In the ongoing debates on same-sex marriage, gay activists have tried to sell the public–with some success–on the unsubstantiated claim that homosexuality is a genetically determined condition that is fixed and permanent.
Yet, before making the leap to societal recognition of a “right” to homosexual acts and institutions that support them, gay activists must still confront the reality that their goals are extremely offensive to most people of faith.
The Law of Moses condemned in strongest terms a man lying with a man as with a woman, and all religions that honor Moses as a prophet–Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism–have held homosexual acts to be sinful. Traditional Christian groups up to the present day, notably the Catholic Church and Evangelical Protestantism, have retained these core moral beliefs, which are rooted in the nature of man and woman and God’s plan for marriage.
Clearly, then, traditional Christianity stands squarely in the way of the gay rights movement and specifically of the push for same-sex marriage. So what”s the strategy for overcoming this roadblock? [more]
Gay activists tend to take two contradictory approaches to this problem, depending on their own set of religious beliefs of lack thereof.
On the one hand, there are gay activists who make no bones about rejecting Jesus Christ. They have conducted a major campaign to link religious disapproval of homosexual behavior with violence against persons with same-sex attractions, equating it to racism and racial violence. Every chance they get they use inflammatory words such as discrimination, intolerance, bigotry, hate, and homophobia in referring to those who assert, especially on religious grounds, that homosexual acts are contrary to God’s law. Their implication is clear: Such religious zealots are the cause of anti-gay violence.
Of course, the fact is that those who commit acts of violence against persons with same-sex attractions are virtually never churchgoers. Christianity strongly condemns violence against persons with same-sex attractions. Interesting, the cold facts are that persons who engage in homosexual behavior are more likely to suffer violence from gays and lesbians than from others (a 1998 American Bar Association Journal article estimates the prevalence of domestic violence among homosexual couples themselves to be 25 to 33%).
In addition, “organized religion” is frequently presented as the oppressive majority, while the homosexual community casts itself in the role of oppressed minority, thus equating the “gay rights” movement to the civil rights movement or other more respectable and compelling causes. For a very recent example of this “victimhood” approach, see this article on the homosexual community’s attendance at an annual memorial service for Holocaust victims.
Other gay activists with some religious or even Christian sensibilities take a completely different tack. They take the position that the Bible and enlightened Christian morality really doesn’t condemn homosexual activity on the part of homosexuals engaged in faithful, committed relationships. The biblical arguments they use are obviously flawed, but they are enough to appeal to more liberal Christian groups who want to justify the behavior, a la Bishop Gene Robinson of the American Episcopal Church.
And even among churches and denominations that have held the line on the official teaching, we have seen the inroads of gay activists and dissenting theologians sowing seeds of doubt and confusion. One frequently hears, for example, that contrary to Church teaching (cf. Catechism, no. 2357), the sin of Sodom was not homosexual activity but merely inhospitality.
What does the New Testament really say? Here is an illustration, drawn from my previous “Straight Talk” post:
“Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
First, note that there are actually two words in the Greek that are combined to form the word “homosexuals” in the above translation: malakoi (literally, “effeminate males who play the sexual role of females”) and arsenokoitai (literally, “males who take other males to bed”). Despite persistent attempts to relativize or explain away this passage, what St. Paul is saying is beyond reasonable dispute, and it’s entirely consistent with other biblical passages on the subject and two millennia of Christian teaching.
Second, St. Paul is writing here to baptized Christians, some of whom used to engage in one or more of these serious sins. Even though they have now been washed, they are still prone to commit these sins and, if they want to inherit the kingdom, they must not return to such sinful ways.
So, those who engage in homosexual acts are expected to walk away from that lifestyle, and in fact people even in St. Paul’s time were apparently able to do it, with God’s grace. Surely it can be a long, difficult road that can at times involve relapse, but contrary to the modern line that some people are just born that way and unable to restrain themselves, it is indeed possible and necessary to decisively turn away from such a lifestyle.
Finally, there are many sins listed in this passage. While we might not experience predominant same-sex attractions ourselves, we are inclined to a host of other sins, and for each of us the first priority must be to turn away from those sinful areas of our lives.
Still, there is good reason to single out homosexuality for special mention. While many forms of immoral conduct are rampant today, they are nonetheless considered wrong and utterly to be avoided. We don’t celebrate “drunk driving month.” We’re not required to give our employees sensitivity training so that they can be more understanding of the internal conflicts of adulterers. When we condemn corporate crime we’re not called “greedophobes.” We don’t congratulate sneak thieves who “come out of the closet.”
When it comes to homosexuality, though, we are getting bullied and tricked into moving from decriminalization to societal recognition and institutional legitimacy.
As St. Paul wrote, we must not be deceived. Committed Christians hold the key–not only when it comes to playing defense against social engineering, but even more when it comes to proclaiming the truth about human nature and, even more, leading others to the fullness of life in Christ.