Let me begin with a quote from a song by Billy Joel. This song was written some time after Billy had failed an attempt at suicide. After getting what he calls a, “second wind,” he wrote down his reasons for continuing to live. In the song he talks about humanity, here are the lyrics:
You’re having a hard time and lately you don’t feel so good
You’re getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood
It’s alright, it’s alright
Sometimes that’s what it takes
You’re only human, you’re allowed to make your share of mistakes
You better believe there will be times in your life
When you’ll be feeling like a stumbling fool
So take it from me you’ll learn more from your accidents
Than anything that you could ever learn at school – Billy Joel, You’re Only Human (Second Wind)
People on both sides of the spectrum, what we call liberal and conservative, might throw stones at this post and say that I’m insane. “Homosexuals do exist!”, they might say. Just turn on the news, read the paper, go on the internet, or walk out in public, fact is they’re everywhere! Really? I must have been living in the jungle or never owned a television, or gone outside. You and I both know that people of the same sex date, some marry, and others want their freedom to be accepted. But, here’s the truth we often avoid altogether: they’re people. Is it possible that gays, lesbians, and others have been categorized to the point where we treat them as a different class of human beings? Perhaps they themselves also think that way (as we’ll see in part 3).
What if they’re just people who walk like humans and talk like humans, but go by a term we (or they) made up for them. What if it’s just a term that we call them? Think about it: When you walk around and see two women holding hands, you don’t make a distinction of species- apart from some external differences, they’re people like everyone else. Distinctions of class, possibly. Either way, you can’t deny they are people. So, where do these distinctions come from? Do they come from our own thinking? Possibly. We have names for business products, government policies, political parties, food groups, restaurants, ethnicities, languages, and now, sexuality. It’s our way of identifying things. Do distinctions of sexuality come from God? Many would say yes, especially Christians. But, does the Bible use the term, “homosexual,” like we use it? Wait, I’m speeding through this too quickly: let’s get to the core and work our way out from there.
Our words have value, and how we define things matters, because it affects the way we see them and what relates to them. The choice of our words is even more valuable, but words aren’t people. We can’t invent a new term every time we feel like it. That’s what we need to deal with when it comes to this issue: every person is a person. We all have things in common that bind us together, before we make distinctions that possibly blur them. So, the next question we need to ask is: what does it mean to be human? Answers will vary. I’d like to look through the eyes of American Society and the Bible once again. Society and the Bible don’t disagree on every point, but how their points are shaped is certainly different.
Society’s Argument: You’re human, what they call homosapiens. You’re basically a smarter animal. You make mistakes; you fall in love. You grow up, get a job and save up money for retirement. You try to afford the best kind of life for your children. Some people are evil, and we just can’t explain it. Humanity is good, and there is a goodness that we need to bring out in each other. The best thing we can do is learn to be at peace with one other, and ourselves. The idea of an afterlife is at best a fantasy, at most a destination that any person of faith will be allowed into (even Atheists). Heaven exists, we’re just not sure if there’s a god or a spiritual being, or none at all. Sex is good, and therefore should not be restricted to monogamy. The grave is all there is waiting for us, make the most of your life here. Mess up, have stories to tell, live while you’re young so you won’t have regrets later in life. Your destiny is in your hands. Become who you want to be, don’t let anyone define it for you.
The Biblical Argument: Human beings are not animals. Though we share many things in common, we are made in the image of God. In His image, we represent Him in some sense on this earth. We rule over animals and all creation- they are not our equals, but we have the same Creator. Mankind was created to flourish and exist under the authority of God: that means have babies, enjoy God, enjoy the earth, and build onto it. Work was created by God before sin entered the world, to use the earth in a way that pleases Him. Sex was created by God to be enjoyed by a man and woman, with the result being children and eventually a community. Since sin entered the world, we idolize our jobs, our sexuality (thinking any sex is good), our children, and worship anything but Him.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)
The first people decided that they wanted to be like God even more, which was a lie from Satan (they were made in His image). They already had a knowledge of good and evil, but they went even farther and learned this knowledge by experience, Sin, and therefore mistakes, death, pain, and division entered the world. There is no good in us according to the Bible (Rom. 3), however, our conscience and God’s law are written on our hearts (Rom. 2) to protects us from being as evil as we could be (2 Thess. 2-3). You know not to do something even before someone tells you not to do it.
There is still a resemblance of what we were before the fall, but our potential apart from Christ is to sin even more. God alone is good, and calls us back to Himself in Jesus Christ. The only person who has a right to make distinctions among humanity is God. There is one God, and He did not make mankind according to social status or race, but in His Image. Sin brought about the division of mankind and separation from God.
How you view humanity is directly tied to how you view homosexuality. If your view of humanity is similar to the consensus, or divided opinions of society, then humanity can determine what is good for itself. It’s own observations, experiences, and consensus overrules anything we perceive as natural; nature bends to our wills. Nature is simply that which we call normal, as it relates to us and our own experiences. Homosexuality may not compliment procreation, but romantic love and procreation are two separate things in this worldview. They don’t have as close of a relationship as in the Christian worldview.
The Christian worldview says that homosexuality does not compliment sexuality as it was intended to be- in fact, it is against nature. Procreation was meant to be the result of those desires (with marriage preceding the sexual relationship). One says sexual experience was designed to be between one man and one woman, because it was designed that way- the other says, homosexuals are born with these impulses, and therefore “designed” by nature to fulfill them in a loving relationship with another of the same sex.
With differing views of humanity established, what do we therefore mean when we call someone a homosexual (if you’re religious), or gay, or lesbian? Are we using these words to describe the affections, actions, and wants of others? That, what they want is just different than what you want. Or is it deeper than that, relating to the way they are genetically designed?
Is homosexuality simply meant to be a term to express the one-sex only part of the desire? Maybe we don’t even know, or don’t even care- we just want people to do their thing, and we’ll do our thing. Go smoke your dope, marry someone of the same sex, buy enough guns for the apocalypse, and some pornography while you’re at it. Just leave me alone to do as I please, right? This is all wrong. This is not a liberty issue, a political issue, or a religious-political issue. The question is whether these words are terms for behavior, genetics, or words for identities. That is what makes the difference. The question behind the question is, where does my identity come from?
That’s what I want to uncover over the next few days: let’s stop assuming we know what we’re talking about because it’s what we think, and start saying what we think because it’s what we know. Specifically, I’m addressing Christians. Why do we have our pet passages to explain homosexuality is a sin, but never read the Bible enough to see that those called homosexuals are people too? Also, are we absolutely sure that the way we view homosexuality is entirely aligned with what the Bible says? Let’s not just look at what is a sin, but why it is sin. Also, let’s be careful not to describe sin the same way unbelievers describe it, the language doesn’t always correlate. If homosexuality is explained in the Bible in a way that’s different than the culture, but we speak against it using the word, not the way the Bible does, but the way unbelievers do, then people will assume that we think homosexuality is just as natural as society believes it is, but we still disagree with it. Let’s get our terms right.