Tag Archives: homosexuality

Homosexuality as choice – another minefield

It is a commonplace that truth is the first victim of war, and in the culture wars the confusion over the facts about homosexuality is massive. Part of this is for good reasons; there have been times when the treatment of gay people has been appalling, and in reaction to that a delegitimisation of viewpoints that lead to such behaviour is not a surprise. However part of it comes from a desire to avoid hard questions that the full truth would otherwise force gay activists to engage with.

There is a widespread, though seldom articulated belief that gay people CHOOSE to be gay, and are therefore morally culpable for their situation. This is, almost entirely, untrue, although with some support within the gay community. But for most people it is a reality that comes into focus over time.

But this is where the fighting starts. For many people there is a phase of homosexual attraction and practice in their early years, yet many go on from that to heterosexual relationships. The most obvious example of this is the traditional pattern of the boarding schools of Britain, where such behaviour appears – from the hints of contemporary writers – to have been endemic. Were such practitioners gay, or merely self indulgent? Similar observations swirl about many single sex institutions…

The most extreme – and coherent – definition of homosexual focuses on a total inability to be sexually aroused by a person of the opposite sex. Yet that is not the one endorsed, at least by their attitudes, by most gay activists today. Instead the likes of Oscar Wilde and Gene Robinson are seen as exemplars, despite their both having children with the women they married before deciding they were gay.

A fascinating example is that of Tom Robinson. In 1978 he released the track Sing if you’re glad to be gay that speaks powerfully of the experience of alienation and persecution suffered by the gay community in those days. Yet in the early 80s he fell for a woman, whom he subsequently had children with and married.

So where does this all go? Sexuality is clearly fluid. Given the total confusion in the psychiatric profession about the causes and treatment of mental distress, it is irrational to suggest that we know anything about the causes or cures of homosexuality. As a result of the pillorying of those who defend the treatment of gay people is to adopt a politically driven certainty in an area where no certainty is justified. YET THEY HAVE A POINT. There was a time when barbaric practitioners used aversion therapy in an attempt to change people’s orientation; that was wholly illegitimate, and should be strongly condemned. However the dismissal of all modern, very different, therapy on the basis of the mistakes of the past, is more driven by a desire to legitimate homosexuality as normal than rational response to the evidence. This is part of the wider alteration of the mood music, which led to the psychiatric profession deleting homosexuality as a disease – because it was politically expedient to do so – resulting in the gay community claiming that this was objective evidence that it isn’t a disease. Good game…

Conclusion

More honesty is required on all sides. Christians need to be clear that homosexuality is a particular expression of sexuality that, if not actively expressed, is no more sinful than any other. We need to tell young people who are questioning that for many it IS a phase that they will go through – and come out of. And we need to defend the legitimacy of people investigating the possibility of change with the support of a counsellor, rather than accept that in this one area the psychiatric profession is right. But let love for the struggling sinner – from us struggling sinners – should be the first message heard.

A minefield we need to cross

Comparing homosexuality and paedophilia!!

One of the more obnoxious forms of homophobia over the years has been the confusion in many minds of homosexuality and paedophilia. The response of many church leaders to an admission of being same sex attracted is to ban the person from any involvement in youth work. This tendency is one of many mistakes that the ignorant have made in an attempt to avoid criticism, and is wholly unacceptable; indeed in the present climate of confusion, the model of a single person working out their celibate lifestyle would be helpful to any members of a youth group struggling with the issue.

However the result of this pastoral abomination is that it has become unacceptable to even mention the two issue within the same context. As a result the insight into the gay issue that paedophilia brings are lost, to the benefit of the liberal cause. Let me repeat – at the risk of getting boring – that drawing the parallel is not intended to suggest that a homosexual person is more likely to be guilty of child abuse, and it is very wrong to make any such assumption. However the two issue do illuminate each other.

Both homosexuality, paedophilia and heterosexuality constitute ‘sexual orientations’ in the strict sense; they are labels for the sexual preference that most individuals experience. That is a fact, in the same way that blue, green and brown are labels for the eye colours of humans. History reveals that the church led the delegitimation of the homosexuality in the Roman Empire, an attitude which Western European culture inherited, though in the past 50 years that delegitimation has been substantially reversed. Paedophilia experienced a similar rejection, but one that has not been reversed.

