As I discussed in my last post, there are fine distinctions to be made between what is ordered and disordered, beyond simply what is sinful. In other words, in a fallen world, some things are not as God originally intended. Here I want to further discuss one important point.
Aleksander Solzhenitsyn has a famous quote that “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” In a similar manner, the line dividing ordered and disordered cuts through the sexuality of every human being.
This applies to straight people just as much as it applies to sexual minorities. As I mentioned in the last post, I tend to see sexual attraction that a married person feels toward those other than his or her spouse as disordered. However, even for those who do not share that view, disorder is readily apparent from any traditional Christian perspective.
I cannot speak directly to the private conversations among Christian women about sexual temptation, as I am not privy to such conversations. However, within the male Christian world, pornography and other forms of sexual immorality are endemic and a constant temptation for most. This cannot be described as “not disordered.”
This has immediate implications to discussions about whether sexual minorities are “broken.” To me, these questions have never been about whether or not I am broken. It is a given that, simply because I am a human living in a fallen world, I am broken. Any theology that does not account for the Fall is, from a biblical perspective, dead on arrival. The question, rather, is where the brokenness lies.
The bisexual nature of my sexuality does give me an interesting vantage point for thinking about this question. Parts of the Christian world would encourage me to view my sexuality as disordered insofar as it is oriented towards the same sex, and ordered insofar as it is oriented towards the opposite sex. Although I hold to a traditional sexual ethic, I cannot agree with this simplistic viewpoint.
As I mentioned above, parts of straight sexuality are disordered. I know that I experience temptation to pursue a sexual relationship primarily for my own pleasure, and not always as a form of self-giving love. I am sometimes tempted to think about women in primarily sexual terms, without regard for the full person created in the image of God. Regardless of how we process whether the raw attraction is ordered or disordered, I know these inclinations come from my sinful nature.
As I discussed in an earlier reflection, if “sexuality” is understood broadly enough, I also do not see the male-oriented components of my sexuality as entirely disordered. Insofar as my attractions lead to self-giving love in the absence of sexual sin, I do not believe they are disordered.
Thus, I see the line between ordered and disordered as something that cuts through my sexuality in a complicated fashion, just as it does the sexuality of others. Within communities that hold to traditional sexual ethics, straight people must recognize that they also experience a disordered sexuality, and sexual minority people should recognize that their sexuality does not discount their ability to love and be loved, even if it limits the form of that love.
Jeremy Erickson is a software engineer in Wisconsin. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.