Among the many arguments employed by Evangelical Christians against homosexuality, a standard and consistent tenet has always been that “being gay is a choice.” As our knowledge and conversation over the issue continues to progress, many have realized that this argument will only contribute to a losing battle. As a result, they have come up with a new twist on the old adage, and that will be my topic today.
“Same-sex attraction is likely natural, but it must be suppressed and those afflicted with it are called to celibacy.” This allows the person making the argument to keep their assertion of “choice,” while moving the assertion from condemning feelings of same-sex attraction to condemning the act of entering into a relationship. The original argument, “homosexuality is a choice,” came out of very basic thinking: ‘The Bible says that God created Adam and Eve, man and woman. Man and woman have complimentary sexual organs. Man and woman together procreate. God doesn’t make mistakes, and the Bible says that being gay is an abomination. Therefore, man and woman is natural; and two of the same sex are, by definition, unnatural.’ Pretty simple, except for three things. (1) Homosexuality is not all about sex. Same-sex attraction means being attracted physically, emotionally and romantically, just like heterosexual people. (2) The ability to procreate is not inexorably linked to sexual orientation. For the majority of the animal kingdom (of which we are a part, like it or not), procreation and sexuality line up. That is not, however, the case for all, and we now know this to be true. (3) The Bible does not actually condemn homosexuality (see my ‘Think’ page).
“Same-sex attraction is likely natural, but it must be suppressed and those afflicted with it are called to celibacy.” Let’s think this through … the above reasoning states that God doesn’t make mistakes, and although human sexuality is a very convoluted issue in the Christian community, it is generally believed to be God-given. If same-sex attraction is natural, but having a relationship with somebody of the same sex is not, does that not imply that God makes mistakes? You cannot have it both ways. Either they are both unnatural and the Bible is infallible, or they are both natural and the whole argument against the LGBTQ community is nullified. You simply cannot say that God is perfect, and then claim that pursuing a relationship in accordance with a God-given sexual identity is wrong. To do so is intellectually dishonest, and unfairly misleads those who are prone to follow without question.
So homosexuality is not all about sex, the ability to procreate is not inexorably linked to sexual orientation, the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, and the argument contradicts itself. Now for the social implications.
Imagine being told that your attraction to a certain gender was okay, but that entering into a relationship with someone you are attracted to would be sinful. Imagine being told that you have been called to a life of celibacy. I don’t know about you, but I would be terribly offended by this. To be told that I cannot experience romantic love because I am naturally wired to love the wrong person? This is an immoral teaching. The Evangelical Christians who are spreading this message are expecting us to believe that God is perfect, but not to question the obvious flaw in the contradictory logic. Some want us to believe that homosexuality is a type of condition given as part of a spiritual challenge to test one’s faith. The whole idea is that those who are LGBTQ should suppress who they are and live as God-fearing Christians. Perhaps the churches are unaware of the statistics around this type of teaching. After years of being told their sexuality is wrong, after years of being oppressed and dehumanized by dismissive and belittling rhetoric, too many LGBTQ people lose their lives. The rhetoric of the church, which is unfortunately the foundation of the anti-gay rhetoric in Western culture, has led to countless suicides and murders of LGBTQ people. The constant bombardment of discriminatory language and actions is too much for so many. It is non-stop, daily, in the media, television programs, magazines, and peer groups. It all stems from the cultural paradigms originally started by the church. The entire North American continent was founded upon Christian principles, and the effects of that have turned out to be close-mindedness, bigotry, and extreme violence against minority people (both verbal and physical). We have seen it with the treatment of Aboriginal peoples, we have seen it with slavery, we have seen it with the eugenics movement, and we see it now with the LGBTQ community. It is a tradition of intolerance. We can, however, end the cycle.
If you are reading this as an Evangelical Christian, you have the power to exact change. All you need is the desire to do so.