Straight Talk about Homosexuality
By Reed Benson
As most readers have heard by now, the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell vs. Hodges has declared that the Constitution protects the right of homosexual marriage. This decision is so deeply flawed, both intuitively to anyone with common sense and on its technical merits to the scholars among us, that to form a rebuttal is like debating a fool: a hundred reasons will not suffice (Proverbs 17:10). Nonetheless, their decision is not surprising given that polls show that most Americans agree with the high court, itself a fact that reveals the spiritual and intellectual blight that has gripped this nation.
So with the issue of homosexuality once again pressed upon us, it is an appropriate time for all of us to take stock of what we know of it and what the Bible teaches. As defenders of Jesus Christ, the Holy Scriptures, and what are often called traditional moral values, we must gird up our loins for a battle for which we did not ask but one from which we dare not shrink. The following questions help frame the exploration of this topic.
What Is a Homosexual?
A homosexual is someone who is suffering an acute spiritual affliction that permeates the mind, creating a physical compulsion for sexual relations with someone of the same gender. A compulsion is an irresistible impulse formed from repeated bad decisions of the past. Homosexuality is not really a mental illness, it is certainly not a genetically predestined condition, and, of course, it is not normal. At its root, it is a spiritual void; thus, only to the degree that a homosexual's relationship with God is restored is the measure to which this condition can be permanently remedied.
That is why formerly Christian nations that disconnect from their spiritual roots always experience a powerful upsurge in homosexuality, as we have witnessed in the United States.
Of course, definitions can change and be manipulated, but for our purposes there are two distinct categories of homosexuals: First, a homosexual is a person who has feelings of sexual attraction for someone of the same gender but does not act upon them. Such people do exist. In some cases they are ashamed of their homosexual impulses, wish they were not present, and would eagerly leave them behind if they knew how to do so. Others are proud of their same gender attraction, but for one reason or another still choose not to act upon their inclinations, referring to themselves as celibate homosexuals.
Second, a homosexual is a person who engages in sexual activity with someone of the same gender. Virtually all homosexuals do eventually slip into the second category unless they choose to get treatment that helps them overcome and leave behind their same-gender sexual attraction. Although homosexuality often involves free-will choices, leaving the homosexual lifestyle is difficult and infrequent because it is more than a choice, more than a habit. It is a compulsion—a psychological addiction that has tentacles rooted in a person’s spiritual core.
Does the Bible Condemn Homosexual Attraction?
Yes, much like it condemns lusting in one's heart for another man's wife, or coveting a sports car belonging to someone else. But the Bible does not enact any civil penalty upon homosexual attraction alone, for it is a sin of the heart and is a consequence of a sickness of the soul. It is far less ubiquitous than coveting someone else's property or casting a longing eye upon a beautiful woman, and for that we can be thankful. Homosexual attraction is indeed an exceedingly grave problem of the soul that if left un-addressed and without repentance leads to homosexual behavior, a threshold of utmost gravity and reprobation. Nonetheless, homosexual attraction, if never acted upon, remains a secret sin of the heart and is not punished any more than any other private sin.
Does the Bible Condemn Homosexual Behavior?
It most certainly does, and the Old Testament civil punishment was severe. Under Mosaic Law, male homosexual activity was a capital crime: "If a man lie also with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). Later, male homosexual activity was again condemned in the Mosaic Code, and this time lesbian behavior is also implied as forbidden: "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). The words sodomite and dog are Hebrew euphemisms for male homosexuals. The abhorrence that Old Testament Scripture placed upon the act of homosexuality was illustrated when several kings of ancient Israel, namely Asa and Jehoshophat, eradicated male homosexuals in Baal temple worship. God commended both monarchs for this action.
