Not because He sometimes makes mistakes. Not because He enjoys to watch them live lonely, frustrated, unfulfilled lives. And not to give Christians a chance to practise their praying skills.
I think God actually creates people with homosexuality as part of their identity, and intends for them to fall in love and have happy, fulfilling relationships.
When I was a teenager, being gay was definitely a sin. But if you were unfortunate enough to have such inclinations you could escape hell by simply being celibate. Just take a minute to imagine that when you were sixteen, someone told you that all the urges and desires you were feeling would have to be repressed; you would never be allowed to have a happy, longterm relationship. You had to be single forever, or you would spend eternity in a burning lake of sulphur.
I became less sure about this around the time of going to university. I spent the next nine years not really knowing what to think. I wanted to be OK with it, but those few Bible verses that appear to condemn homosexuality kept nagging at me. Conveniently none of my family or close friends were gay, so it didn’t really matter that I didn’t have a strong opinion either way.
About a year ago, I arrived at the conclusion that it really is OK. God makes people gay. To explain how I got here, I will address some of the strongest arguments against homosexuality and show how for me, they have all come crashing down.
1. The Bible says it’s wrong.
This comes back to the point I made in my previous post about how we read the Bible. If we take it as an instructional manual, from God’s lips directly into our lives, then the conclusion has to be that it’s an abomination. But if you do that, you should also be keeping slaves, killing your enemies with a sword, avoiding pork and only wearing clothing made of single fabrics. If you’d rather stick to the New Testament, then don’t even think about getting divorced and remarried. If you think that’s inappropriate, then you are already admitting that some things that were culturally relevant in Biblical times simply aren’t applicable today.
Here are the main texts Christians use against homosexuality (all NIV), and why I don’t think they condemn gay people today:
Genesis 19 – Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed.
In this story, God sends two angels disguised as men to visit one of two cities called Sodom and Gomorrah, already known for being particularly wicked. While they are staying with Abraham’s nephew, Lot, men surround the house and demand that Lot bring the men (angels) out so they can have sex with them. He refuses, so they try to break down the door. God then gets really angry, rains down burning sulphur and destroys the two cities.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were immoral, wicked, violent and very inhospitable to visitors. They tried to gang rape angels. Yet somehow, many Christians have interpreted this passage to mean that being in a loving, long-term, monogamous, homosexual relationship is wrong. The word ‘sodomy’, meaning the act of homosexual intercourse, comes directly from this passage. To me that is a gross misinterpretation, and by getting caught up in the specific issue of homosexuality today we are turning a blind eye to all the actual immorality and wickedness in our world.
Leviticus 18:22 – Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Leviticus 20:13 – If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
You just need to step back a bit and read the chapters surrounding these verses to see that these were laws written for specific people at a specific time and are not applicable today. Leviticus 17:12 says None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood. Bad news for any black pudding fans out there. Leviticus 19:27 says Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. Sorry boys. Leviticus 21:16-20 says The Lord said to Moses,“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.
I think I’ve made my point.
Mark 10:6-8 – But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
Lots of people will happily interpret Leviticus as being culturally irrelevant, but this one is more tricky. You can take it to mean that being in a heterosexual relationship is God’s ideal, and anything else falls short. Or you can take it to mean that this is the norm (which it is – there are far more straight people than gay people in the world and that was presumably the case then too), so it made sense to phrase it in this way. In that case the passage doesn’t necessarily condemn homosexuality – it just doesn’t mention it.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – 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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul is talking about the bad things people can do that will get in the way of them ‘inheriting the kingdom of God’ (this isn’t just about going to Heaven when they die – see previous post!). He’s talking about people who are selfish, reckless, deceitful, greedy and out of control. Loving, long-term, monogamous, homosexual relationships simply did not exist in that culture – relationships, like an awful lot of other things, have changed over time. I can think of lots of people in this world who are selfish, reckless, deceitful, greedy and out of control; gay people in loving, faithful relationships do not belong in that list.
There is also a passage in Romans 1 about ‘shameful lusts’ which mentions men committing ‘shameful acts with other men’, for which I would argue the same.
