Homosexuality and Christianity: Unnatural?

Published on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 By Drew Stedman

I recently became involved in an ongoing email conversation regarding homosexuality and religion with the Assistant Superintendent of the Christian High School I attended. Because I believe this issue is of paramount importance to the ethics of our culture, our laws and to the future of Christianity, I decided to expand portions of the conversation into what will be an ongoing challenge to the traditional arguments used in favor of regarding homosexuality as sinful and damaging to society.


This is primarily a response to these statements:


“I am not 100% convinced (*that people are born gay*) (there are few things that I am 100% convinced of and I think most people are that way if they will admit it) on this but it is the best solution that I have come up with so far.

I can come to no other conclusion from reading scripture other than that homosexuality is sinful and that sinfulness cannot be diminished. Both the OT and NT condemn it in the strongest language.”

After making the assertion that all sin may be genetic, “Because I was born a liar.”:

“The problem comes in when gays persist in arguing the behavior normative. It is not any more than lying is normative.”

“I don’t fear that science will someday find a genetic cause of homosexuality. I don’t think it matters. It is still sin and it still can be redeemed.”

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Homosexuality and Christianity: Unnatural?


Many Christians choose to be skeptical of scientific discoveries and ideas that stem from the study of Biology and Sociology because “Nothing can be proven to be 100% true”. I can appreciate this reluctance as it displays a healthy level of skepticism. But is this skepticism perhaps a little too healthy? Do Christians require too great a burden of proof for discoveries that challenge their assumptions?


Scientifically speaking, nothing can truly be known with 100% certitude. We are forced to make observations, collect raw data and facts and come to logical conclusions based on how those facts fit together to form theories. As a result we are often forced to update our understanding of the world as new data becomes available. As a result, while almost nothing is capable of being proven with 100% certainty, we can arrive at conclusions with extremely high levels of probability to not only describe, but make predictions about the world around us. In many cases we can arrive at these conclusions with near certainty.


Thus, our inability to “prove” anything 100% does not interfere with making accurate conclusions based on evidence and our ability to interpret the world and universe around us. Regarding homosexuality, we should be able to make reasonable conclusions based on our knowledge.


I must turn first to the idea that homosexuality is “unnatural”. A belief that I find exemplified in the statement “The problem comes in when gays persist in arguing the behavior normative.”


Homosexual behavior is common in nature and has been observed in hundreds of species, especially in mammals and birds, but in reptiles and insects as well. This includes almost all primates, zebras, lions, dolphins, ducks, penguins the list goes on and on. Male American Bison commonly have full anal intercourse with each other and females have also often been observed mounting each other sexually. In some species such as the Bonobo apes, a full 60% of all sexual interactions are homosexual, in this case usually between two females. These interactions serve to strengthen social bonds and increase stability within primate communities. This is also true to a lesser extent of Chimpanzees, with whom we hold 98.5% of our genes identically in common including vestigial or “junk” DNA.


This begs the question, How does this fit into God’s plan for nature? If he is so concerned about homosexuality why is it so common among his creatures?


I received what I would consider a common argument against my position in response to that question:


“Well, the obvious answer is that the entire creation was subject to the fall. The effects of sin has affected not only mankind but the entire created order. So if the Bible is correct and homosexual behavior is sinful, then we should fully expect that the animal world has been infected with this as well.”


I find that this conclusion requires an impressive exercise in mental gymnastics to arrive at. I find it impossible to arrive at this conclusion because several of the examples of homosexuality found in nature that I mentioned above serve to strengthen social bonds and in terms of hereditary, has been linked to increased fertility. Thus these behaviors have been demonstrated to serve a positive purpose in nature in ways that translate into direct survival value for a species. If this behavior were an “infection”, a consequence of the fall, would we not expect this behavior to have a negative effect rather than a positive one? If as in the statement at the top of the page, “It doesn’t matter” in terms of whether or not homosexuality is a choice, then God holds us culpable for the result of our genetic and embryonic development over which we have no control. This is a conclusion that I find disturbing.


