BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

Monday, October 15, 2007

Homosexuality: Part 1

I've been considering writing on this subject for quite some time now. I'm sure you are all aware at this point that I don't mind talking about whatever I feel needs to be addressed or discussed. However, I feel like this issue is another one of the top five that the Church at large should be focusing on (for many reasons, the first of which is that we as Christians have handled it so badly for so long). So I want to make sure everything I write comes out the way I want it to. As with my writings on Reformed theology, this will be written in several parts so we can hopefully dissect and discuss each area as I go.

I think its essential that first and foremost I put a few things out there.

Let's distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior.

Homosexual orientation is who someone is. I've never met someone who says that they choose to be gay. That being a homosexual was a coherent, logical choice for them. While I'm sure there are people out there that for one reason or another have chosen it, I've never met someone who has. For years, many people have scoffed at such statements. The moral police of our country say things like: "Being gay is an abomination! If you're gay, its a sin and you're only gay because you want to be."

Really? I mean, really? Is that what we should think? Do you really think that someone would CHOOSE a life of homosexuality, especially in our culture? I don't. Modern science has made huge progressions in the study of what makes someone gay. Especially in men. At certain stages in pregnancy, testosterone imprints into the brain of the child that they will be a male. Significant stress or trauma can mess up that process, science has recently discovered. Many psychologists agree that children with absent father figures or abusive father figures tend to have more abnormal sexual behavior. I throw those things out there simply to say that, at this point in time, history and science have taught us enough to know that some people are born gay. Some people are gay. Its just who they are. Its not a choice they make. It is their sexual orientation. Just as I strongly desire to have sexual intimacy with my wife, someone of a homosexual orientation would strongly desire someone of the same sex.

Homosexual behavior is a different issue. Tony Campolo defines it as "erotic physical interaction between persons of the same gender." Someone cannot help being gay. Like I said, its just who they are. But, as with everything else in life, we choose how we ACT. For instance, young men have incredible hormonal inbalances. Sex drive is a horendous thing for a weak, immature high school kid. And its either act on it or control it. I think the same thing applies here. I couldn't help how I felt about girls in high school and college. I couldn't help how I felt about my wife. Those hormones and DNA programming as a human being are natural. I tried to learn how to cope with those feelings and urges and control them. But it wasn't wrong to have them. What was wrong was to be acting on them.

People can't change the fact that they have a homosexual orientation. They can change how they act.

We've done a terrible job as a church at talking about this. There are atleast 15 million homosexual people in America right now. That's a significant number. And I think we would agree that most of those people probably don't feel welcome at a local church. WHY? Because Christianity has made them feel unwelcome. Have you ever heard the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin."? Have you ever asked a gay person how they feel about that? Have you ever heard a gay person talk about how Christians automatically make them feel like a lesser person when they say that?

I start this thread off by talking about this just to get it out in the open. I don't think homosexual eroticism is morally acceptable just the same as I feel heterosexual eroticism outside of marriage is wrong. But I don't hold it against anyone for being gay. I feel like this is a huge community in the U.S. that has been shunned by the church for a long time. And we need to address it. The Gospel of Jesus is supposed to be good news for everyone. Not just the people in our town who are like us. I heard Rob Bell ask once: "If Jesus comes to town, and things don't get better for everyone there, did Jesus come to town?" In other words, this good news is for everyone. Not just the elite few.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

Let's talk about this. I've got lots more to say. But wanna take it slow. Give me time to break it all down. Thanks for reading along. Comment away.

15 comments:

Josh Hussung said...

John David!
Man, I hope things are going well for you.

On whether a person chooses to be homosexual or not, I think that it goes deeper than chemical imbalances and things of that nature. I think that we can read the first chapter of Romans and see the progression of sin, and that eventually it looks like there is no choice involved. But it being a choice or not really doesn't matter for the sake of discussion. If people are born with a homosexual orientation, it’s still a sin to indulge it. I was born to lie and steal and cheat on my wife. That doesn't give me license to do those things, and doesn’t make God unfair for commanding me not to do it.

