The Sides of the Homosexuality Debate
By way of introduction to some more posts about the homosexuality debate, it’s time for a strictly definitional post. When talking about how Christians respond to questions of homosexuality, there are three basic positions.
According to those of Side A, God blesses LGBT union as much as any male-female union. Both the state and the church should thus do likewise. Homosexuality is not a sin, neither in behaviour or in orientation, and in fact many would say it should even be celebrated as an example of some of the beautiful diversity that God has gifted this earth with. This is a position more likely to be encountered in the Protestant mainline but there are still many Pentecostals, Catholics, and even evangelicals who fall in this category even if the official statements of their denomination do not.
The main distinction for Side B is that of behaviour vs orientation. They acknowledge the frequently-supported scientific stance that orientation is at least partly (probably mostly) natural and there’s nothing that can be done about it, but the options are basically to be celibate or to have heterosexual relationships anyway. I’ve often heard the analogy to alcoholism: it is true that certain genes lead to a greater susceptibility to alcoholism, but that doesn’t mean that you have to become an alcoholic, just that it is a particular battle you’ll have to fight. Some in this stream of thought would still happily marry the opposite gender because while sexual attraction is a big thing for marriage, it isn’t the only thing and they still make it work. Ideally they would still support gays and lesbians being able to come out without any fear, and from my own experience most are not homophobic but they do often have to struggle with awkwardness.
For Side X, homosexuality is not natural, or if it is then it is natural in the same sense as a genetic disease, and even the attractions are things that need to be stopped through “healing.” I think you see this a lot more in the States, where it is also tied with a political issue. You’ll hear straight-up denials of the fact that there is at least some natural element in orientation. You’ll hear about “the gay agenda” which makes me want to cry a bit every time I hear that said, because it is always used as if gays and lesbians want to destroy all of American society. I personally am not sure I’ve actually met any Side X’ers, which is largely why I don’t feel bad trashing the position.
To me the legitimate debate for the Christian is between Side A and Side B. Side X is usually downright hateful, keeping people out of their churches unless they get “healed,” and even then those who were “healed” usually continue to feel treated like outcasts. This side usually directly defies repeatedly-reinforced scientific findings, and as a Cognitive Science alumnus it bugs me when people directly deny neuroscience findings. It also usually (not always) gets highly political, defending the State against “the gay agenda,” which is exactly the type of situation where we need separation of church and state in my opinion. It is one thing to advise a Christian what you think God thinks of it and quite another to deny legal rights. In general I find that Side X has more often than not lost sight of a Jesus ethic.