that both are trying to reach out and minister to students who struggle with homosexuality (or what is nowadays sometimes euphemistically termed “same-sex attraction [or orientation]”). Homosexuality is not an “untouchable” sin, and homosexuals need the transforming power of the Gospel and Spirit like all of us other sinners. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Homosexuals can be converted and changed — and multitudes have been.
I do, however, perceive two problems with Rodgers’ hire and her ministry. First, note this quote from WORLD magazine:
Rodgers also wrote on her blog that a same-sex orientation is not sinful. She said it can actually be “an expression of diversity, a unique way of experiencing art and beauty and community.” Rodgers added that her “gay parts … overflow into compassion for marginalized people and empathy for social outcasts—[God has] used my gay way of being for His glory rather than making me straight.”
But if the act of homosexual intercourse is sin, as the Bible obviously teaches, then the persistent desire to consummate it must be sin also. We would say the same thing about adultery. We would not say that while the act of adultery is sinful, the persistent desire to commit it is “an expression of diversity, a unique way of experiencing art and beauty and community.” Nor would we say it about murderous hatred in one’s heart not actually consummated. We read in James 1:14-15:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Misdirected desire is the seed of sin. “Homosexual orientation” is certainly a misdirected desire since it is a desire to sin. By saying that people with homosexual desires should simply accept them (as Rodgers does) is to deny the transforming power of the Gospel. We would say the same thing about any desire for any other sin.
In addition, to say that “same-sex attraction [or orientation]” is not sinful is actually to argue that homosexuality may be rooted in one’s very being, part of God’s creational design. But Genesis 1–2 is quite clear that at the beginning God created humanity as male and female, with the entirely legitimate desire of the one for the other. If God created humanity only for heterosexual desire, then homosexual desire is misdirected.
The Gospel is good news, and the good news is not just that God forgives us our sins in the work of Jesus Christ, but also that he changes us by the power of the Spirit — and this includes both homosexual intercourse and desire.
Second, I believe that Wheaton made a mistake in hiring Rodgers to counsel young and impressionable adults both at Wheaton and when she is out speaking. They will hear two fundamental messages from her: (1) The correct message that the Bible forbids homosexual intercourse, and (2) the incorrect message that God permits our nursing and persisting in homosexual desire, whose “diversity” we should celebrate. For those young adults who struggle with this desire, that is the last message they need to hear. They need to hear that the Gospel is powerful enough to heal them of that desire. To be blunt: Rodgers’ message is a denial of the power of the Gospel, not just a deviation from biblical sexual standards.