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HU Queer Press Reviewed: A Dialogue on Homosexuality

In early March, 2011, some anonymous former and current students of Harding University published a “zine”, devoted to changing student and administrative attitudes toward homosexuality.  Harding is a conservative private university in Searcy, Arkansas.  The publication, entitled The State of the Gay at Harding University, was published by a group calling themselves HU Queer Press.  A website was created to host the document (huqueerpress.com), and at this writing the site consists entirely of the document itself, and positive or neutral reviews published on blogs and internet news sites.  The document is 32 pages long, and consists of personal testimonials, a review of Harding’s efforts to deal with homosexuals in the student population, and an attempt to justify homosexuality by an appeal to scripture.

On the first page of the document, a purpose statement includes the following:

This zine is a self-published work intended to bring attention to the lives and issues of demoralized minorities.  Writing a zine is an act of social liberation.  We heretics, dissidents and marginalized citizens are far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibited inclusion in more traditional media, so we opted to circumvent those mediums and create our own.  Since the invention of the printing press, leaflets and pamphlets were used in political and social revolutions likes Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”  We are here to share with you our struggle.  We are here to be a voice for the voiceless who are quietly dying insides (sic) the walls of our campus…

…We are queer.  We are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.  While the rest of you fall in love with the opposite sex, we share our lives and beds with those of our own gender.  All is not well for us at Harding.  Our voices are muted, our stories go unheard, and we are forced into hiding.  We are threatened with re-orientation therapy, social isolation and expulsion.  We are told stories and lies that we are disgusting sinners who are damned to hell, that we are broken individuals and child abusers.  We are told we will live miserable lives and are responsible for the collapse of civilization.  We have lost our friends and families, been kicked out of our churches and schools, and are killed, or when left with no option, kill ourselves.  We have felt the pain of the deep, dark closet, and we are here to announce that we will not stand for it any longer.  This is simply not acceptable.  We are good people who are finished being treated as second class citizens at Harding.  We have done nothing wrong and we did not choose this suppression.  We are children of God and valuable assets to this campus and the world beyond.  We are not asking anything from you.  We are here to tell you we exist and will not be silenced.

Harding University is a very conservative, private institution.  The rules regarding student behavior reflect conservative Christian beliefs, and prohibit all types of sexual activity outside of marriage, including actions described as lascivious in nature, such as dancing.  Fair or unfair, such rules are known by students, and are part of the package when students make the decision to attend the University.  In response to the HU Queer Press website and publication, the University blocked the site from the Harding network.  The President of the University, David B. Burks, spoke to the student body in a chapel assembly.  Among his remarks, he stated:

“Harding University holds to the biblical principle that sexual relationships are unacceptable to God outside the context of marriage. Sexual immorality in any form will result in suspension from the university.”

There are number of issues, worthy of discussion, that are not the focus of this article.  Among them the constitutionality of the University’s action in censoring the website.  Another, the wisdom of such censorship.  It is argued by many that Harding has played into the hands of the group, making a small social statement into a newsworthy event.  In this article, however, it is the author’s intent to narrow the focus to the document itself; to examine its merits and arguments from a spiritual standpoint.  In the opening statement its authors claim, “We are children of God.”  If this is so, these homosexuals are “…heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).  The thrust of the zine is a defense of homosexuality as acceptable to God.  In so doing, the writers claim mistreatment at the hands of other Christians, a misinterpretation of God’s word as the basis for such mistreatment, and that their condition is a result of God’s handiwork.  These claims will be examined in turn.

Personal Testimony

A good portion of the zine consists of personal testimonies supplied by either present or past students of the University.  They are typical of most homosexuals, except for the fact that they often include references to the spiritual conflict they experienced being raised by Christian parents, and attending churches where it is taught that homosexual activity is sinful.  The testimonies include such typical statements as:

  • God made me this way.
  • I wouldn’t choose to live this way.
  • I tried to subjugate my homosexual tendencies, and was miserable for the effort.
  • I was mistreated and abused because of my sexual orientation.

The last testimonial (on page 30), by a young lady identified only as “C”, contains the following quote:

I’m just not attracted to men.  I tried to change that, but I couldn’t.  I tried to pray it away, but it didn’t go anywhere.  I was never molested.  I came from a perfectly normal Christian home.  You cannot help me get through some trauma and expect me to magically love a man… I didn’t choose to be gay, I just am.

