Homosexuality: When Religious People Lose Their Credibility

Update: Perhaps it would be best to take this post down altogether… I don’t know. I don’t like to take down old content, because I think it can be instructive to see how a person’s views can change over time. Also, the points I made here about how the Bible views homosexuality still seem accurate to me. So for now, I’ll leave it up.

But you should know that I no longer agree with the position staked out here. While most forms of Christianity may not accept gay people, I do. I’m glad that gay marriage is now legal in the US, and I fully support the LGBTQ community. Also, I’m no longer a Christian. Just wanted to make all of that clear at the outset. The original post follows below:


Maybe this sounds strange, but I think homosexuality has been gaining a lot of popularity over the last 20 or 30 years. Almost every sitcom today touches on it at some point, and several shows (Will and Grace, The L Word, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk, etc) completely revolve around the lifestyle. The popular stance today is to be completely accepting of homosexuality, whether one actually practices it or not. And those who openly oppose it are often ridiculed and accused of being bigots.

Lately, the topic of gay marriage has come up over and over again, and we’re even seeing “churches” that have begun accepting homosexuals as members, and even ministers. It’s that last development that has been so surprising to me. When “Christian” organizations wander so far from the truth that they are unable to express what could be wrong with homosexuality, then they no longer have a standard for anything.

On November 20, USA Today posted an article on this very subject. And being over a week old, it’s practically ancient news in today’s cyber-age, but I wanted to comment on it anyway. The article is When Religion Loses its Credibility by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas who is (believe it or not) a Baptist minister. If you haven’t read this article, I highly recommend it, because the rest of this post will be addressing it.

Thomas poses the question: “What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality?” And instead of honestly asking that question, it becomes apparent very quickly that Thomas thinks that’s the case. He has come to the conclusion that scientists have all but proven homosexuality is inherited, not a choice. He also points out that homosexuality is condemned in Leviticus, which also teaches us to keep the Sabbath Day (no more work or sports on Saturdays – or even traveling) and to kill anyone that disrespects their parents or eats unclean foods. So if that’s the case, wouldn’t we have to follow all those laws? He also says that Jesus didn’t teach against homosexuality, but instead taught us to love and not judge each other.

Wow! Sounds like a strong case, huh? Well the saddest thing about this article is that a supposed “Baptist minister” has either purposefully misrepresented the Bible’s teachings, or he has a gross misunderstanding. Bear with me, and we’ll address all of his points.

Science
Thomas starts off by talking about the reaction Galileo got from the religious community when he proposed that the earth was round and compares that to how religion is stubbornly refusing to see scientific facts again. This argument is ridiculous. Yes, religious people did raise a stink about Galileo, but the Bible was not in disagreement at all! The Bible never taught that the sun revolved around the earth, people merely assumed that. The difference here is that it’s not just religious people who are saying homosexuality is wrong – the Bible teaches it!

I’m not going to spend much time on the scientific arguments, other than to say that Thomas’s assertion that “whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother’s hormones or the child’s brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth” is a gigantic overstatement. Has there been evidence that homosexuality could be genetic? Yes. But there has also been evidence to the contrary.

Within a matter of minutes, I was able to find several articles on the subject. One of them is titled “The Gay Gene: Assertions, Retractions, and Controversy,” another is “Gay Gene or Gay Germ?,” and another is “New Study Confirms Homosexuality Can Be Overcome.” Each of these articles takes a different approach to the subject and each reaches different conclusions, but the point is that scientists are in no way approaching a conclusion on this matter – nothing has been proven. As a matter of fact, there were two points brought up in these articles that I found interesting. “The Gay Gene” observed that when LeVay conducted his study in 1991 and first discovered the differences between the brains of young homosexual men and young heterosexual men, most of the gay men had died of AIDS. So were the differences caused by genetics, or suffering through the AIDS virus? And “Gay Gene or Gay Germ” asks why wouldn’t the gay gene die out if it really exists? Bottom line: the proof Thomas talked about doesn’t yet exist.

However, just for a moment, let’s assume there is some genetic predisposition to homosexuality. Does that change anything? I don’t think it does. Some people struggle with anger, while it isn’t a problem for others. Some people are kleptomaniacs, but stealing is still considered to be wrong. Some people struggle with drugs, alchohol, pornography, lying, etc, and yet other people don’t. My point is that we all have certain vices we struggle with, but that doesn’t give us license to give in to them. Homosexuality is no different.

