On March 16, 2021, the media was full of articles about Pope Francis stating that “homosexual unions are not similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” The Vatican said, “God can not bless sin” further confusing the media. In a 2019 interview for the documentary Francesco, Pope Francis made a public endorsement of same-sex civil unions and said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.” These statements have led to confusion concerning Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues.
We cannot speak for the Catholic Church or Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues, but we suggest that the problem is very complex and that the Vatican, as one priest at John Carroll University put it, “is trying to thread a needle” on this issue. The Pope stated, “What we have to have is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered.” Later the Pope said they are legally covered but not church-sanctioned.
Several facts make this issue difficult. One is that most gays did not choose to have homosexual tendencies. Why they do is related to a great extent to the acts of others. The breakdown of the family, abuse, chemical difficulties, and peer pressure are just a few of the contributors to same-sex pressures. It is becoming more and more evident that multiple causes are leading to LGBTQ behavior.
Another problem is that for many LGBTQ participants, the things necessary to maintain that lifestyle are very difficult. They may have to take hormone therapy for the rest of their lives, causing side effects and a shortened life expectancy. Some STDs are more readily transmitted in homosexual acts than in heterosexual acts.
In a free society, people can choose their sexual identity, but that creates complications. People born male who choose to be transgender females by surgery and drugs or merely by identifying as females have a huge advantage in sports. Should LGBTQ participants be allowed to adopt children or to have children conceived in a science laboratory? The Pope has said that the Catholic Church can bless people who live in “fidelity,” which apparently includes same-sex unions.
The Bible speaks strongly against same-sex unions, although some religious leaders have danced around those biblical statements. God’s plan for marriage and family remains the same. The Pope’s statement that “homosexual unions are not similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” is consistent with the biblical position.
We suggest that LGBTQ participants have the right to practice their beliefs without abuse, but the Church cannot sanction sexual relationships that the Bible strongly condemns. It seems to us that this is the point of Pope Francis on LGBTQ issues. If that is the case, we would agree with that position. We also recommend reading the book Caring Beyond the Margins by Guy Hammond, a man who has struggled with same-sex attraction. You can read our review of that book HERE.
No matter who you are or what your situation in life, dealing with gender identity and lifestyles in the 21st century is a challenge.Christians have a special difficulty because the Bible is quite clear on the topic. Genesis 1:24 states that a man should “leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Romans 1:24-32 describes in very negative terms those who “dishonor their own bodies between themselves.” Verses 26-27 leave no doubt that the passage is describing homosexual acts.
The problem is that humans don’t follow God’s teachings, and that leads to difficult choices. David’s sin with Bathsheba led to murder and massive family problems for David. Saul’s failure to obey God led to the loss of his kingship and to his death. We frequently create our own problems by disobeying God, and then we struggle to undo the consequences of our misconduct.
God’s plan for every human was to be conceived and raised in a home that was dominated by a loving father and mother. This is still the ideal, and it is the way to avoid many of the problems we see in our world today. But many children are born to and raised by a less than ideal set of parents. One consequence of this is that they have self-image problems and struggle with gender identity and lifestyles and their role in the world. In addition to that, many children are abused, causing them major psychological issues. As our world turns away from God and rejects biblical teachings, children are being taught things that conflict with God’s word and with common sense.
Christians must approach gender identity and lifestyles like any other behavioral issue. We must respect and be kind to everyone. We can love the person without loving everything about them. From personal experience, I can tell you that a homosexual couple living next door is much less of a problem than an alcoholic living next door. Sharing the love of Christ with others by serving them is the one sure way to build bridges of hope and faith.
The January 2020 issue of Scientific American (page 10) carried an editorial titled “Time’s Up for ‘Anti-Gay Therapy.’” The article gives data on the destructive nature of attempted conversion therapy. It cites a study by the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, showing that 42% of young people who received conversion therapy attempted suicide. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have stated that conversion therapy is useless and harmful. Much of the Scientific American editorial blames Christianity as the source of much of the destructive actions caused by conversion therapy.
It is essential to understand that no one knows all the causes of LGBTQ behavior, and in reality, there is no single cause. Some young people exhibit gay behavior as a rebellion against their parents or the Church. There is no question that abuse figures into a person’s sexual choices and behavior in some cases. In today’s society, nearly everyone has a family member or close friend who is struggling with their sexual identity. No Christian wants to hurt anyone or be a cause of pain of any kind to our fellow human beings, much less to cause someone to attempt suicide. All Christians should reject the violent and abusive techniques of conversion therapy programs cited in the Scientific American editorial.
