Hearts on Fire

The Homosexual Lifestyle1

 

It is important to objectively look at the practice of homosexuality to evaluate the impact this has on our church's witness, because it seems that church leaders and other employees increasingly are pushing the "gay" agenda. (See Appendices F and G.) A history of homosexual advocacy in the United Methodist Church is available on the internet.*

A Scriptural View

The UM homosexual advocacy group "Affirmation" view "that the practice of homosexuality is compatible with Christian teaching" conforms to that of others, including some members of the UM clergy (bishops included). However, that does not conform to sound biblical scholarship. John Wesley wrote as a purpose for compiling his Notes on the Bible, "To give the direct, literal meaning of every verse, of every sentence, and, as far as I am able, of every word in the oracles of God. I design only, like the hand of a dial, to point every man to this; not to take up his mind with something else, however excellent, but to keep his eye fixed upon the naked Bible, that he may read and hear it with understanding. I say again, and I desire it may be well observed, that none may expect what they will not find...."2

The first scripture passage to be examined is Leviticus 18:22, which reads, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." Romans 1:18-32, speaks to this issue, especially 26-27 where Paul wrote, "...God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men."3 These Scripture verses are clear in what they mean.  

Some verses link homosexual acts with other offenses are those such as I Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders...." In I Timothy 1:8-10 these actions are condemned indirectly by linking this practice with adultery and refers to these actions as being "ungodly and sinful" along with other choice adjectives.

In Genesis 19:1-11 we read about Sodom and Gomorrah where in verse 5, the men of the city called out to Lot and said, "Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."3 a reference to homosexuality similar to Judges 19:22 where the Benjamites told the host, "Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him."3 It is this reference to Sodom that Rev. James Lawson claimed the Bible is being misused"4 against homosexuality. But II Peter 2:6-10 contradicts Lawson's assertion, especially in verses 6 and 7, which read, "...if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men..."3 "Filthy" is not descriptive of inhospitality, but more applicable to physical condition and sexually-related matters. Finally, Jude 7 tells us that, "...Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffered the punishment of eternal fire."3 What is being discussed here is clearly homosexual practice.

A summary of the scripture verses is best rendered in Dr. David Seamands, comments, "...every passage which speaks of homosexual behaviors is clear, unambiguously negative and morally hostile towards them (the actions themselves)."5 See "David Seamands Writes" at Appendix H for further insights in this area.

Even though we can see how the Bible views this practice, we will still encounter those who dispute what it has to say in this area. An example of a "liberal" opinion is that of Victor Furnish of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas during the debate on homosexuality hosted there on August 28th of last year. He takes the view that the Bible's morality was created by "patriarchalism," "stereotyping of gender roles," and "total ignorance concerning the complexities of sexual identities." He rejected the scriptures as being normative for sexual behavior.6

These views in turn are rejected, however, by many other orthodox scholars, in addition to contradicting John Wesley's view to "give the direct, literal meaning" of Bible verses. As far as "sexual identities" Furnish makes an increasingly common error in believing that people are "born" to be homosexuals. There is no credible study, scientific or otherwise, today that demonstrates this. The closest to it was the work by Dr. Dean Hamer who purported to have done an experiment proving that. However, according to data provided by Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute, Hamer was accused by a fellow researcher of "research fraud" - and a Canadian firm was unable to duplicate his results. In addition, it seems that Hamer had left his wife and child to move in with another man. Finally, after this information was brought to light, Hamer himself repudiated his own results. 

The Rev. Ben Sharpe took issue with the North Carolina Council of Churches' taking into fellowship the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, which approves homosexual practice (Appendix I). Sharpe makes the point that Wesley believed that people who change scripture to fit their own beliefs have a "muddy understanding" of it  and worse.

An in-depth examination of the textual references is contained in an open letter to Bishop Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in his attempt to justify this practice:

An Open Letter to the Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold7
                                                                                                                                                                 September 30, 2003
Dear Presiding Bishop Griswold,
The following remarks were attributed to you in an Associated Press interview published yesterday ("Episcopal Leader Defends Gay Bishop," by Rachel Zoll, AP religion writer;):

He said that in biblical times there was no understanding that homosexuality was a natural orientation and not a choice. "Discreet acts of homosexuality" were condemned in the Bible because they were acts of lust instead of the "love, forgiveness, grace" of committed same-sex relationships, he said. "Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible," he said.

