This article contains the views of a Christian. This means I do not believe that all moral issues are simply relative and change with the culture. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we believe to be a historical fact, our views about who we are and how we are designed are rooted in the person of Christ. Jesus loved all people. When everyone else saw a prostitute, he saw a human being that was hurting. Instead of just pointing out all the things they did wrong, he loved them. It's called grace and all Christians should be quick to listen and slow to speak. I love my friends in the LGBT community, they are welcome in my home and in the church. I do not write this to be combative or hateful, I write it to help educate my Christian brothers and sisters on how to not fall for bad argumentation. If you have issues with this, know that it is not with me and my view point but with the revealed word of God, and you would need to show why your view of morality is more consistent and grounded then what I present. I do not think there is such a view, which is why I hold this one, though it has become culturally unpopular to have. I wrote this blog awhile ago but never posted it. But the entire world is having this conversation right now, and as a Christian I should not be afraid to lovingly instruct my brothers and sisters and attempt to add loving insight in a respectful manner. So here it goes….
I could not sleep last night as I was thinking about the recent incident at a Planet Fitness Gym. A woman had her gym membership canceled because she complained about a man in the woman's locker room. She was shocked to see this man in a place where women come to shower and change before and after a work out. She complained to the front desk, but they did nothing, so she goes back into the locker room and warns everyone that a man is present. Sounds like a rational thing to do right? No, not when that man claims that he identifies as a woman. You see, he was transgender, and his claim is that he feels like a woman on the inside so he believes he should be able to use the women's locker room, even though he is not physically or generically a woman. This worries me, what if I have a daughter some day, will she be able to go to the gym without fear of wondering if any man who simply claims to feel like a woman that day can enter into a place with women undressing?
What shocked me the most were the comments posted on this article. One read, “I always find it amusing that religious fundamentalists think bigotry and discrimination is the "moral" position.” So simply because this woman did not want a man in the woman's dressing room she is a bigot. So the left, that preaches tolerance and understanding, really only wants tolerance and understanding for it's ideas but if you disagree then you’re a bigot. In fact the majority of the comments were hateful and angry towards a religious viewpoint. Those preaching tolerance had no tolerance for any view but their own.
I'm not a bigot, lets get that out of the way right now. I tolerate people with different ideas but I do not have to tolerate all truth claims as equal, that would be moronic. I have gay friends and have had many conversations with them on the subject so I wanted to address this, not only as a pastor but as a person who has a mind to think rationally about the justifications behind the LGBT community. I have never, not once, heard a good justification for their cause. I have heard a lot of emotional stories, and our culture tends to argue by emotion instead of reason, but I learned a long time ago that my emotions do not determine truth.
Let me share the top justifications I have heard personally when it comes to this discussion. I usually try to avoid such “hot button” issues because people tend to feel attacked or get labeled homophobic any time these things come up, but I hope you hear my heart and not be so quick to label me as a hateful person simply because I disagree.
These are the 5 main arguments I hear.....
1. We were born this way.
Of all of the ones on the list, this one is the laziest. Have you ever met someone with a bad temper and they claim, “that's just the way I am” If your DNA determines sexual attraction, if you are simply hard wired in such a way from birth that you have no choice then that also applies to every other aspect of your personality as well. It removes free will because you are nothing more than a slave to your DNA, it's predetermined for you and you have no control. If LGBT sexual practices are justified as being healthy and natural because they were born that way, then what about the other sexual preferences our society still deems un healthy because they involve incest, polygamy or pedophiles? Both of these groups have advocates who claim that they are simply born that way as well. Well, if they are born that way, according to this popular argument, then we should not put them in jail, or be disgusted that 40 year old men are attracted to 10 year old girls, we should let them have parades, and remove all the laws that say people convicted of a crime can not live near schools, because that would be discrimination.
