“Why do Christians care about gay marriage so much if it doesn’t affect them? If gay marriage would make people happy without hurting anyone why do Christians care?”
Why do Christians care? If you are a Christian, how would you respond?
What I hope to show Christians in this article is that there are a lot of BAD arguments against homosexuality and that this matter requires our love, patience, and attention. We cannot afford to be neutral on this issue.
What I hope to show non-Christians in this article is that it is rational to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong.
One of the reasons I get so passionate about this subject is because I really believe that the message I share in this post is not one of hatred or condemnation, but one of freedom.
[WHAT DO WE BELIEVE ABOUT GOD?]
I must admit I am disappointed to see how many Christians hold a strong view on this without even having good reasons to believe it other than, “God says so”. That can very well work to convince one’s self internally, but I really don’t think it will warrant the understanding of anyone that does not believe in God.
WHAT IF: God felt like deciding that all people wearing leather shoes will go to hell? Does that MAKE it morally right or wrong?
Many Christians, surprisingly, bite the bait of this thought-provoking question and answer, “Yes. If God says so, then it must be right…But don’t worry! God, in His mercy, tells us what is right or wrong.” To which, the naturalist becomes even more sure that something is amiss and takes it a step further,
“You don’t need God to tell you that murder is wrong; this information is available to all humans.” -Late Atheist Christopher Hitchens
Okay, so if you just admitted that God makes up rules and we don’t need God to find out morality then we have one quirky idea of God that just arbitrarily makes it up as He goes along! (It would make for a very strange world if we’d have to guess what God “likes to be known as good” in order to win His favor and go to heaven.) “Today stealing is evil…yes I like that.” If this is God, then maybe we are under the shadow of an evil god!
What we believe about God will dictate how we live and interact with others.
This includes what/who we believe IS God.
THE INVENTION OF HETEROSEXUALITY
In Jonathan Katz’s article “The Invention of Heterosexuality”, Katz attempts to trace the history of heterosexuality and to argue that it is a modern invention and not an innate characteristic. He talks about how the history of sex traces back to being used for reproduction and less for mere pleasure. Because it was viewed as something that would further the species or royal lineage, sex was enacted as a type of “factory” for human-making.
“The transformation of the family from producer to consumer unit resulted in a change in family members’ relation to their own bodies; from being an instrument primarily of work, the human body was integrated into a new economy, and began more commonly to be perceived as a means of consumption and pleasure”. -Jonathan Katz
Sex doesn’t just function as a means of reproduction in our day, it functions as an idol that determines the worth of humans that worship it.
Even without reading his article it’s easy to see that American culture has idolized sex. Advertisements and media have targetted a sexually driven culture with a sexually driven message: that sex is not just a good thing, it is everything.
Can you think of a friend that doesn’t just love his girlfriend, but NEEDS his girlfriend? He texts her 50 billion times a day, stalks her facebook, and gets nervous when he doesn’t know what she’s doing? He’s afraid of losing his girlfriend because she isn’t just a good thing in his life, she is EVERYTHING.
Some guys value their worth among other men by how many women they’ve slept with. Some value their worth above others by their sexual orientation. I recently saw an ad for a LGBT rock-climbing group. It made me think, “Really? Why do we have to separate ourselves even more?”
Many of us have taken sex, like other good things God made for us, and have built our identities on it.
We all want to achieve the American dream of life, liberty, and especially the pursuit of happiness.
When happiness is the most important thing, we forsake other pursuits for it.
We want sex, but not commitment.
We want commitment, but not selflessness.
(“I fell out of love!” “I deserve to be happy!”)
THE SHORT ANSWER:
So if you scrolled ahead to see the length of this article, you might be tempted to read this section alone. I understand. However, even though the remainder of the article might be a bit more technical, I believe it is essential to understanding a good portion of my presented argument. If you intend to respond, please read the entire article first.
- A real, morally perfect, maximally good God exists.
- In God’s goodness, He decided to give us good things.
- With our free will, we chose to take His good things and to use them in our own man-centered ways in order to get the most pleasure.
- This misuse of God’s good things is imperfection and is called sin.
- This raises the question: How can the imperfect use of a good thing ever be better than the perfect use of a good thing?
- Isaiah 55:8
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
- Practicing homosexuality is a misuse of God’s intended design. (Please make sure you read “What is Homosexuality?” Below)
“Note that there is not widespread division over what the Bible says about homosexuality. All three branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) agree – on at least four things: one, that every mention of homosexual practice in the Bible says that it is wrong; two, that it is specifically prohibited in both the Old and New Testaments; three, that it did not just reflect the prejudices of the day – it cut against the views of ancient cultures; and four, that the whole arc of the Bible begins with a heterosexual marriage (Adam and Eve) and ends with the vision of one – the wedding feast in the book of Revelation.” -Tim Keller
- When we condone something God calls sin, (sex before marriage, homosexual intercourse) we are basically telling God that He has it wrong. In this, we raise ourselves on pedestals to become the ones who judge the very standard of perfection (who gave us our very sense of justice). We de-god God and put ourselves on His throne.
