100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What Is Immoral About Homosexuality?

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.

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