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Popular Arguments for Homosexuality PDF  | Print |  E-mail
(The Facts & the Myths: Are they Biblically Valid?)

[This article is excerpted from the author’s book Must We Be Silent?]
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, Ph.D.
Director, Public Campus Ministries, Michigan Conference

    In order to silence or challenge the Bible's negative valuation of homosexuality, advocates of pro-gay theology often put forward several arguments. Although the arguments often invoked in defense of the qualified- and full-acceptance views on homosexuality tend to be scientific, philosophical, or logical, they also have theological or ethical implications. Their basic thrust is to show that: people are born homosexual--i.e., conclusive evidence exists to prove that homosexuality is genetic or inborn; and since homosexuals are born gay, their sexual orientation is a natural or normal trait of their identity (like the color of the skin or hair), and the orientation is allowed or given by God; a person's homosexual orientation is morally neutral and unchangeable.

    In this article, I will state and respond to the myths often advanced in support of homosexuality. The next chapter will address specific arguments that are often presented to cast doubt on the Bible’s teaching.

    1. "To learn the truth about homosexuality, talk to real homosexuals."

     For many advocates of gay theology, it is not sufficient to trust the Bible writers as the dependable source of truth on this matter. They argue that in order to learn the truth about homosexuality, we must update our knowledge by actually listening to homosexuals themselves. This seems to be the point in some recent Adventist publications.

    For example, one Adventist mother wrote that after she had spent “years of reading, observing, and eventually talking to people,” her homosexual son finally confirmed to her that indeed, “homosexuality is a condition, not a behavior. Whatever may cause a homosexual orientation, it is not something a person chooses.” Her son “told us that from his earliest memories he knew he was ‘different.’” She also reported learning that God may change a persons's sexual orientation only “on rare occasions,” and that one can be a homosexual and be “deeply spiritual.”[1]    

    A non-Adventist scholar has explained why we supposedly need to go to homosexuals themselves to learn the truth about homosexuality. In his article entitled, "A Newly Revealed Christian Experience," a self-avowed gay Christian on the Presbyterian task force studying homosexuality, explains that gay Christians are "the best source" for the Church to understand homosexuality. [2]

    Similarly, a United Church of Christ minister states this new approach to knowing (epistemology):

     Rather than looking to the psychologists and the psychiatrists and the sociologists, and even to the theologians, to find out about gay people, there is a need to listen to gay people within our churches and within the society, to begin to understand what we perceive to be the problems, and then together to work on those problems. [3]

    A Princeton Theological Seminary professor of Old Testament Language and Literature, an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), best articulated why we supposedly need to go to homosexuals themselves to learn the truth about homosexuality. He wrote:

I used to believe that homosexual acts are always wrong. Listening to gay and lesbian students and friends, however, I have had to rethink my position and reread the scriptures. . . . I have no choice but to take the testimonies of gays and lesbians seriously. I do so with some comfort, however, for the scriptures themselves give me the warrant to trust that human beings can know truths apart from divine revelation. [4]

    Response to Argument #1. We must offer a sympathetic ear to the pains and genuine struggles of homosexuals. But Bible-believing Adventists need to ask whether the testimonies and claims of homosexuals are an adequate basis to learn the truth about homosexuality. Are homosexuals, by virtue of their experience, more qualified than the Bible writers to speak on homosexuality? The inspired writers of the Bible served as dependable spokespersons for the Creator of human sexuality. Is the attempt to justify homosexuality on the grounds of personal experience or empirical studies, rather than biblical revelation, a legitimate starting point for any investigation regarding sexual morality? Are the testimonies and claims of homosexuals necessarily true?

    We are dealing with the fundamental question of how to know truth, a study philosophers call epistemology. I will restate my response: Does one really have to be a homosexual in order to fully understand the truth about homosexuality? Must we experience a particular kind of sinful tendency in order to understand that sinful reality? Assuming even that homosexual orientation is part of a person’s constitutional make up (just as a person's color or gender is), can true knowledge about that condition be accurately obtained by only persons with that kind of sexual identity? If so, does this mean, for example, that one has to be black, African, and a woman in order to fully understand and accurately address the pains of people in that category? By analogy, could Jesus, a single Jewish male, have understood the experience of, say, Maria, a single parent Hispanic woman?

    Could it be that in a desire to appear more "informed" and perhaps more "compassionate," some Christians are giving the impression that they are ethically and religiously more knowledgeable and "sensitive" than the inspired Bible writers who condemned the practice of homosexuality? How can pro-homosexual advocates be wiser than the One who has given His written Word and His moral laws as the basis of true human joy and self-fulfillment? How can they be more compassionate than the One who has given His life for all humanity? Is it, perhaps, that they do not view the Bible and its God as did the Bible writers--the pioneers of biblical Christianity?

    2. “People Are Born Homosexual.”

    When advocates of pro-gay theology assert that people are born gay, they actually go beyond the generally accepted view that genetics and environmental factors influence a person's behavior. They suggest that homosexuality is largely caused by a person's genes. [5]  

    This belief, which is itself based on the deterministic philosophy of behaviorism, is designed to suggest that what is inborn is (a) natural or normal, (b) unchangeable, (c) allowed or created by God—as with a congenital defect or one’s eye color, and that it is (d) morally legitimate.

