The Gay Question

The term homophobia means more than just a fear of homosexuals; it is complex in that one might not fear the homosexual per se, but fear the cultural and social impact homosexuals contribute to society. Due to this fear, there have been a number of hate crimes committed against homosexuals, none as worst as the Matthew Shephard murder. This senseless murder was only exacerbated by people clearly pretending to be Christians parading at his funeral with signs claiming that “Christ hates fags” or “fags will burn in hell.” I say pretending to be Christians because as a Christian myself, there is no way that the Christ I worship, love, and live for would endorse such behavior. My Lord hates sin, not people. Better yet, my Lord would have a cup of coffee with Mr. Shephard, go to a ball game with him, even ask him about his goals and dreams. Because my Lord would do this, I have found myself doing the exact same thing since high school; I have only known a hand full of gay people, but that hand full has had a positive impact on my love for all people. The challenge I face daily is finding ways to communicate Christ’s love for all people with my students. I have a number of students who will tell you that it is wrong and sinful to discriminate and hate; yet, I have a large number of students who use the term fag as if it were a natural part of their vocabulary. After reading Luke Dockery’s blog piece entitled Double Standard, I have been thinking about this question more as of late.

Because I am a Christian, a liberal, an intellectual, and a member of a racial minority group that faces constant societal prejudices, it is not possible for me to hate or discriminate against a gay person. As a society governed by liberalism and constitutionalism, I continue to find myself confused by the many contradictions inculcated into the fabric of our polity. For example, how can we as a country via government say it is okay to be gay and to have a gay partner, but create laws banning gays from getting married? The apparent contradiction does not seem to be very clear to many. If a country is going to permit by law homosexual lifestyles, how can society ridicule gay people for not being in monogamous relationships? Remember, people recently voted via the referendum not to permit gay monogamy (marriage)?

Yes, if it does not make sense to you, imagine how confused I feel at times; imagine how confused my students feel when they hear Christian adults using racial slurs while watching them pretend such slurs are jokes, or when they hear Christian adults say that all fags should burn in hell instead of discussing ways to share their faith with a gay person, assuming that person is a non believer. Recently the chair of the Joint Chiefs (key military leader who chairs a top official from each branch of the military) stated at a formal dinner that homosexuals were immoral people. The chairman, Peter Pace, has been under fire. Again, another contradiction here. The government has enacted laws banning discrimination but allows its largest employer to practice it by following the policy of “we will not ask, if you do not tell us.” Clearly Peter Pace was saying what the U.S. government practices.

As a Christian, I clearly know and understand the tenet of my faith, as stated in the Bible; however, what about the many people who do not follow the tenet of my faith. If we as a government say it is okay to be gay, what is our reason for saying gays cannot marry? There is no clear answer here. One cannot say it is because they present a health problem to society.

I have heard political leaders address the marriage issue by saying their God and bible deemed it wrong. According to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, Congress cannot establish a national religion or preference one religion over another. Clearly the Framers put such a document in place to protect Americans from the authority and persecution of a religious state, one much like that of 18th century England. If the Establishment Clause is designed to protect the individual from state religious authority, how is it that people have allowed the government to politic this type of religious morality on members who might be an atheist?

Much of this blog is just a continuation of a discussion I was having at a coffee house in the heights. We did not draw any particular conclusions to this matter or the Peter Pace issue. It is important that Christians follow the way of the Lord; if that means being frank and honest when it comes to a follower’s faith, so be it. It is much easier to address the sins of a believer than a non believer; I have found this to be true for a number of years. I have also discovered that a believer cannot approach the sins of a non believer in the same manner that he or she would with a person of Christian faith. I learned this lesson the hard way years ago. Luke addressed this well on his blog by saying:

Thankfully, Christ was willing to experience death in our stead, and bridge the gulf that our sins had created between us and God. That death gives the hope of redemption to liars, gossips, thieves and adulterers. Homosexuals too.

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26 thoughts on “The Gay Question

  1. hey carson,

    i like this blog article here. what you are saying makes sense. either say it is against the law or not. why try to ride the fence on the issue the way we have been doing. christians have an obligation to model and love all people. i clearly cannot support such a lifestyle, but i would not hate a person for it. the peter pace deal has been all over the news. i am not sure i still understand what happened?

