Is it okay to be gay?
If, when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?”, we mean “are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals second-class citizens?”, then the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay” (in America) is clearly: “yes, being gay is okay—being gay does not make anyone a second-class citizen.” But if when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?” we mean “is being gay the same as, equal to, or just-as-good-as being straight?”, then I think the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay?” is clearly “no, being gay is not okay—being gay is not the same as or just-as-good-as being straight.”
This is a subject to which I have devoted much thought, both because it is a hot-button issue these days and because I have had—and I do have—many friends who were—and who are—gay, lesbian, and bisexual.
As an American and as a libertarian, I don’t care who is having sex with whom, as long as it’s consensual sex and as long as no one is being harmed or abused against their will. It’s none of my business. I think gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should be allowed equal protection under the law. They should be allowed to work any job for which they are qualified, be allowed to serve in the military, be allowed to join in civil unions (the marriage issue is, I think, a religious matter; which is up to one’s church), and they should be allowed to parent children.
As a Christian, I believe homosexuality is a sin. And I also believe that heterosexual adultery and promiscuity is a sin. I’m of the opinion that God, in his mercy, warns us against giving-in to our sinful desires because he knows what’s best for us. He knows that engaging in homosexual sex, heterosexual adultery, and promiscuity is not what’s best for us. In fact, engaging in sinful behavior can make us quite miserable.
Sinful desires are quite natural for us to have, as is our desire to give-in to them, which is why our Creator warns us not to give-in to them. But I don’t see our Creator as a stern judge, chomping at the bit to throw sinners into hell. I believe our Creator loves us, wants what’s best for us, and wants us to be happy. Our Creator knows that when we give-in to our sinful desires, we won’t be as happy; not as happy as we could be. In fact, we’re often miserable because of such giving-in.
My belief is that promiscuous and adulterous heterosexuals, as well as homosexuals and bisexuals (even if they’re not being promiscuous and unfaithful) are simply not as happy as they could be; and not as happy as they should be (i.e., not as happy as our Creator desires for them to be).
In short, these sexual lifestyles are not ideal, or what’s best for us.
The ideal sexual relationship is one in which a woman and a man love one another, complement one another, treat each other equally, are faithful to one another sexually, and are forgiving and kind to one another when they (inevitably) fall short of these ideals.
Heterosexual relationships are by no means easy, but they are worth the effort; especially if we desire to live-up to our full potential, as human persons.
I think the practice of homosexuality is a refusal to accept (or a denial of) the many challenges of growth and development that are associated with developing the healthy, fulfilling, and ideal emotional and sexual relationship that one can only form with a member of the opposite sex.
This refusal or denial makes the practice of homosexuality “incest-like”, because intra-gender emotional and sexual relationships take place “within the family” of one’s own gender. Healthy growth and development cannot occur when one locks oneself emotionally and sexually into one family (a biological family, a gender family, or both). In order to grow and develop healthy relationships one must leave the safety, security, and familiarity of the family, however difficult this may be for one to do.
The word genus comes from the Latin word genre-, genus; meaning: birth, race, or kind. The word gender has the same meaning. Also related to this same (Latin) word is the word generate, which means: descent, birth (see also: kin). The word: geneology, from the Greek word: genea, genos, meaning: race, family.
This is why I say that homosexuality is “incest-like”, because gender is like family. Sexual activity within one’s own gender (intra-gender) is sexual activity within one’s own gender-family.
The relationship between the two words gender and family is readily apparent.
What concerns me is that our society is sending people the message that “being gay is okay”—meaning: “being gay is just-as-good-as being straight”—when, in reality, being gay is not just-as-good-as being straight.
What concerns me even more is when some Christians, and some Christian churches, send the message that “being gay is just-as-good-as being straight”; because it’s not.
(I’m especially concerned that some organizations are telling children that “being gay is okay—or just-as-good-as being straight”.)
Sending this false message does people (especially young people) a great disservice. We should be telling people the truth, that “being gay is not as good as being straight”—being homosexual will never allow one to be as happy as one could be, and as one should be, by being heterosexual. As difficult as it may be (at times) to tell people the truth, telling people the truth about a serious issue is not an option, especially for Christians and Christian churches.