2. It’s a choice.
That’s an easy statement to make if you are straight. Think about the number of Christians who try almost anything to cure themselves of their gayness, or the number of young people who are bullied, depressed and even driven to suicide because they are gay, and tell me again that it’s a choice.
3. It’s unnatural.
Animals have been scientifically proven to engage in homosexual activity. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that sexual preference is biological, and even some evidence of an evolutionary advantage. Have a look at this, this, this and this for more information.
It does seem a shame that people in longterm relationships should have no possibility of producing biological children. But if gay people are to be judged for that, we also should be piling the guilt on couples who can’t have children for any other reason. Because clearly, what this world needs is a population increase.
4. It just feels wrong.
That’s hardly surprising, seeing as the church has condemned homosexuality for hundreds, even thousands of years. It was punishable by death for much of history and was illegal in the UK until 1967. There has been a seismic social and cultural shift in a relatively short period of time. So of course it sometimes still feels a bit odd.
If in eighteen years’ time my children turn out to be gay, that means that right now, aged six months and two years, they already are. To be extremely honest, right now I would prefer it if they weren’t. That is because of the culture I have been immersed in growing up, and the prejudices that have been planted deep in my psyche. It will take time for the nasty remnants of homophobia that still lurk within me to be completely shaken out, and the same is true for society as a whole.
5. We don’t want to change marriage.
Marriage between a man and a woman has been an institution, an unshakeable pillar of society for hundreds of years. Changing the definition of it is scary and we wonder if we have the right to meddle with something that has stayed the same for so long.
Marriage in Biblical times was a very, very different thing. Marriages were usually arranged by the family; the husband effectively bought his wife from her father and she was then forced to stay with him until one of them died. Divorce and remarriage counted as adultery, and adultery was punishable by death.
It has changed since then, so I think it’s OK for it to change again.
Of course you might still disagree – that’s allowed, I just hope you will at least take some time to think about it.
Imagine for a moment that I am right, that God makes people gay and loves them as much as anyone else. Imagine what He would feel about how the church has treated gay people throughout history.
If I am right, then we need to spend the next two thousand years making it up to them.
If you’re interested in reading more about this whole issue, this is a good place to start.
Next up: I Think God Makes People Gay (Part 2), I Think God Makes People Gay (Part 3): The Way Forward
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20 thoughts on “I Think God Makes People Gay”
Hi Emma, this a great piece, I think there are some lovely thoughts here and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your previous blogs. IMHO you’re exactly right in two ways, life long homosexual partnerships when unheard of 2000 + years ago and the actual word used in the NT for homosexual acts both receiving and giving ( in 1 Cor 6) have more probably to do with agressive acts of dominance and choosing the career of a male prostitute.
The second and most lovely part of your writing is in how we understand the Bible, you are spot on! It is not a list of abstract commands where God says follow me or I smite you ( that’s the law of a despot, Hitler comes to mind…). But the story of how we mess up and God comes, loves, saves and redeems. Even beautifying our brokenness.
Really enjoying your Blog Emma!
Thanks for your honesty, courage and for taking the time to set out your journey and thinking so clearly.
Sounds like your experiences and spiritual route mirror my own in many ways… Am guessing you’ve read these books or these writers….? They have been a huge help to me these last 10 years:
Falling Upward (Richard Rohr)
Breathing Underwater (Rohr)
Unapologetic (Francis Spufford)
Love Wins (Rob Bell)
The Art of Letting Go (Rohr) – I think this is only available as a recording, but has been a huge encouragement and inspiration to me, challenging the cultural and moral norms that entice us and the assumptions of the ‘church’ about how we approach the bible, and how we live…
Looking forward to your next post!
A good and relevant topic, but a bad exegesis. The meaning of biblical texts was manipulated to prove your proposal. Sorry but you need to work more in that. Blessings.
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I think you have some important points for followers of Christ to think about but I agree with Kenson that your particular exegesis of the scripture leaves a lot to be desired. Work on that. Your reasoning behind certain interpretations of scripture are flawed and not very factual. Blessings to you as well. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.
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All the non-sequitur arguments in existence can’t alter the facts regarding biblical revelation nor obscure the teaching of Jesus regarding the nature of marriage according to the will of God being that of between a man and a woman. If we submit ourselves to the will of God in Christ everything takes a form we might not have imagined it should, and our lives and thoughts will get reshaped in his image. If we don’t: all bets are off as to the outcome.
