Arguing Against Homosexuality: A Response to Challenges
From a University of California Professor
The following is an email exchange between a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz and me, Jason Dulle. I was not the intended recipient of the email. The professor sent it to the students in a class he was teaching on the Gospel of Mark. One of those students forwarded the email to his pastor, who in turn forwarded it to me. The email (sent on April 30, 2003) was in response to a student's question concerning what Mark had to say about homosexuality. Having already clarified in a prior email that Mark speaks nothing concerning homosexuality the professor dedicated this email to the Bible's treatment of homosexuality. I took the liberty of responding to the professor's claims, but have received no reply to date. Please note that I have updated my reply to the professor on this web page as I have seen opportunity for improvements to be made.
Is the Bible Clear on the Issue of Homosexuality? · Jesus Did Not Condemn Homosexuality: So What? · The Sin of Sodom · Lot's Incestual Relationship With His Daughters · Condemnation and Punishment: It's Not a Package Deal · Does God Cause Homosexuality? · Christians are Not Homophobic · What it Means for Christians to be Opposed to Homosexuality · Homosexuality is Unnatural · The Argument From Evolution · The Argument From Health · The Argument From the Public Safety of Our Children · Conclusion
Scripture is not the ally Christian homophobes think it is. By Error!
It is difficult for people who are not part of the Christian Church to understand the power its members attribute to the Bible. That attribution appears to non-church goers to be so irrational and so excessive as to be almost inconceivable. After all, they reason, the Bible is an ancient book with its earliest narrative, the Yahwist document, being written around 1000 B.C.E. and its latest narrative, probably the 2nd Epistle of Peter, being written somewhere around 135 C.E. There is no other piece of literature written in that period of history which people today still treat as a source of ultimate truth. A doctor or pharmacist practicing medicine or dispensing drugs in our time based on either the writings of Aristotle or the formulas of an ancient medicine man would be laughed at first, and then if this activity were not stopped immediately, they would be accused of malpractice, removed from their professions and even imprisoned. While that harsh a treatment might not be the fate of a chemist, biologist, architect or astronomer who acted on the basis of the knowledge available in the time the Bible was written, such behavior would nonetheless be considered ignorant at best, mentally ill at worst.
Yet as strange as it might seem, the Bible continues to be quoted by 21st century Christians on a variety of issues as if this book somehow continues to hold literal truth and unchanging principles within its tissue thin pages. So deeply has this book been wrapped in the claims of divinely inspired inerrancy, that it acts like a wild card in current ethical debates.
No where is this more obvious than in the controversy over homosexuality that rocks the Christian Churches of the world today. Inerrant claims for biblical truth have been present in the official statements of the Vatican, in the reports and resolutions adopted at the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Bishops of the world in 1998, and in the rhetoric and votes that have marked almost all statewide, diocesan, synodical and national gatherings of various Christian traditions including both mainline protestant and fundamentalist churches. Again and again over the last twenty five years negativity toward gay and lesbian behavior has been justified by an appeal to something some Christians continue to call "biblical morality," and to assert that there is something called "clear biblical teaching. One wonders what those phrases mean.
"Clear biblical teaching" and "biblical morality" are not phrases of recent origin. They have been used in the debates over the centuries on a wide variety of issues. Yet when the smoke of battle over these ancient issues has cleared, it has always been the Christians, bruised and battered, but still clinging to their Bibles, who have been forced to slink away in defeat. But no matter how many times the "clear biblical teaching" has been shown to be dead wrong, the next new insight that challenges the patterns of the past goes through the same hostile process. Religious people do not seem to learn much from history. The Bible had to be proved wrong before the divine right of kings could be pushed aside and the Magna Carta accepted. It had to be defeated before Galileo's ideas about the non centrality of this planet in the universe could usher in the world of astronomy, and before Darwin's understanding of evolution could win the day. The clear teaching of the Bible also had to be overcome before slavery and segregation could be ended and before women could escape their second class status. In a remarkably similar pattern today, a major impediment to the quest for justice and the full acceptance for gay and lesbian people in the life of this society is the Bible, which is quoted over and over again to justify the homophobic prejudice that still so deeply infects our culture.
