I’ve been reading several books on this hot cultural topic of homosexuality. I overheard a man recently say something like, “Homosexuals make up between 2-4% of the population and there are less than 170,000 same sex unions in the nation – this isn’t a very big deal.” I wonder what it was like in the days and weeks after Roe v. Wade back in 1973? Surely, abortions were uncommon and the population affected small. No one can now say that decision was a light one, can they? I suspect we are in a similar cultural moment.
Still, this issue brings to the fore a common (if unstated) argument in favor of homosexuality: “Who can tell me how to live? I’m happier than I’ve ever been.” You see, buried in here is the “I can do whatever I want and no one can tell me otherwise” ethic. So, this is really a statement of authority or rather, priority. A Christian (or anyone claiming to be) has to contend with a very different ethic: I can not do whatever I want because God can tell me otherwise. (The Lord’s Prayer is an easy proof text, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven….”) In shorthand the choice becomes: Scripture interprets Experience or Experience interprets Scripture. In other words, will I allow the Bible to tell me how to live even if it is uncomfortable or asks me to deny things that I greatly desire? Or, am I going to follow down the path of my desires and then retool my understanding of what the Bible or the church says? This matters because of the Bible’s clear and unequivocal condemnation of homosexual activities.
For those who don’t really hold to the Bible as the authoritative testimony of God, then this isn’t an issue. But, for all who do make room for Jesus Christ in life, it is THE issue. The honest Christian who believes that homosexuality is allowable or even commendable knows that he is denying the authority of the Bible. Here’s what pro-homosexual New Testament scholar, Luke Timothy Johnson, states about what is really happening:
I think it is important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience of thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us (Cited in Kevin DeYoung, What does the Bible really say about Homosexuality, 132).
As you can see in Johnson’s quote, what makes him convinced is experience. Specifically, the “conversion” experiences of family members, friends, co-workers and media personalities who “come out.” These people are hailed for their courage and hated for the mental gymnastics they put family and friends through. Well, maybe not hated but at least they force all people around them to choose: are you going to be “happy” for me and my new found “freedom to be me” or will you become my enemy by telling me this is wrong? Don’t you see how happy I am?” These coming-out conversion stories are always immediately connected to identity re-identification (see my earlier post, “I am…lost?”).
Every “conversion” story is a story about exerting personal authority over God’s authority; it is saying: “My interpretation of what I’m experiencing has more weight than God’s interpretation of what I’m experiencing. And, your interpretation should be just like mine.” There are other issues found here but no less.