This quote is typical.  Practicing homosexuals commonly claim their behavior to be normal, and attribute their orientation to God’s creative work.  The implicit argument in the statement “I didn’t choose to be gay, I just am,” when made by those who profess a belief in God, is “If God was truly against my being a homosexual, He would not have made me this way.”

We first must acknowledge that homosexuality is accepted by society as normal, if unusual behavior.  Consider the following quote from the wikipedia article on Homosexuality and psychology:

Since the 1970s, the consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions have moved to the belief that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexual orientation, while there remain those who maintain that it is a disorder.  In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives followed in 1975.  Consequently, while some still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, the current research and clinical literature now only demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. (http://tinyurl.com/67s9br)

The question might be asked, why the change in classification in 1973?  The idea that same sex attraction is normal is certainly counterintuitive.  Speaking purely from a biological standpoint, the act of sex is for the purpose of procreation.  The sexual organs of the male and female are designed to facilitate the conception and birth of children.  It is not biologically possible for humans of the same gender to procreate.  Paul referred to it in this way, “women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature…”, and “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful…” (Romans 1:26 and 27).  While some obviously would argue with the moral contention of the Apostle, the fact that acts of homosexual sex are not natural is self evident.  This is especially true of sodomy.  Sodomy so endangers the health of the participant that medical doctors advise that condoms be used without exception.

As noted in the wikipedia article, there are some in the medical community who continue to maintain homosexuality to be a mental disorder.  By its nature, psychology as a discipline is much more subjective than other fields of study.  For example, the views of perhaps the most famous and influential of all behavioral theorists, Sigmund Freud, have now fallen into disrepute, rejected by the majority of modern psychologists and psychiatrists.  It could be contended that the action of the American Psychological Association in 1973 was more a reaction to societal conventions than a policy change due to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Of course, it is often claimed that scientific evidence has been uncovered, proving that same sex orientation is a matter of biology.  Researchers have discovered in autopsies of homosexual men that a small part of the hypothalamus of some homosexuals contain physiological differences to those of heterosexual men.  Some in the news media have seized upon these findings as proof that homosexuals are “born that way.”  But consider the following from the researchers themselves.  Simon LeVay, the researcher who discovered the differences and published his work in 1991, stated in an interview with Discovery Magazine in 1994:

“It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain… Since I looked at adult brains, we don’t know if the differences I found were there at birth, or if they appeared later."

Further, his methodology in his experiments has been criticized.  Consider the following quote from the wikipedia article on Simon LeVay:

Some critics of LeVay questioned the accuracy and appropriateness of his measurements, saying that the structures are difficult to see in tissue slices and that he measured in volume rather than cell count.  Nancy Ordover wrote in her 2003 book American Eugenics that LeVay has been criticized for "his small sample size and for compiling inadequate sexual histories." (http://tinyurl.com/4axysgp)

LeVay admitted that his small study was limited primarily to a subset of the homosexual population – men who had died of AIDS.  He stated that his observations may be reflective of lifestyle rather than causative, and that the differences may influence other aspects of sexual activity than orientation.  Finally, he admitted that his findings were not definitive, and that such a definitive study would not be possible until, “some method becomes available to measure the size of INAH3 in living people who can be interviewed in detail about their sexuality." (Queer Science, Chapter 6).

Common claims of a biological origin for homosexual orientation are without merit and foundation.  They exist, not because of sound science, but because they have been trumpeted to the undiscerning since the early 1990’s.  If it is said loud enough and long enough, many will come to believe it.  In contrast to such claims, consider the following.  First, from Dean Hamer, an American geneticist who did research in the 1990’s on the possibility that genes may influence sexual orientation:

“We knew that genes were only part of the answer. We assumed the environment also played a role in sexual orientation, as it does in most, if not all behaviors…. Homosexuality is not purely genetic… environmental factors play a role. There is not a single master gene that makes people gay….I don’t think we will ever be able to predict who will be gay.”

Second, a clear admission from Camille Paglia, a homosexual activist and author, and an influential voice in the homosexual community:

“No one is born gay. The mere idea that that is possible is a flimsy fabrication of sloppy journalists and amoral queer activists. Any person, male or female, who cannot feel the sexual allure of the opposite sex has been traumatized by some early combination of social circumstances.”

