I heard this statement the other day: "God did not create homosexuals because God would not create something he hates", and that got me thinking (never takes much). The assumption here is that God hates these people whom He created to whom He refers to as those who practice homosexuality. Did He create them? Does He hate them? My daughter suggested I try and make some sense of this to her.
It seems that in Christendom, like everywhere else in human discourse, there are statements like these which at first glance seem to have a ring-of-truth about them; particularly if we want them to, but upon further inquiry we find that they don't have a bit of truth to them.
Westboro Baptist Church, for one example, surely thinks the introductory statement is true. We've all heard of them in the national media by now. They are the Baptist church in Topeka Kansas which concocted, by now, a familiar God-smearing media-campaign slogan that reads, "God hates fags". A "fag" in this case is a derogatory word for a person they would consider a homosexual.
What is a homosexual? To God, a homosexual is a person who practices sexual relations with persons of the same sex. Nature has proven that God has made most of us sexually oriented beings and that for a good many of us that sexual orientation is not always real specific. God takes responsibility for that and makes us responsible for what we do with it.. God made me a fornicator, covetous, a liar, and an adulterer, yet, he made me aware of that as well as able to manage and turn from the practice of those things. While his approval was not, his love for me was there with me while I practiced those things, and it is still with me now that I have given them up. The difference is that while I was practicing them I was not welcome in His kingdom, nor would I be now if I were still giving in to those inclinations. It is not merely the same-sex orientation that condemns the homosexual, just as it is not my orientation towards unwed sexual activity, but rather the practice of it. It is not the inclination or the careless desire, but the doing of it for sexual and/or emotional gratification. If it were a sin to merely lust after a given person of the same-sex, then heterosexuals would be equally condemned each time they lust after a person of the opposite sex to whom they are not married (i.e., fornication, adultery, etc.). But much like an alcoholic who may wish he could quench his desire for intoxication, yet abstains, no one is condemned here. In the case of same sex-attraction 25% of adults in the U.S. acknowledge some same-sex attraction (Gates, 2011), What condemns each - the heterosexual and the homosexual alike- is not who they are, but how they practice being who they are. We can't always practice the things we like. And this word 'practice' is the one God uses to distinguish between the individuals he condemns and those he does not. We all have base, fleshly desires that God has asked us to exercise control over and use only as He intended. When we fail to follow His road map, it causes problems: unwanted children, broken families, or drunken dissipated lives, to name a few. And he has let us know what those practices are in 1 Cor. 6 and Gal. 5:19. He asks us not to practice those things. To "not do the things we would like to do" when they are different than what He intended - things that are vain, selfish things. He is looking out for his and our own long-term best interests. His constant and enduring love for our best interest is the only power that will sustain our interest in putting the desires of His kingdom above our own. One desire of his is that we discover that he and his spiritual blessings can satisfy our desires here in this world. He is looking for mere imperfect mortals to recognize and return his love for them. No imperfection is too great.
We all have the natural tendency to smooth over our faults, even drink to much, and sometimes covet, lie, and steal, as it suits us (he says "these things we all once walked in", in one form or another), but in doing so we hurt ourselves or others. And later on in 1 Cor. 6:18 he even appears to distinguish sins at issue here as those being committed outside the body ("Flee immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside the body . . .". ) That is not to excuse immoral thoughts, but there is a difference between mere thoughts and those turned into actions - "deeds of the flesh". Those who are claiming "God hates fags" are wholly misquoting him. God says all men are liars. The Westboro Baptist church is full of both of them, and God does not hate them. But they should be concerned that they are putting destructive words into God's mouth.
We all have the wrong thoughts and orientations all day long, and we exercise self-control and turn away from them (many of us). We try and grow in other directions and in more productive ways. Who we are is not dependent on whether they are there or not, but what we do with them when they arise, because God says we are all cut from the same cloth - "none are good, no not one" - and he still doesn't hate any of us. The "people" from Westboro Baptist Church, not God, hate "fags" - whatever a fag is and whether there even is such a thing in God's eyes. God has never said such a thing; the people from Westboro Baptist Church are out there hating homosexuals all by themselves. God is not in it. God has taught us to be disposed to love all men, and more than that, he has shown us by example.
