Science in Christian Perspective
When Was the Last Time
You Hugged a Homosexual?
MICHAEL A. CAMPION
ALFRED R. BARROW
Psychologists in Practice
132 South Water Street
Decatur, Illinois 62525
by Pattison, Oakland and
The authors reply
From: JASA 29
(September 1977): 103-106.
He glanced casually at his watch and continued gazing into the oncoming headlights. It was getting late now and he had been standing there for the last 45 minutes with his thumb jutted out, seeking a ride. To some passing by, he was just another hitchhiker, but to those who knew the city and knew that this was a "Gay Strip", his intentions were more obvious. Finally, a car stopped and he sauntered over to the window and gazed in. Not much was said, but the message was clear. He got into the car and together they sped away into the night. He had found his "lover", at least for that night.
This is a common scene which is being recreated in thousands of cities and towns across the country. But this scene is not limited to city streets and lonely pick-ups, but can be seen in bars, parks, high schools, college campuses, and among the business community. Homosexuality knows no social class, no certain geographical area, nor any one gender. It is a phenomenon which has risen to a high degree of exposure and prominence in our society within the last seven years. It has, in essence, taken the country by storm, and has gained such power that it is now infiltrating the very institution which has proven to be its greatest adversary, the Christian church.
There seem to be so many differing opinions on homosexuality that we are not sure which to accept and which to reject. With the rise of the "Gay Church", the Scriptural position on homosexuality has even become blurred to some. Because of this "smokescreen of uncertainty" which the scientific and liberal theological communities have thrown up around this issue of homosexuality, we as evangelical Christians must know more than ever exactly bow and where we stand. It seems, then, that we need to do two things.
This is not, however, a love and understanding rooted in humanistic principles and presuppositions, but a love and understanding which finds its expression through the redeeming power and shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is our
opinion, that much of the failure and frustration which the homosexual finds in
attempting to change, as well as the rising acceptance of the homosexual
lifestyle, is rooted in a misunderstanding of just what the homosexual is and
why he is homosexual in light of Scripture and scientific research. It is felt
that, as evangelical Christians, the Scriptures must be our primary source of
knowledge. It is the goal of this article, then, to define the problem of
homosexuality and recommend a treatment. The article is not an attempt to
systematically present research findings with regard to the issue of
homosexuality, but rather to share our perceptions as practitioners of the basic
issues involved as well as a general treatment methodology for change.
What and Why?
What, then, is the homosexual and why is he homosexual? In determining exactly what the homosexual is, we must remember that the term homosexual is a very broad one. Basically, the homosexual is a male or female who is motivated in his adult life by a preferential erotic attraction to members of the same sex and who engages in overt sexual relations with them.
Many individuals have experienced a homosexual encounter during adolescence or when deprived of adequate heterosexual contact while others may have had occasional erotic thoughts with regard to members of their own sex. These incidents would not, in our opinion, be considered homosexual. It is most destructive to label a person "latent homosexual" because he has some thought or past behavior with regard to members of his own sex. It is our opinion that people must be actually engaged sexually over a span of time before they should be diagnosed as homosexuals.
One must be careful whom be labels or calls a homosexual, for it can prove to be detrimental, as in the case where an individual has an occasional erotic thou ht about a person of the same sex, or is impotent, frilgis., or masturbates to excess. Even within the realm of a diagnosed homosexual there is a continuum. This continuum appears to range from the occasional sexual experience to total homosexual involvement with no heterosexual orientation. The danger in labeling a person homosexual because he had some past homosexual- experience or thought, is that he may live up to that label in a self-fulfilling prophecy, or give up, thus moving him toward the other end of the continuum and increased homosexual behavior.A Choice is Required It must be noted that the Scriptures point out that homosexuality is not a condition but rather a conduct. The Bible never speaks of being a homosexual, but rather speaks of homosexual behavior. Heterosexuality is considered the natural state or condition of man. This can be seen in Romans 1:26, 27.
A choice is required. We believe a man or woman is not born a total homosexual nor is he born as a bisexual with a heterosexual and homosexual orientation being natural to him. But rather, he is born with a total heterosexual orientation and chooses to indulge in homosexual behavior.
