The Third Sex? and The Gay Theology (Revisited)
by Kent Philpott
Born Homosexual or Not?
The question I asked in The Third Sex? thirty five years ago was whether homosexuals were born that way or not. Most, but not all, homosexuals want to believe they were.1
Despite the fact that each person I interviewed for the books published by Logos on homosexuality said they were born gay, and despite the fact that a number said they had never had a heterosexual thought, neverthless, in the conversations from which the interviews were drawn it appeared to me that each person had merely adopted the premise they were born gay. There was no hard science behind their gay identities at all. I came to the conclusion that being born gay was little more than a cultural myth in the homosexual community. “I was born gay, homosexuality is natural for me” was an identity marker that went with the territory.
Born gay? How would that happen? And, what purpose or advantage was operative in the evolutionary/biological process then if homosexuality is normal? Was the natural selection mechanism running amok? One can easily look and see that the parts don’t fit; the homosexual act among humans beings goes against everything natural. Sex is not for pleasure alone; the work down in sexual intercourse is to perpetuate the genes of the organism.
The role of guilt
From time to time I catch a glimpse at something in the inner being, something nearly invisible, way under the radar, yet powerful at the same time, that may be the motivator behind the desire to think one is born homosexual. In a word--guilt. The Creator God has written the truth of who and what we are in our core being, in the inner person. When that base data is violated, a warning bell is sounded, that is, our conscience accuses us. And that psychic finger pointing is very unpleasant.
It is entirely necessary to quote a few Bible verses to illustrate my contention. And in case it is not clear, what matters most to me is the Scripture. The science on the subject is unclear and may always be—at least it will be under contention. Whatever people may think, even experts, is going to be suspect to some degree and subject to critical analysis, since hidden and not so hidden agendas will be in play, as is the case for my own work.
So what counts for me is what God has revealed. Of course, if one does not have a high view of the Scripture, then what I am presenting will be next to meaningless. The culture, which includes science, since so much science is compromised by political considerations, will not be of much value, since culture is most often derived from low common denominators and not from revealed truth. Without revelation from God only the loudest and most powerful voices will prevail.
Now then we look at Romans 1:18-20--
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the work, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
In the next chapter we will take a closer look at Romans 1, but in the segment of Romans above, Paul clearly and carefully states that homosexuality is unrighteous. My point here is that the truth of creation is plainly revealed to us. The word “conscience” is not in the text but it is implied. The words “known,” “plain,” and “perceived” are used—these are likely the functions of what we ordinarily identify as conscience.
There is then something in us, an alarm of sorts that lets us know when certain forms of behavior are outside the limits of that which is righteous. Guilt is at least a part of that alarm, and humans will go to great lengths to avoid the sensation of guilt. Claiming to be born gay would be an obvious method of assuaging guilt by putting it in the innocent "natural" category.
Fellowship of the guilty
One way of dealing with guilt is to have whatever it is that produces guilt or finger pointing turned into something that is approved.
There is an interesting passage in the New Testament that speaks to this very thing, Romans 1:32. “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” In the preceding verses Paul lists a number of expressions of unrighteous behavior and included in the list is male and female homosexuality.
Here I want to focus on the phrase, “give approval to those who practice them.”
Our present popular American culture has for some time been busy justifying sexuality of all kinds. The Hugh Hefners and Larry Flynnts among us have found it commercially advantageous to do so, and those who deviate from cultural norms have a vested interest to satisfy their desires. Cultural approval is the goal, and the front lines are the schools and the media--print and television--besides the courts and legislative bodies.
What could be better: make it safe and acceptable to practice whatever kind of sex we feel inclined toward. The line is presently being held in regard to sex with children, but will this change in favor of the pedophiles, both heterosexual and homosexual? And it is here, for instance, that the fellowship of sin is somewhat evident to the broad population, a we versus they thing that reminds one of sectarianism.
Sectarian? Maybe cultic would be a better description. A whole language with subtle code words and gestures developed long ago, which is sometimes called “camp.” I, for example, have been called “a breeder” by members of the gay community and it is not meant to have a warm fuzzy meaning. Many other examples could be given. A separate world of insiders exists, all based on sexual preference.
These revolutionaries see themselves as a minority fighting for freedom of sexual expression. The gay activists have made tremendous strides, as they said they would, in seeking the approval for homosexuality. Homosexuality is often applauded and those who “come out” can be treated as heroes, and some even receive forms of homage. A strange thing indeed when unrighteous behavior is approved.
Defense, Approval, Normalizing?
The homosexual who claims to be born that way is without excuse and therefore without any defense at the trial and judgment that comes at the end of the age. Though a contemporary culture may approve, or seem to approve, of homosexual behavior, the Judge will not be impressed. Culture does not determine truth.
Western countries are rapidly moving toward complete acceptance of homosexual unions and marriage. The laws of many nations will no doubt reflect the prevailing winds of opinion, opinions voiced by aggressive activists.2 But (and I have no hard data on this) I suspect that the majority of people will in their own hearts and minds still say no to homosexuality. Only a minority of those will stand up and be counted.
