Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's wrong with gay rights?

Why do Evangelicals make such a big deal about gay rights? Granted, we think homosexual behavior is sin, but we don’t generally discriminate against other sinners like liars, or gossips, or even those who commit “deadly sins” like pride. In fact, Evangelicals have not launched any kind of massive campaigns against adultery or against unmarried people living together, so why all the hysteria against homosexuality?

If two loving people of the same sex want to get married, why should we stand in the way of their happiness? Why should we be the ones to deny them the benefits they can only get from marriage, like social security benefits granted to spouses, or tax-free inheritance? Isn’t that just mean spirited?

Besides, some people believe that the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality anyway. Who is to say one interpretation is better than another? But even if we do believe one interpretation over another, shouldn’t we exercise a bit of humility and acknowledge that we might just be wrong?

Maybe a gay protest sign sums it all up. It said, “How does my marriage hurt you?”

These are all good questions. I’m going offer a response in three areas: Political, medical and biblical.

Political

One reason we make such a big deal of homosexuality is because there is an element within the gay community that wants to take away our freedom of religion. A recent article in the New York Times, entitled, “A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage,” co-authored by a gay rights advocate admitted, “Yes, most gays are opposed to the idea that religious organizations could openly treat same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples differently” (David Blankenhorn & Jonathan Rauch, New York Times, February 21, 2009).

In other words, when sexual freedom and religious freedom clash, most gays want sexual freedom to trump freedom of religion, regardless of what the Constitution says! So what exactly does this “clash” look like?

In San Diego, a Christian doctor could not, in good conscience, artificially inseminate a lesbian patient. Even though she found a doctor who would do the job, she sued the Christian who was just following his religious convictions.

In Massachusetts, the Catholic Charities of Boston had been in business for about one hundred years. They specialized in adoptions for hard-to-place children. When Massachusetts passed laws requiring them to adopt to gay couples, they felt that they could not in good conscience, comply with the regulations and they were forced to close their doors.

One Massachusetts legislator, a Democrat (of course), was asked about religious liberty. His response was, “You have religious liberty; you have the religious liberty to go out of business.” (NRO, “Trading Civil Rights for Religious-Liberty Protection” by Maggie Gallagher, February 23, 2009).

In Georgia, a lesbian went to a licensed counselor seeking help on resolving a same-sex relationship problem. The counselor, a Christian, referred the client to another psychologist who was more sympathetic to same-sex relationships. The lesbian sued the Christian counselor and the counselor got fired.In Virginia, a lesbian asked a Christian-owned film and video lab to reproduce her pro-homosexual movies. The Christian’s conscience would not allow him to do so and he was sued.

In New Jersey a Christian organization sometimes rented its facilities for marriages. Their convictions, however, would not allow them to rent their private facilities for a same-sex civil union. A lesbian couple filed a civil rights complaint against them.

A homosexual man tried to sue Zondervan for $60 million dollars because the publishing house won't translate the Bible to support homosexual preferences.

The Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) would make it illegal for Christians in similar situations to follow their religious convictions. When people are forced by law to violate their religious convictions, we no longer have freedom of religion.

In California, Proposition 8 defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Opponents of traditional marriage sent threatening e-mails, vandalized churches, forced proposition 8 supporters out of their jobs, made abusive telephone calls and even death threats!

Hundreds of harassment cases have been documented, for example, Jose Nunez was just waiting after church services to distribute proposition 8 years signs when he was beaten by gay activists so badly that paramedics had to be called. The city of Chino Hills, California threatened voters of fines of $25.00 per day for putting up signs in their own yard which support Proposition 8.

After the defeat of Proposition 8, gay websites in California begin threats of violence against proposition 8 supports. For example, one message read, “Burn their f***ing churches, then tax charred timbers.”

Since the Mormon Church advocated strongly in favor of Proposition 8, another tolerant gay advocate wrote, "Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT." White powder was also sent to the Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City.

More recently, gay activists have created Google Maps with the names and addresses of those who supported traditional marriage in Proposition 8. The only purpose can be for harassment.

Why has no one raised the possibility of prosecution for hate crimes, or do hate crimes only apply to selected groups?

But it’s not just about Proposition 8.