Modern ethics tries to draw a sharp distinction between the two, on the basis that paedophilic behaviour is always damaging to the child, but a sexualised gay relationship is not. This claim is held as a matter of faith, and those challenging it are seldom welcome in polite company. Yet from a Christian perspective – where we seek to obey what God commands and not merely conform to what the current fashion is – such a basis for decision making is not acceptable. Jesus’ condemnation of the remarriage of divorcees as adultery exemplifies this; that much of the modern church is unwilling to obey his command on the matter merely evidences the same attitude in another area.

So what has this exercise shown us? Getting through the minefield allows us to challenge the widespread piece of ‘theology’ such as this:

‘[Gays] are simply human beings, with every possible mixture of good and bad, who happen to be (as it were) differently wired as regards sexuality. The most recent statistic I’ve read says that roughly 10% of the human population is homosexual. I cannot believe that God made 10% of his human children gay and now hates them for it–or wants the other 90% to hate them. it doesn’t make sense. Is God so sex-obsessed that he (or she!) judges humans primarily on sexual behavior, and not on things like kindness, generosity, creativity, or any other positive quality?’

http://thurible.net/2015/12/12/the-next-questions-the-archbishop-needs-to-be-asked/#comment-44876

There are of course two mistakes here – the assumption that the deeply flawed position of Westboro Baptist represents mainstream Christian belief that ‘God hates gays’. It’s sad that there are a few still at that place – and I deeply regret their attitude. However the mainstream attitude is that a temptation to homosexual activity is a temptation to do wrong – not any worse than any other temptation.

https://b66423.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/articulating-the-four-christian-responses-to-homosexuality/

is my extended discussion of the matter.

The second is that the point that this article is attempting to show; the claim that God made gay people gay offers any legitimacy to claims that they are free to have a sexualised relationship. The existence of people whom ‘God made paedophiles’ makes this problematic. The argument therefore comes down to WHY certain relationships are legitimate and others aren’t; the attempt to short circuit the process by this appeal is flawed.

Let me repeat again that I’m not trying to tar the gay community with the paedophile tag. This is an unfair allegation, and they have every right to object if such a connection is made. But we do have the right to challenge those who want to try to use a theological argument to add to their justification of gay relationships when it simply won’t fly. Yes, of course there are others, and I’m NOT trying to claim that this destroys the pro-gay position. I’m just trying to nail one of the arguments that is commonly thrown around. That it has taken over 800 words to do so is a measure of the sensitivity of the matter. But nail it we should.

For those wanting a fuller discussion of the issue of homosexuality and the church, Ed Shaw’s book

‘The Plausibility Problem’, written by a Church of England minister who is himself ‘Same Sex Attracted’ – a term he prefers over ‘gay’ for reasons that he explains in the book – is an excellent challenge to the prevailing ‘missteps’ that have led to the present confusion.

Blind guides?

Apparently I’ve upset a priest of the church of England over my comments on the gay issue. Well, whoopie do. As a representative of that messed up institution, the person deserves to be upset – because the CofE is demonstrating that it really hasn’t got a clue. And because it doesn’t have a clue about this, it’s irrational to take it seriously about anything else.

The church has taught since the beginning that gay sexual relationships are to be avoided by Christians. This requires those who are same sex attracted who want to be faithful to Jesus to live celibately. This is not an easy choice – yet the church has taught it as mandatory. No alternatives; burn or burn as one might say…

And many have followed that teaching – at immense personal cost; years of painful loneliness. Struggling watching those in families are having a great time – or so it seems – and they are left outside. Yet it was done for God, out of obedience to Him, and the church taught this.

But now the opinion of the world has changed. Whereas once homosexuality was a dreadful practice – the ‘love that dare not speak its name’ – it’s now become acceptable to many. And the CofE has got all confused, doesn’t know what it believes, and is being torn between the way of the world including its rapidly declining but wealthy American franchisee, and the beliefs of Tradition and its growing plantings in the ‘South’. So it’s given permission – de facto – for its congregations to start to act how they like on this issue.

For some this has meant that they have been forced out of the church which they have attended for decades. Having once been supportive of their struggle to remain faithful to God, the leadership have now stabbed them in the back and told them they’ve been deceived. DECEIVED. Let’s be clear – that’s what it’s about. Someone here is a victim of deception. It’s either those who’ve been faithfully celibate over the years – or the next generation who are being told it’s fine to have a gay relationship. And our church leaders are either now deceiving or were deceiving. Yet they claim to speak for God…

And if the church can’t be trusted on this issue, why on earth should it be taken seriously on any issue. “We think poverty is a dreadful thing” But bishop, how can we believe you on this when you don’t know what you think about the gay issue? “When you die you go to a better place”. Really bishop? You sure? We’re supposed to believe you about this when you don’t know God’s will about the gay issue? And you get paid to be confused?