Homophobia is a prejudice largely created and sustained by the scriptures of the Judeo -Christian tradition. However, the Bible is destined to lose this fight also and homophobia will join the parade of other human and religious evils like racism, chauvinism, the condemnation of mentally ill people, left-handed people and anti-semitism as one more dark cloud in Christian history, a killing prejudice that endured far longer that it should have because it was supported by "the inerrant word of God."
But how accurate is the claim that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin? At best the record is ambivalent. There are seven biblical passages that are regularly cited by fundamentalist Christians and their fellow travelers to justify their condemnation of homosexuality. Three are in the Old Testament and four are in the New Testament. However, three of the four found in the New Testament are highly suspect and appear to refer to sexual anomalies such as temple prostitution, pederasty or forced sexual activity which are quite unrelated to homosexuality. So the biblical texts that actually condemn homosexuality as we today understand it, are only four in the entire Bible and none of them, interestingly enough, is found is the Gospels. According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. Given the all consuming nature of the current ecclesiastical debates on this issue that fact comes as a shock. Jesus does talk about those who are victims of prejudice like the Samaritans, and those who are marginalized and rejected like the lepers, but he never says a word about anyone's sexual orientation. Perhaps church leaders should contemplate the possibility that they are, as one man once suggested, "making much of that which cannot matter much to God."
When we turn to examine these four biblical proof texts, other insights develop. The first passage is found in the Book of Genesis, and relates the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. That narrative has given us the rather inelegant words sodomy, sodomite and sodomize. It is a strange story about ancient middle eastern hospitality laws and the right of the people of any town to harass and to violate sexually, any strangers to whom no fellow citizen has extended the protection of hospitality. This failure of hospitality left strangers at the mercy of the base elements of the city.
Humiliating an unprotected visitor by forcing him to act like a woman in the sex act, was the supreme insult in these cruel and insensitive days. That is the underlying reality described in this biblical episode. Lot, Abraham's nephew, gave his protection to two male visitors at the end of the day when preparations for sexual abuse had already begun. The men of Sodom were furious and sought to take their intended victims by force. It is interesting that every time this story is referred to in other texts of the Bible it is the sin of inhospitality not homosexuality that is its focus. The climax of the story comes when Lot is judged by God to be righteous and is thus spared when the city of Sodom is destroyed. Yet Lot, seeking to protect these male visitors , who were said in the text to be angels, from being violated, offered to make his two virgin daughters available to the mob to be gang raped. After all they were only women! Later in this same story the "righteous" Lot has sex with these same two daughters and impregnates them. I never hear this narrative quoted to affirm incest! Yet this strange biblical passage continues to be used to condemn homosexuality. Perhaps those who quote it in this manner might want to read the whole story!
Next there are two passages in the book of Leviticus which are part of the Torah. Leviticus 18 condemns a man for 'lying with a man as with a woman" and Leviticus 20 requires the death penalty for this offence. First, it needs to be noted that even John Paul II, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson, all of whom regularly condemn homosexuality as a sin condemned by scripture, refrain from calling for the death penalty as the punishment for this offence. They know that a campaign for the execution of homosexual people would not be tolerated so in a pattern of what might be called "selective literalism" this verse of the Bible is simply ignored.
Second, one wonders why several other Torah rules have been generally ignored while this one is elevated to the status of "the word of God." The Torah prescribes a kosher diet which fundamentalists today ignore. The Torah says that a person cannot make a garment of two different kinds of fabric. It says that those who worship a false god should be executed and so should those children who are disobedient and who talk back to their parents! It orders people to observe the Sabbath by refraining from all activity save worship on Saturday. It assumes that slavery is a legitimate social institution, while defining women as the property of men. A book containing this kind of dubious ethical teaching hardly seems to be a competent authority to be used to make moral judgements about homosexuality.