(For more on homosexuality in the animal kingdom I recommend seeing the documentary Out In Nature: Homosexual Behavior in the Animal Kingdom:

PART 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFeXwKnCUNI To watch the whole thing just click on the links following each segment)


In humans, studies have shown that among twins where one twin is gay, the other twin is gay over 50% of the time. This is a percentage that is simply much higher than could be expected if genes played no roll. Another major contributing factor is birth order. Studies have also shown that the more male children a woman has the higher the percentage is that her younger children will be gay. This is because after several male pregnancies, the woman’s body becomes immunologically sensitized to the male proteins in her body which she does not have. The woman’s body then creates antibodies against them. These antibodies effectively inhibit the male masculinization proteins thus producing a higher likelihood of a homosexual child. Furthermore, a recent study has also shown that maternal relatives of homosexual men had significantly more children than those who did not have a homosexual relative. This would indicate that homosexuality may play a significant role in fertility.


(I am also providing this Wikipedia article because it is fully referenced and far more thorough than my own understanding:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation)


I have hopefully argued well that not only is homosexuality normal, it may play an important part in maintaining a healthy population, although looking around… this no longer seems to be a problem to be solved.


Part 2 will discuss the consequences of Christian condemnation of homosexuals and how this relates to the basic tenants of the faith.


Here is a link to one of many videos that helped raise my awareness on these issues. It is about the evolution of homosexuality by DonExodus:




Discussion

  1. Philip Harris says:

    While I don’t agree exactly with what your former Principal is saying, I do tend to agree that homosexual behavior is probably not a part of God’s grand plan for humanity. While it is true that homosexual relations are commonly observed in other animals, the vast, vast majority of animals procreate primarily through a hetero fashion. Sure, the occasional animal in heat probably uses its semi-non existent reasoning skills to deduce that shagging the same sex is not a bad idea, but that hardly makes it the natural way to procreate amongst the species. It’s completely common to see an animal eating its own feces too, but that hardly makes it the natural way to go about digestion.

    As for us humans, considering that a woman can’t get pregnant through anal sex, I think it’s pretty safe to say that anal is an unnatural sexual behavior. Unnatural for gays AND straights however. Ergo, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that homosexual relations, as they are incapable of furthering the species, are unnatural.
    Does that mean I hate gays or straights that think anal is the way to go? Hell no! People can do whatever they want in their bedroom and that doesn’t bother me. I just don’t buy into this PC nonsense that I’m supposed pretend certain behavior is natural just because it hurts somebody’s feelings to hear someone say what they are doing is unnatural.

    As for being born gay, the science is very fuzzy on the genetic aspects of that and there is hardly a scientific consensus, despite what some random youtube video says. Personally, I have days where I think people are born gay and days when I know they’re not. On the one hand, I do take seriously the fact that most gay people seem to say they were born gay and they probably know themselves pretty well. On the other hand, I personally know people who appear to only be gay because the first person who gave them positive attention was of the same sex and that’s why they’re gay (which hardly seems like being born gay to me). Anyway, that’s my thoughts on the matter and I’m glad your posting serious things like this on facebook! It seems from your facebook posts you are very serious about gay rights and I’m glad you can have an intellectual discussion and go beyond the normal “if you don’t celebrate homosexuality you clearly HATE GAY PEOPLE” thought process that’s dominating CA these days.

  2. DrewStedman says:

    I find it telling that you went directly to anal sex. When you speak of heterosexual relationships do you immediately think or discus vaginal sex? It is also interesting because one of the examples I listed, the Bonobo apes, engage sexually in more often in female/female sexual contact than anything else. To reiterate, this strengthens social bonds and community and is closely associated with sharing food which has direct survival value. Very little to do with this behavior has to do with the sexual act itself. Also there is a major fallacy in your statement, “I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that homosexual relations, as they are incapable of furthering the species, are unnatural.” You seem to forget that engaging in homosexual behavior does not hinder one’s ability to procreate, homosexuals are still fertile and reproduce. Again, as I said in my blog, there is observed evidence linking family members with close homosexual relatives to increased fertility rates, which AIDS IN THE ABILITY TO PROCREATE. This is not what we would expect to see if homosexuality was the result of a “fallen nature” If it was sinful, would we not expect to see negative consequences? (Please do not attempt to link AIDS to negative consequences for homosexuality, this conversation will go south)

  3. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    Drew – I think your post supports bisexuality more so than homosexuality. If true homosexuality was “natural”, men could reproduce with other men and women with other women.