A Baptist church in Montana was investigated by the state for showing a video on traditional marriage and urging members to support traditional marriage in an upcoming election. They had to get legal assistance.

In Michigan, Mount Hope Church was attacked by a homosexual anarchist group. The church was overwhelmed by gay people with condoms and propaganda. They draped an obscene banner over the balcony and shouted anti-Christian hate speech.

In San Francisco, transvestites stormed a Catholic Church service in progress and took communion.

The threats to freedom also affect colleges. For example, at William Paterson University a Muslim employee received an unsolicited e-mail promoting gay movies. He asked to be taken off the list and called such movies “perversions.”

For expressing his opinion, he was given a letter of reprimand for violating discrimination and harassment regulations. What happened to this Muslim’s freedom of religion and why wasn’t the one who sent the unsolicited e-mails which promoted gay movies charged with breaking sexual harassment regulations?

At Ohio State University, a librarian recommended a book called, The Marketing of Evil that exposed a deliberate and well organized strategy to promote homosexuality in America. Two gay faculty members filed sexual harassment charges against this librarian and he eventually ended up resigning because of harassment from other gay rights advocates on the faculty. Why hasn't the American Library Association complained of censorship?

At Missouri State University students were required to write letters to the Missouri legislature supporting adoption by same-sex couples. When a Christian student objected and asked for an alternative assignment, the professor filed a grievance against her. The student had to get legal help to defend herself from the harassment.

Threats to freedom also occur in K-12 schools. In Boston public school teachers were threatened with termination if they failed to portray homosexual marriage in a positive light. Notice, this is the government is telling teachers what position they must take on a controversial social and religious issue! What happened to Freedom of Speech?

A bill in California (SB 777) says, “No teacher”, “No textbook”, “No instructional materials”, and no school “sponsored activity” shall “reflecting adversely” upon persons because of their perceived gender or sexual orientation. Again, this is the government telling teachers what position they must take on a controversial social and religious issue! How can this possibly be constitutional?

(Documentation for the examples above can be found by clicking on “homosexuality” in the subject index to Recliner Commentaries).

So much for examples. After all, these are just isolated cases aren’t they? Why get so shook up over a few isolated cases?

The problem is that when recognition of homosexuality becomes part of official U.S. public policy it will have a deadly effect on freedom.

For example, in Massachusetts a couple complained when their second grader was forced to read a book about romance and marriage between two men. The school refused to let them opt out of the assignment. The case went to court.

A judge ruled that since gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts, in other words, it was public policy, the school had a duty to promote same sex marriage to children and had no obligation to let children opt out! In direct opposition to the Constitution, public policy was seen to trump freedom of religion.

When the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors did not have the right to refuse to perform artificial insemination on unmarried people (gay or straight), the court was saying in effect, that public policy trumps freedom of religion.

When recognition of homosexuality becomes part of official government public policy, for example, through passing of ENDA (Employment Non-discrimination Act) or the overturning of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), the above examples will become only the first trickle in a breaking dam.

But don’t take my word for it.

Anthony Piccarello, president of the Becket Fund which specializes in religious freedom cases, said “The impact will be severe and pervasive.” “This is going to effect every area of church-state relations.” Marc Stern, one of the attorneys for the American Jewish Congress said about the coming conflict between religious freedom and gay rights, “It’s going to be a train wreck.” “A very dangerous train wreck” (“Trading Civil Unions for Religious-Liberty Protection? NationalReviewOnline, February 23, 2009).

Medical

So why don’t Evangelicals just avoid this “train wreck” and give in? That leads to the second point: Medical.

Contrary to whatever hype you’ve heard in the media or by gay activists, about HIV/AIDS being just as much a heterosexual as homosexual disease, they are lying to you!

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once testified under oath in Congressional hearings that only about 4% of AIDS worldwide were due to heterosexual sex. In the U.S. only 2.3% come from heterosexual contact, but most of that is from partners of IV drug users (Coulter, Godless, 181).

Researcher Stuart Brody examined dozens of scientific studies on AIDS and concluded that AIDS was transmitted almost entirely through anal intercourse and IV drug use, almost never vaginally (Sex at Risk by Stuart Brody)

"Michael R. Bloomberg’s Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report acknowledges a 30.3 percent increase in syphilis cases in New York City, 'reflecting national trends.” The report said that "95 percent of the cases are male and a majority report having sex with other men."