The premier New Testament passage condemning homosexuality is found in Romans 1 and is from the hand of Paul. It is the strangest of all the biblical arguments. Paul suggests in this passage that God will punish those people who do not worship God properly. The punishment will be that God will confuse their sexual identities so that men will lie with men and women with women. What a strange God! Thus saith the Lord; "If you don't worship me properly I will turn you into being gays and lesbians." I have a hard time imagining any one worshiping such a capricious and egocentric deity.
The other issue that this passage raises is, what is going on in Paul that he would offer such a weird argument? Is this an autobiographical note? Does it illumine those passages in Paul's other epistles where he exhibits his passion for proper worship, for advancing beyond all his peers in piety? But the pursuit of that thesis will have to wait for next month's column.
For now let me be clear. Quoting the Bible is not a legitimate argument to deploy in the current ecclesiastical and cultural debate on homosexuality. It is nothing more than an outdated and ignorant appeal to the prejudices of yesterday. It is an illegitimate and even a profane way to approach scripture. It does not illumine the complex issues of sexual orientation. This approach to the Bible should either cease forthwith or the Bible used in this manner should be relegated to the same dustbins of history where the text in the Book of Joshua, stopping the sun in the sky to prove that Galileo was wrong, now resides. Quoting the literal Bible in the service of one's prejudices must be named as incompetence even if it involves a proof text from "the world of God."
Let me introduce myself. My name is Jason Dulle. I am a Christian theologian. You sent an email to your students in regards to Christianity and homosexuality. One way or another your email made its way to me. Obviously the contents of your email were of great interest to me. I wished to make a reasoned response to your view. While I will address some of your specific claims, I will do so only briefly, for both the sake of time, and so that it does not detract from my main purpose in responding. That purpose is none other than to demonstrate that Christians' opposition to homosexuality, while supported by the Bible, is not dependent on, nor intrinsically connected to Biblical teaching. Even if the Bible were silent or neutral on the issue of homosexuality many Christians would still oppose homosexual behavior. I am fully persuaded that if we take a reasonable assessment of the societal implications of homosexual behavior alone, society in general (not just Christians or some other group motivated by religious concerns) would take a position against such behavior, or at least cease promoting it as an acceptable or alternate lifestyle. I would also like to clarify what it means for a Christian to be opposed to homosexuality.
Let me start by addressing your statements regarding the Bible and homosexuality. While I do not doubt that you felt your interpretation of Scripture was honest and valid, many of your points are based on a misunderstanding of Christian theology and a misapplication of Biblical hermeneutics.
Is the Bible Clear on the Issue of Homosexuality?
I perceived that part of your purpose was to demonstrate that the Bible is not clear on the issue of homosexuality. I would have to differ. The Law of Moses said, "You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22; c.f 20:13). The Old Testament (OT) also condemns "sodomites," which were male temple prostitutes (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7).
The NT is just as clear on this issue as is the OT. In the first chapter of Romans Paul wrote of the many evils mankind has engaged in while suppressing the knowledge of God that He has revealed to them (Romans 1:18-21), one of which was homosexuality. Paul plainly declared: "Because of this [the suppression of truth resulting in idolatry] God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1:26-27, NIV). Although homosexuality is not named as such here, the act of homosexuality is clearly described. It was in judgment that God allowed men and women to have sexual relations with the same sex, and they received in themselves their due punishment for such indecent acts.
While listing those who would not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul noted that homosexuals will not be saved: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10, NET).
Jesus Did Not Condemn Homosexuality: So What?
