Since I wrote last about the topic of homosexuality, it occurs to me that there is surprisingly little Christian material out there which actually answers the question "What exactly is immoral about homosexuality anyway?" Christians are typically seen as against homosexuality simply because the Bible tells us that God doesn't like it. And whilst, in a sense, this is sufficient, in so far as we should trust God whether we understand Him or not; we ought to explore the question of why God disapproves of homosexuality.
The very question of why anything is immoral must come into this discussion. From a materialistic, or "Evolutionist's" world view, what might be immoral about homosexuality will be different from a Theistic world view. But interestingly enough, I think that even an Evolutionist's world view should logically deem homosexuality to be immoral. Let's consider what the philosopher Peter Singer has to say about incest, for example. He put forward a hypothetical; that a brother and sister find themselves alone and mutually agree to sexual intercourse. They take precaution agaist pregnancy, and afterwards both agree that their relationship is better off now through this experience. He argues, then, that there is technically nothing wrong with what they did since no harm was done in any way. They didn't have inbred children, and they both felt emotionally better off. And yet we all say... "But it's wrong! It's just plain wrong!" We don't have a rationale for why it's wrong, but we cannot be convinced that it's not wrong. And Peter Singer then explains the rationale for why it's wrong... it's wrong because natrual selection has given us this innate aversion to it, precisely because if incest were to flourish in society it would be devastating to the species. Inbred children do not fare well. It is essentially the argument of "If everyone did it, it would be a truly bad thing indeed." But it's not even a human mind that's using that rationale but the mindless process of natural selection. So people do then reason that because natural selection is dumb and we know better, then maybe incest is ok within certain boundaries... Well, "good luck with that", we can say sarcastically; because mankind simply cannot keep within any set of moral boundaries. If we approved of incest, "natural selection" would soon be saying "I told you so..."
And of course, the direction I'm headed with this is to draw a parallel between homosexuality and incest, in so far as they are both sexual dysfunctionality in which, "if everyone did it", it would be detrimental to the species. In the case of homosexuality, we have no offspring to carry on the species. Are we to say "Homosexuality is only immoral if a small percentage of the population are gay, but as soon as that number increases it's then immoral?" If, as it is according to some people's view, that morality is whatever the majority agrees upon, it would make far less sense to call homosexuality immoral in a world where the majority are gay; and yet that's most certainly when the world would cry out to see an end to it!
So even without a Biblical world view, I think homosexuality should, "by rights" be considered immoral, based purely on materialistic, Evolution-based ethics. But of course, that's not why homosexuality is wrong from God's perspective. What does God have against homosexuality? To answer this question, I'm going to cite an illustration which helped make this clear to me. Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary, tells the story of his friend who was struggling with same-sex desires. When asked once what the appeal of a homosexual encounter was, he thoughtfully replied, "Because it's like having sex with myself." Now, I've never had homosexual fantasies, so I can't gauge whether that's something that gay people would identify with, but I kind of understood from that response the tie-in to what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. It's not so much the apparent selfishness of that desire, but the self-worship of that desire. That is, it's not that gay people are somehow more self-centered than others, but rather that homosexuality is a manifestation of self-worship, which is something I think we're all guilty of in some sense. Self-worship is not the same as being self-centered... every humanist and atheist, after all, is essentially a worshiper of self. When the ultimate authority over your life is man, then man is your god and your idol, and who you worship. Precisely in the context of speaking on idolatry, Paul explains that people, rather than worshiping God, tend to worship what God has made; and the most common creation that we worship is ourselves. Listen to Paul in Romans...
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! (Romans 1:22-25)
"Claiming to be wise, they became fools..." I explained at the start of this post how people will condemn incest and yet approve of homosexuality without any Biblical basis at all. This is inconsistent, and so to approve of homosexuality is foolish in this sense. It should be evident to anyone that there is something wrong with homosexuality, which considers our reproductive organs useless. Why do people approve of homosexuality then? Because they have "exchanged the glory of God for images resembling mortal man..." The glory of God is seen in heterosexual union, even as man and woman imitate the creative act of God in their procreation, for example. And there are far more ways that heterosexual marriage, as it ought to be according to the Bible, displays the glory of God. Man is created in the image of God, which means that we are to demonstrate God's character in the way we live; which we do when we live according to the Bible, which reveals God's character. When we worship man instead of God, we begin to become "images" of each other rather than images of God. But we are sinful man, and so the whole picture becomes more and more corrupt. Homosexuality as a result of self-worship makes sense as a fitting judgment from God, which is what the passage is saying. If you want to worship yourself, God will condemn you to do so.
Again, I think it's sufficient to say that God disapproves of homosexuality, and we should simply trust Him that homosexuality is not for our benefit, because we will only ever be truly happy when we are doing what we were created to do; and that is to "be an image of God". Quite often it's only through obedience to God's Word that we begin to understand why God has given us the laws which He has. What I've said possibly won't make much sense to some people. They'll go away saying "That doesn't answer the question." But to me, it does, because I understand the whole concept of self-worship versus God-worship from an experiential level. Both homosexuality and the approval of homosexuality is, I think, a kind of worship of mankind. God's primary concern isn't the survival of the species as a whole, where a minority of 1-2% being gay isn't going to make a difference. God is against homosexuality because He is concerned for you, personally; as its affect on you, personally, is to draw you away from the worship of Himself.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I have to admit, I love the show Glee. Not sure I'd be labelled a "Gleek", but of all that's on TV, it's the show I'm most enthusiastic to watch. Last year I watched a televised contest called The Glee Project, which selected two winners for a role in the current season of Glee. In the most recent episode of Glee, aired on Valentines Day, winner Samuel Larson appeared for the first time in what I would certainly call a controversial episode. For those who never saw The Glee Project, here's some background which I think is of interest.