You’ve shared that you consider the Bible to be a culturally dependent story and therefore difficult to apply to modern life. I contend that the Bible, even as story and even as culturally conditioned in some of its aspects, nonetheless reveals and asserts true things both about God and about how God desires for humans to live at any time and in any culture. I will grant you that the process of interpretation is multifaceted, can be challenging and does indeed need to consider both “the story” and “the culture”, but this does not negate its validity or applicability for modern times. In fact, this interpretive “gray area” is, I suggest, purposely designed to provide the space to work on our hearts according to Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discernerof the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
In any case, moving forward in responding to your article (part 1), I’m glad you recognize that if we take the Bible as an instruction manual from God, “the conclusion has to be that (homosexuality) is an abomination”. You then go on, however, to suggest that this declaration is culturally conditioned and comparable, for example, to slave holding, using a sword, avoiding pork and mixed fabrics, divorce and remarriage. Your point, it seems, is to challenge the way the Bible is interpreted and applied, suggesting that to accept the moral declaration regarding homosexuality requires one to also accept and engage in those other things. This is poor interpretation… or bad exegesis, as others have commented.
The issue of slavery is more complex than the others, but basically, the Bible does not condemn holding slaves, nor does it mandate it. Rather, if slavery is a cultural institution, slaves are to work as though serving the Lord while slave holders are to be fair and kind knowing they too have a Master in heaven. Slaves are also allowed to seek and accept freedom. There is no moral declaration made about the institution of slavery, nor is it reasonable to say anybody following the Bible is obligated to have slaves. God speaks to the situation in a way that is clear and understandable and applies cross-culturally. The essential elements of the biblical teaching on slavery are NOT its status as an institution, but rather the attitudes of people who claim to serve God and how they should act within these roles. In focusing too much on the cultural context, you miss the spiritually significant teaching.
The reference to killing enemies with swords is odd to me. Again, there is no mandate to use swords nor any moral declaration made on the subject. I don’t know why you assume there is. You appear to have made a caricature of the “literal” reading of the text. It is simplistic and uninformed to say that even those who hold a high view of Scripture or even who assert a doctrine of inerrancy would suggest that any phrase or verse mandates or commands identical action by all others at all times. Cultural conditions need not hinder or unreasonably limit one’s ability to properly discern, interpret and apply the spiritual lessons.
Eating pork and using mixed fabrics needs to be understood in the full context of Scripture (or the complete unfolding of the story, if you prefer) that declares obligations to the letter of the Mosaic Law to be fulfilled/ended at the cross. The Bible teaches that the OT Law served certain functions… to bring knowledge of sin, to typify or foreshadow future events, to separate out a people through which God would bring salvation to the world, and so forth. In that light, these dietary and textile rules facilitated the separateness of the Jewish people and also spoke to the issue of bodily holiness. The unique historical function of the Jews as the bearers of salvation to the world has been completed in Christ such that their separateness as a people is no longer a central part of God’s current working. While the specific regulations are no longer applicable, however, bodily holiness remains a relevant (and I suggest spiritual, culturally independent) principle that is reiterated in the New Covenant. For example, “There are no “legal” behavioral requirements under grace where attention is turned rather to the heart of faith and the works that flow from it. The principle of holiness remains while the outward expressions of this may take different forms.
You appear to recognize that the OT needs to be considered in light of the NT by including a couple things from the NT, but your examples of divorce and remarriage is not valid. Divorce and remarriage aren’t “cultural” issues that no longer apply, and it is indeed clear in the Bible that divorce is not pleasing to God. While some may dismiss this lightly because of modern pressures or cultural norms, that does not thereby prove that God’s view has changed. The Bible says that God allowed divorce even in the OT times because of the hardness of people’s hearts. I see no reason to suppose this has changed. In the NT, permanent separation without remarriage is deemed acceptable in difficult situations, and some contend that divorce on the grounds of infidelity is acceptable. Even so, divorce/remarriage was never, and I contend still isn’t, God’s will or pleasing to Him. More importantly, however, you miss the point of the New Covenant entirely. The whole attitude that there are do and don’t commands is misguided. The emphasis is on faith and the heart. It is the “hard heart” that often leads to divorce that is more the problem than the divorce itself.