As to the question of why a person is homosexual, there seem to be two points of view:
2. A person is homosexual because of societal conditioning and parental upbringing.
Basically, these two statements state that a person is either born a homosexual or learns to be a homosexual, which in most cases implies a choice. If one accepts the fact that there is a basic endocrine imbalance or that genetic heredity is the basic cause of homosexuality, then it removes all personal responsibility from the individual and prevents any significant psychotherapeutic treatment or spiritual awakening. On the other hand, if one accepts the social learning theory as the etiology of homosexuality, then the problem can be treated. Possible conditioning situations could include parental role reversals (weak father or overindulgent-dominant mother), cool parents, poor parental marriage relationship, or a pathologically close relationship with a parent of the same sex, all coupled with poor sex education and a basic spiritual impoverishment in the home. The social learning theory i - plies that the person is not determined by his past, but by knowing his past, be can take responsibility for his actions now and change in a favorable direction; the current research tends to offer evidence to support this.A Social Basis There appears to be little support for a genetic or hormonal cause of homosexuality in the Scriptures, which teach that the homosexual is responsible for his behavior. This appears to rule out any notable physiological cause of homosexuality. The Scriptures, however, do lean toward a social theory of homosexuality. Although Scripture does not see man as completely determined, i.e., man always being in constant response, to stimulus around him without any free will, nevertheless, our sinful environment does have an effect upon us. For this reason, some individuals win have a greater number of homosexual-determining factors going against them in their environment than will other persons. It must be remembered that if a person can be led to perceive the effects the environment has bad upon him, then he has a responsibility as a result of his free will to choose to act contrary to those negative influences. Society and Christianity especially, does not have the right, however, to reject or condemn an individual suffering from inappropriate choices resulting in homosexuality. Distorting Factors
Even though the facts concerning the state of homosexuality and its etiology lie before us, ther~ are certain factors which, nevertheless, tend to distort and muddle a clear understanding of homosexuality. In the final analysis, there seem to be four basic factors serving to distort a clear understanding of homosexuality and adding to its rise in prominence.
The first factor is a general attitude of self-indulgence in our society. Hedonism, more and more, is becoming the order of the day. Sin is momentarily pleasurable, which tends to reinforce its reoccurrence. Homosexuality is a particular sex sin which is pleasurable in that a man and woman performing sex on one's own gender find it far more stimulating than heterosexual contact. The reason for this is that individuals of the same sex have the full capacity to know what is pleasurable and therefore can perform sexual interaction at a greater degree of intensity and pleasure than could be performed by one of the opposite sex. This, by the way, is a good reason why it is inappropriate to recommend sex with the opposite sex to a homosexual as a treatment modality.
A second factor tending to distort a clear understanding of homosexuality and adding to its current upswing of popularity is the open acceptance of homosexuality as a way of life. The founding of the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 by Father Troy Perry, a gay minister, has served as a forerunner in the drive for the current popularity of homosexuality today, Since homosexuality is a moral issue, the gay church has provided society a way in which it can assuage its guilty conscience. Hence, we see the rise of such things as "Gay Pride Day," in major American cities, as well as, the ordination of gay ministers. It is interesting that the particular sin of homosexuality has a "Pride Day' when to our knowledge no one has ever suggested an "Adulterer's Pride Day."
The third basic factor is the fact that homosexuality satisfies man's basic nature of selfishness. The homosexual basically confuses lust with love and uses the homosexual relationship in most cases to satisfy his own sexual desires. Because of this there is no need to develop long-term relationships that require day-today submission and a general selflessness in giving to another person. There are, however, rare occurrences where stable relationships have developed, but this is by far the exception rather than the rule.
The fourth and probably most important factor which adds to the distortion of a clear understanding of homosexuality is the often ignored fact that homosexual behavior becomes a way of life. As one reaches adulthood, certain thought patterns and ways of living become ingrained in us; a certain lifestyle is developed. It is the experience of most that certain habits and patterns of behavior are difficult to change after a long period of time. The problem with changing particular habits and patterns of behavior is that when one tries a new behavior it's usually anxiety-producing; therefore, one tends to stay with the learned behavior even though it may be unfulfilling with regard to one's total life needs. When the homosexual has some desire to change, he finds himself in a rut that's so deep there appears to be no hope. The homosexual does not pull out of his lifestyle or pattern of behavior easily; like any other habit or pattern of behavior, there is an immense amount of effort and discipline needed to change.Basis for a Christian Stance Having reviewed some aspects of homosexuality, as well as the basic factors which distort one's view of homosexuality, it is time that we as evangelical Christians take a knowledgeable and firm stance on the issue of homosexuality. However, it is not enough just to take a stance, but rather we must reach out to the homosexual and truly minister to him. In order to do this, four points should be kept in mind concerning homosexuality. (1) The belief that homosexuality is physiological and that homosexuals are created homosexual is a myth. Homosexuality's alleged "incurability" or "constitutionality" as espoused by some in our society today is supported by neither Scripture nor solid medical evidence. It is time that the homosexual is told that he has chosen this lifestyle and that he is responsible for it.
