October 11, 2014

Homosexuality, Christianity, and Me

It's funny how this topic reappears about once a year, or at least it has for the past three years. I have written on this topic three times before (other than the odd mention here and there), all in the past three years. Over the past few days it has popped up again on Twitter and Facebook with people either misunderstanding something I wrote, intentionally distorting something I wrote, or responding with burning self-righteous anger at something I wrote. Myself, I really don't see what all the fuss is about. To start with, let's take a look at those three posts I mentioned:

February 4, 2011: Genuine Tolerance

Believe it or not, it is not Christians who give me the most grief over my defense of any individual homosexual's right to their lifestyle. It is atheists and homosexual activists who condemn my blog posts, pour out profanity on my YouTube channel, and rail against me in Facebook discussions.
Then, as now, if someone drops into a discussion I have either stumbled onto or initiated it is inevitably the Christians who are most willing to respect the choices made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individuals. Granted, there do exist groups like the Westboro Baptist Church with their propensity to picket the funerals of combat veterans who died defending the freedom to picket funerals. For better or for worse, I have met very few people online with that kind of deep-seated hatred of LGBT people and when I do, I instantly block them and go about my day. If I come across one in real life, I smile politely until they finish ranting and then never talk to them again. I have much better things to do with my time than argue with people whose reality is so distorted they cannot accept the humanity in people with a different lifestyle than their own. Bigotry is bigotry, whether it comes from Christians who claim every combat casualty is a result of God's judgement, lesbians who want to pretend their union can magically produce a child, or Muslims who believe homosexuals should be executed. I find this kind of extremism intolerable. And yes, that lack of tolerance extends to any school district that would rather call children "Purple Penguins" than risk offending sensitive souls who feel trapped in gender-specific social expectations. Boys are boys, girls are girls, and adolescents are young men and young women. We cannot pretend that biology does not exist simply because a few people are unhappy with their own reality.

February 10, 2012: Gay Marriage is not about Love

A "marriage" is a man and a woman who decide to start a family together. The piece of paper is nice, but that's not what a "marriage" is. That is why most states have a "common law marriage" definition. If gay marriage is the law, then two people of the same sex who live together fall under the same legal requirements for a common law marriage as would a man and woman living together.
The biggest problem I have with "gay marriage" is not happiness or love or Bible verses condemning homosexuality. The biggest problem I have with gay marriage is the horrible impact it will have on common law marriage, an impact that no one is talking about. I can easily imagine obsessed former roommates with stalker type personality disorders following around their ex-friends demanding compensation for the time they spent together. Court dockets in states that have passed gay marriage laws are already seeing cases combining common law marriage and gay marriage in legal suits against same-sex friends who parted on bad terms after sharing an apartment or a house long enough to fall into common law requirements for joint ownership of televisions, cars, furniture, luxury items, and pets. It is bad enough when genuine lovers part company and file for divorce from someone they never "officially" married to begin with. When ex-roommates start using the same laws to extort items they cherished or seek revenge against someone who wronged them then our entire legal system is reduced to a farce with all the merit and value of a circus sideshow. I'm sorry if this offends same-sex couples who are deeply in love and have successful relationships that last for decades, but marriage is about securing the providence of families and the protection of children. It is children that represent the future of humanity, not young people so in love they are drunk on their own endorphins.