- A righteous God must judge those that are in rebellion to his perfect character. (If a rapist was allowed to go free for no reason in a court decision, we would call the judge a bad judge, not a good one. (I am not comparing homosexuals to rapists. Make sure you continue on to the “What is Truth?” Section.))
- The good news is that “God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:14
- Jesus humbled Himself and initiated the most successful public relations campaign in history by becoming one of us in order that He might relate with us and save us from our sin.
[FAMILIAR ARGUMENTS THAT NEED FURTHER REFLECTION]
Before I move on to the technical, I must begin by explaining myself a bit.
I do not view homosexuals any differently than my friends that engage in premarital heterosexual intercourse (a similar morality issue with which most non-theists would disagree!)
I believe that’s an important distinction. I have heard so many different arguments from the gay community, as well as the Christian community, and for the most part have been left unsatisfied. Many go to such extremes that it drives me nuts! I really felt the need to contribute some thoughts on this issue. Although I won’t be addressing these points in depth, I hope to give us the opportunity to put these arguments under further reflection.
1. Many Christians will try to point out that homosexuality is wrong because it is an “unhealthy” lifestyle or “destructive” to society.
It may or may not be, (and I’m sure there is good research on either end) but from what I can see, it doesn’t seem to me that the majority of heterosexual marriages are doing very well either. Imposing more Christian laws on an unchristian society does not necessarily change opinions.
Here’s an example: I am sure that good research could prove that skateboarding will increase your likelihood of breaking bones or even dying, but that does not mean that people should stop skateboarding or that skateboarding is morally wrong.
2. Many Christians have fallen into a slippery slope by reasoning, “If they want gay marriage approved, then what’s next?” Although trying to impose gay marriage does call many things into question, I believe this can be poor reasoning. It doesn’t logically follow that just because A leads to B which can lead to C which can lead to D automatically means A leads to D. In other words, it could argued that it doesn’t logically follow that just because gays could be allowed to get married that the door is open for polygamy, pedophiles, bestiality, etc. A better way of asking the question would be something like, “Who or what group has the ultimate authority in defining marriage?” Who has the right to tell one group they can get married and that others cannot? If it is through a majority vote of the population, what if we have an evil majority? Who would stand up for objective rights and morality? (This will be explored in detail in the “what is truth?” section.)
3. Many Christians have referred to the terms, “traditional marriage” or “family values”, but I believe that this is just politically correct jargon meant to cover up people’s Biblical values and make it sound religion-free and family-friendly.
The pro-gay activist could reply, “What is traditional marriage?” “According to what culture?” Certain cultures might “traditionally” embrace polygamy.
If we want to defend Biblical marriage, then we ought to call it what it is!
Now, I wouldn’t be so fast to embrace political activism against homosexuality or even homosexual marriage. Just like I wouldn’t go lobbying to get a law passed that says no heterosexual couple is allowed to live in the same house before they get married. (Where are all the anti-fornication picketers and rallies?…I am joking.)
I really don’t believe voting one way or another will necessarily change hearts. Could I vote in favor of homosexual marriage? No, I could not. As a Christian, I must speak the truth in love. I will stand for my beliefs, but I will not place my all my hopes and trust in the government to create a Christian utopia.
Now, I would definitely be against any law that would limit my freedom of speech or beliefs. Because I do believe that it is rational to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, I believe that people should have the right to hold those beliefs. (On the basis of the First amendment). I wouldn’t want to force anyone in the gay community to be silent on their beliefs and I wouldn’t want to be restricted in mine either. So we have to be careful to assess the laws and see what the real issue is. Is this about marriage or human rights? Does the gay community just want equality in terms of rights or do they want God and Christians to give approval to homosexual sex?
4. What about equal rights? It would seem that many of the rights issues should be resolved regardless of marriage. I have heard the “gay partner wants to be able to see their gay partner in the hospital” argument and remain unconvinced. I am sure that there are many heterosexual engaged couples that wish to do the very same thing when disaster strikes. The list goes on from here, but I think a lot of the rights issues should just be dealt with regardless of hetero- or homosexuality. But it does no good to single out a group and highlight them above the rest as if they are the only ones suffering in a troubled American government and economy.
[WHAT IS HOMOSEXUALITY?]
