A Pastoral Response to Same Sex Marriage – Part 3
By Rev. John H. Grant, D. Min., Pastor
Mt. Zion MissionaryBaptist Church of Asheville, NC
According to the scholarly National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (“NARTH”):
Although many people have been misled to believe that homosexuality is biologically based and therefore unchangeable, researchers acknowledge that people are not simply born homosexual. Researchers have never found a biological basis for homosexuality (APA, 2008). Anyone familiar with the research knows clearly that many factors contribute for sexual orientation. There are many pathways into and out of homosexuality.
There is disturbing scientific evidence/proofs, even from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, of the harmful effects of this “sex-style” on the individuals who practice it and upon the larger society. Not long ago in a letter to the editor of our local newspaper (Asheville Citizen-Times), I raised the question of why the indisputable public health consequences of men who have sex with men (MSM) are not being more widely debated and disseminated in the mainstream media. The CDC reports that “Gay and bisexual men is the only risk group in the U.S. in which the annual number of new HIV infections is increasing.”
•MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year (53%, or an estimated 28,700 infections).
•While CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4 percent of the U.S. male population aged 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the U.S. is more than 44 times that of other men (range: 522–989 per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men). (http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/fastfacts-msm-final508comp.pdf)
Other researchers report that the HIV-positive rate for homosexual men is as high as fifty-times more likely than for heterosexual men. The CDC also reports that MSM are at “elevated risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.” Studies also show that women who identify as lesbian are at a higher risk for more gynecologic cancers and increased likelihood of bacterial vaginosis compared to heterosexual women.
It’s not ignorance and bigotry to point out these adverse health consequences. The real danger to public health is the pro-homosexual bigotry that would keep the public in ignorance about these consequences. Who is really being unloving? Those who shine the light on these troubling statistics, or those who try to prevent these statistics from becoming widely disseminated and legitimately debated? In this instance, the debate has nothing to do with the Bible or religion but with public health.
Our culture and courts are elevating a known risky sexual behavior to the level of a civil right, enshrining it into law, criminalizing dissent, prosecuting non-cooperating business owners with stiff penalties and the threat of being deprived of their businesses, reputations and livelihoods – all for advocating a view of marriage which Christians and adherents of other major world religions have universally affirmed for thousands of years. This view of marriage as between a man and woman was even advocated by President Obama just a few years ago prior to his “evolution” before the previous presidential election.
Finally, as a 1987 graduate of Erskine Theological Seminary’s doctoral program, I fully endorse and support my Alma Mater’s position on homosexuality:
We believe the Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage is sinful and therefore ultimately destructive to the parties involved. As a Christian academic community, and in light of our institutional mission, members of the Erskine community are expected to follow the teachings of scripture concerning matters of human sexuality and institutional decisions will be made in light of this position . . . Sexual relations outside of marriage or between persons of the same sex are spoken of in scripture as sin and contrary to the will of the Creator.
There are numerous compassionate, competent, credentialed scholars and theologians, as well as other persons of impeccable character, academic credentials and intelligence who do not agree with Doctors Harris and McMickle on the subjects of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In addition to those of us affiliated with the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, here are a few more noted scholars/theologians, among others, who do not agree that disagreeing with homosexual behavior is a matter of ignorance and bigotry:
•Robert Gagnon, Ph.D. (Princeton): Jesus, Scripture, and the Myth of New Knowledge Arguments about Homosexual Unions
•Michael Brown, Ph.D. (New York University ): Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality
•James DeYoung, Th.D. (Dallas Seminary), Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law
•Thomas R. Schreiner, Ph.D. (Fuller Seminary), “A New Testament Perspective on Homosexuality”
•Gordon Wenham, Ph.D. (University of London), “The Old Testament Attitude to Homosexuality”
•Jeffry Satinover, M.D. (Baker Books), “The Politics of Homosexuality”
Their disagreement, like ours, is not due to ignorance, homophobia or hatred of homosexuals, but due to a sincerely-held, well-grounded and researched conviction on the nature of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Today there is alarming and widespread animus, as well as brazen intolerance, against those of us who hold to this conviction, and there is being hurled at us a disturbing brand of anti-Christian and anti-Bible bigotry. It is high time that more of us start naming and challenging this brand of bigotry.
I say to those who disagree with our conviction about the nature of marriage that we stand where we stand respectfully, unapologetically, unequivocally and compassionately. Compassion does not require the compromise of convictions which are based on biblical truth. I welcome ongoing and respectful dialogue on this subject. We can agree to disagree without attacking each other’s character, intelligence, or theological standing.