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Christianity and Homosexuality Part Two

In the first part of this discussion I explained that I believe that Christians need to distinguish between how we feel about homosexuality as a matter of our faith and religion and how we feel about it as citizens of this country.  I had recently issued a call to Christians to do that on the ChristianPost.com, where I contribute columns.  Part one talked about concerns strictly as a citizen of this country.  This part will approach the matter from the spiritual side of things.

The very first thing I want to say is that the basic premise of Christianity on such a matter is simply that people would actually be happier all around if they did things the way that God wanted them to be done.  In other words, those involved in homosexual (and extra-wedded) sexual behaviors think that they are in pursuit of their own best interests and happiness, but in fact the reality is that they will never be happier than if they followed God’s outline for sexuality, ie, a single man wedded with a single woman, to death do they part.

Note that this argument represents a different dynamic than the way many Christians have presented it.  It is not an assertion that homosexuality is wrong… it is an assertion that homosexuality can never be as satisfying as heterosexual marriage.  So, if those involved in homosexual behaviors really had their own best interests and happines in mind, they would choose the God’s model.  You may disagree, but where is the offense?  I have not issued a fire and brimstone assertion, but one of care and concern and promise.  If there is a God and he designed things to be a certain way then it follows that you’ll be happier doing it his way.

God made it so that a man will be a better man when married to a woman and a woman a better woman when married to a man.

If you don’t think there is a God, or that he designed things to be a certain way, then you certainly shouldn’t be offended by this approach.  Why should you care what those with these assumptions think?  Surely the question becomes “Is there a God?” and “Did he design things to be a certain way?”   I don’t suppose anyone is going to argue “I really enjoy my sexual habits and it appears that they would be outside of God’s design, if there were one, and I don’t like that, so I’ll simply say that there is no God!”

Of course, homosexual behavior is wrong, but with the above context in mind let’s try to explain how and why.

It certainly can’t be wrong because sex is wrong.  The Christian consensus is that sex is quite good.  God created it.  It was his idea.  (presuming there is a God).  Yes, some Christians have been prudish about sexuality, but that doesn’t mean they were right to do so.

There is another thing that is wrong, too.  Purposely breaking one’s arm is wrong.  It hurts, you know.  God created your arm to be a certain way and function in such a way as to be able to perform in a certain way.  God believes that arms are good.  He created them.  They were his idea.  But if you break your arm and your bone pokes out and it doesn’t work very well in the future exactly whose fault is this?   If it heals but remains disfigured because you didn’t set it right, whose fault is this?

The only difference in these scenarios is that breaking one’s own arm obviously is painful from the outset whereas in homosexual behavior the initial act is presumably quite pleasurable, and the painful consequences are not obvious or necessarily immediate.

The underlying question remains whether or not God designed things a certain way, or not.

There is a different sort of ‘wrong’ at work, here.

Is it wrong to turn left on a red light?  It is wrong in the sense that if you do so you are very likely going to get seriously crushed.  The police officer will come along and give you a citation if he catches you doing it and you’d be lucky to get the ticket rather than the life-ending wreck.  You might argue that whether we can turn left or not on red is fairly arbitrary, as in some countries where the driver’s side is on the right-hand side, a left turn is as safe, relatively, as a right turn on red, here.  Yes, but after the decision is made the consequential limits are not arbitrary at all.

After it is decided that we shall have the driver’s side on the left and that direction’s traffic on the right-side, the no left turn on red rule makes a lot of sense.  Willful disobedience to the rule might be exhilarating but it is altogether dangerous and you- and someone else- is almost certainly going to get hurt.  So we obey this law and deploy police officers to write tickets and we all understand that in ultimate terms, this is in our best interest and gives us the best chance for overall happiness- momentary exhilaration be damned.

Something not unlike that is asserted in regards to homosexual behavior.  It is not that God has barred sexuality (driving) but that he has set it up to be a certain way, and insisting on making left turns on red is a recipe for disaster for you- and someone else.  Could God have made things differently?  Perhaps.  Alas, he did not.

