Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has expressed sorrow for past poor treatment of LGBT people by Anglicans, referring to it as a “considerable failure”. The Archbishop claims to represent 80 million Anglicans throughout the world, and does not support the concept of same-sex marriage.
His expression of regret further challenges the notion advanced by some LGBT activists, that those who oppose same-sex marriage, are simply ‘haters’.
The Archbishop’s comments were expressed as part of his response to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales, but interestingly some news outlets have focused on his comments about marriage and not mentioned his expression of sorrow. Various GLBT websites reported the expression of sorrow (EG1, EG2) but several of what are perhaps more conservative Christian websites have not (EG1, EG2). This omission in reporting possibly illustrates how conservative Christians under-appreciate that GLBT people have sincerely felt hurt when conservative Christians treat them simply as abominations rather than as people with feelings.
Gay intolerance reached heightened levels in May in Australia, when Australian politician Penny Wong reportedly criticised the Australian Christian Lobby, claiming that they hold views that have “no place in modern Australia.”
To understand the context of her comment, it’s necessary to grasp the historic practice that is referred to as the “Stolen Generations”. This practice involved removal of Aboriginal children from their families and the raising of those children mainly amongst caucasians, on the grounds that the children would then receive better care and education. The practice continued for many decades of the 20th century, and ended around the 1970s, with an Australian Prime Minister ultimately apologising in 2008 for the abuses and heartache that had occurred.
In May 2013, the conservative Australian Christian Lobby reportedly stated that same-sex marriage would create another stolen generation. They stated that support of same-sex marriage “ignored the consequence of robbing children of their biological identity through same-sex surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technology”. Finance minister Penny Wong herself is raising a daughter with her lesbian partner, and it was in response to this statement that she reportedly said that the Lobby hold views that have “no place in modern Australia.”
At this stage, Wong’s expression of intolerance would not be representative of a large proportion of Australians or of Australian politicians. But what does the future hold? As public sentiment changes to increasingly approve of same-sex marriage, will tolerance of Christian perspectives decrease all the more? Some media reports of the above dialogue already describe the Australian Christian Lobby as “ultra-conservative”. Will Christian perspectives ultimately be outlawed in Australia and elsewhere?
According to top selling music artist Lady Gaga …
“Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby, you were born this way
No matter gay, straight or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life …”
Those are a section of the lyrics from the popular song Born this Way.
Unfortunately there are no black and white answers on the question of whether people are born with a particular sexual orientation. Christians tend to assume that people are born straight, since that is the sexuality that is supported in the Bible. GLBT people tend to assume that they were not born straight, since their sexual inclinations often feel inherent rather than consciously chosen, and because attempts to become purely heterosexually attracted often prove futile. Scientific consensus seems to be that sexual orientation is not entirely genetic, but that there is a genetic influence.
I came across an article about twin studies recently, which got me thinking. In the twin studies, identical twins are studied to see whether the twins always have matching sexual orientations. Such twins have matching genes, and look very much alike, so you would think that if homosexuality is inborn then if one of the identical twins is gay, the other would be also, right? Well differing studies have produced differing results, but at most the sexual orientations only matched around half the time. More conservative findings found concordance of homosexual orientation in less than 10% of those studied. Google for the terms “twin studies homosexual” and you will find relevant studies fairly easily. Of course these studies are not simple, and one of the complications is that apparently even identical twins are not 100% identical. But surely if sexual orientation is inborn, you would expect a concordance between identical twins to be much higher than 50%, right?
Im not claiming that homosexuals can choose to be straight – psychologists tell us that that would usually be unrealistic. But reflecting on the twin studies just clarified in my mind that Lady Gaga must be incorrect.
Whether it’s your Christian next door neighbour or an internationally known Christian preacher doing so, Christians often express one or two misunderstandings about homosexuality. This is not surprising – it’s a confusing topic. Common examples of these misunderstandings seem to be:
- The most relevant part of the Bible for the subject of homosexuality, is the story of Sodom & Gomorrah.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is more complicated than is realised by people who are only vaguely familiar with it. The vague details are that in the town of Sodom, the men liked to engage in sodomy (sex between men), and ultimately God destroyed the town as punishment. But it’s not that simple. Firstly, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed solely because of homosexual activity. Although Jude 7 indicates that “sexual immorality” was part of the reason for their destruction, Ezekiel 16:49-50 states that the sins of the towns included arrogance, being overfed and unconcerned, not helping the poor and needy, being haughty and doing detestable things. Secondly, the Bible suggests that ALL the men from Sodom were involved in the attempted sex (Genesis 19:4-5), which would be odd if all men in a town were gay and would raise the question of how human reproduction would arise in that town. Thirdly, the depicted attempt at sexual activity is illustrated as an attempt at mass rape (Genesis 19:9-10) – this is not typical of gay sex. Fourthly, the planned victims of the rape were angels (Genesis 19:1). So there are numerous differences between this story and interaction between most homosexuals. There are other passages in the Bible that refer to men wanting to have sex with each other, EG Romans 1, that are more straight-forward and relevant to contemporary homosexuality, than the story of Sodom & Gomorrah.