Before you think I'm comparing the two, I'm not. But if the same argument can also be used to justify pedophiles, then it might not be a sound argument. Also, if you think I'm being crazy and nobody would take it that far, your wrong, it already has been taken that far and since the gates are now open, every kind of sexual practice imaginable is fair game. I must also note, that there is no such thing as the “gay gene.” This has never been proven; in fact it has been disproven many times. Take for examples genetic Twins. If you have two brothers that are twins, they share the exact same genes. If one has blue eyes the other will have blue eyes. But research shows if one is Gay, in the majority of cases, the other is straight. This would not be possible if it was merely a matter of genetics. If your sexuality is something your just born with, then my disagreeing with that sexuality is something I'm just born with as well. This argument not only justifies Incest, it also justifies my position as well, making it the worst defense of a position imaginable because it makes both sides equally true.
2. People should be allowed to love whomever they want.
A theologian once attended a gay rights rally to see what was said. The woman speaking recognized him and began to tell a story directly to him. She said, “I was gone traveling, speaking at different events, when I arrived at home I found my partner had cooked my favorite meal. She hugged and kissed me and said she had also rented my favorite movie. We sat on the couch holding each other in a loving embrace, saying how much we cared for one another.” She closed this beautiful scene by looking right at the theologian and asked, “who are you to deny me this love?”
The man would appear to be caught in a difficult situation, but he simply responded by telling the exact same story but replacing the story with a bus driver and a young school boy. He told it in the exact same loving tone full of hopeful emotions, and then asked the speaker, “would you deny them their love?” She looked shocked and disgusted, and let him know, that is was completely different and what he just said was disgusting. He told her, “we all have lines that we believe should not be crossed. You think I'm a bigot because I disagree with your position but you, just as I, have a line of decency that we think should not be crossed. We both have a moral code that we live by, yours seems okay because it fits how you feel, mine however exist regardless of feelings and can combat indecency regardless of how strongly a person may feel it to be true”
Love is an emotional word, it's one of the strongest feelings a person can have. But what we feel to be true does not simply make something true. We can all think of different types of “love” that we would find immoral and indecent, we all have lines we think should not be crossed. Love is not the ultimate justification. I've done counseling many times with women who have been verbally or physically abused by a man, and when I ask why they stay with them they always respond, “Because I love him.” Theirs is a type of love that is unhealthy and destructive and we have lost the ability to tell the difference. I have heard emotional story after emotional story, when you can't make a rational argument for your case, just plead to emotions and people will buy into it. But I simply can't move my boundaries of what a healthy loving relationship looks like simply because someone has a strong feeling.
3. Homosexuality exist in nature.
I heard a story once about gay penguins. It is true that animals do often try and mate with another of the same sex. I'm not sure how this means that it is morally good for people to do since there is a long list of things that animals do that we consider immoral. Some animals kill and eat their mate after intercourse. We call that homicide. Animals force themselves on other animals all the time, we call that rape. So this argument is easily discredited unless that person is totally okay with rape and homicide.
4. I've always felt this way.
This argument is a reiteration of “born this way” argument but it's used often enough that I wanted to address it. There is no doubt that at a young age a person can develop sexual same sex attraction. Nobody knows all the factors that play into this, but I have my own list of ideas that is too long to share. I had a boss once who was openly gay. We would often talk about his lifestyle because I was trying hard to understand his view point. He had grown up in a religious home and knew the bible very well. I was shocked one day when he told me that he knew his lifestyle was wrong. My boss began to tell me things I had never heard before from a gay person. His story was that he had been sexually abused as a young kid. He told me that he knew that this is where his identity began to get confused. What was even more shocking was that he told me that, the “happy gay guy” persona that he wore was just a mask to hide his pain. He continued saying that a gay bar was one of the most depressing places you could ever go. Not because people acted sad, quiet the contrary, but that the majority of the people were hiding deep secret pains of abuse and addiction. (In fact the drug and alcohol addiction rate among the LGBT community is near 30% compared to only 9% of non LGBT.)
