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Topic: HOMOSEXUALITY

Dialogues

November 13, 2008
S. Michael Craven
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Dear "Christian Love,"

I appreciate your comments, however it isn't love to obscure or subvert the truth in an effort to avoid offending people. You suggest
that I should "educate" myself about the culture I am "attacking." First , to offer a contra position is not attacking, second I might suggest the same to you as it relates to Christianity. Either the Bible is a true and reliable source of truth or it isn't. If it is, then homosexual behavior is no more consistent with God's moral nature than lying or adultery. Your issue is not with ME; it is with Jesus Christ and what you believe it means to follow him. I offer for example, If your friend were an alcoholic and this friend said to you, "If you love me, you will let me drink myself to death." Would you?

Would "supporting" your friend in his desire be an act of love? No! True love would compel you to intervene-to act in spite of your
friend's request. You would attempt to persuade him, you would likely take steps to eliminate any opportunities for your friend to acquire alcohol. You would do everything you could to oppose your friend's desire if you truly loved him. He would likely be angry with you; it would be painful at times but "love endures all things." This is love! It is not loving to condone behaviors that violate God's law and destroy human beings. I sense you are young and you believe, as do many, that being "gay" is synonymous with any other romantic relationship. But this bears no relationship to the realities of a lifestyle that begins in pain, exists in pain, and tragically often ends in pain. There is propaganda and there is truth. I would encourage you to transcend the former in order to discover the latter. In this way, you will truly love people.

Blessings,
Michael



Mr. Craven,

Thanks for responding. I appreciate your time. First, you are not simply arguing a "contra position" about homosexuality.

You are describing it as a lowly, sinful lifestyle. You say that gay couples should not be allowed to adopted children. This is far more than a simple contra position, it is an attack. If a homosexual were to say these things about heterosexuals, I think you would agree that you would be offended, as would I. Therefore your position is not an academic one, but an impassioned critique.

Second, you talk about America's youth as having a lack of theological education which feeds into their acceptance of homosexuality. Perhaps you, sir, are unfamiliar with Martin Luther's, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, ideas of marriage. He cast out marriage as a sacrament arguing that marriage is an earthly thing not a "holy" sacrament. Also, most Christians believe there is no marriage in heaven. Therefore, what is its significance on earth, but to share love, raise children, etc.?

Finally, I was most offended by your position that Gay couples should not be able to adopt children. My understanding is that you base this position on your belief that being in proximity to homosexuality will "harm" the child. You act as though homosexuality is a contagious disease. Most homosexuals in our society were born gay. If you don't believe this then look to biology for examples of gay animals. Uncommon, sure, but present throughout the world nonetheless. So with an adoption system in the nation that is overburdened, with orphaned children desperately needing the love and care of parents: why? Why not let homosexual couples raise the child.

The child can't catch their gayness like a virus. Sure it may provide them with an alternative worldview. But so would adoptive parents of another religion such as Buddhism. I hope you are not willing to say that anyone with an alternative worldview should not be able to adopt children.

Just because people don't have the same opinions or religious beliefs as you, doesn't mean they are incapable of loving and raising a child.

Thanks,
"Christian Love"



Dear "Christian Love,"

There is simply so much here that requires addressing. To your first point, the fallacy of your position is that you begin with the assumption that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent, which you further attempt to support later in your argument with the "innate and immutable" or genetic theory.

The fact that homosexual acts deviate from the biological design of sexuality is patently obvious and simply because people [or animals] engage in such acts somehow validates this behavior is, well ridiculous. People engage in sex acts with children and animals as well and yet we tend to say that these acts are not morally equivalent, why? Because there is some point at which we are willing to condemn certain behaviors as being morally wrong. What determines this point? Is it you, the majority, the government or is there a higher moral authority? In the case of homosexual acts, those who believe they are morally equivalent have simply made themselves the final arbiter for determining moral truth. This is the crux of man's sin--he rejects God's authority replacing His with their own. In doing so, moral distinctions become entirely arbitrary. If same-sex marriage is OK then why not polygamy? And if not polygamy, by whose authority do you condemn the polygamist's desire?