March 28, 2013: A Gay Man who Opposes Gay Marriage

In our sometimes misguided efforts to expand our freedom, selfish adults have systematically dismantled that which is most precious to children as they grow and develop.
That quote is from the article linked to in my blog post. Doug Mainwaring spoke the truth far more clearly than I could ever hope to, and being homosexual himself, did so with an authority I could never earn and would never claim. In summary, his truth is quite similar to what I have stated, and comes together perfectly in this quote:
Children are being reduced to chattel-like sources of fulfillment. On one side, their family tree consists not of ancestors, but of a small army of anonymous surrogates, donors, and attorneys who pinch-hit for the absent gender in genderless marriages. Gays and lesbians demand that they have a “right” to have children to complete their sense of personal fulfillment, and in so doing, are trumping the right that children have to both a mother and a father—a right that same-sex marriage tramples over.
The objectification of children and the reducing of these future custodians of our planet to mere possessions whose only purpose is to bring happiness to their parents is the real reason behind my harsh response a few days ago to the case of a woman in a lesbian "marriage" suing a fertility clinic after she gave birth to a baby with a different skin tone from her own. Children are the future of both humanity and our entire world. If we do not raise our children to become compassionate, civilized adults then all the vaunted social progress that made homosexuality an acceptable dinner table conversation and a valid lifestyle choice will be destroyed in a single generation. If you truly want your children to have the freedom to fall in love with anyone they want, to define their social identity independent from their biology, to have the respect of their peers, and to enjoy the dignity that is the birthright of every living creature then you should oppose the institutionalization of gay marriage. It might even be worthwhile to oppose government involvement in marriage altogether. If we are going to learn to love one another then the very first thing we must do is prevent the government from defining "love" for us. If love is restricted to legal definitions and descriptions that are both protected by lawyers and overseen by armies of bureaucrats then tyranny will truly be complete and we will have reduced humanity to livestock that lives, dies, and breeds on the whims of the elite.

And now we come to the point where I take the stand that will no doubt have liberal progressives everywhere burning in self-righteous fury. The Bible contains an unequivocal condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle, and the transgender lifestyle is so deeply offensive to Biblical writers that it does not even bear mentioning. If there were any place where transgender topics would exist it would be in the New Testament because during the Roman Empire men living as women and women living as men (referred to as "hermaphrodites") were just as common as they are today. Such lifestyle choices were protected by law and even inheritance was divided according to how one lived rather than what genitalia one was born with. And yet, there is not a single mention of an hermaphrodite in the New Testament. There is quite a bit about homosexuality, showing a clear continuation of the Judaic viewpoint described in the Torah.

Leviticus 18:22
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Romans 1:26-27
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:8-11
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Clearly, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, homosexuality is a sin. Lesbian and transgender lifestyles are extensions of homosexuality, or perhaps homosexuality is an extension of the others. It does not matter. This kind of sexual behavior is completely detached from biological imperatives to produce children. Sex can either create an unbreakable bond between two people who already love one another or it can destroy what had been a strong, intimate relationship. In some people sex goes far beyond the simple urge to procreate and becomes a life-affirming pleasure that is addictive in the level of obsession it creates. Freud built much of his psychoanalytic practice on his ability to understand how sexuality affected individuals (The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud), so much so that his ideas created an entirely new branch of science. Sex and sexuality are so powerful that at least one Amazonian tribe (The Canela: Kinship, Ritual, and Sex in an Amazonian Tribe) uses it as one of their primary sources of social bonding and hierarchy. Even in the animal kingdom it is easy to find species where procreation (and by assumption, sexuality) becomes the basis of lifelong sexual relationships. One branch of the chimpanzee family, the Bonobos, even uses sex and sexuality to overcome conflict, establish hierarchy, and insure conformity (The Bonobos: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation). Regardless of whether someone believes in the Seven Days of Creation as described in the Bible (Genesis, chapters 1 through 4) or in evolution and the natural selection of species, almost no one would honestly describe sex and sexuality as something minor and inconsequential. Sex and sexuality are critical determinants in the most fundamental aspects of every individual's self-image and personality.

