You’re right that language is unclear about this. But let me explain it from the inside. For years and years, I did not admit to myself that I desired physical intimacy and sex with another man. All those years, I obsessively looked at gay porn and read stories that portrayed such intimacy/sex. (Of course, I constantly repented, but couldn’t keep free from sin).
Then I admitted to myself and several other people that I DID desire sex and intimacy with men. It was such a relief to me! And it made it MUCH easier to handle temptation. When I am tempted, I try to say to myself, “Yes, I want to be close like that to a man. Here I am, Lord, and I desire this experience more than I desire You. Transform my desire and make it a desire for You.”
If all goes well, it stops there. This is simply temptation. I don’t think straight men ever deal with this, because the desire for women isn’t colored with guilt, for them. Mind you, I’m not talking about lust for women, but simple sexual desire. Jesus gets at this distinction in Matthew 5 (or 6, I forget), when he says that lust is looking at another person “with the intention of” desiring. What I’m describing is a purely passive experience, a “testing/temptation” in the biblical sense.
I agree with you, but my point is what determines if the temptation is corrupting us, is wheather we call it right or wrong, not just if we actually physically commit the act. The struggle is an inward struggle against temptations. I personally think its more appropriate to call the desire wrong and not fine. When we do this, we are taking the step towards avoiding it. Afterall, we avoid doing what is NOT fine.
There was a reason I used the term “fine” and not “good”. I don’t think my desire to kiss certain other men is good. But I don’t think it’s helpful to say that it’s bad either – partially because, in my perverse psychology, calling something “bad” immediately makes it more appealing. There’s no proper guilt or shame attached to the desire to kiss another man. It’s just a piece of data, like the piece of data that I like to eat inordinate amounts of Sour Patch Kids, or the piece of data that my libido sometimes gets thrown out of whack by intense dreams.
You recommend taking steps toward avoiding sin. Well, I’m telling you that calling my desire “bad” is a step that doesn’t help me avoid it. And I don’t think I’m alone among men, gay or straight. C.S. Lewis argues that our perverse desires are actually desires for the good, only misdirected. If he’s right, then the desire isn’t the thing that should be rejected at all – rather, we should look deeper into the nature of the desire, and recognize that no amount of sex or lust could possibly satisfy this desire.
We have to be honest and look at the nature of the thing being desired. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He was tempted by things which were not wrong, in themselves. Like bread when hungry, power over nations, assistance from angels. Just like a man tempted by the beauty of a woman… It is of no fault to admire the beauty, but to desire the sexual relations.
Are you saying that it is wrong for one man to admire another man’s beauty?
But the issue of homosexual desires are in a slightly different category, because it comes directly from the fallen nature, and not God’s. Right?
All concupiscent desires come from our fallen nature. In this respect, a man’s temptation to lust after another man is no different from his temptation to lust after a woman. I experience both these temptations regularly, and there is no phenomenological distinction either. They feel the same way. Non-concupiscent desires, like the desire to know and be known by my wife, don’t feel the same, at all.
But nevertheless, I am not going to accuse ones personal struggle with which I do have compassion for. I too have battled some forms of these temptations. But certainly not to the extent of attraction towards another man, but the dysfunctional lust which finds pleasure even with a man.
I am puzzled as to why “attraction” would be a further extent than “action without desire”. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you?