Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
How do I explain to youth that gay marriage is not ok?
Wow!! Al, you ask the question on gay marriage comes with great division surrounding it. I am assuming that you are involved in a Christian youth group. They are being taught in school and society that gay marriage is right, and you as a Christian leader want to have a clear Christian view of the matter to offset a very dominant view of a certain segment of American society.
OK. Let me present the Christian viewpoint about gay marriage. First, let me say that the whole issue of homosexuality should not be isolated. The Bible considers it as one among many sins, including adultery, fornication, theft, greed, and drunkards, revilers, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).
We all have a sin nature, with weaknesses to sin in particular ways. Some people express their sin nature is one way, other people express theirs in other ways. Homosexuality is just one way. But, let me get into the arguments involved – in a fair and balanced way.
1. Now, after that introduction, let me say that the most important issue to determine is the source of our authority. Christians appeal to the Bible to determine the truth. Muslims appeal to the Koran. Marxists appeal to Karl Marx – and so forth. Some people appeal to the dominant and popular view of their culture at any particular point in time. Consequently, the first critical question is, “From what viewpoint are you starting as a source of authority?”
The religion of Islam, for example, condemns male homosexuality, and insists that it should be punished – even sometimes by stoning (Sura 26:165-175; 4:16; 29:28-35). In some Muslim cultures it is illegal, but also tolerated if practiced inconspicuously.
Homosexuality is a good example of the position on using culture as a source of authority. Before 1973 the act was viewed as a psychological (sexual) disorder. For example, Sigmund Freud (with others) linked sexual perverts and homosexuals together as having a personality disorder (Cited by Theodore Millon, Disorders of Personality DSM-IV and Beyond. New York: A Wiley-Interscience Publication, 1996, p. 394, 395).
However, over time, and under pressure from the gay rights and other secular movements, psychologists changed their mind and said it was not a disorder. The condition was officially removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Most psychologists in the Western world now consider homosexuality as a variant of normal sexual relations.
2. Since you are, I assume, asking for the Christian view, then I shall point to the Bible. As to homosexuality, the Bible clearly teaches that it is not in favor with God, and in fact is a sin. The examples of Lot’s experience in Sodom indicates God’s attitude toward the practice (Genesis 19:4-13). Other passages that speak against the practice are Leviticus 18:22, 29; 20:13; Romans 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1Timothy 1:10. The Apostle Paul is particularly harsh in Romans 1:24-32. The Bible considers homosexuality to be a “grave depravity” as mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
With this said the Bible teaches Christians to help the person control and not express those desires. It is the same issue with those who have weaknesses toward drink, drugs, gambling, or greed. Married people, for another example, may have an inclination and temptation to commit adultery against their spouse. But, they must control their urges and not act upon them. It is the same with the homosexual.
3. Now I can address the issue of same-sex marriage. I guess the first thing to say is that if the practice is wrong in itself, then it would be wrong in a marriage.
From the Bible, the first argument deals with God’s original and natural design of marriage. It is for one woman and one man to be united into a relationship called marriage. This was to be the core of a family (Genesis 2:23-25; Matthew 19:3-10). Jesus said there was one male (called a husband) and one female (called a wife) who are joined together into a unique relationship called marriage.
To a Christian, then, to advocate same-sex marriage is to call Jesus Christ a liar.
There are other arguments that would speak against same sex marriage. Let’s look at some.
4. One of those arguments is from world religions. I reference a study on Major World Religions on the Question of Marriage from the Catholic University of America, dated January 2001, and found on the internet (http://marriagelaw.cua.edu/publications/religions.cfm.)
They examined the official or historical teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. They found that there was overwhelming support for the view of marriage as the union of men and women. There are, no doubt, some smaller groups within Christianity that do support same-sex marriage, but they are deviants of historic Christianity, and are small numbers within the broad umbrella of Christianity.
For example, worldwide, there are about 4.2 billion total adherents of the religions mentioned above. Of those, 99.9 percent affirmed the classical definition of marriage. In America, the number is 98.2 percent who affirm the traditional marriage.
Same sex marriage is a strange issue to bring up. It did not even come on the radar screen of humanity until the 1960’s. In the United States, different religious groups had varying degrees of belief on how to handle homosexuality, but it was universally assumed that a marriage was between a man and woman.
5. There is the argument from nature. The anatomy of male and female are meant to complement each other for the sexual union, while male on male and female on female do not. In other words, it is against the physical laws of nature. Heterosexuality is the norm in nature. For example, whether it is horses, cows, dogs, chickens, it is males and females mating. It is true that sometimes there are rare aberrations. Sometimes dogs, for example, will “hump” each other, but that is a sign of dominance.
6. Closely related to this argument from nature is the evolutionary view. The dominant view of evolution is that our main drive in life is to adapt to our environment, and perpetuate our species. Those with the strongest and most adaptable traits pass their genes on to their offspring. Natural selection eliminates those with the unadaptive genetic material.
The issue then boils down to this: of what adaptive value do same-sex marriages add to the human race? The answer in none, because offspring are produced by sex between male and female. Homosexuality, then, would be an unadaptive trait to be eliminated from the genetic pool of a species – according to an evolutionary viewpoint.
7. Another argument is from culture. All cultures deal in their own way with homosexuality. Some condemn it, while others tolerate it, and some even have a special niche for the homosexual. In the Philippines, for example, they are considered a third gender. Even the profession of hair dressing for women is largely dominated by homosexuals. Some Pacific Island groups have a special role for them. In ancient Greece, men loved the boys.