As a result of what the CDC described as "acquired health risk behaviors," over five hundred thousand people in the United States have died from AIDS!

At the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Detroit, the executive director, Matt Foreman said, "Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi (sexual), we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease," “We have to own that and face up to that."

So what’s the point? The acronym GLBT (Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) was, not too long ago, amended by adding an additional letter: GLBTQ. The “Q” is “questioning.” It is aimed at encouraging young people to experiment and explore their sexual options. Maybe they’re gay and just don’t know it yet.

This “medical section” began with the question, “So why don’t Evangelicals just avoid this ‘train wreck’ and give in? The answer is, because it is hateful to encourage boys and teens to explore--and to encourage men to continue--lifestyles that lead to terrible sickness and horrible deaths!

For Evangelicals to give up, just because our very sick society tells us to shut up, would simply not be compassionate. We must speak out.

Biblical

I asked above, why don’t Evangelicals just avoid this “train wreck” and give in? We can’t! Even if we were to ignore the suffering that comes with the promotion of homosexual behavior, there is the matter of religious convictions.

People who are not religious, or who are not serious about their religion, often don’t seem to understand true religious conviction. The standards of non-religious people often seem to shift and change depending on changing contemporary values, the latest surveys, peer pressure, notions of political correctness, or gut feelings.

By contrast, asking those of us who are sincere about our religious faith to violate our religious convictions is asking us to rebel against our God as revealed in the Bible!

Evangelicals make such a big deal about homosexual behavior, therefore, because it is a big deal in the Bible.

In Leviticus 18, the prohibition against homosexual behavior occurs among sexual sins such as sex with one’s father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or even with animals! The text calls these behaviors “depravity” and “abomination” and says that the land of the Canaanites would “vomit out” its inhabitants for such behaviors. The writer intends his readers to understand that these sins are so vile that God even expects pagan nations to know better.

But that’s just Old Testament, right? No one follows all the Old Testament commands anymore—not even orthodox Jews or fundamentalist Christians. For example, we don’t advocate the stoning of Sabbath breakers, adulterers, or rebellious kids!

That is true, but rather than boring the reader with theological reasons for why we believe some commands are annulled and some are still valid, suffice it to say that Evangelicals do generally take seriously Old Testament prohibitions and commands that are repeated in the New Testament. And the prohibition against homosexual behavior is not only repeated, but strongly condemned in the New Testament: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

But these letters were all written by Paul and some gay rights advocates have responded saying that Paul was really just addressing the kind of sexual excesses exhibited by Emperors like Claudius or Nero, he was not addressing loving, committed homosexual couples.

First, this kind of textual-twisting is often done by religious compromisers who are trying desperately to bring the Bible in line with modern standards, but it would not be much comfort to most homosexuals. According to a Dutch study even “committed” homosexual couples have an average of eight sexual partners (outside of the relationship) per year” (FRC). Even if homosexual behavior were allowed in the Bible, multiple sexual partners clearly is not.

Second, it is not entirely clear why homosexual behavior should be wrong when an emperor does it, but not when an average person does it

Third, I wonder if those who argue this way would also like to treat adultery in the same manner, i.e. the New Testament prohibition against adultery was just against the excesses of the emperors but it was OK for the average person to commit adultery. (!)

If so, why not take the argument one step further. Since Paul also condemns murder in Romans 1, maybe he was just addressing the excesses of powerful emperors like the Caesars, but that murder could be a perfectly acceptable option by average citizens who think they are justified in killing someone.

Of course, this line of argumentation is absurd, but so it thinking that Paul was not condemning homosexual behavior. In fact, especially in Romans 1, it is hardly possible for Paul to have been any more clear in condemning homosexual behavior.

Generally speaking, the only ones who can’t see that are those who will not see it because they don’t want to see it; as in, “there are none so blind as those who will not see!

If you think that is too harsh, just ask yourself, why is it that in the entire 2000 year history of the church no one has ever interpreted Paul as allowing homosexual behavior until very recently when it has become a major political issue. Doesn’t that lead to the suspicion that purely ideological motives involved in the sudden re-interpretation?