You said, "Jesus does talk about those who are victims of prejudice like the Samaritans, and those who are marginalized and rejected like the lepers, but he never says a word about anyone's sexual orientation. Perhaps church leaders should contemplate the possibility that they are, as one man once suggested, 'making much of that which cannot matter much to God.' " This argument fails on two grounds. First, the major premise of the argument is flawed. The argument in syllogistic form is as follows:
P1 Any issue Jesus is silent on must be morally acceptable
P2 Jesus is silent on the issue of homosexuality
Homosexuality is morally acceptable
Is it true that any issue Jesus did not speak to is to be considered morally acceptable? A cursory reflection on the notion reveals that this is not a true premise. Jesus did not speak to the issue of incest, rape, drug abuse, wife beating, and gay-bashing. Are we to conclude that these acts are morally good? Clearly not. We cannot determine the moral nature of an act by the mere observation that Jesus did not address the issue. Jesus did not speak to every moral issue there is to speak to. He spoke to those moral concerns that were relevant to his day, and homosexuality was not one of them. Of course Jesus said and did much more than what is recorded of Him in the Gospels, so it is possible that He might have commented on the issue but it was not recorded by the Evangelists because they did not deem it important to their theological and literary purposes. Whether it was Jesus' failure to address the issue of homosexuality, or the Evangelists' failure to record what He might have spoke concerning it, it speaks nothing concerning the morality of the act itself.
Secondly, from the Christian perspective what is moral or immoral is not based solely on what Jesus said or did not say. While we are very interested in what Jesus had to say, we use Scripture as a whole to determine how God feels about various moral issues. When we examine the whole of Scripture we find a very clear portrait of God's take on homosexuality.
This comprehensive approach to morality makes perfect sense within the Christian worldview for two reasons:
1. The Bible claims to be inspired by God. This means that every word in the Bible is equally authoritative. The teachings of one individual in one book cannot be given more weight than another individual's teaching in another book. Jesus' words hold no more authority than Paul's or Moses'
2. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. The same God who spoke in the OT is the same God who became man in the face of Jesus Christ. It would be a mistake, then, to argue that since Jesus did not speak against homosexuality that God is not concerned with the issue, for it is clear that God did speak to the issue.
The Sin of Sodom
In regards to the sin of Sodom you said, "It is interesting that every time this story is referred to in other texts of the Bible it is the sin of inhospitality not homosexuality that is its focus." I would be interested to see the evidence supporting this notion, because I am not aware of any. While it is true that Sodom was not judged only for its immorality (Ezekiel 16:49-50), from the Biblical narrative it is clearly the main reason. Jude 7, for one, makes it clear that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sexual perversion. The focus of the Genesis narrative is their sexual perversion as well.
Besides, the inhospitality that the men of Sodom exhibited toward the visiting angels could not have been the cause of their destruction because God had determined to destroy Sodom prior to this incident.
Furthermore, while Biblical scholars and historians recognize that inhospitality was much more serious in the Ancient Near East than it is to Westerners today, do we really believe that God would destroy two whole cities for having bad manners? What could explain God's execution of mass capital punishment on these people? Amazingly enough we find in Leviticus 20:13 that homosexuality was deserving of the death penalty. There is no prohibition in the OT against inhospitality, yet alone death as a prescribed form of judgment against it. The argument of inhospitality is further weakened by the fact that the inhospitality of the Sodomites is only implied in Genesis 19. The only thing explicitly stated in the text is the Sodomites' homosexual behavior. It would only make sense that this was made explicit to highlight why it was that God had determined to destroy these wicked cities.
Lot's Incestual Relationship With His Daughters
Speaking of Lot's sexual intercourse with his daughters after having left Sodom you said, "I never hear this narrative quoted to affirm incest!" Two things can be pointed out. First, the daughters intoxicated him prior to the act (Genesis 19:30-38). They did so because they knew he would not submit to such acts in his right mind. Whether or not he had passed out prior to the intercourse or was just so drunk that he did not care what was happening, it is clear that it was not a "sober" choice on the part of Lot.
