Being born gay is not a sin. Yet, people born gay are scorned by others who believe that being gay is a choice.
Seriously, who would choose a sexual orientation that historically has been condemned in modern Western societies? Gay people have had to hide their sexual orientation with the knowledge that they could suffer if their true selves were revealed. What sane people would choose to live like that?
Condemnation of the LGBTQ community is commonly the result of the way that people interpret religious texts. Yet, science shines a light on the way that religious texts are to be interpreted.
It is clear, however, that biological factors acting during prenatal life play a significant role in the control of sexual orientation and that homosexuality is not, for most people, the result only of postnatal experiences or a free choice. It is often an awareness that presents itself to the individual during their adolescence or early adult life. The acceptance of a nonheterosexual orientation in a minority of subjects is often the cause of significant psychological distress and social isolation. In contrast, heterosexual orientation emerges with the individual often being unaware of the underlying process. There is no question of choice here. Data presented in this review strongly suggest that most human beings do not choose to be heterosexual or homosexual. What they choose is to assume or not their orientation and eventually reveal it openly. Sexual orientation represents a highly complex behavioral trait under multifactorial control that includes genetic, hormonal, and presumably immunological determinants potentially acting in concert with the social postnatal environment.
Dr. Balthazart states, “Homosexuality is not, for most people, the result only of postnatal experiences or a free choice . . . There is no question of choice here. Data presented in this review strongly suggest that most human beings do not choose to be heterosexual or homosexual.”
Dr. Balthazart’s conclusion is supported by psychologist Qazi Rahman, PhD, who specializes in the psychobiology of human sexual orientation and gender. In an article for The Guardian, he writes the following.
Remember, sexual orientation is a pattern of desire, not of behaviour or sexual acts per se. It is not a simple act of will or a performance. We fall in love with men or women because we have gay, straight, or bisexual orientations and not because of choice. So let’s stop pretending there is choice in sexual orientation. . . the science shows us that sexuality has a biological basis: that is simply how the science turned out. It’s no use denying it.
Molecular biologist Bill Sullivan, PhD writes, “While there is no single ‘gay gene,’ there is overwhelming evidence of a biological basis for sexual orientation that is programmed into the brain before birth based on a mix of genetics and prenatal conditions, none of which the fetus chooses.”
In their study A short review of biological research on the development of sexual orientation, psychologists Anthony Bogaert, PhD and Malvina Skorska, PhD write the following.
Prenatal biological effects — regardless of whether it is hormones, genetics, antibodies to male-specific proteins, or a combination of these and other mechanisms — are likely very powerful in influencing male sexual orientation. . . There is also stronger evidence that variation in prenatal hormone levels — often centralized in biological theories of sexual orientation — play more of role in women’s same-sex orientation than they do in men’s same-sex orientation . . .
If sexual orientation is pre-natal in origin, then critics of the LGBTQ community are criticizing people for the way that they were born.
I see no biblical evidence that God condemns people for the way that they were born. So, I am not going to do so. Also, I am not going to filter scientific findings through religion. Doing so is a violation of the rules of science.
Alas, way too many people violate the rules of science by insisting that scientific findings and scientific theories conform to the way that they interpret religious texts. Thus, it comes as no surprise that those who condemn the LGBTQ community also reject scientific findings that support the LGBTQ community.
For the record, science is not the enemy of religion. However, science can contradict particular religious beliefs.
The historical record can also contradict.
The conflict isn’t necessarily due to what religious texts say, but rather due to ethnocentric thinking about the texts.
For example, when one reads the Apostle Paul’s letters, it is easy to misunderstand him if one is not familiar with the ancient Greco-Roman culture that Paul writes about.
In that culture, the practice of pederasty was the general rule for free-born Roman citizens. Thus, pederasty is mentioned in Martin Luther’s translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 and 1 Timothy 1:8–11.
. . . and . . .
In both passages, Luther translates the Greek word Arsenokoitai as Knabenschänder, which translates into English as Pederast.
In the ancient Greco-Roman culture, pederasty was a matter of choice that had nothing to do with what modern people call sexual orientation.
Pederasty was a male-to-male and a female-to-female practice in which the participants didn’t necessarily have homosexual feelings. The practice ocurred even when participants had no homosexual feelings.
The act of pederasty was an integral part of society in ancient Greece and at that time they saw the practice as a pivotal moment in the maturing of young men. Greek men courted their younger Greek counterparts just as they were entering adulthood by ancient standards. Once a match was made, the older man became the teacher, protector, and model of courage, virtue, and wisdom for the young man on his path through early adulthood. We cannot fit the pederastic relationship within our modern beliefs about sexuality, pedophilia, or even our current definition of pederasty. Moreover, we should challenge our discomfort with this practice with our discomfort with the same practice for young girls at that time.
I have no cause to dispute Luther’s translations of Arsenokoitai as Knabenschänder. English translations are not superior because they are English translations.
