I've started and stopped writing this a dozen or more times. I've alluded to the point, presented it in soft, palatable ways, discussed it one-on-one with friends, agreed with others who've breached the topic, and applauded those who've articulated what I haven't, but I've never wanted to address this head-on because emotions surrounding it run so deeply that I expect it to accomplish very little as a writing, unless attached to demonstrable compassion. But every day it seems I watch another support buckle, another foundation crack, so there's little platform left to stand firmly on, so I watch more and more people fall into places they never thought they'd end up. The Christian church has largely failed and lost on the social issue of homosexuality. I'm not trying to change a single mind with what follows; I only hope to elevate the conversation to something civil and productive.
There is a simple principle that should always be present when articulating the positions of Christianity:
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."
- 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NASB)
Now, I've already mentioned Christianity, so alarms went off and defenses went up in those predisposed to dismiss all such philosophies as "religious", because of course in our progressive and civilized society we certainly needn't consider ancient myths and fairy tales that are anti-scientific. I agree, but Christianity is none of those things, which is precisely what sets it apart. The evidences of it are so widely available and the topic has been so thoroughly discussed within the field of apologetics (if that's a new thing to you, begin with J. Warner Wallace's "Cold Case Christianity", Lee Strobel's "The Case For Christ", C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity", or The Poached Egg blog at http://www.thepoachedegg.net/), that I can't go back into that and derail the discussion at hand. Instead, let's begin from the stance that skepticism toward anything claiming morality as a base is good and encouraged, because if morality actually exists it cannot be relative, but must necessarily by it's own nature emanate from an authority. So if you claim even that society has progressed, you are saying there is a standard that was once not met, but either has been met more recently with effort and advanced understanding, or is nearer to it. If the standard was simply agreement of the majority, it would be arbitrary and malleable, but we do not live as a people who believe consensus equals morality, or we would accept defeat graciously and not fight democratically elected governments. Rather, we dig in our heals and #RESIST, because of our deeply held convictions that things are not what they ought to be. So we most definitely believe in a standard, and it is responsible to evaluate what has the authority to define it. We are healthy skeptics--good! Let's hold everything to that same skepticism, including social movements and causes of the day.
We've reached a point in society where people consider convictions hate speech if they so much as suggest that there is an alternate point of view, and the topic of homosexuality forces this hand. No one wants to be seen as bigoted, so we are encouraged to be vocal in support of same sex marriage, and anything less than endorsement is considered intolerant, uneducated and homophobic. But let's remain skeptical for a moment and deal exclusively with science. Biology is simply factual--you either are or aren't physically male or female (anomalies and malformities are in a separate category of scientific discussion, not pertinent to this post), in the same way that you either are or aren't from a particular genetic hereditary makeup, the same as how you are a particular age based on when you were born. Psychology is where things get complicated, and that has so many influencers beyond what we are are cognizant of that it can take a lifetime to merely scratch the surface of where our personalities come from. But gender plays a huge role in our psychology, so a skeptic must acknowledge that it is not quite so simple as to just decide what role one prefers, and then play it, because there is tremendous history to unpack, and there is no switch to turn on or off. Even transitioning genders cannot undo the early awareness of being another physicality, so there is a lifetime of emotional associations to contend with that will not dispel with the addition or removal of gender-specific characteristics. Furthermore, to place such emphasis on gender and sexuality is to acknowledge their significance to an individual's totality, and the effects of fluidity are extremely complex--much too complex to be categorically applied to a subset of the population as if all experiences were equal and can be uniformly understood. If male and female bodies are biologically complimentary, we can assume they are also psychologically complimentary, since the psyche is built on genetic and physiological factors as well as emotionally responsive ones, of conscious and subconscious stimuli. The consequences of misdiagnosing or mistreating such a complicated makeup can be devastating, as evidenced from disproportionate suicide rates in people struggling with these sorts of issues. If male and female bodies are complimentary, both physically and psychologically, there may well be unintended damage to use them outside of this design. That is not a religious consideration, but a scientific one.