The second point that needs to be made is the nature of Scripture. The Bible is a book of history. It records the acts of God and the acts of men. When it records the acts of men it records both the evil and the good. The mere record of evil acts is by no means a condoning of such acts. Rather, we often find those acts condemned. Within the context of the story you are referencing, the author made mention of the evil deed because the children born to Lot's daughters were the fathers of two evil nations. Exposing the evil origins of the two nations further implicates them as evil.
Condemnation and Punishment: It's Not a Package Deal
You argued that if Christians wish to take the Old Testament condemnation of homosexuality seriously, they also need to take its prescription for punishment seriously: death. The fact that Christians do not believe homosexuals ought to be put to death indicates that we do not consider the Biblical teaching on homosexuality to be entirely authoritative, and thus have no basis on which to say that the condemnation of homosexuality is authoritative either. I believe that is the gist of your argument.
This argument fails on two grounds: logical, Biblical. From a logical perspective, at best such a point would only demonstrate that Christians are inconsistent in their application of the Biblical teaching. The real problem, however, is Biblical.
Without getting into an exposition of Scripture, the Bible is clear that the Mosaic Covenant (in which the laws you referenced are found) has been replaced by the New Covenant (See "The Law: The Misunderstood Covenant," "The Inferiority of the Law to the New Covenant in Galatians," "Hebrews 7:12-Changed or Abolished?"). While there are some similarities between the two covenants, this is not one of them. The Law of Moses was a contract between God and Israel to govern their life in the land of Canaan, both spiritually and politically (a theocratic kingdom). The New Covenant serves an entirely different purpose. The New Covenant governs our spirituality, not our politics. While the New Testament is clear that God has ordained human government to punish evil and commend the good (Romans 13:1-7) it does not speak to how that punishment ought to be carried out for particular moral crimes, or the degree of punishment. It would seem that those decisions are given to the state. It is clear, however, that under the New Covenant sins are not punished in the same way they were under the Mosaic Covenant because the New Covenant is a spiritual, not a political-social covenant.
It would be a mistake, then, to say that Christians are not obeying their own Scripture, or being arbitrary in what parts of the Bible they keep. Each passage of Scripture must be evaluated within its historical and covenantal context, and be applied appropriately. Not all commands in Scripture apply equally for all people and all times (but are specific to a covenant), whereas others do. For example, while I am not obligated to build an ark, I am obligated to abstain from murder. Christians do not believe in exercising capital punishment for homosexuality because we are not under the covenant that once prescribed such a punishment. Christians are not ignoring those Old Testament passages, but are properly interpreting them within their context and applying them appropriately. The same goes for the dietary laws, and the garment laws you referenced (Romans 14:1-7, 20; See Galatians 3:19-26; 4:8-12; Colossians 2:14-17).
Does God Cause Homosexuality?
You said, "The punishment will be that God will confuse their sexual identities so that men will lie with men and women with women. What a strange God!" You were referencing Romans 1:24-28:
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones 1:27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.
When it says that "God gave them over" in verses 24 and 26 it is not saying that God makes them do something by confusing their sexual identities. God does not make them do anything. The Greek word translated "gave over" is paradidomai. It refers to God's handing them over to their desires. The NIV makes this clear: "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." Whereas God was once restraining them from exercising their sinful desires He ceased doing so, releasing them to indulge in what they willed. Nowhere does the text indicate that God caused such behavior, purposely confusing their sexual identities.
Christians Are Not Homophobic
You said, "In a remarkably similar pattern today, a major impediment to the quest for justice and the full acceptance for gay and lesbian people in the life of this society is the Bible, which is quoted over and over again to justify the homophobic prejudice that still so deeply infects our culture. Homophobia is a prejudice largely created and sustained by the scriptures of the Judeo -Christian tradition."
I object to your use of the word “homophobic” to describe those who do not think—as you do—that homosex is morally benign. This is an ad hominem argument that amounts to little more than name calling. You label your ideological opponents with a distasteful name so as to discredit their position before it is ever heard.
