So, just to start off: I have been a card-carrying member of the GLBTQ community since sexual impulses first started for me. I had my first girlfriend at 16. And I spent 8 continuous years in two separate (4 year) long-term relationships with women. I am practically a gold star. And now I am a devout Christian. I go to an Anglican church, and I believe that my relationship with God is the most important relationship I will ever have.
So, given all of that, I am finally wading into this discussion. Is homosexuality a sin?
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Not because it worries me so terribly much. I am quite sure of two things: 1) God loves me–he’s shown me this over and over by picking me up and treating me gently when things in my life have been awful, 2) I am a sinner many times over–I eff up pretty much everything there is to eff up. So this question has never really been one that kept me up at night. Neither, I admit a little sheepishly, has the question of Gay Marriage.
But at 32 and single, with my biological clock ticking fairly loudly, with all my friends getting married and moving away, etc. I have been thinking a LOT about love, marriage, relationships, family, and friendship. I have just been thinking a lot about people and how we interact with them. And I’ve been thinking about God and how to live life right.
Tonight I read a thoughtful piece on this topic: “Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is a Choice.” The author makes many good points that anti-Gay Christians do not seem to consider. Chief amongst them is that none of us does choose who or how we love. Nor do we consciously choose our desires. These things fall naturally out of our authentic expressions of ourselves. I think people who don’t see this really aren’t thinking seriously enough about human sexuality, period. Your heart responds to the people your heart responds to. Your body responds to the people your body responds to. The rational mind is not in control of these things. At all. Period. You love who you love. You want who you want.
OK, so far John Pavlovitz and I agree. But there is a difference between desire and action. And while we don’t choose what we want, we do choose what we do with that desire. And I’m not going to say that engaging in sexual activity with someone of the same gender is a sin or that forming lifelong partnerships or marriage is a sin. But I think it’s at least a possibility.
Here’s a hard truth I’ve been realizing: I believe that love is a gift from God, but in our daily lives, in practice, the way we handle love and act on it often hurts ourselves and others. I have watched one friend behave unconscionably cruelly to her husband for the past three years. And she behaves this way in front of her children. I have watched another friend carry on an affair with a married man that has driven her back to an eating disorder and him back to alcoholism. And another friend finally left her church and her family behind to follow her truth and marry the woman she loves. But, though they are together and are building a life that is beautiful in many ways, I have noticed that this friend has lost her moral compass. Her relationship with her wife has neither made her a better person, nor has it brought her closer to God. The opposite, at least so far, seems to be true. In each of these cases, love is the gift, but actions are the choice. And if our actions don’t make us better people and don’t bring us closer to God, then I think they are wrong.
Pavlovitz glosses over another issue. He says that anti-Gay Christians condense the sexuality of GLBTQ people to the physical act of sex while ignoring the emotional context of a person’s life. While this seems true, he uses the statement to gloss over the question of whether sex between two people of the same gender is wrong. Perhaps he assumes that if it is not wrong to love or desire someone of the same gender, then it can’t be wrong to physically act on that love or desire. But that conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow. And I’m going to say, I’m not sure.
I think it’s possible that we use our bodies wrongly nearly constantly in our post-modern society. But if so, it isn’t a problem that’s limited to GLBTQ folk who engage in sex. The bible seems to pretty clearly assert that sex is an act that takes place between a male husband and a female wife. But the point, that many people seem to gloss over, is not that they are male and female. It is that they are engaged in a sacred creative act that is meant to bear literal fruit. The partners are married, thus signifying their intention to live together as a unit and join in the creative act that brings new life into the world.
Two people of the same gender cannot engage in this process. It does not biologically work. So, if we take this as the deep and true purpose of the sexual union, then sex between two men or two women is a sin. It is wrong. But then, premarital sex is also a sin. Masturbation is a sin. Affairs are sins. Any “casual” sex is a sin. And this might be true. It might be that we are far too free with our bodies and that by “liberating” sex to a post-modern “right” to be enjoyed by all, we have cheapened it. We have robbed it of its power and the true sacredness that belongs to it. But if that’s true, then it’s a sin that nearly everyone in the modern world shares.
So, is homosexuality a sin?