God, Gays and Grace

A Compassionate Look at Homosexuality

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"Code blue."

The family and other loved ones gather around a hospital bed as the heart monitor beeps to a stop. This is a scene that is repeated all too often: The devastating plague known as AIDS claiming another victim. Most tragic of all is the fact that the person's death was almost always 100% preventable, yet our society rejects the message that offers the solution.

In our culture, the Christian sexual ethic is grossly maligned and misrepresented by the modern media. Because of this, people often dismiss as "outdated" something which is in fact, very wise and very practical. For example: The average male life expectancy is 76 years old. If the man is a cigarette smoker, his life expectancy drops to 66. If he is a homosexual, his life expectancy drops to an alarming 46 years old! Think about that for a moment. Because of the unhealthy effects of smoking, we (rightfully) discourage the habit. After all, what sane person would want to drop ten years off their lives? When it comes to homosexuality, which drops an average of 30 years from people's lives, why is it considered "hateful" or "bigoted" to discourage such behavior?

Before we go any further, a clarification may be needed: Not condoning a person's behavior does not mean that you "hate" that person. So before anyone accuses us of "homophobia" or "gay bashing," allow me to say up front that we do not hate, fear or otherwise hold any ill will toward homosexual persons at all. People are responsible to God for their own actions, and it is not up to us to micro manage other people's lives (see 1 Timothy 5:13). Furthermore, we join with responsible Christians everywhere in denouncing the shameful behavior of individuals such as "Reverend" Fred Phelps (1).

Nonetheless, that does not give us any room for equivocation on the issue. In God's eyes, homosexuality is wicked (Genesis 13:13) and an abomination (something utterly detestable, Leviticus 18:22). It is unclean, unnatural, idolatrous and degrading to the human body (Romans 1:23-27). Most sobering of all is God's warning that those who practice it will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 7-8). Furthermore, Romans 1:32 tells us that God's judgment will come not only to those who practice homosexuality, but even to those who simply approve of those who do. In other words, passive acceptance is just as sinful as active participation.

Some have asserted that Jesus never specifically condemned homosexuality, but such a statement overlooks the fact that Jesus was a devout Torah-observant Jew whose moral teachings were firmly rooted of the Old Testament Law (Matthew 5:17-18), which strongly denounces homosexuality in any form. In perfect harmony with the rest of the Bible, Jesus affirmed that the only sexual activity permitted by God is within the confines of heterosexual Marriage (Matthew 19:4-5). In light of this, He firmly taught against sexual immorality in any form, i.e. "fornication" (Matthew 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7: 21). "Fornication" (from Greek word "pornea," from which we get the word "pornography") is a blanket term for any type of ungodly sexual behavior, including premarital sex, adultery and yes, homosexuality.

Yet, there is a delicate balance here. We must not forget that Jesus' harshest displays of anger were directed not toward homosexuals, but toward prideful, self righteous religious people (Matthew 23). Similarly, when the great Apostle Paul identified the "Chief of Sinners," he did not single out the gay community. Rather, he could point that solemn finger no further than himself (1 Timothy 1:15). While we rightfully see God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah as being linked to sexual immorality, that was not the only factor. These evil cities were also destroyed due to their neglect of the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49-50), a warning which far-right political types would do well to heed.

So exactly what causes homosexuality? In our modern culture, it is often argued that homosexuality is genetic and that gays are "born that way." However, to state that homosexuality is caused by solely genetic factors is an oversimplification. Many factors come into play: Bad relationships, abuse, environment and many others can influence people to pursue this lifestyle In fact, contrary to popular belief, the "Gay Gene" theory is far from being universally accepted. In fact, such a notion goes against the universally accepted view of the very fathers of psychology such as Freud, Jung and Adler, all of whom considered homosexuality to be pathological (2). Dr. Alfred Kinsey, of "Kinsey Report" fame, has been quoted as saying that "I have myself come to the conclusion that homosexuality is largely a matter of conditioning (3)." Prominent sex authorities Masters and Johnson acknowledge that "The genetic theory of homosexuality has largely been discarded today(4)." Even more intriguing is the candor of several noted proponents of the "gay gene" theory. Consider the following:

So why should we even be concerned with this? Even if a person is not willing to look at this issue from a moral or spiritual standpoint, simply approaching it from a hygienic perspective gives ample evidence that homosexual conduct is neither natural nor healthy. Even a simple look in a mirror clearly shows that human body was simply not designed for this type of behavior. Please forgive me for being a bit graphic in the next few sentences, but it is necessary in order to illustrate the point.