In addition to the fallacious nature of your argument, the charge itself is false. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Those who suffer from arachnophobia have an irrational fear of spiders; those who suffer from claustrophobia have an irrational fear of small spaces. Would it be accurate, however, to describe those who have moral qualms against homosex as having an irrational fear of homosex or homosexual persons?
In all my years of trafficking among people who are morally opposed to homosex, I have yet to meet a single individual who is genuinely fearful of homosex and/or homosexual persons. While such individuals may exist, surely their numbers are exceedingly small, and thus they should not be used to characterize opponents of homosex generally. Those who oppose homosex do not do so out of fear, but out of a sense of moral disapproval and/or personal revulsion to homosex. This is the same basis on which most homosexuals would oppose incest and pedophilia. In the same way that their opposition to these sexual practices should not be labeled incestophobic and pedophiliophobic, those who oppose homosex on moral or personal grounds should not be labeled homophobic. It is a misuse of language.
Indeed, I can’t think of any other morally debatable behavior in which those who oppose the behavior are said to have a phobia (or to be guilty of “hate”). Many people have moral or personal qualms against drug use, adultery, and polygamy. Would we label such individuals drugophobes, adulterophobes, or polygamophobes, or say they are driven by hate? Clearly not. Objecting to a particular behavior for moral, social, practical, or personal reasons does not make one fearful/hateful of that behavior or those who participate in it.
While those of your persuasion may not like the fact that others do not adopt your point of view, distorting our view and calling us names will not persuade any one, nor help advance the debate.
What it Means For Christians to be Opposed to Homosexuality
Before I address the societal reasons Christians object to homosexuality I wish to make it clear as to what the Christian position is pertaining to how we believe homosexual individuals ought to be treated in society. While Christians believe the homosexual behavior is a perversion and social menace, we are not against homosexual persons themselves. All people are valuable in the sight of God. They do not lose their value because of any particular sin.
It is common to hear Christians say "We love the sinner but hate the sin." While some see this as meaningless semantics thinking that it is impossible to separate the two, we all experience this sort of differentiation in ourselves. Each one of us has had innumerable experiences where we have done or said something we regret or feel guilt concerning, and yet still manage to love and respect ourselves (i.e. not wishing ill to ourselves). While Christians respect homosexuals as human beings, we do not condone or accept their behavior as morally benign.
In summary, there is a difference between our position as to the moral nature of homosexuality, and our personal feelings towards homosexuals. Personally I have several friends who are homosexual. While they know I do not approve of their lifestyle, they also know that I accept their person with love, treating them the same as I treat heterosexuals.
I will now turn to my argument as to why a civil and sensible society would not want to promote or uncritically accept homosexual behavior from its citizens.
An Argument Against Homosexuality
Homosexuality is Unnatural
To say something is "natural" or "unnatural" in the moral sense is a commentary on natural function, not natural behavior (behavior that we observe in the natural world). An argument against homosexuality on the grounds that it is unnatural, then, is an argument based on natural law, not the great outdoors. Homosexuality is unnatural, not because it is absent from the natural world, but because it repudiates the natural purpose of our sexuality in favor of a self-made purpose.
Natural law entails the idea that our various physical and psychological capacities are intended "for" particular purposes. Once we determine what those purposes are we have a basis for determining what behaviors are virtuous and which behaviors are not; "which actions will tend to help us to realize our ends and which will tend to keep us from doing so." [Edward Feser, "Natural Ends and Natural Law"; available from http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/001518.html#more; Internet; accessed 25 May 2005.]