Now some of you are angry, thinking I've muddled two separate issues, and further upset that I've suggested one way of living might be inferior to another (which I never said, but that's how it will be interpreted), and this is why most of us don't talk about this. I love my gay friends very much, and don't want them to hurt. I don't want them to feel unwelcome or condemned. I want to celebrate who they are as unique individuals created and loved by God, and I want them treated with equal respect and to not be discriminated against legally. I was a theater student who grew up writing poetry and loving Boy George. My best friends were always girls, and we played with dolls. I've always hated sports and loved design. I was sexually abused when I was about five by a boy only slightly older than me, who was simply acting out what had been done to him (I didn't realize it was abuse until around 20--before that I always just thought I was dirty and bad). I had a favorite skirt as a teen and nearly got fired once for wearing my eye makeup too dark. I wore black when Freddy Mercury died and cried when we lost George Michael. I have a very deep and genuine compassion for individuals who are gay, and neither hate nor am fearful of it. But that does not mean I have to celebrate gay couples by a more forgiving standard than I do anyone else. I do not delight in divorce, even when there are legitimate reasons for it. I am not happy when people are unhealthily codependent, or enablers, or when one is abusive or manipulative, when someone is gaslit. I do not cheer promiscuity or polygamy, because I think they cheapen and miss the benefits of monogamous intimacy. I happen to believe very strongly from my own experience that monogamous devotion to a complimentary individual--and I mean complimentary in every way; emotional, mental, spiritual, physical--is the nearest to God people are able to comprehend in this manifestation of life. I know that I'm blessed to have the partner I have, and I know most people long for such a thing, and I don't want to withhold that from anyone... but I also know that the reason my marriage is so unique is because we were both seeking God's will first, even when it felt torturous, and we were in no way looking to each other to set right the emptiness and brokenness of life. It doesn't happen that way for everyone, but it was and is so wonderful that I wish that for everyone. I celebrate relationships only when they seem truly headed toward wholeness for the individuals, and I earnestly believe that homosexuality is missing a complimentary element of reverence for the other's inexplicable and unknowable counter-sexuality. There's a mystery and intrigue in my wife's differences that captivates and enraptures me, and I just don't think that's quite possible with two people so physically and experientially similar.
I know that people struggle with being gay, that it's very difficult for some, and that there is certainly hatred and misunderstanding and stigma that makes it even worse; and I understand why people champion the cause, and why our society is increasingly protective and proactive and accepting of these individuals, and I commend the intent of showing this minority unconditional love. But I also think love does not always mean encouraging people to proceed with whatever they feel like doing, if one believes it to be detrimental in some way. Many people are gay because they suffered unspeakable trauma in their formative years that flipped on a defense mechanism. Many are gay because they didn't believe they were loved. Many are gay because it feels good. Many are gay because they desperately want attention. Many are gay because they grew up differently than stereotypical boys and girls, and people encouraged and reinforced that different-ness as a defining characteristic of their personality. Some may actually have a genetic abnormality. Every case merits its own consideration, so we must remain skeptical enough to consider whether there is a trauma that needs to be dealt with so healing can come, and in such cases affirming the defense mechanism might set back progress. Standing in the way of healing is not loving, but selfish; it is more about whether the person appreciates us in the moment than it is about what their future looks like. In love we are to sacrifice ourselves entirely, and that means we might be uncomfortable standing up and telling someone something they don't want to hear. There is no merit whatsoever in simply leaving a person alone, because not only are you ignoring their unique contribution to the world, but you are also sending the signal that they are insignificant to you, that you could do without them, that you don't care enough to integrate them into your life. If you genuinely care about a person, you will want to make their life better, and if you believe there is a standard, you will want them to meet that standard. I believe very strongly in a standard--a very high one--and I have a special affinity for those who didn't have the resources I had to understand why the standard exists or how to reach it. I don't believe homosexuality meets the standard of what intimacy should be, due to the missing elements of different-ness and complimentarianism, just as I don't believe other expressions of sexuality do. Physical pleasure is not enough, nor even emotional pleasure, but intimacy as intended requires totality that cannot be cheapened in any way. Sexual release feels good no matter what form it's in, and many people settle for that, but it is not experienced to its fullest intent unless every dimension of humanity and spirituality is involved. That means flippancy, pornography, cheating, polygamy... all of these things are detrimental to a person, because they chip away at intimacy. Since I believe strongly in sexuality and gender roles, I believe homosexuality falls into this category of robbing a person of the fullness that is possible when complimentary individuals come together for a lifetime. It is not that I believe it's true because The Bible says it, but that I believe The Bible says it because it's true.
How do we proceed then? Will you be unwelcome in my house or church? Will I not spend time with you? Let's get back to the point I started with, that all things are lawful or permissible, but not all are profitable or edify. I will always love you, my friends, even if I don't think what you're doing is what is best for you. I will welcome you into my home and cherish you as individuals created by God for a purpose. In the same way I welcome couples whose relationships are not shining beacons of hope, in the same way I welcome people who probably shouldn't be together even though I like them both, in the same way I welcome anyone else I might disagree with about certain things, I welcome you into my life and extol your admirable qualities; it's just that there's a part of me sad that you don't have what I have, sad knowing you don't even know how to pursue it, sad that you'll settle for less, and that there are people cheering you on that you feel obligated to validate for their faith in you. It is perfectly within your God-given right to be gay, and to choose to live it out--and I don't want to deprive you of the freedom God gave--but I don't believe it to be profitable, beneficial or edifying to you, and as such I cannot rejoice. Insisting that I do so is not really love, but simple, passive, dispassionate and insincere tolerance, and I find that condescending and beneath you. I think you are valuable enough to know what I think you deserve, and I love you enough to tell you so.