Monday, September 13, 2004

Homosexuality and the Church

The whole controversy that is tearing apart the Anglican Communion is emblematic of what is going on in our society on the issue of same sex marriage and the way that homsexuality should be viewed. A small group of elites have decided all the important "moral" questions without consultation with the masses and have attempted to enforce their view on the lay people. Shut up and pay your pledge, they seem to be saying.

If you, dear reader, like me, have many dear friends who are homosexual, you really wish this whole controversy would go away because you do not want to have to speak out and say what you think is right, knowing that it will hurt those you care about and perhaps alienate them from you forever.

Yet Jesus tells us, that in this situation that is precisely what we must do. This is what he is talking about when he says you must hate your mother and father if you are to love HIM. (Luke 14:26
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, and even his own life--he cannot be My disciple)

Having said that, I will plunge on. The first problem with this social/church discussion is that we have no clear definition of what constitutes homosexuality. No. Don't laugh. That is one of the conceptual problems at the root of this disagreement. Is anyone who ever kissed anyone of the same sex a homosexual? Is it a person who has sexual relations exclusively with a person of the same sex? Statistics: 90 percent of male homosexuals have had intercourse with a woman (per Michael Medved-- need to check his sources) So, being homosexual doesn't mean you are INCAPABLE of having intercourse with the opposite sex. It means you don't want to . In fact close to one hundred percent of all children born to homosexuals are the result of sex with the opposite sex. Actually-- I don't have any formal statistical study-- just the people I know.

Assuming that being homosexual is a matter of who most of your current sex partners are and not your physical ability to have intercourse with the opposite sex, there is in fact only suggestive evidence that homosexuality is inherited. For a relatively neutral discussion of this subject see this discussion on google.


In summary it says that there is a somewhat higher correlation between homosexuality in identical twins than brothers, but not enough to be persuasive. By comparison the evidence that say diabetes or tendency to overweight is far higher.

Which leads to the next question: Even though there is little evidence that homosexuality is inherited, i. e. that people are born that way, the fact that people may have an inherited or congenital condition does not mean that the condition is a good thing, Among inherited conditions are Tay-Sachs, Sickle Cell Anemia, Huntington's Chorea, among congenital conditions: Down's syndrome. All of these conditions are ones that we strive mightily as a society to prevent. So "Born that way" is not enough of a reason to simply accept homosexual behavior. (Other behaviors which have been linked to genetics are alcoholism and schizophrenia-- do we consider that these conditions are okay or normal or acceptable?)

Now before someone claims that I am gay bashing, there are other conditions and behaviors that are either certainly inherited or are probably inherited: resistance to heart disease, long life expectancy, intelligence, athletic skill. These are characteristics we hope our children will have.

So the fact, which is not a given, that there may be a genetic link is not dispositive of whether we should encourage the behavior, disregard the behavior or try to change or correct the behavior.

Some people claim that gay life styles lead to higher levels of addiction, depression and disease. I haven't been able to find any non-biased studies on this issue. What we do know is that male homosexuality involves sodomy, which is not a practice exclusive to homosexuals, and that sodomy poses some obvious health risks because of the presence of fecal matter and the fact that anal tissues are not as resilient as vaginal tissues.

See this link


Now all of this talk of biology might seem to have nothing to do with theology or religion. But it does. If you believe that this is God's world, that He made it, that it has fallen into sin and is not perfect, then you must look to the best and highest of nature to discern His purposes. Thus it is a valid theological argument against homosexual practices that anuses are not made for intercourse.

There is, however, a much more important theoglogical argument. God tells us to be fruitful and multiply, Gen 1:28, inter alia. That can only happen when men have sex with women. The irreducible biological fact is that it takes a sperm and an ovum, a male and a female, to have children. In biological terms, if there is to be a next generation, if life is to continue, then men and women need to have sex with each other and spend a considerable amount of their time, energy , resources, love, commitment and life in raising children. That is the biological fact. That experience forms the template for all of our experiences of love. We refer to God as our Father, because it relates to our experience of strength and unselfish caring. The church is called the bride of Christ, because it relates to the mystical, merging and transcendent experience of marriage. The experience of human sexuality in a committed marriage is transcendent in part because it is a union of two different kinds of human beings which can result in the creation of a third person.

That is a qualitatively different experience than the experience of love between two persons of the same sex.

On a more mundane ( i.e . worldly) level, we note that special obligations between husband and wife arise in society precisely because of children and the ability to leave one's property to one's children and of family members to take care of each other. Same sex relationships can never be productive of biological families.

At the same time, we, as Christians, need to recognize that we live in a broken world full of people with broken lives. God calls us to be compassionate. Which one of us has not sinned? Are our heterosexual sins any less than the sin of homosexuality? Which of us has not been covetous, greedy, less than truthful? I could go on. In Galations 5:18 Paul talks about the sins that will keep us from heaven: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance--as I told you before--that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So it is not for us to sit in judgment on homosexuals-- that is, in the sense of deciding whether this particular sin is THE ONE which will keep them from heaven.

We need to be as accepting of homosexuals as we are of selfish, greedy, thougtless, envious, idolatrous, argumentative, angry people.

On a more practical level, we need to try to open calm dialogue about what really is homosexuality and what causes it. We need to know if it is something that can be changed and how. In my own personal experience, I know of people who have lived in homnosexual relationships who have subsequently married and lived in happy heterosexual relationships.

We cannot ignore our biblical tradition by blessing same sex relationships. They cannot stand on a par with the only biblical relationship approved-- one man and one woman. For a whole host of religions, biological, moral and theological, same sex sexual unions are, at best, not sanctioned and approved. The practice of blessing marriage between a man and a woman is inextricably linked to the fact that this the only relationship which can be fruitful.

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