With all due respect, if these remarks are correctly cited, you are in error on all counts.
First, there were many theories in the Greco-Roman world that posited something akin to modern sexual orientation theory. Philosophers, doctors, and moralists often attributed one or more forms of homosexual behavior, at least in part, to congenital factors. And some of the same persons could still refer to such forms as "contrary to nature" - that is, given by nature but not in conformity with embodied existence or nature's well-working processes. Lifelong, exclusive participants in homosexual behavior were also widely known in the ancient world. Indeed, Paul's reference to the malakoi ("soft men," men who play the sexual role of females) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is one such instance.

Second, you assume that the absence of "choice" regarding sexual impulses absolves one of moral responsibility for the behavior arising from such impulses. Numerous sinful desires, sexual and otherwise, are not "chosen" in the sense of being manufactured willfully. That doesn't make them any less sinful - though it can and should inform our pastoral response. Who would choose to be a pedophile if it were a simple matter of choice? Some people find it extraordinarily difficult to be limited to a single sex partner; do they choose their sexual impulses? Some people grow up without an instinctive aversion to sex with close blood relations and then fall in love with one such relative; do they simply manufacture such feelings? Paul describes sin itself in Romans 7 as an innate impulse, passed on by an ancestor figure, running through the members of the human body, and never entirely within human control. The very nature of sin is that it generates biologically-related impulses. Why do you think a biological connection disqualifies an impulse from being sinful? Such thinking is patently un-biblical.
Third, biblical writers were certainly not limiting their condemnation of same-sex intercourse to particularly exploitative forms. Non-exploitative forms were known in Paul's day and had Paul wanted to limit his condemnation to exploitative forms he certainly could have done so. The wording in Romans 1:24-27 is quite clear as regards what Paul found objectionable about same-sex intercourse: its same-sexness, persons seeking sexual integration with a non-complementary sexual same, persons erotically attracted to what they intrinsically are as sexual beings. This is sexual narcissism and/or sexual self-deception: a desire either for what one is or for what one wishes to be but in fact already is. The intertextual echoes to Genesis 1:27 ("God made them male and female") and Genesis 2:24 ("For this reason a man shall . . . be joined to his woman/wife and the two shall become one flesh") in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9, respectively, confirm that Paul had in view the male-female prerequisite ordained by God at creation. (Incidentally, so did Jesus when he appealed to the same two texts from Genesis as normative and prescriptive texts for human sexual relations [Mark 10:6-8].) The beautiful image put forward in Genesis 2:18-24 is that of an original binary human split down the side into two sexually differentiated beings. If sexual relations are to be had, "one-flesh" sexual wholeness requires a re-merger of the two constituent parts produced by the splitting. By "nature" in Romans 1:24-27 Paul meant the complementary structure of males and females still transparent in material creation - a category of thinking that transcends issues of love and commitment. The description in Romans 1:27 of males mutually gratifying themselves with other males does not suggest exploitation. Nor does the mention of female-female intercourse point us in the direction of a particularly exploitative form of same-sex intercourse. The language in Romans 1:24-27 of being "given over" to preexisting desires and forsaking any heterosexual relations certainly suggests innate and exclusive passions for members of the same sex. Scripture is clearly condemning every form of same-sex intercourse. Biblical authors would no more have accepted a committed and loving homosexual union than they would have accepted a committed and loving adult incestuous union. Both types of unions are structurally incompatible: sex with sexual or familial sames.

Much more could be said about each of the points above but what I have written should suffice for now.

Even some pro-homosex biblical scholars such as Bernadette Brooten and William Schoedel recognize that "sexual orientation" and commitment would have made little difference to Paul's indictment of same-sex intercourse. My book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon) which has been out for a full two years, also makes this clear (see especially pp. 347-60, 380-95). See also now my more condensed discussion in Homosexuality and the Bible (Fortress), just released, and a forthcoming article in an edited volume entitled Christian Sexuality (Kirk House), which deals extensively with orientation theory in antiquity.

There really is no excuse any more for making the kinds of false statements about Scripture that you made in the AP interview. It is especially inexcusable for a presiding bishop - an office that has guarding the faith as a chief concern - to be making such inaccurate representations of the biblical witness. I urge you to read more widely, and more carefully, as regards recent work on the subject of the Bible and homosexual behavior.

