Insights for the Long Haul: Understanding and Loving My Homosexual Neighbor

Five Things You Need to Know

At the very heart of the homosexual condition is conflict about gender. In the boy, we usually see a gender wound that traces back to childhood. He comes to see himself as different from other boys. Gender woundedness usually exists as a silent, secret fear—one that the boy’s parents and loved ones only vaguely suspect. The boy has felt this way for as long as he is able to remember. That differentness creates a feeling of inferiority and isolates him from other males.
—Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.1

A man boarded a plane and sat down with his three young sons. As passengers continued to find their seats and as other preparations were being made for takeoff, the boys became disruptive, argumentative, and loud. Even after the plane was airborne, their unruly behavior continued. The passengers seated near the family wondered why the dad didn’t take steps to reign in his kids; but in fact, the man seemed oblivious to their misconduct. He had a blank expression on his face and seemed even to be in a daze. Finally a lady spoke up. “Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but could you please get your kids to behave?” The man didn’t respond, so the woman tapped him on the shoulder and repeated her request.

As if pulled in instantly from another world, the man reconnected with his surroundings and offered a sincere apology. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry. Please forgive them and me. You see, their mom, my wife, just passed away. We’re a long way from home. She’s been in a hospital here because it offered treatments we couldn’t get for her anywhere else. She passed away just yesterday, and the boys have been taking it really hard.”

As you might imagine, the attitudes and responses of the surrounding passengers instantly changed. They offered their sympathy to the man and his boys. They began to relate to them in a different way, simply because they now understood their circumstances and the challenges they were facing.2

This illustration is instructive for us. We who defend natural marriage and religious liberty need to understand the “players” in the ongoing debate that is so critical to our nation’s future. One of those players, obviously, is the homosexual. He is our neighbor; she lives on our street. What do we need to know about those who are struggling with same-sex attraction or who may even consider themselves gay? The insights I’m going to offer here never should lead us to compromise the truth or to soften our resolve to contend for marriage and religious liberty. Yet hopefully, they will help us respond with greater patience and kindness to those who disagree with us. Remember that even in the midst of a strong discussion about God’s judgment in the first two chapters of Romans, Paul wrote, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). We who have never struggled with homosexuality certainly have needed God’s grace just as desperately as those who have. Let’s pray God would use our kindness toward them to bring them to repentance, the same doorway we walked through to experience God’s grace.

Here are five things we need to know about homosexuality and the experience of the homosexual. Although we will speak primarily in terms of the homosexual male, the differences between male and female homosexuality don’t prevent us from making broader, corresponding applications where appropriate.

First, a “gay gene” has never been discovered, but you’d never know that listening to the mainstream media. Homosexuality is complicated and likely results from a variety of factors, some of which we will explore in a few moments. As an article that addresses the issue of the causes of homosexuality states,

At best, the evidence for a genetic and/or biological basis to homosexual orientation is inconclusive. In fact, since the early 1990s, numerous studies attempting to establish a genetic cause for homosexuality have not proven to be valid or repeatable—two important requirements for study results to become accepted as fact in the scientific community. Because of this, the current thinking in the scientific community is that homosexuality is likely caused by a complex interaction of psychosocial, environmental and possible biological factors.3

The acknowledgement that biological factors may be involved does not mean researchers have discovered a “gay gene” that determines a homosexual orientation. As we have said, no such gene ever has been found.4,5,6,7 At the same time, we need to acknowledge that all people, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, are born with an inclination to sin, and they sin by choice as well (see Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:23). God holds each person responsible for his actions (see Rom. 2:1-16). While a person may not choose whether or not he or she has same- or opposite-sex attractions, the individual clearly chooses what he or she will do with those leanings.

Second, people struggling with same-sex attraction and gender confusion obviously do make choices related to their leanings, but they do so in a cultural atmosphere that exacerbates gender confusion. Society has lost all objectivity. Bruce Jenner’s sex change is celebrated,8,9 despite evidence that such transformations are harmful.10,11 Yet, even apart from this, our society treats masculinity with destain.12,13,14 Moreover, the individual’s personal situation usually doesn’t provide any help or clarity, and the pressure to embrace a gay identity is enormous.