Some mistakenly believe that the New Testament is tolerant of homosexual behavior. This is patently false. Paul condemns both male and female homosexuals: "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet . . . Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:24-27,32). As one can see, Paul does not soften this sin, but refers to it as a "vile affection," stating that it is "against nature" and is "worthy of death." Paul does not seek to impose a civil punishment upon those to whom he refers in Romans, but that is because Paul is not a civil magistrate and has no power to act as one. Thus, he is limited to a plain denunciation of this sin and identification of the grave spiritual danger it represents. Homosexuality, acted upon and defended as acceptable, will surely keep one from inheriting eternal life, as Paul's makes clear in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Among the other serious sins he lists are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind," descriptive terms for homosexuals. As we shall see later, the kingdom of God will not include any souls who did not fully and utterly repent of all homosexual actions and proclivities. Sadly, the pathology of this abominable sin makes repentance among them infrequent, for they have an exceedingly long spiritual and emotional distance to backtrack.
Is Homosexual Behavior Worse than Other Sins?
While God hates all sin, and all sin requires repentance, there are two points worth noting. First, homosexual acts are among a small handful of civil crimes in the Mosaic Law including murder, adultery, and witchcraft that are capital. The consequences in this world are greater for homosexual acts than a host of other sins such a lying, breaking a dietary law, or coveting. Second, true repentance involves both genuine remorse and an abiding commitment to no longer engage in that sin. For homosexuality, it is a long and arduous road back to that which is right. Because of the deep moral depravity and the compulsive nature of this particular sin, it is difficult to abandon, thus literally making it more difficult to repent. And without true repentance, no one can enter the Kingdom of God.
Is Homosexual Attraction Innate? Is Someone Born That Way?
No. A cluster of non-genetic factors influences the development of this unnatural attraction. If it were based only on a genetic sequence in the DNA, it would have disappeared long ago, since most homosexuals never have offspring. As Dr. Neil Risch stated in a 1993 article entitled "Male Sexual Orientation and Genetic Evidence" in Science magazine, "One would expect that the role of a major gene in male homosexual orientation to be limited because of the strong selective pressures against such a gene. It is unlikely that a major gene underlying such a common trait could persist over time." Several studies have traced identical twins to determine if there is an increased likelihood that if one claims homosexual attraction as an adult, the other will also. For homosexual attraction to be genetically determined, a correlation rate of near 100% should be expected. One study found it to be 25%, if the identical twins were raised together. The only study done in which the identical twins were separated at birth found a correlation rate of 0%. Interestingly, a study of non-genetic adoptive brothers actually has a higher rate of 11%. (Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 88-90). These facts suggest that environmental and cultural factors are far greater than any genetic predisposition.
What are the Environmental and Cultural Factors that Encourage the Development of Homosexual Attraction?
This is not an exhaustive list, but the following factors have been proven to be significant underlying contributors to homosexual attraction in a youth:
1. Emotional mismatch between child and parent. This often occurs when a boy is not viewed as sufficiently masculine in the eyes of his father, and the youngster feels rejected. Similarly, a girl suffering rejection by her mother may fit this profile. A boy with an overly dominant or overprotective mother can develop elements of confused gender roles.
2. Lack of male role models in the life of a child. This is particularly the case among many male homosexuals. The unavailability of masculine traits, responses, and interactive patterns of behavior can leave a boy with an emotional and social vacuum into which homosexual proclivities are poured. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, author of Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, writes that homosexuality is "…the result of incomplete gender identity development arising when there is a conflict and subsequent distancing from the father. This defensive detachment is the psychological mechanism by which the pre-homosexual boy removes himself emotionally from the father (or father-figure) and fails to establish a secure male identity. Many homosexuals are attracted to other men and their maleness because they are striving to complete their own gender identification" (p. xvi). The decline of fatherhood in America is reminiscent of the curse that the Prophet Malachi promises to one day lift: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6).
3. Psychic trauma, often in the form of sexual abuse as a child. Such foul deeds often create deep emotional wounds that prevent normal relationships from developing in later years. The inability to process these events can foster false guilt and leave a youth in gender confusion. Sadly, 29% of homosexuals were sexually abused as children.