Without a biblical foundation there is little to prevent “normalizing” of homosexuality. There is no help in the U.S. Constitution nor a national religion or sentimentality strong enough to withstand the preachers who yell for acceptance of homosexual behavior. This has been the scenario in other eras and places, but the swing of the pendulum sometimes brought the collapse of that society, or a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a revival or awakening intruded to end the ethos of approval for homosexuality.
The Ancient Voice of Paul
The voice of the Apostle Paul must be heard. He knew, as a trained Rabbi, that the Scripture condemned homosexuality, and living in the Graeco-Roman world he saw the impact of gay sex on that culture. He would have seen the young boys forced into gay prostitution serving pagan temples; he would have known of the horrendous abuse of little boys by the Roman elite like Emperor Tiberius. While Paul did not advocate the stoning of homosexuals as was actually prescribed in the Old Testament,3 he nevertheless understood homosexual behavior to be sinful. He even acknowledged that members of the congregation at Corinth, whose citizens had become accustomed to homosexuality, had engaged in the practice. He wrote:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Paul does not excuse those in the church at Corinth who had been homosexual, and the same was true of those who had engaged in other forms of sinful behavior. They are all admonished to cease from engaging in whatever sin they had given in to or had been captured by. There is no talk of acceptance of homosexuality, no indication that anyone was excused by being born a homosexual.
With or without the Bible
Christians, and others who consider homosexual behavior to be wrong, do not necessarily come to accept that viewpoint as a requirement for being Christian. Well before I believed in things biblical, I did not accept homosexuality as a normal expression of human sexuality. I neither feared nor scorned homosexuals. The first time I heard that a couple of male medics in our unit had been caught doing a sexual act together I wondered what they could possibly have been doing and then felt sorry for them because of the discipline that followed. At that period of time, 1962, homosexuality was little more than a blip on the screen for most of Middle America. From what I have gathered about the Christianity that followed WWII through the Sexual Revolution that came a couple of decades later, gay was not a term most would have understood; homosexual behavior would have been considered unseemly and bizarre. My point is that if there were no Bible and no Christians, many people still would regard homosexual behavior to be questionable if not wrong all together. But we do have the Bible, and perhaps it is a mistake to reject what Paul says and what the Bible says as a whole about homosexuality.
Homosexuality is not natural according to the Scripture, which must not be easily discounted. Despite the fact that the Bible is not highly regarded in much of the world today, it has been in the past and likely will be again. In Romans chapter one, Paul uses the term “natural” in relationship to human sexuality, no doubt building off the Genesis account of creation, in which men and women are made for each other so that they might be fruitful and multiply (see Genesis 1:26-28). This is what is meant by natural—built into the fabric of creation.
Of lesbianism Paul says, “women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” and concerning male homosexuality, “men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (see Romans 1:26-27).
Whatever might be said about homosexuality, to those who are faithful to the biblical accounts and have no reason to alter the obvious intent of said Scripture, homosexual behavior must be seen as not natural.
What about those who are convinced they were born gay? This is a subject that goes way beyond the scope of this book. However, I acknowledge that due to a number of factors it may be that a person is, for all intents and purposes, born gay. I am referring to anomalies of physiology that would confuse the actual gender of a person, and there are a number of such conditions. Then there are unusual circumstances involving parents, which will only increase as gay couples are permitted to adopt and practice surrogate parenting. “Faulty parenting” and “faulty parent-child relationships” are terms that are not without serious consideration and effect.
Over the decades I have listened to firsthand accounts wherein I had to admit that a person did not have much of a chance growing up anything but homosexual. Let me go further: I think it possible for someone identified as a male or a female who does not have the hormonal structure of that sex, or even the genetic code pertaining to the sex they were tagged with, to be understandably preconditioned to a homosexual identity. However rare, the possibility must be acknowledged. Therefore, we have complications.
By way of illustration I offer something I have understood for some time. As a long time volunteer at San Quentin Prison I have known many a convict who had little chance of avoiding a prison term. Still, the system must go ahead and remove the criminal from the population. We understand this. Neither do we exonerate the thief who steals to feed a hungry family—it is still theft. Why is not a consideration when it comes to sin. Most sin may be described as an ineffectual coping mechanism, a psychological notion that the Bible never expresses. The Bible's view is that all sin is, at some level, a rebellion against God, despite the stress and pressure that may be motivating factors. Wrong behavior has a history and may to some degree be understandable, but wrong is wrong. Homosexual behavior is wrong. This will not change.
In many ways, it would be easier for Christians to give in and simply accept some homosexual behaviors in light of the complications. I have been so tempted. But to do so would take away the hope of those homosexuals who know in the recesses of their hearts and minds that homosexuality is wrong. As mentioned before, those who showed up at the doors of our ministry were wanting out of that life.
Must the complications force a change in theology?
