HOMOSEXUALITY: A MORAL WRONG OR HUMAN RIGHT?

DEFINITION

Homosexuality can be defined as persistent and predominant orientation towards a person of same sex. The pre-fix ‘homo’ derives from a Greek word which means “like” or “same”.[1] Male homosexuals are commonly called ‘Gays’ and female homosexuals are referred to as ‘Lesbians’. Homosexuality manifests itself in the development of loving relationships with persons of the same sex and could even show itself by lack of interest in the opposite sex and in normal marriage of a man and a woman.

EMERGENCE TO PUBLIC GLARE, ITS DEMAND AND THE CHALLENGE

Although homosexuality is an ancient phenomenon, its emergence and public debate is recent. According to Marmor, homosexual is evidenced in pre-historic art as well as in the pictographs and hieroglyphs of ancient culture. Ancient Hebrews, Egyptians and Assyrians had laws against homosexual practice. Some pagan culture punished it severely[2]

However in the 1970s and early 80s homosexuals won a great deal of freedom in many parts of the world. Before this time, most homosexuals conceal their sexuality as a shameful secret. They emerged from the shadows not as quiescence but as co-workers, family members, and political lobbyists, unwilling to remain hidden any longer. They claim to be ordinary people who should not be denied civil rights – the right to teach in schools, adopt children, serve in the military, or pastor a church. To be despised for an attribute as accidental as race, they say, is unwarranted prejudice.[3]

Consequently, in many parts of the world, those freedoms have been incorporated in Human Rights legislation which can be used against Christians and others who may speak against homosexual relationships and practices. They want their partnerships to be accorded the same status and recognition as traditional marriage of male and female by the society. In America, where homosexual ‘civil contract’ has been introduced, homosexual divorces are now occurring! They are even claiming right in the ministry of many churches and have achieved it. Such is the United Church of Canada.[4] In the recent past, the Anglican Communion world-wide hotly debated the issue of ordination of homosexuals as priests. The major resistance was from the minority.

To say the least, homosexuality should bear a special concern for the church. First, the church’s historically and appropriate high view of the scripture is threatened by efforts at revising the church’s position on homosexuality.[5] Secondly, the church need not be casual about this because the Bible treats homosexuality as an act to be condemned, but our society is treating it as a fundamental element of personal identity. There is no legitimacy to defining a person by his or her sexual desires or any other fallen element of one’s nature.

This is not really new; the Church in each generation has been faced with new challenges, which according to Jones are “new twists on old issues”. The ‘new twist’ is to see gay persons as a social group that must be loved and accepted as they are, but the ‘old issue’ is to diminish the authority of God’s revelation, understand and accept people on their terms rather than God’s view of them, and fundamentally to amend the nature of Christ’s call to take up our crosses and follow Him.[6]

 

GROUNDS FOR THE PROPAGANDA

The grounds used by Homosexuals to gain public view and demand civil rights include the following:

  1. The population of those who are homosexuals. A long acclaimed population of ten percent was used to whip up emotions as significant enough fraction to be accorded civil rights. While this population has long been disputed and refuted, the more agreed population is between 1and 4 percent; but should the population even be much more than 10 percent, would it matter if when faced with God’s demand, it falls short?
  2. The Source of Homosexuals. The claim of homosexuals is that they were so born. Twenty five years old Lesbian was said to have written in a publication appealing to all “homophobic individuals” to correct their understandings. She wrote: “A person’s sexual orientation is a natural part of a person… It is God-given. Since it is what nature intended, it should be celebrated. It can’t possibly be immoral”[7] But according to Ray, Homosexuals are not a third sex. They are not accident of creation or procreation. They are ordinary people who early in life responded to their emotional stresses and strains with wrong attitudes and wrong actions which develop into serious neuroses.[8] This is in consonance with Gadapaille who stated that “the cross-cultural data clearly shows that adult homosexuality does not naturally develop in human cultures or families where heterosexual bias is allowed expression and fostered.[9]
  • Homosexual orientation cannot be changed. Following from the above that it is by nature and not by nurture, the homosexuals argue that the sexual orientation cannot be reversed. Thus they have no choice but remain homosexuals for life. It is however proved that their sexual orientation can be reversed. Some clinical report has 66 percent success rate in changing homosexual orientation. It should also quickly be added that these are purely human means apart from the incomparably great effect that divine grace and the power of the Holy Spirit can impact.[10]