Christians and non-Christians need to understand the issues and work together to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone. We have pointed out studies that show that many LGBTQ behaviors are unhealthy. Life expectancies of people practicing many of those behaviors are very low, and some require constant treatments with harsh drugs for a person’s entire life.
We all need to understand that there is a difference between same-sex attraction and overt gay behavior. Data concerning the demographics of STDs show clearly a higher incidence of those diseases in the LGBTQ community. We have referenced Guy Hammond’s book Caring Beyond the Margins as a good perspective on same-sex attraction without destructive gay behavior. You can read our review of that book HERE.
The Bible has much to say about heterosexual behavior and how God wants us to express our sexual desires. Counselors regularly deal with heterosexual conduct involving abstinence and self-control. There have also been past abusive practices in counseling people with heterosexual problems, including shock therapy, chemical therapies, and forced hormonal treatments. We need to work together to help everyone live as God has called us to live, and forced abusive treatment is not a way to do that. Living out God’s plan will lead to longer and more stable lives.
Perhaps the most inflammatory issue of our day is the question of homosexuality. The reason this becomes a religious issue is that the Bible is quite clear that homosexual behavior is not acceptable to God. Passages like Romans 1:24-28 are hard to misunderstand.
Our local mayor, who lives a homosexual lifestyle, campaigned to become President of the United States. He stated, “God made me that way (gay).” I have many gay friends who are adamant that they did not choose to be gay. I do not claim to have all the answers to this explosive issue, but there are some facts and some misunderstandings from people on all sides of the issue.
It is essential to remember that Christians must love and have compassion for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation. The vitriolic treatment of homosexuals by some in the Christian community is not only uncalled for, but it is also sinful.
It is also important to realize that LGBTQ individuals are not a personal threat to you. The drug abuser is. For many years we had two neighbors who were a homosexual couple. We had another neighbor who was an alcoholic. The homosexual couple were good neighbors. They respected us and our children as well as our privacy and our property. The alcoholic damaged our property, threatened my children, and refused to help or even allow good things to be done in the neighborhood. You are much better off if your neighbors are gay than if they are drug abusers.
The theme of many gay pride parades has been “born this way,” and the question science has been wrestling with for at least 50 years is whether that is true. Is being “gay” not something that can be chosen or changed? Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, has written a book titled Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences. The book reviews hundreds of scientific studies on sex and the brain conducted over the last 13 years. Her conclusion is that biology matters, but it is not the whole story.
The Bible makes it clear that God created man and woman with purpose and with definite roles. Romans 1:24-27 indicates that it was humans who changed “the natural use into that which is against nature” (verse 26). People have misused just about everything God has given us.
Dr. Sari van Anders at the University of Michigan says, “The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed, and unreplicated findings.” The data shows that there is no “gay gene” that causes a person to be a homosexual. A combination of genetic characteristics, the hormone pollution in our environment, and the effects produced by experiences in early childhood are all part of our sexual orientation and how we act on it. We are not all born with the same genetic factors, we don’t all have the same libido, and we have not had the same experiences in our first twelve years of life. There is much more to it than just being “born this way.”
Atheists and skeptics have accused the Bible and Christians in general of being homophobic. This accusation is inaccurate and actually the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Jesus and the Apostles taught very clearly that Christians are to take care of everyone, and no passage says to avoid taking care of the homosexual. We are to love our enemy, do good to those who are opposed to us, and never return evil for evil. (See Matthew 5-7.) By the same token, Christians are obligated to oppose all forces that bring evil, pain, and suffering to others.
Last September the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on the spread of HIV and AIDS in the United States. The report made it very clear that homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle, but that material was largely ignored by the media. Here are some facts from the CDC:
1) Gay men are 2% of the population, 55% of all HIV cases, and 67% of all new cases of HIV.
2) Gay and bisexual men ages 13 to 24 accounted for 92% of the new HIV cases and 27% of new diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men.
3) Gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% (29,418) of the new HIV diagnoses among males aged 13 or older and 67% of the total estimated new cases in the United States.
4) Gay and bisexual men accounted for 54% (11,277) of the cases of people diagnosed with AIDS.
5) One in six gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.