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Myths about homosexuality

from Dr. Merton Strommen

Date Unknown

Myth #1; God hates homosexuals

The myth that God hates homosexuals is expressed by people who are often found waving signs at gay events that say “God hates fags!”, “Thank God for AIDS!” and other hateful slogans. The truth is that God loves homosexuals. One of the most familiar verses in Scripture affirms, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is true that God hates homosexual sin, but whether we are homosexual sinners or heterosexual sinners, Jesus loves us, gave his life for our sins, and offers us the free gift of eternal life if we will repent and believe the gospel. The church in Corinth clearly included former homosexuals. After listing many sins that will exclude a person from the kingdom of God, including “male prostitutes” and “homosexual offenders,” Paul writes, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Christians who have been cleansed from their homosexual sin will usually have a long journey ahead of them in seeking to resolve the psychological and spiritual issues behind their attractions. But they will know that the Lord loves them regardless of their particular temptations and will walk along with them in their recovery process.

We must make clear to our homosexual friends, loved ones, and the homosexual community that we love them, and that God loves them, but that God loves them too much to permit them to follow a lifestyle that will ultimately destroy them for time and eternity. The cross of Jesus Christ is the eternal sign that God does hate sin, but He loves sinners and passionately desires their salvation.

Myth #2; God approves of Some homosexual partnerships

A myth being promoted by some even within the church today is that God in the Bible approves of certain homosexual partnerships. It is argued that the creation account in Genesis, chapters 1-2 does not explicitly prohibit homosexual, committed partnerships, that love is supreme and would justify a loving homosexual relationship, and that Jesus never said anything against homosexuality.

However, to suggest that the Genesis creation account allows for homosexual partnerships is not only an “argument from silence” (which is always dangerous), but it contradicts the very essence of the passage. It is here that God is providing the blueprint for His good gift of human sexuality. After the Lord had created Adam, He indicated that it was “not good for the man to be alone.” To meet Adam’s need, the Lord created Eve as Adam’s “suitable helper.” The woman was made from the man and then returned to him as a perfect complement – the same, yet wonderfully different, offering both physical and psychological union with the potential for creating new life. The Bible announces, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). There is absolutely no suggestion that any other relationship would qualify for God’s blessing. In fact, from Genesis to Revelation the goodness of heterosexual, monogamous, lifetime marriage is lauded, while all homosexual relationships are condemned.

The argument that love is supreme and therefore can override God’s natural and moral order as revealed in Scripture is also a fallacy. God’s moral directives are the channel through which love flows. When love overflows the banks, it become destructive. In Paul’s great love chapter he writes, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians. 13:13). However, far from promoting love at the expense of moral standards, Paul a few chapters earlier wrote, “It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2). That is the Genesis blueprint.

The appeal to the fact that the Gospels do not record a statement by Jesus prohibiting homosexual behavior is also misguided. Once again, it is an “argument from silence.” Jesus is also not recorded as saying anything about incest, rape, bestiality, genocide etc., but would anyone want to argue that they are therefore acceptable? In addition, when Jesus was asked a question in the area of human sexuality, He refers His questioners right back to the Genesis blueprint – one man and one women in a lifetime relationship (Matthew 19:3-6). Surely He would have done the same had He been presented with a question about homosexual partnerships.

Myth #3; Homosexuals deliberately choose their attractions

A myth believed by many is that homosexuals simply choose their attractions to people of the same sex. The solution, then, appears to be that homosexuals should just choose not to feel that way! In reality, this makes about as much sense as to say that heterosexual people just choose their attractions to the opposite sex and might be able to choose not to feel that way!

Every child has a God-given need to receive affirmation and affection from same-sex people, beginning with the same-sex parent and including same-sex relatives and peers. The result is that the child bonds with such people, fits in, and feels good about his or her own gender. Eventually, when puberty arrives, the young person sees the opposite sex as interesting and begins to feel sexual attractions. However, if the child has emotionally detached from same-sex people because he has felt rejected –for real or simply perceived reasons – he is left with a legitimate longing for same-sex acceptance and affection. Then at puberty, this unfulfilled longing becomes sexualized. Now the young person discovers that his or her desire for same-sex friends has become a desire for sexual intimacy – something God never intended to happen and which usually horrifies the young person. This so-called homosexual “orientation” is simply there, not something consciously and deliberately chosen.

It is true that there is a chosen part in homosexuality. The chosen part is what the homosexually oriented person does with the feelings. If he deliberately chooses to engage his will and fantasize about sexual things or visually indulge himself through pornographic images or people, he is lusting (Matt. 5:27-28), which is sin. Or, if a person chooses to engage in homosexual behavior with other people, he or she is sinning. But to simply feel unchosen sexual attractions to another person of the same (or opposite) sex is not sin for the child of God – unless he or she chooses to act upon it. This distinction between unchosen feelings and chosen behavior is critical for understanding the homosexual situation.