Second, Martin Luther WAS married and did believe in marriage as a vital social institution. You have completely misrepresented Luther's theology. Luther opposed the Catholic church's teaching on the efficacy of the sacraments as the sole means of administering God's saving grace. He did not reject marriage in any sense whatsoever. You have been grossly misinformed on this point. There is a distinct theological foundation that underscores God's design for human sexuality and the natural family. This theological conclusion is expressed and codified in marriage between one man and one woman. Marriage is one of three earthly institutions established by God for the organization of human activity; the family, the church, and the state. The biblical view of marriage and the natural family is overwhelmingly essential to the health and well-being of society as demonstrated in history as well as countless psychological, sociological and anthropological studies (see Toynbee, J.D. Unwin, Pitirim Sorokin, The Marriage Project at Rutgers University, etc., etc., etc.).

As to the innate-immutable argument, if you were indeed familiar with the science then you would know that there is not one single scientific claim that homosexuality is simply genetic. If you would like, I would be more than happy to send you a lengthy summation of the available data demonstrating that the scientific community has rejected this claim entirely. Only the press and activists continue to assert this claim in support of a political (not scientific) agenda.

Finally, the issue of children raised by gay couples is not about the gay couples; it is about the children. Again, the available data overwhelmingly demonstrates that this is NOT the best environment for children--not because anyone is afraid they are going to "catch homosexuality." That is simply silly rhetoric that bears no relationship to the real issues involving children. There is also an emerging body of evidence from those raised by same-sex couples and the results are by no means favorable to the same-sex argument. Quite the contrary. With all due respect, you have strong "opinions" but little basis in fact. You strike me as intelligent but your knowledge indicates inculcation by means of propaganda rather than critical analysis and inquiry.

If it is the truth you seek, and I hope you do, then I would encourage to explore this issue beyond your presuppositions and popular rhetoric.

Sincerely,
Michael



Dear Mr. Craven

I think alot of what this argument boils down to is our interpretations of Scripture. It seems to me that you are arguing that homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so. Now I am no minister, and I'm sure you could provide more examples, but as far as I know the only book in the entire Bible that EXPLICITLY describes homosexuality as a sin is the Book of Leviticus. It seems that all your other scriptural evidence comes from verses concerning heterosexual marriage, to which you are reading in condemnations of heterosexuality.

The point here is that you seem to interpret the Bible very literally. But if you adhere to the Law as defined in the Old Testament then shouldn't all Christians be kosher? Should we all stop eating pork, wearing clothes with more than one fabric, etc.? So if Christians can in fact break the Law of Moses then by what authority do you condemn homosexuality? Isn't it the Law of Moses that gives you your position on homosexuality?

As to my point about Martin Luther, I never said anything about him rejecting the PRACTICE of marriage. My point was that his reason for denouncing marriage as a sacrament was because he believed that God designed marriage as a practical union for ALL people, not only Christians (based on Adam and Eve). Thus, to Luther, marriage was a civil matter. My point here is not to suggest that Luther would have approved of gay marriage. I'm simply saying that his view of marriage would seem to contradict your belief that SCRIPTURE establishes heterosexual marriage as the ONLY acceptable type. If marriage is a civil matter, as Luther believed, what authority does the Church have to condemn heterosexual marriage.

As far as the poligamy analogy, one major reason it is wrong is because it is not monogamous. I think you will agree that the Bible establshes clearly that sex is to be shared by TWO people who love each other and plan to spend the rest of their lives togther. I think too often that when people criticize homosexuality they invision this wild lifestyle of men having hundreds of sexual partners per year, etc. There are plenty of men in homosexual relationships who are in love and plan to spend the rest of their life with their partner. The only difference between this and heterosexual marriage is the gender of the people involved. The love is the same and the committment is the same. So I can't see where this "harm"
comes from? This type of monogamous homosexual relationship seems consistant with all the major themes of scripture.