- All people are created in the pattern of Adam & Eve; IE they are either male or female and are naturally attracted to the opposite sex and will partner and have children as Adam and Eve did.
Jesus tells us that some people are born eunuchs (Matthew 19:12). St Paul tells us that it’s best to remain single for the sake of the kingdom, if possible (1 Corinthians 7:8). Medical science tells us that some people are born intersex, and some are born with Klinefelter syndrome where rather than simply having either the female XX nor the male XY chromosomes, their chromosomes are XXY. Psychologists tell us that it’s unusual for a male with same-sex attractions to change to having opposite-sex attractions only (ref-1, ref-2, ref-3), and they tell us that a homosexual orientation is more than just about sex. So clearly, not everyone is destined to enter a heterosexual marriage.
- The Bible teaches that all homosexuals go to hell.
In most (or all) cases when the Bible refers to homosexuality, it refers to behaviour; ie doing something sexual, rather than being something. EG in the story of Sodom & Gomorrah, it depicts men trying to have sex with male angels, in the book of Leviticus it refers to men “laying” with men, in Romans 1 it refers to men lusting after other men etc. Today we have people, eg teenagers, who may call themselves ‘homosexuals’, based on their sexual inclinations, even if they have never had sex with anyone. It does not make sense that such people are going to hell due to giving themselves the ‘homosexual’ label. It’s logical to regard homosexuality as a sin, only when it’s been acted on, much like we only regard a desire for heterosexual sex outside of marriage to be a sin if a person acts on that desire, either by actively lusting or other sexual behaviour. This one is also explained here.
- Going from gay to straight is just a matter of prayer and decision.
Many people underestimate the ease with which a person can switch from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Media campaigns in the USA late last century, promoted the idea that people can change sexual orientation at will, or at least with prayer. However many of the people featured in those media campaigns ultimately reverted back to homosexuality, EG John Paulk, Michael Bussee. Alan Chambers, as head of USA’s largest Christian ministry to homosexuals, has said that most homosexuals never completely loose their homosexual attractions. Some Christians struggle deeply to accept this, and will point to Scriptures such as Philippians 4:13 to argue everything is possible with God. However such Christians seem willing to accept the reality that God does not grant all prayers, eg for healing from cancer or from drug addiction, and that some Christians need to ‘manage’ their burdens and temptations rather than having them taken away entirely. Some Christians will also point to 1 Corinthians 6:11, to claim that the Bible shows that it’s possible to be a former homosexual. However, it should be noted that the verse is vague and does not specifically define the idea of a former homosexual as being heterosexual – it may simply mean someone who becomes celibate.
- Homosexuality has nothing to do with love.
The idea that gay people tend to be more promiscuous, is more of a reality than a false stereotype (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3, Ref. 4, Ref. 5). Even when they have a partner, gay men often struggle to be monogamous and ‘open’ relationships are common (Ref.). But gay people do engage in loving long-term relationships. Sometimes those relationships are almost the same as heterosexual relationships. So gay relationships vary and it’s just not balanced to claim that such relationships are never loving relationships.
- Gay people like having sex with children.
A sexual inclination between adults of the same sex, and a sexual inclination towards children, are two different types of inclination. Most child molesters are heterosexual men.
- Gay people tend to be recruited into being gay.
Some people conclude that homosexuality arises from recruitment, when they observe someone engaging in homosexual relationships after having met other homosexuals. The recruitment theory is particularly popular in Africa. But most homosexuals find that their tendencies were always present, and it is only after having met other homosexuals that the person feels comfortable being honest about it. Human beings are indeed relationship-oriented, and are influenced by what their friends do and are also influenced by the media and culture. But most gay people have inherent gay attractions. They may be more likely to act on those attractions if their friends and culture support doing so, but there is little evidence that friends or culture will actually cause the same-sex attractions.
- Gay people are trying to destroy themselves.
On average, gay people do engage in more self-destructive behaviours, such as taking illicit drugs. But this tends to be either for the purpose of fun or escapism than specifically for the purpose of self-destruction. Many gay people have fairly healthy lifestyles that include gym routines, a good diet and good jobs. However, gay people are very diverse. There are conservative gays and liberal gays. There are sporty gays and lazy gays. There are white collar gays and blue collar gays. There are city gays and there are country gays. Between them, there are large variations in lifestyles and attitudes.