I agree with you completely that the Church, at least initially, has mishandled dealing with the issue of homosexuality. We have kind of turned it into the magic sin that sends you strait to hell. However, I do know that there are churches (such as the one I work at) who do handle this well. We have people who are in active homosexual lifestyles who attend our church. I feel that we love them and that they feel welcomed. We also have people who live together outside of the context of marriage who feel welcomed attending our services. It does seem that many churches have failed to group homosexuality together with all other sins that God hates (like gossiping and dishonoring parents, Rom. 1:30). We tolerate the sins we think are tolerable, and we put this other stamp on homosexuality because there is an "ick" factor to it, But things like pornography, well, that's just boys being boys.

I am sure that the issue of church membership will come up in some other thread, so I will leave that alone for right now. But I think that we also have to distinguish what it means to love someone. A lot of people will say that loving someone means loving them just the way they are and basically condoning whatever they decide to do. My wife, Laura, is about to have our first son. And should he struggle with this kind of sin, I will love him. And if he never repents of that and lives in that lifestyle, I will love him. But I will not tell him that it’s ok. And I would not condone his lifestyle. There is a huge difference. Caring for someone’s spiritual wellbeing by far supersedes their temporary satisfaction. Should we love people who are leading homosexual lifestyles? Yes we should, with all of our hearts! We should love them and we should care for their needs. We should bend over backwards trying to let them know how much we love them. We should share the Gospel with them, and teach them who God is, and what sin is, and that there is salvation to be found in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We should do this the same way we would any other person, because we are all sinners. My pride and dishonesty is just as much of a sin. Homosexuality is not the magic unforgivable sin. But it is sin. Love the sinner and hate the sin. But loving the sinner doesn’t mean give them permission to continue in it.

Anonymous said...

If a person is born with homosexual orientation, if it is, in fact, a naturally occuring phenomenon, how is it even remotely fair to expect said creature of God to spend its entire existence in a continuous state of repentence?

Consider:

God made you this way, so apologize to Him for it for the duration of your life, lest you burn in the fires of Hell. Never act on your naturally occuring hormonal feelings, not even after marriage, for you are biblicly forbidden to enter into such a bond.

This is an issue which science and religion will never be able to jointly reconcile, and another reason I don't feel comfortable with the state of religion, or politics for that matter...

-BH

howertonjosh said...

Ben - that's interesting. If it's true that it's "not fair" that acting on an inborn desire could be morally wrong, what about things like XYY chromosomes in some males that cause them to have a natural inclination to violence towards other humans? Also, tendency toward alcoholism is genetic. Wrong, but genetic.

Homosexuality is the "en vogue" sin right now that everybody likes to be a supporter of to show how "cultural" and "open-minded" they are so it seems alluring and right. But if there is no such thing as a sexual standard of morality that stands over our physical desires, what standard could there be that precludes things like rape, incest, pedophelia, bestiality, etc.?

Looking at my jacked-up self (that's probably sinned more than most homosexuals, by the way), it's not startling at all that I might have been born with some desires that are sinful. What is remarkably startling to me is that God died to appease his wrath toward me in those things.

Saintdoc said...

Just the other day the headline for the MSN home page was addressing this subject. Is there a gay gene? In other words are people born gay or do they choose this lifestyle? I personally do not think people are born gay considering they would live a life of depression trying not to be who God made them to be. I would be interested to know what scientific research you are referring to when you say science has proven that people are born gay? This is something I understood that they are still trying to prove. Until recent history homosexuality was labeled as deviant behavior and considered to be the result of mental illness.

The Bible teaches us to love the sinner but what is the best way to do this? Should we tell them to pull up a chair and remain comfortable while they wait for the judgment of God?
I think we should tell them the truth. God’s word clearly says this kind of lifestyle is immoral.(Lev 18:22, I Cor 6:9, I Tim 1:10) Should we focus on this sin? No. However, just like with all sin this one should be addressed and must be recognized as living outside the will of God.