Finally, here is my biggest problem with your position. You act as though your opinion of scripture is God's. You seem to have a messianic complex.

Here are some examples of this. You tell me to seek truth as if I have not yet found it and you have. You describe the sin of replacing God's authority with one's own, as if you alone know what God's intentions really are. Despite scholarly debate about theological issues from the dawn of time, God has chosen to let YOU see what St. Augustine, Aquainas, and Luther could not. You say that I lack "truth". Well who are you to define truth? Is your notion of truth not based on your own interpretation of scripture? And aren't you a human? And if those two things are true, then isn't your interpretation of scripture subject to the flaw that marks all humans?

The point is not that you cannot have an opinion because you are a flawed human. The point is that you need to acknowledge the possibility that you may err in your interpretations of scripture. Church leaders, such as yourself, are the very people driving youth away from Church because of your DOGMATIC attitude. A certain aspect of Christianity is left to mystery because none of us can ever fully understand God. Thus we are left to make the best decisions with what information we have. We all all unique so our decisions will be different, that doesn't necessarily make them wrong. ONLY GOD gets to decide that. And you sir, are not God. Nor do you have any reason to suppose that you are any closer to God than I am.



Dear D____,

Sexual conduct that is acceptable as well as prohibited by God is clearly defined in Scripture. There is no ambiguity on this point despite liberal attempts to the contrary. Additionally, homosexual acts contradict God’s natural revelation.

Human beings are born biologically heterosexual except in those very rare instances where a child may be born with ambiguous genitals. However, most children with ambiguous genitals are pseudohermaphrodites—that is, they have ambiguous external genital organs but either ovaries or testes (not both). Thus pseudohermaphrodites are genetically male or female. Regardless, this condition is a tragic defect and not a normative biological condition.

Additionally, human sexuality is naturally bound in a particular relationship, which is codified in marriage. Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of persons that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect. Homosexual acts are not reproductive in type. Therefore to equate the union of persons of the same sex with that of natural marriage ignores what is essential to marriage.

This would be analogous to redefining what is essential to water. Water is what it is by virtue of it possessing a specific chemical structure, two atoms of hydrogen combined with one of oxygen. The possession of these essential characteristics is what defines and distinguishes water from every other liquid. You might attempt to define water by some other characteristic, i.e. the characteristic of fluidity. However, while fluidity is certainly a characteristic of water, it is not essential to defining water. If we were to exchange the essential feature—hydrogen and oxygen—for the non-essential feature of fluidity to define water, you can imagine the problems that would result.

Your defense of same-sex marriage relies on “love and commitment” as the essential elements defining marriage. But I could love and be committed to my dog yet no one would suggest that I marry my dog. Thus love and commitment, albeit important, is not essential to defining marriage.  

This is the concern over defining marriage apart from what is essential to marriage; it becomes anything you want it to be. Interestingly, you reject the notion that such redefinition would open the door to polygamy, for example, by saying “it is wrong is because it is not monogamous.” You are willing to accept that monogamy is essential to marriage but you reject the patently obvious sexual complimentarity inherent in the male/female union. This seems rather arbitrary.  

As for God’s direct revelation, there are numerous admonitions against homosexual acts throughout the Old Testament beyond Levitical law. The New testament also includes direct admonitions against such acts:

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:24-28).

“Do you not know that the unrighteous [wrongdoers] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality*, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). (*The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts.)

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).


Dear Mr. Craven

I must first apologize for any ad hominem jabs that may have taken away from an otherwise pleasant discussion.