So, if God loves all men, and expects us to do the same; and if I carry around the label of both "heterosexual fornicator" as well as "accepted child of the living God" for my past words and deeds, then what prevents a non-practicing homosexual from enjoying the same blessing? How is it that a so-called homosexual is hopelessly condemned and hated by the Westboro Baptist Church for admitting to certain lusts of his or her flesh, and I am not?
If you read about the six things God hates you find that he hates no men or women; He hates certain things they do and certain things they say, but He hates no individuals. It's not about who you are, it's about what you do with who you are. He has made us all of nothing good except the ability to listen to and follow after Him; unable to extricate ourselves from our sinful nature, yet able to manage it. And doing so, or attempting to do so, with all of our heart, mind, and strength, we are considered good, useful, and acceptable to Him.
God hates lying, and all men are liars - so He says. So does He hate us all? No, He doesn't hate any of us. He so loved the world (all of His creation) that He gave His Son for all to behold (to see), and to hear, touch, believe in, be raised up with, and follow into his presence - all they must do is honor him as God and then follow after him. He has told us that He is not a respecter of persons. All have sinned and fallen short; none are good. That's a part of how man (male and female) is created. And He regards them from a position of love. He hates no one (there were groups of foreigners in the Old Testament whom He hated for a season, but He always tells us who and why). There is no other indication that He hates anyone; not the thief (the one on the cross), the liar (all of us), the covetous, the drunkard, the effeminate, nor the homosexual, heterosexual fornicator or adulterer, he doesn't hate any of us, but rather, says only that he hates the practice of such things. Instead of hate for anyone, he is patient toward all and not willing to lose any of them, but desiring only that they turn away from their own glory (perhaps even false teaching) and towards His Truth manifested and proven not only in Jesus, but by His own well-known presence from the beginning of recorded history.
He doesn't hate me, or them, for being either heterosexuals or homosexuals but rather, He says he hates the "deeds" of those who practice such things - the deeds of the flesh, not the individuals themselves. And fortunately so, because if I conclude that God hates homosexual individuals, or any individuals, then I have to also conclude that He hates me all the more.
I am a heterosexual who has practiced these unfruitful deeds of the flesh - "deeds" that God hates. Such things as fornication, adultery, dishonesty, covetousness, and reviling (for a few). By all reckoning (the reckoning of some) I must, then, be five times worse off than a mere so-called homosexual. But instead, I no longer walk in darkness, I no longer do what I please. Because of God's kindness, His presence, and because of God's patience, while I formerly walked in darkness and practiced whatever I wished, that is, while I was still a sinner - worse than a drunk, worse than merely a liar, worse than an adulterer or a homosexual, he still loved me. And it paid off for both us us. I turned and regained the delight of a Father, and He regained a loving son. Now I hate the things He hates - the useless unfruitful things, the destructive purposeless, vain words and deeds and things of this life that take the place of better things He has here for me.. And I don't hate "fags". And neither does He.
Look in Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19, or Proverbs 6:19, for examples of what practices will eliminate some from their inheritance in the kingdom (and there are many more examples). These will be people like you and I who have decided to give in to the practice of such things. To engage in these things which are described as deeds of darkness, deeds of the flesh, that are unfruitful or even destructive to others, or the things of God, in some way or another. These people possess an urge that, alone, does not defile them, but what proceeds from their heart in the form of action does. He hates their deeds, and He waits for their hearts to turn in the direction of His upward call. Something bigger, better.A fair proposal - a magnificent opportunity. But I can be sure He does not hate these people he refers to, because He has not said that He hates them.
God tells us that he loves all men. We can't impute His hate on anyone under that circumstance. And if we err, he brings comfort to and restores joy and comfort to our victims, such as in the text below.
"Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word: 'Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name's sake, Have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.' But they will be put to shame." (Is. 66.5)
Wouldn't it be wonderful if I would just end this thing right here?
Without wandering too deeply into 'how', then, some men and women wind up with a same-sex attraction in the first place (because I tried wandering into it and it gets really tedious in a real hurry), I think we have to simply recognize that same-sex attraction does exist in many individuals, and it is starkly absent in many others. Around one-fourth of the adult U.S. population acknowledges some same-sex attraction, and around 3.5% of adults identify as LGBT (Gates, 2011). The object of your arousal determines whether you are called a heterosexual, homosexual. We are born with the urges we have, many different. By all indications, I was born a heterosexual; and with no choice to be otherwise. As it were, with my lack of success at obtaining a female partner in this life, I should have perhaps arguably been driven to seek out a male life partner. But the urge for a male partner is not even remotely in me.
My sexuality was tested at a young age, even challenged, by some older (homosexually oriented)friends. Unlike towards the neighbor girl, the attraction for my male buddies was not there; the urge was not in me. What was in me, it turns out, was much worse, if you are a mathematician, and produced a much longer list of sinful urges God hates, such as heterosexual adultery, fornication, and covetousness, which alone amounted to several times the condemnation than if I were merely a homosexual. Even today, as a heterosexual, my flesh still obeys the law of sin (like Paul's), my heart is deceitful (lying) and wicked above all things (like yours), and there is nothing good in me (as the Lord has informed us all) - nothing, yet my mind obeys the spirit of God; and obediently - sometimes begrudgingly - my flesh follows. Therefore, if God has reason to hate any anyone, homosexual or heterosexual, because of the abundant, sinful inborn urges of His flesh, then He would have had reason to hate the "heterosexual, me" more so. But he hates none of us.
I know I am not alone in past sins, because He tells us all that, "in them you also once walked, when you were living in them". He tells us we all once walked in the wrong things (big and small) until that time when we reached the point of accountability, beheld God the Son, and put our faith in what he has said and done. The difference between me and many who might find offense in talking about past sin is that I now walk in the light - and therefore in truth, not just regretting, but making right the errors of the past, no longer looking back but forward. Now all things are new in that we consider ourselves dead to our old ways (practices) and alive to new spiritual life and vigor of God's Spirit within us. We can't change our mortal natures. Each of us is ready to slip (backslide) into our unique, old urges at any time (ask many prone to alcoholism) - licentiousness, lying, adultury, homosexualism, drunkenness - if we say we do not sin, we fool ourselves, and the truth is not even in us. Hate no one except, perhaps, your own sinful nature. Our sinful nature was crucified with our decision to receive and follow the life-giving Spirit of the Lord; now it is ours not to rebuild it.
Can a person have seemingly acceptable "heterosexual urges" and still not be in an acceptable condition with God? ("Acceptable condition with God" is the definition of "righteousness"). Yes, as an adulterer, fornicator, molester, covetous - unfortunately the list is long, he can be in big trouble. Can the same heterosexual be in good standing with God if he puts aside the urges he knows to be wrong? Yes. Not only that, but he "can" love another mans wife for her personality, her maturity in the Lord, even adore her beauty as a person, without being an adulterer, fornicator, or covetous. In fact, he is commanded to do so. He is commanded to love all men (male and female). A heterosexually oriented man or woman is able to love another man or woman with love authored and modeled by God without committing a sin, even though fleshly desires are always not far off. And so can any two men or two women freely love each other with Godly love while putting aside their respective potential fleshly desires, and feel no guilt or shame or experience condemnation, for they are commanded to.
