Long Overdue: A Deeper Evangelical Consideration of Homosexuality

An Email Interview

Why It Might Be Time For Evangelicals To Re-consider How They Have Handled Homosexuality

The following email was recently sent to me; the email led to me agreeing to be interviewed by the email writer.

"I have taken much interest in your views on homosexuality. From what I have read, you do not go in for the outright condemnation of homosexuality without offering some careful consideration on this topic. I find this very encouraging and healthy because you are a Christian theologian and some of my fellow Christians embarrass me with their talk. I believe you are also not sympathetic to this idea that evangelicals can give "counselling" to these people to help make them 'straight.' Can you say more? Can I interview you on this topic?"

It is no choice that I ever made or would ever have made, but this is who I am and I find I can't change it. I would have much preferred being heterosexual. Please encourage Christians not to hate us; hate the sin, but not the sinner.

My Reply:

Yes, you may interview me on this topic through email - no problem. But first let me make some introductory comments, then, please, fire away with your questions.

In short, I believe that too many 'Christian' comments on homosexuality are reactive, pastorally ill-considered and medically well out of date. What are my credentials for holding certain views on this topic? Well, several homosexuals and bisexuals who consider themselves 'Christian' have counselled with me over the last few years, probably mainly because they felt that they could not discuss this matter with their pastors but could discuss it with a stranger by email. This has meant that I have needed to carefully research the subject and I have done that.

However, probably my first consideration of this subject was many years in the past. Many years before meeting my wife I was friendly with a nursing tutor who was vastly experienced in her field. This was something like the late 1960s. At that time this homosexual thing (not associated with that word "gay" back then), was just coming into the news a bit more, little had been said on this topic until then. I recall asking my nursing tutor friend, whom I will call 'Ann,' what she made of it, with her strong medical background. Ann was able to tell me several things which I had not realised before. She said that thousands of babies are born every year of unsure sexuality, they appear to be 'in between' if you will. I would never have known this but for Ann's input. She told me that maternity units often dreaded being asked that inevitable newborn question, 'Is it a boy or a girl?' Sometimes, she told me, we would like to say, 'We need a day or two to better evaluate this,' but - of course - that can never be said, "we are quickly under pressure to give a black or white answer, one way or the other," Ann told me.

Babies of unsure sex are a reality, and it is unwise to separate this matter from these modern gender issues. Apparently such babies used to be called 'hermaphrodite' but that was a very poor term and that term is no longer used because it implied the presence of the full sexual organs of both sexes in one body (an impossibility), however, there is sometimes a strong sexual ambiguity but, in the past, there was great social pressure not to even discuss it. Today the term 'intersex' is preferred. These children are born with hormonal imbalances/ambiguities. This happens in the womb. My friend had no doubt that intersex children would grow up with sexual identity problems. She believed that such intersex children grew up to be bisexual, homosexual, or having a strong desire to undergo sexual transgender-type surgery (not sure if Ann used the actual term 'transgender' back then). By the way, 'intersex' should not be confused with 'asexual,' which means no sexual inclinations at all. Apparently various intersex types (there are more than one), occur something like once in every 1500 to 2000 births here in the West. It is not common but it does occasionally happen. This would still be several thousand births per year. Okay, fire away with your questions.

First Question:
Is this in the area of XX or XY chromosomes?
Yes, to a large degree. I want to keep this simple but, as is well-known, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex. By the way, this is different in certain animals but we are talking about people here. However, some boys are born with the XXY configuration and they will sometimes have a strong feminine side to them. This is not new, this has been known about for a very long time but was almost never discussed.

Second Question:
Does this, in any way, link in with the belief that a mother can only have a few really masculine boys and the third or fourth boy born to the same mother is possibly going to be more feminine?
Yes, it appears to be so but I don't claim to be medically knowledgeable enough to go too deep on this. The last I heard, this matter was being researched but it does seem to be generally correct although there will always be some variations of course. When I first heard it stated (around 5-7 years ago) that there appeared to be a problem with any particular mother having several sons without the later ones tending to be less masculine, I considered several men whom my wife and I knew (at the time) to be struggling with these issues, I noted that 3 out of the 4 were indeed third or fourth sons in a family, born to the same mother.

Third Question:
So, if I understand correctly, you believe that, for the most part, those now considering themselves 'homosexual,' 'bisexual,' or whatever, were born with this sexual ambiguity in one way or another.
Exactly so. My vastly experienced nursing tutor friend, who had seen many babies born, believed this, so does the (anonymous) medical GP (again, vastly experienced), whom UK Apologetics consults on medical matters.