Second, I decided I would plug your name into Google (Forgive me for not recognizing it) to see who I had the honor of arguing with. Looks like the joke is on me. You see, the article I responded to was sent as a link from my girlfriend's aunt, with whom I have many theological disagreements. I read the article, got pissed off and wrote an impassioned uneloquent, response.

This is no criticism of your writing style, but merely my experience: I thought it must have been written by some semi-educated homo-hating preacher. The reason was because, until discussing the issue with you, I had only heard this view of homosexuality from erratic preachers who seemed most focused on hating homosexuals (which I find hypocritical). I then assumed I could tear this uneducated homo-hater to shreds. Clearly I've over-estimated my own knowledge and vastly underestimated the education and intellect of my opponent. I also did not expect a response, though I certainly appreciate the fact that you did respond.

While I'm embarrased, I feel I should introduce myself. As I'm sure you guessed, my name is not Christian Love. It is  ______. I am a Sophomore in Political Science at North Carolina State University.

As an undergraduate (not to mention underclassmen) in a field of study entirely different from that of Theology, I am certianly not equiped to challenge you in that field. However I would like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind:

What exactly is the harm in allowing gay couples to adopt children? Even if homosexuality is a sin, aren't we all sinners?

If homosexuality is a sin, why focus on eradicating it over any other sin?
Should we not focus on eradicating the kinds of sin that hurt more than just the sinner (i.e. murder, rape, theft)? If two men are engaging in sexual activity in the privacy of their own home, what harm does it cause anyone else?

Perhaps more imporantly, shouldn't we focus on the tasks that Jesus, Himself, laid out for us (caring for the poor, fighting injustice, etc.)?
Shouldn't the issues Jesus cared most about be a priority above and beyond a few sentences about gays that Paul wrote? Why not focus on ending starvation and poverty before worrying about whether two guys are fooling around with each other?

Do you deny that homosexuals can share the same depth of love (if any at
all) that heterosexuals can share? And if so why?

Finally, if it's not too personal, do you know any homosexuals? And if so, how well do you know them?

Thanks again for devoting so much of your time to discussing these things with me. I completely understand and will take no offense if you are too busy to respond.

Peace be with you,
D




Thank you for your gracious and kind reply. I am all too familiar with the fundamentalist rants that make me cringe as well, so I do understand your initial reaction. It is certainly not my intention to further this caricature.

Frankly, you have asked some great questions, which I will try to answer.

1. What exactly is the harm in allowing gay couples to adopt children? Even if homosexuality is a sin, aren't we all sinners?

Recent research suggests that children’s health is endangered if they are adopted into households in which the adults — as a direct consequence of their homosexual behavior — experience dramatically higher risks of domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, life-threatening disease, and premature death by up to 20 years.

“The probability of violence occurring in a gay couple is mathematically double the probability of that in a heterosexual couple,” write the editors of the National Gay & Lesbian Domestic Violence Network newsletter.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that “people with same-sex sexual behavior are at greater risk for psychiatric disorders” — including bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and anxiety disorders, major depression, and substance abuse.

The Medical Institute of Sexual Health reports: “Homosexual men are at significantly increased risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, anal cancer, gonorrhea and gastrointestinal infections as a result of their sexual practices. Women who have sex with women are at significantly increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer than are heterosexual women.” (Executive Summary, “Health Implications Associated with Homosexuality,” 1999) There are whole host of medical factors unique to homosexual acts.

Oxford University’s International Journal of Epidemiology reports: “Life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. … Nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday.”
Is it healthy for children to be adopted by adults whose lifestyle is characterized by promiscuity and the medical hazards of multiple sex partners?

A homosexual newsmagazine columnist in Detroit last month wrote regarding his partner: “This is his first relationship, so he has not yet been ruined by all the heartache, lies, deceit, and game-playing that are the hallmark of gay relationships. … A study I once read suggested that nine out of 10 gay men cheat on their lovers'”

The Centers for Disease Control warns that men who have sex with men “have large numbers of anonymous partners, which can result in rapid, extensive transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.”