However, world cultures do not accept same-sex marriage. I must acknowledge that America and some other Western countries are legally accepting the reality. But, we are living in a world filled with revolutionary changes in values, and violent reactions against traditional Christianity. Furthermore, what is legal in a culture may not always be accepted by the general population of the culture itself.
8. The historical view is closely related to the culture argument. It is true that historically, there has been wide variety in the family structure. Even polygamy in the Old Testament was practiced. God has permitted this variety, but it is not in His original design (Matthew 19:3-12). Some have one husband and several wives, for example. But from an overall view, all marriages historically have these consistent basic elements. There is at least one man called a husband. There is at least one woman called a wife. There is a binding arrangement called a marriage that is recognized and celebrated by the society. There are children that descend from this union. The family has a specific role and function in society.
The family with a husband and wife at its core has been present in some form in every historical period, and every society. The family is the deepest rooted of all historical cultural institutions. It is the cornerstone of society. The function of the family in society also centers on a male/female union called marriage. There are at least seven crucial functions that a family performs.
One, the most important function is procreation of children to replace those members of society who die (Genesis 1:28).
Two, the socialization and training of children is another function.
Three, affection, love, support, and companionship between two people (and the family) is another function of marriage.
Four, sexual regulation is a function. Otherwise we would have a barn yard mentality with everyone mating with whoever they want. The result would be jealousy and chaos in the community.
Fifth, economic cooperation is an important function. The family is an economic unit cooperating in economic pursuits so as to survive and adapt to their environment.
Sixth, the social placement of children is a function. Children assume the social status and class of their parents – in general.
Seventh, transfer of assets is a function. Family is the instrument to pass on to the next generation wealth, power, and prestige.
9. Then, there is the abnormal argument – and this relates back to the cultural view. What is acceptable behavior is grounded in cultural norms, according to this view. Cultures through the years, and by trial and error, have discovered which behavior is best suited for the group to survive, protect, and perpetuate themselves. Accepted behavior is deemed as “normal”.
Now, with homosexuality, statistics vary regarding the number of homosexual’s in society. In the Western world, for homosexual men and lesbian women, the rates vary from three to ten percent of the population. Another side note is that the actual percentage number of homosexuals is not increasing, but in the Western world, the acceptance of that lifestyle is.
Consequently, on a percentage basis homosexual behavior is not normal. We could call it “abnormal”. However, as a Christian, culture does not always determine appropriate behavior, but rather, the Bible does. In other words, the Bible trumps culture when they come in conflict.
10. Al, I will include the slippery slope argument. It goes like this. If we say it is ok to have a man marry a man or a female a female, then where does one draw the line in defining a marriage? The argument could be made that it is ok to marry a horse, flower, chicken, or anything we wanted to. The reasoning becomes bizarre. For example, since sex is part of a marriage, then a 40 year old man could marry a five year old girl and have sex with her.
11. What is the argument and motive for gay marriage? Basically, Al, I see it as two fold. First, there is the argument for equal rights. This is grounded, at least partially, in the Marxian ideal of full equality for everyone. Any inequality, they say, should be outlawed. This is the basis for Socialism and Communism. Now, I am not saying all gays are Communists – don’t get me wrong. I am talking about philosophical orientations.
The idea, then, is that if heterosexual couples have a right to become married, then so should homosexuals. However, the fallacy in this thinking is that the same argument could be made for rapists, murderers, and bank robbers. Should convicted felons have equal rights to law abiding citizens? The answer is no. There is always discrimination in society. For example, police can arrest people and put them in jail. Bosses can fire people. Incidentally, what would your boss say if you went into his or her office and told them that you have equal rights with them, and he or she should pay you as much as they?
The logical fallacy of equality is that justice is the cardinal virtue in society, and it overrules equality. For example, if an injustice is committed, then penalty must be exacted against the perpetrator. That penalty involves taking some rights away from the guilty – like going to jail. Consequently, they do not have “equal rights” enjoyed by others in the culture.
Fundamentally, in my opinion, the core problem is that the world as a whole and America in general, has rejected the God of the Bible – the Judeo-Christian ethic. We live in a society that hates God. The pro gay marriage advocate’s appeal to right and wrong is based on their own desires and ideas. This is the key: If you throw out God and the Bible, you can do whatever you want. Those are the people in power, and who shape public opinion.
The militant gay lobby vehemently rejects Jesus Christ and the Bible as a source of authority (John 15:18, 19). That way, they can make up their own rules. They can redefine marriage, families, and even society. The animosity of the gay community against Bible believing Christians can be seen in the reaction of the people of Sodom against Lot. When Lot objected to the Sodomites having homosexual relations with his visitors, they replied regarding Lot, “Stand aside…This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them” (Genesis 19:9).
Christians cannot force the world to change its view of Jesus Christ to that expressed in the Bible. Christians can, however, explain and proclaim the teachings of the Bible through word and deed in the power of the Holy Spirit, and let Him bring change as He sees fit. We can be the salt of the earth, and light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14).
Finally, the question always arises, “What causes homosexuality?” Actually, in the secular world, nobody knows. There are two basic theories: people are genetically predisposed to it, or they choose and learn it as a lifestyle.
Jesus said the answer is in the sinful, corrupted human heart, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within that defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).
Al, this is a long answer. I hope that it will help you in your ministry. Other websites you might want to visit are http://www.catholic.com/library/gay_marriage.asp; http://www.nogaymarriage.com/tenarguments.asp. You can also Google the Catholic view on homosexuality at “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics”. Note Article 9. Focus on the Family has much information. This is an issue that all Christians benefit from a united stand.
All the best, and God bless,
Dr. Willis Newman
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