As I’m writing this, the two-week suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson by A&E over remarks he made that were offensive to homosexuals is making headlines. The incident has ignited a nationwide debate regarding homosexuality, and naturally, lots of people are taking sides and expressing their opinions.
With this article, I hope to make a small contribution to the understanding of folks on both sides of the issue, whom I will refer to, for simplicity’s sake, as homosexuals and their dissenters. (I realize, of course, that there is a variance of opinions on both sides, but I intend to stick with the fundamental differences.)
It is interesting (although often unrealized) that both sides are taking their positions on moral grounds. For that reason, both sides owe each other respect. I’m sorry to say that, in my observation, it appears that homosexuals seem more apt to take the higher ground in this regard. It is their dissenters who appear to me to be more apt to spew vitriolic remarks that only fuel the sense of hatred that homosexuals so often feel from their detractors.
It isn’t easy for homosexuals (or anyone, for that matter) to consider the moral arguments of people who demonstrate a moral inferiority in their conversation. For that reason, may I encourage dissenters to avoid being the person who points out the speck in the eyes of others while having a log sticking out of their own. Of course, there are plenty of homosexuals whose commentary is equally denigrating towards their dissenters, and they too, should ask themselves if they are speaking as they would want to be spoken to.
A&E’s Moral Decision
I’m afraid that many dissenters fail to understand that A&E’s decision to suspend an actor was a moral decision, and from their moral framework, they have only done what is right. The executives at A&E, like so many others, believe that homosexuality is biologically determined, not self determined. Thus to them it is a discrimination issue. Saying that homosexuality is morally wrong is to them like saying that being born with red hair is morally wrong.
Dissenters, how would you feel if people spoke of you in denigrating terms because of your hair color? Put yourself in the shoes of homosexuals who believe—right or wrong—that their inclination towards homosexuality is just as inherent as your inclination towards heterosexuality. How would you feel for being denigrated for your heterosexual inclination? (Incidentally, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard any homosexuals denigrate people for their heterosexuality.)
I’m saying this in hopes of helping dissenters gain a little more respect and compassion for homosexuals. Make no mistake about it…they feel like a discriminated minority in a sea of ignorant people, people who don’t even want to try to understand them.
Along these same lines, dissenters should discard common stereotypes about homosexuals. They are not heterosexual people who, in the midst of their already-deviant and vile lives, one day decided to engage in a homosexual relationship. More likely, they found themselves at some point in their lives possessing some attraction to members of the same sex, an attraction that they initially resisted but gradually succumbed to. They sincerely believe that they can’t change their homosexual tendency. And they are offended when people put them in the same category as those who desire to have sex with children or animals, as those things are morally repulsive to them. Similarly, many are offended when they are stereotyped as being recklessly promiscuous, pointing out that homosexual marriages demonstrate a desire for loving and committed relationships.
If you personally know any homosexuals, you know that they are more often than not kind, caring, intelligent, sincere, hard-working people. If you have been engaged in the culture of Christendom for any length of time, you may have even found yourself wondering why homosexuals at times appear to be more Christian than some professing Christians.
I would ask forgiveness, on behalf of all dissenters, from the homosexual community for how we’ve mistreated them, but I know that acting as a proxy in such cases is essentially meaningless. Offenders need to personally seek forgiveness from those they’ve offended. So please allow me to at this point to ask forgiveness for my own past offenses committed against homosexuals in this regard. I am truly sorry.
Questions From Which We Can’t Escape
Now, let me address those on the homosexual side in hopes of helping them understand those of us who so often sadly act like their enemies.
We are not convinced that your homosexuality is purely genetic. This is not to say that we question your sincere belief that your homosexuality is something that is your natural tendency. It is just to say that we wonder if there wasn’t some environmental contribution to the cause of your homosexuality. That being said, if there was some environmental contribution, and if that environmental contribution was beyond your control, we sympathize with you completely. Had we found ourselves in the same inescapable environment as you, we might also be homosexual. We also acknowledge that whether the cause was genetic, an inescapable environment, or a combination of both, it makes no difference to you, as those factors don’t change the fact that you have found yourself possessing homosexual attraction.
That being said, we are asking for your honesty. We ask that you don’t say that “science has proven that there is a gay gene” or, “scientific data shows that homosexuality is biological” when those “facts” simply are not true. And we also ask that you give us better answers to the questions we have about the genetic claims of some homosexuals.