    The logic and implications of this view are as follows: If a person is homosexual because of inbred homosexual condition, there is no hope or possibility for change. And because the homosexual cannot change, all aspects of society must change, including education, religion, and law. Not only must homosexuality be accepted as socially legal for homosexuals, it must also be promoted as a normal lifestyle option and, if necessary, the church must be pressured to abandon its alleged immoral discrimination against homosexuals seeking church membership.

    Response to Argument #2. Even if one could prove that homosexuality is of genetic or hormonal origin, would this make homosexuality morally legitimate? I am aware that scientists, such as the authors of My Genes Made Me Do It!, have compellingly challenged the claim that homosexuality is biologically fated. [6] But even if true, does being born alcoholic, pedophiliac, or gay make alcoholism, pedophilia, or homosexuality normal? Moreover, does the fact that something is normal make it morally right?

    Is behaviorism or biological determinism compatible with biblical anthropology, which teaches that human beings are created in the image of God and endowed with freedom of choice? Can we correlate this naturalistic philosophy with the biblical doctrine that we are accountable to God for our conduct (doctrine of judgment)? Does not this “I did not choose, I cannot change” philosophy raise serious questions about Christ’s power to help us “overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to sin”? [7]

    Does not this behavioristic philosophy lead to a “once a sinner, always a sinner” doctrine? In other words, would it be biblically correct to maintain that even after conversion, an alcoholic/drug addict or a habitual/compulsive liar or sexual pervert will always remain an alcoholic/drug addict or habitual/compulsive liar or a sexual pervert? Is not this born a gay philosophy in conflict with the born again promise of the living Christ?

     To clarify the issue further, we will look at other aspects of this born a gay theory. For example: (1) Do studies show that homosexuality is inborn? (2) Is homosexual orientation natural or normal? (3) Is homosexual orientation God given? (4) Is homosexual orientation morally neutral? (5) Is homosexual orientation unchangeable? (6) Does God want homosexuals to give up who they are? (7) Is it true that “once a homosexual, (almost) always a homosexual”?

    3. “Studies Show that Homosexuality is Inborn”

     Like every other sinful practice, one’s genes, environment, and many other factors may greatly influence a person’s predisposition to a particular sin. But pro-gay advocates go further, claiming that scientific studies offer conclusive proof that people are born gay.

    Response to Argument #3. Although some future studies may one day bear this out, the research findings often cited as evidence of the born a gay condition are, at best, inconclusive; they are questionable at worst. [8]  Two of these deserve mention because of the prominence often given them in Adventist publications.

    (a) Neurobiologist Simon LeVay’s 1991 Study on the Brains of 41 Cadavers. The cadavers consisted of nineteen allegedly homosexual men, sixteen allegedly heterosexual men, and six allegedly heterosexual women. He reported that a cluster of neurons in a distinct section of the brain (called the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus, or the INAH3) were generally smaller in the homosexual men as compared to the heterosexual men. As a result, he hypothesized that the size of these neurons may cause a person to be either heterosexual or homosexual. [9] This study is often cited as proof that people are born gay.

    As others have shown, LeVay’s study is exaggerated, misleading, and fraught with major weaknesses. (1) In order for his theory to be valid, studies would have to show that the difference in size of that section of the brain occurred 100% of the time. But LeVay’s own study showed 17% of his total study group contradicted his theory. Three of the nineteen allegedly homosexual men actually had larger neurons than their heterosexual counterparts, and three of the heterosexual men had smaller neurons than did the homosexual men. (2) There is no proof that the section of the brain he measured actually has anything to do with sexual preference. (3) The study did not show whether the size of the neurons caused the sexual preference or whether the sexual preference caused the size. (4) The scientific community has not by any means unanimously accepted LeVay’s finding. (5) LeVay’s own objectivity in the research is in question, since he admitted in a September 9, 1991, Newsweek magazine that after the death of his homosexual lover, he was determined to find a genetic cause for homosexuality, or he would abandon science altogether.

    (b) J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard’s 1991 Study of Twins.
Bailey and Pillard investigated how widespread homosexuality is among identical twins (whose genetic makeup are the same) and fraternal twins (whose genetic ties are less close). Among other things, they discovered that 52% of the identical twins studied were both homosexual. Bailey and Pillard hypothesized that the higher incidence of homosexuality among the identical twins implies that homosexuality is genetic in origin.

    Bailey and Pillard’s theory is also misleading and exaggerated. For their theory to be a fact, the following should hold: (1) There should never be a case when one identical twin is heterosexual and the other homosexual, since both identical twins share 100% of the same genes. If sexual orientation is genetic, then both identical twins will in 100% of cases always be either homosexual or heterosexual. Bailey and Pillard’s findings of only 52% challenges their own hypothesis. On the contrary, their research confirms that non-genetic factors play a significant role in shaping sexual preference. (2) The twins should be raised in different homes to eliminate the possible effect of environmental factors in their sexual preferences. But all twins studied by Bailey and Pillard were raised in the same homes. (3) A later study on twins by other scholars yielded different results. (4) Bailey and Pillard, like LeVay, may not have approached their study objectively, given their personal feelings about homosexuality. Because Bailey is a gay rights advocate and Pillard is openly homosexual, their objectivity in the research may be questioned. (5) There are also questions about whether the sample was representative, since Bailey and Pillard requested subjects by solicitation through homosexual organizations and publications.

