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Why Christians Can’t Have a Meaningful Debate About Homosexuality

Many conservative Christians do not adhere to these verses [Lev 19:18 and Mt 22:39]. If they did then gays would have the same rights as heterosexuals to lawfully join in union. It is because of American Christians hatred of homosexuality that gays cannot legally bond in most states. Some Christian parents have been known to disown their children who happen to be homosexual. (source)

Mark (proprietor of Proud Atheists) has demonstrated the reason that Christians can’t have a meaningful debate with social liberals over homosexuality. We consider, with good reason, homosexuality to be a grave sin. However, calling it that causes the other side to immediately label us “homophobes,” “bigots,” or other nice names.

It is because we love our neighbors that we try to communicate that homosexuality is a sin. If we didn’t care about our neighbor’s eternal fate, then we’d just shut up and allow homosexual marriage to take place.

Mark is doing serious violence to the definition of love by making his initial claim. He’s saying that if we loved our neighbors, then we’d leave them be to express their individuality. But that’s absolutely absurd.

If my neighbor asserted his individuality by playing with matches and lighter fluid and I didn’t stop him, one could hardly make a case for me being “loving.” If another neighbor asserted his individuality by keeping 14 year old girls for sex slaves before killing them, I would hardly be called “loving” if I allowed him to continue unabated. If another neighbor decided that gambling and drinking were more important than his wife and kids, I would not be considered “loving” if I didn’t try to reason with him and show him that he’s losing his family and ruining his future.

The radio station K-Love once ran a spot where several criminals who had committed crimes of increasing severity appeared before a judge. Each time, the judge said to the offender that he was forgiven, and he could go free to sin no more–never once punishing him. The end of the spot asked, “Do you consider this judge loving?”

Of course not. We might describe that judge as apathetic, but not loving. Same as my behavior in the three hypothetical examples above.

Returning to the homosexuality example, since we consider it to be a grave sin, we would be apathetic if we allowed people to walk in it unabated. It would be no different than if we failed to denounce murder. Where we are failing to communicate is that society doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with homosexuality.

Rather than listen to what we’re trying to communicate about homosexuality, however, we are simply labeled bigots or homophobes. Emotionally loaded terms. There is no meaningful debate after that.

UPDATE:

Daniel just did the exact same thing over at Unreasonable Faith: he’s not considering that homosexuality is a sin, or that Christians should speak against it like any other sin. He’s just calling the pastor a bigot. No argument. Just name calling.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on July 2, 2010, in Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I completely understand that feeling Christians have, I don’t think it’s hate. That’s my problem, religion itself has convinced people something completely harmless (outside of an old book) is a “grave sin”. If people weren’t religious, than they would leave people alone. But I don’t think Christians are hateful (though some are), just terribly misguided.

    • So the nonreligious leave people alone? Really? Why even coin the term “atheist activism” then?

      • The atheists are reacting, though sometimes too harshly, to what they think is harmful in religion. If they didn’t think (in most cases) that religion was harmful, they wouldn’t do those things. It’s like attacking the principles of a community because the values it holds sometimes prompt their members to rob people’s houses…in my case, I haven’t really been affected by religious beliefs, but I don’t think the victims should be left to protest all alone. Who would be an advocate for animal rights (a cause I incidentally support) if everyone left fighting to the concerned? Would a cat take the streets and protest?

        By “leaving people alone”, I didn’t mean billboard crusades, preaching. I see nothing wrong with most preaching, I just think it’s wrong to tell a faithful Christian who is gay that he is going to hell. Homosexuality is inherent; you can’t change yourself to stop being gay. I personally know a lesbian who went through a long depression because of the attitude of her family members towards her sexual orientation when they found out. And said attitude stemmed from their religious beliefs (and it was even tougher for her because she is a Christian herself). That’s the kind of “leaving people alone” I was talking about.

        That’s just one issue that has maybe motivated atheists (the ones who actually think religion is harmful, some attack it simply because they think it’s false). The refusal to fund stem cell research in the past is another side effect of religious belief. Some think the propagation of ignorance (Creationism) and such instead of real science is reason enough to attack religion; I don’t completely agree in this case, but such an attitude can be a harmful thing in the long run (what if a serious world issue scientists discover in the future is contradicted by scripture (imagine global warming was), would Christians be concerned about it? Would they behave as if scientists are right…or lead the world to its demise?).