These were his words not mine. As time went on and I became friends with more and more gay people, I was shocked by how similar their stories were. I could honestly say that more than half of those that I know were sexually abused as children, and most of those that were willing to talk with me about it, told me that they believed this is why they pursued same sex relations. Of course, this does not account for everyone, there are those who have these feelings, who were never abused, and have been in a seemingly healthy relationship for long periods of time. So how do we account for their feelings? I can't account for them all, people are not so easily categorized and labeled. I do know however that society does play a large role. When I was young I was into gymnastics, and art and poetry. I was very in touch with my feelings and to this day I prefer listening to Sinead O'Connor over traditional “guy” music. Because of this when I was young people would call me gay and make fun of me. I can see very easily how a young kid in a similar situation who does not fit the traditional molds of male and female could get confused. I was lucky that I knew who I was and was comfortable enough in my own skin that these things did not have a harmful effect on me. But what about the kid who has a poor relationship with his dad, whose parents just slap the label gay on him because he is effeminate, is it really his choice or was it chosen for him by society.
I say all this because some of the ways we have always felt about ourselves, are really unhealthy. People can get told so often and for so long how they should be, that they begin to think that it who they are, and even believe it was their idea in the first place. Our feelings do not determine what is absolutely true.
5. When did you choose to be straight?
This is the one I hear the most lately, and honestly it is the most difficult to answer. There is a fundamental flaw in this argument called the myth of neutrality. The unconscious choosing of a moral position, does not justify the conscience choice of an immoral position. This argument dives head first into our deepest foundations of how and why we determine something to be moral or immoral. How does one tell what is natural and unnatural? Some children have a natural leaning towards selfishness but it is something that we try and train out of them. If selfishness is natural then should we not simply let them express that? This question is like asking someone “when did you choose to be generous.”
6. If you disagree it's simply because your a religions bigot and homophobic.
When all the other arguments fail, just call somebody a name. Label them as a hateful person, then you never have to listen to what they say. The idea that the woman at the planet fitness was somehow the villain in the story is just mind blowing. How dare she want to go to the ladies locker room and expect to find only ladies! There is so much pressure for those of us who disagree to just be quiet and conform that it truly bothers me. I do lots of weddings every year but because of my beliefs I will not do a gay wedding, I fear the day that I might be sued simply for my religious beliefs.
I wan to have rational healthy dialogue on the subject and I can love people without loving their ideas but even writing this article I admit I am afraid of the backlash that it will bring me. I do not hate my friends who are gay, I am not a homophobe, I just don't hear good reasons for their position and if I dare say something, it must be because I'm full of hate or some backwards country Christian who hasn't gotten with the times. I recognize propaganda when I see it. And whether through TV, books, celebrities or movies, the LGBT agenda is being crammed into he minds of Americans. All in the name of tolerance and civil rights but the minute we disagree and try to engage in conversation those at the forefront want to sue us and label us with ugly labels.
People will always seek to justify the way they live. I justify my sins just like anyone else does. But if morality is merely relative then my disagreeing is just as moral as their lifestyle choices and nobody has a right to disagree with anything. But there is a moral law that transcends social trends and fickle emotions. Love has been defined by the one who is Love. If your born gay then I am born disagreeing and the entire conversation is at a standstill. The church is full of adulterers and other sins and this is not the ultimate unforgivable sin but the turn our society is making is so dangerous yet disguised as compassion and understanding that it truly hurts my heart. At this very moment NAMBLA (north American man boy love association) is fighting for equal rights using all of the above arguments. Polygamy, incest, beastiality are all trying to squeeze through the door pried open in the name of civil rights. I think gay couples should get the same tax breaks, be able to see each other in the hospital the same as married couples, but I do not think everyone has to conform to their version of truth especially without a substantive debate. That would be the real height of intolerance and bigotry. I love my gay friends and wish no harm upon them. I can love the person without loving all their ideas. In our society disagreeing has been equated with hatred. This can not continue to exist in a society if there is ever to be healthy dialogue between two competing ideas.
Let me leave you with these words from God,
1 Corinthian 6:9-18
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[c]
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.