For example, if homosexuality is genetic, why hasn’t it died out over the thousands of years of human history? How do homosexuals manage to pass on their gene pool to successive generations?
Why have homosexual populations increased and decreased in various geographical regions and at various times in history?
Why are there so many cases of identical twins (who carry identical chromosomes) in which one is homosexual and the other is not?
Why do some, who apparently possess a homosexual orientation, later possess a heterosexual orientation (such as Michael Glatze, the founding editor of Young Gay America magazine, and former lesbian activist Charlene Cothran, longtime publisher of Venus magazine, and singer-songwriter Dennis Jernigan)?
Why do certain familial, cultural, geographical and educational factors tend to result in higher incidences of homosexuality?
All of these questions make us wonder if genetics is really the reason for homosexuality. Might it also be, at least in part, environmental? (And again, regarding inescapable environments, it is acknowledged that they, like genetics, are beyond the control of the individual.)
But this leads to a larger question on our part. We also wonder if at least part of the reason for your homosexuality is your own choice, because many of us think we can actually identify with you to some degree. For example, most heterosexual men find that marriage doesn’t put a stop to their being sexually attracted to other women, an attraction that they know they must suppress as an act of love towards their wives, and if their religion deems adultery to be a sin, an attraction they must suppress as an act of love towards their God.
That is, we possess what we consider to be immoral sexual tendencies, but we resist them, and we don’t use our natural tendency to desire sex with multiple women as an excuse for having sex with multiple women. In fact, even if we yield to the temptation to have sex with someone to whom we are not married, or yield to lesser forms of the same sin, namely, pornography, we know it is wrong, and we normally don’t try to justify it on the basis of our natural tendency.
Thus, we question those who defend the moral legitimacy of homosexuality purely on the basis that one finds himself or herself possessing homosexual tendencies. We can all say, “I was born this way,” and by that, attempt to justify many things that are universally held to be morally wrong. Murderers could say, “I’ve found that I was born with a natural inclination to hate my enemies, and so who can blame me for killing them?” Pedophiles could say, “I find myself sexually attracted to children, so what right does anyone have to condemn me for molesting them?” Homophobes could say, “As far back as I remember, I’ve hated homosexuals. I must be genetically disposed to that trait, and so I’m not personally responsible.” Who would accept such justifications? No one.
We also question if personal choice has something to do with certain environments that are conducive to homosexuality. Again, if one is raised in an abusive home that is conducive to homosexuality, that is one thing. But if one decides to attend a college where homosexuality is promoted as acceptable or desirable, that is another thing. The fact is, homosexuality is more prominent among those who are more educated. (Women with college educations are eight times more likely than women with a high school education to identify themselves as lesbians.) Could that point to an environmental factor? It is undeniable that we are influenced by those to whom we give our ears.
All of this is to say, dissenters question the foundation of the moral argument of homosexuals and their advocates. Certainly, if homosexuality is genetic, like red hair, then they are absolutely correct in condemning those who find moral fault with homosexuals. However, if homosexuality is not purely genetic, and personal choice plays a part, then the foundation of the homosexual moral argument crumbles.
The Larger Issue
Homosexuals also need to understand that many dissenters, like myself, hold the Bible to be the moral measuring rod of all human activity, and for good reason. In the Bible, the world’s all-time best seller, we find four accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus, a person who claimed to be God’s Son and whose miracles gave credence to His claim. How many historical individuals do you know of whom it is recorded that multitudes of people witnessed many miraculous acts performed through them, such as raising the dead, walking on water, opening the eyes of the blind and multiplying food? We don’t believe that those accounts are fables, but that they are accurate historical records written by authors who were His contemporaries, and who in some cases were firsthand eyewitnesses.
Jesus predicted His untimely death and resurrection, and then pulled it off, an amazing feat. His disciples saw Him many times after His resurrection, and they saw Him ascend to heaven. They believed He was, as He claimed, the One appointed by God to ultimately judge every person after their death. Jesus’ friends and associates would not have forfeited their lives on His behalf, as so many did, had they not actually believed He was the Son of God and not actually seen Him alive on numerous occasions after He was crucified. People don’t sacrifice their lives to defend a hoax.
Jesus is obviously not someone who should be ignored.
The same Bible that tells us everything we know about Jesus also contains God’s thoughts about homosexuality, which He condemns as being morally wrong. Our Bibles contain passages in which God Himself is purportedly speaking, and He says things such as:
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination (Lev. 18:22).
