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Is Homosexuality A Choice?
(*Please refer to the glossary below for bold, italicized terms.)
While select portions of the Bible suggest homosexuality is not condoned, others indicate we should not partake in many practices now taken for granted as normal, everyday life. Today, many verses throughout the Old Testament are considered immoral, others downright reprehensible.
The Old Testament makes it clear there was a time we were supposed to perform animal sacrifice. So why do many Christians cite Old Testament verses that fit their agenda while conveniently ignoring others that do not? In Acts (New Testament), the apostles teach we must eat kosher meat blessed by a rabbi after being drained of all its blood. Does anyone know of any Christian group that follows this essential moral prohibition, in particular since it appears within the New Testament?
Out of a total of 31,173 verses in the Bible, only six are devoted to condemning homosexuality. Those six are found in a total of four different areas throughout. So why do many Christians focus on the select portions they find taboo and conveniently ignore other laws or commandments they no longer practice, especially those found within the same chapter? Some argue it boils down to nothing more than hatred, fear, and hypocrisy. The following verses outline a total of six passages in the entire Bible that condemn homosexuality:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22 Old Testament)
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13 Old Testament)
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” (Romans 1:24 New Testament)
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” (Romans 1:26 New Testament)
“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:27 New Testament)
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” (I Corinthians 6:9 New Testament)
Is it our place to condemn homosexuality?
The Bible and Homosexuality
There are many passages in the Bible that Christians no longer follow. Most are found in the Old Testament, but a few are in the New. Christians argue that because Jesus died on the Cross, this gives them a pass to disregard a good portion of the Old Testament, in particular those portions endorsing animal sacrifice, but still quote Old Testament verses when they fit their argument or agenda. One such example is homosexuality.
Putting those Bible verses in context, take a look at some we no longer practice, many in close proximity to or within the same chapter as those condemning homosexuality:
“To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 17: 5-6 Old Testament)
Chapter 17 is based on specific rules for animal sacrifice and precedes chapters 18 and 21, both of which condemn homosexual behavior. If Christians argue we must recognize those condemnations, then they should recognize the commandments regarding animal sacrifice and other questionable edicts throughout. It is unfair and hypocritical to pick and choose which verses are to be recognized and which should be discarded.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:28-32 New Testament)
These verses directly follow the three condemning homosexuality, all found in Romans, Chapter 1. We have all coveted, envied, debated, gossiped, boasted of our accomplishments, and were disobedient with our parents. Since they are grouped with those same verses condemning homosexuality, one could infer they are just as wrong or immoral. Defying those commandments may have warranted the same punishment back then, but armed with a modern moral compass, we can now differentiate between ones truly harmful to people with others perfectly natural as part of the human condition.
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye to to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (I Corinthians 1:1-7 New Testament)
In other words, judge your peers or congregation, not those outside the Church. They will be judged by Christ should He see fit. (This harkens back to Matthew 7:1, or “judge not lest ye be judged.”) Examples of those that will be judged include fornicators and adulterers. So those who quote any of the six verses judging homosexuals are, themselves, sinning in the eyes of God. They are being hypocritical, assuming the role of God, and usurping.
Is homosexuality a sin?
The Bible and Other Questionable Commandments
The passages below make many Christians feel uncomfortable. Some will argue they are taken out of historical context but are directed at those who do the same with other outdated verses. Regardless of what Jesus may have done for us 2,000 years ago, why was there ever a moment in history when God condoned any one of the following passages? Before Jesus came along to die on the Cross, there was a time when God felt justified in relaying these passages to His followers…at least according to the Bible. How does one rectify the discourse between God and His Son, Jesus? Was there a coup and Jesus overtook the throne because His Father was immoral?
“A bitched shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:2, Old Testament)
In other words, anyone born out of wedlock is not supposed to enter any church. One might assume not being allowed to enter the “congregation of the Lord” means unable to enter Heaven. But why should a child pay for the mistakes of his or her parents at any point in history?
“And if thy hand offend thee, cut if off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43 New Testament)
Since this passage is in the New Testament, we are commanded by Jesus to observe and obey. If you steal something or cause sin with one of your hands, you or the state are required to chop it off. Some Middle Eastern countries observe a similar edict and still practice it today. Are they following the teachings of Jesus more so than modern Christians?
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection…I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” (I Timothy 2:11 & 2:12 New Testament)
Women are to have no say in the affairs of men. They are not only disallowed to preach, but should be quiet, subservient, obedient housewives. What kind of irony can we draw from women who hold up signs quoting verses from the Old Testament that condemn homosexual men? Or are the Amish and other fundamentalist groups today more in tune with the gospel of Jesus than most professing Christians? Using that logic, a female professional is as equally “immoral” as the homosexual.
“For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9 Old Testament)
Anyone that disrespects his or her mother or father should be put to death? While God is allowed to change His mind, for Him to feel this type of punishment was ever justified puts His moral attributes to the ultimate test. Did some people of the same time-period that felt this type of punishment was too harsh or immoral have a better moral compass than God? After all, truth is truth and is something universal. Either there was a point in history when God was immoral or those who wrote Leviticus completely misunderstood His true message. If so, what other mistakes might we find throughout?