What Does the Bible Teach? – Part 1
Thomas points out that religious people today often go back to Leviticus to prove homosexuality is wrong, yet they are unwilling to follow the other commands listed there (keeping the Sabbath, offering sacrifices, etc). The reason he gives for this discrepancy is as follows:

The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody’s standard of ethics.

Well, if that were the real reason (and for some people, it sadly is) then he’s absolutely right. They’ve got no basis for picking and choosing which laws to follow.

However, his misunderstanding of this issue revolves around the misconception that Leviticus (and the Old Law in general) was ever meant for Christians. Thomas needs to read Romans, Galatians, Collossians, and especially Hebrews. These books lay out God’s plan. That the Old Law was given for the Jews to follow – no one else. It was meant as a teacher or tutor – something to teach Jews (and later the Gentiles) about who God is and what he expects (Gal 3:19-25). Have you ever wondered why the Bible was split up into the Old and New Testaments? They are separate laws governing God’s people. The first was given to his physical people – the nation of Israel. The second was given for his spiritual people – everyone who follows him (Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17)).

The entire book of Hebrews discusses this transition and why it was necessary. Heb 8:7-13 lays out the main point:

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[b] I will remember no more.”[c]
13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

We don’t follow what’s written in Levticus because it’s been done away with. Thomas, who is supposed to be a Baptist minister should know this, but from his article, it is evident that he doesn’t. If anyone would like more clarification on the differences between the Old Law and New Law, let me know. But it’s too lengthy to get into here.

What Does the Bible Teach? – Part 2
Now that we understand why we don’t have to follow the laws in Leviticus, let’s move on to those that we do have to follow: the ones in the New Testament.

First of all, let’s look at two passages concerning the veracity of scripture:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Tim 3:16-17

19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,[a] which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,[b] 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Pet 1:19-21

Here, we have 2 passages that tell us 1) the entire Bible is from God, not just the stuff in red, and 2) we don’t have the luxury of interpreting what’s written in any way we want. There is one way to interpret the Bible, all we decide is whether or not to follow it.

But even so, I’d like to go ahead and address Thomas’s question “what would Jesus do?” Thomas asserts that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and that’s true… but not completely. Jesus spoke about marriage in Matthew 5 and also in Matthew 19:1-10. If you read that passage, you’ll see that Christ describes marriage as being between one man and one woman. That’s it. No other parties involved. We also know that fornication is condemned (2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3, etc). So, if sex is only permissible in marriage, and marriage is only between a man and a woman, then there’s no room for homosexuality. Jesus didn’t have to address bestiality here; it’s wrong by default. Homosexuality, therefore, is also wrong.

But the New Testament doesn’t leave it there. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

This is the passage that Thomas says is actually condemning a form of pedophilia. However, if you’ll notice, he uses the phrase “most likely” refers to pederasty. That’s because there’s no circumstantial evidence that supports this theory. Sure, it could be talking about pederasty, but that still wouldn’t rule out it’s condemnation of homosexuality.

Furthermore, there’s another passage that Thomas ignored altogether.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. – Romans 1:26-27

This passage leaves nothing to the imagination. It plainly spells out that it’s condemning homosexuality. There are also passages like 1 Tim 1:10 that condemn fornication and sodomy. The conclusion is pretty simple: the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong.

“Judge not…”
Finally, Thomas pulls out one of the most famous passages for getting annoying “nay-sayers” off your back:

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matt 7:1-5

This passage has been misused for countless generations. Jesus isn’t saying that we shouldn’t help those who are involved in sin; we’re actually commanded to do just that (1 Cor 5:1-8; Jude 22, 23; James 5:19-20)! We are obligated to help those who are involved in sin, but we can’t do that if we’re not allowed to make an observation of whether or not they’re sinning. The passage in Matthew 7 doesn’t say not to remove the speck in our brother’s eye, it just says we need to remove the plank from ours first. We’re not idiots (most of us). God gave us brains and he gave us his word. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine whether or not someone’s following it.

In Conclusion…
Anyone who looks at the Bible in an unbiased manner can clearly see that homosexuality is condemned. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a fact. For those who profess to be Christians and follow God’s word, you’re left with no other alternative. Mr Thomas has departed from that line of rationale, though. He’s embraced the popular notion that the Bible is outdated and everybody’s ok, regardless of their lifestyle. Honestly, I’m surprised he even bothered to mention any scripture at all; it sounds as though he’s thrown it all out.

