Earlier today, Travis Hoewischer published A Modern Gospel in cooperation with “Christian rock star” Trey Pearson to facilitate the latter publicly embracing his homosexuality. (Full disclosure: I’ve never heard of either of these guys before.) In the course of the article, a number of criticisms are leveled at the religious establishment. Many are valid, and none seem to contain the sort of vitriol common to this issue. That being said, the importance of substance and reason dwarf style in any controversial discussion. And in the context of Christian lives and doctrine, sound biblical basis is equally important. Christianity with no biblical basis is nonsensical; it does not derive truth from any objective source, and is reduced to meaningless babbling of inconclusive subjective opinions of those who are Christian only in culture and name. So let’s examine this article from that point of view – concerned with biblical teachings and their logical extensions.
But first, let’s get this topic out of the way. It is undoubtedly quickly dominating the thoughts of the reader more powerfully than the Empire at Hoth. Or possibly even Alderaan. Every post on this site has thus far been very political in nature – half the site title is even the name of a political philosophy. But I wish to deviate from your irregularly scheduled programming to ignore politics for once.
Discussion of homosexuality within the context of Christianity is related to, but entirely separate from a discussion of homosexuality-related laws. Christians can and should have a variety of opinions on that subject. I personally am of the opinion that government involvement in marriage (or “marriage”) should be minimal, whether that entails permitting homosexual couples to adopt whatever label they wish or permitting private citizens to abstain from gay weddings. Contrary to what many leftists and ultraconservatives may think, the purpose of Christianity is not to codify Christian beliefs into law. Nor is the purpose of our constitutional republic to arbitrarily enforce some form of morality (or lack thereof).
In any case, it is not the purpose of this post to attack or defend any particular political position or ideology. Rather, I simply wish to look at the moral and religious issue through a biblical, Christian lens to shed light on what someone who identifies as a Christian should believe in this area.
Nature Versus Nurture
Trey claims that he was taught that “sexual orientation [is] a matter of choice.” Perhaps he is misinterpreting what he was told, but we have no reason to doubt his honesty or intelligence, so we should assume this is accurate. Many have debated whether sexual orientation is as much a conscious choice as Android vs. Apple on the one hand, or as biologically determined as hand size on the other… hand. But there are two important points to put this debate in proper perspective.
First, there is a distinction to be made between “choice” and “sum total of experiences.” Few – if any – claim that people choose homosexuality (though oddly many opponents of this assertion claim that people choose their sex). Usually, this is a perversion (by the pro-homosexuality crowd) of the common belief that people become homosexual due to their past experiences, in addition to their (somewhat unrelated) inherent genetic predispositions. For example, childhood sexual abuse tends to yield deviant behavior later in life. That may take the form of promiscuity, general perversions, or basic homosexuality. Or conversely, perhaps some think that a very close relationship with one’s own parent (or even a total lack thereof) may push an individual towards same-sex attraction. There are a variety of hypothesis, and many of them will likely turn out to make no more sense than Waiting for Godot, but the point is that life experiences can influence a person’s lifestyle without them “choosing” anything.
Second, the Bible is silent on the issue. No verse anywhere in the 23,000 verses of the Protestant Bible makes any claim whatsoever regarding the overall source of homosexuality. Romans 1 comes the closest, and it merely identifies homosexuality as the “sinful desires” and “shameful lusts” without one word as to whether that desire is natural or not. It does claim that homosexual relations (that is, activity) is “unnatural,” but this too makes no claim on the origin of the tendency. Also noteworthy is that scientists have yet to discover a “gay gene,” meaning that science has not yet definitively answered the question any more than the Bible has.
In the end, this debate is actually academic. Whether homosexuality is determined at birth, or by life experiences, or is consciously chosen has no more bearing on whether the Bible permits such behavior than whether it is rabbit season or duck season.