    Other studies have been done. However, to date, we know of no study that supports the claim by pro-gay advocates that conclusive evidence exists showing people are born gay or that homosexuality is inborn or of genetic origin. We are not suggesting that genetics does not influence one’s homosexual predisposition. Our contention is simply that the studies usually cited for the claim that people are born gay are not as conclusive as proponents would have us believe. It seems that the studies are put forth to intimate that homosexuality is not a sin to be repented of but a mark of one’s identity to be celebrated.

    4. “Homosexuality is not a sin, but a condition of sinfulness.”

    This variation of the born gay argument is perhaps the most popular in Christian circles. Unlike the previous argument which sees homosexuality as normal or natural, proponents of the current argument suggest that homosexuality is an abnormal or unnaturalcondition, or even an illness brought about by a number of factors beyond the control of the individual. The causes include biological/genetic defect, gender confusion (a female mind in a male body and vice versa), or prenatal hormonal irregularities (e.g., endocrine-mimicking chemicals or chemical toxicity in the brains of homosexuals during the formative period of their embryos or fetuses). Based on these alleged causes, some pro-gay advocates maintain that homosexuals have no choice in the matter of their sexual predisposition towards persons of the same gender.

    The homosexual condition or orientation, it is argued, is an evidence of the brokenness and fallenness of our present world. The condition may be classified with disease (such as alcoholism, or allergies), with handicap (such as congenital blindness), and eccentricity (such as left-handedness). It may even be evil (like sickness or death), but not necessarily sinful (like pride, blasphemy, or murder). Because homosexuals did not choose to be born gay, "we shouldn't hold a person responsible for her or his sexual orientation any more than we hold a person responsible for skin color (nature)." [10]  Being a homosexual is not sin, [11]  but lustful and inappropriate homosexual activity is sin and therefore, must be avoided. [12] Since it is believed that homosexuals did not chose to be gay, but were born that way, God deserves the credit (or blame) for who or what they are. And since homosexuality is presumably not a sin, but a sinful condition, homosexuals need compassion and acceptance from the church.

    One ex-homosexual explains why he “accepted” his homosexuality:

I was not responsible for who and what I was. I was God’s creation, and if He had not wanted me to be gay (homosexual), then He wouldn’t have made me this way. If being gay was a choice, I would never have made that choice, for with it came the consequences of hurting those I loved, the break up of my home, the loss of my children, alienation from my family and friends and church, the scorn and ridicule of the general public. It was all God’s fault. As far as choices were concerned, I had made all the right choices. I had chosen a Christian education for myself. I had chosen to be a student missionary for two years in the Far East. I had chosen to study theology and pre-med preparatory to becoming a medical missionary some day. I had chosen to marry a Christian girl, and to have little Christian children. But eventually, no longer able to deny to myself who and what I really was inside, I had ‘accepted’ being homosexual, and, in extreme frustration, turned my back on family, friends, God, and everything I had worked for, and entered into the gay life ‘rightfully’ giving God all the credit (or blame). [13]  

    Response to Argument #4: While not denying the possibility that homosexuality may be caused by many combinations of variables, including biological/genetic or hormonal irregularities, there are serious problems with the argument that homosexuals are somewhat sick or abnormal, or that homosexuality is not a sin, but a condition of sinfulness.

    First, perceptive critics, including advocates of the Gay Right Movement, are moving away from the theories of genetic-defect and hormonal irregularities for fear that other research findings showing some unacceptable conditions (like alcoholism, schizophrenia, cerebral palsy, etc.) as genetically or biologically related will soon make homosexuals look like they are abnormal, sick, or less than human. Such a perception, in their opinion, will be a reversal of the gains they made when the Gay Right Movement successfully lobbied to have the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from the categories of abnormal behavior and mental illness

    For example, one scholar exposes the intellectual and psychological inconsistency in this “outmoded version of natural law” which seeks to make a fine distinction between homosexual orientation and behavior. Responding to the view that “while homosexuality as an orientation is contrary to God's created intention, the homosexual person ought not to be adversely judged or rejected by the church,” this researcher counters that while some may deem such a position a more tolerant and compassionate view than outright condemnation, “it places gay men and lesbians in at least two impossible binds.” He continues:

One, of course, is the individual's recognition that her or his own sexual orientation is as natural and as fundamental to identity as is the color of the skin. It is both naive and cruel to tell a lesbian or gay man, ‘Your sexual orientation is still unnatural and a perversion, but this is no judgment upon you as a person.’ The individual knows otherwise. The other bind concerns churchly pressure toward celibacy. When the church presumes to be non-judgmental toward orientation but then draws the line against genital expression, it is difficult to understand how the sense of guilt--even in the celibate--will be significantly alleviated. [14]

    The point is that many homosexuals don't want to be perceived as abnormal or sick. They see themselves as normal people with full control over their choices. They don't consider themselves driven by some defective genes to do things contrary to their choice. When they describe themselves as born gays, they don't understand their condition to be the result of genetic defect or gender-confusion, or hormonal/chemical accident. Instead, they argue that their homosexuality is an alternative expression of human sexuality, created by God Himself, and therefore not a sin. This is why they prefer to see their homosexual orientation as normal, natural, morally neutral, and a gift from God.

    Second, assuming even that homosexuality is of biological/genetic origin, does it make it right. For example, is stealing right just because a person was born a kleptomaniac? Is alcoholism right, just because a person was born alcoholic (i.e. born with a strong genetic predisposition towards alcoholism)? Undoubtedly, the kleptomaniac/alcoholic is sick and needs help. But stealing/drunkenness, regardless of its cause, is never right. Thus, a person who is born gay (either because of genetic defect, hormonal problem, gender confusion, etc.) is at best abnormal or sick. That person may be suffering from a compulsive immoral tendency. But would the cause of that compulsive or uncontrollable homosexual lust or behavior make the tendency or behavior morally right?