Alan Medinger was involved in homosexuality himself and came out of that lifestyle as a result of his conversion to Jesus Christ. One of the early leaders of the ex-gay movement, Alan wrote Growth into Manhood to help men struggling with homosexuality. Medinger writes, “The road to manhood is a long one. It is a road of learning, trying, failing, trying again, a journey of victories and defeats.” Most males, he says, make the journey without giving it a great deal of conscious thought, but they still arrive at the destination of manhood and are able to fulfill their responsibilities as men. Alan continues,

Some boys, however, did not reach this destination. At some point the striving became too much, the defeats and failures too painful, so they opted out. They got off the main road, and they took a detour. They arrived at a chronological age that classified them as men, they appeared to have all the parts that made them men, but deep inside, in the place of that nonverbal sense of manhood, there was a void. They did not feel as if they were women—most of them, that is—but somehow, in the world of men, they did not belong.15

Third, although homosexuality results from many factors, one of its root causes is a home environment that involves an overinvolved mother, a distant father, and an emotionally sensitive boy. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, an expert on homosexuality and on therapy for overcoming it, writes,

Repeatedly, researchers have found the classic triadic (three-way) relationship in the family backgrounds of homosexual men. In this situation, the mother often has a poor or limited relationship with her husband, so she shifts her emotional needs to her son. The father is usually nonexpressive and detached and often is critical as well. So in the triadic family pattern we have the detached father, the overinvolved mother, and the temperamentally sensitive, emotionally attuned boy….16

Alan Medinger authenticates this scenario:

My journey into homosexuality fits the same pattern that I have seen over and over again in many other men I have worked with. I was an unplanned child, born to parents who would have preferred a girl. My older brother was more athletic and generally fit the “all boy” model far better than I, and somehow, he became Dad’s and I became Mom’s.17

What often happens in this situation? Christian singers Steve and Annie Chapman have written and performed many Christian songs about the family and about family relationships. In 1990, Steve composed a song titled “Father’s Embrace” that explains the plight, the typical background, and the hope of the homosexual. The song also paints a true picture of a homosexual man’s emotional and identity needs.18 Here is the powerful message conveyed by “Father’s Embrace.”

Many people have a hard time understanding why a man would become sexually intimate with another man. Even though he would say he was born that way, the homosexual actually is looking for affirmation he never received from his father when he was a child. His dad was consumed with other things, and the boy waited in vain for his father to give him attention and affection. Now grown, he looks to other men to fill the void, even in relationships that are sexualized. He won’t find what he needs in those relationships, but God hears his heart’s cry. Human fathers are woefully imperfect, but God is the Perfect Father. God loves the homosexual. He hears him crying out for his father’s love, and, as the Perfect Father, longs to meet that man’s needs. No one has to violate God’s plan to get what he really needs. Yet sadly, no one has ever shared with this man that God can fill the longings of his heart, if he would just come to Him in humble repentance, seeking wholeness on God’s terms rather than his own.19

Let’s assume a scenario exactly like the one Steve Chapman has depicted (one that is, in reality, all too common). It’s important for us to note that the elements in the boy’s life are not his fault. He did not choose his parents, nor their temperaments. Nor did he choose his own temperament. Furthermore, he cannot be blamed for the fact that no one has yet told him about God’s wanting to fill his “father need.” The church and individual Christians must bear responsibility for this. Now, none of this takes responsibility away from this individual for bad decisions, especially decisions he makes as an adult. At the same time, an awareness of these realities should help us understand the man’s situation and should give us a greater sense of compassion and love toward him.

At this point we must add a word of encouragement to parents. Noting the commonality of the “triadic family pattern” does not mean that parents should live under a pile of guilt for their child’s homosexuality or same-sex attraction. In his book 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality, Mike Haley, a former homosexual, answers this question early on: “We just found out our child is gay. Is it our fault? Did we do something wrong?”20 Here is a portion of Mr. Haley’s response.

