With news of the Supreme Court’s ruling that gay marriage is now a right every American has, Facebook newsfeeds have exploded with rainbow display pictures, and just about every other post seems to be about the news. A Facebook friend of mine made a post about how he found it amazing that there were Christians out there, who were educated in philosophy (a field he respects), who are still capable of being against the redefinition of marriage. One of the first comments on this post was that people are capable of being both educated and ignorant. In other words, to this person, anyone who is against gay marriage must be ignorant. I found this interesting because labeling a whole group of people as ignorant, simply because they have a different belief than you, is actually quite a bigoted thing to do.
Bigoted: having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.
Considering I am one of the “ignorant” people they were talking about (I have a masters degree in philosophy, and am a Bible believing Christian), I thought it would be interesting to comment. The conversation went in many directions (as Facebook conversations tend to do). It dealt with the seemingly strange Old Testament laws, homosexuality being scientifically shown not to be a choice, claims that the Bible is unreliable because it’s been translated, subjective views on truth, and whether Christians can both believe the Bible to be God’s Word and be in favour of gay marriage.
This led to my friend making a new post, wanting people to give him a reason as to why homosexuality is a sin. I think that’s a very important question for today. Many people just hold to their beliefs about gay marriage, and don’t bother trying to understand “why” many Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong. They simply label anyone who disagrees with them as “bigoted” (which is ironic). I think it’s very important in this conversation for everyone to understand the rationality behind a view that is so counter to the way our culture is going.
The simple answer as to why Christians believe homosexuality is sinful is, “because the Bible says so.” However, I think we can expand on that a great deal.
Why is homosexuality a sin?
An interesting aspect of the Christian view is to look deeper into the ethics as to “why” the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. The core reason comes from the concept of homosexuality being counter to the nature of sexuality as God created it. I believe morality stems from the way we were created, the purpose of life, and the end goal of being human. I believe morality stems from the way we were created, the purpose of life, and the end goal of being human. This is called our “teleology”, meaning, what sorts of things humans were created for. (I remind you that we are in fact discussing this topic from a Christian perspective, so don’t ignore this simply because it presumes faith in God. I assume the goal of this conversation is to understand and evaluate the internal consistency of Christianity’s perspective on homosexuality). God created humanity as man and woman with a spiritual sense of sexuality, so that there could be a more intimate and deep relationship of husband and wife within our lives. This type of relationship is not a necessary part of human existence, but it is an incredibly powerful and important part. I’d even go so far as to say that if a man doesn’t marry a woman or vice versa, then this person is missing out on an aspect of what it means to be human. In this sense, even if you stay celibate your whole life to accomplish some great task (which is praiseworthy), you would still have missed out on a part of the human experience.
An analogy that hopefully helps
If morality stems from the purposes bestowed upon us by God in His creation of humanity, then anything that runs counter to those purposes that we have been created for would be deemed sinful.As an overly simplistic analogy for homosexuality and teleological ethics, consider a hammer and a saw. A hammer is used to drive in nails, and a saw is used to cut wood. You “could” use the hammer to try and cut wood, but it would be using the hammer against the reason it was created, and would likely damage the wood. You “could” use the saw to hammer in nails, but it would go against the reason it was created, and would likely damage the saw and perhaps the nails. If morality stems from the purposes bestowed upon us by God in His creation of humanity, then anything that runs counter to those purposes that we have been created for would be deemed sinful.
In other words, because humanity was created for heterosexual relationships, homosexual relationships are by definition counter to human nature, and are thus perversions of God’s good invention of sexuality. This is why we find words like “abomination,” “unnatural,” “dishonourable,” and “disgraceful” in the Bible in regards to homosexuality. All these terms imply exactly the point I’m making in regards to the reason why homosexuality is a sin on biblical grounds. It goes against the teleology of humanity as given to us by our Creator.
On a side note, I would say the exact same thing about pornography, sex outside of marriage, divorce, adultery, and many other types of sexual immorality. All of these things are outside of the nature of sexuality as God created it, and twist something good into something bad.
Homosexual orientation and actions
John Piper once gave a response to the question of homosexuality. One part of what he said that I really appreciated was his statement that homosexual “feelings” aren’t sin. It’s against nature (the way God created us), but these feelings are not in themselves sinful. The sin is acting upon it. It’s the same with gluttony or alcoholism. For example, I have a tendency to become addicted to things, and I realize that. I have a choice in my actions to either give in to my vices, or work on virtues. For me, I avoid all alcohol completely. One reason is because I recognize I would likely get addicted. I take steps to obey God, because I highly value my relationship with God.
Having homosexual tendencies is not a sin, and is not a choice, although it is a sign of brokenness in human nature.Simply being prone to addiction is not a bad thing (although it is a “broken” thing), but my actions in giving into this proneness to addiction can be a bad thing. Having homosexual tendencies is not a sin, and is not a choice, although it is a sign of brokenness in human nature. However, acting upon the homosexual tendencies is in fact a choice (which no one disagrees with), and is a sin.
The nature of brokenness
This is the entire reason why God sent Jesus into humanity – so that our relationship with God could be restored, and so that our sinful and broken nature could be fixed.The reason I say there is “brokenness” in the nature of humanity, is because this is what the Bible teaches about the very nature of sin and evil. Humanity has rebelled against God, and through this rebellion, we have broken ourselves. We have created a distance between ourselves and God, and this leads to our destruction. This is the entire reason why God sent Jesus into humanity – so that our relationship with God could be restored, and so that our sinful and broken nature could be fixed.
I’m not saying this only in regards to homosexuality. I’m saying this in relation to everything that is broken within humanity, which includes every human person, and every sin. However, if we push Jesus away, and don’t accept the forgiveness He offers, then we won’t ever be reconciled with God, and our human nature won’t ever be restored. This is why Christians are so passionate about sharing their faith. We’re not trying to make you the same as us (or at least we shouldn’t be). We’re trying to reintroduce you to a God who loves you, and is waiting to forgive you, and fix you. The reason many Christians are so passionate about this is because they have found this forgiveness in their own lives, and they want others to experience it too.