4. Extended pattern of promiscuous behavior involving sexual experimentation. Theologically, this is called the pathology of sin. The initial excitement associated with the breaking of traditional sexual boundaries wears off, and greater sexual risks must be taken to stimulate the desired rush of adrenalin. This pathology can also be expressed another way: a compulsion. Perhaps the old fable Worms for Feathers can express the thought best. Like the skylark who exchanges from a sly merchant a single feather for one plump juicy worm and thinks it harmless, so is a youngster who takes the first step into immorality. But as the lark continues to daily exchange a single feather for a worm, a habit forms and steadily becomes deeply ingrained in her thought pattern. Our skylark soon becomes dependent on the worms traded for feathers. In a similar manner, the habit of immorality grows and deepens in a youth who trades a small piece of his soul for momentary pleasure, again, and again, and again. Eventually, the bird reaches the day when she has, by free choice, exchanged so many feathers for worms that she cannot launch her fat, thinly-feathered body into flight. Trapped by her compulsive habit, she cannot escape the consequences and is captured by the malevolent merchant who knew this moment would come. In a parallel process, promiscuous behavior can lead to a destructive lifestyle called homosexuality, trapping a foolish youth in its crushing grip.
5. Recruitment by a homosexual peer group in the absence of heterosexual peers. Many youths lack self-confidence and identity. This void can be filled by a peer group that meets this need for camaraderie and self-identification, that is, answering the question that every young person must address: "Who am I?"
6. An educational environment that suggests homosexual inclinations to youth who are socially awkward. The same problem of self-identification may be answered at least in part by teachers using a sexually permissive curriculum that encourages youngsters to view themselves as homosexual. Many public schools today use just such a curriculum, and some public school teachers are eager to push students into a homosexual self-profile.
7. Absence of traditional moral teaching consistent with biblical precepts. Far too often, children today are growing up in a moral vacuum where all moral choices are considered equally valid. Having no significant exposure to biblical precepts that impose moral boundaries and having no sense as to how those limits are present to protect all of us from future pain and suffering, many youngsters see homosexuality as a viable alternative.
Can Homosexual Attraction Be Restrained?
Absolutely. From a biblical point of view, all sexual attraction must be restrained. God expects unmarried heterosexuals to restrain their impulses until marriage. While there have always been some who fail in this area, throughout most of Christian civilization, the great majority of young adults have succeeded. It has only been in recent decades, since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, that a significant portion of American and western young adults have failed to restrain their sexual appetites until marriage. After nuptial unions at the altar, God expects all married people to maintain some restraints on sexual behavior. Accordingly, biblical standards forbid sodomy, intercourse during menstruation, and for specified periods after the birth of a child. And, of course, there have always been heterosexuals who never marry and maintain a strong moral profile of celibacy. Therefore, it is ridiculous to assert that those suffering from the abnormality of homosexual attraction cannot restrain such impulses.
Can Homosexual Attraction Be Reversed?
Yes, but one must be willing to admit it is wrong and be utterly committed to escaping this destructive compulsion. Furthermore, since this spiritual affliction developed slowly, usually in the formative years of one’s youth, it is not quick or easy to unwind. Nonetheless, it is more than just theoretically possible, for there are many who have done so and now lead normal, heterosexual married lives.
Secular psychoanalysis and psychological therapy have a long history in attempting to treat homosexuality. Since the 1930s, thousands of patients have been treated with an overall success rate of about 30% (Satinover, p.187). Although this seems low to those unfamiliar with the problems of mental health, this is consistent with the success rate of psychotherapy for any condition.
On rare occasions, a pharmacological approach has been successful using anti-androgen compounds to suppress the testicular function and the sexual drive itself.