Mike

John David said...

Ben and Howie both bring up great points. Ben always keeps me on my toes. Josh's reply blew me away... very well said. Everybody is making some very valid points and putting some necessary thoughts on the table.

I wanted to make something a little more clear. In reply to Mike, I don't think science has PROVEN homosexual orientation is genetic or from birth. Just that there is a growing body of evidence to support such an idea. For instance, Dean Hamer (researcher) claims the Xq28 gene is a cause of homosexual orientation. Most reply that its awfully early in researching the human genome to be claiming such a thing.

Anyway, just wanted to clear that up and throw that out there and ... thanks guys. The discussion is much appreciated.

-JD

Saintdoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saintdoc said...

John David
I love you like a son and I hope you know my response was not an attack. I was simply trying to understand where you stand on the issue.
“Do you really think that someone would CHOOSE a life of homosexuality, especially in our culture? I don't.”
Dean Hamer’s research is very interesting but in the end he was unable to prove that Xq28 was the cause of homosexuality. But to me this is not what matters. What you believe and why you believe it is the important thing.

This is a very complicated issue and one that deserves our attention. We have to be very careful with our words because we represent Christ. In the end I just wanted to state what I feel is God’s position. It is not that God hates the sin of homosexuality more than other sin. God hates all sin because sin leads to death.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Repentance is required for restoration. In order for someone to repent they must first come to the realization that what they are doing is wrong. If we tell them, “it’s ok you were born that way”. I believe we will be saying the opposite of what is written in the scripture.

I also enjoyed the comments of everyone that responded and I always think it is a good thing when people get together to discuss the issues that are changing the world.
Mike

Anonymous said...

Josh-

First - To further my "not fair" point that seemed to have struck a chord with you, what is your position on hermaphrodites? There are individuals who can classify as male or female. Often, shortly after birth, parents make a choice as to the sex of the child. The child is then reared as whatever gender it's parents asked doctors to make it. People are not infallible, and parents are people. What if they chose the wrong gender?

Second - I'm hardly an "en vogue" person, nor do I know any openly gay people closely, but I am very much concerned with individual liberty and with civil rights.

I don't think that homosexuality is comparable to pedophilia or bestiality because of the whole legal (and moral) concept of "consenting adults." And to be frank, if I was sitting in, say, a philosophy or sociology class and someone made a serious effort to link them, I would be absolutely offended. Because I know you and know your intentions, I'm not, but I feel that that comparison crosses a very serious line.

howertonjosh said...

Ben - I'd never be foolish enough to pin any of us as "en vogue". We spent some of our high school days rooting for Greenwood Girls Volleyball!

My point in the comparison was that if we start assuming that sexual desires are genetically given traits and that a genetically given trait can't be wrong, then what's wrong with other perversions of heterosexual monogamy?

I also pointed out - and it's worth thinking about - that we inherently understand that some genetically given desires are wrong, such as the XYY trait that gives someone a thirst for violent expression and the genetic inheritance of alcoholism.

As far as hermaphrodites go, their deformity is a result of sin in the world; the existence of hermaphrodites is a humbling reminder that my body just as well as theirs is fallen and sinful and in need of redemption through repentance. However, after doing a little digging (because I'd honestly never thought about it before!), there is always a genetic gender assigned to them even though there is an external ambiguity. I think that those people are responsible seek out and to act on their given gender.

Josh Hussung said...

And I don't think that this is an issue of civil rights. No one is claiming that we should throw homosexuals in jail. As far as liberty and individual rights, I don't think that it is our job to go around policing sinful behavior (if we did, I'd be the first guy to get fried) across the nation. The government can pass rights for gay marriage, and all of that is fine. But do we have liberty before God to live how we choose, regardless of what he has commanded? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Josh (Hussung),

How is it not an issue of civil rights? An entire subgroup of the population is legally inferior to another. That is absolutely an issue of civil rights.