  2. Berry, thanks for the comment. Feel free to leave one at anytime. I think I wrote this thing in 5 minutes. I was trying to reflect a discussion I had with a few people at a coffee house. Of course, the discussion went from gays to Ghandi, to Foucult, etc. That must have been the smartest group I have run into at a coffee house in a long time.

    This CNN piece explains the Peter Pace deal much better than I did: Peter Pace and gays in the military

  3. “In a newspaper interview Monday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace likened homosexuality to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

    General Pace’s comments are outrageous, insensitive and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops now serving in our armed forces,” the advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement on its Web site.”
    ____________

    Ironic… a gay advocacy group using two military tactics—claiming the high ground, and using overwhelming force—against a career soldier who called homosexuality immoral. First, they race ahead to cut off all consideration that homosexuality might actually be immoral. Then they lay down covering fire, using words like “outrageous, insensitive, and disrespectful.” Bigger ordinance like “bigot” and “Nazi” are reserved to repel any counter-offensive (such as defining marriage as being between and man and a woman). These are words that few Americans want to be associated with, and gay groups tend to use them liberally to scatter any deeper discussion of the issue before it starts.

    Here’s another one: divide, and conquer. Separate God from any influence on the government, and conquer the society and mold it to your will. If the God of the Bible exists and the words in the Book are accurate, then General Pace’s comments were quite factual and delivered without malice. In essence, the SLDN is calling God “outrageous, insensitive, and disrespectful.” Pure hubris.

    Note: The way Hardaway handled it WAS outrageous, insensitive, and disrespectful.

  4. For a good portion of my adult life I have struggled to have close friends inside the Church. Make no mistake, I’m a Christian, but it seems like most of my close friends are not. The way “Christians” tend to treat people that don’t look like them has a lot to do with that.

  5. I think the issue is much bigger than General Pace; it has more to do with a system in place that permits Pace to respond the way he did. His point was lost some as well. Pace was really addressing order. He stated that you cannot have men cheating with the wives of other men, it brings about disorder. He was also saying that the same is true with gays in the military. Matt, are you saying that if a society dominates another society, their rules become law regardless of faith? Or, they inject their faith into the fold? I say this because what is Pace using as a base for immorality?

    Again, if the government operates under the Establishment Clause, Pace is making a decision, according to some, without a base; however, you will find a number of nonbelievers who will say homosexuality works against the laws of nature, not God.

    Kristi, Obama addressed that very point in his recent book. Seeing that I do not get out much these days, I have very few friends who are non believers. I am lucky in that my Christian friends understand the importance of being open to different people; I guess that is why they are my friends.

  6. Matt S,

    Kristi – I deal with your point all of the time.

    “The way Hardaway handled it WAS outrageous, insensitive, and disrespectful.”

    You are right, he should keep it to himself. When you represent the NBA, you cannot do that. I do believe he was speaking for a number of people.

  7. Homosexuality cannot be immoral and moral at the same time. Either it’s immoral by the standards of God, it’s immoral by standards of nature, or it’s amoral because God and nature are abstract creations of the imagination. I would assume Pace was using some of the two former as a basis for his comments, not to mention thousands of years of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in militaries throughout history.

    Christianity and federal government are very hard to reconcile, though much of the principles of freedom and democracy come from Biblical principles of individual choice. Legislating morality is always a dicey issue, but societies need some sort of guard rails or the whole thing falls apart. At that point, it becomes a question of WHICH standard to use. Trying to split the difference results in fiascos like allowing slavery in the southern states.

    Bottom line: Does the God of the Bible exist, and what does that mean for a federal government if He does?

  8. ” Legislating morality is always a dicey issue, but societies need some sort of guard rails or the whole thing falls apart.”

    We are still left with the issue of contradictions. How can a society place a guard rail up that allows for homosexuality, but uses religion to ban gay marriage? Of course, I have never heard this stated, but it is clearly the issue. As for your question regarding God and the government and its meaning — well let us say the result is not good.

    This is great:”I would assume Pace was using some of the two former as a basis for his comments, not to mention thousands of years of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in militaries throughout history.” In some countries I suppose (Know)that a military officer would be put to death.

  9. I think it’s one thing to allow an individual the right to be homosexual. It’s quite another thing to say the government will elevate homosexual unions to marriage status. The former tolerates homosexuality while the other fosters it, to a point.

    The point you made earlier about how America treats homosexuals one way and polygamists another way is a good one. There is a morality of convenience that only makes things worse over time.