But the most successful have been the spiritual based approaches that apply biblical precepts to the problem. Homosexuals Anonymous uses a twelve-step strategy similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Just as an individual uses alcohol as a solution to the stresses of life, so is homosexual attraction a perverted attempt to fill a void in the spirit and mind. Thus, not drinking alcohol is a pre-condition to finding the real solution for an alcoholic; similarly, an utter commitment to avoiding homosexual activity is a pre-condition to solving the problem of homosexual attraction. Another highly successful ministry is Desert Stream, which operates under the umbrella of Exodus International and is led by Andrew Comiskey, himself a former homosexual. Yet another Christian based program is Redeemed Life, dedicated to helping people with all forms of sexual deviancy. Mario Bergner, a former flagrant homosexual, runs this ministry and is well-known for his dramatic conversion to Christianity and his book Setting Love in Order. All of these Christian-based organizations see success rates above 50% and on average witness 25% of those that complete their programs get married to a lady within eight years (Satinover, p. 204).
Is Homosexual Behavior Harmful to Others?
Yes, and the greatest danger is spiritual. Why? Because homosexuality is approaching the end of the line in the progression of the pathology of sin. The fierce campaign to normalize homosexuality is because the homosexual community believes that once society has embraced their lifestyle, the inward guilt that plagues them will be assuaged. That is why they angrily and self-righteously press their lifestyle into our comfort zones. The cultural battle over sexual mores in this land is first and foremost spiritual. At stake is the premise of whether our Creator has the right to impose His standards of conduct on any of us. Thus, most homosexuals are atheists; those who are not deny God's prerogative to speak authoritatively. Regretfully, most Americans share the latter opinion, which is why America is losing ground year-by-year to the homosexual agenda. Having acknowledged that God is not the source of absolute truth for all men of all ages, most Americans are defenseless against the thought famously expressed one hundred forty years ago by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov, when he stated, "Without God, all things are permissible." Thus, as homosexuals advance their program, America slides ever deeper into a spiritual morass. Souls are lost to the kingdom of Satan, and not just those of homosexuals, but multitudes among the mainstream of America's heterosexuals.
Further dangers to other people do exist.
Homosexuals recruit and prey upon vulnerable youngsters, sometimes including sexual abuse and molestation. According to Cameron and Cameron, "Homosexual Parents," Adolescence, 31, 1996: "Having a homosexual parent increases the risk of incest with a parent by a factor of about 50."
Only 2% of the American population is homosexual, yet it accounts for 61% of HIV infections (Center for Disease Control, 2009). This costs the United States $12.1 billion annually in additional health care costs.
The extreme promiscuity spreads disease in public places. According to researchers Bell and Weinberg, 83% of homosexuals surveyed estimate they have had 50 or more sexual partners over their lifetime, 43% estimate 500 or more partners, and 28% estimate over 1000 lifetime sexual partners. Contrary to media propaganda, these practices do not always occur behind the closed doors of their bedrooms but often include locations such as public restrooms, bus stations, public libraries, rest stops, health clubs, night clubs, public parks, and public beaches.
Why Did the Mosaic Law Impose Civil Punishment on Homosexual Behavior but not Homosexual Attraction?
There are several reasons. First, homosexual attraction is sometimes difficult to identify in a given person. In many cases such an identification would be impossible, known only to God and the person experiencing these impulses. Second, while Scripture condemns the evil thoughts of our hearts, there is never any civil penalty for any sins of the heart. Such would be a "thought crime," and there are no civil punishments in the Mosaic Law for thought crimes. Third, homosexual attraction is sometimes the unwanted consequence of childhood victimization. As victims of a crime, they deserve sympathy and need assistance in leaving behind any unnatural affections. Unless they reject help and instead choose to act upon their confused and sinful impulses and victimize another, they have not committed an actual crime. If they do act on their impulses and victimize another, then of course they have committed a grave crime and fall under the terms of Mosaic Law, which requires capital punishment.
Should Society Punish Homosexual Behavior?
