“I would give anything to be straight (heterosexual). My life is pure hell. My parents condemn me. My brothers and sisters condemn me. My church and my pastor condemn me. Many of my friends, once they found out, have nothing to do with me.”
In my many years of counseling, I have heard this statement many times. Homosexuals (gay men and lesbians) have been persecuted and have done their best to keep their sexual orientation secret — in the closet. Men so oriented have been found attacked, beaten and some even killed.
Our Western Christian culture has practiced the age-old sociological axiom: “The majority suppresses the minority.” It is interesting to note that ancient history and primitive cultures were accepting of this human minority group as simply “different and benign.” From St. Augustine of Hippo (5th century), Christian teaching on sexuality identified sexual pleasure as exclusively for married heterosexuals — for expressing and enhancing their love and for the procreation of children. Corroborated by Scripture passages (Leviticus and 1 Corinthians — with some Scripture scholars seeing as isolated and spuriously translated, indicating heterosexuals behaving homosexually), the Christian church universally condemned homosexuality along with adultery and fornication (these latter two repeatedly and explicitly condemned in Holy Scripture). Some Christians (principally Catholics) teach that a homosexual person can be a good and holy person as long as he/she avoids any sexual activity.
The last two decades have brought an enormous change in the American mind (as well as much of the world) about homosexuals. Most gays (91 percent) say that people around them are more accepting and 73 percent of them say they are now open about their sexuality. Yet, 90 percent say that some discrimination against them is still experienced.
Today there are many “converted supporters of homosexuals,” supporters who have had a change of heart due to having friends and family members who are now openly gay. These supporters state that everyone has a right to equality, love and happiness.
The recent victory in our presidential election is a big eye-opener. The Democratic Party won in spite of (or perhaps because of) strongly supporting marriage and total equity for same-sex couples. Over half (53 percent) of Americans support gay marriage, with nine States already legalizing it.
As a Christian pastor, I am asked repeatedly how I personally feel about homosexuality? I seek to be influenced only by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not by popularity in polls of politicians or even pastors. It is my responsibility to hate sin and love the sinner. But who is the sinner — the homosexual or those condemning homosexuals?
The causes of same-sex orientation are still unidentified psychologically, anatomically and neurologically. For me, condemning amidst such ignorance violates our God-given intelligence as well as His Gospel.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology firstname.lastname@example.org blog at inspirationsandideas