                                                       Sincerely,


                                                      Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.
                                                      Associate Professor of New Testament
                                                      Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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Secular physiological/behavioral data completely reinforce religious teachings and give indicators of the effects of this practice.

A Physiological/Behavioral View

Aside from what the Bible has to say about the practice of homosexuality, let us look at different physiological/behavioral statistics. It is not our intention to be negative in the presentation of this information, but the data do not reflect favorably on this lifestyle.

The following analysis may be considered explicit by some. Please be advised of this fact before you read it.

We need to answer the question, "How widely prevalent are same-sex acts?"

Since the publication of Albert Kinsey's book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male had touted the figure of "10% of the male population being homosexual" there have been numerous studies discrediting that figure. A 1990 study of more than 10,000 persons by the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that homosexuals and bisexuals combined total approximately 1.5 percent.8,9 Different studies we have seen at Concerned Methodists of varying male populations generally show the percentage to be between .8% and 2.4%.

These figures agree with the research compiled by Dr. Thomas E. Schmidt, who also makes the point that "Numbers do not in themselves establish a morality of an activity, but a number as large as 10 percent, the equivalent of 25 million Americans [at that time], seems to attach a degree of normalcy to homosexuality. Thus, out of the moral fog of the last few decades, the notion emerged that 10 percent equals normal, and normal equals natural, and natural equals acceptability." His findings show that the rate of homosexual practice hovers around 1 percent; he bases his conclusions on three separate surveys with this analysis:

Three separate 1990 surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics found that under 3 percent of men had experienced same sex relations even once in the past 15 years. Four separate national studies conducted in the United States In 1970, 1988, 1989 and 1990 by the National Opinion Research Center shows 7,408 subjects came up with an aggregate incidence of 1.8 percent who had had male to male sex during the previous year, with 3.3 percent reporting that they experienced male-to-male sexual contact occasionally or fairly often as adults, and five to seven percent estimate as having such contact ever. Another recent study, which  incorporates the result of the studies and three additional post 1988 U.S. surveys, gives a mean of 5.5 percent male, 2.5 percent female, for lifetime same-sex contact. The latest major survey of more than three thousand  subjects gives slightly higher numbers: among sexually active women, 1.3 percent reported at least one female partner in the previous year; among sexually active men, 2.8 percent reported at least one male a partner in the previous year.10

Schmidt went on to observe, "we should understand that some homosexuals do not experience same-sex relations in a given year, while some who do experience same sex relations in a given year are not homosexuals."

One observation made by Dr. Paul Cameron of The Family Research Institute is that the average age of the first homosexual experience is 13 years old,11 whose partner is usually an adult male.

Other aspects of the lifestyle are:

*This practice is the source of the plague of AIDS in the United States. A Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas ("Patient Zero") is identified as having introduced it into this country; he was the initial carrier of the virus. Before his death in 1984, Dugas estimated that he had coupled with 2,500 partners in New York and California.  The places he frequented were bathhouses, rest rooms, bars, and motels. Even after doctors told him that he had a fatal, transmittable disease, he still engaged in sex. Often after the act was completed, he would face his partner and say, "Guess what? I have gay cancer."12 Studies by the Family Research Institute indicate that the practice of having unprotected sex when one knows he is infected is still widely practiced today.

* The average life expectancy of a man in the homosexual lifestyle is 41 years; with AIDS factored in, the age is reduced to 39.1.13

* A study of 15,565 gay men has determined that, independent of HIV infection, homosexual men are 24 times more apt to get anal cancer than men in the general population. 14 In addition, there appears something the doctors refer to as "gay bowel syndrome" that is found almost exclusively among homosexual men.

* 41 percent of homosexuals have had over 500 encounters; 28 percent have had over 1000.15

* With the threat of AIDS, sexual contacts average 47 per year, 76 during pre-AIDS years.16

* 35 percent of homosexuals are alcoholics.16

* 78 percent of homosexuals have been infected by some form of STD.17

* 67 percent of all AIDS cases are directly attributable to homosexual conduct, and 50 percent of male homosexuals in San Francisco are now infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS - up from 7 percent in the early 1980s.18

* There are more ex-homosexuals in America than there are active practicing homosexuals.19

Dr. Leicester Longden puts a balanced perspective on this issue when he said, "In spite of the cultural assaults that attach the label of 'hate speech' to biblical affirmations of human sexuality, we must not abandon hurting people by retreating to a safe haven of 'correct' teaching. A robust theological defense of our church's position on homosexuality must be accompanied by dynamic ministries that welcome homosexual people into the transforming power of the gospel in the midst of congregations."20

Finally one must take a "common sense" approach in looking at the ways that men and women are physically constructed. It is obvious that the various parts of their bodies were meant to come together as pieces of a puzzle in order to effect human reproduction.