Myth #4; Homosexuals are condemned by God for their attractions

A myth embraced by many Christians is that homosexuals are condemned by God simply for their same-sex attractions. (This myth is often based upon the prior myth that homosexuals simply choose their attractions and are guilty for so doing.) Tragically, many Christians who are troubled by homosexual feelings believe this myth and feel that they are alienated from God because of their feelings alone. They pray desperately for God to remove the feelings, and when He doesn’t miraculously do that, they are convinced that they are hopeless and might as well enter the gay life.

People who uncritically believe that homosexuals are condemned for their feelings never stop to think that by that measure they too are condemned for their feelings. For example, if they are sexually attracted to someone who is not their spouse, they should conclude that they are sinning. In fact, by this measure, if they feel an inclination toward anything that would be sin if yielded to, they are guilty already just for the feeling. In other words, temptation has become sin – even if we don’t yield to it! This would be a desperate state to be in – especially in light of the Bible’s statement that “no one who is born of God will continue to sin … he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God!” (1 John 3:9).

Temptation is not sin. What we do with it determines whether or not we sin. If a homosexually inclined person chooses to fantasize about sex with another person or actually engages in it, he or she is sinning. This is also true for the heterosexual! If he chooses to fantasize sexually about a person who is not his spouse, or actually engages in sexual activity, he is sinning – no more or less than the homosexual.

It is true, of course, that we are all born with a sinful nature and under condemnation. According to the Bible, we all are sinners – not only because we sin, but because we are sinful by nature (Ephesians 2:3). We not only sin like our father Adam, we sinned in Adam in some mysterious sense, resulting in an inheritance of guilt and pollution quite apart from our individual willful sin (Romans 5:12-19). In this sense, until we are connected with Christ by faith and covered by His blood, all of the inclinations toward sin that arise from our own sinful natures are condemned by God. However, for the believer in Christ, the promptings of our sinful nature and the psychological distortions which result constitute temptation, not sin for which we are condemned – whether we are heterosexual or homosexual by inclination!

Myth #5; Homosexuals are born that way

A popular myth believed by many in society and the church today is that homosexuals are born that way. Gay advocates have done a remarkably effective job of promoting this myth in an age where scientists reign as high priests and their pronouncements on any subject are received uncritically as truth.

The truth is that there is NO scientific evidence that there is a “gay gene” or that anyone is born gay. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in a recent fact sheet states, “There is no evidence that shows that homosexuality is genetic. And none of the research claims there is. Only the press and certain researchers do when speaking in sound bites to the public.”

At the same time, a number of interesting studies in the past decade have attempted to demonstrate that, while there is no evidence of a gay gene, there might be some type of genetic influence toward homosexuality in some people. This would not mean that they are born homosexual, but that it would be easier for them to become homosexual in orientation IF certain environmental factors are present. However, none of these studies with the more modest claims has survived the scrutiny of other researchers or been replicated by another group of scientists, as is necessary if a study is to be credible.

It is important that research continue. Since we live in a fallen world, genetic brokenness is part of our lot, as has been demonstrated in certain physical disorders. If there is a direct genetic component to the homosexual inclination, it would be interesting to know it. However, even if there were a genetic element in some people that tilted them toward homosexuality, 1) it would not result in a homosexual orientation without certain environmental factors being present, 2) it would not change God’s mind about the sinfulness of acting on that disorientation, and 3) it would not change the fact that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE!

Myth #6; Homosexuals can’t change

Many people, even those who profess belief in a God for whom “all things are possible,” have adopted the current myth that homosexuals can’t change! The truth is that homosexual people can change! Thousands are experiencing transformation, in spite of the politically driven positions taken by professional mental health associations which discourage suffering people from seeking or receiving help.

Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and commitment to hard work, men and women are finding a new identity as “child of God” to replace the old identity of “gay” or “lesbian,” or “homosexual.” They are finding freedom from the bondage of addictive behaviors and emotionally twisted relationships. And many who are willing to persist in the process of change are discovering a gradual diminishing of homosexual attractions and awakening of healthy heterosexual inclinations.

The journey to freedom from homosexuality will involve, 1) establishing a personal relationship with Jesus; 2) fellowship in a dynamic church that proclaims truth and expresses godly love; 3) breaking sinful same-sex relationships; 4) developing healthy, nonerotic or emotionally dependent, SAME-sex relationships; 4) addressing common roots such as rejection, envy, self-pity, unforgiveness, rebellion, etc.; 5) experiencing inner healing for traumatic events of the past such as sexual abuse, negative labeling, experiences of rejection, sexual sin, etc.; 6) renewing the mind by replacing lies with God’s truth; 7) and finding release from any demonic strongholds that may exist.

Can homosexuals change? YES! As one young man put it, “ It wasn’t until I reached the age of 20 that I finally learned how I could be healed…. As a result, I am today healed and fully secure in my heterosexual identity…. God has restored my masculinity, and it is so wonderful to be well! There are countless people who need this kind of healing, but they go unhelped because of the sad lack of knowledge in the church today. Truly as the Bible says, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’”

Myth #7; Homosexual behavior is the worst sin

Many Christians by their attitude appear to believe the myth that homosexual sin is practically unpardonable, or at least worse than all other sin. Other Christians, in a reaction to that view, adopt another myth, the myth that all sins are the same, and a homosexual sin is no worse than a sin of gossip.