It’s especially disappointing knowing that my Christian friend has bought—and is selling—the lie: that “being gay is just as good as being straight”.
Telling the truth is hard, but it’s the right thing to do, especially if you really care about people and if you really desire for them to reach their best potential.
One of the most important theological points, which I made above, is that people have been created by God in the image of God, and that the image of God is both male and female together.
People image God as both male and female together; not as male and male together or as female and female together. God is neither female nor male but has aspects of both, and is best imaged by female and male together as one. Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man [i.e., humankind] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Men and woman are very different, and both men and women need one another in order to complement one another.
This is the theological reason for why it’s not ideal for a child to have same-sex parents. In order to image God, in the family, one must have both a female and a male (both a mother and a father) and not a female and a female (a mother and a mother) or a male and a male (a father and a father). The best way to image God to a child is for the child to have both a mother and a father; both of whom love one another, respect one another, and, most importantly, complement one another.
Should same sex families be allowed in America? Sure. But these same-sex families are not “just as good as” opposite-sex families. And we’re fooling ourselves if we think they are.
This is not easy for me to say but I’ve never hesitated to express my concerns about these important issues, especially to my gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends; some of whom have same-sex families. I’m very tolerant, but I also love people and I want what’s best for them. And this means telling them the truth: homosexuality, very simply, is not “the same as, or just as good as, heterosexuality”.
As I was working on this post, I received an update regarding a new blog post, concerning homosexuality and the church, written by a friend of mine who is in seminary. Sadly, my friend is telling people (although not as plainly) that “being gay is just as good as being straight”. In response to his post, I wrote the following, which is rather technical and may not be of interest to the general reader. It deals with male homosexuality and the definitions of the New Testament Greek words relating to it:
As Christian theologians, we accept the concept of progressive revelation. The NT is a better (more clear) revelation than is the OT, but the revelation of God in the NT is not radically different from the revelation of God in the OT.
Unless we wish to be like Marcion and dispose of the OT altogether.
As for the definitions of the Greek words arsenokoites and malakos, I think you know as well as I do that–when it comes to writing books and papers dealing with the definitions of NT Greek words–we should agree to accept the standard scholarly reference work of our day: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Univ. of Chicago Press); also known as the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich lexicon (or BAG).
You say there is no consensus of scholarship regarding the words arsenokoites and malakos, but the BAG lexicon is a scholarly consensus. In fact it’s the only lexicon that’s universally accepted by NT scholars.
If we wish to be intellectually honest, and if we expect other scholars to give credence to our work, we should be willing to settle debates over NT Greek word definitions by the BAG lexicon.
According to the BAG lexicon, the word arsenokoites means: “a male who practices homosexuality, pederast, sodomite.”
I know this isn’t popular these days, but it’s what the word means; at least according to the standard, scholarly reference work of our day.
According to the BAG lexicon, the word malakos means: “men and boys who allow themselves to be misused homosexually.”
You can easily look up these two words in the BAG lexicon for yourself, as I just did, because I’m sure you guys must have one in your library.
And please don’t get me wrong here.
I understand the issue of homosexuality and the church very well. I’ve had, and do have, many friends who were, and are, homosexual. But I don’t think homosexuality is an ideal lifestyle that is equivalent with heterosexuality. I think engaging in homosexuality in preference to heterosexuality is immature in that it hinders our growth as persons made in the image of God. People image God as both male and female together; not as male and male together or as female and female together.
God is neither female nor male but has aspects of both, and is best imaged by female and male together as one. Genesis 1:27 tells us,
“So God created man [i.e., humankind] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
I try very hard not to allow myself to twist the meanings of words in order to make myself or others feel better about our behavior choices. And I accept the BAG lexicon regarding NT Greek word definitions, letting the chips fall where they may. I think we’re on very thin ice when we find ourselves arguing against it.
You may also find this article, concerning the etymologies of the words arsenkoites and malakos, to be of interest as well.