When Jesus Christ returns and ushers in the Kingdom of God, He will bring a re-establishment of biblical law with all of the civil penalties. Such a truly godly society will put way this sin that is a great offense to God and grievously harmful to others. Although capital execution in accordance with scriptural precept (see Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27, 32) seems harsh to our modern sensibilities, it will come only after a fair and just trial with two or more sound witnesses proving the fact of the matter. Furthermore, large numbers of executions will be unnecessary, because those afflicted with these "vile affections" will either choose to restrain their impulses or immediately repent and plead for mercy.
In the spirit of the words of Saint Paul, a biblical society should be willing to make a place for genuinely repentant former homosexuals: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [homosexual attraction], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homosexual behavior], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). It is axiomatic, of course, that such people would have to undergo appropriate spiritual counseling, and they must not allow any subsequent relapse into homosexual behavior.
It would be right, proper, and pleasing to God if the United States of America turned back the moral clock and re-imposed some kind of civil penalty upon homosexual behavior. This renaissance of virtue should not include vigilantism, mob rule, or trial by public opinion. Only bona fide civil magistrates, acting in accordance with the law, should preside over any punishment. No one should "take the law into their own hands" with spontaneous efforts to eliminate homosexual behavior.
But all of this is theoretical anyway. In light of the United States Supreme Court ruling that homosexual marriage is protected by the Constitution (a foolish and ludicrous decision), we cannot expect to see even the mildest of civil restrictions placed upon homosexual activity.
What, then, is our present duty? We are like St. Paul, who could do nothing but denounce homosexuality as the wicked and vile sin that it is. So, let us not shirk from this important remaining task! Let us boldly declare that God is intensely displeased with this destructive and abominable sin and will in His due time deal with it accordingly. The stench of this sin reaches to the heights of heaven, and God will not be mocked, "for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). It matters not what any legislative body, any judge, or any sitting court of men may say, for there is a higher authority to which they will one day yield: Jehovah. His final word declares homosexuality to be sin!
Furthermore, the more successful Christians are in persuading this nation that homosexuality is a sin, the more likely it is that homosexuals will recognize their need to repent, seek help, and finally leave behind this deviant compulsion. Our failure to declare the truth of God's Word enhances the probabilities that multitudes of young boys and girls, some yet unborn, will be sucked into the vortex of the sexual perversion of homosexuality.
Is It Not Hypocrisy for Christians to Denounce Homosexuality When They Are Also Sinners?
Undoubtedly, when Christians allow sin in their lives, this undercuts the moral authority they might have had. But this does not change the fact of the matter that God has plainly declared homosexuality a sin. If a businessman reports to law enforcement that his store has been robbed while he has been quietly cheating on his income taxes, does this mean that the police should not try to apprehend the burglar? Of course not. Both should be investigated and dealt with appropriately. Homosexuality is not being singled out from adultery, murder, extortion, and so forth—but no one is shouting from the housetops that adultery, murder, and extortion are perfectly acceptable choices that ought to be protected under the Constitution. If they were, all Bible-believing Christians should denounce these sins also. It is because this particular grievous sin is being highly profiled as morally harmless that true Christian theists are compelled to speak up. If one had to be free of all sin before pointing out that which is wrong, no one would ever condemn any activity—and no social order can exist in such a foolish paradigm.
What Is the Summation of the Matter?
The New Testament epistle of James summarizes the pathology leading to homosexuality: "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15). This progression can be resisted and stopped, and that is what every person is charged to do regarding all sin, including the wickedness of homosexuality.
Three primary facts must remain foremost in our thoughts, all of which the homosexual community regrettably deny. First, neither homosexual attraction nor homosexual behavior is innately, genetically predestined. Second, this sexual compulsion is a result of a spiritual void. Although returning from the long road of this pathology is difficult and relatively uncommon, it can occur. Third, declaring homosexuality to be a grave and dreadful sin is useful to everyone, for it cautions of the physical consequences that follow in this world, warns of the spiritual judgment in the world to come, and acts as a preservative of moral virtue in an increasingly decadent and depraved society.