Consider this last quote as contrasted with the claims of the Harding University student’s testimonials.  While it is not the purpose of this article to demean or belittle the obvious conflict and emotional turmoil that these young people are feeling, their claims that they were “born this way” are without scientific merit, and evidence a lack of self-awareness.  The fact that they can not identify or are unwilling to admit to environmental factors is in no way proof that such factors were not present in their social and sexual development.

It should be noted that the Bible does not argue that homosexual orientation is the result of environmental factors.  Nor does the Bible deny that some individuals may be predisposed to homosexuality.  To the contrary, orientation has no bearing upon an individual’s standing before God.  Paul recognized the reality of sexual predisposition when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9,

For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.  But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

In Biblical terms, the homosexual is not a person who is sexually attracted to one of the same gender.  The homosexual is the one who has sex with one of the same gender.  “Men with men, committing what is shameful” (Romans 1:27).  It is when the desire conceives that sin, and death result (cf. James 1:15).

It may be that an individual, through his or her entire life, will continue to be sexually attracted to members of the same sex.  It may be that he or she will never feel sexual attraction toward members of the opposite sex.  However, unless the individual acts upon that desire, he or she has not sinned or disappointed God.  As Jesus said regarding the severity of his teaching concerning sexual relations outside of the parameters of a man and woman lawfully wedded, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Matthew 19:11-12).

It might be claimed, “Well, that’s easy for you to say, You aren’t gay!”  In answer consider the following passage from the pen of the Apostle Paul. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  While not all are enticed by the same things, all have desires that could potentially be satiated in illicit ways.  Even the temptation to homosexual sin is a common temptation.  In each man is the free will to resist any illicit desire.  Those who engage in the action make a choice.  God condemns the choice to sin.  A Christian who is beset with any strong, but illicit desire will be conflicted as long as that desire remains.  But, he must remember that this life is not the end or focus for the child of God.  If self-denial is necessary for eternal reward, the faithful Christian will choose to abstain.

Does that mean that the man or woman with an attraction to the same gender is doomed to a life of misery?  Absolutely not!  Paul describes the conflict between the spirit and the flesh in Galatians 5, and commands, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (vs. 16).  Further, he states, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (vs. 24).  Finally, to the Philippians he promises that through prayer and righteous living that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Paul expressed in himself the same conflict and despair as that mentioned by the homosexuals at Harding University.  He wrote, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:23-24).  He resolved his conflict by submitting himself to the Christ, “I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (vs. 25).

In contrast, how do these young people handle their great spiritual conflict?  Well, they say that they have first tried to fight it, but that peace came only when they stopped trying, and accepted their homosexual tendencies.  Consider the following anonymous testimonials in the zine:

  • I faked crushes to feel included when my friends started talking about such things, but mostly I completely ignored any sexual aspect of myself… I eventually came to accept myself as a lesbian and got up the courage to come out to my friends and (most) family a couple of years ago.  I am much happier and far more confident in myself as an out lesbian than I ever was while trying to be straight.
  • I’m no different from anyone else.  Unfortunately it took me years to realize that.  Years of thinking I was disgusting, weird, stupid.  Years of wondering why I couldn’t just be like everyone else… I finally understood that I was not this “homosexual” that was being condemned from every pulpit, street corner and living room couch in the Bible Belt.  I’m no prostitute and I’ve certainly never tried to rape any angels – or anyone else for that matter.  The things taught to us by old, straight men are a complete misunderstanding of the queer world… So finally I began to accept all of this and knew I needed to talk to someone.  I told some people I knew would still love me afterward.
  • Age 14:  Homosexuality. I read. It explained all my fears.  It named what I never wanted to name before.  It said it was a sin against God and Nature.  It was clear as day.  Spelled out right before my eyes.  I was filled with shame and intense guilt.  I wanted to die right there before I (sic) anyone figured it out.  I knew I was going to hell.   Age 22: I felt alive and full of passion.  I came out to my friends, my parents, my church.  Everyone.  I couldn’t contain it anymore.  It burnt like a fire in my belly.  I lost some friends and a lot of respect, but I didn’t need it anymore.  My closest friends supported me unconditionally.  The Truth had set me free.