These are but a small sample of the many studies which call into question the wisdom of placing children in same sex households. The needs of children should remain preeminent. They should not be handed over as trophies to the homosexual “rights” movement.

2. If homosexuality is a sin, why focus on eradicating it over any other sin? Should we not focus on eradicating the kinds of sin that hurt more than just the sinner (i.e. murder, rape, theft)? If two men are engaging in sexual activity in the privacy of their own home, what harm does it cause anyone else?

Very true, however we have been forced to confront the issue by virtue of the movement's demand for marriage. Most Americans, including Christians are tolerant of homosexual persons. The days of gay-bashing are long gone. But this does not satisfy. Now the efforts seek to impose a new morality of the rest of society by redefining marriage, which is essential to the health and well-being of society. That they do not have a right to do and so we engage the issue in the public where the Christian position is no doubt unpopular. I do think that once the battle for marriage is lost, we probably should withdraw from that particular conflict for the sake of the gospel and I have written as much before. In order to answer the question of what public harm comes from private sexual behavior, I would refer you to the following pieces I wrote addressing the subject in greater detail. Here: http://www.battlefortruth.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=156 Here: http://www.battlefortruth.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=178

3. Perhaps more imporantly, shouldn't we focus on the tasks that Jesus, Himself, laid out for us (caring for the poor, fighting injustice, etc.)?

Shouldn't the issues Jesus cared most about be a priority above and beyond a few sentences about gays that Paul wrote? Why not focus on ending starvation and poverty before worrying about whether two guys are fooling around with each other?
Unfortunately, the church HAS neglected these essential areas of its own life and ministry and thus we are often seen as only being "against" homosexuality, abortion, etc. This is not the full and proper expression of the church's mission. I agree.

4. Do you deny that homosexuals can share the same depth of love (if any at
all) that heterosexuals can share? And if so why?

No, I believe men and women who live the homosexual lifestyle still bear the image of God and thus can express and experience love. However, I would say that of the men and women I have known who were gay, few were truly content once you got beyond the outward image that the "lifestyle" attempts to communicate. Most were deeply depressed, despondent and felt a profound sense of degradation stemming from the gay lifestyle. Those who came out of the lifestyle described it as being in bondage to depravity, which only depend their self-hatred. They never experienced meaningful love that satisfied them.

5. Finally, if it's not too personal, do you know any homosexuals? And if so, how well do you know them?
Fortunately, I do and I have friendships with some despite our philosophical differences. Like any unrepentant sinner, some simply are not willing to submit to Christ's Lordship and so they remain steadfast in their lifestyle but they do not shun me. They know that I love them and they are important to me, which is why I hold the convictions I do. Some have to come to faith in Christ and walked away from the lifestyle. I feel a deep burden for the homosexual man or woman and I reject entirely any attempt to coerce or condemn them. It is the love of Christ that they most need so I don't focus on their behavior anymore than I would any other sinner.
There is a distinction between the individual living the gay lifestyle and the homosexual political agenda. I love the former; my Christian conscience compels me to oppose the latter.

Again, thank you for your humility and grace. I appreciate the dialogue and I hope it is helpful. There is a way to balance this tension between loving the sinner and hating the sin. It's not easy but God's grace is sufficient.



Mr. Craven,

On the adoption issues:

It seems as if the studies you cite consider the homosexual community as a whole. Admittedly, most homosexuals live a very "shady" lifestyle (but given our society's general dissaproval of them, what reason have they to adhere to our morals, moral standards they cannot meet without denying their own sexual disires (which has proven impossible for many secualar and non-secualar heterosexual leaders)? That's beside the point.) I would argue that the homosexuals in a stable, "loving" relationship, who would be most interested in adopting a child probably do not demonstrate the harmful tendencies characteristic of "promiscuous" homosexuals. If these couples meet the same qualifications for adopting a child that heterosexual couples meet, shouldn't we allow them to ease the burden of the adoption system and provide a child with loving parents?