You're right, no one is asking to throw homosexuals in jail. It's not criminal behavior. But they are forbidden to enter into legally recognized monogamous relationships, cannot receive tax benefits that come with being married, and can't even will their belongings to their significant other without some monetary burden that isn't present if, say, a man were to leave his estate to his wife.

The only reason they can't is because the United States government openly tries to police "sinful" behavior.

We might as well make gays use their own seperate water fountains and public transit systems (granted, this is an obvious exaggeration...).

I do think we have the liberty to live as we choose in the United States. We are not a theocracy, officially at least.

BH

Josh Hussung said...

I am not saying that no civil rights issue exists. I am saying that the civil rights side of it doesn’t have anything to do with what we are talking about. The issue John David posed had to do with the Church and how the Church handles this. We recognize that homosexual activity, and active homosexual lifestyle is sinful. Therefore, it cannot be condoned by the Church. The US can decide to allow homosexual couples to become legally married, but I don’t think churches should recognize that marriage, nor do I think that they should allow these services to be held on their property. The legal stuff is not the issue. We were talking about the Church.

Anonymous said...

Josh,

I was bringing up the civil rights issue because Howie mentioned that homosexuality is an "en vogue" issue.

My intention was not to change the subject completely, but I do feel that one must be as objective as he is subjective to effectively argue his point. I merely saw an opportunity to add a new facet to the discussion. If you don't want another perspective, then by all means, ignore what I have to say. It won't bother me.

Religion is an (maybe even THE) integral part of American culture, which is obviously reflected in governmental dealings, so there is a connection.

BH

Josh Hussung said...

Ben
My fault, man, looking back at my post, it looked kind of harsh. Sorry about that. No offense meant.
I agree with you that we should look at other aspects.
So here is what I have been dealing with a little bit:
I don't think I have a very solid opinion on the governmental side of the situation. I believe that we have a right to live how we choose. I think that sin is a choice you make. And I think that civil union laws have made some headway in the direction of giving rights to those who want to be recognized as a monogamous relationships. I also have no doubt that it is just a matter of time where all states recognize gay marriage. I have some problems with this from a Christian standpoint, but here's my question: Do you and I have an obligation to actively persue this on their behalf? Do I have a responsibility to help someone do something that I know is wrong? I know I should love them, and respect them, but how far does that go without being permissive of their activities?

Anonymous said...

I think it's necessary to give them the right to choose how to live their lives, like you said.

I do understand your moral obligation, religiously speaking, and no, I don’t think it’s rational to expect those morally opposed to homosexuality to take up the cause. I just don’t think it’s right for them to purposefully stand in the way, either.

I feel morally obligated to see the playing field leveled.

Too many churches are too political. For example, when the marriage amendment was on the ballot in Kentucky, I heard about numerous religious figures essentially demanding that their congregations support it. It's acceptable to opine however one wants to, that's an essential freedom. The problem is that many people voted for the amendment only because they believe that the Bible forbids gay marriage. A religious belief does not necessarily make for a fair law. In fact, religious beliefs enforced by the state are often oppressive to those who do not share said beliefs.

I thought the amendment was repulsive, as did most members of my family (including my grandfather, a Baptist deacon), because it destroyed the opportunity for homosexuals to be legal equals largely because a religion that is not state-sanctioned deemed gay marriage immoral. The whole thing was petty alteration of rhetoric anyway – defining marriage legally? Give me a break…

If people would make rational choices on issues like this, to give people of different orientations the same basic rights that they themselves enjoy, I would have no qualms with Churches making their own choices on whether or not to recognize gay unions.

I am of the opinion that if Christians and other religious people were able to think secularly on legal issues, or on civil rights issues like this, than the amendment would not have passed. Essentially, I feel that law was bullied by religion in this case.

Ben