Adulterers, or pedophiles, or pornographers, will gain little sympathy from the claim that their genes made them do it. Why should the homosexual be considered in a different genetic light? No, however fascinating or apparently comforting it may be to explore how the patterns of genetic structure and social surroundings combine to create for each of us a moral context, we must nevertheless also recognize our responsibility to act obediently within that context. As moral agents we say yes or no to each potential sexual encounter. [15]

    Third, even if a biological/genetic link is found, would that prove that God created homosexuality? Jesus dismissed the suggestion that God is responsible for genetic deficiencies with which people are born. When asked why a man was born blind, Christ did not say, “Because God made him this way.” “Rather, He said that God was to be glorified through healing the man of the effects of his faulty genes (John 9:1-7). So it is with homosexuals who might have a genetic predisposition. (Notice I said ‘might.’ The verdict is still out.) God didn’t make them this way. It [homosexuality] is the result of the degeneration of humankind by thousands of years of sin. God doesn’t create any of the aberrations sin causes. However he can be glorified in genetically challenged people. Jesus will provide victory over what genetics might influence.” [16]

    5. “Homosexual Orientation Is Natural or Normal”

    Based on the assumption that homosexuality is inborn, i.e. of genetic origin, advocates argue that homosexuality should be accepted as a natural or normal human condition.

    Response to Argument #5. This argument is also flawed. Leaving aside the important issues of the manner in which the scientific research is conducted and the kind of interpretation given to the research findings, [17] even proving that homosexual orientation is inborn (i.e., of genetic origin) will not make homosexuality normal or desirable. Many defects or handicaps today are inborn, but hardly anyone would call them normal for that reason alone. Why should homosexuality be considered natural or normal, just because it may be inborn?

    When we say that something is natural, we refer to what happens repeatedly in the world of nature—in which case we do not assign moral judgment to it. For example, spiders kill and eat other spiders, including their mates. “But as a moral category natural refers to something that is in accord with God’s intention. Actions are good or bad: for example, people sometimes kill and eat other people. But the fact that cannibalism happens in the world—perhaps in satisfaction of deeply held religious beliefs or peculiar culinary tastes—does not make it natural in the sense that it conforms to God’s will. In summary: that which is natural to human experience or human desire is not necessarily natural in God’s moral design.” [18]

    6. “Homosexual Orientation Is God-given.”

    The argument here is that because many homosexuals claim that since their childhood they have always had homosexual feelings, their “natural” homosexual tendencies are from God.

    Response to Argument #6. Scripture nowhere suggests that if a thing seems natural it is inevitably God given. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that many “natural” states and desires are not of God and are contrary to His will.

    For example, “The natural man does not receive the things of God” (1 Cor 2:14). Before conversion, we “were by nature the children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). “The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Rom 8:7). Scripture teaches that we are a fallen race, born in sin: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity” (Ps 51:5; cf. Jer 17:9; Rom 5:12). Sin has marred our physical and spiritual nature (1 Cor 15:1-54; John 3:5-6). We cannot therefore assume that because something is natural or inborn, it must be God ordained.

    7. “Homosexual Orientation Is Morally Neutral”

    From the assumption that people are born gay, proponents argue that homosexuality should be viewed as a neutral expression of human sexuality. Like heterosexuality, homosexuality can be rightly used or abused. The abuse is wrong. But its use within a loving, consensual, and monogamous relationship is morally right.

    Response to Argument #7. As to the assumption that because homosexuality may be natural or inborn (an unproven assertion) it is morally neutral or legitimate, we may ask: If we would demonstrate conclusively that adultery, incest, pedophilia, violence, lying are inherited, would we be justified in considering them legitimate or neutral? Should the standard for morality be determined by what is inborn?

    Contrary to this view, homosexuality is still immoral, whether inborn or acquired. “And immoral behavior cannot be legitimized by a quick baptism in the gene pool.” [19]

    Morality is not determined by what is inborn. Those wishing to discover God’s moral standards must look to the Bible. The Ten Commandments and God’s pre-fall order, rather than the latest discoveries of science regarding the post-fall sinful condition, provide the moral guidelines on whether homosexuality is moral and immoral. The leap from what is (alleged facts of the homosexual condition) to what ought to be (the morality of homosexuality) is too large to make.

    If some men and women are born with homosexual or lesbian genes, then the rest of us are born with adulterous and lying genes. Will God excuse adultery and lying because we were supposedly born with those genes? We are counseled: “Never should we lower the standard of righteousness in order to accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong-doing” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 330).

    8. "Changing the Homosexual Orientation Is Difficult and Rare"

    It is claimed that because homosexuality is an inbred condition, the homosexual has no (or very little) hope of ever changing.