“…thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.” (Leviticus 18:19 Old Testament)
This does not mean she has not taken a shower lately but is on her monthly period. Since when is a natural function of the body unclean? Again, is the Old Testament the word of God or of men with a questionable moral compass?
“For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.” (Leviticus 21:18-21 Old Testament)
These verses stink of eugenics. Either God saw a handicap as inherently evil or as entirely unworthy. However you slice it, they promote discrimination and are no different than verses discriminating against homosexuality. If those verses are to be taken seriously, then so are ones discriminating against those with a disability. Otherwise, we are the ones judging which passages are worthy and which are not. What other conclusion are we to draw?
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth they little ones against the stones.” (Psalms 137:9 Old Testament)
This verse is about war, in particular the Jewish retaliation against the Babylonians after they did the same to their children. Care must be taken to put that verse into proper context. It is not preaching Christians will be happy if they bash their own children against a stone wall. However, two wrongs do not make a right. This was an abhorrent practice for any side and we would be mortified if coerced to do this to our enemy’s children today.
“But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21 Old Testament)
The “tokens of virginity” translates to a girl’s hymen. They utilized an accurate method of confirming this and if it was “broken” by accident through extracurricular activity, the little girl could be stoned to death. If you are still living with your father and are no longer a virgin, then you are disrespecting him and his “house.” On top of that, these young, ten-to-thirteen-year-old girls had the “privilege” of being forced to sleep with a full-grown man following an arranged marriage.
The main reason Christians and other conservatives are up in arms over the gay community these days is because they are gaining momentum when it comes to equal rights. African Americans fought for a similar revolution during the 1960s until eventually they were granted equal rights in all states. The fear among Christians is this will also happen for homosexuals.
But why must we be so hateful and judgmental? Why should we not love our fellow man or woman? We should be embracing each other for our differences, not trying to change or exclude one other because of them. If we can overlook or eliminate some of the outdated rules and commandments in the Old and New Testaments, then we can overlook the minuscule amount of hateful verses directed at homosexuals.
Should homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else (ie. marriage)?
Science and Homosexuality
What do scientists and biologists argue as possible reasons for homosexuality? What does the actual evidence indicate? Does any evidence suggest homosexuality is nothing more than a choice?
Though the jury is still out, a significant amount of evidence suggests the physical structure of the brain is different between gay and straight people of the same sex. In 1991, Simon LeVay introduced evidence indicating there are differences between the brains of straight and gay men.[i] He found the hypothalamus of a straight man is almost twice as large as that of a gay man. LeVay did caution these differences could develop as a result of sexual behavior, but the data suggests a direct physical correlation.
In 2008, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden performed studies that indicate homosexuals have different brain structures than straight men or women.[ii] Heterosexual women and homosexual men both have a similar brain structure. Both left and right hemispheres are nearly of equal size. Homosexual women and heterosexual men both have a slightly larger right hemisphere than left. The numbers of nerves connecting each side of the brain are similar in homosexual men and heterosexual women, and vice versa. Gay men and straight women have a denser network of nerve connections in the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain. It is hard to ignore what the data reveals, even if we have an incomplete picture thus far.
Other evidence in studies with identical twins suggests homosexuality is not necessarily something passed on in our genes, but there are other factors to consider. Epigenetics indicate both genetic and epigenetic factors determine whether a person is born gay. Certain proteins that affect gene expression display how twins can develop key differences before they are born.[iii]
If raised by the same parents in the same household, hence the same environment, how can identical twins with the same DNA structure develop so differently? The chance of being gay is less than 5% for the general population unless you consider a gay twin. If fraternal, there is a 25% chance the twin also will be gay. If identical, or they share all genes, there is a 50% chance the twin will be gay as well.
Following the first few weeks after inception, all fetuses develop along similar lines. If there were no changes, we all would be born female. Fetuses with a Y male chromosome develop testes, which produce testosterone, at about week six. At week eight, testosterone is released and this affects early brain development. It “masculinizes” the body and brain. The more one’s hypothalamus is exposed to testosterone, the more likely that person will be attracted to females. Sometimes the brain does not absorb enough of it to develop along heterosexual lines. In other words, there could have been enough testosterone absorbed for the body of both twins to be masculinized, but not enough absorbed for the brain in one of them. This interpretation of epigenetics outlines why one identical twin can be gay and the other straight. It suggests that while DNA can be the same in both twins, the way it functions can be equally and fundamentally different. Sexual preference is just one factor affected in this manner. Personality, feelings, and emotional response to external stimuli are examples of others. The epigenome is a series of chemicals acting as switches which activate or deactivate individual genes in a sequence, hence dictate the outcome of our personality.
The study suggests there is at least something going on with regard to genetics and sexual orientation, but the study is in its early stages. However, in the end, I contend science will prove homosexuality is something a person is born with, not a lifestyle one chooses out of spite. Call it a premonition, if you will. After all, giving someone the benefit of the doubt is the only humane approach.
