If the only theology you ever do is reactionary than it is likely not to be very healthy. Nonetheless, even healthy theology must at times explain both what it does and doesn’t believe. There is a place for both affirmations and denials in the church. It’s appropriate then, when writing a Theology of Sex, to spend some time responding to Pro-Gay Theology. Here I want to focus specifically on three Pro-Gay arguments about homosexuality, and then turn to the specific Scriptural texts in another post.
Thesis #1: The Bible Knows Nothing Of Sexual Orientation As We Understand It Today. It has often been asserted by pro-gay theologians that the Biblical writers, when they speak against same-sex sexual activity, do not have in mind monogamous, loving, relationships between same-sex partners. They understood all men and women to be heterosexual, and therefore when they write against “homosexuality” they are a writing against heterosexual men who perform acts against their natural design. But today, we understand the concept of sexual orientation. Because of this gap in the knowledge of the Biblical writers, it is argued, we cannot accept that the Bible itself is a sufficient guide on matters of sexuality.
Response: There are a couple of major assumption that need to be addressed in this first thesis. For starters, such a thesis makes assumptions about the writers of Scripture. Certainly the language of “sexual orientation” is a modern phenomenon, but the concept itself may be very old. Homosexuality has existed through many ancient cultures. Robert Gagnon gives evidence that in many ways the Jewish religion was one of the ancient cultural exceptions when it rejected and refused to tolerate any form of same-sex intercourse. Surely the idea of proclivity towards homosexuality is not novel. But nonetheless, this argument also assumes that orientation makes the commands of God null and void. As if one’s natural proclivity dictates whether or not one has to obey God. Joe Dallas wonders, “If orientation justifies sexual behavior, why stop at homosexuality” (The Gay Gospel?, 162)? Scientific studies suggest that there may be natural orientations toward drunkenness and violence, but surely we would not justify those indulgences. The Scriptures tell us that the Bible itself is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). We have to believe that God, as their author, knew about orientation and oversaw the writing of these commands nonetheless.
Thesis #2: I Was Born Gay. Many Christians will contend that homosexuality is always a choice. I don’t believe that this is true. I know many a gay man who wished for many years not to be attracted to other men. And even after intense seasons of prayer experienced no change. Based on this reality many men and women have concluded that God made them this way. They were born gay or lesbian and thus, it is argued, their homosexuality is affirmed by God.
Response: in many ways the response to thesis #2 is similar to #1. Both assume that natural proclivity is evidence of God’s affirmation. But people are born with all sorts of natural desires. Humanity is fallen in sin (Gen. 3) and as a result our very nature, both physically and spiritually, is corrupted by sin (Psalm 51:5; Rom. 5:12). We cannot assume, then, that just because we are naturally drawn to something that it is God-approved. The Christian is constantly fighting against natural desires in order to become more like Christ, that is a spiritual process of being changed and transformed. Natural does not equal righteous.
Thesis #3: Love Can Never Be Wrong. The real crux of GLBT theological arguments revolves around the concept of love. It is often pointed out that the Bible teaches and upholds love as the highest ideal, and that the “homosexuality” described in Scripture is not directed at same-sex monogamous, loving, healthy relationships. How, it is asked, can love ever be wrong?
Response: This is an absolutely fair question to ask, and in a culture where love is the ultimate determiner of ethics it strikes me as an obvious one to ask. But for the believer who affirms the holiness and inerrancy of God’s Word, we have to submit to God’s authority. And Scripture asserts that love has boundaries placed upon it. Jesus tells us that any love that supersedes love for him is wrong (Mat. 10:37), and King Solomon, though he “loved many foreign women” was led astray by his love into idolatry (1 Kings 11:3-4). Love is not the ultimate authority on matters of sexual ethics, God is. As Creator of sexuality he has every right to define its boundaries and we who love Him must submit to His authority.
This is not easy to write, and I know for some of my friends it is harder to read. I want to do my best to be respectful and loving to my gay and lesbian friends, but I also want to submit my sexual ethics to the Scriptures. It’s sometimes difficult to do both. If I have failed in that I would encourage my friends to go back and read these two earlier posts. May God give us all grace to move forward in healthy discussion.