Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thoughts on Homosexuality

As promised in my last post, I want to offer some thoughts on homosexuality. I believe that one of the biggest difficulties in the conversation is ignorance -- Christians don't know how to "categorize" homosexuality and those who support homosexuality don't have a clear understanding of a Christian perspective on the issue. So, the goal of this post is to create some additional understanding for both parties.


First, here are 2 stastics to get us started:
From www.gayfamilysupport.com/gay-stastics.html
█45% of gay males and 20% of lesbians have reported receiving verbal harrassment and/or physical violence at school.
From Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/)
█In 2008, the CDC estimated that over half (53%) of new HIV infections in 2006 were among homosexuals in the US.
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How should we understand homosexuality? What is it? Is it genetic, a disease, or a choice? Is it caused by nature or by nurture? The truth is, the jury is still out on answering these questions. I tend to believe that it is a combination of all of these elements. Some people are genetically predisposed to homosexual tendencies. I also think that many homosexuals are that way because of a break down in relationships at home or school at an early age. I do not think, though, that it is a disease -- you can't "catch" homosexuality. However, some people do choose homosexuality as a lifestyle as well. And probably, there are various components of each of these and every story is a little different. Individuals who are genetically predisposed to it, who have poor family relationships, also probably make some choices that help him/her to move further down the road to homosexuality.

This is not a blog about those who simply choose it as an "experimenting" adolesence. This is about and for those who one day "discovered" they were gay, not by a direct choice.

The Bible has some to say about homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments. Sodomy, a word that most know today, is actually a word taken from a town called Sodom in Genesis 19. A similar story can be found in Judges 19. The New Testament speaks towards homosexuality more directly, not within narratives. Two specific passages are in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. There are also a couple more. I encourage you to read these verses, and any verse for that matter, in the context of its chapter, book, and the Bible as a whole. One cannot take out a single verse or passage from the rest of Scripture and create a theology based on it.

Here is what we can learn about homosexuality from these 4 passages:
Genesis 19 -- Sodom was destroyed at the end of this chapter. In the chapter before, Abraham pleads that God would spare the city if there was only 10 (a small number) of righteous people there. The fact that God then destroyed the city shows that there was not. Homosexualty, specifically manifested in the mob's desire to rape the visitors, is recorded to display the wickedness of the town.
Judges 19 -- The whole book of Judges is a record of the downfall of Israel. From beginning to end, there is a constant spiritual decline throughout the book. Since this is at the end of the book, it is evidence that this was considered an example of Israel at its low point. This chapter does not condone having a concubine, the sacrifice of her to save the Levite's life, or the Levite's actions as a whole. All of these are also proof of their spiritual degregation. (Robert Branson)
Romans 1 -- This letter was written to Gentiles in the Roman Empire. At this time, homosexuality among males was generally accepted, but lesbianism was not. This passage, similar to Judges in some ways, is provided an account of progression of sinfulness. As people continue to worship creation instead of the Creator, they move on to more destructive sins. In fact, the word used to describe the homosexual relationships in the NIV, "unnatural," in Greek literally means "against nature." (William Greathouse with Lyons)
1 Corinthians 6 -- This passage simply includes homosexuality in a list of sins which cannot exist in the Kingdom of God.

If you want more information on these passages, I encourage you to do some of your own study. I have provided only a glimpse into them.

It is important to understand why homosexuality is sinful. It's not because God arbitrarily decided that heterosexual relationships were good and homosexual ones were bad. Some people would just say "it's sinful because it's unnatural, not how God created us." Although it's true that God did not create humanity with the intent for homosexuality, this is a very simplistic understanding

The reason why homosexuality is sinful, at its very root, can be found in Genesis 1:26-27. God created men and women in His image. Now, this does not mean His physical image, for God is Spirit and we are physical beings. It means that God created male and female in the image of His characteristics. God is Trinity, in eternal community, so also should men and women be in community. God does not want us humans to only be with our own kind. In this respect, homosexual relationships are exclusive, and maybe a little selfish in nature. Homosexuals are not able to see the value of the other sex. John and Staci Elderedge, in Wild at Heart and Captivating, explain how men reflect God in some ways and women reflect Him in others. Like God, men are warriors, adventures, fathers, and providers. Women are like God in that they want to be cherished, motherly instincts, and the like. The list can go on for both, and it's true that they share some of the same attributes. It is when a man and woman come together that a clear picture of God can be seen. Homosexual relations are a perversion of God. Two men cannot paint this picture, neither can two women. God, in this Genesis passage, also gives the command the humans are to be fruitful and multiply, which is also impossible in homosexual relations. Gay and Lesbian sexual relationships are rooted in passion, and can often be full of lust. So the simple understanding of such relationships being "not how God created us" is true, but a better understanding is homosexual relationships are against the very nature of God."