Take, for another example, the strong admonitions to “drunkards” in the NT. The legalistic mindset sees that as a black and white command… do not drink, or if you get drunk, you are damned. The mindset of grace looks into the heart and recognizes that God is the judge and the time of judgment is the end. Purity and holiness are godly. The Bible is clear that God delights in those things. One who loves the Lord would then personally grapple with this admonition against drunkenness and the call to holiness in the circumstances of their own life. One who is addicted to alcohol and struggling with it is in a much different heart place than one who glories in their debauchery, yet either may yet be delivered or ultimately condemned. Those who walk in grace are more minded to teach, warn and restore hoping for that deliverance rather than seeking to judge or condemn.
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“The whole attitude that there are do and don’t commands is misguided. The emphasis is on faith and the heart. It is the “hard heart” that often leads to divorce that is more the problem than the divorce itself.”
Can that not be applied to the condition of a homosexual’s heart? Are we to believe their sexuality- which seems to spring forth naturally at puberty for most- is caused by a hard heart? If they aren’t lusting and performing harmful acts of promiscuity, but are instead involved in a committed, loving relationship, doesn’t that speak to the condition of their heart?
Or is it just easier for heterosexuals to meet the purity “standard” because they are programmed “normally?” Does God not have as much grace for the one with “unnatural attractions” as He does for the one who remarries after divorce?
I agree with you that the Sodomites of yore were wicked in many ways, rampant homosexuality being only one of them. I will also grant you that, though their sexual immorality is specifically named as an element of their wickedness, the surrounding circumstances make in unreasonable to identify “any homosexual act” as the only cause of their destruction. The verses in Leviticus that you cite, however, are clearer on this point. Yes, the declaration that men with men or women with women is detestable was announced in the context of establishing the Mosaic Law for the Jews as God’s chosen people. No, that does not automatically limit its validity as a moral declaration to that culture or context. Leviticus 18 talks of sexual purity in several contexts, and verse 24 also states, “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you.” Yes, God is specifically asking the Israelites to refrain from these things, but yes, He is also plainly declaring that He considers these practices defiling for other people too. You again show a significant lack of discernment in understanding (and applying) the OT Law. It is a holy law that teaches holy things. The “holy things” are spiritually discerned, where the “legal rules” are behaviorally applied. Yes, the other references you give in Leviticus are specifically commanded of the Israelites uniquely as part of their separateness (just FYI, “holy” actually means dedicated, consecrated, sacred or separated for God). God does not command sideburns or ritual regulations for any other people nor does He make a universal moral declaration about these things. Again, I contend that they are purposed to distinguish the Israelites as a chosen people for a special historical purpose. Even so, the concept or principle or importance of “holiness” remains valid even into the NT era, though there is freedom in the way this is worked out. Christians should be distinct or “holy”, set apart for God, in their character, activities, demeanor, conversation, and so forth though exactly what that looks like isn’t legalistically specified. This is called our “liberty” in Christ.
So, no, I don’t think you’ve made a legitimate point in your interpretation/application of the OT in relation to this issue.
Regarding Mark 10:6-8: True, there is no specific condemnation of homosexuality declared in the creation of male and female and the expression of God’s intent that they would “become one flesh”. I think you deceive yourself, however, in trying to claim that this arrangement was set forth merely as a “norm” with the implicit allowance for other types of unions. The Bible is clear in many places that ANY sexual relations/activity outside of this context (male-female union in marriage) is sexual immorality (fornication). This includes pre-marital relations, bestiality, prostitution, homosexuality, adultery, etc. In fact, the importance and value of sexual purity is even STRONGER in the NT than in the OT, with Paul even preferring singleness to marriage. In 1Corinthians 7:1-2, for example, he says, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Of course it’s not easy to make biblically informed assessments of the purpose of the male-female-oneflesh “marriage” set-up, but we do have a few things to go on. Since you bring up marriage as a broader topic further down, I will address this later.