  4. Rob Steiner says:

    The fact that they can not reproduce could be the very reason why it IS natural. It could be a form of evolution to control population. The rate of homosexuality could increase as our species detects indications of over population.

  5. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    What I meant by true homosexuality are those who would never EVER have intercourse outside their own sex. The rest are bisexual to an extent…even if it is only 1% of their active sexual being.

    Rob – While you have an excellent point about evolution to population control, I don’t think that is entirely accurate. Homosexuality has existed since the earliest written text. If you believe the history of the bible, Sodom and Gammorah were largely populated with homosexuals and bisexuals. This would not be the case if homosexuality was a progression for population control as the earth was only lightly populated at the time. If population control was an underlying factor in homosexuality, it would have existed at all until the last 100 years or so.

    I have to agree with Phil on this one. I personally don’t have a problem at all with homosexuality, but I can not accept that it is “natural” as there would be no furtherance of our species. I can not go so far as to say it is a choice 100% of the time either. I think our XX/XY chromosomes play a large part in our hetero/homo lifestyles. As an example, a man carrying XY may only have 51% Y chromosome leaving him to be yeilded as a man, but with almost half of his being being female by nature. His natural instinct would be to pursue a female for reproduction for furtherance of species, but every impulse within him could be yearning for a man. It is too hard to prove either way, so I prefer to just let human be human.

  6. DrewStedman says:

    I’m glad you brought up the Bible. First of all, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is almost certainly a myth (please understand that I am talking about the true meaning of the word myth not = lie) which was used by the ancient Hebrews for two purposes: To illustrate and reinforce the concept of hospitality. In the mosaic law the Hebrews were required to invite a fellow Hebrew into their home if they had no shelter and treat them with kindness and respect. This story is an illustration of that principle. It also served the purpose of condemning the barbaric practice of surrounding tribes to rape outsiders in order to “show them who’s boss”. Rape was often used in these days to signify tribal superiority and humiliate outsiders and was commonly used after winning a battle. So this story does NOT have to do with “homosexuality” as we are discussing it now. The ancient Hebrews had no more of a concept of sexual orientation than they did that the Earth revolved around the sun or that there was not a giant ocean in the sky (the firmament).

  7. Rob Steiner says:

    3,000 years is not long enough to see the evolution take place. Even if it were, we have lacked the capacity to properly document the progression.
    Social deviations can also throw off the statistics. JimBob in the Federal Pen may not be a homosexual, but that doesn’t stop him from spreading the cheeks of fresh fish.
    Homosexuality could have occurred naturally at a lower rate at any given time in history, but occur for other reasons at a rate higher than evolution would predict.

  8. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    Drew – Just found a great link to support your last post. http://www.libchrist.com/other/homosexual/sodom.html

    One question though, by the logic of your last post do you think that a large part of homosexuality in nature has to do with dominance more than desire? Just like the “barbaric” tribes you listed, the animal kingdom could be displaying dominance through homosexuality? Just read the article Rob referenced above, because I aparently don’t have much of a life, and was curios if the American Bison mentioned were documented as the smaller bison mouting the larger, or the larger mounting the smaller?

  9. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    Also, I was using the Bible as a history reference, not a moral compass. The cities of Sodom and Gammorah are believed to be found and verified…not a myth.

  10. Rob Steiner says:

    But what occurred therein is uncertain.

  11. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    It was just an example. Could use Greece’s abundant accounts of homosexuality in a lightly populated world to illustrate my point if it makes you feel better.

  12. DrewStedman says:

    I’ll check that link in a bit. In nature homosexuality is seen in both capacities you mentioned: Sometimes it is dominance, or just sheer desperation but in primates (our closest relatives) it is often seen as part of social bonding and may be associated with food sharing. In some species it is purely desire such as dolphins, they do it for sheer fun along with group sex. Although the cities may have actually existed the story is still almost certainly myth. Did they uh, find archaeological evidence of brimstone falling from the sky by chance?