The quotes from the zine could be multiplied, but these serve to illustrate the attitudes expressed regarding the spiritual conflict these young people have suffered, and how the conflict was resolved.  Consider the following, from yet another testimonial:

Christians will often point to lives like mine and say, “Look"! Being gay makes you miserable”  But I promise you, the misery didn’t come from being gay.  The misery came from trying to be straight.

Rather than do as Paul did, and depend upon prayer, righteous living and increased maturity to handle the conflicts; rather than “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5); they unilaterally decided that since they had been unable to resolve the conflict, their orientation is acceptable to God.  This rationale is strongly subjective and has no intellectual merit.

What about the pedophile who experiences the exact same struggle with his desires for children?  What about the racist who simply can not bring himself to express charity to those of other cultures and races?  What about the alcoholic who is likewise hounded by his addiction?  Though giving into the sin removes the conflict, it does not transform vice into virtue!

One final aspect of the personal testimonies must be addressed.  A number of the students in the zine related mistreatment by Christians.  Name calling, hateful words and even threats of violence were related.  While these homosexuals do not differentiate between such evil actions and the rebuke of sin, right thinking Christians must.  It is right to defend the truth of God’s word against error and unrighteousness.  It is right to point out sin to the sinner, and help bring him to repentance and the salvation of his soul.  It is wrong to ridicule the sinner, call him names, threaten violence, or refuse to interact with him.  Jesus, when questioned by the religious leaders of the day as to why he ate with the ungodly, said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).  Regardless of the claims of oppression, it is an expression of love to try to save the sinner.  This truth, however, does not serve as a rationale for mistreatment and hatred. “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

A Biblical Defense of Homosexuality?

On page 17 of the zine, a one page article is found, again anonymous, titled, Sodom and…Gibeah.  It is followed by an untitled article, 2.5 pages long.  Both articles seek to give a Biblical defense of the practice of homosexuality.  A review of these two articles is needed, as they constitute the polemic section of the zine.  A careful reading reveals a disconnect in the arguments made.  On one hand, alternate interpretations are given to passages in Genesis 19, Leviticus 20 and Romans 1.  With these explanations, the claim is made that the Bible should be seen as amenable to the practice of homosexuality.  On the other hand the defense claims that instructions found in the Bible are irrelevant to our time.  They have been rejected on other matters, and should be rejected on the matter of homosexuality as well.

This disparity is typical of those who are unwilling to accept the truth of God’s word.  Much like a desperate defense attorney, various arguments are thrown up in the hope that one will stick.  Either the Bible is God’s word, inerrant and infallible, or it is not.  If it is, no one can rightly argue that it should be disregarded on questions of morality.  If it is not, then no appeal to it is necessary to defend one’s sexual proclivities.

The typical secular homosexual does not accept the Bible to be the word of God.  He believes the Bible to have been written by unenlightened, bigoted and superstitious men.  The fact that his actions are condemned in the book, “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination,” (Leviticus 20:13), has no more impact upon his behavior than “See Spot run.”  But, the typical homosexual student at Harding University rests on the horns of a dilemma.  He ostensibly is there because he is a Christian, a believer in the word of God.  The common explanations given regarding homosexuality condemn his practice, so he is confronted with the necessity of either rejecting the Bible as authoritative, or grasping for alternate explanations for the verses in question.

The claim that Christians reject other instructions, if true, proves only hypocrisy.  It does not in any way justify the practice of homosexuality.  To those who claim the Bible should be rejected as authority, fine.  But, in rejecting the Bible, one must reject God, and Jesus.  Claims of fidelity to the Almighty can not be sustained if His revelation is rejected.

Article 1

Presuming that the Bible is indeed what it claims to be, the inspired word of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17), what is the correct understanding of the texts under dispute?  First, consider Genesis 19.  In the article titled Sodom and…Gibeah, the anonymous defender of homosexuality contends that God destroyed Sodom because of attempted gang rape (associated with anger or power) rather than because of homosexuality (associated with sexual satisfaction).  He appeals to Ezekiel 16:50, in describing the people of Sodom as haughty.  He speculates that some of the men in the account were straight, and that the story would have been the same if the angels had taken the form of women instead of men (Thus the reference to Gibeah in Judges 19).  Further, he claims that Lot refused to turn God’s messengers over to the men, not because homosexuality is an abomination, but because they were guests.  His argument: “Wouldn’t Lot cry out against the wickedness of gay sex over the fact that he’s got company?”