Last one for today… I have to go…
Regarding 1Corinthians 6:9-10: Paul is here discussing the character and activities of the “unsaved” whose ways are those that the “born again” follower of Christ, being “washed and sanctified”, should no longer engage in. You minimize, however, the specific importance of lustfulness or fulfilling the desires of the flesh as a defining feature of the unregenerate life, and the facts that sexual immoralities are in the list repeatedly and discussed specifically in more detail in what follows. Fornication, adultery and two words for homosexual activity are named: using young boys to satisfy these desires (and/or male prostitutes-malakos), and a more general term for regular adult relationships (arsenokoites- found also in 1Timothy 1:10). You are simply in error in stating that “Loving, long-term, monogamous, homosexual relationships simply did not exist in that culture”. They did, and there is evidence of this in ancient Greek literature. Then, as now, the majority of homosexual relationships were apparently NOT monogamous, but that does not mean none were. Why do you suppose people could not express love and commitment to those of their same gender back then any more than they can/do today? The reality is that homosexual partnerships were accepted in the culture whatever their form, and it is this accepting attitude that Paul is calling the new Christians to reject and to renounce from their pagan past. This same argument applies to the passage in Romans that you refer to as well. Those “shameful lusts” and “shameful acts with other men” are homosexual acts themselves period… NOT limited to only those that were non-monogamous or unloving. The reality is that even today homosexual practice (particularly among males) is rarely monogamous and is much closer to ancient practices than you assume.
In any case, returning to 1Corinthians 6, vs. 13 then says, “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body,” and in vs. 18-20, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Thus, the overall teaching is not just about not being a bad guy, but specifically about learning to honor and purify one’s body as the holy temple of God. We also read in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
2. It’s a choice.
A gay person is not compelled to engage in homosexual behavior, and there are plenty of examples of people who HAVE chosen to abstain… and even some who testify to having been changed. It’s not any easier for a straight person to deny themselves premarital or adulterous relations when their passions are strong. It remains a choice to act on those desires. And further, one can still have meaningful, loving relationships without sexual intimacies… happens all the time.
I do agree with you that it isn’t right to bully or otherwise mistreat someone who is “gay” (or anyone else for that matter), and more sensitivity to the condition is probably the biggest positive of this whole recent business of “gay rights”. Even so, the pertinent question is whether society is going to call the condition a disorder or not; and regardless of what society concludes, many Christians will continue to view it as such. That doesn’t mean we view the gay person as inherently “bad” or “evil”, but only that we continue to view homosexual behavior as sexually immoral and not pleasing to God. Personally, I’m not that concerned with policy or laws outside the Church. There are plenty of things the secular world allows and even condones that I don’t. Freedom is a good thing, and people need space to make their own decisions, right or wrong, as long as there is no legal demand for me to approve of what I disagree with. I do feel strongly, however, about the stance the Church takes.
Further, IMO, whatever biological contribution there is to the experience of same-sex desires or confused gender feelings is irrelevant as is the question of whether or not those conditions can be changed. Disorders and diseases often have genetic or biological components, and many are incurable. People with all sorts of physical and mental health issues have to learn to deal with their circumstances and manage their condition. It is the norm for such situations to include anger, depression, challenges to self-esteem, accepting things one can’t participate in, compromised quality of life and so forth. A person with clinical depression or mental disabilities, for example, has to come to grips with their condition and learn to manage their life around it. I’m not saying that’s easy, but it happens in a fallen world. The Christian perspective is that these challenges can be blessings, and when all is said and done, deliverance will come in the next world if we are faithful with what we are given in this one.
3. It’s unnatural.
The idea is that homosexuality is unnatural for humans. The biblical perspective is that God designed each creature, even each element of creation, with a specific nature and for a particular purpose. Living according to that God-given nature and purpose defines what is “natural”. For example, it is natural for fish to swim, but not natural for dogs to swim. Further, only about 3% of mammal species are monogamous, so I don’t think you are wise to view their sexual patterns as a good model for humans. In addition, from a biblical perspective, humans are distinctly different from animals and uniquely equipped to know God. Only humans are made in the image of God, and only humans experience relationship with God. Humans think, abstract, reflect, plan, communicate, etc. in a categorically different way than all animals and, having these “natural” abilities, we are called to behave in a way that is categorically different from animals as well. I recognize that you apparently believe in evolution, the continuity of species (for which there is a complete LACK of evidence in the fossil record) and the “animal nature” of humans, so I would expect you not to agree with these things. Even so, that is the perspective of many Christians. And finally, the Bible even directly calls homosexual behavior unnatural (e.g. “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.” Romans 1:26-27)
I’ve already responded to the thought that sexual preference is biological… in short, so what? We are not slaves to our biology. We are redeemed from the “law of sin in our members” and freed to serve God acceptably in the Spirit.