Bisexual political activist and author Gore Vidal defines Homosexuality this way,
“There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices, and what anyone does with a willing partner is of no social or cosmic significance.”
The Bible is not against “feminine males” as defined by our cultural biases. The Bible is not against “masculine women” as defined by our cultural biases. It is not against someone’s temptation or propensity to go in a certain direction, it is against the actions involving a misuse of God-given sexual intercourse. So many people are quick to throw their friends or children into the category of “homosexual” just because they talk or gesture a certain way. This is not right. Just like we shouldn’t automatically conclude that someone with a British accent must be intelligent, we shouldn’t conclude sexual behavior from mannerisms.
So when the Bible says, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) among the other types of sin, it is talking about people that are practicing homosexual acts.
So even if we stop right there, we can then conclude that no one is born a practicing homosexual. But what about the gay gene? Many will appeal to homosexuality being embedded in the genes in order to say that if someone is born gay then they cannot act against nature. Their actions are fated and inevitable. But is this true of anything? As atheist Jean-Paul Sartre said, “man is condemned to be free”. Freedom does not mean that you have all the choices in the world, but it means that man has the ability to choose otherwise. But as a quick over-view, let’s look at how the talk about gay genetics got started.
The Gay Gene:
Probably the most well known as the springboard basis of this topic is Dr. Hamer’s study “A Linkage between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation” that took place in 1993. When put under scrutiny, we see that his study of the region of the X chromosome known as Xq28 was not conclusive evidence at all. His use of sketchy pedigree analysis and very few DNA markers could only at best conclude that there might be a gay gene that lies somewhere among over 4 million base pairs of DNA (Lynch, p. 447, 2009). The reason it was so widely accepted was due to the political nature of rhetoric for gay activist communities. The fact is people aren’t born gay, we are all born sinners. As an example, you most likely did not choose to speak English (or any other language) as your first language. It may seem as natural to you as genetics, but it was something you learned. Even if it was discovered and proved scientifically that people were born gay, that wouldn’t justify it. If a stealing gene was discovered, legislature wouldn’t rush to make stealing legal. Man is free. He doesn’t have a choice about that.
If not the genes, what about the heart? Shouldn’t people have the right to follow their desires? Well, that is quite contrary to what the Bible teaches. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are marred by sin!
Think about the first person you ever “liked”. Most likely this was in middle or high school. Can you remember how certain you were that the person was the ONLY one for you? How perfect they were? How you got butterflies whenever you saw them? Most people look back and are glad they never married that person! (Although I recognize that many fall in love with “the right one” (if there is such a thing…) the first time. In the same way, feelings change over time. People can change.
If we look to sex and relationships to give our lives ultimate meaning, we are in for disappointment because although these things may give us a taste of God’s goodness, they aren’t God Himself.
“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” -1 John 2:16
In essence, when we try to fill our cravings for identity and meaning with things that aren’t God, we are just filling our stomachs with more hunger pains.
The loving thing for Christians to do is to tell them the truth. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Only God Himself can satisfy the craving of a soul really aroused by the Holy Spirit.”
Relationships will end. People will fail us. But God endures forever. His love never fails.
[WHAT IS TRUTH?]
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The world is independent of my will.” We find ourselves thrown into existence at the particular time and place we were born without anyone asking our opinions on how it should be done. Here exists a world we can perceive that isn’t one we intended but one we have found.
The same is to be said of truth.
The reason I am defending truth is because many would say, “Well that’s true for you, but it’s not true for me.” “You might believe that homosexuality is wrong, but I don’t. So it’s not.” The downfall of relativism is that we would have to ask, “Is it “TRUE” that it’s true for me, but not for you?” It is self-defeating.
Truth exists regardless of whether we believe it or not. This is called objective truth.
Many people will agree that there is a such thing as objective morality. That means they believe that right and wrong are real attributes that exist even if no one believed that they do.
For example: the murdering of Jewish children in the holocaust was evil. Atheist Sam Harris (author of the moral landscape among others) would agree that there are objective moral truths.
But on what grounds are these claims made? On theism Christians know that God does not just make-up laws or choose what is good or evil. We believe that He is HIMSELF the source of all goodness. He is maximally good, maximally perfect, among many other things. To ask, why is God good, would be like asking why does a square have four sides? This is better explained in the ontological argument which is a philosophical argument about the being of God. (On it’s own, it might not provide too much basis for a belief that God exists, but in combination with other theistic arguments, it rather explains what He is like.) Yes, there are things God CANNOT do. This is not incompatible with His omnipotence (having all power) because evil and sin is a privation or lack of a thing. Just like darkness is a lack of light, evil is a distortion of a good thing. God cannot be less perfect, He must act perfectly because that is who He is. If He could be less perfect, He could not be God and we can imagine a sort of God better than Him from whom we would derive our morality (This concept was explored by atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell).