From Biblical, medical, behavioral, and logical perspectives this does not commend itself as a healthy way of life.

Perhaps the best commentary on this lifestyle comes from someone who was actually in it:

I'm very scared to dies such a young man. I'd like a little more time. I lived in the fast lane. If only God will give me a break.

28-year-old man infected with AIDS, Time, August 12, 1985

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* Go to the Concerned Methodists' website. Scroll down to the book The Church in Bondage; Appendix E  Historical Homosexual Highlights": http://www.cmpage.org/bondage/appendixe.html


References to The Homosexual Lifestyle

1. Much of this information was extracted from the book Homosexuality and the United Methodist Church, by Allen Morris (Lima, Ohio: Fairway/Express Press, 2001). 

2.  Edinburgh, April 25, 1765, as quoted in Wesley's Notes on the Bible, by John Wesley. Edited by G. Roger Schoenhals (Grand Rapids, MI: Francis Asbury Press,1987), p.19 in the preface to the Old Testament.

3. The New International Version is copyrighted by the New York International Society, 1978.

4. Affirm! Table Manners, the General Conference 2000 newsletter published by Affirmation, May 8, 2000, page 1.

5. "Blessing the Unblessable", by Professor David A. Seamands, Good News Magazine, November/December 1992.

6. "Perkins Hosts Debate on Homosexuality," by Mark Tooley, reporting for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Washington, DC; August 28, 2000.

7. Robert A. J. Gagnon Responds to Bishop Griswold Interview; October 1, 2003. The letter can be found on the website: http://www.AmericanAnglican.org/News/News.cfm?ID=764&c=21>

8.  Commander Eugene T. Gomulka, USMC, "Homosexuality in Uniform: Is It Time?", as reported in Good News Magazine, March/April 1993, p. 33. The original article appeared in the December 1992 Proceedings of the U.S. naval Institute. Commander Gomulka is a past Deputy Chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps based in Washington, D.C.

9. Deborah Dawson, "AIDS Knowledge and Attitudes for January-March 1990: Provisional Data from the National Health Interview Survey"; Joseph F. Fittle and Marcie Cynamon, ibid. for April-June 1990; Pamela F. Adams and Ann M. Hardy, ibid. for July-September 1990, in Advance Data, nos. 193, 195, and 198, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for disease Control, Public Health Service, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, p. 11 in all three documents.

10. Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate. (Downers Grove, IL,: Intervarsity Press, 1995), pp. 102-103.

11. Dr. Paul Cameron, The Family Research Institute, at a lecture in Fayetteville, NC.

12. Chuck Colson, Against the Night (Ann Arbor, Michigan, Vine Books), p. 67.

13.  Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute, P.O. Box 62640, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80962-2640. Website:  http://www.familyresearchinst.org

14.  Ibid., Family Report, January-February 1997, p. 2.

15.  Kinsey study, in Homosexualities; A Study of Diversity among Men and Women, by Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Weinberg, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978).

16.  S.A. Seward, USA Today, November 21, 1984; L. McKusick, et. al., "AIDS and Sexual Behavior Reported by Gay Men in San Francisco," American Journal of Public Health, 1985, pp. 193-196. Robert J. Kus, "Alcoholics Anonymous and Gay American Men," Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 14, No. 2 (1987), p. 254.

17. American Public Health Association, as reported by Enrique T. Rueda, The Homosexual Network (Old Greenwich, Conn.: Devin Adair, 1982), p. 53.

18.  Center for Disease Control, as reported by the Family Research Council, Robert G. Morrison, editor, "The Last Bastion," Washington Watch, June 1992, p. 1.

19. "The Spiritual State of the Union" by Dr. D. James Kennedy, as published in Gays in the Military ( Franklin, Tennessee: Legacy Communications), 1993, p. 85.

20. Leicester Longden, Associate Professor, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UMNS) as reported in Newscope, August 29, 2003.


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