CAUSE(S) OF HOMOSEXUAL ORIENTATION

The causes of homosexual orientation are hotly debated in research circle. The presumed ones include the following:

  1. Few choose to have homosexual inclination. A man can almost choose to be or do anything. The bent of man’s will and his exploration quest has resulted in homosexuality for some persons.
  2. Genetic and Chromosomal Factors may give some a bent to homosexuality. Dr. Money, a leading authority on the physiological aspect of human sexuality by research is said to conclude that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that homosexuals or bisexuals of any degree or type are chromosomally discrepant from heterosexuals. Sex hormones may be crucial for the physiological development of the organs needed for the sexual acts and for increasing their sensitivity to stimulation, psychological factors are the crucial elements that influence the choice of sexual partners and the intensity of the emotions, he claims.[11]
  • Disordered Family Relationship that have people confused at a deep level about their sexual identity. Many Lesbians seem to have been sexually abused by men early in life, this could result in a deeply impaired ability to trust or feel free to be close to men later. For instance, the combination of a domineering mother and a father who is detached or hostile can contribute to this condition. But we must note that some homosexuals do not have this background and there are persons with such background that do not have homosexual tendencies.
  1. It is learned behavior brought about by seduction or initiation. This is found to be the experience of many.

Concluding on what causes homosexual tendencies, Hooker states it is multi-factorial. The variables include biological, cultural, psychodynamic, structural and situational factors.[12] If this is correct, we can draw inference from Biblical perspective that the genesis of homosexuality is not a matter of nature to the exclusion of nurture or vice versa. It is rather a combination of both. Man in his falling nature interacting with a social environment which itself bears the marks of sin, and homosexuality is one of the distortion that can result from that interaction.[13] The Bible, though acknowledging these imperfections do hold man responsible for the way he interacts with his world.

ARGUMENTS ON HOMOSEXUALITY

The following is representative of arguments on homosexual acts:

  1. There should be no sexual constraint for consenting adults. What they do is their own moral business. A person has right to do with his body whatever he chooses. If mutual adults consent is equal to a right, what if the adults consent to Rob, kill or kidnap will it earn a right? An individual is not the ultimate standard of what is right or wrong.
  2. The right of privacy protects homosexuality. Privacy is a constitutional right and as such the heterosexual majority has no right to impose their morality on the homosexual minority. Is right of privacy right of immorality? There is for instance no right to private rape.
  • Homosexuals have civil rights too like other minority groups. Denial is discrimination and discrimination is morally and socially wrong. There are no homosexual rights, homosexuals have rights as citizens but not as homosexuals for there is no right to do wrong. There is no civil right to do a moral wrong. There may then be advocacy for Murderers’ right, rapists’ right etc.
  1. Morals have changed since ancient times. E.g. Pre-marital sex is viewed differently now. Morality does not change. Basic moral principles don’t change, what changes is our understanding and performances of them. Geisler states “Unchanging moral values with changing moral practice confuses morals and mores”[14]

THE SOCIAL VICES AND DAMAGES OF HOMOSEXUALITY

A look of the contribution of homosexuality to the society can become a way to assess the worth for its quest for civil rights. Its contribution includes the following:

  1. Male homosexuality tends to be strongly associated with promiscuity. The famous Bell Memberg study suggested that about one-third of gays have had over one thousand sexual partners in their life’s times. Very few gays are in committed long-term relationships. Less than 10 percent of gays are in such relationships. Those who are in stable relationship do not tend to be sexually monogamous. McWhirter and Mattison, a Gay Couple themselves found that zero percent of the one hundred stable couple they studied were sexually monogamous after being together for five years. They said, to be gay is to be non-monogamous and that monogamy is unnatural state that some gay men attempt because of their internalized homophobia, so when you finally grow to accept your own gayness they said, you shed your monogamy as butterfly shed a cocoon.[15]
  2. It produces unstable relationships. Apart from having many partners, characteristic to homosexuals, those in “stable relationships” are really unstable. For instance in ‘homosexual-friendly’ Scandinavian countries, where same-sex ‘civil union’ type relationships have existed for 10 years, male-male union breakdown (‘divorce’) is 50% higher than heterosexual unions. For female-female coupling the breakdown figure is 170% higher.[16]
  • Spread of Diseases. Homosexuality is responsible for the majority of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDS). 50 percent of new cases of Syphilis occur in the homosexual population. Homosexual is five times more likely to contact syphilis than his heterosexual peer. Rectal gonorrhea is associated with anal intercourse. Also Hepatitis B. virus and Recta Cancer[17]

Homosexual practices are threats to lives. Another social concern is AIDS. Homosexual is noted to spread it. It does to non-homosexuals: hemophiliacs, user of common needle, medical workers, wives of bisexuals and others. Predictions are that millions of people will die as a direct or indirect result of homosexual practices that pass on this fatal virus.[18]

These go on to show that homosexuality is a social and civil menace. Rational society would want to defend itself against activities that endanger the lives of its citizen.

 

THE CHRISTIAN STANCE ON HOMOSEXUALITY

Whereas there have been arguments based on the Biblical passages on homosexual activities, few years back it would be generally concluded that the Bible is clearly against homosexual acts. The traditional view on such scriptures such as Gen. 19, Lev. 18, Jdg. 7, Rom.1:26-27, 1 Cor.6:9, 1Tim.1:10, was unanimous. This however has changed. Some scholars opined that these Bible texts on which the past condemnation of homosexuality was based are more complicated than may appear to literal minded reader.[19] It is as though the Bible has no great relevance to our modern problems. This statement credited to Scroggs is apt on this: “Not only is the New Testament Church uninterested in the topic, it has nothing   new to say about it… Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today’s debate.”[20] Thus homosexual acts have reasons why it must be accepted.

It is however striking that every time homosexual practice is mentioned in the scriptures, it is condemned. Jones expressed that there are only two ways to neutralize the Biblical witness: by gross misinterpretation or by moving away from high view of scripture.[21] The passages mentioned above are certainly important, but they are not the core of Christian stance that homosexual action is immoral. What is central is the Biblical vision of sexuality which applies equally to homosexual and heterosexual persons, men and women, adults and children. The heart of Christian sexual morality is that God made sexual union for a purpose; it is for the unity of husband and wife into one flesh in marriage. God uses sexual intercourse, full sexual intimacy to weld two different people together (1 Cor.6:11). God’s purpose for sex and marriage is bigger than simply a means to get our sexual needs met, have fun, have children and not have to be lonely. These are included benefits though, but God has a bigger purpose.[22]

This bigger purpose is revealed in Ephesians 5. Marriage is to illustrate what God wants in the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. We are different from God but He wants to unite with us (1Cor.6:17). This reality can be uniquely modeled on earth through the union of two different human beings, male and female. Marriage is a living parable, a concrete symbol that models for the world the mystical union between Christ and His people.[23]

CONCLUSION

In the light of all stated above, it becomes very clear that homosexuality is not a question of human right but a moral question, indeed it is a moral wrong. The existence of inclinations, orientations or preferences has little to do with God’s moral call upon our lives. The goals that God ordained are legitimate and binding. However, this should not banish homosexuals from Christian touch of love especially as the luring into it is continuous. Indeed it should endear Christians to homosexuals. They should be seen as persons in captivity of their passion and hence objects of mercy. They are people for whom the sacrifice of Christ can atone. They need to know that there is hope of freedom. Awareness on homosexuality should be made first to denominational and congregational leaders. This is to serve not only to have them informed in balanced and enlightened form but to cause them to stand firmly, intelligently and vocally against homosexuality crusade as its creeping in for debate even with our national law makers. Christians should aim to reach homosexuals for the Lord and also have them rehabilitated. Jones speaks of ideal, chaste singleness as open and accessible to any homosexual. He states further that this holds out the possibility for true integrity and beauty as the models of Jesus Himself, Paul and many other saints show.[24] This is crucial because a moral wrong can never become the basis for human right.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burrven,  Abigail Van. “Lesbian Writes to fight misunderstanding” in New Orleans Times 30 December 1994. E.8. Cited by Joe E. Trull Walking in the Way.Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

Carndy, Denis L. & Carmody, John T. Christian Ethics. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1993.

