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Do churches treat homosexuals like lepers?

A response (one might say critique) to Micah Murray’s recent Huffpost article on homosexuals in the church.

A Facebook friend alerted me to a recent piece on Huffpost by Micah Murray: Why I Can’t Say ‘Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin’ Anymore.

The piece is somewhat confusing. I’m not quite sure who it’s aimed at, or who it’s meant to be about. Assuming I am understanding Micah’s general thesis correctly—that he is trying to convince us not to treat homosexual Christians like lepers—then I would’ve thought that goes without saying. Is that even a problem that needs to be addressed in most churches? Michah looks no older than me. Do young Christians who read Huffpost typically treat homosexual brothers that way?

I wouldn’t have thought so—but maybe Micah has his ear more closely to the ground than I do. In any case, if he is just trying to say that there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor gentile, straight nor gay in Jesus, I agree completely. But that should go without saying.

But Micah seems to go further than that. His article, in my view, reflects a fundamental confusion in the church about the issue of homosexuality. I think it is a confusion that results largely from Christians just being dazzled by the secular LGBTQ propaganda machine. To elaborate…

(1)

Firstly, he seems very eager to treat homosexuals as if they were exactly the same as heterosexuals. Now, I think homosexual Christians should be treated as brothers no different to us in Christ. But at the same time, it is just the essence of denial to pretend they aren’t different at all. It’s like that ridiculous expression, “color blind”. No one is actually blind to color. The appropriate response to color is not to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Indeed, there’s nothing more offensive than pretending people of another race or culture are identical to you. That belittles and trivializes them, rather than showing them how accepting you are. And while color is not a sin like homosexuality is, the same principle applies. Homosexuality is a distinction homosexuals themselves have adopted. So there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with recognizing that they are different to “us”. They are.

(2)

Appropos (1), Biblically speaking, while it is true that we are all sinners, homosexuality is a particularly serious kind of deviation from God’s design. It would be blinkered to pretend otherwise. Moreover, this applies to homosexual orientation just as much as to homosexual practice. There’s a moral difference between a heterosexual man being attracted to a woman he can’t be with, and a homosexual man being attracted to another man he can’t be with. In the former case, the reason he can’t be with her is because of practical constraints: he may be already married, or she is already married, or they are unsuited to each other, etc. But in principle his desire for her is not immoral.

By contrast, the reason one man can’t be with another man is because of principled constraints: it is inherently “disordered” (to use the language of natural law) to desire a member of the same sex. So there is an asymmetry between the morality of heterosexual and homosexual attraction, temptation, and lust.

Micah wants to treat all sinners identically, as if their sins or dispositions are identical. But that isn’t the case. Imagine if pedophilia were more common—or, let’s actually say imagine if it were more accepted in mainstream society, since I have no evidence that it is less common than homosexuality. Presumably Micah would recognize that there is something particularly unsettling about pedophilia. I think we’d agree it is worse than homosexuality (because when acted upon it victimizes children in a terrible way)—but it is also similar to homosexuality in that it is an inherently disordered desire. So as pedophilia is worse than homosexual desire, so homosexual desire is worse than heterosexual desire. Heterosexual desire can be “aimed” at the right thing; homosexual and pedophilic desires cannot be.

To use a colloquial expression—and I hope I won’t be interpreted uncharitably in saying this—there is “something wrong” with homosexuals that isn’t wrong with heterosexuals. That isn’t to say there’s nothing wrong with heterosexuals, since we are all sinners—but it is something different.

(3)

Micah’s comments that Jesus never treated the people he hung out with as “projects”, but only as friends, and that it was the religious establishment who labeled them sinners rather than him, is simply wrong. When challenged on his choice of friends, Jesus explicitly likened himself to a doctor coming to the sick. Most people don’t like to be called morally sick—yet Jesus claimed he was hanging out with these people precisely because that was their condition, and they needed him, the physician.