Didn’t Someone once warn about blind guides? And someone else propose that the proponents of all Christians getting circumcised should go the whole way and cut their penises off. Of course he’s the one who then wrote the wonderful hymn to love…

No people, we can’t agree to disagree nicely about this. One side or other is getting it howlingly wrong. One side or the other is hearing God wrongly. One side or the other are false prophets. One side or the other can no longer be trusted as faithful preachers of God’s word. And there’s no escape by claiming not to know the answer: that proves you don’t know God’s will, so can’t be taken seriously on anything. [Click the link for a biblical explanation of why neutrality and leadership won’t mix]

So, church leaders, this is your chance to prove that you’re obedient to the Word. Be clear about this; lead your people. And if this splits your church? That’s God’s problem, and He will look after you. Or you can demonstrate that you are merely a hireling. And remember; you’re calling the members of your congregation who are gay to lifelong celibacy, you’re merely being asked to risk your job. And don’t sulk when people take exception to your being unclear…

Should a Christian attend a gay wedding?

[Please note – this is written on the basis that gay sexual activity is inherently wrong. If you disagree with that, then what follows will be irrelevant to you. And, to be clear, I regard the attempt to redefine marriage and therefore weddings to include gay relationships as totally flawed. But it’s easier to use the terms as commonly understood to present this argument.]

Given that we now have gay ‘weddings’, as Christians we need to work out how to respond when the invite arrives. The discussion that follows is about how to choose whether to attend or not; how to actually respond to the invitation is a separate issue.

The reasoning varies depending on whether the ‘wedding’ claims to be a Christian event or not.

If the wedding is a ‘Christian’ occasion, then we need to be applying the principles of 1 Cor 5. This offers:

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

Therefore if we endorse the behaviour of the ‘Christians’ participating in the wedding, either as the partners being married, or the celebrant of the occasion, we are clearly associating with someone ‘who bears the name of brother who is sexually immoral’. This we are commanded not to do…

This is relatively straight forward IMHO, although I would add that it’s important that we recognise the purpose is to challenge the behaviour of the people involved, not out of a sense of disgust.

The more complex situation is where there is no attempt to add a religious content to the occasion. The challenge from the above passage is ‘For what have I to do with judging those outside?’ So does this mean we should go along out a willingness not to judge? I have some sympathy with the view; however in practice I think we need to consider what we are going along to. In attending a gay ‘wedding’, we are attending an event that is intended to celebrate something that we believe to be wrong. So we are being invited to an event that, if we are serious about believing God’s word, is celebrating sin. It’s the moral equivalent of going along to a party to celebrate a new porn website or a paedophilic relationship; would you want to go along to the wedding of a man to a 10 year old girl? So why would you want to go along to a similar celebration of sin? Sin is sin. We should not celebrate it, we should mourn it.

The difficult bit comes from holding Paul’s clear command to be involved with non-Christians in light of this. There is a tension between a clear Christian witness and being non-judgemental to those outside the faith. Paul’s comments in 1 Cor 10 about meat offered to idols may offer a way forward:

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I mean the other’s conscience, not your own.

Thus in responding to an invitation to a gay ‘wedding’, we shouldn’t volunteer an explanation. However if challenged, we should gently explain why it would be a problem for us. The problem of course comes from the confusion within the church on the issue these days, with the result that even if we are known as a ‘Christian’, that may not be heard as a challenge to the gay relationship, whereas Christians in Paul’s time would have been known for their resistance to idol worship. But I think Paul’s approach justifies a willingness to leave alone until asked.

Articulating the four ‘Christian’ responses to homosexuality.

I think it’s helpful to divide the responses to the issue of homosexuality by the church to enable us to identify what we believe and why. I’m not going to comment on the rights and wrongs of each, just identify them to help people see the situation

  1. Being a Christian and to be attracted to people of the same sex is impossible. Deriving from an interpretation of the passage in 1 Corinthians 6 to include those tempted as well as those practice homosexuality, it takes the phrase ‘such were some of you’ to imply becoming a Christian will remove the orientation.

  2. Homosexual practice* orientation is inherently disordered, but is, in effect, a disability suffered by some people for reasons that remain a mystery; homosexual Christians are called to celibacy.

  3. Homosexual relationships are as valid as heterosexual, and should be approached with the same attitude.

  4. Sexual behaviour is a matter of indifference for Christians, and given that ‘there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus’, anything is acceptable.

Ultimately every Christian’s position will boil down to one of these.

  • My thanks to Philip for pointing out that faux pas