This is often the first question that comes to the mind of any parent who has just learned of their child’s homosexuality. Your heart may be broken, and your mind will probably race back to review every milestone in the life of your child to see what could have possibly gone wrong. But take heart. The answer to this painful question will rid you of any false guilt and free you to respond in a helpful way.…

You must remember that no person has the power to make another child of God anything. Homosexuality is not the result of one single factor. Many influences can contribute to the condition: the child’s perception, parent’s behavior, the environment (which is often beyond any parent’s control), interactions with others, predisposing personality characteristics, and so on. While some familial contribution may have weakened the psyche of your child, making him or her more susceptible to same-sex attraction, each person is accountable for his or her responses to circumstances. No parent would ever willingly cause sexual struggles in any of their offspring. We live in an imperfect, fallen world, and we all make poor decisions that we alone are accountable for.

Think of your own life—of your vulnerability to a certain weakness. What “makes” you indulge? Surely not your parents, regardless of how imperfect they may have been. As you continue to read and learn, I pray you will be comforted by these truths: You are in no way directly responsible for your child’s sin, and the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ provides a way out of that sin.21

Fourth, the nature of homosexuality compels the homosexual to be consumed with his sexual orientation. Here is a simple illustration. Consider a chocolate chip cookie. That cookie represents you, and each chip in it represents an aspect of your life. You might say that one of the chips stands for your career, another for one of your hobbies, another for your family life, and so on. You might assign your heterosexual orientation to another of the chips, but this idea probably wouldn’t even occur to you. On the other hand, a homosexual’s sexual orientation isn’t a single chip in the cookie, but the whole cookie. He cannot divorce his sexual orientation from anything else in his life.22 This is one of the reasons it’s very difficult for gays and lesbians to understand what a Christian means when he says, “I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.”

Fifth, one hundred years ago, people viewed homosexuality as a behavior. (By the way, this is exactly the way Scripture sees it and treats it.23) Fifty years ago, society viewed it as a condition. Our culture today sees it as an identity.24 This is yet another reason gays and lesbians have difficulty understanding Christians’ claim to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” A gay man believes, “If you hate homosexuality, you must hate me, because that’s who I am.”

For these reasons and many others, it is often difficult to reach a homosexual with the truth about his actions and lifestyle—and about God’s love. This is why I am excited about a new movie that not only helps Christians reach out to homosexuals, but that also helps gays and lesbians understand better why Christians are compelled to warn them. The movie is produced by Living Waters, a ministry headed by evangelist Ray Comfort. Titled Audacity, it is currently available for download from the Internet for $19.99. It will be posted on YouTube for everyone to see on August 19. Without being judgmental, Audacity tells a story that explains the urgent need for all people—not just homosexuals—to get right with God. It treats the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage sensitively, yet forthrightly and without compromising the Bible’s message. To learn more, visit www.audacitymovie.com.

audacity_OpenLetter_062915

As you continue to contend for marriage and religious liberty in America, pray for all who have bought into the lie about homosexuality. Homosexuals may not know it, but they are hurting and have deep needs. Be available to be used of God to open others’ eyes to the truth. For homosexuals it is no different than it is for all other sinners; God longs to meet their deepest needs but so respects them as persons that He will not violate their will. As Steve Chapman so eloquently put it, God hears the cries of the one who missed his father’s embrace. He is listening to him and is “reaching down in love.”25 In Him is true hope.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audacity may now be viewed here.

Notes:

1Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., and Linda Ames Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 19.

2Summary of an illustration given by Bill McCartney at a Promise Keepers conference.

3http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/understanding-homosexuality/understanding-same-sex-attractions/are-people-really-born-gay

4http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/bryan-fischer/2014/06/17/the-latest-in-scientific-research-there-is-no-gay-gene#.VF_6Uoe5ZfQ

5http://www.wnd.com/2009/05/97940/

6http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2013/06/identical-twin-studies-prove-homosexuality-is-not-genetic/

7http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/19/nobody-is-born-that-way-gay-historians-say/

8http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/01/caitlyn-jenner-celebrity-reactions_n_7485900.html

9http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/celebrities-family-members-voice-support-for-bruce-jenner-1201479720/

10http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/27319

11http://www.sexchangeregret.com

12http://www.foxnews.com/story/2003/05/13/cut-men-do-not-bleed.html


13http://www.shaunti.com/2014/04/malebashing/


14https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5F3_sG9fq8

15Alan Medinger, Growth into Manhood, (Colorado Springs, CO: A Shaw Book published by WaterBrook Press, 2000), 1.