Christians believe that God gives us a conscience because He created us in His image. Our consciences give us our very sense of justice or injustice which in turn gives us an opportunity to search for God. Our conscience tells us that something very wrong has happened, namely sin, which has separated us from being perfect image-bearers of goodness and justice Himself. The agnostic might respond, “If God gave us our sense of morality when He created us, then why is it that we don’t all have the same morals? (For example: not all people feel that homosexuality is a sin)” If our sense of morality has been given to us by God and morality itself exists because of Him, it doesn’t mean that we will all must know them perfectly. This is confusing two different questions. The question is not, “how do we come to know moral values?” (moral epistemology) but rather, “do moral values exist?” (moral ontology). If God exists, then there is sufficient reason to believe that objective (morally binding regardless of the mind perceiving it’s existence) morality exists. We do not all have the same morality because our consciences themselves are seared. We have become desensitized to sin.
But on naturalism, what could be the grounding for morality? Well, the usual response is: our evolutionary nature dictates what is right or what is wrong.
To which we can reply, “says who?” Who made this idea the objective (morally binding regardless of a mind perceiving it) authority that evolutionary nature should dictate what is right or what is wrong? We might appeal saying, “well it’s something the majority of society would agree on.” But we can imagine a possible world where Nazis have taken over, persecuted the Jews, and the majority of people on earth hold Nazi values. In that case, most people today would still agree that there is something objectively evil about that kind of world.
Science can tell us what IS but can’t tell us what we OUGHT to do. We can look at statistics that say, “There is a greater chance that people will be injured if they skateboard”, but nothing is authoritatively binding to tell us that we should or shouldn’t skateboard.
Example: If you are driving and are pulled over by a police officer, you are bound by the authority in the law to stop the car. The government is the binding authority. But if just some random old man wants to pull you over, you would keep on driving and probably even laugh at the old man!
SUMMARY: A BETTER ARGUMENT
- Christians believe that a perfect God exists and therefore there are some things that are really good and evil regardless if people recognize it or not.
- The one true morally perfect God gave us instructions through the Bible on how to fulfill our lives as broken image-bearers and find our way back to completion.
- Part of God’s instruction deals with sexual intercourse and marriage.
- When we condone something God calls sin, (heterosexual intercourse before marriage, homosexual intercourse) we are basically telling God that He has it wrong. In this, we raise ourselves on pedestals to become the ones who judge the very standard of perfection (who gave us our very sense of justice). We de-god God and put ourselves on His throne.
- A righteous and perfect God has to look at this and correct us. “Uh, nope, you’re definitely not god. Sorry, that’s Me.” We become liars when we say we know more than the one who gave us knowledge. A righteous king cannot allow rebels planning to overthrow his kingdom to remain in his land. We are in God’s world. His ways are perfect. He IS justice. He does have His reasons for doing things and many can be explained, but it all stems from a fundamental understanding that God is good and He pours out His goodness on all of creation.
- Through our sin distorted lenses, we see God’s good things and make them out to be God. We build our identity out of sexuality, money, health, etc. These are good things intended to lead us to repentance but we have taken God’s stuff, used it imperfectly with our imperfect judgment and loved the stuff rather than the one who gave it!
- He saw this cosmological confusion and chose to come down to our level to bring us back to Himself because He loves us. This is the story of the gospel. Not that only some sinned, not that only some are out of the reach of God, but that God physically came down and reached out to us so that it would be possible that anyone who turns to Him can be brought back to completion in Him.
- As Christians, if we really believe that hell exists, then we would be the worst of all men if we refused to tell our friends the truth about sin.
- We should tell our friends not just about the danger of practicing homosexuality, but the danger of practicing ANY and ALL sin.
- All sin leads to hurt because it leads us away from God (The very source of all that is good).
Man is FREE. We can choose who we want to be! However, unless we find completion in God, we will always be broken image-bearers seeking meaning in meaningless things.
In regards to gay marriage laws, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a neutral standard. Either the majority of Americans determine the laws of the people, the minority determine the laws, or people choose to place themselves under the moral standard of God.
It probably won’t be the end of the world if gay marriage is recognized, but it is important to remember that Christians cannot give up their right to hold their belief that God’s ways are higher and better than man’s ways could ever imagine.
- Articulating Scientific Practice: Understanding Dean Hamer’s ‘‘Gay Gene’’ Study as Overlapping Material, Social and Rhetorical Registers -John A. Lynch
- Counterfeit gods - Timothy Keller
- “Is God a Moral Monster?” -Paul Copan
- “The Invention of Heterosexuality” -Jonathan Katz