    What do you mean by the result not being good when asked the question of whether God exists and what the consequences of that might mean for govenernment? State-sponsored religion is not how God spreads faith.

  10. Edward,
    Thanks for the link to my blog. You bring up some interesting points.

    As a Christian, I am personally opposed to legal unions between homosexuals, because it essentially lends government support and legitimacy to something I think is wrong.

    On the other hand, I do see the tension caused by the Establishment Clause.

    That being said, isn’t there a difference between setting up a religion and advocating a code of morality?

    For example (please don’t read anything into this comparison, it is an extreme example, but the first one I thought of), Christianity teaches that murder is wrong, and we have laws against murder. Does that mean that the state is setting up Christianity as a state religion, or establishing law based on moral values of its people?

    From data I’ve seen, most people believe that marriage for homosexuals is wrong, a belief that is by no means restricted to Christianity.

    It doesn’t seem to me that the Establishment clause necessarily applies.

  11. Luke,

    I see your comparison, but I think the thing we have to keep in mind is one thing is creating harm towards others while the other thing is not.I do agree that major faiths (not a philosophy or anything with Richard Gere)do not support this.

  12. Matt S,

    I was saying that God will bring an end to governments and people that live in a state of sin in that earlier comment. Do I sound like a TV minister? I feel like it.

    I do not think it is harmful to society. Okay, let me correct myself, it is no more harmful to society than hetrosexual relationships outside of a union. AIDS is no longer a gay disease. Research has shown that gay people are actually less likely to harm a child, and to my knowledge, gay people have not done something that has brought about great conflict on people.

    Do you or Kristi remember Kevin Klein, a teacher in Harding’s history department? Back in 1995, when he first arrived, he made an interesting comment, one that I am not sure I wholly agree with. He stated that a 100 years from now people will have progressed to the point that they are going to look at racism and homophobia the same way we look at the Nazis. If you do not know him, he is the most conservative member in the dept. outside of his wife.

  13. Luke,

    It was your blog piece that got me thinking of late about this topic. I have been meaning to write this, but avoided it for a while for obvious reasons. Then, while discussing late 19th and early 20th century post-modernism, religion and homosexuality in France became a topic of discussion. Again, I was just amazed at how much the people I met at the coffee shop knew about French post modernism. I was hoping that I would be able to keep up with them. I did, but 20 more minutes I would have been out of material.

  14. Homosexual relationships are not the same thing as heterosexual relationships, nor have the same impact on society (particularly from a health standpoint):

    PROMISCUITY — “Prior to the AIDS epidemic, a 1978 study found that 75 percent of white, gay males claimed to have had more than 100 lifetime male sex partners: 15 percent claimed 100-249 sex partners; 17 percent claimed 250-499; 15 percent claimed 500- 999; and 28 percent claimed more than 1,000 lifetime male sex partners.”

    PHYSICAL HEALTH — “Common sexual practices among gay men lead to numerous STDs and physical injuries, some of which are virtually unknown in the heterosexual population.” In other words, the body was not built to do that, and the physical and biological dangers are not difficult to figure out.

    MENTAL HEALTH — “It is well established that there are high rates of psychiatric illnesses, including depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts, among gays and lesbians. This is true even in the Netherlands, where gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) relationships are far more socially acceptable than in the U.S. Depression and drug abuse are strongly associated with risky sexual practices that lead to serious medical problems.”

    LIFE SPAN — “The only epidemiological study to date on the life span of gay men concluded that gay and bisexual men lose up to 20 years of life expectancy.” That is worse than smoking.

    MONOGAMY — “Monogamy, meaning long-term sexual fidelity, is rare in GLB relationships, particularly among gay men. One study reported that 66 percent of gay couples reported sex outside the relationship within the first year, and nearly 90 percent if the relationship lasted five years.”
    ___________________

    Studies on gays and their sexuality are not that common, but many of the ones available are not inconsistent with the results stated above.

  15. Nice research Matt S. Here is my only question: Carson was addressing the contradictions, why allow A (gayness) but not B (marriage), which would help? If all of those things are a result of gayness – we should treat it like a disease.

    It sounds like a disease – not a cause of diseases. I know this not a politically correct comment.