    Response to Argument #8. The oft-repeated claim that "changing one's homosexual orientation is difficult and rare" is not supported by Scripture or Ellen G. White. In fact, the Bible itself says that sinners such as fornicators, adulterers, thieves and homosexuals were actually able to overcome their sinful practice through the transforming power of Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Similarly, Ellen G. White states unequivocally that "a genuine conversion changes hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong." [20]

    But even when we suppose, for the sake of argument, that the homosexual condition is unchangeable- -i.e., that no amount of prayer, counseling, and effort of any kind can make a homosexual change his orientation--do these facts make homosexuality less sinful? Definitely not. One former homosexual's statement is worth quoting:

There is no contingency factor in any scriptural reference to any kind of sin, in either the Old or the New Testament. We never read anything like: "Thou shalt not do thus and so!" ("Unless, of course, you tried hard to change, went for prayer and counseling, and found you just couldn't stop wanting to do thus and so. If that's the case, then thus and so is no longer sin. It's an inborn, immutable gift and you can darn well [feel free to] indulge in it!)" [21]

    The truth, however, is that “whether the homosexual is in denial, latent, ‘in the closet,’ openly gay, ‘married,’ militant, or even a ‘flaming queen’; whether he believes to have been born ‘gay’ or conditioned to be gay, . . . it does not really matter. If someone is drowning, it matters not whether he fell into the water, fell asleep in the water, jumped into the water, or was thrown into the water. The bottom line is that he needs a life guard, a savior.” [22]  Jesus is that Lifeguard. He is mighty to save every sinner, both heterosexual and homosexual, provided they admit that they are sinners, repent, and turn from their sinful ways.

    9. “Once A Homosexual, (Almost) Always A Homosexual”

    This is where the logic of biological predestination eventually leads: People are born gay; they cannot change their condition; they will always remain gay. If anyone has to change, it must be the institutions of society and the church, not the homosexual. The laws of society and the Bible must change to accommodate the homosexual who, once gay, will always be gay.

    Response to Argument #9. Perhaps the most important question raised by the issue of homosexuality is whether Christ has power to help people overcome sin in their lives. This is of course an important question if homosexuality is sin. For if homosexuality is just a sickness or addictive/compulsive behavior, then homosexuals need therapy, not repentance; they need medical cure and not moral correction. And if homosexuality is simply a morally neutral part of a person’s identity, then “once a homosexual, (almost) always a homosexual.”

     The latter claim has been made by the editor of a leading Adventist church paper:

You attempt to make a point that neither the Bible nor human experience can support—that a person’s sexual orientation is itself sinful and must and can be overcome by the new birth. As Jesus and our common sense tell us, no amount of praying or piety can turn a person five feet tall into one six feet tall; and a person who is an alcoholic is an alcoholic for life. The only question is whether the alcoholic will practice on the basis of her [sic] or her orientation. [23]

    The above quotation summarizes the issues raised in this chapter. Not only does it raise questions about the normative source of one’s religious authority (Bible? human experience? Jesus? common sense?), but also it raises the question about whether or not (a) we can distinguish between being a homosexual and practicing homosexuality, whether or not the experience of conversion—the new birth—can help a person to overcome his/her sinful sexual orientation (whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual) and whether (c) a person who is an alcoholic or homosexual can overcome all these sinful tendencies and cease to be an alcoholic and homosexual.

    If the Bible’s diagnosis of homosexuality as sin can be established scripturally, then the Bible’s prescription is the same for homosexuals as it is for all other sinners: a call to conversion and an invitation to participate in the process of biblical sanctification. If this is true, then the Bible’s approach cannot be disdained as naive, simplistic, or inadequate, nor belittled as pat answers that are incomplete for people struggling with sexual addiction. It forces us to answer the question of whether the transforming power of God is more effective than the impotent power of psychological therapy. [24]  

    The testimony of Scripture exposes the lie that "once a homosexual, always a homosexual." Homosexuals can be, and have actually been, changed through the transforming power of Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11). Those who deny this fact not only deny the veracity of Scripture on this issue, but they also unwittingly portray God as impotent, rather than omnipotent. Jesus can save to the uttermost any sinner. This includes the homosexual.

    10. “There’s A Difference Between Being A Homosexual And Practicing Homosexuality”

    Discussions on homosexuality often define it in two ways: (a) homosexual orientation or inclination or tendency—an inborn sexual attraction, predisposition, or desire toward a member of one’s own sex, and (b) homosexual behavior or practice—an erotic activity with a member of one’s own sex, an activity that may or may not be morally right. [25]

    On the basis of this distinction some Adventist writers argue that homosexual orientation/condition (also referred to as ontological or constitutional homosexuality or inversion) is a permanent and unchangeable part of the individual’s constitutional make up. [26]  It is like the color of a person’s skin—a non-behavioral trait that is to be viewed as morally neutral and a condition from which no one can change. On the other hand, homosexual practice/activity must be judged according to morally acceptable norms. “Being a homosexual is not sin,” it is argued, but “homosexual sexual activity is sinful—it is apart from God’s will.” [27]

    Response to Argument #10:
This argument is meaningless, if not misleading. Is homosexuality something you are, like being black or elderly or handicapped or female, or is it something you do, like adultery or incest or lying? This question goes to the heart of the pro-homosexual statement that “there is a difference between being a homosexual and practicing homosexuality.” In order for the pro-gay argument to be valid, one must assume that homosexuality is not a sin. On the other hand, if homosexuality is a sin, as the Bible teaches, then the distinction between being a homosexual and practicing homosexuality is artificial and invalid.

    Let’s think a little more carefully: Can a person really be a homosexual without practicing homosexuality? If this is so, can a person be an adulterer without practicing adultery? Can a person be a kleptomaniac without stealing? Can an individual be a liar without practicing lying? Also, if a person repents of his besetting sin, and through the enabling grace of God gains victory over, say, stealing, lying, immorality, etc., would it be theologically appropriate to continue viewing the person as though he were still in bondage to that particular sin, even though he may still be tempted?