Let's take this thing one painful step farther. What about a man or woman in mid-life who has never had a sexual relationship, never was able to find a marriage partner, is simply not sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex at all, and if anything, finds him or herself sexually attracted to individuals of the same sex? What if this individual finds it unlikely that he or she will ever have an actual sexual encounter with anyone in this life, in fact never does, suspects she may indeed be a homosexually oriented, and in turn fears she may never be accepted by God (or man) - because she is being told as much by her church elders (perhaps especially in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church)? Her own urges persuade her that she is a so-called homosexual, yet, she has never had a sexual encounter with another individual, either sex, and perhaps never will. She wonders if God loves her or not. She wonders if she is hated or condemned by God as some of those at the Westboro Baptist Church might say? .Just the very description of her urges, to some, might condemn her as homosexual (perhaps even a more masculine appearance). So, where does she stand? Does she somehow have to develop a sexual attraction to a male before she can be accepted by God and not be condemned as a homosexual? Does she need to develop a sexual attraction to men to be saved? Yes, perhaps she can contrive one somehow if she must, but must she? Does her sexual preference alone make her doomed as some are seen to interpret 1 Corinthians 6:9? Or is she entitled, like the rest of us, to simply not practice such things and partake in the grace of God and follow Christ?
Here is the most obvious problem with the proposition at the top of the page. What, as a Christian, do you tell hermaphroditic people of their acceptance by God - if their church elders are not sure? They are individuals born here in God's creation who have both male and female parts on one body. Do we tell ourselves (and them) that God did not create them that way, that he hates the way they are, that there is something inherently bad about them, and maybe their forefathers did something bad to bring it on them? We have no other choice than to believe God created them, and that it pleased him to make them the way the were made. Does medical science now have to come to their rescue for them to be saved from their ambiguous bodies and assure their acceptance and salvation from God? I would say not. Flesh is flesh, and spirit is spirit. Their flesh is made of the dust of earth, which God, at one time, cursed for a time and withdrew his spirit from; but their hearts/minds/spirits, are still wondrously made, in his image, and designed by him to seek him, and be brought home with him.
We can now trace our sexual behavior, by God's own design, to the elemental things of the world (which God calls good). They are the chemical underpinnings of our physiological makings. God's physiology; God's chemistry; we are fashioned perfectly in accordance with how he saw fit to fashion each one of us, individually, from the dust of the earth. It pleases Him to form men and women in almost every conceivable imperfect way; with a mind (and spirit), capable of joining with His (mind and Spirit) and walking with him through this world. And if we are puzzled as to how some of those whom we perceive as being to mentally or physically compromised to rightly answer God's call to them, then we are comforted by knowing that he has a gracious, unique plan for each of them as well - He desires that none will parish - He has blessed you and me with sound minds, others He takes care of as it pleases Him - in His own way. Our job is to leave room for all others and be mindful of our own unworthiness for such a love.
Alcoholics, just like homosexuals, are one of many groups of whom it is said that if they practice such things, will not find a place in God's eternal community. Yet, Bill Wilson, well-known to those who struggle with a weakness for alcohol, even though he had given up drinking alcohol for many years leading up to his death, considered himself an alcoholic until the day he died. As an alcoholic, didn't he know that alcoholics will find no welcome into the kingdom of heaven? Didn't he fear God's rejection, God's hate? No, he loved God, and that love likely caste out his fear. He was not phased by the hysteria in Christendom over labels. And by boldly admitting that he was an alcoholic, born with alcoholic tendencies greater than most other men, he was able to turn to God, and turn many others to God as well. There, God did not take away his urge, but gave him the strength to turn away from it himself. Mr. Wilson was able to help tens of millions of other alcoholics all over the world discover the love of God. He is an alcoholic who was going to enjoy a place in God's eternal Kingdom, in spite of his label.