- Gay people want to destroy the institution of marriage and the church
Although there are homosexual activists (and heterosexual activists) that oppose the concept of marriage, most do not want to destroy it. Many genuinely feel it’s unfair when society recognises heterosexual relationships as marriage, but not homosexual relationships. Gay people who did not grow up in a Christian family/environment do not always have a basic understanding of Christianity, and sometimes genuinely perceive Christians as hating them. Some assume that modern Christians either wrote the Bible themselves, or that modern Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they wish to follow, or that modern Christians deliberately misinterpret the Bible as being anti-gay, as part of a right-leaning political ideology. Sadly, for some homosexuals, their only experience of Christianity has been a sense of judgement and rejection without any love. Such homosexuals would prefer that the church did not exist, or at least that it had no ability to oppose them. However there are other active homosexuals who embrace many aspects of Christianity and despite their inconsistencies, they sometimes even describe themselves as Christians.
- The Bible opposes love between members of the same sex.
This one is not often expressed by conservative Christians, but it’s a similar misunderstanding to the others above. This one is influenced by the fact that in English, the word ‘love’ can be ambiguous, sometimes seeming to refer simply to goodwill, and other times referring to a deep emotional commitment such as marriage. There is little in the Bible that specifically opposes love. Rather the Bible encourages love, including love between members of the same sex. It’s lust and sex between members of the same sex that the Bible presents as sinful, not love.
Id never heard of Brian Bowen, until I came across a comment stating that “The #GayMarriage debate in the Church just took a dramatic turn for the better!” accompanied by a webpage address for more info. This recommendation came from a bright guy, so I thought I should investigate the webpage. But I was disappointed with the reasoning I found. I found that the webpage presented a 168 minute recorded debate, originally broadcast on radio, between one man with a standard conservative Christian position on homosexuality, and Brian Bowen, who took a position that the Bible does not oppose gay marriage etc for Christians. My post here explains flaws I see in what Bowen stated during the debate.
I listened to the entire debate. Some elements of what Bowen said, seemed confusing, EG ”Just because you’re gay doesnt mean you’re guilty of homosexuality …” (73′), and some of his comments just seemed to me to be superfluous or irrelevant. But overall his argument seemed to be that when the Bible refers to homosexual sin, those references are always in the context of adultery or idolatry, and that in fact God is drawing homosexuals into the church as the remnants of the Gentiles to be brought into his church in fulfilment of Isaiah 56 and Romans 11:25. Bowen claimed that most Christians misunderstand what the Scriptures say about homosexuality, because we dont give due attention to context.
While detailing his perspective, Bowen seemed to me to express many misunderstandings of the Scriptures, which I will outline and rebut in the remainder of this post, each quote prefixed by the number of minutes into the recording at which Bowen made the statement-
Im not aware of any good reason to understand the phrase “as with a woman” to mean that the man is married to a woman. That is not an understanding that is widely held by scholars. In the NIV translation, the phrase has a more contemporary wording of “as one does with a woman”, and again I get no sense that the phrase means the man is married by definition.
“… Romans 1:26-27 where married men engaged in sexual relations with each other and married women engaged in adultery to have sexual relations with animals as acts of worship to ancient roman gods.”
Again, Im not aware of any good reason to conclude that Romans 1:26-27 is referring to married people.
23′:“Then we also have 1 timothy 1:10 where men who were married to women, hired gay for pay temple prostitutes with which to worship the goddess Diana.”
Where in that verse does it specify married men? Nowhere.
25′: “And then we have the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and the book of Jude. But what we find when we really examine those accounts is that was to purge fallen angels who made it with human women and had children which we see in Genesis chapter 6 verses 1-8. And these offspring, the Nephilim were half human and half angel and because they had been born, the lord sent the flood to destroy them and left only Noah. We see all of that confirmed in 2 Peter 2:4-7 where God connects the fallen angels that had sex with women to the flood and then the destruction of Sodom was to destroy the fallen angels themselves and so as each of those examples shows they have nothing to do with LGBT people and everything to do with married people violating two of the ten commandments against adultery and worship of other gods.
But Ezekiel 16:49-50 says the sins of the people included arrogance and unkindness and Jude 1:7 indicates that their sin included sexual immorality. Claiming that the problem was simply angelic offspring, is very one-eyed.
33′: “.. in Leviticus 20:10 it says a man shall not lie with another man’s wife and if he does that both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death and then just three verses later it says the same thing about a man who lies with a man as with a woman, so we do indeed see the context of adultery.”
Leviticus 20:10 includes wording such as “another man’s wife”, clearly referencing someone who is married, but Leviticus 20:13 simply compares homosexual sex with heterosexual sex and does not include wording that references someone who is married.