Thus, the physical consequences that follow endlessly on the heels of homosexual behavior represent drivers willfully choosing momentary pleasures.  While it is convenient to say at this point “Ah, yes, but that assumes that there is a God and he designed things in a certain way” and thus ignore the implications, it is self-evident proof of design that no left turns are allowed on red when the whole system is taken into account, begging the inference that there is a designer.  Similarly, we witness heaps of ‘car accidents’ in those engaged in homosexual behavior, despite every attempt to mitigate the effects…

Consider this article where the World Health Organization is almost saddened to admit that HIV/AIDS is unlikely to cause a heterosexual epidemic.  Despite admitting that decreasing the number of sexual partners would effectively limit the spread of HIV, it describes as ‘wrong’ to put emphasis on abstinence programs rather than on condom distribution.

This is like choosing to turn left on red instead of obeying the signal.  In the face of oncoming danger, the response is not to urge that people obey the ‘law’ but to preserve them from the consequences of breaking that law.  Give them condoms- or more air bags- but don’t ask them to change their behavior!  The article laments how poorly they’ve done at decreasing HIV/AIDS among men having sex with men… telling the men to stop doesn’t seem to cross their mind.

While on the topic of simple physical consequences that follow from behaviors, it is worth elaborating on my allusion above that other people are likely going to get hurt.  In the case of a disease, of course, the disease can be spread.  By far the biggest group of people that look to be getting hurt in the near future are not just those involved in the homosexual lifestyle, but those in it who decide that they have a right to bring a child into that lifestyle, come what may.

This is illustrated sadly by the news story about the so called ‘pregnant man’ (nothing like changing one’s definitions on the fly).  Read the story here.  Within the article, the ‘man,’ actually a woman who had a sex-change operation, says, “Wanting to have a child is neither a male nor female desire but a human desire.”

No doubt.  And yet one should think a little about the child.  Here we have just one illustration of a child who will grow up immersed in a perpetual identity crisis.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the divorce culture has been bad for children… can we make any bets about how children raised in homosexual relationships will fare?  If it is a simple fact that God made it so that a child is best raised by a single man and a woman, what do we think will happen?  It is one thing to risk turning left on red when you’re the only person in the car… what if there are three or four children, too?

Finally we arrive at the spiritual consequences.  Romans 1 is clear on this score.  Just as people know that you are not permitted to turn left on red people know that the penis and the vagina have a special relationship.  It is not brain surgery.  The physiology of it is plain enough.  One might even argue that even apart from belief in God, on purely evolutionary terms, homosexual behavior is not a good idea.   Yet people still choose to participate in this sort of behavior.  There are even many who claim that they believe in God, and even that they are Christian, who still insist that God has no problem with their behaviors.

Here we have the central spiritual problem:  pride and rebellion.  It is certainly true that pride and rebellion manifest even among those who are not involved in homosexual behaviors.  It is at the heart of man’s separation from God.  The critical difference is the temporal consequences and also the nature of human sexuality.  Sex is not just a normal physical pleasure, but rather one that engrosses the entire being into habits of thoughts and actions.  It can be said that ‘all sins are equal’ (thought not all consequences are equal) and rightly said that your average joe has as much need for salvation as any other, but there is still the need in those cases for that which they both have in common:  a need for repentance.

Repentance is hard enough as it is but at the very least it means admitting that you’re wrong and pledging to stop.  It is here that sexual sin- all sexual sin- distinguishes itself.  Sex feels good.  Sex does something to the mind and the soul.  Repentance is hard when you don’t think you’re wrong, or if you’re wrong, it feels good to continue.

In the final analysis, if you believe in God as Christians understand him, it may reduce simply to a question of obedience.  Simple, plain obedience.  Even if all I said were not true- that God doesn’t hate sex but created it, that God doesn’t send plagues to torture people but rather their behavior flirts with danger- it would still be the case that the obedience of faith would compel us to give up our sexual sins.   Even if it were arbitrary it would still be in our best overall interests for our long term happiness…. temporally, and eternally.