This urge that Bill Wilson struggled with promised him feelings like he could find nowhere else on this earth, except in the friendship with his God. Today, through brain-imaging studies, we observe proof of how consuming alcohol physically and permanently alters control centers in specific areas of the brain. It changes them from what they were prior to abusing alcohol and thus we describe it as a disease. Bill experienced an overwhelming urge persistently lurking in his system long after he stopped drinking which was constantly threatening to either kill him, or send him back ultimately into detox in the psychiatric ward to force him to stop temporarily. He could only make sense of this process as being "alcoholism". He recognized that, in his case, the only thing stopping him from giving in to the urge was the Spirit of God, and his desire to please him. So, he, an alcoholic, and God, went on together to start the self-help group called Alcoholics Anonymous. He considers himself a "recovering alcoholic" - always recovering, always an alcoholic. He possessed an inner urge that almost killed him several times and which was always poised to do it again. At every meeting for the rest of his life he introduced himself as "My name is Bill, and I'm an alcoholic", and encouraged others to be mindful of it as well. He was an alcoholic whose love for God won out over his love for alcohol.
I drank excessively at times when I was younger. I thoroughly enjoy drinking alcohol, but, I can either take it or leave it. In my experience many Christians drink to the point of excessive drunkenness socially, particularly on holidays (especially Christmas), and unfortunately drunkenness is also on the list of practices that eventually, if not turned away from, will threaten to interfere with one's admission to God that he or she truly loves Him. Fortunately, as with most life-draining urges, most of us can both drink to excess or easily manage to stop altogether, at will. But not all are built alike. We all have our own unique brain chemistry, and mine is different that Bill's. The strong biological urge to drink is not in me. I was not born with alcoholic tendencies, or homosexual tendencies; but, sadly, I was born equally troublesome urges mentioned earlier, which arguably, are worse than either alcoholism or homosexual urges. And so were you. Christ has mentioned them. I no longer let mine rule over me, nor engage in practicing them. I am sure many homosexually oriented Christians are able to do the same. Christ never leaves us, but neither does our sinful flesh. "Hello, my name is Todd, and I'm a sinner", and I will see pennant sinners of every description, from every entry in this hated list of behaviors, who have turned from their wicked ways and followed Christ Home.
The list of long. What about the areas of adultery? Or, fornication? There used to be 31 million accounts on AshleyMadison.com, a website dedicated to helping married Americans arrange secretive adulterous affairs. It is a better thing for Christianity that we don't know, statistically, how many of them were so-called Christian men. Many were (and still are). Many of those who still are likely consider themselves as having a one-way ticket to heaven on that glorious day to come when, after tiring of worldy pleasures, they will move on to greener pastures, and so-called homosexuals will not. I say men, because it has been found that most of the women's accounts are fictitious, and that out of 31 million men and 5.5 million supposed women, fewer than 10,000 women responded to a message from a would-be cheating partner, and fewer than 1,500 women ever checked their inbox. Many womens' accounts were set up for lack of women. One of the 31 million men, Josh Duggar, surely must have thought he was OK in his Christian walk and looking forward to a warm welcome home in heaven. However, as a practicing adulterer and covetous liar, technically he is on God's list of people who are not welcome in the Kingdom of heaven. If the average homosexual is in jeopardy, then as an adulterer and a liar Josh Duggar is in double jeopardy. Not to mention that he has made a mockery of the Family Research Council with which God entrusted him as a in fact, a representative of His. This man's uncovered adulterous sexual pass-time has done more to bring discredit to the Church than a whole nation full of homosexuals, in my opinion, yet in the opinion of many others, he is surely "in", and many homosexuals are surely not. Surely, he can simply check-in to Christian rehab, repent excessively, and give up his urge toward sexual promiscuity? Do we suppose one day we could ask a penitent Josh Duggar if he any longer covets extra-marital sex, or even sexual contact with small children, and that he will say, "No, I am now free of those urges". Well then, the apostle Paul was not so lucky, and Mr. Duggar, if he continues to grow as a Christian, will not have grounds for that claim either. The apostle Paul says he still has the urges to do the things that he hates, and that only by the grace of Christ's strength in him is he able to keep from doing them. The old nature is still there with all of its original potential for evil - apart from Christ. No need to be a homosexual to be in trouble. By stating that the "urges to sin" never completely go away, Paul takes away our claim (as heterosexuals) that we are free from urges of those kinds which God hates, - the many that comprise the remainder of the long list more multitudinous, wicked, and destructive than those of the practicing homosexual. And therefore, he gives those whom have such urges toward homosexual practice the right to claim that they, too, can acknowledge inherent, inextinguishable urges, not act upon them, and be in an acceptable condition with God. And neither they nor anyone else gets to chose the unique, sinful urges he or she is born with, but rather only whether to engage in the practice of them or not.