Christians, here is one point that I want to make clear: The Bible does not seem to say that it's sinful to be attracted to members of the same sex. It is the acting out of these homosexual feelings that is wrong. A gay man is not sinning for simply being attracted to other men, nor is a lesbian sinning by thinking other women are attractive. It is not until these feelings are acted out in romantic or sexual ways.

I have heard people say that this fact seems unfair. "If God created me this way, why can't I be myself." First, sin has corrupted us all. We all have a desire to sin when we're born. Although not the same, being gay is very similar to other questions of sexuality. For example, most men are born with the desire to look at pornography. They love it, and the satisfaction that it brings makes it incredibly addicting. However, this type of adultery and lust is sinful. It's hurtful to a man's relationship with all women. "But I have a natural love for pornography, why can't I be true to myself." We (Christians) and God expect the heterosexual man to resist the temptation to look at pornography even though he desires it. I believe that it is not entirely unlike asking the homosexual to resist the temptation to act out his or her homosexuality.

Well, there are my thoughts on homosexuality. This is not the end all, or the final authority on Christianity and homosexuality. In fact, perhaps it will be the subject of a future blog.




7 comments:

  1. I just have a few things to say. So the reasons homosexuality is wrong is 1. because a man and woman have different characteristics of God and only when they're together can they paint the proper picture. 2. Humans are supposed to be fruitful and multiply. 3. It is just temptation.

    As a homosexual man, I can tell you that being gay is NOT a choice. I agree that some people choose it for the attention, but the majority of gay and lesbian people did not choose to be this way. I would never want to be gay, it's just the way I am.

    Moving on, you say that a man has the characteristics of God in that "men are warriors, adventures, fathers, and providers" and women "want to be cherished, motherly instincts, and the like". Why can a man not want to be cherished and have motherly instincts, or why can't a woman be a warrior, adventurer, and a provider? To me that is very sexist. That the woman should have to depend on the man to provide, and that the woman should have to stay home with the children.

    Also, you say that homosexuality is a sin because no children can result. What about women that can't have kids due to biological issues? What about all the men and women that have had procedures to keep them from having children? Aren't these sins as well? They aren't able to have children either.

    Also, you say it is just temptation and that we (homosexuals) should just not act on them. So we should just not be in any relationships nor love anyone? I am gay, not bisexual. A relationship with a woman, for me, would never work out because I could never satisfy her sexually. What is wrong with LOVING another man? Not lusting, loving. To me, all God wants from us is love.

    If you would like to branch out and open your eyes a little more. There is a book called "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality" by Daniel A Helminiak that might give you more insight on how you can interpret the Bible in other ways of condemning gays. Also, one statistic you forgot to mention was the suicide rate of young homosexuals. If you get a chance, please watch "Prayers for Bobby". Might open your eyes to how the church can affect young people in a way you have never thought about.

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  2. I know you are trying to be as complete as you can in your approach to this issue, so I am truly sorry to say that I think this is an oversimplification of the issue. The reasons why people decide to becoming openly homosexual are complex and broad. I agree with the previous poster, however, most homosexuals I have known, specifically ones who grew up in the church, would not have chosen that for themselves. It is asking for a world of condemnation on your head, and comes usually from years of inner turmoil and anguish. That inner turmoil and anguish are mostly caused by the church and its abnormal emphasis on this subject. The church does this for all sexual subjects, not just homosexuality, but I think to be a homosexual must be worse because you know you are battling something you feel (or know) to be unchangeable.

    I grew up in the church hearing these sermons regularly. I was a victim of sexual abuse as a very young child, but I didn't understand until I was much older that what happened to me was abuse. I thought I was a consenting member of a despicable act. The guilt and shame that arise normally out of such a situation were already heavy, but I was almost buried under a deep spiritual burden of guilt. It almost turned me from the church. And the spiritual renewal I experienced when I identified what had happened to me and finally became free of my role in it did not come from the church, but from a source outside. I have never yet heard a sermon that preached forgiveness to me, only things that encouraged me to bury my shame deeper and let it eat away at me.

    That being said, for the sake of those in our churches struggling with this, I don't think this subject needs to be discussed nearly as much. There are more than 30,000 verses in the Bible, and only about 10 that deal with homosexuality. We should take our cue from the Scripture and only address it with that kind of frequency.

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  3. Thanks for the responses! I will try to be brief in my responses.

    You bring up a good point about those who can't have children, single people, and those take medicine or have surgeries to keep them from having children. You revealed an unclear portion of my thoughts.

