Pastor Bob O'Bannon
Below is the tenth post from Pastor Bob in an ongoing blog series designed to help Christians think through the issue of homosexuality in a careful and Biblical way. For more on the reason for this series, click here.
Question 10: What’s wrong with homosexual relationships so long as no one is harmed?
Is any harm being done when two people of the same gender choose to engage in a sexual relationship with each other? When you see a gay couple walking down the street holding hands, or when you see a gay couple shedding tears of joy in being able to finally marry each other, or when you see a gay couple serving together in their local church, it certainly makes it seem like no harm is being done in their choice of lifestyle. Who could possibly object to two people loving each other?
This is another frequently used argument in support of homosexual practice. But those who use this argument neglect to acknowledge that sin is insidious. It often does its damage in subtle, underhanded ways. It is sneaky and deceptive, wreaking havoc behind closed doors, in the deep recesses of our hearts, sometimes when we don’t even realize it, and other times only after years and maybe decades have passed.
Isn’t this precisely the tactic used by the serpent in the garden? Eating a piece of fruit from a tree seemed so benign, so inconsequential, so harmless. When questioned by the serpent, Eve told him that God had commanded her not to eat of the tree, or she and her husband would die. Satan’s immediate response: “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:3-4). In other words, there’s no harm! What could possibly go wrong after eating just one piece of fruit? And yet here we are, centuries later, still dealing with the dreadful consequences of one tiny sin.
It is my contention that homosexual activity is harmful, for several reasons. But a couple of disclaimers are in order before we proceed.
First, it needs to be acknowledged that all sinful activity to some degree is harmful, and that includes heterosexual sin. People are harmed when a heterosexual couple gets divorced, or when someone becomes addicted to pornography, or when young women get enslaved in the prostitution industry. Like throwing a rock into a pond, there are always ripple effects to our sin.
Second, by no means am I suggesting that homosexuals have some kind of malicious intent in their choice to engage in same-sex relations. I don’t believe that homosexuals want to cause harm to anyone. Quite to the contrary, homosexuals are kind and sensitive people who are simply looking for love, acceptance and companionship, just like the rest of us.
But that doesn’t mean there are not unintended consequences for the people (and those around them) who engage in the homosexual lifestyle.
First of all, there is ample evidence that there are significant health risks involved in gay sexual relations. The risk of anal cancer is 4,000 percent higher among homosexuals, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2010 that men who have sex with men are 44 times more likely than other men to contract HIV, and 46 times more likely to contract syphilis. The Medical Clinics of North America found that 65 percent of homosexuals carry hepatitis B. (for more information on the health risks of homosexual activity, see chapter 5 of Making Gay Okay by Robert Reilly, or chapter 6 of Straight and Narrow? by Thomas Schmidt.)
Dr. Paul Church, a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, gave this assessment of the dangers of homosexual activity (and was actually relieved of his duties at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for doing so):
“The evidence is irrefutable that behaviors common within the homosexual community are unhealthy and high risk for a host of serious medical consequences, including STD’s, HIV and AIDS, anal cancer, hepatitis, parasitic intestinal infections, and psychiatric disorders.”
Secondly, homosexual marriage with adopted children will by its very nature deny a child at least a mother or a father. As was stated by Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians after this past summer’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage: “The SCOTUS has just undermined the single greatest pro-child institution in the history of mankind: the natural family.”
There is a grave inconsistency in asserting that there is something uniquely important about a father in a child’s life, and at the same time holding that it’s acceptable for two women to raise a child in the absence of any fatherly presence (see an earlier blog for more reflection on this). If it’s true that “father’s matter,” as the New York Times proclaimed last year, wouldn’t it be harmful to deny a child the possibility of ever having such a positive influence in his/her life? (Of course a similar dysfunction would arise if a child had two fathers and no mother).
Admittedly, there are many cases in which a broken heterosexual marriage will also leave a child without a father or mother, but heterosexual marriage is designed and is inherently equipped to provide children with both a mother and a father. When heterosexual marriage fails to provide both parents to a child, it is considered an abnormality or aberration. Homosexual marriage, on the other hand, will by necessity deny to a child the blessing of a mother and father.
Interestingly, children of gay parents are speaking out about the negative consequences of their upbringing. One of those is Katy Faust, who wrote an “Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent.” She makes it clear that she loves her same-sex parents, and that she is not saying that a same-sex attracted person is incapable of parenting well. But the problem, she says, is the missing parent. “We are made to know, and be known by, both of our parents. When one is absent, that absence leaves a lifelong gaping wound.”
A third reason why homosexuality is harmful is just plain common sense – children do not come from homosexual relationships, and if a society does not produce children, that society will die. Of course it’s unlikely that a society would become exclusively or even predominantly homosexual in orientation (although I suppose it’s not impossible), but any increase in homosexual marriages will produce less children, which will restrict the human race’s ability to fulfill God’s command to “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).
This blog will no doubt be regarded as hateful toward homosexuals, but that is not the intent. To speak against homosexual activity is not an example of intolerance or bigotry; it is an example of love and compassionate concern for those who are engaging in a dangerous lifestyle. My sincere desire is that heterosexual and homosexual people would know the grace and mercy that is offered in Christ, that they would be freed to walk in the way the Lord has commanded them, and that their days would be long. (Deut. 5:33, Jer. 7:23).
Next week’s question: If Christians are against gay marriage, does that mean they are filled with hate?