One of our church members wrote me a thoughtful question about why the church today seems to be so hung up on homosexuality. She has several friends and acquaintances that are involved in homosexuality and she wanted to know what the Christlike response should be.
I think this is a great question, particularly in light of the heartbreaking event that happened in Orlando, and the equally heinous reaction by some of the “so-called” Christians.
Here is my reply to her. I thought it might help others that are wrestling with this difficult issue. Sorry it’s so long but I wanted to be as thorough as I could.
I think your question is excellent and goes straight to the challenges we face. So this will be a bit long but I want to try to answer it as best I can.
First, Homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. It only differs in that it involves immorality and 1 Corinthians 6:18 says that immoral sin has the unique feature of causing us to sin against ourselves. I think the idea is that it produces a higher level of guilt and shame. That said, in God’s eyes all sin is the same. So homosexuality is no different from any other sin.
Why then does it seem to be such a huge problem in our times? Why is the church so engaged with this particular sin? I think the challenge we face isn’t so much in terms of dealing with the sin as it is in resisting the movement.
Up until the mid 1970’s homosexuality was thought to be a psychological problem. Then in the 1970’s the American Psychology Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. This set into motion a move toward greater acceptance.
Much of the arts and literature community was already heavily influenced by homosexuality. Ours is a culture saturated with entertainment and so the homosexual community used their influence in entertainment to leverage a new understanding and acceptance of homosexuality. The academic community, particularly in the liberal arts departments, bolstered this push so that culture gradually became immersed in the homosexual message both from pop culture (entertainment) and high culture (the academics).
The message of the church was drown out by the stronger voices within modern society. “Normal” people were caught in the crossfires. They knew something wasn’t right about it but now they were hearing that many in authority on the secular side of the discussion were saying its an acceptable “lifestyle choice.”
It didn’t help that many within the Christian community reacted with the grace of a 500-pound gorilla. You see, while the homosexual community was gaining traction within culture, the church was losing traction within the culture. The so called “Moral Majority” that played such a strong role in the 1980’s had left a younger generation within the church cynical and disillusioned by heavy handed “Christ Over Culture” thinking.
Like yourself, many people know someone that is homosexual or they know families with homosexuals in them. They realize that the people trapped in this sin are often gracious and compassionate and so they begin to ask, as you have, “What is so bad about it?”
The LGBT capitalized on the cultural ambivalence and began to seek ways to move its agenda toward greater mainstream acceptance. The key for them was to get people to view their sin, not as a choice, but rather as an inherited trait. “Born that way” became the important message.
Biologists looked intently for a so called, “hard wired genetic link” to homosexuality. They couldn’t find it.
Meanwhile the gay community stayed on message. “We were born this way.” It’s an axiom of humanity that if you say something long enough and loudly enough then eventually people will begin to accept and believe it.
And that’s what happened. Even though there is no genetic or inherent psychological basis for the notion that “Homosexuals are born that way” average people began to think they were “born that way.”
The gay community knows this isn’t true. Geneticists know this isn’t true.
Here’s a statement from the American Psychiatric Association 2014
Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality.
Here are a couple of quotes from a Gay Jewish writer named David Benkof:
Given the stakes, most gays and lesbians are dismissive or hostile toward anyone who doesn’t think being gay is an essential, natural characteristic of some members of the human race.
But a surprising group of people doesn’t think that – namely, scholars of gay history and anthropology. They’re almost all LGBT themselves, and they have decisively shown that gayness is a product of Western society originating about 150 years ago.
While biology certainly plays a role in sexual behavior, no “gay gene” has been found, and whatever natural-science data exists for inborn sexual orientations is preliminary and disputed. So to date, the totality of the scholarly research on homosexuality indicates gayness is much more socio-cultural than biological.
Clearly the factors involved in homosexuality are complex and complicated but homosexuals are not “born that way.”
With people now thinking that homosexuals had no choice in their sexual orientation the next step was to merge the movement with other civil liberties issues such as race.
Words like bigot and discrimination began to define anyone that stood in opposition to the LGBT juggernaut.
They lobbied for same sex marriage and when states and local municipalities voted against them they found relief in the court system.
It’s really an astonishing PR move on the part of the Gay community. Within one generation a group that constitutes between one and three percent of the population has taken its “lifestyle” from the fringes of culture into the mainstream, and have so reshaped American attitudes that those who have historically stood in the way are now marginalized and looked at with suspicion.
If the LGBT community can continue to convince the culture that opposition to homosexuality is tantamount to bigotry then it will be possible to label dissent as “hate speech.”
If that happens then the church’s ability to express itself in terms of “Free Exercise of Religion” will be degraded. This was the exact point that Justice Scalia made when writing his dissent to the Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage. He saw clearly that the court’s support of same sex marriage would one day cripple the church’s ability to freely exercise and express her beliefs.
Having won the battle for acceptance among gays, the LGBT movement has now shifted its focus to transgender issues.
ESPN and others showered Bruce Jenner with accolades when he came out as the gender swapped Caitlyn. Everyone fell all over himself and herself applauding his heroic move even though many within the psychology community still strongly believe that transgender issues are a mental illness.
Dr. Paul McHugh the head of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins for 20+ years says that transgender issues are a psychological disorder in the same category as bulimia and anorexia. He wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 where he said that applauding sexual reassignment was disastrous for those with the illness. Here is a quote from that piece:
And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.
It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.
Currently the LGBT community is moving to force all government buildings to create restroom rules that would accommodate transgendered individuals. In other words if I am a man who identifies as a woman then I should be allowed to use the women’s restroom.
The US government threw its weight behind the debate in a grotesque overreach by the Justice Department and ordered all public schools to accommodate transgendered students. This puts the educators in an impossible situation because the issue deals not only with public restrooms but also with public dressing rooms. Imagine a sexually confused sixteen-year-old boy dressing with sixteen-year-old girls.
The church has correctly spoken out on these and many other issues related to the LGBT agenda. Unfortunately, our voice has not always been cohesive or compassionate. Some within the church really do hate homosexuals. These misguided people don’t understand who Jesus even is. Others within the church are willing to compromise biblical standards in order to be accepted by the world. Again, they don’t understand who Jesus was or what he was about.
Our challenge is to speak truth in love. It’s to compassionately love the sinner while righteously standing against the sin. This is the toughest challenge a church can face. How do we let those within the LGBT community know that God loves them and has a beautiful plan for their lives without seeming to be judgmental or bigoted? I guess the same question could be asked when it comes to any other sin. How do we lovingly and graciously explain to the young couple living together outside of marriage that what they are doing violates God’s express will and yet still keep the door open to share with them the good news of Jesus?
Homosexuality is a sin. It’s like any other sin. The church deals with it more than the others because those within the sin are moving to have their sin codified as a protected minority within the culture.
Consequently, we have been forced to put our shoulder against the boulder and try to speak truth and love to this self-destructive pattern of life. In the process it seems as if we are all homophobic. We aren’t. We are Christo-centered. Jesus loves the homosexual as much as he loves every other sinner that ever walked the planet. But like every other sin, he loves them too much to leave them in it.
Hope this helps.