In the fall of 2017, I went to a talk at school called Homosexuality and The Christian. It was a small informal thing in the student union, held by a resident director. She talked from personal experience, saying that she had close friends and family members who were gay. She went on about how to deal with “same-sex attraction” as a Christian, reiterating the views of a Christianity-homosexuality scholar named Matt Yarhouse. I believe that he ultimately advocates for celibacy if one is same-sex attracted and it disobeys one’s religion, and he suggests that one can find companionship with friends and in the church, and of course, in Jesus Christ himself. She tried to turn the struggles of the gay Christian into a positive thing because the concrete wrongness of “sexual sin” helps people to clearly recognize their “brokenness”, which shows them how much they need Jesus and allows him to pull them closer.
There is a lot wrong with her conclusion, but in this first talk on Christianity and homosexuality, at least the speaker tried to use people’s real-life struggles and experiences to reach her conclusions and give advice. This week, however, there was another talk on the topic, called The Bible and Homosexuality—except this one was a presentation by a theologian with a seminary doctorate, and it went on for almost two hours to a packed lecture hall. This presentation, rather than trying to reconcile those with “same-sex attraction” and a religion that prohibits them from being themselves, he took all of his teachings from the bible—and he interpreted any verses he could find on the topic to fit his agenda. I found myself angry that this man’s entire view of homosexuality is shaped by this ancient rule book and not on how it actually affects people’s lives and relationships.
Being both straight and an atheist, I felt a bit out of place at yet another talk on Christianity and homosexuality, but since I was there out of a mix of curiosity and a hope to acquire some blog content, with a notebook and pen in hand, I felt almost like a reporter. Here are some snippets of the five pages of notes that I jotted down throughout the talk:
- Mark 10:6 and Matthew 19:4 (“God created them male and female”) were presented as the “Key Jesus Sex Texts”—it was already off to a weird start.
- Genesis 7:15-16 (the animals entering into the ark in pairs) were twisted up enough for him to interpret it as homosexuality being unnatural.
- “What you do sexually matters to God.”
- Your dog doesn’t have to abide well by sexual ethics because it wasn’t made in the image of God, but since you were, you do have to have sexual ethics. (Which brings us to wonder why we would base any sexual ethics off of the verse from #2, if none of those animals on the ark were made in the image of God either)
- Homosexual relationships are worse than polygamy and incest because they attack the bible’s foundation of genders, which is found in the verses under #1.
- *insert super long list of bible verses that could be interpreted to be anti-gay here*
- Heaven is exponentially better than sex so just wait for your whole life without sex and you will get heaven (I get further into this in my post on Pascal’s Wager)
- Apparently, Paul said that those who have sex other than a married man and woman don’t inherit the kingdom of God, a.k.a. don’t go to heaven, a.k.a. if you have gay or premarital sex you will burn in hell for all eternity.
- To paraphrase from the speaker: “I don’t hate gays, Jesus hates gays.”
- Jesus obviously didn’t talk directly about homosexuality because the Jews weren’t gay. (I can’t help but interject with why this is wrong on so many levels. First of all, there must have been some gay Jews in biblical times. And Jesus is supposed to be omnipotent, so wouldn’t he know that? And more importantly, was the bible, according to Christians and this speaker, not meant to be a life guide for every human being to ever walk the earth, so even if this wasn’t an issue in their culture, Jesus surely would have known that homosexuality would eventually be a thing that so many Christians struggle with, so he could have bothered including it in his teachings?)
- Genesis 2:21-23 says four times, the speaker emphasized, that Eve was taken out of Adam’s rib, which he interpreted to mean that man and woman are two complementary halves of a sexual whole.
- To echo the speaker from last semester: if you’re “same-sex attracted”, you should turn to the church for companionship because you are lonely.
- Even if you are gay, God might give you one person of the opposite sex that you’re attracted to. After all, the speaker said, as a straight man, he isn’t attracted to all females, only his own wife.
- Same sex marriage for men doesn’t make you feel fully male, and God already made you fully male, and you are denying it.
- Finally, if an unbeliever asks why homosexuality is wrong even on a secular basis, the speaker suggests using analogies. Ask, “Do you approve of polygamy or incest (given that the incestuous relationship doesn’t lead to children)? Why not?” (Here I can’t help but mention that his religion says the entire planet was populated from incest, twice, but to answer his question. . . I don’t know what my approval of other people’s relationships has got to do with it. Just because it’s weird or not culturally acceptable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And it definitely doesn’t make it my business. And what do polygamy and incest have to do with homosexuality anyways?)
Until now, I haven’t written about LGBTQ+ issues. Rather than being taught to hate LGBTQ+ individuals growing up, I was instead essentially taught that they didn’t exist. The fact that someone could fall in love with someone else that was not the opposite sex was not something I knew could happen. If it was ever suggested, I was told it was wrong but never why or even that it was something that conservative Christians believed to contradict their religion. Once I exited that bubble, I had my eyes opened to the validity (and existence) of LGBTQ+ individuals and the fact that their orientation is not a choice. The toxicity that comes out of the church towards this vast and diverse group is not something I can ignore any longer.