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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Did Jesus say that some are born gay?

A web page, from Whosoever, "an online magazine for GLBT Christians" has this title: "Jesus said some are born gay."

That was news to me, but worth consideration. I wish to muse about that web page.

Why would being born homosexual matter? Here's what the page says:
Some Christians confidently assert that God did not create homosexual people "that way." This is important because they realize if God did create gays "that way," rejecting them would be tantamount to rejecting God’s work in creation.

Those are two interesting sentences, and there's some mushy thinking in them, or mushy thinking is assumed to take place in others. I think that what the first sentence means is not that some Christians claim that God did not create homosexuals, but that some Christians claim that no one is born homosexual, but homosexuals become such by their own choice. And, presumably, they can choose to stop being homosexual. Some Christians do claim that. They are at least partly wrong. Some homosexuals are born with such tendencies, and cannot change that.

Did God create homosexuals? Did God create NBA power forwards, kleptomaniacs, people with perfect pitch, or people with Tourette syndrome? Well, yes and no. God created humans, and humans are born with various physical or mental gifts or characteristics, including some that are clearly inherited, and others that can be developed with exposure to certain environmental factors, such as being raised in a musical household. Most of our characteristics are influenced by both heredity and environment. It is possible that God specially created zygotes, or sperms and eggs, so that they would lead to a person with perfect pitch, or a person who was prone to alcoholism, but most people don't really believe that. They believe, rather, that God allows such things to happen, whether usually perceived as good or ill.

If Christians reject hereditary influences on sexual preference, they are, most likely, wrong. It's a complex and controversial subject, but the preponderance of evidence seems to be that both hereditary and environmental factors influence sexual orientation. It would be surprising if they didn't.

Now, as to "rejecting them would be tantamount to rejecting God's work in creation." Well, some Christians may believe that way, but it is certainly not necessary to do so. We live in a fallen world. Most Christians, I suppose, would believe that cancer was not part of God's original creation, but is now present because of The Fall. Chemotherapy, using sunscreen, or abstaining from tobacco products, is not rejecting God's work in creation, but taking caution in a fallen world. It is possible that some homosexuals are born that way, because we live in a fallen world, just as some babies are born with various kinds of physical and mental challenges. Stating that some people are born with homosexual orientation is not rejecting God's work in creation, any more than allowing that the fact that some mosquitoes carry malaria is a rejection of God's work in creation.

The web page makes an important claim. That claim is about this passage:
Matthew 19: 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9  I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to him, “If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.”
11 But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given.12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it. (World English Bible, public domain)

The claim is that "eunuchs who were born that way . . ." refers to homosexuals. Well, maybe. The only other use of the word, eunuch, in the New Testament is in Acts 8, the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch. There is no indication as to how this man became a eunuch. There is reference to eunuchs in a few places in the Old Testament. They include Deuteronomy 23:1 He who is emasculated by crushing or cutting shall not enter into Yahweh’s assembly.
Isaiah 56 3b Do not let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For Yahweh says, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
and choose the things that please me,
and hold fast to my covenant:
5 I will give them in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters.
I will give them an everlasting name, that will not be cut off. 

Jeremiah 52:25 and out of the city he took an officer who was set over the men of war; and seven men of those who saw the king’s face, who were found in the city; and the scribe of the captain of the army, who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the middle of the city. (The word, "officer," is rendered as eunuch in other translations. See here for a Bible dictionary article which discusses "eunuch" rather thoroughly, including the connection between eunuch and officer.)
The references in the Bible indicate that eunuchs were made so by an operation, or possibly by an accident. Occasionally, a man may have been born with no testicles, or with greatly reduced sexual capacity, and that that is most likely what Jesus was really speaking about.

However, even assuming that the web page is correct, which is a dubious claim, so what? The passage in Matthew, quoted above, seems to be about sexual abstinence, anyway.

Here is a link to five Bible dictionary articles about eunuch, including the one mentioned above. None of them support the idea that Jesus was talking about homosexuals in Matthew 19:12.

The first paragraph of this post, by me, a previous discussion of homosexuality, lists all the Biblical references to it, with links to those scriptures. There are eight of them. All of them refer to homosexual activity negatively. (None of them refer explicitly to homosexual orientation, as opposed to homosexual activity.)

A Wikipedia article on Homosexuality and Judaism also indicates that, although there are differences of opinion, most Jewish theologians believe that homosexual activity is sinful, but that homosexual orientation is not.

I conclude with a quotation from my wider discussion of homosexuality: "God is not ever unfair. He may demand more of some than others, in certain aspects of their lives. All of us are born with tendencies that we must control in order to live Christian lives. It isn't just homosexuals that are called to life-long celibacy -- some heterosexuals are. All heterosexuals are, until they are married."

Thanks for reading.

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