Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out of the Closet & Into the Genes

This is my final installment on this four week discussion of the sin of homosexuality. A friend contacted me with the following thoughts and feelings. She is primarily concerned with the matter of whether or not some folks are born gay. If someone is born gay, can they help it? Can they be blamed? A lot of people grapple with these questions and the implications which inevitably follow.

Many Christians insist that being gay is a choice. Most homosexuals beg to differ. But is this an issue Christians really need to face? Does the Bible even say whether or not people are born gay? How is this subject germane to the discussion we’ve been having?

My friend’s words are bold and italicized. May God add His blessing to your reading and thank you for taking this little journey with me as we have explored what may be the greatest defining issue, for church and culture, of our time.

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Great topic my friend! This is one of the items that really confuses me. I usually am leaning so far off to the right I could fall off the fence, but I really do think a majority of homosexuals are born that way. I also feel that there are those that choose it, especially with the way Hollywood and the media are these days. I know scripture tells us that it is a sin, but on the other hand it says to "love thy neighbor". So for me, if someone want to lead this type of lifestyle who am I to judge? HOWEVER, I feel that the media pushing the gay agenda in shows, movies, same sex marriage etc. is a disgrace. I really don't feel like sitting down with my 5 year old and have to explain why Sherry loves Mary. With society forcing an issue down everyone's throats is just going to divide the people even more than we already are. God gives us the choice to make our own decisions, and everyone chooses a path. I love my neighbor gay or not, but I do not want it thrust upon me and my children. Does that make sense? 

I understand where you're coming from. Some of the points you raise I discuss in my blog entry, "Biblical Answers for Queer Questions." If you've not read it, I would encourage you to do so. Also, I recommend my articles: "We're Not Gonna Take It--Gays & Twisted Scripture" and “Flaming Homos: The Conversation Gets Heated.” Each of these pieces may be helpful when considering these things.

As to the question of whether or not some gays are born with homosexual tendencies: I think the quandary, as it is typically presented or framed, is rather reductionistic or simplistic. But in addition to this, I think the entire controversy is a contrivance and a red herring. That is, whether or not one is “born gay” is NOT a matter of morality but of biology. But we are not discussing genetics. We are discussing ethics.

To be clear: when we [or the Bible] speak of the sin of homosexuality, we are not speaking in biological or genetic categories. Rather, we are speaking of homosexuality in terms that are categorically moral and ethical. Thus, in my estimation, the Christian apologist is missing the point entirely [and may be falling into a trap] when he leaves the biblical purview of the discussion and begins to converse of genetics rather than ethics. We must carefully and consistently distinguish, not conflate, these categories.

The biblical truth is each of us is born in sin. Being "born gay" has absolutely no bearing on the sinfulness of homosexuality. Just because one may be born with a certain bent or passion or predisposition, has no relevance to whether the inclination in question is or is not sinful. We are born with sinful propensities, a sinful nature. We are sinners therefore we sin. My sinful tendencies--no matter how innate or powerful--cannot excuse my sin or make my sin less sinful. Thus, even if a homosexual can prove he was born gay...this would not make homosexuality morally acceptable.

For example, I truly believe I was born heterosexual. That is, I have no recollection of consciously choosing to be attracted to the opposite sex. Rather, at a young age I began to experience and become very much aware of sexual attraction to females. (And then for a time “sexual attraction to females” was pretty much all I was aware of!)

That being said, fornication--sex before marriage--was no less sinful. And now, as a married man, sex outside of my marriage is no less sinful. Were I to commit adultery, I can never rightly claim: "Well, I can't help it. I was born with a strong attraction to females. God made me this way! If I weren't supposed to have sex with as many women as possible...why would God have made me with such urges? When I cheat on my wife I am only being true to the inner me. No one can judge my behavior as 'wrong' because it feels so 'right' and I am only behaving according to my nature."

Anyway...I hope these illustrations are helpful. (You can imagine any number of such things.) We do indeed have strong, sinful inclinations; but these are to be mortified so that we may glorify God. God defines what is right and what is wrong--not fallen, sinful human nature/desire/passion. What comes natural is not necessarily moral. In fact, many times it isn't. In other words, for sinful men to do what is “natural” is quite often to do what is immoral.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for keeping the focus on the real problem--sin. If Scripture says it is sin then the focus should be about being rescued from my sin. Paul says it best in 1 Cor 6:9-11-they used to be this way but now because of Christ, they are no longer.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Rick. And thank God for the grace of repentance.