The lining inside the human rectum is only one cell thick, which means that it is very easily ruptured, thus opening the bloodstream to a wide variety of infections and diseases. Can the shockingly short life expectancy for gay men be a coincidence? As Christian commentator and activist George Grant puts it:

The very nature of the homosexual lifestyle is destructive of health and hygiene...(G)ay sexuality inevitably involves...the unnatural imposition of alien substances into internal organs-orally and anally-that inevitably suppresses the immune system and heightens susceptibility to disease. In fact, gay sex is a veritable breeding ground for a panoply of diseases. (8)
Although when it comes to gay-related diseases, we generally think of AIDS (70% of whose victims are homosexual men), this is only one of many afflictions which have direct links to the gay lifestyle. Others include:

And yes, innocent people are affected by this. This must be taken into consideration in any discussion of gay "rights." Beneath all of the heated rhetoric and political posturing, AIDS and other diseases like it are predominantly the result of lifestyle choices, even if these choices are not made by the victims themselves. Consider the following examples:

When an innocent person contracts AIDS (through a blood transfusion, for instance), what about the person whose blood he was transfused with? Every case of AIDS can, without exception, be traced back to someone's irresponsible decisions. These are issues dealing with public safety, not just civil rights. In the words of the late Russian novelist and Nobel laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn:

Fifty years ago it would have seemed quite impossible in America that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose but simply for the satisfaction of his whims. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless. It is time to defend, not so much human rights, as human obligations.(10)
Interestingly, these are not simply the concerns of the "Christian Right." As openly gay feminist writer Tammy Bruce points out:

Let's be honest. There is a way to stop the spread of AIDS-it's called abstaining from sex....Considering its preventability, there is no excuse for AIDS being the biggest health crisis we as a people face...Because tolerance of homosexuals has become generally accepted...one dare not suggest that they change their behavior pattern (11).

Which brings us to the most important question of all: Is it possibly for homosexuals to change? Both the Bible and an ever-growing body of research answer a resounding YES! Consider this solemn warning from Paul's First Letter to the Church at Corinth (a city plagued by sexual immorality):

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV, emphasis added).

But note the good news that follows in verse 11: "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." So even in the early church, ex-gays were part of the membership!

Secular research is also echoing this. Some of the most groundbreaking research in this area has been done by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, director of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic and founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. Dr. Nicolosi's work is based, among other things, on the premise that gender identity, whether it be masculine or feminine, does not develop automatically. Through a detailed program of what he calls "Reparative Therapy," Dr. Nicolosi's organization describes their mission as "Helping clients bring their desires and behaviors into harmony with their values (12)." He further describes it this way:

Reparative therapy is not a "cure" in the sense of erasing all homosexual feelings. However it can do much to improve a man's way of relating to other men and to strengthen masculine identification. As a result of treatment, many men have been supported in their desired commitment to celibacy, while others have been able to progress to the goal of heterosexual marriage (13).

The Christian message is a message of hope, forgiveness and restoration. However, part of our response to this message is that we fear God (Ecclesiastes 8:12 , Ephesians 5:21, Revelation 14:6,7) and depart from sin (2 Timothy 2:19). Just like those coming out of any other sinful lifestyle, the church is to offer love, encouragement and support to those leaving homosexuality (14). As Messianic Jewish commentator David Stern puts it:

The basic attitude of people who believe the Bible should be to love sinners while hating their sins. But believers must accept the Bible's judgments on what is and what is not sin. Moreover, denouncing the sin is an aspect of loving the sinner; this is what enables him to repent, be forgiven and change. All of this can be done compassionately and effectively...Like former substance abusers, many (former homosexuals) recognize that they are weak in the area of their former sin but rely on God day by day to keep them free from it (15).

Regardless of whether or not there is a "gay gene," there is definitely a "sin gene" which infects every person on the planet. The Bible teaches that all people are born with a sin nature (see Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12), and that takes on different forms for different people. Is homosexuality an abomination? Yes, but so is pride (Proverbs 6:17). Can any among us say that we have never committed that sin? Similarly, lying is also called an abomination (Proverbs 12:22). Will any of us claim that we have never told a lie in all our lives? The basic fact is that whether we are gay, straight, black, white, male, female or any other classification, ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. None of us are any less in need of God's grace and forgiveness than anyone else (16). Jesus died for this sins of both the homosexual and the legalistic Fundamentalist, as well as all sins in between (17). If you do not have a relationship with Him, why not begin today? You'll be glad you did! (18)

© 2009 JHB


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