    In the blog, I left out an important conversation about marriage. In Scripture, the only marriages that are accepted as good are between a single man and a single woman. Marriage is a sacred institution, made so by God. Sex is a consecration of marriage. The importance of sex within marriage is most clearly illustrated in Song of Sons -- an entire book of the Bible written about the intimate love of marriage. However, not everyone is married (even the Apostle Paul remained unmarried). A person is not closer to God if they get married, or father away if they do. However, if one is seeking romantic or intimate relationships, it should be in the context of marriage between a man and a woman.

    I believe the Scripture is the story of God, and the means by which we know Christ - the direct self-revelation of God to us. I believe the Bible to be true concerning everything we need to know to live in right relationship with God. However, Scripture always has to be interpreted and different people do that in different ways. In order to avoid pluralistic interpretations of Scripture, I believe that we have to use history, reason, and experience to help us understand it. In the history of Christianity (with the exception of a few denominations in recent years), the Church has understood that the Bible is clear about acts of homosexuality being sinful. Reason points to the fact that when Scripture lists homosexuality in a list of other sins, that it means that homosexuality is a sin. Also, the emotional and physical hazards that are norms in homosexual lifestyle also point to the fact that it is not healthy. Experience and reason, in many ways, coincide in this. I do not have personal experience with homosexuality, but do know many who have. When I study Scripture or read commentaries on Scripture, it is important to me to read writers who believe Scripture needs to be interpreted through the lenses of history, reason, and experience.

    I know some individuals who used to be practicing homosexuals and then God changed them to be heterosexual, who have healthy marriages. I know other Christians who were homosexuals that God did not change, and they struggle with their homosexuality often. However, they understand that it's a struggle they will have to deal with probably for most of their lives, and they know that they can't live a homosexual lifestyle.

    I don't think most choose homosexuality as a lifestyle, as I said above. I know that there are many nature (genetics) and nurture (abuse, family relationships, etc.) components to why people become homosexuals.

    I want to admit that I don't know all the answers on homosexuality and Christianity. But that's why I think it's important to talk about it. True there aren't many verses in Scripture about homosexuality specifically, but there are tons about healthy sexual relationships, family, marriage, and community. Also all the biblical writers wrote to specific communities in specific situations. Today's situation is that we need to understand homosexuality and Christianity better, and that is why we must continue to talk about it.

    Like I said, this is a brief response (even though it's really long) and I didn't cover any of these points in their entirety so I know that I probably forgot something.

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  4. Personally I see nothing wrong with homosexuality. And my choice has nothing to do with God or anything else. My end result is who am I to judge anyone. That's God's job when we die. That is between the person and God. I do however think people are born that way. Who in their right mind would choose to be gay. That is not a bash that's just truth. We have too many people who want to take the job of God and judge and comdemn these men and women. I agree with the person who said LOVE is what we need. Honestly if more people thought like he did this world would be a happier place.
    Matthew 7:1.....that's my thought on it. Personally it's not my business.
    Keith, You and I grew up in the same church. We probably have totally different views on that church but from my experience there. Christians or Nazarenes can be the most judgemental groups of people.

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  5. Thanks for your comments Brandi. I'm sorry to hear that you had negative experiences with Christians.

    There are many things that I could say in response to your post, but I think that I want to respond to just one comment you made: "My choice had nothing to do with God or anything else." I believe that by responding to this, I may address some of the other subjects as well.

    I believe that God is active and relational in how He deals with us humans. He is constantly working in our lives -- sometimes we see it, sometimes we don't. I guess I'm coming from the understanding that God isn't just God of some parts of my life, or even just the Judge at the return of Christ. He's an active part of every area of my life -- including my understanding of sexuality (as is partially described above).

    I understand God to be loving and reconciling humanity to Himself. He's active in our lives every day. Judgment at the end of time is not His only purpose -- in fact, it's not even His main purpose. God wants to change how we live now, not just judge us later for how we live.

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  6. I appreciate this look on homosexuality. It's nice to hear from someone who isn't Bible-bashing their so called "truth" into people. You bring up some very good verses/passages that truly make sense and support the reality that every part of a God follower's life should be centered around God, even their sexual encounters.
    Thanks again for this honestly different take on homosexuality and the church. It's a very sensitive topic but I think you did a great job of covering it.
    God bless you.

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  7. Since homosexuality is a "hot topic," I would imagine that folks may stumble upon this blog post now and again. While many of my beliefs on homosexuality are similar to those I posted here more than 2 years ago, many others have changed. For example, I no longer take the Sodom and Gomorah story into account in this conversation. I have done a great deal more research and have had a great deal more experience in life. If you want to know in full what I believe about homosexuality, please ask! You won't get a complete picture by reading this 2 year old blog. Thanks!

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What do you think?