Friday, February 22, 2002
Theological Foray #3: Homosexuality and Christianity.
I’m honored beyond words that Kevin Holtsberry considers me to be enough of a student of theology and the Bible to post a good opinion on homosexuality and Christianity. Go read his article before continuing this one.
I’ve always considered homosexuality to be bad. However, as a Christian, I know I am to “hate the sin, love the sinner,” and I try my best to do that. None of the gays I’ve ever met have been despicable people, though I’m sure there are some, as with any population. This doesn’t diminish the fact that they’re in the wrong, however.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul states:
”Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”(NASB)
In Romans 1:26-27, he says the following:
”For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men, and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error."(NRSV)
In context, it seems that Paul regards these as dispositions caused by bad influences. As such, they’re merely affectations, and can be changed through effort. However, there is some room for doubt as to this, so I’ll also address the possibility that it’s hard-wired into some people’s brains. If so, this doesn’t make it right. Only animals (in this case, creatures lower than man; “Are Men Animals?” may be tackled in a later Theological Foray) obey their instincts exclusively. To not give in to temptation is a virtue, to submit is a sin. I personally am always thirsty, and so I know it would be very easy for me to get drunk, despite my German and British genes. Knowing this, I don’t drink alcohol, since I’m not sure that I’m disciplined enough yet to handle it properly. Men may have the urge to simply abduct a woman, have your their with her, and then go in search of another, but that’s also clearly a bad thing. The Bible shows in Matthew 4:4-11 that even Jesus Christ himself experienced temptation. Thus, it is not the having the urge that is the sin, but acting on it.
Furthermore, these passages are from the New Testament in reference to both Jewish and Gentile Christians. While the Old Testament has a lot of fire and brimstone about the subject, it's often overlooked that the New Testament condemns it as well.
Having established that homosexuality is a sin, we must first determine what order of magnitude it is. While Jewish law compared it to murder, rape, and kidnapping, Paul lists it with things like lying and stealing. Thus, while it is of course a sin and to be avoided, it’s not enough to completely ostracize a person from society.
Why is it a sin? Men obviously do not have complementary parts (no, I will not go into detail). By doing something that obviously wasn’t intended, you’re disobeying the will of God, and thus are sinning. While men don’t have wings to fly, we do have brains to learn aerodynamics and hands to build airplanes.
Private organizations may exclude homosexuals, especially religious denominations. The Roman Catholic church refuses to ordain practicing homosexuals, a position fully understandable in that they refuse to ordain practicing heterosexuals as well. Just as a congregation would be upset by a drunken or womanizing priest, they would also reject a gay priest. In Judaism, you couldn’t be a priest if you merely had a physical deformity. In Christianity, you shouldn’t be one if you have an obvious vice. Ministers are the leaders of the congregation and an example to their followers, and so should be as exemplary as possible.
Speaking for the conservative and moderate Christians, we consider homosexuality to be a sin. To quote John Derbyshire, we find it “vaguely disgusting” for gays and “vaguely absurd” for lesbians. While we’d prefer that you not make it obvious in public, we respect your rights to free speech and free association. We’re perfectly willing to stay out of your bedrooms, so long as you keep it in the bedroom, preferably with the lights out and blinds drawn. We get upset when you come on to us. We get militant when you come on to our kids. We will oppose any efforts to give government support to something we believe to be sinful. We know that we don’t always get what we want, and we merely ask you to respect our sensibilities in a similar fashion to how you’re asking us to respect yours. We hope and pray that you’ll turn away from the practice, but ask only that you not involve us with it.