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:
█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.
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.