In the early nineties, as a pastor, I was pressed to declare my position on a number of, then, new social postulates that required the church’s response. We were burying young adults that succumbed to the Aids virus—often the result of promiscuity or engaging in gay relations. This alone sought from christianity a more merciful voice than the fire and brimstone message of earlier days that preached an absolute holiness or else. For me, at the time, the issue that overwhelmed belief was “abortion.” I read a symposium on the subject made up of brilliant, scholarly, religious minds who came to no biblical conclusion worth hanging a theological position on.
Now the matter of gayness has revisited the privacy of our convictions and it seems impossible for the “pastor” to avoid the discussion. A recent Washington Post article alerts our catholic friends, “Pope Francis has called in a new documentary for the creation of civil union laws, giving his clearest support to date for the rights of same-sex couples while breaking from the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”1
LGBTQ concerns have invaded the pulpit and at least in innuendo the homily or sermon must address it. Some churches have openly accepted gay marriage as a modern social model. The nuclear family defined as “one man and one woman” plus the kids, is now politically incorrect. Family includes all types of relations including gay couples, with or without adopted little ones. Most preachers will probably pick and choose their Sunday text carefully avoiding any biblical reference to homosexuality hoping to avoid what now cannot be avoided. For reasons this blog cannot go into—it takes a book—LGBTQ is part of social life now in the civilized northern hemisphere and silence is consent! If that’s what the church wants to say to its world, they should say it openly.
Well, I was happy contenting myself with the theory that although the bible only references the religious practice of homosexuality and not “marriage” relations, per se, I could still maintain that the only biblically endorsed formula for familial relations was and is “one Adam and one Eve.”2 But a recent interrogation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by Senator Hirono of Hawaii gave me pause. The Washington Post article headlines, “Sen. Hirono grills Amy Coney Barrett for describing sexual orientation as a ‘preference’”3 It appears now generally accepted that because hormones are involved in sexual attractions (and they are) that homosexuality—and all LGBTQ behavior—must be genetic, not a preference or choice but a biologically driven impulse, and therefore cannot be subject to religious moral judgment.
“Scientists,” reads wiki,4 “do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. Although no single theory on the cause of sexual orientation has yet gained widespread support,” the article continues, “scientists favor biologically-based theories.”5 Homosexual orientation—not preference—cannot be a sin since it is part of nature and not choice.
I don’t believe God agrees.
So now, I must declare myself. I have counseled, befriended, and worked with gay men and have found some genuinely interested in and hungry for all Jesus offers, which pulls on my natural inclination to empathize. I know what a draw hormones cause. Just ask my wife! (No, don’t.) But what God does in all of this is a question for His grace which we should not presume to know in full. When it comes to the bema, though, behind which we are privileged to speak as divine oracles,6 we must not preach social norms. We must prayerfully represent His Word to the best of our calling or vocation. If there are consequences—and there will be, if I read my Bible right, let us count it as a badge of honor to faithfully represent Him.
2 Mark 10:7-9 [ESV] ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother [and hold fast to his wife, missing in some manuscripts] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”