I looked up some videos I had watched previously of famous atheist Christopher Hitchens in debates, and a podcast of one of his debate opponents talking about his cancer and some of the things Hitchens was saying up to his death in 2011. Many in the Christian community were praying fervently for his healing, both physical and spiritual. I was dismayed to hear him say that if anyone hears that he made a death bed confession of faith, they would know the cancer had reached his brain. He knew and appreciated that many Christians cared so much for him, but he said hearing people speak of talking to God or talking about the Holy Spirit is nonsensical gibberish to him. One of his debate opponents said that although Hitchens claimed a purely intellectual objection to the idea of God, there was no basis for that and that his objection was more emotional. Like a man with no sense of hearing or eyesight, denying that people can see and hear, he denied that people knew God, could speak to Him or experience Him. He rendered it delusional or imaginary, but just because Hitchens lacked the senses to experience God in any way is not evidence that God doesn’t exist. When Hitchens could no longer talk due to his cancer, that did not render the spoken word non-existent. So, the inability to know and experience God, is not evidence that He is imaginary.
I chose to talk about this today because of a recent article about the ending of the Exodus International ministry. This is 2 year-old news, but for some reason, someone decided to bring it up this month at The Atlantic. Denial of God’s existence has an interesting tie in with the subject of same-sex attraction. People’s experience with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria isn’t imaginary, but there is no scientific consensus or biology that proves people are born same-sex attracted or born desiring to be treated as another gender. And yet, many are standing on the promise of science to strengthen the “born that way” narrative. There’s a medical diagnosis code for gender dysphoria but the symptoms are based on the testimony of those who are experiencing it. In the Exodus International flap, Alan Chambers, the head of the ministry had stated and believed at one time that reparative therapy could help some people. For some, this was reason enough to blame the entire church for the century-old psychotherapy method of reparative therapy. Reparative therapy, for those who are not aware, is a psychology-based therapy that helps people who wish to surpress or rid themselves of feelings of same-sex attraction. The therapy is voluntary, but there is an effort to outlaw the therapy as dangerous. It was not invented by the church and I don’t know of any church that promotes this method of therapy. The only church-based method of people-change is in Christ alone.
Many activists in our culture embrace and defend those who give a testimony of same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, but deny them the option to walk away from this lifestyle voluntarily. This is especially true for minors, hence the push to have reparative therapy outlawed. But if reparative therapy is dangerous and as some believe, potentially deadly, then what is the rush in our culture to claim and celebrate and medically push a minor into transgenderism? How is this not dangerous in light of the vehement opposition to reparative therapy? Both the desire to embrace or leave a lifestyle is by testimony alone, since biology doesn’t verify thoughts and feelings in this way. Do we believe that it does? It wouldn’t be surprising, because the prevailing social narrative has convinced many people that science has already proven that sexual orientation is a biological trait already present at birth, but that has simply not been observed.
But imagine if science does say sometime in the future that attractions and desires are biologically present at birth and people are permanently and unchangably oriented toward certain behaviors. Then wouldn’t attraction to God prove that desire and attraction valid? The testimony of those who know God and experience his presence, experience change through repentance and trust in Christ, reading God’s Word and believing it as written has fallen on hard times. There is an entire movement following famous atheist and agnostic personalities like Christopher Hitchens, claiming faith in God to be imaginary or delusional. This is not at all consistent or honest. An atheist is merely lacking the senses to detect God. Perhaps some injury or ‘cancer’ has disabled that ability to communicate and connect with God, for some people. Our limits as humans are that although we can see what people do and hear what they say, we can’t judge their heart.
So, If we say that we experience God, our testimony is not delusional just because someone else cannot relate. In the same way, same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria are not delusions. They are real feelings and attractions, based on testimony. The issue between the two though, is that from a biblical perspective, there are two roads of behavior one can travel on this earth. Jesus spoke of them when he said that there was a wide road and a narrow road. He spoke of walking in darkness and walking in the light. Paul also spoke of walking in darkness and walking in light. He spoke of walking in the Spirit and not walking in the flesh. If we repent and trust Christ, we are saved, but sin is still there on the dark road. Our flesh is still attracted to sin. Sin is attractive. We are deeply offended when we are told our desires and attractions lead to sin. We can’t believe it. What is sin, but anything that isn’t of faith in Christ? We are to walk in the light, in newness of life, says Paul. Every step we walk can be a faith walk. It is costly but eternally worth the effort and struggle.
Next blog post: How do we walk this faith walk.