In response, consider the divine commentary on the event, as recorded elsewhere in scripture.  First, Ezekiel 16:49-50, which describes the sins of Sodom, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”  It is not denied that Sodom was guilty of other sins besides the sin of homosexuality, and especially besides the event of Genesis 19.  In fact, the doom of Sodom was intimated in Genesis 18, before the event recorded in Genesis 19 took place.  However, it is wrong to say that haughtiness, to the exclusion of homosexuality, was the reason for Sodom’s destruction.  The text reads, “they were haughty and committed abomination.”  In light of Leviticus 20:13, homosexuality is clearly condemned in the context.  Jude also contends homosexuality to be a prominent sin of Sodom, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).  Sodom was destroyed as an example, because the citizens of that city were guilty of sexual immorality.  The term, translated “fornication” in the KJV, has reference to unlawful sexual intercourse.  It is a generic term, and includes all sexual intercourse outside of the bed of those lawfully wed.  This point is often overlooked in efforts to defend homosexuality.  God clearly defined marriage in Genesis 2:18-25 as a social institution entered into by one man and one woman.  This definition of marriage necessarily excludes same sex relationships.  Hence, regardless of other considerations, as homosexual activity falls outside of the parameters of the marriage bed, it is condemned by God. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

Jude goes further and specifies the type of fornication practiced in Sodom.  He says they had “gone after strange flesh.”  The term “strange” means different flesh.  It is not hard to understand the point.  The Sodomites, “Leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:27).  Or, in their own words, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally” (Genesis 19:5).

Article 2

The second, untitled article in the zine seeks to establish alternate explanations for Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.  Before doing so, the author makes the following statement:

The Bible is a text about God, not a handbook on sexuality.  It is a story about a God and his love for his people.  It was never intended to be a book about sexuality.  Certainly it has something to teach us about love and commitment but not about orientation.

Again the disconnect is found.  On one hand the effort to explain scripture in a way amenable to homosexual activity, on the other hand a rejection of the Bible as a guide to sexual orientation.  The objection here raised is typical and made by just about anyone who chafes at the limitation of scripture.  The book is not intended to instruct us… it is out of date… it was written by superstitious or ignorant men… it contains ethics that have been universally rejected.  In response, note the words of Paul, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  If God did not intend the Bible to be a book of instructions that impact every aspect of our lives, no one told Paul.  He claimed that the Bible completes a man, and equips him for every good work.  The zine article’s author may claim that the Bible was never intended to be a book about sexuality; but, the simple declaration of Hebrews 13:4 indicates otherwise, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Leviticus 20:13 says, “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”  The zine author again uses a scattergun approach.  He first claims that the text was limited in application only to priests.  Then, he throws into the mix other prohibitions that are supposedly ignored, such as Sabbath keeping and eating pork.  He defines the Hebrew term for abomination as indicating something considered customarily offensive “in a certain time, place and for certain people,” and seeks to explain the prohibition against homosexuality as a matter of practicality.  Israel was a small nation, and needed more children.  Hence, homosexuality was “seen as wasting a seed”, and “seen as sin.”

The first objection, that the prohibitions were limited only to priests is obviously false.  One only needs to read the regulations themselves to see this is so.  For example, in the first verse of the chapter, Jehovah tells Moses that the instructions are for all the children of Israel.  The same sentiment is expressed in 17:2; 18:2; 19:2.  It is not until Leviticus 21 that certain regulations are given relating exclusively to the priests.  This fallacious claim should give a reader pause as he considers the claims of careful scholarship made by the writer.  Too, the author gives up the argument that these instructions were limited to priests only when he claims that the prohibition against homosexuality was in place because of the pressure to procreate.  Requiring heterosexuality only of the priests would have had no significant impact upon the population of the nation of Israel.

A careful study of the Hebrew word translated “abomination” in Leviticus 20:13 reveals truth that is exactly antithetical to the zine author’s claims.  First, there is nothing inherent in the word indicating a limitation in time or circumstance, or mere custom.  The term is defined by James Strong:

something disgusting (morally), i.e. (as noun, an abhorrence; especially idolatry or (concretely) an idol: – abominable (custom, thing), abomination.

