My daughter 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 did not create the homosexual tendencies in men (males and females), because he hates homosexuals and would not create them, and he therefore is not responsible for creating them. Did He create them? Does He hate them? My daughter suggested I try and make some sense of this to her.
Of course, the God of the universe tells us all men have a sinful nature, as well as that, “all men are liars”, depraved, and yet, that he takes responsibility for creating every one of us.
It seems like in Christendom, just like everywhere else in human conversation, 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 then we come to find they are actually erroneous sentiments that have lazily come to be accepted by men through time.
Westboro Baptist Church would be an example of a group of people like this who surely think the introductory quote is true. We've all heard of them in the national media. They are the Baptist church in Topeka Kansas which concocted the by now familiar God-smearing, gay-smearing media-campaign slogan that reads, "God hates fags". A "fag" in this case is a derogatory word for their idea of a homosexual.
What’s a homosexual? To God, a homosexual is a person who practices sexual relations with a person(s) of the same sex. Did he make them that way? Yes, the same way he made me (and you) with a tendency to be a fornicator, covetous, and a liar, yet with the self-control and respect for him to manage and not to practice such things.
God has made us sexual human beings with a purpose of reproduction, and he made the sexual act with both physically and emotionally pleasurable qualities. Used for its own pleasurable purposes it can, at its best, bring brief physical and emotional satisfaction. At its worst, it can bring fatherless children into the world, as well as disease, strife, jealousy, heartbreak, even betrayal, abuse, rape, and humiliation into the lives of people touched sexually by others. There seems to be a strong sexual undercurrent in almost everything in our culture these days. There seems to be almost always something ready to send one’s sexual instincts into overdrive to the point where it becomes a constant physical challenge. I find myself sometimes longing for the day when things were a little bit less exposed. With this constant arousal factor, it is no surprise to me that it is uncomfortable for those whose sexual orientation, by other people’s standards, is not entirely clear.
But let’s get back to the discussion about people putting words in God’s mouth as a license to hate others, and whether or not by doing so they are actually condemning themselves.
I have done man hateful things, but his love abided with me then as well, when I was still a liar and an adulterer. Long after I should have known better I learned that he was asking me to take him seriously and understand that if I was going to practice stuff that was not good for his Kingdom, then I would not be welcome in it. That, I came to understand, is very little to ask in return for having his well-pleased presence walk with me every day through eternity. Understandably, it’s not as easy for many.
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, adultery, 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 man’s 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 they 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 fazed 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 choose 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 choose 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 responding to how we were made. If we are following God, the we can't choose who to love and who to hate. Nor can we condemn anyone, but ourselves.