Ever since the commandment breaking by the first creatures created in the image of God, that is Adam and Eve, normal went out the window. Reading through the consequences of the Fall found in Genesis chapter three, it is plain that all of life was changed. Moments after the first sin, Adam and Eve noticed they were naked, tried to cover up with fig leaves, were fearful of God, and tried to hide from Him. Whether one takes the Genesis account of the garden literally or not, the intent of the author is clear: human sexuality was severely damaged. Nothing has changed over the course of years. Human sexuality is confused, distorted, and twisted.
Few but the idealists among us, who usually are forced to take off their rose-tinted glasses at some point on the path to maturity, are shocked at the incredible plagues that are common to human kind. People are born with terrible troubles from the physical to the mental and emotional sorts. More seems to be wrong than right. Born with a bent toward homosexuality—it would or should be expected. Since all else in our world is distorted in some ways, sexuality would logically suffer as well.
The point is simple enough: Even if a person were born with prenatal pre-disposing factors toward homosexuality, this does not mean homosexuality is normal or even good. It just would be the way it was.
At one point, the kingdom of God will come. “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” is one prayer that will be answered. The Bible paints the opening and closing pictures: trouble in paradise, and the tragic Fall illustrated in Genesis, then paradise restored in the kingdom that is coming, depicted in Revelation. God’s ultimate intention will be realized. Those whom He has chosen and called to Himself will be in His presence forever.
Marriage is temporary and prophetic
A group known as Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, approached Jesus and tried to stump him with a hypothetical question. In the Law of Moses, in Deuteronomy 25, were a set of laws called the Levirate Marriage laws which were designed to keep property in the hands of the family at the death of the head of the family. The Sadducees thought they would gain some ground with Jesus by supposing that a woman married seven brothers, one at a time, and then she died. Which of the seven husbands, they wanted to know, would she be married to in heaven? Part of Jesus’ response was, “In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30).
No marriage in heaven. Why not? Because in heaven the ultimate intention of the creator God is realized. There will indeed be a marriage, but the groom is Christ and the bride is His Chosen People. (Interesting that the word church in the Greek New Testament is feminine.)
So much of the Bible is prophetic historical drama. The great stories and circumstances found in its pages often point beyond the actual events themselves to a future reality, from the sending away of the first couple from the garden, to the ark of Noah, the building of a temporary temple, and on and on.
Human marriage, for instance, is more than a mechanism of populating the planet and providing a reasonable framework on which to build a culture. It looks to the uniting of God with His Church, His ekklesia or called out ones. Genesis opens with a marriage between Adam and Eve which becomes corrupted, and Revelation ends with a grand wedding feast (see Revelation 19:6-10). John the Apostle, who received the content of the Book of Revelation, heard these words: “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9).
The Lamb—this is Jesus, the Lamb without blemish, sacrificed for the sin of His people who are known at the end of history as the Bride and the wife. Jesus described His return at the last day as a groom coming for his bride (see Matthew 25:1-13).
The homosexual community claims their mission is about individual freedoms and liberty and regular people doing nothing more than trying to live their lives. To whatever degree this is true, it is very unlike the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It is not actually a question of rights, because - especially in America - all necessary rights are secured for every citizen. No, the issue has to do with antagonism against even the idea that homosexuality is wrong. Proponents of homosexuality insist that it must be believed to be both normal and good. If not, such an injustice must be corrected in some manner. Anything less is to be considered homophobic, politically incorrect, and possibly illegal.
My careful analysis of the homosexual agenda that is aggressively being advanced on nearly every front concludes that is all for the sake of sex—bottom line. And the point here is that the whole meaning of life is being missed. Sex is a part of life not the end nor the whole of it. Life is short and full of trouble; being able to express one’s sexuality and have it approved by others is not the goal of our living. Somewhere along the way, many gay people, even those who are not influenced by the Christian Scriptures, realize this spiritual fact. This book is written for them. Yes, there is something more, something far better, and the way to it is a narrow path: Jesus Christ and His cross.
1 Some gays grew up fearful of, hateful of, neglected by, rejected by, molested by a parent of the opposite sex, or some other scenario, whereby sex with a member of the opposite sex was impossible but the call of the hormones was present nevertheless. Others learned to get their sex where they could get it and found, for any number of reasons, that it was easier and quicker to find a homosexual partner than a heterosexual partner. The point is that not all homosexuals will claim they were born that way. Some even will engage in homosexuality because it seems sexier or more exciting than the normal version.
2 The fight for homosexual rights, especially for homosexual marriage, has taken on something akin to what motivated the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s—a defense of what was perceived to be a persecuted minority. This is evident in a number of the liberal-leaning Christian denominations.
3 Leviticus 20:13 states that men who engage in a homosexual act are to be stoned. Nothing is mentioned about female homosexuality and not for reasons that homosexual acts among women would be acceptable. Stoning of homosexuals is not carried over into the New Testament. There all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. In the Old Testament many offenses resulted in a death sentence, and that is likely a means of showing the seriousness of sin and points also to the fact that the wages of sin is death, not physical death only but eternal death (see Romans 6:23).