    Rather than distinguishing between being a homosexual and practicing homosexuality, perhaps it is more theologically sound to distinguish between the temptation to act upon one’s sinful homosexual tendency (which is not wrong) and actually choosing to cherish and act upon that temptation (a wrongful choice).

    If allowed to stand unchallenged, the distinction made between being homosexual and practicing homosexuality would raise a number of biblical and theological questions. First, does the Bible make such a distinction between homosexual orientation/condition and homosexual practice/behavior?—between inversion (constitutional homosexuality) and perversion (the abuse of homosexuality)? Adventist scholars disagree on this issue.

    For example, one New Testament scholar admits that, “Such a distinction [between inverts and perverts] does not appear in Scripture, nor does the Bible reflect the understanding of homosexuality that we have today.” But he seems to negate this categorical statement when, in the very next sentence, he writes: “Nevertheless, Paul must have had reference to the perverted sexual practices common in the degenerate pagan society of his time. Obviously he is referring to perverts, not inverts who do not participate in homosexual practices.” [28]

    If the Bible makes no such distinction, how is it “obvious” for Paul to be referring to a non-existent distinction? In other words, if Scripture does not make the contemporary distinction between homosexual orientation (inversion) and homosexual practice (perversion), how is it possible that “the New Testament statements directed themselves primarily if not exclusively to perverts, not inverts”? [29]  In order not to be accused of forcing the Bible into the mold of today’s sociological dichotomy between perversion and inversion, Adventist exegetes would need to establish whether the Bible makes such a distinction or not. The Bible condemns sin in thought and deed. It teaches that we all have sinful natures but offers victory through rebirth.

    Second, the distinction between orientation and practice—the former being morally neutral and the latter morally wrong—also raises theological and ethical questions. Does the universal sinfulness of all humanity and the fact that they are born with weakness and tendencies to evil (Ps 51:5; 143:2; cf. 14:3; 1 Kings 8:46; Pro 20:9; Rom 3:23; 7:14-24; 1 John 1:8) allow one to suggest that this sinful tendency or propensity is morally neutral, and therefore, not a sin to be repented of or overcome by the power of Christ (Rom 7:25; 8:1; Eph 2:1-10; John 1:13; 3:5; 2 Cor 5:17)?

    Third, if Adventists adopt the social scientists’ distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual practice, would not such a dichotomy be a biblically questionable rending of actions and attitudes? In other words, how can the practice of homosexuality be wrong, and yet, the inclination toward or the longing for that action be neutral (cf. Matt. 5:27, 28; 1 John 3:15)?

    Is it Scriptural to argue that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral (and hence, not a sin) but the action itself is that which is sinful? If there exists an orientation toward a wrong act, does not a person need as much help to overcome that inclination as the individual who has succumbed to that wrong desire—whether it be lying, stealing, adultery or killing, etc.? The Bible teaches that all sinful acts, including deceit, adultery, murder, etc., proceed from the sinful human heart (Prov 12:20; Matt 5:27, 28; 1 John 3:15; Mark 7:21-27).

    Instead of referring to homosexuality as a morally neutral orientation, is it not more biblical to say that a homosexual orientation is nothing more than an almost helpless sinful tendency or propensity (such as kleptomania, nymphomania, inveterate adultery), a condition that makes temptation to sin almost irresistible? And if homosexual orientation, like kleptomania and nymphomania, is a sinful human condition, does not this diagnosis suggest that the cure for this problem has to be Divine?

    Could it be that the failure to recognize homosexuality as sin is one reason why it cannot be overcome? If homosexual orientation excuses the sin of homosexual desires, does it not imply that other sinful orientations (such as compulsive lying, compulsive adultery, compulsive racism, compulsive stealing, compulsive disobedience to authority, etc.) should all be excused as irreversible sinful conditions? Wherein then, lies the power of God’s transforming grace?

    11. “Being A Homosexual Is Not A Sin”

    Another variation of the previous pro-gay argument is the belief that being a homosexual is not a sin. In the view of proponents, the condition of homosexuality is not a sin. Therefore, in the words of one Adventist scholar, “homosexuals can be genuine, model Christians.” [30]  They do not consider it an oxymoron to speak about a gay Christian or a gay Adventist. For in their view, individuals can be a non-practicing homosexual when they choose to be “celibate homosexuals.” [31]

    Response to Argument #11. The above statement is based on the questionable argument that a person can be a homosexual without practicing homosexuality. It also wrongly assumes that homosexuality is a morally neutral condition or mark of a persons identity (like being black, white, Italian, woman, etc.). For the statement (“being a homosexual is not a sin”) to be valid, we have to show from the Scriptures that homosexuality itself is not a sin. As we shall later see, this cannot be established from Scripture.

    A person is no more a non-practicing homosexual as a non-practicing adulterer or a non-practicing polygamist. Once individuals cease to practice adultery or polygamy, they can no longer be referred to as adulterers or polygamists. They are ex-adulterers and ex-polygamists. Therefore homosexuals who do not practice (or cherish or lust after) homosexuality are exhomosexuals.

    The apostle Paul did not refer to the converted believers in Corinth as non-practicing fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, or homosexuals. That they were ex-fornicators, ex-idolaters, ex-adulterers and ex-homosexuals is indicated by his statement, “such were some of you” [past tense] (1 Cor 6:9-11).