So then, the Bible is unequivocal in its condemnation of homosexuality, yet science clearly indicates that sexuality is fundamental to creating and maintaining satisfying, lifelong relationships. Others have pointed it out and been ridiculed for it, but I for one cannot deny that the Biblical passages condemning homosexuality are clearly directed at homosexual behavior. "Men who have sex with men" are clearly singled out as practicing sinful behavior that marks them for condemnation, which of course, also means an eternity in hell. It is what it is and there is no justification for trying to pretend otherwise. That does not mean I personally condemn homosexual behavior, nor does it justify the seething hatred of the Westboro Baptist Church. I should probably point out here that I personally cannot see any place in the Bible where it explicitly states "God hates homosexuals", therefore, I can only conclude that the Westboro Baptist Church is reading a different Bible than I am. My Bible takes exactly the opposite approach. My Bible emphasizes love, while condemning homosexual behavior and homosexuality as a lifestyle choice. There is nothing in the New Testatment (and only one verse in the Old Testament) calling for homosexuals to be stoned. Since Jesus did not allow the woman caught in adultery to be stoned, it is reasonable to assume he would also not allow homosexuals to be stoned. The New Testament is "new" because the sacrifice of Christ, verified by his resurrection, cleanses the believer of the punishment required from breaking Old Testament law. Many passages in the New Testament (including 1 Timothy 1:8-11 above) either explicitly state or directly imply that the real purpose of the Old Testament law is to teach people what sin is and how to recognize it. Under the New Testament, once sin is recognized, the condemnation and guilt it brings can be removed through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of his resurrection. Any Christian who runs around demanding people abide by Old Testament law or encouraging hatred based on violations of Old Testament law has not grasped the real meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Even here though, there are limits. Anyone who has been cleansed of sin has also been cleansed of the impulse to sin. They can still be tempted, and they can still choose to sin, but the addictive power of sin has been broken. It can still be a daily struggle. No one is perfect, no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). Everyone has something they must daily fight to avoid. We are each called to carry the Cross of Christ in our own way. Perhaps those who are inclined to homosexual behavior must bear that cross daily by reminding themselves that no matter how pleasant it is a homosexual relationship cannot produce children and children are the future of humanity. Perhaps the same holds for anyone who feels they are "born in the wrong body". There are many things in reality that bring us pain. There are many things in our hearts and minds that bring us even greater pain. If someone tells me they believe they were born in the wrong gender, I have no reference point to deny that internal reality. However, it would not be Biblical for me to encourage those feelings. I won't tell them they are "wrong" or "crazy" to feel that way, but neither will I affirm it is somehow "natural" or "normal".

However, despite all I have said to this point, if someone feels they are born in the wrong gender, if someone tells me they love someone of the same gender and want to spend their life with them, I will still treat them will all the respect and dignity I would accord to anyone else. They have every right to make their own choices. I will be happy to explain my own choices, and I will be happy to explain the Bible's position, but I will neither label them disparagingly nor treat them badly. Humans, regardless of any personal quirks or differences, are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect simply because they are human. And although the same is true of animals (or even aliens from distant planets if it comes to that), animals are not humans. I will not grant animals the same level of dignity as a human being. However, I do support current animal cruelty laws and will certainly report anyone who treats an animal badly. (As for how I would treat interstellar aliens, I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.)

LGBT lifestyle followers are human. I will not allow others to treat them as something less. If you make jokes at their expense I will neither laugh nor encourage you. If I find you beating someone up simply because they are LGBT and you perceive them to be deserving of a good beating, I will pull you off of them and give you the beating you were just giving them. If you harass them I will report you to the local authorities. If you vandalize their property I will help them get you arrested and sent off to prison. If they put gay marriage on the ballot I will vote against it. If it passes and they invite me to their wedding I will be happy to attend and I will even bring a gift. While I am there I will not launch into a sermon condemning their choice, not even if some fool tries to bait me into it. If one of my sons suddenly declares himself gay I will still love him and he will still be my son. If he chooses gender reassignment surgery I will try my very best to learn to think of her as a daughter. Last but not least, if through tragedy or divorce I wound up single again and not only found myself back in the pool of eligible bachelors but also found myself in a relationship with a post-transgender surgery woman I would treat her as a woman even though she was born a man. Respect and dignity are still respect and dignity. (I should probably add the caveat here that if I suddenly found myself single again I would not seek out a romantic relationship at all, therefore, it is extremely unlikely such a situation would ever arise in the first place. One lifelong love is enough and mine is one that I could never hope to replace.)

The short answer to how I feel about my relationship to Christ, the Bible, and the LGBT lifestyle is this:
People must be free to make their own choices. I will not play God. If they ask me what the Bible says about their choice I will tell them, but I won't pound it into them verbally or physically. It's their choice and their eternity. All I can do is report what I know and allow them to make their own choices.