We all have natural weaknesses (strong urges), some for alcohol, sensuality, to steal things, to covet, to fornicate; God does not remove an individual's fallen nature, He simply gives him or her knowledge and self-control to manage it. Even greater than our self-control - He offers us to be partakers with Him of His divine nature, and to use it to bolster our own mortal self-control. And that huge, gracious, Spiritual Gift leaves us without excuse if we do not avail ourselves of it.
I have a friend at work. I love him more and more all the time. He is a 59-years-old fellow whose mannerisms are very feminine, and which for as long as he can remember, he says, have made him the subject of physical and emotional violence perpetrated by Christians and others. He has often cursed homosexuality, who people say he is, and wishes he were not. But, he cannot change his eye color or add muscle mass, any more than he can add testosterone to where instead he has perhaps been given estrogen, and as much as the violence and hatred has made him desire to, he cannot change how his body involuntarily responds, or doesn't respond, to men and women. He refers to himself as someone society would describe as a gay man. I know nothing about whether he is a practicing homosexual, nor did I ask him. If he had asked me, I would have had to confess to him that I have practiced things in the past which would exclude me from Christian participation, and so, I spared him the wayward question. He describes himself as an evangelical Christian, and, he is, he is "in" (that is, in the Kingdom, in my opinion). I know it. Christ says we are able to see Him in others, and I see Him. And it is beautiful, as one would expect of Christ. He testified faithfully about His knowledge and love for the Lord, and in my opinion, he's a shoo-in. But when I judge myself using the same criteria I use to know that he is accepted by God, I conclude that I may be in trouble. I felt ashamed, and here's why. He, and I, and two other staff were talking 'shop' in the med room of the group home we all work in. One of the young ladies was repeatedly adding the expletive "God damned" in the middle of just about every point she was making (I capitalize it because we all knew to which God she was referring). The homosexual spoke up and said, "You know, I have a real problem with that." She said, "What?", and he said, "with using God's name like that", and I sat there. The homosexual's idea of loving the Lord was to stand up in defense of His name, and mine was to . . . sit there. Which one of us is "in", and which one of us . . . should be concerned? This is a man whom, if many of us Christians met on the street, would be identified and labeled negatively as an effeminate man, probably, we would think, a homosexual. Some of us might even warn him that if he doesn't change - it doesn't matter what he does (practices or doesn't practice), he's on his way to hell. And some of us need to be concerned if we meet him, because, Christ is there, in Him, watching . . . us. I work with this guy and love Him more and more as time goes on. Christ makes it easy. It is one of the few Christian relationships I have had thus far that have not faltered in disappointment.
If Jesus were alive today, I would desire, if He would allow, to lay my head on his breast like John did. But given much of what seems to be mainstream Christian mentality today I would be reluctant to take such a chance due to the condemnation that would likely follow.
I wrote this because I had to give an explanation for all of this hypocrisy to my daughter - poor, fortunate her. If we must hate (and I do), then we are supposed to hate unjust gain, evil, doing violence, even our own lives if they don't include Him. And without these directives, we (particularly, I) would find reason to hate everything different than myself. Even science has exposed human nature as individuals having the tendency to show partiality to those similar to themselves, which, if unchecked by reason (that, both all are similar and all are different) has been shown to lead to a downward spiral into fear, prejudice,and hatred. Just as God has found it necessary to instruct us to love one another, we need to be instructed not to hate - hate comes naturally if we let it. We can't chose who we are, or how we were made - very few of us would have chosen to be like we are - but we can chose how we respong to how we were made. If we are following God, the we can't chose who to love and who to hate. Nor can we condemn anyone, but ourselves.