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    • john on June 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Well I don’t believe in invisible entities like gods, angels, spirits, or pixies, faeries,etc… And we live in america the country not america your church – so until you can force the population to share your beliefs (in which case it would be simple obedience) citizens are not subject to your religious beliefs. You know there aren’t any logical arguments to your side -gay Marriage is not at all like a broken arm-

    • Anthony on June 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm
      Author

    Well John, before you get your undies in a bundle you should take the time to examine what my positions are. For example you can start with the ChristianPost article and then read Part 1. I have no intention of forcing the population to share my beliefs.

    As for whether or not ‘gay marriage’ is like a broken arm depends I suppose on number of factors. If, note the conditional clause here- IF, you believe in God and that he designed things the way they are, and that he had a specific design in regards to man and woman, then yes, the analogy is apt. I doubt it is apt in a non-theistic view, but then the whole thing is premised on a theistic POV. Is there any particular reason you wanted to ignore that?

    However, it is worth noting that quite apart from a revelatory system, we can measure how well things fare in a society where marriage is as it has been traditionally understood contrasted with where it has been tampered on and experimented with.

    It is a simple fact- and since you don’t believe in invisible entites like gods, angels, spirits, pixies, and fairies, presumably you care about facts, that sexually transmitted diseases are NOT going to be spread within monogamous heterosexual relationships where both partners were abstinent until their wedding day.

    When one goes to war against facts they end up getting hurt. I am afraid that is just the way the real world works. I am not issuing a callous judgment or trying to impose my beliefs on anyone. I am simply pointing out the fact that certain behaviors have certain effects and trying to mitigate against those effects by endlessly contriving ways to avoid them (condoms, abortion, etc) usually don’t work, and when they do ‘work’ it is not without a price.

    • john r on June 9, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    paul kujawski is state rep for webster, massachussetts

    Paul Kujawski’s “long journey” began with that evening church meeting in 2006.

    Kujawski wasn’t much swayed by the rational, legalistic arguments for gay marriage. But then Debbie Grzyb and Sharon Murphy, two women sitting among the dozen people in the room who Kujawski hadn’t even realized were a couple, told their story.

    Middle-aged women who had lived closeted lives for the 24 years they had been together, Grzyb and Murphy married in 2004, and only came out to their families then. Feeling apprehensive about revealing their lives to someone who they believed would be hostile, they explained what marriage had meant to them.

    “Our families started treating us as a real couple,” Murphy said. “It was real; it wasn’t make-believe anymore.”

    Close to the final constitutional vote, Kujawski invited himself to the couple’s home. Grzyb, 50, and Murphy, 52, made him oatmeal and tollhouse cookies. He looked at their family photos, and saw the bird feeders and the neat gardens outside.

    He came to a new understanding: Murphy and Grzyb weren’t really different from other married couples, at least not in the ways that count.

    “I understood,” Kujawski said of the moment, “that in reality, what we were doing was allowing people to live their lives as they should.”

    He sighed. “In three years, I tried to put into its proper perspective how on Earth would (gay marriage) change my life. It didn’t. I came to the reality of how many lives were enhanced by it, and you had to say to yourself that it would be wrong to take this privilege away.”

    And on Flag Day, Kujawski walked into the statehouse in Boston and pressed a button to vote. Webster wouldn’t have the chance to vote on gay marriage in November, but it will have its chance to pass judgment on him.

    • Anthony on June 9, 2008 at 8:14 pm
      Author

    Ah, the warm and fuzzy argument for why we should change the definition of a term and concept that has existed for thousands of years to mean one, self-evident thing.

    If Murphy and Grzyb were already acting like ‘other married couples, at least in the ways that counted’ then what exactly was gained by passing a law?

    Although one wonders about the other things that have traditionally understood to ‘count.’

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