It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness, since the nature of sin, plus factors such as circumstances, motivations and effects vary. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they deserve eternal separation from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin -- whether in thought, word, or deed – from a deliberate lustful fantasy to an act of adultery.

At the same time, stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than murdering a million people. The Bible itself treats some sins as more serious than others. In the Old Testament, the Law required restitution for a theft and execution for some other sins. In the New Testament, Jesus told Pilate that “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin” (John 19:11; see also Matt.11:23-24 and Luke 12:47-48). He also reserved His most fierce denunciations for the pride and unbelief of the religious leaders, not for the sexually immoral (Matt. 23:13-36). However, immoral sexual behavior is described as being a sin against ones own body in a special sense, since the body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:18-20). In Romans, chapter 1 homosexual behavior is hi-lighted, not necessarily because it was the worst sin in the long list, but because it so clearly illustrated how far from God’s created design the human race has gone in its rebellion.

In short, we should neither maximize nor minimize homosexual behavior as sin. Our focus should be on extending the love and grace of God to homosexual offenders, who, apart from Christ’s salvation, are doomed to eternal destruction - along with all the rest of us sinners.

Myth #8; Parents are to blame for homosexuality

Parents are a prime target for blame whenever something goes wrong with their children – especially when that “something” is homosexuality. Since parents are usually only too well aware that they haven’t gotten everything right, they often readily accept the blame, along with the full load of shame, guilt, and regret.

One common understanding of homosexual development readily lends itself to a “blame the parents” position. It sees the core problem as a child’s failure to identify positively with the same-sex parent. This occurs because the child fails to experience an affectionate and/or gender affirming relation with the same-sex parent in the process of growing up. As a result, the child detaches from the same-sex parent, but retains a longing for identification that becomes sexualized at puberty. In addition, the child may become too closely identified with the opposite-sex parent, taking on mannerisms of that parent instead of the same-sex parent.

This theory in its various forms is very helpful both for understanding the development of homosexuality and for finding freedom from it. However, it does not need to result in a “blame the parents” position. There are a number of reasons. For example, the basic detachment is understood to take place within the child’s first few years. It may be triggered by the parent’s absence, often for legitimate reasons such as illness or work, which the child INTERPRETS as abandonment. Other things completely outside the parents’ control or knowledge, such as peer rejection and sexual abuse, may happen to a child which contribute to the development of homosexuality. Children also may UNINTENTIONALLY contribute by sinful responses to real or perceived sins against them – responses such as bitterness, unforgiveness, self-pity, rebellion, etc.

Can parents CONTRIBUTE to the development of homosexuality in their children? Yes. Parents have such a powerful influence on their children’s development that few things can go right or wrong without their having a hand in it. Do parents CAUSE homosexuality in their children? No.

Where parents recognize that they may have contributed, there is grace and forgiveness from the Lord -- and, usually, if requested, from the child. The burden of real or false guilt, shame, and remorse needs to be rolled off on the Burden Bearer who paid for it all at the cross. No parent gets it all right – and only the sin of pride makes us think that we could have! As someone facetiously has said, “God was the perfect parent, and look what happened to His kids!”

Myth #9; Ten percent of the population is gay

The myth that 10 percent of the American population is gay has gained wide acceptance due to constant repetition by gay advocates in the popular media. The purpose of popularizing a figure like this is that it tends to make gay behavior appear widespread, normal, and deserving of acceptance.

The origin of the 10 percent figure is in the work of Alfred Kinsey published in 1948. Kinsey’s research was badly flawed. Twenty-five percent of those he surveyed were former or current prison inmates. The prison population would include a higher proportion of homosexuals than the general population because in the 1940s people were incarcerated for homosexual behavior. Even at that, the 10 percent was a misrepresentation, since in Kinsey’s study it represented only the number of men who had been predominantly homosexual for a period of up to three years between the ages of 16 and 65. The number of those professing a lifetime homosexual preference was 4 percent for men and about 2 percent for women.

More than a dozen recent studies, using more accurate evidence-gathering techniques, consistently put the incidence of homosexual practice at around 1 percent. One careful analysis of the current data is contained in chapter 6 of the book Straight & Narrow by Thomas E. Schmidt (InterVarsity Press, 1995). In answer to the question about what percentage of the population consistently desires or practices homosexual relations, he responds that the data “provide an estimate that of the approximately 6 percent who experience same-sex relations ever, the number of currently active homosexuals is 0.6-0.7 percent of the U.S. adult population.”

While the popularly quoted figure of 10 percent for active homosexuals is in reality about 1 percent, this still represents a large number of people! If all the family members and friends who are impacted were to be added, the number of people affected, thousands of them within our churches, is staggering. Surely, we need to listen to the Lord’s call for compassion, evangelism, and ministry in a much neglected harvest field – unless, this is, as one author’s book title suggests, the “Unwanted Harvest.

from: Eagles’ Wings, PO Box 11246, Minneapolis, MN 55412, (612) 781-4110, www.ewm.org, 2001