Top 10 Misunderstandings by Conservative Christians, about HomosexualityPosted: May 26, 2013
This is a companion post to the one titled Top 10 Misunderstandings by Homosexuals about Christianity.
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). But it 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 the behaviour of 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 or 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, both science and Scripture teach us that 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 virgins are going to hell simply due to giving themselves the ‘homosexual’ label. As is the position of the Roman Catholic Church, 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. The Bible implies that God loves homosexuals too.
- 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 homosexual to heterosexual attractions. One gay man wrote “After years of failing to become straight, … it was clear to me that I would NOT change. … I concluded that if the church was not the answer, then there was NO answer to the conflict, confusion, anxiety, loss, grief I experienced daily.” 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 homosexual relationships, EG John Paulk, Michael Bussee. Alan Chambers, as head of USA’s largest Christian ministry to people with same-sex attractions, 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 these same Christians seem willing to accept the reality that God does not grant all prayers, eg for healing from cancer or from drug addiction, and they believe 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 refer to homosexuals who became celibate. A change in sexual orientation is very rare for males. Some same-sex attracted Christians have come to see celibacy rather than heterosexual attraction, as their realistically achievable goal.
- That if homosexuals know what the Bible states, they will turn straight
Although there are homosexuals that claim that the Bible has been mistranslated, or who dont believe the Bible, most know that the Bible presents homosexual sex as sinful. Some homosexuals simply dont care. But there are others who do care, and feel uncomfortable about it. A few live in abstinence. Overall though, most homosexuals would rather indulge in gay sex than obey the Bible, but this does not mean they are all at ease with this. It’s not uncommon for a gay person from a Christian background, to claim that despite the guilt, not having gay sex would make their lives too ’empty’, while completely turning their back on God isnt something they can do either. For some of these Christians, there is still a huge sense of guilt and discomfort, but they find themselves unable to move beyond this compromise. In such cases, pointing out the sinfulness of homosexual relations, achieves little except acrimony and even varying levels of depression, because they are already aware of the problem, and have not been able to find a solution.
- 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). Statistics have found that a majority of gay sex in USA is ‘casual’ rather than with a relationship partner. 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 too. 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, or that they are simply “morally bankrupt“. From a Christian point of view, such relationships are immoral, but we need to keep this in perspective.
- 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 (EG, EG2) conclude that homosexuality arises from recruitment, when they observe someone engaging in homosexual relationships after having met other homosexuals. The recruitment theory was more popular in Christian literature of decades past (EG, EG2, US politician John Briggs), but is still popular in some areas, eg in Africa (ref. 2, ref. 3). But in reality, 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. The fact that some young people have gay feelings before they have even heard of the concept of homosexuality, confirms that at least in some cases, it’s not learned. 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 or probably no evidence that friends or culture will actually cause the same-sex attractions. This video, while Catholic, shows the reality of everyday people finding themselves to have a homosexual orientation – something often unsought after and unwanted by the person themselves. The fact that same-sex attraction tends to be inherent rather than acquired, is apparent when conservatives – EG members of conservative political groups (EG), or leaders in conservative churches etc – are exposed as having indulged in gay activity.
- Gay people are trying to destroy themselves, to destroy the institution of marriage and to destroy the church.
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.
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 or persecuting 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. Chad Thompson tells the poignant story of someone who said “As a gay man, I’ve found it’s easier for me to get sex on the streets than to get a hug in church.” Sadly, for many homosexuals, their dominant experience of Christianity has been a sense of judgement and rejection without love. Such homosexuals often 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. One US survey found that around half of the LGBT respondents considered themselves to be religiously affiliated.
- That homosexuals should be treated with disdain and be kept at a distance.
Some (but not all) Christians, conclude that because God is displeased with sin, that good Christians should keep themselves separate from those who appear to be dedicated to sin, and should instead associate with ‘good’ people while looking down on the rest as being outside of God’s will. This belief is often practised using an approach where some sins are perceived to be really naughty (eg homosexual relations), but other sins (eg divorce, lying, drunkenness) are perceived to be inconsequential – IE there is a standard applied that is more cultural than scriptural. This is problematic. And while it’s true that the Bible calls Christians to maintain a level of separation from the non-Christian world (2 Corinthians 6:14), it’s also true that Jesus modelled an approach where he associated with everyone (Matthew 11:19). It should also be remembered that Jesus disapproved of religious people who perceive themselves to be ‘good’ compared to the ‘bad’ people (Luke 18:9-14). Many homosexuals are very aware that they are kept at a distance, and mere friendship denied. Accordingly they feel unloved by Christians – a situation which is shameful in light of what Scripture says about loving people. There is a difference between loving someone and endorsing their sin, as Albert Mohler illustrates nicely here and others have likewise encouraged, eg here.