    12. “God Does Not Want Homosexuals to Give Up ‘Who They Are’”

     Based on the assumption that people are born gay, and on the basis of texts like Psalm 139:13 (“For you created my inmost parts”) and Psalm 100:3 (“It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves”), pro-gay advocates maintain that peoples’ homosexual orientation/condition is part of their identity, defining who they are as sexual human beings. Consequently, it is argued: “Since God made me the way I am, and since I have had my orientation from my earliest memories, why shouldn’t I express my God-given sexuality? Why would God ask me to change something which He Himself has given me?” [32]

    Response to Argument #12. The fact is that God wants every one of us, including homosexuals, to give up something we have had all our lives—our selves, our sinful selves. The Bible condemns all forms of self-love or self-indulgence as expressions of idolatry and presents self-denial as the hall-mark of Christian discipleship (Luke 14:26-27; cf. Rev 12:11). The only way really to find one’s self is by losing it (Mark 8:34-37). We cannot change ourselves but Christ can change us if we truly want to be changed from our besetting sexual tendencies.


[1]    Kate McLauglin, "Are Homosexuals God's Children?" Adventist Review, April 3, 1997, 26-29. Cf. Suzanne Ryan, "When Love Wasn't Enough," Insight, December 5, 1992, 2-3; Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation," Insight, December 5, 1992, 4-5, 6.

[2]    Chris Glaser, "A Newly Revealed Christian Experience," Church and Society 67 (May-June 1977):5.

[3]    William Muehl and William Johnson, "Issues Raised by Homosexuality," Raising the Issues (materials distributed as Packet 1, Task Force to Study Homosexuality, United Presbyterian Church), 4, cited in Robert K. Johnston, Evangelicals at an Impasse (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1984), 116-117.

[4]    Choon-Leong Seouw, "A Heterotexual Perspective," in Homosexuality and Christian Community, ed. Choon-Leong Seouw (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 25.

[5]    This argument has to do with the causes of homosexuality and the possibility of change. If the root cause of the homosexual orientation is strictly genetic, then the chances of change are very slim. If, on the other hand, homosexual orientation has to do with one’s environment or choice, then changing one’s environment or exercising the power of choice can effect a change in a homosexual’s condition.

[6]    Neil and Briar Whitehead, My Genes Made Me Do It! A Scientific Look at Sexual Orientation (Lafayette, Louisiana, Huntington House Publishers, 1999).

[7]     Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 671; cf. The Ministry of Healing, 175-176.

[8]    For a more detailed discussion, with supporting references, see Neil and Briar Whitehead, My Genes Made Me Do It, 125-169; William Byne, “The Biological Evidence Challenged,” Scientific American 270/5 (1994):50-55; Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow: Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 137-142; Joe Dallas, A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996), 107-131. What follows is a brief summary from these works.

[9]    Simon LeVay’s findings were published as “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science, August 30, 1991, 1034-1037.

[10]    Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation: A Christian Response to the Question of Homosexuality," Insight, December 5, 1992, 7.

[11]    "I don't deny the evil of the thing, for evil it certainly is, but I do deny the sinfulness of it. The homosexual condition is to be classified with disease, weakness, death, as an evil; not with gluttony, blasphemy, murder, as a sin. Both sin and evil are the work of Satan, were brought into the world at the Fall, and will one day be destroyed by Christ, but they are not identical. Sin, which we must avoid and need never commit, is represented in our situation by homosexual lust and the activity to which it leads. Evil is different. We pray to be delivered from it, but may nevertheless find ourselves left in it, and then have to aim at using and transforming it. In our situation that means a homosexual nature. I'm sure that in this sense it is morally neutral. . ." (Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love: Letters of a Christian Homosexual [London: Intervarsity Press, 1970], 80).

[12]    Christopher Blake, "Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation," 11, equates homosexual orientation with temptation, and states: "We cannot condone homosexual activity. Homosexual sexual activity is sinful--it is apart from God's will. Yet a difference exists between the person who fights against homosexual tendencies and the one who experiments with or revels in them. It's a sin to cave in to temptation. It's not a sin to be tempted."

[13]    Victor J. Adamson, “That Kind Can Never Change!” Can They . . .?: One Man’s Struggle with His Homosexuality (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 2000), 18-19. Adamson no longer holds this view. In chapters 7 and 8 of Must We Be Silent? he explains why.

[14]    J. B. Nelson, "Religious and Moral Issues in Working with Homosexual Clients," in Homosexuality and Psycho-therapy, a Practitioner's Handbook of Affirmative Models. Journal of Homosexuality 7, Nos. 2-3, ed. J. C. Gonsiorek (New York: Haworth Press, 1982): 168-69. Cf. World 6 (September 14, 1991):11.

[15]    Thomas E. Schmidt, “Homosexuality: Establishing a Christian Backdrop for Pastoral Care,” Ministry, November 1996, 14.

[16]    Garry Gibbs, Homosexuality: Return to Sodom (Roseville, CA: Amazing Facts, 1996), 16-17.

[17]    For more on this, see Joe Dallas, “Born Gay?” Christianity Today, June 22, 1992, 20-23.

[18]    Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? 133.

[19]    Joe Dallas, A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian Movement” (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996), 117.

[20]    Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, ed., Francis D. Nichol, rev. ed. (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1980), vol. 6, 1101.

[21]    Dallas, A Strong Delusion, 121.

[22]    Victor J. Adamson, “That Kind Can Never Change!” Can They . . .?: One Man’s Struggle with His Homosexuality (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 2000), ix.