It may be the zine author’s position is simply a mistake rather than a conscious attempt to deceive.  Regardless, the reference to custom in conjunction with the definition of tow’ebah is deceptive.  Where the author contends the term means an action customarily thought to be disgusting, the actual definition indicates an actual custom that is disgusting – or a thing, or a moral action, or the act of idolatry.  Regardless of place or time, the action disgusted God.  To illustrate, consider Moses’ instructions to the children of Israel in preparation for their entrance into the promised land:

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

Human sacrifice, witchcraft, fortune telling, sorcery – these were the customs of the pagan people God had determined to wipe off the face of the earth.  They were wicked.  They disgusted God.  These things were not just considered disgusting at that time, they were inherently sinful.  They were abominations.

The reader is encouraged to read every one of the 112 verses where the Hebrew term tow’ebah is found.  Most often it refers to idolatry and sacrifices offered to idols.  These disgusted God, they were an abomination to him.  In the book of Proverbs the term is used to refer to perversity, wickedness, dishonesty, lying and pride.  In Proverbs 6:16-19, there is a record of seven things that are an abomination to God.  They are pride, deceit, murder, sinful plotting, evil proclivities, perjury and the sowing of discord.  In Deuteronomy the term is used of unclean foods (14:3) and blemished sacrifices to God (17:1).  The entire chapter of Leviticus 18 discusses sexual sin as abominable before God, with a specific reference to homosexuality in verse 22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”  In addition to the two passages in Leviticus, homosexuality is described as an abomination in 1 Kings 14:24 (qadesh – sodomy) and Ezekiel 16.  Despite the zine author’s claim that the sin of Sodom was limited in Ezekiel 16 to pride, the context says differently.  The sin of Jerusalem is revealed in the text to be the same as Sodom.  Among the sins of Sodom and Israel were sins characterized with the term lewdness (vs. 58), the exact opposite of the zine author’s contentions.  For good measure, cross dressing is included in the mix of abominations, as Deuteronomy 2:5 says, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.”

Concerning the above list, what things can be construed as only customarily disgusting, according to the circumstances of the day, yet acceptable for us?  Idolatry?  Lying?  Murder?  Sowing of strife?  Human sacrifices?  The use of the term abomination refers to those things which disgust God.  Homosexuality has always disgusted Him, and will always do so.

On to Romans 1:26-27.  The zine author contends that the context is a denunciation of “some odd sexual behaviors” among pagan priests and priestesses.   Consider his bold statement, “There is nothing wrong with pleasure, even sexual pleasure, but when we are out of control and live (worship) for pleasure, then that becomes our God… It is a story about the danger of idolatry.”  Here are the verses:

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

But wait, the context again causes problems for the zine author’s rather novel interpretation of the passage.  First, there is no mention of priests and priestesses in Romans 1.  While it is true that pagan priests were guilty of sexual sin as a part of their religious rituals, mere supplicants were guilty of the same.  Second, there is no indication in the scripture that sex became their idol.  The text points out that the idolatry came first and led to the sexual sin.  Notice verses 22-25:

“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Third, idolatry is not the only sin that condemned the pagans.  In verses 29-31 the sins listed are:  sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, whispering, backbiting, hating God, violence, pride, boasting, inventing evil things, disobedience to parents, lack of discernment, untrustworthiness, lack of love, unforgiving, and lacking mercy.  Can it be said that there is nothing wrong with murder unless murder is one’s idol?  That it is acceptable to be violent as long as violence is not excessive or out of control?  To ask the questions is to see the absurdity.  The pagans were guilty of lesbianism and homosexuality.  Such sexual activity was unnatural.  It was abominable.  Those who practiced it are stated by Paul as “worthy of death” (vs. 32).

Finally, while the statement that there is nothing wrong with sexual pleasure is correct, it is correct only when said pleasure is experienced within the confines of the marriage relationship (Hebrews 13:4, again).