The judgment of homosexual behavior is that it is immoral, not that it doesn’t produce children. The fact that it doesn’t produce children is simply one more testimony to its “unnaturalness”.
4. It just feels wrong.
It feels wrong because it IS wrong. Hopefully you will not be able to suppress this innate knowledge. If you can truly contemplate sodomy without something inside you revolting at the perversion, your conscience may be seared.
“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. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” Romans 1:26-28
5. We don’t want to change marriage.
As I said before, it is certainly not easy to discern the purpose of “marriage”, but we do have a few things to go on. First, the creation story is replete with commands to “be fruitful and multiply”, and I think we can reasonably agree that one of the God-given purposes of a male-female union is procreation. I suggest that this element of the sexual relationship was even more important in ancient times than it is today, and also that this procreative focus then also accounts for why, for example, arranged marriages, polygamy and concubines were acceptable. The idea of multiple wives/sexual partners, however, was usually limited to royalty or high class families in which the production of children was beneficial. Certainly it is obvious that family or kinship unity is practical and advantageous in agricultural societies, and the idea of “marriage” as a social contract specifying property rights, obligations, inheritances, etc. has always been around.
Secondly, it is really only in the NT era that the insistence on monogamy became the norm in the West. The Roman world was rather loose in their ideas of marriage, sexuality and women’s roles; but the rising Catholic Church set forth a more stringent ideal of marriage as a sacramental covenant, confirmed by God, lasting for life, and demanding loyalty. So, though there is a sense in which marital-type relationships exist cross-culturally in many forms, the western ideal is really, at its root, a religious (Christian) institution, and it is THIS idea of “marriage” that people refer to as the one they want to preserve.
So… you miss the point of the objection when you define “marriage” as a “social” institution that is variable and subject to change. Though it may be thought of that way, and if you consider it broadly, it is clear that there are any number of potential definitions, customs, laws, forms, rituals, etc. that one can call “marriage”; there is a specific definition that many Christians believe and want to maintain: namely, “marriage” is a spiritual covenant between a man and a woman under God where the basis for this definition is not “society”, but rather the NEW TESTAMENT revelation (not the Old). This is the definition America has been operating under for her whole history, and while the nation is certainly free to legally change the definition if they want, many Christians still won’t change their spiritual view of it.
As I said, the sacramental understanding of marriage is based on the New Testament, so any practices prior to that are irrelevant. In the NT, with Jesus, there is a shift away from legalistic understanding and toward discerning the deeper things of the heart and faith. Where marriage is more utilitarian in the OT era and aimed significantly toward procreation for the purposes of bringing in the “promised seed” (Who is Christ); after Christ, in the NT era, marriage becomes more a matter of the heart and, in fact, is a type for the relationship between Jesus and the Church. With the NT revelation comes forgiveness of sins under Law, peace/reconciliation with God, a living relationship with the Lord in the Spirit, and the hope of eternal life… a whole different ball game, as the saying goes. We are no longer in the age of preparation for the Messiah (OT) and are now in the age of preparation for the Kingdom of God (NT). It is no longer about procreation and perpetuating the Jewish nation and is now about intimacy with God and edification/sanctification of the Church.