Temptation Versus Indulgence
A more crucial point is the biblical distinction between temptation and indulgence. This is a distinction entirely ignored by Travis’ article and Trey’s letter. A man who is attracted to another man’s wife is entirely innocent. It is only when he indulges that attraction – in the form of lustful thoughts or overt physical sins – that the Bible condemns him. The same applies to male-to-male attraction. The Bible never prohibits same-sex attraction, only homosexual activity (Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9). (Some may claim that the Bible has been changed to add homosexuality to such verses, but the old KJV bans not homosexual activity, but even being effeminate.)
The effects of not understanding this distinction are evident in the article. They create a false dilemma that consists of only two options: completely ignoring homosexual attraction and forcing oneself into an actively heterosexual lifestyle, or fully embracing one’s homosexuality. Needless to say, reality and the Bible allow for a third option – chastity. Indeed, even in the context of heterosexuality, Paul says that it is “good […] to stay unmarried.” Nowhere does the Bible encourage the course Trey initially took – of forcing himself into a marriage devoid of physical attraction. In fact, 1 Corinthians 7 even phrases the permissibility of heterosexual marriage (read: marriage) as a concession, not as a command.
No Christian is biblically required to marry under any circumstances. That Trey chose such a path is clear evidence of a fundamental ignorance or misunderstanding of biblical Christian doctrine. Given the near-total abandonment of the Bible in determining the “modern gospel” in its many forms, it is unsurprising that distortions like this have become commonplace. I don’t doubt that many modern “Christians” have more knowledge of the Jedi Code or the beliefs of various celebrities than they do of God’s word. Apathy leads to apostasy. Apostasy leads to distraction. Distraction… leads to Kardashians.
The (Un)importance of Identity
A consistent theme amongst pro-homosexuality “Christians” in general and this article in particular is the importance of being “true to one’s self.” Putting aside questions of whether or not that is actually what Trey is doing, we can conclude from a combination of reading the Bible and basic literacy that being “true to one’s self” should be utterly unimportant to a Christian. True, we should be honest. We should not hide our characteristics. But there is a big leap of logic from “we should be honest about who we are” to “we should embrace who we are without reservation.”
In fact, being “true to one’s self” is in many ways the exact opposite of what a Christian should be. Jesus said disciples must “deny themselves” daily (Luke 9:23). Time and again “the flesh” is referenced negatively – even being called “the sinful flesh” in Romans 8. That chapter explicitly states that “the mind governed by the flesh is death” (emphasis mine) and “hostile to God”! Put simply, the whole point of being a Christian is to deny our nature; that is, our “identity.” This has apparently never occurred to Travis or Trey.
It is sad – even disheartening – to see someone negatively affected by one combination of confusion and unbiblical teaching jump so quickly and shortsightedly to a different yet equally unbiblical lifestyle. Trey may not be jumping, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” but he is certainly jumping from the kettle into the pot.
A terminal underdose of Scripture is again evident in Trey’s subsequent actions. Towards the end of the article, Travis quietly and tacitly acknowledges that Trey has divorced his wife (or is planning to). While I agree that Trey should probably never have married the mother of his children in the first place, the Bible is pretty clear on God’s feelings on the matter. “The Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce.” (Malachi 2:16 NKJV)
Even so, the proper Christian stance in this particular scenario is perhaps a bit murky. Does Trey’s homosexuality mean that the marriage was based on false pretenses and is therefore invalid? Some may make a good case for this, but I personally cannot see how “being true to one’s self” is sufficient reason to subject one’s children to the ordeals of a broken home.
Overall, it is clear that neither Trey nor Travis have made any effort to determine what God desires. The entire article is based on human perception and opinion, without a single relevant reference to the Bible. As is too often the case in modern “Christian” theology, personal desire is all-important, the desires of the Creator irrelevant. Self-denial is outdated, and self-indulgence paramount. As long as that is the approach we take, we will never be Christians, no matter what songs we sing. That is not obeying God’s command, and therefore it is not “loving God.” (1 John 5:3)
As always, I welcome any criticisms or disagreements in the form of comments, messages, emails, or smoke signals. But be advised that (a) I may ignore or remove profanity or ad hominem attacks, and (b) the First Amendment does not in any way prevent me from doing this.