By Robert Oscar Lopez
Christian Action League
May 18, 2018
The LGBT movement has moved toward the churches with the goal of discouraging Biblical views on homosexuality. This turn to the churches has alarmed many people. Needless to say, many well-intended responses by the churches have backfired massively. I cannot blame church leaders. The LGBT movement largely blindsided them. The instinct of religious figures was to make their church feel or look good. They did not understand clearly who those affected were as people. Church leaders crafted responses to the people they saw in the public square–namely, activists. This left out people struggling with homosexuality or pressured into it by the LGBT community. People seem not to understand why certain answers to the LGBT challenge are wrong and make things worse. That is why I am going to provide a quick listicle here. It will explain why the response that looks good to the average Christian is usually the wrong response.
But first, I want to make a statement about the Biblical case for heterosexuality. Yes, heterosexuality.
Christianity is based on the Bible. You get two chapters into the first book of the Bible and you see that God created Adam and Eve “male and female,” so that they would become one flesh and reproduce. I hate to get explicit, but this makes clear that God designed the male penis and the female vagina to interlock. The language of Genesis makes it clear that Eve is a gift to Adam so that he will not be alone. But also Eve is told upon leaving the garden that she will desire her husband, and her husband will rule over her. While the language of ruling over Eve might sound ominous, you can actually consider it a mirroring of God’s gift of Eve to Adam. Adam has been tasked by God to take responsibility for her, largely because she desires him and he fulfills what she needs.
The great error of Christians has been to debate the Bible’s ban on homosexuality. One can draw the ban from “clobber verses” scattered throughout the text. The Bible does ban homosexuality but the LGBT activists developed ways to diffuse or deflect it. They contrast this ban against other bans that Christians do not follow, such as the rule about wearing cloth with two fabrics.
From the beginning the more righteous focus should have been the affirmative command for heterosexuality. Genesis speaks in categorical terms of male and female, not in individual or historically specific terms. The language of Genesis presents itself in a jussive manner, as commands that people are to follow. This language is upheld by both Jesus Christ (Matthew 19) and by the Apostle Paul. Paul later writes in his epistles that the man’s body belongs to his wife and the woman’s body belongs to her husband. Paul says that people are to marry the opposite sex if they cannot handle the “burning” desire of sex in a celibate state. He also makes it clear that once married, men cannot refuse their sexual devotion to wives. Nor can women refuse sex to their husbands.
While homosexuality is banned, heterosexuality is mandated. The difference here is that heterosexuality grounds the very beginning of God’s covenant with mankind. People can play games with the language of the homosexuality bans in the Bible. But the mandate to be heterosexual and enact heterosexual sex is impossible to ignore.
By allowing the debate to center on whether homosexuality is banned or not, churches gave LGBT activists a massive opening. The LGBT activists have continued to abuse it. They find ways to create exceptions or loopholes to say that the ban does not apply to them. Jesus Christ never explicitly mentions same-sex relations, for instance. This is perhaps the detail LGBT activists exploit most conspicuously.
But I can only speak for myself: my journey out of homosexuality to heterosexuality came about because I realized that God created my body to give pleasure to a woman. Once I had sex with a female, I suddenly realized how much a woman needs a man for sexual pleasure. I know this sounds crazy, but this was what clicked in my head. Once I had made love, I realized I could not back out of what I had done. I had given a woman a joy that she could only get from me, and if I stopped at that point, I would be essentially breaking an implicit promise to her. The absence of my body would be a violation of her trust. It would also be, I realized, a violation of what God commanded in Genesis.
The fact that I seduced my wife before marriage still burdens me with guilt. I repent of the fornication. But still, with that event and my sudden need to marry my wife, I gained some insight into this issue. If I lapse in judgment and have sex with a man, God’s voice tells me to repent and stop doing that because I have hurt him. If I lapse in judgment and have sex with a woman, God’s voice tells me to repent and marry her so she knows I will not stop doing that. Genesis promises her that she will find a man to give her this joy without leaving her with the emptiness women feel when men go away. Both sins require repentance but one repentance entails stopping while the other entails promising not to stop.
Therein lies a difference that has been lost in the discussion.
In all my years in the gay community I never sensed that my body was equipped to bring physical happiness to a man. We were always struggling to get the parts to fit, it usually hurt, and it was never pleasant. This is obviously why I never had a “boyfriend” or a relationship that went beyond a few encounters. I was not necessary. Even if I could convince myself that God did not explicitly forbid this activity (which I could not but others could convince themselves), I could never claim in good faith that God told me to do what I was doing with men. Yet God told me to do something else with my body, involving women, and I was not doing it.
That is why I left the gay lifestyle. It has taken me 20 years to sort through all this and put it into words. It is hard because Christians do not like to refer to genitalia, and you have to acknowledge the role of our physical bodies to make sense of this. It is also difficult because my own understanding of Scripture grew out of what I did with my body, including a great deal of sin.
But I left the gay lifestyle because God told me to be with a woman. I did not leave the gay lifestyle because I heard God telling me not to be with men.
The difference here is crucial to understand as you work your way through this list.
Ten Statements that Backfire
1. “I am sorry for how the church treated homosexuals.”
The church has policed heterosexuality severely, often stigmatizing both men and women who break the basic rules of chastity. The church never became particularly fixated with homosexuals or targeted them. Everyone who breaks the basic moral code of Christianity has to confront judgment and possible scorn from Christians who are too harsh. There was never any sound basis for singling out homosexuals and telling them that their treatment was exceptionally bad. By apologizing to gays for past homophobia, church leaders are basically behaving evasively, avoiding the deeper issues and trying to find a quick fix to look and/or feel good. The result is a conversation that misrepresents the history of the Church and the Bible.