16Nicholosi and Nicholosi, 71-72.

17http://www.peoplecanchange.com/stories/alan.php

18In Growth to Manhood, (p. 3), Alan Medinger writes that “homosexuality is much more than simply the direction of one’s sexual attractions. It has two other strong components: emotional neediness and identity.”

19paraphrase/summary of “Father’s Embrace” by Steve Chapman, 1990 Times And Seasons Music (Admin. by Crossroad Distributors Pty. Ltd.)

20Mike Haley, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 31.

21Haley, 31-32.

22This insight was shared at a Love Won Out Conference (informing and assisting the church and families in addressing the issue of homosexuality). These conferences were held in various places several years ago by Focus on the Family.

23Joe Dallas and Nancy Heche, eds., The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 99.

24http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/10/27/understanding-male-homosexuality-–-god’s-power-to-change-lives-part-3/ (original link); http://www.prophecydude.org/news/understanding-male-homosexuality-gods-power-to-change-lives-part-3/

25Steve Chapman, “Father’s Embrace.”

Compassion’s Mandate

In the public debate over same-sex marriage, advocates of natural marriage have defended God’s design for marriage in numerous ways. For example, we have talked about every child’s critical need for a mom and a dad. Sadly, divorce is real, and it leaves many kids without a mom or without a dad. Even so, in these kids’ situations the traditional definition of marriage has left them with at least the concept of a mom and dad. Same-sex marriage creates motherless and fatherless families by design. It is discriminatory in the worst sort of way to advocate a model of marriage that says that neither a woman nor a man has anything unique to bring to the task of parenting!

Another strong argument we have made is that if marriage is redefined to mean either two people of the opposite sex or two people of the same sex, then there can be no solid rationale for saying marriage must be between just two people. The door to polygamy—and to many other types of unions—will be thrust wide open. We cannot take this argument lightly, either.

Today I’d like to highlight one of the points that, for the most part, has been missing from the public case for traditional marriage. That point is this: Homosexuality itself is harmful. From one perspective, we can understand why this element has not been strongly emphasized. First, we respect people’s right to live as they choose to live. We are not vying to become the moral police. Also, we realize that the debate over the definition of marriage has not been about the legality of homosexual sex. Lawrence vs. Texas was a landmark Supreme Court decision that was handed down on June 26, 2003. In it the Supreme Court effectively struck down laws against sodomy nationwide.1 Pro-family advocates understood then and understand now that no one can force adults to refrain from engaging in homosexual activity if they have decided to do so.

Yet at the same time we also have recognized that laws against sodomy were the linchpin of a solid legal platform for maintaining the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. (No, these laws were not unjustifiably put in place.) Furthermore, we have understood the harmful and even devastating implications of redefining marriage. While redefining marriage has repercussions well beyond the issue of homosexuality (polygamy, for example, may not involve homosexual sex), the fact that homosexuality is being used as a crowbar to redefine marriage compels us to examine its dangers.

Let’s review some essential truths about homosexuality from a biblical perspective and from a health perspective. Though far from exhaustive, our discussion will highlight some critical issues. After even a discussion as brief as this one, we may want to consider ways to make the issue of homosexuality more central in the debate over marriage.

A Biblical Perspective

In a secular society, the strongest public arguments do not begin with “The Bible says….” Nevertheless, we as Christians—people who believe God’s perspective always is paramount—need to understand the Bible’s warnings against homosexuality. Unfortunately, discussions about these warnings have been woefully lacking in our churches. That needs to change! Among other things, Christian leaders need to equip believers, especially young people, to refute pro-gay theology, which “explains” why and how the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality, even though Bible passages are clear on the subject and even though the pro-gay interpretation stands contrary to the historic position of the Christian church.