35′: “…lets get to Matthew 19 … [quotes verses 3-9]. A couple of things to point out; first of all, a lot of Christians believe that Jesus is actually quoting what God says about marriage in the Garden of Eden. But in fact, God never said any of this. In verse 4, Matthew 19:4, Jesus said, “Have you never read” so right there we know that Jesus is quoting a Scripture. “He who made them from the beginning made them male and female.” That is quoting Genesis 1:27 where Moses narrates so God made them male and female. It does not say “God said I made them male and female.” So it’s not a quote of God. It is quoting what Moses wrote about God. In Matthew 19:5, it says, “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Again, a lot of Christians believe that it was God that said that. But if we go back and look at what Jesus was quoting, it’s Genesis 2, a whole chapter away from what he had just said, in verses 22-24 which reads and the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken, he built up and made into a woman and he brought her to the man. Verse 23; then Adam said, “This creature is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” Verse 24; “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” So what we see is contrary to what a lot of Christians think, Jesus was not ordaining heterosexual marriage and God did not ordain heterosexual marriage; Adam did. … “
No, modern translations do not portray Genesis 2:24 as having been stated by Adam. Rather, it presents heterosexual marriage as having been ordained by God.
56′: “… in Isaiah 56, we see God refers to eunuchs as sons and daughters.”
Not really. We see a reference to sons and daughters in verse 5, but “a name better than sons and daughters” is not the same as calling them sons and daughters.
56′: “Later on we see the apostle Paul ordain marriage for two groups of unmarried people, in 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, which would be part of the very same letter in which 1 Corinthians 6 appears where Paul rebuked a preacher who was molesting boys in his own congregation and pimping the church for money. So it’s in the same letter, yet he ordains marriage for two groups of unmarried people 1 Corinthians 7:1-9. The first are heterosexuals in verses 1-7 and then for non-heterosexual couples in verses 8-9. We know the second group is not heterosexual because if they were they wouldve been included in the first group. We see Paul use the phrase unmarried people in verses 8-9 …”
I dont see in 1 Cor. 6 a reference to a preacher molesting boys or pimping the church. I also dont see cause to perceive 1 Cor. 7:8-9 as referring to non-heterosexuals. In 1 Cor. 7:1-7 Paul seems to shift attention from single people to married people and then in verses 8-9 he just seems to switch back to addressing single people again.
During the debate, Bowen acknowledges that his interpretation is not water-tight. But when he does so, he seems to be primarily referring to his interpretation of ‘eunuchs’ as including homosexuals. I actually like his reasoning that ‘eunuch’ may include homosexuals. But it should not be forgotten what it states in Isaiah 56:4 – that it’s addressed “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant …”. IE the eunuchs portrayed as gaining God’s blessing are those who hold to his rules. This would likely mean eunuchs who, for example, dont engage in gay sex. In conclusion, it’s not Bowen’s interpretation of ‘eunuch’ that I necessarily disagree with. Rather it’s his inference that the Bible does not oppose gay sex apart from in idolatrous or adulterous situations.
One of the key arguments made for same-sex marriage, is that discrimination negatively impacts the mental health of gays and lesbians. Some even make the controversial claim that it’s the main cause of poorer mental health. So if this is true, then as more and more US states legally redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, you would expect statistics for GLBT health to show an improvement, right?
It’s early days and statistics tend to describe the past rather than the present, but some of the numbers we have so far, suggest that the above rhetoric does not match reality.
The NYC Anti-Violence Project report on incidents of violence for those they classify as LGBTQH (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or HIV-Affected) in USA. In 2011, the Project recorded the highest yearly total of ”intimate partner violence homicides” in the organization’s history; 19. And, excluding reports from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, which lost funding and staff and would otherwise skew the numbers, in 2011 they report an 18.3% increase in reports of violence across the USA, between intimate partners who were classified as LGBTQH.
More recent reports on these statistics are not yet available on their website, but once compiled and released, they will be interesting to see.
My blog has a strong religious theme, so I shouldnt mix in politics … but I find this article from the Daily Mail, fascinating!
Michelle Bachmann has been the victim of an invalid internet meme via the gay media. Eventually the news website at fault realised the mistake, and removed the article of May 2013, but not before the myth had been circulated around the web, EG on Facebook:
While one gay news website is currently promoting following the social media updates of gay porn stars, and while gay pickup sites regularly promote porn, the reality behind the screen seems to be quite sad and sobering. This youtube clip depicts so many many lives lost. It was apparently made by a former gay porn actor. I Googled some of the more recent names and found them to be valid.
Yes, really. If people want that surgery, let them have it. But should other students be forced to pay for it?