Another question I have: Do you believe that a homosexual, because of his/her sexual orientation, cannot be a Christian? Many Christians, such as myself, do not view homosexuality as a sin. I think even you would agree that it was not the focal point of much criticism in either the Old or New Testament. Thus, can't a Christian deny homosexuality as a sin and remain within Orthodoxy? And in the unlikely event that you agree with that statement, couldn't a homosexual who believed his sexual orientation to be acceptable be an Orthodox Christian?

In other words, is homosexuality such a severe sin that it alone excludes otherwise saintly people from our faith?



Again, the adoption question centers around what is best for the children; it isn’t about adults and what "they" want. A mother and a father are the ideal situation by every measurable standard in which to raise children. We make such discriminations all the time when placing children with adoptive parents. The goal is to achieve what is best for the child; their needs remain preeminent. And again, I only shared a small spattering of the sociological evidence, which affirms that same-sex households are not just less desirable or neutral but actually harmful. In fact, I spent the better part of the morning last week on the phone with a woman from Canada who was raised by her homosexual father. The experience was traumatic to say the least. She has written a book on her experience.

To your second point, certainly a person can struggle with same-sex attractions and still be one who is born again by the Spirit. We all struggle with certain sins after coming to Christ. Homosexuality is no worse or less than any other sin behavior. However, given the Lord's promise that what he begins he promises to complete, such a person would surely lose those desires in the same way that we all lose our former desires if we have been born again. Additionally, a person who was guilty of adultery could not continue in their adulterous lifestyle under the claim that "it doesn't matter, I'm saved!" The same would be true for the anyone struggling with any habitual sin. We do not encourage people to continue in their sin but repent a live in obedience to the life set forth in Scripture. God does not tolerate unrepentant and willful disobedience. God calls us to holiness and righteousness. We are to turn from sin and live in obedience. This is the evidence of our new life in Christ (see James 2). That is not to say that homosexual acts (or any other sin for that matter) disqualifies one from salvation. That's not what we're talking about. Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin ( rebellion); it is settled. But it is a mistake to claim that any sinful behavior is either condoned or compatible with living in obedience to God. It isn't and this is clear throughout Scripture.

Yes, certainly you can be wrong on the question of homosexuality and remain within orthodoxy but orthodoxy only as it relates to the essentials of the faith, assuming one holds an orthodox view of the essentials. In other words, you can't miss or lose your salvation because you think homosexuality is compatible with being Christian. We are saved by grace, not our beliefs. However, on the question of discerning whether or not homosexual acts fall into the category of biblical prohibitions you would be in contradiction to the accepted teaching and two thousand years of Christian tradition. To be frank, I'm not sure how you can consider homosexual acts to be normative and beyond the pale of prohibited behavior? Scripture is quite clear on sexuality and what God expects relative to the proper expression thereof. Homosexual acts are clearly prohibited; the veracity and frequency of the prohibition matters not. It is still prohibited. (Scripture states "You shall have no other gods before Me" once!) If we compromise on homosexual acts why not fornication or adultery? What about lust? Pornography? We do not tell new converts "Sure, adultery is fine, you don't have to give that up." How can we hold to the prohibitions against adultery but relax the prohibitions against homosexual acts? This is simply inconsistent with Scripture.

Finally, opposing homosexuality is NOT the purpose or mission of the church of Jesus Christ. But when the world attempts to call what is evil in the sight of the Lord, good; the church is compelled to stand for truth--to proclaim God's moral authority over all men. He determines what is right and wrong; man is not the measure of all things as he presupposes. This is the lie we are to oppose and all of its pretensions. The mission of the church is to call men to repentance; to turn from themselves, receive forgiveness through Christ Jesus and worship and follow God. There can be no salvation apart from repentance.

Blessings,
Michael

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