Homosexuality: The Evangelical Divide

“Homosexuality is God giving definite illustration and imagery to man’s idolization and worship of himself.” -John Piper

Homosexuality has been catapulted to the forefront of moral indignation in America, largely due to the fact that several states now recognize gay marriages as legitimate. Opinions have been formed and the lines have been drawn in the dirt. As the tumbleweed starts its roll through our battlefield and the old western duel tunes cue, I would like to establish this issue in a gospel centered way, and then argue, in what I believe to be a biblical way, what homosexuality is, and how we ought to respond to it. It is unfortunate in my view that so many in the Evangelical community, which I consider myself to be a part of, have formed opinions that cause them to be bigoted or hateful towards homosexuals. This particular post, and several essays I’ve written on the subject, are most often times prompted in response to questions and statements of and by the people in my life, like classmates and family members. I will labor to be clear and concise in presenting my own opinion and evidence for my argument, but would warn that this issue, regardless of what you’ve been taught or persuaded to believe, is not as cut and dry as some with opinions like to say it is. Especially not for the Christian, who must seek to form an opinion and respond in a way that is pleasing to God, consistent with His character and word. I would encourage you to read all the way through to the end.

Firstly, and critical to this discussion, it must be asserted that homosexuality is sin, and the Bible is clear about this. Anything contrary to God’s plan, has always been sin, and the covenant of marriage is explicitly reserved for a man and woman. I Corinthians 6:9 counts homosexuals among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God, so to be clear, I will not be arguing from the secular position that homosexuality is morally correct, or acceptable, or heterosexuality’s equivalent. It’s very discouraging that some claiming to be in Christ’s church have conformed to this view. I begin with this though, because I believe a proper understanding of sin and recognition of it is the foundation that every Christian requires to form an opinion on this matter.

In Reformed Theology we would consider man’s condition, upon the moment of conception, to be totally depraved. The doctrine of Total Depravity speaks to every aspect of man as being fallen. There is no neutrality when it comes to man’s ability to make decisions, he is incapable of committing anything other than sin, and most critically, he is cut off from He who made him in His image. We would also believe that man is unable to change anything about this condition, without the intervention and regenerating work of God. Without God bringing man to faith in Himself, he is unable to recognize his sin and fallen condition. What needs to be realized here, for this discussion, is that in light of the fall, in light of depravity inherited by all mankind, there is no part of ourselves and all of creation that isn’t susceptible to sin’s curse. It seems foolish then, to conceive that genetics, biology, and neuroscience get some sort of “out” and cannot contract the malicious effects of depravity. Hence, I think its clear that because the “total” of total depravity as taught in the Bible, speaks to depravity as affecting every part of creation, including all parts of man, that genetics, biology, and neuroscience can, and indeed often times are affected. This brings us to what may be the most divisive part of the debate. The question, is homosexuality a choice or not? Proponents of the genetic, biological, and neurological basis for homosexuality will argue no.  Many in the evangelical community will argue yes, it is merely a sinful lifestyle choice. In light of what we’ve just seen, that is depravity’s relationship to the three mentioned sciences, it does seem as if both arguments are plausible, and indeed may both be true.

If homosexuality is only a choice, and a willful abandonment of natural tendencies, as some argue passages in Romans suggest, then it is sin. If homosexuality is in some cases, not a choice, and a person is predisposed to homosexual desires and tendencies due to genetic, biological, or neurological conditions, that is they are “born gay”, it is sin. I believe that in many cases those on both sides of this discussion are correct in different instances. It must be agreed that some make a very clear choice, independent of a predisposition, to pursue homosexuality. And others, because of a predisposition, also pursue homosexuality. Both instances are perceived as sin by God, because both are the result of man’s depravity, and find their foundation in man’s idolatrous rebellion against holiness in the Garden of Eden. So although I would believe that a homosexual, in most cases, is a person that is predisposed to this sin, no different than someone is born predisposed to anger or alcoholism, I can also assert that this has no grounds to change the way God and His people should view it as wicked.(In my view homosexuality is a much deeper issue than the pursuit of homosexual acts, however. I do not want to reduce it any further than it should be.) Furthermore, in discussing whether or not its a choice. Let me invite you, to ask yourself if you make a conscious choice in your cerebral net-workings to be attracted to those you’re attracted to, or if something more independent of your will is at work? Are the features you find desirable in a spouse because you have chosen them to be so, or are you predisposed to liking these things? Do you make a conscious effort to lust, or become angry, or have pride? Or do these sins come about as a result of your condition as a fallen human being?

This suggests something interesting though. Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on,(and as I’ve claimed, I believe both are correct in different instances) you believe the basis for homosexuality to be man’s condition. On the one hand, modern evangelicals, for the most part, believe it to be a choice. This choice is made because man is wicked, and this condition is what enables him to make this choice. On the other hand, some believe it to be a result of depraved genetics, biology, etc., but this also speaks to a condition. It seems that the fundamental question is how far does depravity deprave? And what, if anything, is off limits?

However you “choose” to answer those questions is irrelevant to how we as redeemed members of Christ’s church should treat homosexuals, and any who are struggling with sin. It is our duty to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, recognizing that it is the power of God, and no matter the circumstances, can change lives. Regardless of the sin, or its habitualness, God’s work to redeem His children cannot be thwarted, and it is our highest privilege and calling as men and women of God, to spread the redeeming news of His son to the world. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” I would encourage all of you to remember this, and with the love of Christ, go forth in peace, prepared to be a testimony and encouragement to all.

In closing, so that I may be abundantly clear: I believe that a homosexual orientation is a result of the fall of humanity into a sinful condition which pervades every person. Whatever genetic, biological or neurological roots of homosexuality may be, or already have been discovered, I do not believe that these would sanction or appropriate homosexual behavior, though it would deepen my compassion and patience for those who are struggling to be free from sexual temptations.

*Be sure to comment on this post, or email A.J. at reformedcal1517@yahoo.com