There are three views I commonly run into on the internets, about Christianity and homosexuality. They are these:
View #1: “God made me gay. If I fall in love with another guy, so be it. You can’t love me without loving the way God made me to love.”
View #2: “Homosexuality is a sin that must be overcome by prayer/fasting/psychotherapy/electroshock-therapy/what-have-you, and a person with same-sex attraction isn’t submitting to the will of God unless he or she is undergoing therapy.”
View #3: “There’s something deeply right about my being gay, but something deeply wrong with me having gay sex.”
I think all three views are profoundly incorrect. If you want to try to develop a “fourth way” (hat tip to the “Third Way” video), I think you’ll like this blog.
I won’t be commenting at length on all these views right now, but I will run through some generalized objections. The dynamic between Views #2 and #3 is instructive. People holding View #2 sometimes (but not always) understand that being attracted to people of the same sex isn’t sinful, but they usually don’t understand the social reality that our society defines people by their sexual attractions. We cannot simply “opt out” of the way the culture defines us, no more than I can decide that I am not an American by saying so. “Being American” is a social construct, but it is not a social construct I myself have the ability to manipulate.
So people who hold View #2 get up in arms when a person with same-sex attraction calls themselves “gay” or “bisexual”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly think the terms “gay” and “bisexual” are problematic. But they are problematic in roughly the same way that the term “redneck” is problematic. A person might grow up and discover that he is a redneck — this is an objective fact, since the term redneck has objective linguistic boundaries formed by the way people use words. But it is almost certainly a bad thing that the category “redneck” exists, since it’s hard to imagine what positive use the term has (aside from making for funny jokes).
The word “gay” is like this. A person can discover he is gay — this is merely a discovery of the term people in the culture would almost universally apply to him. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him, then, calling himself “gay”. But there may be something wrong with a culture where we think “gayness” is somehow important, or where we think that there are really non-trivial characteristics that all and only gay people have in common. (And, by extension, there may be a problem with the individual gay person thinking that being gay is of any real importance).
People holding View #3, however, think that being gay is of some importance. Their view is often quite inspiring to the person like myself, who always thought that this whole “gay thing” was just a terrible and shameful thing, and who is relieved to find people talking about how many of my good traits are there “because I’m gay”. “Aha!” I think. “It’s a good thing I think Matt Damon is pretty hot shirtless, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be so good at playing guitar!”
[Image of Matt Damon shirtless removed by censors].
[Image of me playing guitar removed by censors].
The problem with View #3, though, is that it is so subtle as to be incomprehensible. Even if it is the case that all gay people share some positive, non-sexual traits, these traits have nothing to do with sexual attraction. Unless we can find some way that the sexual attraction itself is good, we have not proven that it’s good to be gay. But people who hold to View #3 think, at the very least, that acting on the sexual attraction is not good. So any good traits of gay people, apparently, have nothing to do with sex. The logical conclusion, it would seem, then, is that we should have all these good traits that gay people have, but we should be happy to lose the sexual attractions.
Now “being happy to lose the sexual attractions” doesn’t make them go away. And I don’t think disordered sexual attractions are anything to panic about — most people have them. But if a person holding to View #3 tries to say that the sexual attractions themselves are good, despite it being wrong to indulge them, I literally don’t understand what they’re saying. There are words coming out of their mouths, but the words are so subtle and sublime that I need a seer to interpret them.
(This is what it’s like when you hear a Calvinist defend double predestination: VERY intelligent words come out of their mouths, and you get dizzy, but nothing they say really addresses the glaring problem with their view.)
As for View #1, it is simply so very contrary to the historical deposit of faith that I am much more inclined to become an atheist than to accept it. If God left Christians to marginalize gay people for 2000 years, only to say “just kidding, let’s party!”, God is not worth my time.
Thus ends a post where I should have managed to offend pretty much anyone who holds any view whatsoever on homosexuality and Christianity. Later this week I’ll post some suggestions on a fourth way.