2. “Let’s have a dialogue with the LGBT community.”
The “LGBT community” in this case consists usually of famous or powerful people who have appointed themselves leaders of the LGBT community. The dialogue virtually never involves an honest and heartfelt discussion with people who are engaging in homosexuality and need to figure out where to go with their faith. The problem with talking to the LGBT “leaders” is that such leaders are inherently political and Machiavellian; they do not tell the truth about everything the LGBT community does, and they are not concerned with individuals’ well-being as much as they care about a political or economic agenda.
3. “Heterosexuality is just as sinful as homosexuality.”
I understand why people say this. They think they are going to look nice to gays who would otherwise fear they are going to be judged as sinners. But this statement is absolutely false. One sexual orientation is mandated for all human beings and the other is banned for all human beings. People who want to get out of homosexuality need to hear about how wonderful heterosexuality is and how eagerly they should strive toward it. They do not want to be told that suddenly all sex is just as bad as the bad sex they have in the gay world; that is demoralizing.
4. “The desires are not sinful, only the actions are.”
This is completely un-Biblical. Jesus Christ says that we are defiled from what flows out of our hearts. He includes sexual perversions in His list of examples. Setting aside the research into homosexuality, most psychologists will acknowledge that people can direct their thoughts to try to be more positive thinkers. Also, if you avoid temptations, eventually they decrease. In my own experience talking to gay men, I know that if you stop watching porn and stop masturbating while you fantasize about homosexuals, the thoughts of homosexuality decrease. You start feeling your body have authentic reactions that start to include arousal toward females. Moreover, if you avoid places where homosexuality is projected lasciviously, you find your mind less haunted by homosexuality. There is no value whatsoever in telling someone to wallow in desires that would be terribly sinful to indulge. It traps people in a state of constant helplessness and anxiety.
5. “First we will bring you to Jesus, and then He will deliver you.”
Recently I spoke with a very trustworthy gentleman in the ex-gay movement and I had to tell him frankly, this statement is a complete turnoff. I understand why they say this–they are trying to avoid the accusation that they are engaging in maligned conversion therapy. So they mask what they are doing as just converting you to Christianity and then waiting for God to change your heart. But the New Testament clearly provides details about how Christians are to deal with practical matters as they spread the Gospel. Christ mentions the parable of sheep and goats, outlining that if a person in this life ignores the practical needs of others, the person is rejecting Christ (Matthew 25). If we should visit prisoners and bring clothing to those who are without clothes, why should we tell someone who is basically addicted to sinful sex that they are on their own and they should just pray? If Jesus is going to intervene and convert the person to faith on His own schedule, that does not mean we should not reach out and help the person with the crisis they are facing right now. And yes, many people who are stuck in homosexuality want to become straight. They can become straight. Why not help them with that? By telling them the church will avoid that issue in favor of general Jesus Christ talk, the church is really making the person feel neglected and alone. And homosexuality is a social justice issue. It involves a systematic abuse of a specific group of people, people caught in the gay lifestyle. The church needs to be in the lead on that.
6. “We acknowledge that homosexual relationships are capable of true love.”
Again, I can see why people say this. You do not want to look closed-minded or mean. But homosexual relationships never involve love. They are perversions. The act between two men is damaging in a way that heterosexuality never is. The whole gay community is based on identifying yourself according to what you want, not what other people want. So the idea of love we get from Christ — there is no greater love than this, to lay down your life for a friend — is utterly absent. So, too, is the sense of patience and submission to godliness that we get in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. If you think homosexuality is a sin, do not say that it is true love. It’s not true and it’s not love.
7. “We will not force you to be heterosexual, we only ask that you be celibate.”
The Bible says that God created us to be heterosexual. Do what God says. Stop being chic and anti-Biblical. Of course the goal is to make people heterosexual. Why would somebody be completely hostile to the sexual gifts of half the human race? It is not a huge demand to ask men to appreciate women and to ask women to appreciate men.
8. “We want LGBTs to feel welcome in our church.”
Who is more likely to come to your church in good faith–someone who is struggling with homosexuality and desperately trying to leave, or someone who is engaging in wanton acts of homosexuality and refuses to stop? The church cannot be welcoming to both these people simultaneously, because where one person is, the other person is obviously going to feel unwelcome. Unfortunately that is the way things work. It is why Jesus said He came to divide, not to unite. It is also why most of the prophets warned against people trying to please everyone at once. If your church is a safe space for the Gospel, it has to be a safe space for refugees from LGBT tyranny. It will not be a safe space for the latter if it is a safe space for LGBT tyranny. And anything labeled LGBT is fake and tyrannical, the very thing oppressing the people who would come to your church with help getting out of homosexuality.
9. “We want to meet gays where they are.”
Do you know whom you need to meet where they are? The gays who want to become straight and feel trapped. Nobody who says #9 is actually meeting those people where they are, because they are looking over them and trying to appeal to another group of people — self-satisfied and committed homosexuals — who are generally mean and dismissive to people who want to become straight, as well as uninterested in really being part of the church.
10. “We want to focus on common ground, not on divisive issues.”
If this is the case, then why are Christian churches holding LGBT conferences and hosting LGBT ministries?
Robert Oscar Lopez was raised by a lesbian couple. He has authored articles about his opposition to same-sex parenting. He testified against same-sex marriage in Minnesota. He wrote an amicus curiae brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Obergfell vs. Hodges case about same-sex marriage. He graduated from Yale University and holds a PhD from New York State University in Buffalo. Robert is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.