David, John Jerfferson. Evangelical Ethics. Phillipsburgh: P&R Publishing, 2004.

Gadpaille, Warren J. “Cross-Cultural Contribution to understanding Homosexual Activity” Achives of General Psychiatry 37 (1980) :355. Cited by John Jefferson David Evangelical Ethics Phillipsburgh: P&R Publishing, 2004.

Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics.Leicester: Apollos, 1989.

Jones, Stanton L. “The Loving Opposition” in Reading in Christian Ethics, pp.203-211. Editors. David K. Clark & Robert V. Rakestraw. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.

Marmor, Judd. Ed., Homosexual Behaviour: A Modern Re-appraisal. New York: Basic Books, 1980. Cited by John J. Davis in Evangelical Ethics. Philipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2004.

Ray, Chaplain.  “What the Bible sat to Homosexuals” in International Prison Ministry, Dallas. Cited by Trull.

Scroggs, Robin. The New Testament and Homosexuality.Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Cited by David F. Wright “Homosexuality: The Relevance of the Bible” in Readings in Christian Ethics.

Shields, Norman. Christian Ethics. Bukuru: African Christian Textbooks, 2004.

http//www.saltshakers.org.au/issues/homosexuality/199-statistics-homosexuality#top

 


     [1] Norman Shields, Christian Ethics(Bukuru: African Christian Textbooks, 2004), p.198.

     [2] Judd  Marmor ed., Homosexual Behaviour: A Modern Re-appraisal (New York:  Basic Books, 1980),  p.5. Cited byJohn J. Davis in Evangelical Ethics(Philipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2004), p.76.

     [3] Denis L. Carndy & John T. Carmody Christian Ethics (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1993), p.167.

     [4] Shields, p.198

     [5] Stanton L. Jones “The Loving Opposition” in Reading in Christian Ethics eds. David K. Clark & Robert V. Rakestraw (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), p.207.

     [6] Ibid, p.208

     [7] Abigail Van Burrven “Lesbian Writes to fight misunderstanding” in New Orleans Times 30 December 1994. E.8. Cited by Joe E. Trull Walking in the Way (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), p.166

     [8] Chaplain Ray, “What the Bible sat to Homosexuals” in International Prison Ministry, Dallas. Cited by Trull, p. 167.

     [9] Warren J. Gadpaille, “Cross-Cultural Contribution to understanding Homosexual Activity” Achives of General Psychiatry 37 (1980) :355. Cited by John Jefferson David Evangelical Ethics (Phillipsburgh: P&R Publishing, 2004), p.116.

    [10] John Jerfferson David Evangelical Ethics (Phillipsburgh: P&R Publishing, 2004), p.119.

     [11] Davis, p.116.

     [12] Ibid., p. 118.

     [13] Ibid.,

     [14] Norman L. Geisler Christian Ethics (Leicester: Apollos, 1989), p.257-261.

     [15] Jones, p.206.

     [16] “Statistics – same sex relationships and homosexuality” Salt Shakers

     [17] Davis, p.120

     [18] Abraham L. Geisler Christian Ethics (Leicester: Apollos, 1989), p.272.

     [19] Carndy and Carmody, p.171.

     [20] Robin Scroggs The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), p.101-127. Cited by David F. Wright “Homosexuality: The Relevance of the Bible” in Readings in Christian Ethics p.194

     [21] Jones, p.204

     [22] Ibid.

     [23] Ibid.

     [24] Ibid.,, p.206

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