      • And obviously, there’s also the opposition to gay marriage, and I won’t talk about the horrors going on in some countries in Africa (where I think homosexuality, at least in some places, was respected before monotheistic values were introduced, as it was respected in most Native American cultures). I didn’t answer your comment yesterday or this morning because I hadn’t seen it.

  2. I do actually agree. If one is convinced the almighty has something against homosexuality, to the extent of letting people suffer in hell for not giving it up and repenting, it would be logical to try and warn people off that path.

    Of course that such god would be a terrible, cruel tyrant but hey that’s another matter. I certainly couldn’t call him loving himself.

    Also playing with matches or keeping sex slaves is a horrible, horrible parallel to use. Setting aside the matter of god’s judgement and sticking to this world, there are gays out there who lead lives just as stable and happy as Cory’s nice traditional family unit.

  3. I challenge your assertion that Christian talk about homosexuality just like any other sin. This simply is not true. Certain sins are elevated above others. Other sins are not mentioned at all. If every sin is the same then lets give even sin equal time. Let’s start with the sins that the Catholic Church calls mortal sins.

    It is always amusing to listen to a fat, gluttonous Baptist preacher preach about the sins of others. Ironic indeed.

    • I never said anything remotely like Christians talk about homosexuality like any other sin. In this post, I recognized the fact that we do elevate it to the level of a super-sin, and treat people who are enslaved to it like lepers–as if we don’t want to get any on us. This is what I said:

      Former Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong (or is it bishop emeritus?) writes next about the treatment of gays in his book The Sins of Scripture. I agree that the church has treated gays and lesbians unfairly. But I disagree with Spong that homosexuality is no sin. Clearly condemned in multiple places, the sin of homosexuality has become some sort of “super-sin” to evangelicals.

      The only “super-sin” is blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

      Homosexuality, therefore, should be treated as any other sin. The sinner should be confronted about it, and walked through the Scriptures that condemn the practice. If he or she refuses to repent, I don’t think that ostracizing the poor chap is the answer–although a case could certainly be made for it. I think that prayer is the answer, like we would do for any other sin. Of course such a person would be excluded from church leadership, again, the same as with any sin.

      See the key word in the second bolded passage? It’s “should.” I never said we do, only that we should.

  4. There’s the rub. The reasons for considering homosexuality a sin are invalid (as is most of the Bible). Are you a Christian following the Apostate johnny-come-lately self aggrandizing Paul, aka Apallonius ? or James the brother of Jesus (whom I consider to be a full-blood brother born of Joseph and Mary)?

    • There’s the rub. The reasons for considering homosexuality a sin are invalid (as is most of the Bible).

      There’s a sweeping generality. Obviously, I don’t accept that or I wouldn’t be a Christian. So all you did was what philosopher Randal Rauser calls “attacking a guy in a swimming pool with a SuperSoaker.” Basically, I already accept the Bible as the complete, true revelation of God. I have immersed myself in it, as a swimmer in a pool. Now, all that can be said about the Bible is not necessarily in that swimming pool. You’ve loaded some things about it — more water — into your squirt gun and you’re now squirting me. But I’m already wet so you aren’t making noticeable damage.

      As to the question of whether homosexuality is a sin, this is my case. Would you care to answer any of it specifically? Or will I be getting more broad generalities?

      Are you a Christian following the Apostate johnny-come-lately self aggrandizing Paul, aka Apallonius ? or James the brother of Jesus (whom I consider to be a full-blood brother born of Joseph and Mary)?

      There is no contradiction between Paul and James. They were writing to different audiences facing different problems with the same theology. So they addressed the different problems. One audience — Paul’s — was too concerned with works for salvation. James’s audience, by contrast, thought that works were unnecessary.

      A first century Jew would read both letters and not see any contradiction because of a little thing you should Google called the Semitic Totality Concept. Here’s a primer.

  1. Pingback: No Wonder This Guy’s an Atheist « Josiah Concept Ministries

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