I don’t know if that all sounds strange to you since, no offense, you don’t appear to have much knowledge or understanding of biblical revelation/teaching, so I will try to make a few things clearer. In this world, we live in bodies of flesh that are inclined toward the worldly, earthly things that we see and touch. Jesus came to let us know, however, that this world isn’t all there is. There is an eternal spiritual world beyond this one, and God invites to it. Without getting into too much detail, through our faith in Christ, we are given spiritual life… an awakening, the impartation of the Holy Spirit Who is the indwelling Presence of God, a rebirth… in which we are made aware of spiritual realities, empowered to overcome the desires of the flesh, and given spiritual guidance and insight. Having this “quickening”, we are then charged with pursuing spiritual maturity, holiness, perfection, love, godly character, good works, etc. the end result of which is entrance into heaven.
Marriage is an earthly event. Procreation is an earthly event. Eventually, these things will be no more, though they are yet eternally significant in terms of their influence on our spiritual life and development. For this reason, in the NT era, it is actually preferable to remain single so that one may focus more on the Lord and on spiritual life. It is not wrong or bad to marry, but it presents challenges. Since love is a central attribute of godliness, certainly the marriage relationship can be an arena in which to develop this capacity. Moreso, however, the marriage relationship is revealed in the NT as a type or model of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. That relationship is an intimate “one flesh” unity of the loving, sanctifying, sacrificial headship of Christ and the submitted, faithful, reverent body of the Church. Accordingly, the earthly marriage relationship now takes on a sacramental quality, and CHRISTIANS who enter into this commitment view it (or at least should view it) as a deeply sacred union qualified as holy, confirmed by God, lasting for life, demanding loyalty and so forth. It is the natural and even procreative qualities of the male-female union, created for this purpose, that make this sacramental typification possible. It is not attainable in male-male or female-female relationships who cannot become “one flesh”. Same-sex “marriages” while they may be loving, contractual, legally binding, etc. can never be sacramental; and it is THAT definition of marriage that many wish to preserve.
Anyway, this is getting long and I’m probably confusing you, but I will give you a few verses to contemplate:
“But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1Corinthians 7:32-34
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband…. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” 1Corinthians 7:1-2…8-9
“And he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh”? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matthew 19:4-6 (see also vss. 10-12)
“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:34-36
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:29-33
Of course you might still disagree—that’s allowed, I just hope you will at least take some time to think about it.
Imagine for a moment that I am right, that God does NOT make people gay and considers homosexual activity to be detestable. Imagine that God has a deep spiritual purpose for the heterosexual marriage relationship and what He might feel about the Church desecrating this holy, sacred mystery to condone the lustful desires of a few who engage in what He sees as a perversion.
If I am right, whoever is faithful in the gay community is in need of repentance… and woe to you who promotes the deception and destruction of souls!
Imagine being BORN gay and being told you are perverted.
That you can never satisfy your very deepest longings or desires because you sin if you do.
(What a mean view of God,- here is your one shot at life and I made you this way but you are not allowed to fully experience how I made you.)
That you can never experience the intimate togetherness of a long standing relationship.
(Whatever you call it, marriage, partnership etc).
Imagine being told by Christians that at best you are loved but what you do is completely unacceptable.
(Love the sinner, hate the sin). This is conditional love.
I worship a God of unconditional love.
There are those who construct judgemental arguments from scripture to such an extent that somehow along the way they lose their heart, their compassion, their humility, their ability to walk in another’s shoes, their “Jesus-ness”, …..
Personally I would rather people complain about my exegesis (or lack of), than about my heart.
… and I’m sorry but slavery is unacceptable at any level, no-one should ever OWN someone else.
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I’m very much enjoying your blog. Thanks for all of your good thoughts and explorations!
About homosexuality, I don’t know whether God makes people gay. That’s above my pay grade. But I have come to believe, like you, that God loves gay people just as much as God loves straight people, and that God smiles upon loving, committed, and faithful homosexual relationships just as God smiles upon loving, committed, and faithful heterosexual relationships.
You may (or may not) be interested in reading this summary of my conclusions about all this:
Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity: A Summary
And if that floats your boat, then at the end there are links to several related articles, one being my main (and very detailed) article on homosexuality, of which the above-linked article is a summary; and another being an article specifically on the sin of Sodom, and how badly that story has been misinterpreted in much of Christianity.
Hi Lee, thanks for taking the time to read the blog – glad you’re enjoying it. Looks like we are in a similar place in our explorations. I don’t know if God makes people gay either, I think a lot of things but don’t claim to know much these days!