I'm impressed that Dr. David Powlison, adjunct professor of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and faculty member at Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF), has responded with compassion and openness to Wesley Hill's article on being a celibate homosexual Christian. Justin Taylor's interview of Dr. Powlison today demonstrates that in Reformed Christian circles people are willing to discuss this issue thoughtfully in light of the truths of the gospel.
The only point I would add to Dr. Powlison's comments is that I think his approach to Wesley Hill's situation doesn't need to be so complicated. Dr. Powlison talks about the challenge of being both "fierce" in our "advocacy of a Christian sexual ethic" and yet showing "tenderness toward strugglers." "Can we be tenderly fierce and fiercely tender?" he asks. He uses the analogy of "the trumpet" and "the cello," one a call to righteousness and the other a call to sorrow and sympathy. And so the challenge, according to Dr. Powlison, is in trying to bring these seemingly opposing forces together into a harmonious balance when dealing with this issue.
And I agree that we must have both, which is why I wholeheartedly support my brother Wesley every step of the way in his struggle to remain celibate. By supporting him I am being fierce in my stand against homosexual sin, because I am supporting Wesley's fierce struggle against his homosexual sin. Is there anyone who is taking a more fierce stand against sin than Wesley and others like him? Is there anyone whose life trumpets the call to righteousness more loudly than Wesley's life, when he struggles and struggles each day to bear his cross amidst scoffers both within the church and without?
Supporting our celibate homosexual brothers and sisters with tenderness and compassion is the fierce stand we take for righteousness, because they are the warriors. There is no dichotomy. Pour your ministry into them and they will become fiercer still. Play your cello with passion and their trumpets will sound more clearly.