What are we to make of those born with both sexes? Should they go through surgery to alter one of God’s created beings? Is it their fault they were born that way? Do they get a pass to choose between becoming either male or female since they have portions of both? If so, should another have the same right to alter their own?
Development of sex glands occurs between 8 and 24 weeks during gestation. Since all fetuses basically start out as female, the sex of the baby is determined based on if the fetus produces enough androgens, in particular testosterone, for it to become a boy. If enough is not produced, it remains female. If it produces too much or too little of this hormone, problems can arise in both the formation of the genitalia (sometimes developing aspects of both) and structure and sexual orientation of the brain.
[i] LeVay, Simon, “Evidence for Anatomical Differences in the Brains of Homosexual Men.” Science. (Aug 1991): pp. 1034-37.
[ii] Savic, I., & Lindstrom, P., PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects. Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Sciences. (Issue #105, 2008): pp. 9403-08.
[iii] Rice, William R., Friberg, Urban, and Gavrilets, Sergey, “Homosexuality as a Consequence of Epigenetically Canalized Sexual Development.” The Quarterly Review of Biology. (Vol. 87, No. 4 Dec 2012): pp. 343-68.
If a homosexual embraces Christ and lives a moral life, do you think God would still condemn him or her to hell?
Logic and Homosexuality
If we apply simple logic to the concept of homosexuality, we would come to the conclusion that it is not simply a “choice.” Why would someone choose to perform a sexual act with a member of the same sex other than mere curiosity? You might be somewhat or altogether attracted to a member of the same sex. The genuine feeling remains or else you would not harbor the urge or desire to perform the act in the first place. Most heterosexuals are repulsed by the idea of having sex with a member of the same sex. Likewise, a homosexual is just as repulsed by the latter. A person cannot help harboring those feelings or desires and should not be discriminated against for expressing it. It makes no logical sense to assume one would perform an act they were repulsed by on purpose.
Applying simple logic to the “gay question” may be the most obvious reason why homosexuality is not a choice. In the end, it is a choice whether you choose to have sex with someone you are not attracted to, but why would anyone choose to do that? For a male, would he even have any ability to perform?
Today’s social mores are making many portions of the Bible appear more and more outdated. Devout Christians insist some portions may be overlooked since Jesus died for our sins. If so, why are homosexuals excluded from this concession? Why do many Christians insist on being judgmental about something they fear or do not understand?
In the future, the Bible may require an overhaul to fit the times since society will gain more morality than it has now. What people considered moral 2,000 years ago is radically different than what is considered so now. In another 2,000 years, one can only speculate how society will judge some of our “moral” standards with disdain and disgust. Perhaps it is time we get ahead of the curve.
Do homosexuals disgust you?
There are many cultures all over the world that adhere to harmless practices we might find questionable. That’s what makes us all different and unique. It is easy for anyone to cite the Bible as a punch-line in order to support his or her views, but those views are meaningless if you miss the overall message of love and compassion. Sometimes we should read between the lines.
Christians need to start practicing what they preach based on what is found in an overwhelming number of passages. That is to love one another, forgive one another, and judge not. Even if the Bible was explicit regarding homosexuality, it is God’s place to judge, not ours. If a person genuinely likes a member of the same sex and feels he or she was born that way, it is immoral for anyone else to question it. And just because you welcome a homosexual into your congregation does not mean you condone their actions. It simply means you care and are adhering to the teachings of Christ. Here is some biblical food for thought:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10 New Testament)
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forebearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Collossians 3:11-13 New Testament)
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24 New Testament)
(This blog is a brief summary of the above topics. A more extensive version and entire chapter devoted to the topic will be included in my second book, “Universal Logic: Conservatives vs. Liberals.”)
"Universal Logic: What is the True Meaning of Life?"
Amygdala Part of the limbic system as groups of nuclei located within the medial temporal lobes of the brain. Its primary role is processing emotional reactions and memory. It also sends projections to the hypothalamus.
Androgens Steroid hormones responsible for the development of male sex organs and secondary sex characteristics. Testosterone is a common androgen.
Epigenetics The study of changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype of the underlying changes in the DNA sequence. These chemical reactions switch portions of the genome off and on in a developing fetus and determine personality and sexual preference.
Epigenome Pattern of certain chemical changes to DNA and histone proteins that regulate gene expression and development in an organism. Environmental conditions may play a role in altering the genome sequence.
Eugenics Introduced by Francis Galton, a philosophical movement during the late 1800s that promoted desired hereditary traits in a person by reducing the reproductive capabilities of those with less desirable traits. Adolf Hitler embraced an extreme version of the idea with Nazi death camps during World War II. Promoters of the movement wished to rid the world of promiscuous women, homosexuals, entire racial groups, the mentally ill, the blind, the deaf, and many more.
Hypothalamus Portion of the brain located below the thalamus, which is just above the brain stem and links the nervous system to the endocrine system by way of the pituitary gland. It controls thirst, hunger, sleep, fatigue, and body temperature.