Natural law argues against homosex. Our bodily orifices have certain natural functions. Some orifices are naturally bi-directional. The nose is meant to breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. The vagina's natural purpose is to receive a penis, as well as expel a child. Other orifices are naturally uni-directional. The mouth's natural purpose is to take in food. The ear's natural purpose is to receive sound waves. The natural purpose of a male urethra is to expel urine and semen. Likewise, the only natural purpose of the anus is to excrete feces from the body. It is not intended to receive a penis. While a man's penis can be made to fit into several orifices, its intended use is made clear by what it emits: semen. The sole purpose of semen is to create a new human being. This purpose can only be fulfilled when joined with a female egg, and such a meeting can only occur when the penis is inside a vagina, and that requires heterosex. Homosex ignores the natural purpose of the penis and anus, and is thus unnatural.
Some might object that while heterosex alone fulfills the natural purpose of our sexual organs, the fact remains that some people still have a strong desire for homosex. This is a true assessment, but it does nothing to undermine the argument from nature. Indeed, it reinforces the conclusion that homosex is unnatural. After all, if one's sexual organ is intended to function one way, and yet they are psychologically incapable of using it for it's intended purpose, shouldn't this clue us into the fact that something is wrong with their sexual desires (since their sexual organs function properly)? When one's desires do not match the hardware afforded them by nature, the problem is not with the hardware, but with the desires. This observation alone ought to clue us in to the fact that homosexuality is not natural, nor is it "normal." Homosexuality is a perversion of the body's natural function. Edward Feser echoed these thoughts when he wrote:
What makes a certain act "natural" has everything to do with whether it in fact involves using a capacity in a way consistent with its natural function or purpose, and nothing necessarily to do with whether or not someone has, for whatever reason, a strong desire to use it that way or some other way. It follows that whether or not someone has, for example, a genetic predisposition to want to engage in homosexual acts is, from the point of view of traditional natural law theory, completely irrelevant to whether such a desire is "natural" in the sense in question, and thus completely irrelevant to the issue of whether such acts are moral or immoral. Edward Feser, ["Natural Ends and Natural Law"; available from http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/001518.html#more; Internet; accessed 25 May 2005.]
Our bodies were made to function in a specific way. Men were not made to function sexually with men, nor women with women, but rather men were made to function sexually with women. While a man's penis can be made to fit into several human orifices, it is clear as to which orifice it is intended to be used with when we consider the substance emitted by the penis upon orgasm: semen. Semen has only one purpose: to create new life. This purpose can only be fulfilled when it is mixed with a female egg, and such a meeting can only occur while the penis is inside a vagina. A male penis is designed to function with a woman, period. That is natural. Homosexuality is unnatural because it abandons the natural function of the human body. Even homosexual activists are honest about the fact that homosexuality is not natural, or normal. Lesbian activist Camille Paglia, for example, offered the following observations:
"Homosexuality is not 'normal' On the contrary it is a challenge to the norm...Nature exists whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction...No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous...homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait...." (www.narth.com/docs/innate.html)
To be "unnatural" requires more than simply using something in a way other than what it was intended for; for something to be unnatural requires that we use it in a way that is contrary to, or frustrates its natural purpose. There is only one natural purpose of human sex organs, and that purpose demands heterosexual sex. Homosexual sex does not compliment that purpose, but rather frustrates it and prevents it from being realized.
The Argument from Evolution
The theory of evolution argues against homosexuality as well. On an evolutionary worldview "good" is whatever helps an organism survive and pass on its genes to the next generation, and the "bad" is whatever hinders or prevents the same. The homosexual lifestyle is an evolutionary dead-end, and thus it follows that homosex is bad. While I would disagree with the following assessment, from an evolutionary point of view it would even follow that homosexuals are inferior members of the human species. Their sexual desires and behavior make them less fit to survive. It is pure cognitive dissonance to espouse to evolutionary theory, and yet maintain the equality of homosex to heterosex.
