Friday, March 04, 2005

Homosexuality

UPDATE: AJM responded again.

UPDATE: AJM responded more fully here.

UPDATE: AJM has posted on his site, a first, quick comment. I'm sure more will follow, so stay tuned.

AJM wrote some comments about the Anglican Church's struggle with homosexuality. He wrote, "I, too, often am tempted toward, and too often commit . . . sins such as sloth, pride, cowardice, lust, greed, and so on. The Church rightly condemns those sins. Yet some Church leaders insist upon making a special exception for the peculiar sin of homosexual activity. Why?"

Here's why. Because certain influencial members of The Church are convinced that homosexualITY (I stress the I T Y) is not a sin.

While they might feel confident that homosexual activity is a sin (as they consider extramarital sex a sin), they cannot get past the fact that, like those experiencing other forms of biologically divergent circumstances--such as dwarfism, color blindness, extra fingers, perfect pitch, incredible beauty, exceptional athletic prowess, genius--homosexuals simply embody homosexuality. Therefore, by punishing them for acting on this innate biologically driven phenomenon, they are punishing them for being that way in the first place. And these particular church leaders cannot accept that.

I believe homosexuals are created that way. Born that way. Call it whatever you want: a cross to bear, a sinner's burden, a doomed existence. Call it an opportunity to act against biology and toward God. I call it people who are innocently attracted to other people . I call it an opportunity to love in their own way. I call it natural. Some call it abhorrent. I call it a percentage of the population. Obviously, there are many views.

But, in the end, I bet the Anglicans who seem so reluctant are those who can't--in their view--hold the less-palatable-to-heterosexuals aspects of creation against gay people.

I commented: "AJM will say: punish them for their actions, then. I will counter: Since we are all sinners, can any of us truly differentiate sin (and now I add that I'm not convinced homosexual activity is a sin)? AJM might (might) say: homosexual actions are not murder, but they are certainly more offensive to God than greed or lust or pride or cowardice. To that, I have no answer, except to say that. . . I wish I could see through His eyes."

AJM commented as follows:

"As always, I appreciate The Accipiter's comments. I certainly agree that homosexuality, whether its causes are biological or sociological, is not a sin. I would not say that homosexual activity is any more or less offensive to God than other sins.

Compared with God's holiness, all sin is perverse and disgusting, especially mine. And I certainly would not suggest that we punish homosexuals for their actions. I cannot say whether homosexuality is inbred or learned. I tend, from my personal experiences with friends who have struggled with (and some who have given in to) homosexual temptation, to believe that homosexuality is a disorder with psychological and sociological causes and, like other sexual disorders, can be cured. "

I'm not sure how AJM characterizes a refusal to consecrate Bishops who openly engage in homosexual sex. But I see it is as punishment.

AJM continues: "Regardless, it certainly is a difficult cross to bear, just as The Accipiter suggests, and one that I do not desire for myself. But, just as the Church would do me a disservice by discounting the significance of my sins, I think we do homosexuals a disservice by discounting the significance of homo sex. Celibacy is a tough path. But many have traversed it faithfully for reasons completely unrelated to homosexual proclivities. And it is no more difficult than the sacrifice of one's life for one's country, working in lands far away from home to provide for one's third-world family, or many other sacrifices that people make daily."

I respect AJM very much for writing this, because I think it's a sophisticated point, and one most conservative, orthodox Christians would not make. However, I fail to understand how, if "homosexual activity is [not] any more or less offensive to God than other sins," it is so much more offensive to the Church than many other "sins" seem to be (like pride or slothiness).

I think the Church has it backwards. There is a difference between one sin and another. Sloth, greed, pride, cowardice, lust, lying: all of these have natural, negative consequences for other people who are affected by the person exhibiting these characteristics. (Moreover, these characteristics are much less biologically based "traits" than they are personality components.)

Homosexual activity has no such natural consequences. It affects the homosexual, and, sure, it affects in various ways those associated with him or her. But not in naturally negative ways. Not in ways that necessarily have negative consequences. (Other than sin, which is what AJM I suspect will contend.)

Put sin aside. Why should a homosexual be pushed to lead a life of celibacy--what AJM likens to dying in battle--when being sexually active has zero naturally negative consequences?

Now, the natural reaction to this, is: Hey, Mr. Accipiter, what about AIDS, STDs, the whole "nastiness of anal sex" (as some see it), etc.? I say simply, those are not necessary negative consequences. Those are ones that must be carefully avoided, or--in the case of others' view of homosexuals and what they do--are culturally motivated, learned, or inherited.

Homosexual sex, when practiced safely, and when between consenting adults, has no naturally negative consequences.

AJM continued: "Whatever calling God has placed on my life, and whatever temptations to which I am most likely to fall prey, I hope the Church will always speak clearly to me about my sinful condition and about the perfect God-Man who offers redemption to me. " I respect that. "I only worry that the Church is refusing to offer that same marvelous grace to homosexuals. That is to the detriment of the homosexual and of the Church."

But this only makes sense to AJM and those who agree with him about the role of the Church and the nature of homosexuality.

Perhaps because I am not an orthodox Christian like AJM I don't recognize homosexuality as a sexual disease or "disorder". And I certainly do not think homosexuality itself is a sin. Frankly, I don't have particularly strong feelings one way or another about whether homosexual sex is a "sin," either.

What I do believe, based on my experience in life, is that sexuality exists along a continuum. I believe people find themselves straight, gay, or more or less straight or gay. And, as AJM and any other reader must admit, one may choose to act or choose not to act on the innate sexual feelings he or she has.

I belive that for sexuality, just like many other characteristics, there is a bell-shaped curve. Based on numbers alone, I believe that homosexuality is near the tails of the graph, rather than the center. That, however, does not make homosexuality any more a "disorder" than someone with blaze-red hair has a "disease," or someone who can memorize 400 random numbers in 4 minutes has a "disorder," or someone who has a third nipple has a "condition". As far as I know, there are no physiological "problems" linked to homosexuality, regardless of how "abnormal" it seems to some. None.

That said, why is it so easy for some to believe that God would want homosexuals to live a non-sexual life? To not express their sexuality, which all Christians consider a gift from God? It is one thing to argue that God--based on passages found in the Bible in various places--would not condone gays sleeping around any more than he would condone non-gays having all kinds of sex with all kinds of people. However, how is it that gays who are committed to one another, living monog0mous, loving lives together, fall under the same umbrella? I don't think they do. I don't believe the Bible is clear on this.

Some may say: It is sex outside of marriage. That's a sin. And marriage can never be for gays because it is naturally between a man and a woman. Simple. But I'm not convinced.

AJM once offered some proof for the existence of God and what He "does for a living," all without resorting to Scripture to prove his point. I was, and am, superbly and sincerely impressed.

I now challenge AJM, or anyone else, to do the same here. Without using the Bible: What makes homosexual sex, in and of itself, bad? Why is it sinful? And, further, just to sweeten the pot, why is marriage "naturally" between a man and a woman?

I have my responses lined up and ready to go. I wait for AJM to take a whack at me with a big wet noodle.

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