Then there are Paul’s comments at the beginning of his Romans letter, in which Paul criticizes the sexual practices of free-born Roman citizens.
Along with pederasty, the rape of male slaves and male prisoners was also common in the ancient Greco-Roman culture. It didn’t matter who free-born male citizens felt attracted to.
What mattered to free-born male citizens was this: that they sexually penetrated others as a way of displaying masculinity, even if the former didn’t feel sexually attracted to the latter.
This was especially true for Roman soldiers. Literature and History scholar Robbie Mitchell writes, “As free-born Roman males, Roman legionnaires were free to have same-sex intercourse with any slave, prostitute, or captive they came across. Indeed, the raping of male captives was a common way to show off a soldier’s sexual authority and masculinity. The Romans were not above using rape as a tool of war.”
Again, when a free-born Roman man sodomized a boy or man, the sexual feelings of the former were irrelevant. As Mitchell writes, “Roman homosexuality centered on power dynamics. The Roman view of homosexuality wasn’t liberal; it was just a result of their obsession with masculinity through penetration.”
Romans did not think in terms of sexual orientation. Rather, sexuality was tied to ideas of masculinity, male domination, and the adoption of the Greek pursuit of beauty. “In the Roman mind, the strong took what they wanted to take. It was socially acceptable for a strong Roman male to have intercourse with men or women alike, provided he was the aggressor. It was looked down upon to play the female ‘receptive’ role in homosexual liaisons.”
A real man dominated in the bedroom as he did on the battlefield. He would have sex with his slaves whether they were male or female; he would visit prostitutes; he would have homosexual encounters even while married; he would engage in pederasty; even rape was generally acceptable as long as he only raped people of a lower status. “He was strong, muscular, and hard in both body and spirit. Society looked down on him only when he appeared weak or soft.” So Romans did not think of people as being oriented toward homosexuality or heterosexuality. Rather, they understood that a respectable man would express his dominance by having sex — consensual or forced — with men, women, and even children.
Using this historical backdrop of Greco-Roman sexual practices, we can better understand what Paul is railing against in Romans chapter 1.
Yes, Paul is railing against free-born men sodomizing defenseless people.
As Paul states, the former “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles” and “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator ” [Romans 1:23,25, NRSVue]
Paul also writes that these free-born Romans “received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” [Verse 27] Medical science points to that “due penalty” being the diseases that are commonly spread through acts of sodomy.
So, is the modern-day LGBTQ community related to what Paul writes about?
Think about this: Paul says that “God gave them [the free-born Romans] over in the desires of their hearts to impurity” because “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” In other words, God let them have it because they worshipped idols.
Exactly what idols are members of the modern-day LGBTQ community worshipping that heterosexuals aren’t worshipping?
It is dishonest to mention Romans 1:26–27 without also mentioning Romans 1:22–25. Yet that is what LGBTQ-condemning people do.
The sexual conduct of free-born Romans in Paul’s day isn’t identical to what is happening in the modern-day LGBTQ community, even if some in that community engage in sodomy without using any kind of protection against diseases.
Members of the LGBTQ community (according to my understanding) strive to have monogamous consenting-adult relationships with whomever they are attracted to. They aren’t promoting pederasty or the abusive sexual conduct that free-born Romans in Paul’s day engaged in.
Is it a sin for two adults to voluntarily engage in sodomy without the use of some kind of protection against diseases?
Well, medically speaking, one sins against one’s body when one deliberately and knowingly does anything that harms one’s body.
Do heterosexuals ever commit such a sin? Answer: Absolutely!
This may come as a shock to you, but plenty of heterosexuals who sin that way are believers in Messiah Jesus.
Now, getting back to the main point:
It is one thing to choose to do things that harm others, which is condemned in the Bible. It is another thing to be born in a way that does not harm others, which is the experience of the LGBTQ community.
As previously explained, science points to people being born with the sexual orientations that they have.
History point to the the modern concept of sexual orientation as being absent from the culture that the Apostle Paul lived in. Indeed, the word homosexual did not exist until it was coined during the latter part of the 19th Century CE.
Projecting modern-era concepts into ancient religious literature is not a wise move.
So, when I say, “Being born gay is not a sin,” I am not challenging the Bible. Instead, I am challenging an ethnocentric misconception about the Bible.
Yes, religious leaders and religious institutions can be guilty of promoting ethnocentric misconceptions to the detriment of people.
As I see it, it is a sin to promote ethnocentric misconceptions to the detriment of people. Why? Because one’s neighbors are harmed.
If the practitioners of such sin do not confess the sin, then what will become of them spiritually?
According to people who condemn the LGBTQ community, unconfessed sin keeps one out of Heaven. If they are correct, then they have doomed themselves, because they are the practitioners.
The “Wanted” posters say the following about David: “Wanted: A refugee from planet Melmac masquerading as a human. Loves cats. If seen, contact the Alien Task Force.”