The Argument from Health
I am persuaded that we should be disapproving of homosexual behavior for health reasons as well. Simply put, homosexual activity produces a health risk to society. As a society we have the duty to campaign against behaviors that destroy individual lives and the lives of others. The Gay Report (homosexual researchers) surveyed the sexual habits of homosexuals and discovered that 99% had engaged in oral sex; 91% had engaged in anal intercourse; 83% engaged in rimming (mouth to anus contact); 22% had fisted their sex partners; 23% admitted to golden showers (urinating on a sex partner); 76% admitted to group or public sex; 4% admitted ingesting feces. These behaviors are breeding grounds for a whole variety of serious intestinal parasites, viruses, and bacteria known collectively as 'Gay Bowel Syndrome.' In addition to these intestinal diseases, homosexual males are also at high risk for anal cancer. Dr. Stephen E. Goldstone, the medical director of Gay Health.com says that 68% of HIV-positive and 45% of HIV-negative homosexual men have abnormal or precancerous anal cells.
Other reports bear out the same sort of conclusions:
Professor Joel Palefsky at the University of California, San Francisco clinical research center says that active homosexual men have a 37-fold increased risk (35 per 100,00) of developing anal cancer than heterosexual men (.8 per 100,000). Homosexuals with HIV develop anal cancer at a rate of 59.4 per 100,000. [See "Diagnosis and Management of Anal Cancer"; available from http://www.analcancerinfo.ucsf.edu/cancer/index.html; Internet; accessed 30 May 2008. See also Judith A. Abert, M.D., "Effect of HAART on Incidence of Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia Grade 3 Among HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex With Men"; available from http://www.thebody.com/content/art16413.html; Internet; accessed 30 May 2008. See also Pragna Patel, MD, MPH; Debra L. Hanson, MS; Patrick S. Sullivan, DVM, PhD; Richard M. Novak, MD; Anne C. Moorman, BSN, MPH; Tony C. Tong, MS; Scott D. Holmberg, MD, MPH; and John T. Brooks, MD, "Incidence of Types of Cancer among HIV-Infected Persons Compared with the General Population in the United States, 1992-2003," in Annals of Internal Medicine, 148:10, pp. 728-736, published May 20, 2008; available from http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/148/10/728; Internet; accessed 30 May 2008. ]
The Centers for Disease Control reports that of the approximately 40,000 new cases of HIV infections eported each year, male homosexuals account for 72%, heterosexuals 15%, and heterosexual drug users 13% of that number. [See "HIV/AIDS Among Men Who Have Sex with Men"; available from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/resources/factsheets/msm.htm; Internet; accessed 30 May 2008.]
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 'HIV/AIDS Statistics" fact sheet notes that 60% of all new HIV infections are homosexual men; 25% through injecting drugs; and 15% through heterosexual sex. These statistics alone should be sufficient reason to discourage homosex. These relationships are breeding grounds for diseases and death." (This information has been quoted from http://22.214.171.124/tvc1/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=getit&lid=22)
In light of the above, why should we consider homosexuality as socially and/or morally equal to heterosexulity? Homosex is unnatural, contrary to evolution, and increases the risk of disease. Society ought to be concerned about homosex, not for religious reasons, but secular reasons. The only reason I can see to promote homosexual behavior is either ignorance of its social ramifications, or because one confuses a condemnation of homosexual behavior with a condemnation of the homosexual persons themselves.
Contrary to your stated opinion, I am persuaded that the Bible is right on this one. While its teachings may be old, they are still relevant to society. I believe they are still relevant because they are of divine origin, unlike the ancient records of astronomers, chemists, and biologists. On the issue of homosexuality, rather than being bruised and battered and yet still clinging to our Bibles, Christians can be confident of their position, knowing that the social sciences have demonstrated the evils of homosex —evils which the Bible spoke against thousands of years ago.
Dialogue With a Homosexual
Homosexuality and the Bible
The Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Who Has the Burden of Proof?
"I Now Pronounce You Man and Man?": An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
What Single-Parenting Can Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting
Arguing Against Homosexuality
What is the Definition of the "Definition" of Marriage?
Marriage by Any Other Name is Still Marriage
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