Sadly, it’s a commentary on how skewed our society is that a man like that is allowed to publish such nonsense in a national media outlet. His opinion lies far from that of most religious people, and certainly beyond what the Bible teaches on the subject. I emailed USA Today to see if they’d be interested in running a rebuttal in order to get a fair and balanced perspective, but they never responded. Unfortunately, most people today are more interested in feeling good about themselves or being accepted by the “popular kids” to worry too much about truth.

By the way, I first came across this article from a fellow blogger: Blackbox. His article “What if Religion is Wrong About Homosexuality” is an interesting read, and you can see our comments to one another at the bottom of the page.

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3 thoughts on “Homosexuality: When Religious People Lose Their Credibility”

  1. Homosexuality has infiltrated more and more churches. Will homosexuality be normalized as an acceptable and legally sanctioned lifestyle? Or, will those who practice it be identified as sinners in need of redemption? Will those who regard homosexuality as sin and therefore refuse to accept homosexuals as members in good standing be forced to do so by social activists? By court decisions? Does freedom of religion in such cases mean the freedom to force acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle upon every church in the land?

    To accept God as our Creator and Sustainer is to implicitly acknowledge His ability and right to instruct mankind on everything that pertains to life and godliness. The question of whether the homosexual was “born that way” will be answered by the One who created humanity: “known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18). The Bible, the inspired word of God, gives us an accurate message of truth (II Timothy 3:16-17). It will guide us in the way we should go. We should orient ourselves to its path of righteousness, not the path of “personal expression” and “sexual orientation” that abandons divine truth for human will and experience (Jeremiah 10:23).

    Divine truth does not change according to the will and whim of people. It is unchangeable by men and therefore reliable. Jesus noted that “heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Isaiah said, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). If you want teaching you can depend on to settle today’s disputes about homosexuality and the church, look no farther than the Bible. It is neither outdated nor irrelevant. (Why have the “word of God” and then charge that it is nothing more than the word of men?)

    God has been clear concerning homosexuality: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10); “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22); “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:27).

    Therefore, we affirm that homosexuality is not forced upon any person. It is a deliberate, sinful and unnatural choice one makes. Homosexual tendencies may exist in a person because of a number of factors, but the choice to practice homosexuality is set squarely upon the shoulders of each individual.

    Now we have Bible “scholars” who tell us the Bible does not mean what it clearly says about the sin of homosexuality. Let it be noted that when they contradict the foregoing statements they oppose God’s prophet Moses and Christ’s apostle Paul. The underlying problem of such “scholars” is they long ago rejected the Bible as the inerrant word of God. To them, the words of an apostle of Christ are not the commandments of the Lord (I Corinthians 14:37). Yet, they have the audacity to claim themselves lovers of God and lovers of divine truth! The have a form of godliness, but deny its power (II Timothy 3:1-5).

    Will those who wish to throw open every church door to homosexuals do the same for those who are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, (and) unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31)?

    For instance, why don’t we see them promoting church acceptance of malicious whisperers and backbiters? After all, we could make a case that these unfortunate and misunderstood souls are simply expressing themselves and their “normal” tendencies and impulses! The real problem is that those who promote the homosexual agenda in churches today not only reject the simple message of the Bible, they also scoff at the very idea of sin. Jesus’ prescription for all sin, including homosexuality, is repentance (Luke 13:2, 3).

    Just as the whispering gossip can choose to cease his or her sin, the homosexual can choose to cease homosexual actions. If the homosexual is not a sinner in need of redemption, who can charge the malicious gossip with evil?

    Whether one is practicing gossip or homosexuality, the sinner can be “washed,” “sanctified” and “justified” by repenting and obeying the gospel of Christ (I Corinthains 6:9-11; Acts 18:8). The homosexual should not be singled out. All sin of which one does not repent will cause the loss of the soul (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Christ urges all sinners to come to Him for rest (Matt. 11:28-30). But He expects repentance, and will accept nothing less: “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

    Without question one’s environment influences the choices one makes in life, including homosexual choices. The defense that “God made me that way” works no better for the homosexual as it does for the malicious gossip. Homosexuality is an issue of morality, not maternity. Accepting God’s clear teaching on its sinfulness is a matter of humbling oneself before God: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverb 3:5-7).

    Will there ever come a day in this land when divine truth (rather than human will) reigns in the hearts of the people?

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  2. “Homosexual tendencies may exist in a person because of a number of factors, but the choice to practice homosexuality is set squarely upon the shoulders of each individual.”

    I especially liked that statement. Thanks for your comment, Randy. It was one of the best I’ve seen on this subject…

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