What has been the church’s position? It has affirmed clear biblical teaching. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul wrote that those who continue to rebel against God are without excuse because they deny what they know intuitively about God and worship His creation rather than Him. So “God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Rom. 1:24). Paul went on to describe homosexual activity among women and among men but named other sins as well (see vv. 18-32).

James M. Boice observes that people tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see vv. 24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.2 Although Paul mentioned numerous sins in connection with his discussion about God’s releasing people to their evil passions, there is no question that homosexuality is associated with this divine action.

People tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see Rom. 1:24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.

Furthermore, homosexual sins are unique. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul wrote they were “against nature” or unnatural. By contrast, heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage, though sinful, is natural. Dr. Boice says that while we need God’s Word to know that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is wrong, we don’t even need it to know homosexuality is wrong: “A look at one’s sexual apparatus should convince anyone that practices of this kind are not…meant to be.”3 The fact that so many seem to be oblivious to this is strong evidence of Satan’s work to blind people to truths that otherwise would be crystal clear (see 2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Unfortunately, some have erroneously concluded from Romans 1:18-32 that homosexuals have strayed beyond God’s saving reach. We cannot conclude this at all! First Corinthians 6:9-10 sounds out an ominous warning: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Then, thankfully, verse 11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” While verse 11 reassures us, it in no way should diminish the warnings against homosexuality we see in other places in Scripture. Even so, the Bible is unmistakably clear: Homosexual activity is like other sins in that it is disobedience and an affront to God. (By the way, in Scripture, homosexuality isn’t an identity, but an activity.4) God forgives homosexual deeds when the sinner repents and relies on Jesus’ death as full payment for them. Thank God for His grace!

A Health Perspective

A great deal could be written here on the health consequences of homosexual sex, because homosexuality is linked to numerous significant health risks. Actually, were they widely known and understood, the health risks associated with gay sex would be the Achilles heel of the gay rights movement. Here we’ll specifically note just two potential adverse consequences. Syphilis is now considered by the Centers for Disease Control as “predominantly an MSM [men who have sex with men] epidemic.”5 Also, the life-expectancies of homosexuals are significantly diminished—even by as much as 20 years for men!6 Read this article7 to learn about other serious health risks for both men and women. Be forewarned: This information is difficult to read. When we think about how these diseases are devastating people made in God’s image, our hearts break!

Conclusion

Joe Dallas, a former homosexual, a Christian, and an expert on pro-gay theology, writes that the contemporary divide between truth and practice has been large enough to set the stage for a number of falsehoods to make their way into the church and take hold. Mr. Dallas quotes J. Stephen Lang, who describes the situation this way: “Love is understandable—warm and fuzzy. Doctrine, on the other hand, sounds cold, difficult, and demanding.”8 We also could add that facts often can come across as offensive and harsh. Yet when we don’t counterbalance our desire for “warm and fuzzy” with a loyalty to the truth, says Dallas, pro-gay theology, even with its inherent dangers and falsehoods, is quite alluring!

You see, love seeks that which is best for the one loved—even when working toward attaining the best is difficult. “Clear thinking,” writes A. J. Hoover, requires you to learn “to control your emotions.”9 The church must not be so afraid of offending people that it fails to tell them the truth. Speaking the truth in love (see Eph. 4:15) actually is compassion’s mandate. In the end, failing to convey the truth actually is unloving in the worst sort of way.

We cannot, therefore, continue to remain silent in our churches on this issue. Love and compassion compel us to speak out. How will you respond?

Notes

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_v._Texas

2James Montgomery Boice, Romans: An Expositional Commentary—Volume 1, Justification by Faith, Romans 1–4, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991), 178-179.

3Boice, 181.

4Joe Dallas and Nancy Heche, eds., The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 99.

5http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6318a4.htm

6http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/life-span/

7http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/physical-health/

8http://www.truenews.org/Homosexuality/pro-gay_theology.html

9A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.