One of the contestants on The Glee Project identified himself very early on as a Christian. His name was Cameron Mitchell. And as the competition went on, Cameron began to struggle with the fact that, as an actor on Glee, he might be asked to enact some sexually provocative or intimate scenes which he felt that, as a Christian, would compromise his faith. And so, choosing Christ first, he actually quit the competition. As he announced that he was quitting, and told writer Ryan Murphy why he was quitting, Murphy pleaded with him to stay. Ryan Murphy told him that he'd really love to portray a Christian character on his show, and that's why he had a particular interest in Cameron. But Cameron quit none the less, and I for one was pleased that he did. In the first place, you don't need a genuine Christian to act as a Christian. Ryan had said to Cameron, (along these lines), "Imagine the influence you could have on the lives of so many people!" But of course, the actor has no influence whatsoever, really. They simply do what the writer, Ryan Murphy, tells them to. And I said to myself, as though I were giving advise to Cameron, "You will portray a Christian, but it won't be you're faith... it will be Ryan Murphy's version of a Christian, and what do you suppose that looks like?" Ryan Murphy's agenda is clear... for those who don't know, Ryan Murphy is both openly gay and a Church-going "Christian" at the same time. But before we get into that controversy, we can at least see that the kind of Christian who leaves a show because he might have to kiss a girl he doesn't love probably isn't going to be the kind of Christian who sees being gay as compatible with Christianity.
It was at this point, after Cameron quit, that Samuel Larson "suddenly" (you might say) identified himself as a Christian, too. Which to me just seemed like a ploy once he'd become aware of what Ryan Murphy was after for a new role. Whether he's a genuine Christian or not, I don't know, but of course, all that I suspected and would have, myself, warned Cameron to avoid has come upon Samuel. In Samuel's first appearance on the show, he is presented as a new kid in school and a Christian, attending a meeting of the "God Squad", a club for students who want to discuss religion. Very quickly the topic turns to the fact that a few of the members of "Glee Club" are gay, and what Samuel's character will think about that. In particular, would he sing a love song for one of these gay characters if asked to? And in typical modern style, a very rapid stream of arguments, without any counter reply at all, was given to justify why Samuel's character, Joe, shouldn't have any issues with it at all. And these arguments certainly sounded wise, but I'll be happy to point out their faults directly. But before we look at that, I want to deal with the question; "Should Samuel/Joe, being a Christian, have had a problem singing to a gay person?"
Let's first consider how a Christian's attitude should be towards a gay person. In one respect, it should be no different to their attitude towards anyone else, in so far as we are all sinners in need of Jesus Christ. We all need to feel the love of Christ toward us which is expressed through the kindness of Christians! A gay man or woman is just as worthy of our friendship, our compassion, our favour, our love. This should go without saying, and it's sad that it needs to be said at all. However, homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, and sin only leads to unhappiness. Our attitude towards gay people should be no different to any other person, but we all have different weaknesses, and are subject to different sins. And so just as I would not approve of a friend's alcoholism, or a friend's promiscuity, or even just an arrogant friend's pride... my best friend in the whole world could be a gay man, but I would not condone his sexual desires. And so, to answer the question "Should Joe sing a love song for a gay person..." There is no problem in singing for any person; a Christian should happily even sing a duet with a gay person. But to sing a love song in the context of Valentine's Day is precisely to condone their lifestyle, which from a Christian perspective is not doing them any favours at all.
Now to quickly cover the arguments to justify homosexuality in this episode of Glee, there were basically three (from memory.)
1. To be Christian is to love, and it is therefore "more Christian" to promote homosexuality.
I think we've dealt with that one already.
2. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.
This, to me, reveals much about one's view of Christ. We need to remember that Jesus Christ is God, and that God wrote the Bible! He wrote all of it. And so if Moses said it, Christ said it. If Moses condemns it, Christ condemns it. And if Paul said it, Christ said it. If Paul condemns it, Christ condemns it.
3. The Bible calls homosexuality an abomination, but it also calls eating shellfish an abomination, so...
Well, an abomination is "something to be abhorred", but we can abhor things for different reasons. I would say that God, through Moses, wrote to the Israelites that they should abhor shellfish for one reason, and that they should abhor homosexuality for a different reason altogether; namely that it is sin. Eating shellfish was not a problem because it was sinful. You could read my post on "The Purpose of Old Testament Purity Laws" for more about that.
So after all this, if there's one thing I would want to stress more than anything, it's that true Christianity doesn't hate homosexuals, it hates homosexuality; in much the same way that we don't hate people suffering from cancer, but we hate cancer. The difference there is that people suffering cancer also hate cancer, but gay people love their condition. While that makes it more difficult to understand, it doesn't make the Christian view invalid.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
Posted by Emeth at 10:00 AM