So Micah’s concern about seeing people as sinners, or even treating them as “projects”, seems unfounded on the face of it. Now, we are not Jesus—if we want to be doctors to each other, we should first be careful to remove the log from our own eyes (to mix a metaphor somewhat). But there’s nothing intrinsically unchristian about the idea.

(4)

The story of the woman caught in adultery is probably a later addition to John, rather than part of his original gospel. But regardless, it seems like the attitude of Jesus to the woman is more severe than Christians who “love the sin but hate the sinner”. Jesus doesn’t say he loves her; he tells her he doesn’t condemn her, and to go and sin no more. Yet if a Christian told a homosexual (even a homosexual Christian) that he didn’t condemn him provided he would “go and sin no more”, I think Micah would get a bit up in arms about it. That’s judgmental. That’s not loving or accepting. That’s not extending the forgiveness of Jesus. So again, there seems to be a discord between what Micah thinks Jesus would do, and what Jesus actually did.

(5)

Micah makes an odd comment that Jesus showed the woman in adultery that he didn’t see sin as her deepest identity. The reason that’s a particularly strange thing to pick out is because homosexuals themselves see homosexuality as their deepest identity. That is how they define themselves. That is why being critical of homosexuality is seen as “hateful”—because it is not merely a disapproval of behavior, but a disapproval of people. Who they are at the core. So again, there’s a fundamental asymmetry between the argument Micah wants to make, and the reality of the situation.

(6)

Needless to say, I’m not known for my pussyfooting—and Micah’s article just strikes me as moralistic hand-wringing. However, it wouldn’t be necessary in the first place if our culture were not insistently trying to coerce us to approve of homosexuality. The implicit concession Micah seems to be making is that it’s really hard to be accepting of homosexuality while still viewing it as a sin.

Well, duh. Either you uphold what God says, or you pander to society’s demands about tolerance. You can’t serve two masters.

(7)

Finally, there seems something terribly condescending about this whole piece. It’s like Micah thinks homosexuals are such delicate flowers that even if we all agree there’s something wrong with them (including they themselves), it is absolutely out of bounds to ever hint at this fact, or even think it privately to yourself, lest they sense it and be “pushed into the shadows”.

But are homosexuals really that emotionally fragile? I don’t know any personally, so perhaps they are—and I wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to cause a brother to stumble. But just going by what I’ve seen, I think this attitude panders more to the secular LGBTQ victim complex (which is very lucrative for them, rather like a woman who gets what she wants by turning on the waterworks) than to any inherent psychological weakness in sober-minded homosexual Christians.

3 comments

  1. bethyada

    Good points, especially 4.

    I have often thought that some homosexuals insist on defining their identity the way they do as per your point 5. It seems (intentionally or not) to be a way of saying that the only way I will believe that you can accept me or love me as a person is when you approve of my homosexuality.

  2. Mike Gantt

    After reading your post, I read the post by Micah Murray that provoked it.

    When I read his post, two words came to mind: pandering and equivocation.

    As for the pandering, he was obviously seeking forgiveness and approval from those who believe that homosexuality is not a sin but rather a characteristic innate to a person, like being left-handed or red-headed. As Christians, shouldn’t we be seeking forgiveness and approval from Christ?

    As for equivocation, I came away from his post wondering “Does he think homosexuality is a sin or not?” I don’t feel he was clear on that at all, yet that is the question that matters. If homosexuality is a sin and not an innate characteristic then we think and act one way; otherwise, we think and act in a different way. Murray doesn’t get the option of continuing to think homosexualty is a sin and yet treating its practioners as if they doing right.

    When Lady Gaga sings “Born This Way” she is expressing the mind and spirit of the age. There is no equivocation in that message. An equivocal stance cannot resist the force of an unequivocal stance, even if the latter if devoid of truth.

    I am glad you took a stand against what Micah Murray wrote.

  3. Greg Schnee

    Solid response. Thanks Bnonn.

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