  16. Political correctness is overrated anyway. You might want to find some studies that are more recent than the middle ’70s though, as a lot of things in all of society have changed since then. Divorce is more prevalent, Christianity is less prevalent, etc. Also, one has to consider why it is Christianity that gets to be the trumping religion in our country so often. I’m a Christian, but why doesn’t Islam get to be the trump or Buddhism? I agree with the tenets of my faith, but so do others who have a different faith. I might think they’re wrong, but if our country is to behave the way it was designed to be have, we have to learn to deal with that.

  17. It would seem as though some of those numbers would be the same for all–gay or not. I have read that men and women who are in a monogamous relationship are the healthiest. Again, I am no health expert. True, fewer people in the U.S. are getting married. Still, we have not reached the point of European Civil Unions. Divorce is still pretty high and probably will not decline. It is difficult to define modern relationships. One anthropologist stated that we as people are not designed to be in monogamous relationships. I recall this person addressing why people look to be in various different relationships. Economists and historians have long believed that marriage in theory was transformed after 1750 into a more loving industry, but in reality it is an institution to survive. As a liberal who understands taxes, I never understood the marriage tax; it works against the very institution people are trying to define.

    More people are entering marriages with one or more children already; more people are getting married 2 – 3 times; the increase in step families add to this complex dynamic. Julie did a nice job addressing this topic here.

    I have not seen any numbers to say whether Christianity is less prevalent of late. I do know that people are defining their faith it different ways. For example, people prefer the feel good sermons rather than the “burn in hell” ones. People believe one can be a Christian without any of the tenets of faith that go with it.

  18. Michael —

    That is a key area of the debate right now—is homosexuality genetic or a lifestyle choice? I don’t know that I’d call it a disease, but I understand what you mean. I don’t think of alcoholism as a disease, but it’s something one can treat and has health risks if it’s not dealt with.

    From a Christian point of view, homosexuality is a choice because it seems unlikely that God would condemn it then turn around and create people that are born gay. I think individuals have been allowed to sin, but the idea of the government fostering the sin by legalizing gay unions is what is causing some Americans to revolt. Gay rights activists, mainstream news, and Hollywood would like the country to believe that the nation has decided homosexuality is kosher. Um…not so fast. Just because the nation is more tolerant of gays does not mean it sees homosexuality as a good or normal thing.

    Kristi, do you believe there is absolute truths? I’m all for accepting that not everyone has the same point of view, but I do not accept that everyone’s point of view is equal. Discrimination is often used as a negative term, but it’s important we try to take the ideas we hear and filter them out for truth. Is the Bible accurate? If so, then it would be quite natural—even correct!—for Christianity to be the yardstick by which we weigh what is moral. While other religions would be free to worship, they would accept the moral standards in place. If a government tries to please all religions all of the time, there will be no standards and chaos begins. The Melting Pot becomes a mere soup that is unable to steer a course lest it offend a poll group.

    “Though no one knows all the truth, maybe you know some of the truth and I know some of the truth…so together we can get closer to the whole truth.” (paraphrasing something a Harding professor once said)

  19. “From a Christian point of view, homosexuality is a choice because it seems unlikely that God would condemn it then turn around and create people that are born gay”

    I agree Matt. Plus, if I were gay, I would want it to be my choice. A choice to love another person on my terms. To say it is genetics or a disease is to say that I am forced to love or act in a behavior beyond my will. That is degrading to gay people,

  20. I agree, but too often it is used by groups to kill debate on important issues. Not every idea or religion is equal in merit.

    Let us not forget the other definition of “discrimination”:

    “The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment.”

  21. Going back to Luke Dockery’s blog that was linked to, I have to say that I totally abhor Tim Hardaway’s comments.

    But on the other hand, I have more odd respect for his honesty in unapologetically admitting his homophobia when asked about gays than I do for Mel Gibson making anti-Semitic comments and then blaming alcohol (never mind the fact that alcohol tends to bring out one’s true feelings) or comedian Michael Richards furiously shouting the n-word at two black men in his audience and then weakly claiming “it’s so weird because I’m not a racist.”

    Would those asking Mr. Hardaway the question have prefered it if he had told a lie so we could all feel better? His bigotry was a reminder of where we are as a country and how far we still need to come.

  22. Hardaway is making tours to various gay groups in an effort to show how sorry he was for the comment. Of course he would like to get back in the league. I think we have to make more progress. I find it funny that people can watch and enjoy a comedy like Will & Grace but hate gay people in general.

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