Monday, August 26, 2013

The Gift of Attraction

Years ago I heard a message by the great Dawson Trotman, founder of "The Navigators", about a concept called "the gift of attraction" and it has always stuck with me. The basic premise of the gift of attraction is this: God created us with the ability to appreciate the beauty of people of both sexes, without having to be sexually attracted to them. This attraction is a gift from God in which we admire the beauty of God's creation, in the same way we admire a magnificent stallion, a beautiful flower, a majestic mountain range, or an adorable puppy. Or why we describe a little girl in a a dress with bows in her hair or a little boy in a suit and tie as "cute", "adorable", or "handsome".

The Bible teaches in Genesis 2:7 that humans are the pinnacle of God's creation, so to admire them as God's creation could actually be a form of worship.

In simple terms, you can find someone attractive without being attracted to them

Now I don't remember the Scriptures that Mr. Trotman used in his message, and please understand that I am not a professional psychologist nor have I done a thorough Biblical study on this subject. In other words, take this with a grain of salt understanding that though I am not an expert on this matter, my motives are pure. 

That having been said, I can tell you from experience that the gift of attraction is a real thing. I have good friends of both sexes who I find attractive but I am not attracted to them. Among celebrities I can admire the magnificent beauty of Emma Stone or the striking handsomeness of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the graceful elegance of Laura Bush, and the timeless elegance of Denzel Washington. I don't need to desire them sexually in order to find them attractive. They're simply good-looking people! And on a level beyond just physical attraction, we can also be attracted to men and women we esteem, with something in their character we find admirable. A person of either sex may be a talented singer, artist, musician, athlete, community organizer, CEO, barista, hairstylist, or whatever - and we find them attractive because of those characteristics. That's also part of the gift of attraction.

In my opinion, the misunderstanding of the gift of attraction is one of the reasons some people start living a homosexual lifestyle. A man finds himself seeing other men as handsome, perhaps even noticing their physique, and they think "Maybe I'm gay". Or a woman sees another woman with an admirable body, and wonders if she is a lesbian. Perhaps they feel guilty about that, but then they are flooded by the message of worldly culture which tells them "That means you're a homosexual. Embrace it and be proud of it." Meanwhile the truth about the gift of attraction - that a man can find another man attractive and a woman can find another woman attractive without being homosexual - is ignored.

It's also the reason heterosexual people stray from their marriages and commit adultery. A man works daily with a well dressed, good smelling, attractive woman and begins to allow himself to view her in a sensual way that he should only view his wife. Or a woman befriends a handsome, well-built man and in time begins to confuse finding him attractive with being attracted to him in a lustful way. The difference is a subtle but important aspect of maintaining a righteous, God-honoring, and self-beneficial sexuality. 

Interestingly enough, a couple of days ago I read of Huffington Post an article in which a relationship therapist said "Attractive and attraction is different. Find other people attractive, but stop short of allowing yourself to be attracted to them." (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galtime/10-relationship-behaviors-you-think-are-odd-that-are-totally-normal_b_3792781.html) That's exactly what the gift of attraction is talking about! You can find a person attractive without allowing yourself to be attracted to them. 

Understanding this gift will help us make major strides in controlling our feelings and desires to live in a way that honors God, benefits ourselves, and a respects the dignity of others. We would also do well to follow the wisdom of Scripture in Proverbs 4:23 which tell you and me "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." 

It's not wrong to find someone of the same sex or opposite sex attractive - it becomes wrong when you allow that innocent, God-given attraction to be twisted into sensual, lustful attraction. Whether it's same-sex lust or opposite-sex lust, is it sinful because it is not God's best for us. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give us abundant life and when we abuse the gift of attraction and allow ourselves to be sexually attracted to someone we are not married to, that is settling for something second-rate.

And settling for anything less than God's best for us is sinful because it cheapens His glory and providence in our lives. Let's not do that; let's be disciplined, focused, and careful when it comes to the gift of attraction so that we can enjoy the "life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:19) instead of settling for a cheap imitation.

1 comment:

Esther J. said...

Whoa. Your writing is in great detail.