[23]    Official letter, dated May 28, 1993, from New Testament scholar William G. Johnsson, editor, Adventist Review, to Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. In this letter, Johnsson was responding to an article I had submitted for publication. The above quotation presents the first of three reasons given why my article—titled then as “'Born A Gay’ Or 'Born Again’?”—was “not acceptable” for publication in the Adventist Review. The editor suggested that the article should be re-worked “to bring it in line with the general thinking of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in this matter [of homosexuality]” if it should be considered for publication. The “general thinking” that the editor endorses seems to be the qualified-acceptance position. In addition to the above reason, the editor also suggested that the article should (1) deal with the pro-gay reconstructions of the Biblical texts that challenge homosexual lifestyle and (2) be “shaped within the framework of a greater compassion.” I am indebted to Dr. Johnsson for the suggestion. This section of Must We Be Silent? is a partial response to his invitation.

[24]    See Andrews University psychology professor John Berecz’s, “How I Treat Gay and Lesbian Persons,” Student Movement, November 11, 1992, 7, where he asserts that seeking help in the complex area of homosexuality from “untrained nonprofessionals,” such as a local pastor, “is a bit like asking your mailman to remove your gall bladder. If you’re seeking sexual reorientation therapy, a competent professional trained in sex therapy is your best hope.”

[25]    Writes Anglican theologian D. S. Bailey: “It is important to understand that the genuine homosexual condition, or inversion, as it is often termed, is something for which the subject can in no way be held responsible; in itself, it is morally neutral. Like the normal condition of heterosexuality, however, it may find expression in specific sexual acts; and such acts are subject to moral judgement no less than those which may take place between man and woman. It must be made quite clear that the genuine invert is not necessarily given to homosexual practices, and may exercise as careful a control over his or her physical impulses as the heterosexual.” D. S. Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition [London/New York: Longmans, Green, 1955], xi).

[26]    As I pointed out earlier, in the literature on homosexuality, a distinction is often made between constitutional and situational homosexuals. Constitutional or true homosexuals (also referred to as inverts or ontological homosexuals) are those who are believed to have been born gay, and therefore, are considered to be the genuine homosexuals. Because their condition/orientation is said to be a permanent part of their constitutional make up (and not a transitory phase of life nor an accommodation to situational pressure), it is maintained that those who are ontological homosexuals should not be held morally responsible for their condition. In and of itself, homosexual orientation is morally neutral, like the normal condition of heterosexuality. On the other hand, situational homosexuals (also referred to as perverts) are not true homosexuals but are heterosexuals who are forced by circumstances (e. g., restrictions on their sexual expression, such as is the case in prison, military camps, boarding schools, monasteries, and other single sex environments) to resort to homosexual practices to gratify their sexual needs. Because situational homosexuality is believed to be a transitory phase in their lives (i. e. they are forced to engage in homosexual practices merely to accommodate situational pressure), their homosexuality is regarded as a perversion of true sexuality; those who engage in these practices are culpable for their actions. See D. S. Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London/New York: Longmans, Green, 1955), xi; H. K. Jones, A Christian Understanding of the Homosexual (New York: Association Press, 1966), 20-23.

[27]    Blake, “Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation,” 11. To be fair, I should make it very clear that though Blake argues that “being a homosexual is not sin,” he does believe that homosexual practice is sin. He is not preaching that “It’s okay to be gay.” Instead he is calling for an end to persecution of those who face homosexual temptation so they can be brought to Christ rather than driven from Him. He is right to argue that name calling, ostracism, and violence against homosexuals are not Christian.

[28]    Sakae Kubo, Theology and Ethics of Sex (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1980), 75. It appears that in the Old Testament, the assumption is that everyone will marry, if possible. Not only is there no allowance for an inverted homosexual, but there is no suggestion that some might choose not to marry but to remain single. Not until the New Testament do we find Jesus calling disciples to be willing to forsake their families and follow Him and Paul urging disciples to forego marriage if possible and devote themselves to God’s work.

[29]    Writes Kubo: “Thus in treating the New Testament evidence we must keep two things in mind. Scripture does not reflect the understanding of homosexuality that we have today. The contemporary practices indicate that the New Testament statements directed themselves primarily if not exclusively to perverts, not inverts” (Sakae Kubo, Theology and Ethics of Sex, 76).

[30]    Blake, Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation,” 10, 11.

[31]    See Reni Dupertuis’s interview with a 51 year old businessman who describes himself as a “gay Adventist.” (Reni Dupertuis, “To Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue and People,” Scanner [a newsletter published by the Glendale City, California, SDA Church], Winter 1999, 9). The article claims that there are “at least 5,000 gay Adventists in Southern California” (ibid.).

[32]    The Andrews University student newspaper carried an article by David Rodgers (pseudonym), a denominationally employed Andrews University campus outreach coordinator for the gay group, Kinship. Rodgers states that his homosexuality “certainly wasn’t a choice. . . . God made me this way and it’s not something I should change. Or can change” (Yoonah Kim, “The Love that Dares Not Speak Its Name,” Student Movement, November 4, 1992, 9). The same article refers to Ann, a 28-year old lesbian who seeks to transfer her church membership to the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University. Ann speaks about her committed homosexual relationship in which God plays an important role: “I am a lesbian because God knows that that’s the best thing for me. My homosexuality has actually brought me a lot closer to God than if I was a heterosexual” (ibid).