The final paragraph of the zine author’s arguments regarding Bible texts centers on the use of the Greek term malakos in 1 Corinthians 6:9, and the term arsenokoites in both 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.  The author first objects to rendering the term arsenokoites as “homosexuals” in modern translations.  He states, “These two words appeared for the first time in 1958 as Homosexuality.”  What he doesn’t reveal is that the word homosexual was not coined until 1892, as a technical term, and did not even appear in the English language until 1907.  It is obvious that older translations would not use the term, as it hadn’t been coined yet!  The term most often used in the English is sodomy.  The King James Version uses phrases, “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Corinthians 6:9), and “them that defile themselves with mankind” (1 Timothy 1:10) to rightly express the term.  The zine author wrongly states that sodomy “was an all-inclusive term that meant ‘sexual sin’ in general.”  In fact, the Greek term porneia, translated fornication or sexual immorality is the general term.  The term arsenokoites is very specific.  It is defined by Strong:

from arrhen and koite; a sodomite:–abuser of (that defile) self with mankind.

It is a specific reference to homosexual cohabitation.  This is seen not only in the definition and usage of the term in the New Testament, but also in the etymology of the word.  The roots arrhen (man) and koite (cohabit) leave no ambiguity.  Even if the term was more general, it would certainly include homosexual activity, and the text of 1 Corinthians 6:9 clearly states that such, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The other term found in Paul’s missive to the Corinthians, malakos, is defined by Strong:

soft, i.e. fine (clothing); figuratively, a catamite:–effeminate, soft.

The zine author attempts to use this term to develop a scenario where men exploit children through male prostitution.  He states, “So these verses are a condemnation of sexual and economic exploitation, particularly of children.”  While that claim may sound plausible on the surface, it again violates the text itself.  These malakos mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 were not children, sold into prostitution and exploited by adults.  These malakos were not victims at all.  They are listed side by side with the others in the text as condemned before God.  They were effeminate or soft men (a characteristic frequently seen and even celebrated among homosexuals).  Distinctions are made among homosexuals between the dominant individual and the submissive one.  Both are condemned in this passage.

The author of the zine concludes with these words:

The Biblical authors are silent about homosexual orientation, as we know it today.  They do not comment on responsible love between same-sex couples.  But we are clear on one thing from the authors and from the mouth of Jesus:  We are called to love others, queer or straight.

The zine author’s contention that the Bible is silent about homosexuality, “as we know it today” has been demonstrated in this review to be false.  There is no difference between the sodomy of Sodom and that of San Francisco.  The very phrase “responsible love between same-sex couples” is contradicted by the clear categorization of homosexuality as an abomination before God.  It is also disingenuous in light of the characteristically promiscuous proclivities of the gay community.  In fact, several of the testimonials in the zine allude to experimentation and promiscuity.  The idea that a committed relationship is accepted by God carries less weight when a homosexual has many such relationships.  A 1980 study in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that the average homosexual has between 20 and 106 partners a year, while in contrast the average heterosexual has 8 partners in a lifetime.  (And, any of those 8 sexual relationships, if outside of a God approved marriage, would likewise be sinful).

The final sentence, “We are called to love others, queer or straight”, is absolutely true.  This love is the motivation behind this review.

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

Conclusion

The discerning reader may note the dispassionate tone of this review.  The tone is intentional, and is not intended to be in any way condescending toward the young people who wrote the zine.  While the fallacies and inconsistencies in the arguments and testimonials are dealt with in plain and thorough language, the effort is made with the full understanding that many of these young men and women are truly hurting.  Care was taken to refrain from the use of inflammatory rhetoric and name calling.  The technical and neutral term homosexual was used to the exclusion of any pejoratives such as dyke, faggot, fairy, or worse.  This was done not only because name calling would bring heat rather than light, but because it is simply wrong.  The intent of this review is to defend the truth of God’s word, and contend against what is egregious error.  It is hoped that those who are willing to submit to God’s will might repent of the sin of homosexuality and escape the condemnation of the rebellious.  No illusions are held toward the willful.  They will do what they want, regardless of what the Bible says.

Having said this, it is necessary to address the action taken in publishing “The State of the Gay.”  Proverbs 17:15 states, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.”  In Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1, he finishes with this thought, “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  It is a very serious matter to encourage one who is in sin.  To justify the wicked rather than convicting him of his sin is a transgression of God’s law.  There were certain false teachers in the first century who were likewise supportive of such licentiousness.  Concerning them, Peter wrote:

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

Unless these men and women repent of leading the weak astray, they will stand condemned in the judgment.  If that happens, “Their condemnation is just” (cf. Romans 3:8).