Another argument used against opponents of homosexual behavior is that Jesus never condemned homosexuality. Some even take it to the next illogical step saying that Jesus, therefore, must have condoned homosexual behavior.

While it is true that Jesus never specifically condemned homosexuality by name, neither did he specifically condemn incest, pedophilia or bestiality by name. But he did condemn sexual immorality (Mark 7:21; Matthew 15:19).

As a first century Jewish Rabbi who strongly affirmed the authority of his Hebrew Bible (Matthew 5:17-18), sexual immorality was defined in terms of passages like Leviticus 18 and 20. Any attempt to take Jesus’ teaching against sexual immorality out of its Old Testament context is clearly ideologically motivated.

The fact is that there can be no serious doubt that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior.

This fact leads to the next question,

Why is the Bible so harsh on gays?

The answer is that the Bible is not just harsh on gays. It is harsh on all sex outside of the bounds of marriage: Adultery, pornea, pedophilia, bestiality, incest, fornication...

I suspect that the reason for this harshness is because sex is like fire: It can be a very good thing within limits, but when it gets out of control it can be very destructive.

The media never covers this destructive aspect of homosexuality. For example, I’ve read that 22-37% of homosexuals engage in painful or violent sex and that 10% of accidental deaths in San Francisco are the result of sadomasochistic sex which got out of control.

In San Francisco there is an annual public festival called the Folsom Street Fair. Last year it was advertised with a poster of the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples portrayed in leather sadomasochistic outfits with sex toys on the table. No one seemed to ask whether this constituted a hate crime against Christians!

The Folsom Street Fair is characterized by occasional public nudity—bare-breasted women, and men with their genitals exposed. Genital fondling, masturbation, and oral sex take place in full public view. There are public spankings, beatings and mock torture on crosses. The police look on passively, children are allowed to attend this event, and it is all apparently perfectly OK with Nancy Pelosi in whose district it occurs.

Another event which apparently occurs in various places around the country is called “Winter Wickedness.” A recent Winter Wickedness event offered numerous seminars and workshops including some on the topics of gangbanging, anal sex and enema play, erotic flogging, using a staple gun on ones partner (live demonstrations), and erotic fire-play (by Pyrosadist).

Even Winter Wickedness had it standards, however. Whipping, cutting, needle and fire-play were allowed in designated areas only. Gun-play, golden showers (urinating on someone or being urinated on), brown showers (defecating on, or being defecated on), and rainbow/roman showers (vomiting on or being vomited upon) were not allowed at this event. The very fact that they felt the need to publish this prohibition speaks volumes!

No real animals were allowed but if you wanted to have sex with a partner who was dressed as an animal that was fine. No one under 19 was allowed but having sex with someone who role-played as a child was apparently OK.

I assumed that this kind of extreme behavior must be characteristic of a very tiny mentally ill sub-group until I read that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (!) helped to produce a book which included tips on oral sex, masturbating other males and "safely" urinating on someone for sexual pleasure! The book was given to middle school and high school students.

The point is that if sex is not kept within bounds, like fire it can become extraordinarily destructive. I’m not sure how anyone can seriously try to deny that it is a form of mental illness when people get sexual pleasure from violence, mock torture, receiving or inflicting pain; or behaviors which involve vomiting, urinating or defecating on someone for sexual pleasure.

It is uncompassionate, to say the least, when political correctness causes society to turn its back on people who are suffering from such mental illness, especially when such mental illness can lead to horrible sickness and death!

Conclusion

I will conclude with three observations.

First, from my Evangelical Christian perspective, God loved gay people so much he sent his Son to die for them. How dare we as Evangelicals treat gay people with anything but love and compassion!

It should absolutely unheard of for Christians to verbally or physically abuse gay people. In fact, though I am not a particular fan of Rick Warren, he should be commended for all his work with AIDS patients. Far from mocking or ridiculing gay people, Christians should exhibit so much love and compassion toward them that it should be laughable when the charge of “hater” is leveled against us.

Second, even so, we must recognize that Freedom of Religion is under serious attack. If Christians do no stand up and fight to preserve religious freedom we will lose it.

