Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What I believe about homosexuality

When I consider posting thoughts on how I think the teaching of the Bible bears on the question of homosexuality, I think of what a pain it will be to have to explain every single time what I mean when I say that I believe homosexuality to be a “fallen” and “sinful” condition. Then by the time I am done with all that repetition, it will end up sounding like I believe homosexuality to be so much more fallen and sinful a condition than all the millions of other fallen and sinful conditions that plague humanity, it will leave entirely the wrong impression. So how about if I get the explanation over with right now; that way I can simply refer people to this post in the future, if I still like what I wrote.

As a Christian I use the terms “fallen” and “sinful” to refer to aspects of our human existence that do not measure up to the absolute perfection of the newly-created world described by Genesis 1-2 prior to the fall. To be “sinful” is to be anywhere short of morally perfect. It is failing to have perfect love, patience, contentment, wisdom, purity, honesty, selflessness, etc., which is to say that sometimes what the Bible calls “sinful” is what most people would call being “merely human.” As for being in a “fallen” condition, according to my understanding, that refers to our propensity to get sick, get tired, dread going to work, need an epidural when giving birth, sprout gray hairs and eventually kick the bucket. Because of the fall humanity lives in a broken existence, like a watch whose delicate internal mechanisms have been thrown awry.

In my judgment, homosexuality belongs more in the category of fallenness because it is one of those can’t-be-helped states of human existence that has befallen a certain portion of the population. However, since one’s sexuality inevitably affects one’s relationship to other human beings, being homosexual isn’t completely separate from moral categories either. If it bears upon the thoughts, feelings, conduct and actions of one human being toward another, it is a moral issue, and to the extent that it falls short of the ideal it is sinful. The big problem I have with the term “sinful” is that it makes it sound like a person’s homosexual orientation is a willful choice, which is not what I believe. If there were a term that lay somewhere in between “fallenness” and “sinfulness,” that would probably best describe my view of homosexuality.

So if homosexuality is about fallenness and fallenness is brokenness, then how broken are we talking about? Here’s an analogy I just thought of. Suppose I have a watch that reads “8 p.m.” when it is really “8 a.m.” and vice versa. It doesn’t give the correct time, yet I keep wearing it because aside from that particular problem, I can still tell the time just fine. Now if someone were to try to badger me into believing that “p.m.” is exactly the same as “a.m.” and there is no difference between the two, I would have to dig my heels in and insist that is not the case. But otherwise I can live with the brokenness of the watch, because although it is incorrect, it is also correct in all the ways that matter most to me.

Maybe in my view gays and lesbians do not love people of the “correct” sex; however they really and truly do love. They are capable of loving in the same way heterosexual couples love each other. For having a different orientation does not devalue their love, does not make them less in the image of God, does not make them less valuable, less beautiful, or less worthy as human beings. God loves gay and lesbian people. They are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Psalm says. He delights in their existence, sets forth good purposes for their lives, and graces each one with all the good gifts that make every individual unique. These are the things that matter most to me.