If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them (Lev. 20:13).
These verses are contained in passages that also condemn various forms of incest, adultery and bestiality. It is Bible verses like these that undergird our suspicion that homosexuality involves individual choice, just like incest, adultery and bestiality, otherwise God would be unjust to condemn it.
In the New Testament, our Bibles contain passages like these two found in 1 Timothy and Romans:
Realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching (1 Timothy 1:9-10, emphasis added).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of 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 over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:18-32, emphasis added, context included).
Those passages of Scripture, and others like them, seem to be clear regarding homosexuality. When homosexuals and their advocates argue that such passages can be interpreted differently, so as not to condemn homosexuality, we wonder how that is possible.
Not only do both the Old and New Testaments condemn homosexuality, so does the Koran. Since all three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) claim communication from God, it would be a formidable task to persuade their believing adherents, which represent 55% of the world’s population, to embrace homosexuality as being morally acceptable in His sight. (I do realize that not all professing Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that homosexuality is morally wrong. But those who adhere to their religion’s scriptures certainly do.)
Homosexuals and their advocates need to understand that, if they are going to change the predominant view among Christians that homosexuality is morally wrong, they will have to go far beyond arguments about genetics and epigenetics. They must destroy our trust in the entire Bible and our faith in Jesus. They will need to prove to us that what the Bible says about homosexuality actually does not reflect God’s view, which is tantamount to destroying our faith. And that is a formidable task. In fact, it is an impossible task.
Because of that, my advice to homosexuals is to learn to live with us. We can relate to you in more ways than just the fact that we also find ourselves possessing sexual impulses that deviate from what God has said is acceptable. We also sometimes feel like a discriminated-against minority who cannot be tolerated by those who preach tolerance, and judged by those who tell us we should not judge.
Finally, those of us who are trying to be sincere followers of Jesus are frustrated. Because of unChristian actions of some who profess to be Christians, we feel that we are mischaracterized as bigots and homosexual haters. Yet many of us, like Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, see ourselves as equal or greater sinners and true lovers of homosexuals. However, we are now former captives to our sin, because we’ve been set free supernaturally by a God who loves us. In his now-infamous interview with GQ magazine, Phil Robertson paraphrased a passage in the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians that reflects those exact sentiments:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Those of us who were once fornicators, adulterers, thieves or drunkards hardly have a right to “throw the first stone” or claim moral superiority over homosexuals, since we, too, can find ourselves in Paul’s list. Here’s the only difference now: we believed, admitted our sin, bowed our knee to the One before whom we must all one day give an account, repented, and God delivered us. And that is good news we’d like everyone to know. We’re like people who’ve escaped through a secret passage from a hellish prison, but our family members are still inside. Imagine our frustration when we send them a message that identifies the escape route, but they reply, “You are bigots!”
Apparently, among the souls in the church in Corinth were people who formerly were homosexuals, but who no longer were when Paul wrote to them. And those of us who believe he wasn’t lying are subsequently filled with hope that there is no hopeless case. Some of us (like myself) personally know people who were formerly homosexual but who are now heterosexual, and are even married and parents of beautiful children. Nothing is impossible to our God of love and mercy.
While homosexuals and their advocates have no choice but to claim that homosexual orientation is irreversible (since it is allegedly genetic or in some way biological), we have what we think is a better, more loving message for them: You don’t have to be homosexual any longer. And the message gets better than that: You can also be set free from anything else that holds you captive. And the message gets even better: You can inherit God’s kingdom and eternal life.
We hope and pray that you will understand that we can’t think of a more loving thing to do than to try to communicate that good news to you, even if it means being misunderstood or sometimes hated. And so we can’t keep quiet. Speaking up is worth the risk, because you are worth it. And our God commands that we take that risk, following His example. He died for the people who mocked and spit upon Him, and we marvel at that, knowing that we were at one time among the mockers.
Genuine followers of Christ love you and care about you. And so does God. But we believe that His kingdom and eternal life await only those who turn from sin and bow their knee to Him in genuine, obedient faith. We don’t believe that just claiming to be a Christian, or simply “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior” without repenting of one’s sins results in any salvation or transformation. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. One day He will rule the world. The only way to be ready for that day is to start obeying Him.
So that is my best attempt to bring some better understanding between homosexuals and their dissenters. I welcome respectful feedback from both sides (but hate mail goes right into the trash where it belongs). Thanks for reading — David