  13. Daniel Horton says:

    Very interesting post.

    From a Personal Perspective:

    Honestly, why would someone “choose” to be ridiculed by his/her own family/friends, face the HIV/AIDS crisis (directly or indirectly since many people assume every gay man/woman is positive), be told continuously that you are sub-human, be forced in to pseudo-psychotherapy to change, etc.. etc…

    Did you know that the majority of teen suicides are due to gay teens failing to “turn straight”? This is sad. Whether you believe that homosexuality is natural or “learned” behavior; the church needs to love all. At this moment the church has killed many of my friends spiritually, physically, and mentally.

    From a Religious Perspective:

    Sodom and Gomorrah: If you look at the true context of the time and read a direct translation bible you will find that the Jewish people were forced into a male-dominance sex slavery. Sodomite males would force 13 year old males to have sex with them as their subservient. This was disgusting! This was why God was so upset!

    Rome (Especially the City of Corinth):

    Repeat Sodom and Gomorrah. Paul was telling the Judeo-Christians of the time to stand UP! Not to take the sexual abuse forced upon the Jewish community at the time.

    Not once in the Holy Scriptures does Jesus condemn homosexuality. In fact in that era Eunuchs were homosexual. When the disciples refused to baptize an Ethiopian eunuch, Jesus condemned them.

    Read Acts 8:26-40.

    Even in Revelations the Bible states that a sign of the end times would be “when man lies with man as a woman.” That’s it. Doesn’t say its wrong. It simply states this is a sign. Which truly supports Rob’s micro-evolution arguments. The world is overpopulated. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Furthermore. Look up the word sin. Its direct translation means to “miss the mark”. It was an archery term. What happens when you miss the mark when drawing an arrow? Should you give up? Absolutely not! The modern church is suggestively forcing many people to give up.

  14. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    Hahaha…I think I’ll leave my social bonding to a firm handshake. Don’t think most people would understand if I dropped trou to say hi.

    No, there is no archeological evidence of brimstone or a woman made of salt, thus my comment earlier about using the Bible as a history reference and not a moral compass. The sites and populations in the Bible are largely accepted by historians to be accurate. Archeology has turned up evidence from many cities and cultures listed in the Bible.

    Back to the subject at hand. There will always be differences of opinion when it comes to homosexuality. The spectrum will range from hate monger to total flamer and we will all fall somewhere in between. Just let human be human.

  15. Jeremy Lawhun says:

    Dan!! Great to see you on here. Just read your post and it is very insightful. I’ve been appauled lately at the growing number of “christians” who claim to follow Christ, yet condemn all those who are different than they. I know Jef Steiner and I have talked at length about this (hope he doesn’t mind me saying that), and have come to the conclusion that religion as a whole has hurt and killed more than it has helped. Wars have been started in the name of God, millions of people have been persecuted by “christians” who don’t feel that they fall into the mold of what a Christian should be, and yet society still pushes us toward these churches saying that they are what we are to strive for. It is an absolute perversion of what Christ taught us.

  16. Philip Harris says:

    damn, this thing has really gone on! very interesting read and thanks guys for keeping the discussion rational. Anywho, let me be quick-
    1) I think the argument that Bonobo monkeys occasionally have butt sex to strengthen “social bonds” and therefore its natural for everyone to be gay, um ya, not holding much weight for me there.

    2) I’ve never been sold on the idea of the Kinsey scale (that there are different levels of gay). Maybe i’m just too hetero to comment, but I feel like if people are truly born with their sexual orientation and cannot choose, then there would be no scale. Either your gay or your not. If you have a level of attraction to both sexes, then you obviously can “choose” on some level what to be or rather who to be with.

    3) I think the bible paints a pretty clear picture that homosexuality is not a godly lifestyle to live and there are many verses to support that. However, there are many lifestyles that the bible calls an abomination (such as adultery) and I do think it is sad that many churches speak as though homosexuality is the greatest crime against God. As a devout Christian myself though, I should say that I have been to hundreds and hundreds of church services in my life and have never once, ever, heard a pastor say anything negative towards gays/lesbians.