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  2. Allow me a little latitude to address some points your friend made.

    "I know scripture tells us that it is a sin, but on the other hand it says to 'love thy neighbor'. "

    Can you exhibit Christian love for someone, even if they're sinning? Sure. Does your Christian love extend to justifying their sin? Absolutely not. If you brush off the sin with a casual "Oh, well...." does that constitute implied acceptance? People can differ, but in my view, it does.

    Because people must see their sin (and therefore understand that they as sinners) before they will be able to see their need for a Savior, condemning sin goes hand in hand with bringing people to Christ. That being the case, love requires us to condemn every evil, including adultery and homosexuality, while those who tell the guilty that they have no need to repent are guilty of satanic hatred.

    When Jesus railed at the Pharaisees in Matthew's gospel, was he being hateful? No. It was the most loving thing he could do. He knew that saying, "You know, you guys are a little off track" would not do the trick. The only way was to confront them with their sins, make them see them obviously, laid bare for all to see and heart.

    There is no record that any of them confessed their sin, but Christ was absolutely right to force them to make a choice. And I know that we don't have the authority Jesus did, but we are still commanded to oppose sin wherever it crosses our lives. "If you are not with me, you are against me."

    Often these people will push back with the comment, "I thought you Christians were supposed to be all about love." To which I would reply, "But I do love you. That is why I am pointing out the scriptures to you. If I didn't love you, I would ignore what you're doing, and let you pay the penalty yourself. But believe me, that's one debt you will not want to face alone."

    (Continues)

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  4. "So for me, if someone want to lead this type of lifestyle who am I to judge?"

    To quote Paul Washer, "Twist not the scriptures, lest ye be like Satan." This type of expression is used and misused so often I sometimes wonder if it was created during a focus group conducted by Satan to justify just about anything. So the implication is that we can't judge because we are not qualified to do so by our sins. But one simple defense is to say, "Scriptures teach that is a sin. I believe the Bible." Ideally you'll have a specific scripture at hand to quote. And as soon as you get the inevitable push-back asking you who made you the judge of others, smile and say, "I'm just telling you what the scriptures teach."

    The logic is inescapable. The Bible says X is a sin. Someone commits X. Therefore they are sinning. If pointing out the obvious is offensive to them, they need to shift their objection to the source, not to the messenger. But of course it's much easier (and, let's face it, more fun!) to respond to the person, than to say, "Well, I don't believe scriptures are true." If they do that, they're much more lost than you can imagine. Most won't go that far. But they will resort to all sorts of defenses. You've heard some of them:

    "That was overturned by later teachings" (denial of fact)
    "It doesn't mean that" (denial of interpretation)
    "That was Old Testament thinking" (denial of relevance)
    "Jesus never said that; it was just Paul..." (denial of authority)

    Or they'll use other such semantic tricks to avoid the issue.

    Do I think homosexuality is a sin? I believe the Bible is inerrant and it states that plainly, so yes. Do I think it is more heinous than other sins? Greater than some, less than others. But the degree of the sin isn't the issue here. What is at play here is an effort (led by Satan) to allow tolerance to over-ride truth. If we can get the church to tolerate homosexuality (not the world - the CHURCH, no less!) then by what logic can they stand against other sins?

    This is why it is so grievous to see whole denominations voting to allow gay pastors to serve. At what point do we draw the line? If they are thieves, stealing from the collection plate? If they engage in blatant lying? Slander? How about denying the truth of all scripture - "some parts of this I just can't agree with."? Where does that leave us in a few years? Nothing to stand on, no defense. That's what they want. That's what Satan wants.

    The net effect is to diminish the absolute authority of scripture, and to deny Christ's words in Luke 16:17 "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail "

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Indeed, the Bible commands us to love, and the Bible defines in word and example what love entails.

      And also, "judging" is unavoidable. To think is to judge. Our duty before God is to judge righteously. We've been given the righteous standard for judging: God's word. May we continue to recognize the Bible as our rule for faith and conduct: sola scriptura.

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