Fourth Question:
What is the big problem with the way evangelicals have usually considered this issue, in your opinion?
Well, far too many of my fellow evangelicals have applied a very imbalanced approach. Homosexuals are seen as wicked and wilful sinners in a way in which, for some strange reason, serial heterosexual fornicators and adulterers are not and habitual thieves and tax-dodgers are not. There is no conception that these people are often in turmoil, fighting against tendencies within themselves which they would never have chosen. I remember when I was in school one lad, at the age of 14, suddenly developed really deep, womanly breasts. He was deeply embarrassed but was still expected to take part in various boys sports events with other lads broadly grinning. That was dreadful. I know enough about this lad to know that he was almost certainly 'intersex,' although the word was not used back then. He should have been very quietly taken aside and advised to withdraw from boy's sports activities until his body stopped developing, but he was not. That was a dreadul lack of understanding and compassion but I have sometimes noted a similar refusal to understand or even to show compassion by my fellow Bible-believers.

Fifth Question:
What is the problem with the way evangelicals now sometimes offer 'treatment' for these issues, in your opinion?
Because, if I am going to be frank, it is a nonsense. Do we offer 'treatment' for other medical issues, such as forms of cancer or diabetes, or alzeimer's disease? The assumption behind this is that these people are wilful sinners in rebellion against God and, through "spiritual counselling," we can heal them and bring them to God. But many such people have fought these issues throughout their lives and just wanted to be typical heterosexuals but they have had the courage to face up to the fact that they are not. Again, most evangelicals who wander into this area (without, all too frequently, sufficient knowledge), refuse to accept that these problems occur in the womb when virtually nobody else now doubts that. My nursing tutor friend enlightened me on this very point many years ago.

Sixth Question:
So what would be your approach?
We could simply say that these modern gender issues are regrettable and might indeed be a sign of the moral malaise of modern godless society, even quoting Paul the Apostle in Romans 1 and 2 but then not go too much further on this topic. But we should not repeatedly hammer away at this point to the exclusion of other matters. We should also admit that these things do indeed occur in the womb in probably most cases, something now accepted just about everywhere except - too often - among sincere but, I feel, misguided Bible-believers. We don't cease to call 'sin' exactly what it is (unlike modern society in general), but not necessarily focus on any particular 'brand' of sinners. Some homosexuals have felt persecuted by us. Is that right? Is that balanced? Now it's true that the dreadul 'gay coming out' movement caused some homosexuals to behave in a most dreadful way but hopefully some of that is now past; truth is: it was probably bottled up and undiscussed for too many years, when the cork was finally broken, some of these things inevitably shot out with a real pop, but it might now settle a bit. The arrogance of some in the original 'gay coming out movement' was pretty hard to bear and it got some of us really riled. Hopefully it will now settle a bit.

Seventh Question:
How is it that being "gay" can now be openly discussed but that 'intersexism' is still hardly ever discussed? Can you explain that?
No, it's a mystery. It's the way modern liberals have chosen to talk about it and we have all fallen into their terminology. I think there might also be some vanity in it. You know, it sounds 'cool' and 'trendy' to say, "I have chosen to be 'gay,' it's my choice." However, the people of this sort who have counselled with UK Apologetics are always quick to say, 'I had no choice, this is how I was born, this is who I am. I wish I were not.' Outrageous liberals have loved the "gay" issue and have looked to see how far they could go with it, even pressing for things most of these unfortunate people were never interested in, such as "gay marriage."

Final Question:
What about some of the relevant Scriptures?
Well, it might also help if we considered the scriptural references to homosexual issues in a better way. The outright ban is in the Old Testament, that is, under the old covenant, and referred to Israel in the wilderness. In the New Testament, on the other hand, the approach is 'open' to eunuchs (whilst this term could, in the opinion of some, have sometimes possibly referred to homosexuals, it usually referred to those whose sexuality was altered by surgery). Paul certainly does condemn effeminacy and homosexuality, but that does seem to be more in the context of avoiding temple prostitutes (of this sort, or any sort), and immorality in general. Nothing would seem to be too applicable to the great surge in modern western men often having a very low sperm count (and therefore being less masculine), something which appears to have occured - but so far without much explanation - since around the beginning of the 20th century.

As a final point, perhaps we should not forget that one of the Bible's greatest love stories concerned the love between two men, David and Jonathan. Scripture does not condemn them for their obvious love or infatuation for each other.

In short, homosexuality is not to be welcomed but neither should believers reserve a special sort of venom for a group of people who have often had a long fight against issues which they would never have chosen. Homosexuality is a fact of life. Liberals have had great fun with this in describing it, for example, as a "lifestyle choice," but these people don't necessarily see it that way. As the last such person to discuss this matter with me put it, "it is no choice that I ever made or would ever have made, but this is who I am and I find I can't change it. I would have much preferred being heterosexual. Please encourage Christians not to hate us; hate the sin, but not the sinner."

Robin A. Brace. August 28th, 2014.