  17. Daniel Horton says:

    What verses? I believe I covered them all.

  18. Phil says:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “”Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Leviticus 18:22″Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination.” I know there’s more, but those are the only two I have flagged in my bible and I’m too lazy to try and find the others right now.

  19. Rob Steiner says:

    Phill illustrates another problem facing Christians, they all read from different versions of the Bible.
    The King james version quotes 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 differently:
    [9] Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    You instantly lose credibility when you quote a Bible verse as using the word “homosexual”. The word obviously did not exist when the original words were written.
    I’m not even proclaiming the King James version to be the “right” version, but it is certainly less bastardized than the version that uses the word “homosexual”.

    “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,”

    At this time it was still common place for mentors to have sexual relationships with their understudies. (No pun intended.) Paul, in my opinion, was trying to purge this practice from the church.

    Context is everything. I’m sure someone else can be far more successful in properly explaining the context of Corinthians.

  20. Drew Stedman says:

    “I’m too lazy to try and find the others right now.” I will help you out, there are only a couple more.

    Genesis 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    Including surrounding context you have 7 or 8 verses out of over 31,000. You’re quoting bible verses completely out of historical, textual and social context and attempting to apply it as prescriptive to our current social context. I can’t help but notice that you didn’t quote the verses that say that those who act on homosexuality should be put to death, Lev 20:13 and Romans 1:32 (Yeah it says that in the NT too) Are you ready to live by that law? Is that what you would like to happen? Is it the will of God to execute homosexuals? Taking your incredibly simplistic approach to reading the Bible it would appear so. Christians in Uganda agree:

    http://rawstory.com/2009/11/author-the-family-proposed-ugandan-law-execute-hiv-men/

    Do agree with this law? If you follow the Bible literally you should. Are you willing to take it that far?

  21. Phil says:

    lol, whoa whoa whoa, settle down Beavis (Drew)! The “i’m too lazy” line was more of a “I should stop wasting so much time on facebook while i’m at work” remark. I’m sorry that me not wanting to pull out my bible and start reading it a work upset you so much. I listed those two verses because Daniel asked what other verses there were and I knew them offhand. I didn’t realize I needed to accompany them with a 34 paragraph thesis on the historical and societal impacts of each verse. I was merely using them as an example.

    Also, in your giddiness to assault me, I think you missed the part where i mentioned how sad it is to me that Gays seem to be so persecuted by many churches (though none that i’ve ever attended or heard of). I don’t know why liberal and/or anti-christian people like yourself feel such a need to assume that Christians hate gays and want them excluded from all levels of society and possibly even killed (as evidence by your Uganda reference). Your obviously a very smart and well read-person, I don’t know why you would think that just because you see some ignorant redneck on the news screaming about how much God hate gays that that’s what every Christian believes. In fact, in the three-plus years I’ve lived in LA, the majority (not a huge majority but more than you’d probably expect) of Christians I’ve met have actually been much more liberal than conservative.

    Furthermore, just because I believe homosexuality is not necessarily a spiritually or biologically healthy lifestyle does not mean I have any hatred in my heart towards gay/lesbians. I’m sure that some people probably believe that me praying to God, going to Church, and trying to live my life in a certain way because some old book said some guy died on a piece of wood for me is an unhealthy and irrational lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean I go around thinking every atheist I meet hates me.

    And Rob, I agree with you that all the different translations out there can cause unneeded confusion. Personally, I dislike reading the Message translation because it seems too “watered down to me” and I don’t even feel like i’m actually reading the bible. With that said however, what you need to know is that I’m already sold on Christianity. Literally every aspect of my life changed in a positive way when I became a Christian in college so I don’t have a need/desire to be skeptical of every verse in the bible like you might be. I think it’s great that people like yourself are willing to read more traditional translations that challenge conventional christian thought. But for me, God is so much more than just what’s written down in the bible. I’ve seen God transform so many other people’s lives and my own enough times that I’ve learned not to keep God in a bubble.

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