Freedom of Religion will be increasingly re-defined in such a way that it applies only to private beliefs expressed in the confines of one’s home or place of worship. But when the government forces people to violate ones religious convictions, that is not freedom of religion and it is not the America for which our forefathers fought and died.

On a practical level, fighting for freedom of religion means,

1) pray hard,

2) educate yourself on the issues,

3) win back the House of Representatives in two years to offer some kind of check against an administration gone wild,

4) win back the presidency in four years and then

5) get a marriage amendment or a religious liberty amendment passed. We shouldn’t need a religious liberty amendment, but we apparently need something which makes clear that freedom of sex cannot trump freedom of religion.

The third and final observation is that a genuine “born-again” committed Christian who is also homosexual AND celibate, should be treated not with contempt, but as a hero of the faith!

While the Bible condemns homosexual behavior in the strongest possible terms, it condemns behavior, not orientation.

Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” That is behavior, not orientation.

Leviticus 20:12 says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” That is about behavior, not orientation.

Romans 1:26-27 says, “Men committed indecent acts with other men.” That is about behavior, not orientation.

First Corinthians 6:9-10 and First Timothy 1:9-10 speak of “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV). Other translations translate this differently but the Greek word in both cases is a compound word taken directly from the Greek translation (LXX) of Leviticus. It means “man-bedder” and is about behavior, not orientation.

Ahh, but some Christians will respond, what about the lust in same-sex attraction. Lust is not about behavior but Jesus makes it very clear that lust is sin (Matthew 5:27-28).

True enough. But attraction and lust are not necessarily the same thing. I’ve heard that Martin Luther once said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” You can’t necessarily control attraction, but you can, and must, control lust. That applies just as much to those of us who are heterosexual as it does to those who are homosexual.

The point is that there is nothing necessarily sinful about being a celibate “homosexual.” Homosexuals who remain celibate because of their faith, should not be treated with contempt, but should be supported and honored for their commitment to Christ.

5 comments:

Scotty B said...

I really enjoyed reading this. One thing that struck me about your blog is the fact that we've moved on from the common sense,'this is unnatural behavior' to the 'this is sinful behavior' argument. I think this is a sign that the homosexuals not only have their foot in the door, but they're renting out the spare bedroom. Ironically though, the most common sense argument is not allowed in our culture of acceptance. Men having sex with men or women with women is counter intuitive, counter productive, and a mistake in nature. I would go as far to say that those who continually practice homosexual behavior are suffering in the truest sense of a serious mental disorder. I don't say these things to be offensive, but to preserve the common sense part of this issue. I hope that sanity can raise it's head and put an end to this issue.

David said...

Thanks for your clear-headedness on such an intertangled topic, Dennis. Thoughtful. Well researched and documented. Biblical. Contemporary analysis. Thanks.

Jason said...

"On a practical level, fighting for freedom of religion means,

1) pray hard,

2) educate yourself on the issues,

3) win back the House of Representatives in two years to offer some kind of check against an administration gone wild,

4) win back the presidency in four years and then

5) get a marriage amendment or a religious liberty amendment passed. We shouldn’t need a religious liberty amendment, but we apparently need something which makes clear that freedom of sex cannot trump freedom of religion."

From a political standpoint, I think this is a good way to go. I think from a sociological standpoint, Christians need to be furthering the gospel more than ever by reaching out a hand to homosexuals in love, not in acceptance of their sinful acts, but by saying, "We don't hate you". The more they burn our churches and fight us and the more we turn the other cheek and individually show them love, that will put a "burning coal on their heads" and also be a shining light.

Robert van Wye said...

An excellent conclusion. This article accurately depicts what I have been struggling to explain to my secular friends for years. I applaud your work, sir.

Karin Smith said...

For example, in Massachusetts a couple complained when their second grader was forced to read a book about romance and marriage between two men. The school refused to let them opt out of the assignment. The case went to court.

A judge ruled that since gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts, in other words, it was public policy, the school had a duty to promote same sex marriage to children and had no obligation to let children opt out! In direct opposition to the Constitution, public policy was seen to trump freedom of religion.

so if the school required reading a book about people that believed smoking was good for you, the judge couldn't do anything about it because smoking is legal.