(2) There are certain environmental factors during childhood which may predispose a person toward a homosexual orientation. However, a rson can ecome aware of these factors and being aware of them, can then choose an alternative course of behavior. Man is not determined to the extent that be has no will * Homosexuals have chosen their behavior. This again points out that the individual is responsible and that homosexuality is not a condition but rather a conduct.
(3) There can be healing. In I Corinthians 6:10 (The Living Bible), we read the following:
Don't you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives, who are idol worshipers, adulterers or homosexuals-will have no share in His Kingdom. Neither will thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, or robbers.
One must be careful whom he labels or calls a homosexual.... Even within the realm of a diagnosed homosexual there is a continuum.
Too often the homosexual reads this verse and then turns away in frustration without reading the following verse. Verse 11 goes like this:
There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins are washed away and you are set apart for God, and He has accepted you because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.
This verse boldly proclaims that there can be healing. But first, there must be a repentance, a giving up of oneself and an acknowledgement of weakness and wrongdoing. With confession, and a taming to God, there can be healing in a very supernatural way. This healing comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
(4) Be aware of attempts to modernize ethics. Many Christians have fluctuated in their stand on homosexuality for the simple reason that they fall into the trap of basing much of their knowledge on their own experience and then apply this to their interpretation of the Scripture. We forget, in doing this, that much of our experience is based on societal pressures, as well as our own sinful perceptions. Eventually, our vision becomes distorted and our truth becomes untruth. Rather, we must look to the Scriptures and apply their mandates and truth to our experience. If we do this' our vision will always remain clear and our lives will always reflect a true image of God.Prevention
The Scriptures have set up basic guidelines concerning the roles parents should take. The fathershould assume an appropriate father-figure in the home, that is, one of love and authority. He must be able to show love and affection to his children as well as tenderness, yet 'to be able to be firm and strong when the situation calls for it. Parents must look at their own marital relationship and decide if they are conducting their marriage with the appropriate godly principles. Does the wife respect her husband? Does
"When was the last time I really reached out beyond myself and cared for and tried to understand the homosexual?"
the husband love his wife and children? It is essential that there be open affection in the home and that Christ's love be the focus of the family interactions. This includes praying as a family, talking about the blessings God has given the family, and a general recognition of His role in family life. We must remember that homosexuality begins in the home. For it is out of a distortion of one's early home life that the seeds of particular sins and personal misery are planted and come to full fruition in later life.
Education is a second important preventative measure. Since our society will not, it is important that the church take an intelligent stand against the flaunting of homosexuality in our present-day society. Proper information must be provided concerning homosexuality; this includes its psychology and etiology. For too Ion homosexuality has been a hush-hush subject in le modern day Christian church and must be dealt with openly. However, this does not mean that the church, as it has in the past, should begin to "modernize its ethics", but rather we must begin dealing with the problem of homosexuality in a truly Christ-like manner.Treatment Having taken into consideration the preventative factors of homosexuality, where then should treatment of those already homosexual begin? A good starting place is with the homosexual himself. The homosexual must realize that he has a choice with regard to his homosexuality. He had to choose in various situations over a period of time to become a homosexual. The homosexual must want to change, and, therefore, must stop asking what the straight world can do for him, but rather what he can do for himself. Not only should the church and the outside secular world be given a proper understanding of homosexuality, but also the practicing homosexual must receive education as to the etiology of the problem and the current pressure of todays society with regard to the fostering of homosexuality. In essence, the homosexual mast remain aware of the fact that he can escape homosexuality and that God did not ordain him to be homosexual.
A second step in the treatment of the homosexual is the recognition that homosexuality is a sin. Until the homosexual recognizes that his homosexuality is a sin, Christ cannot heal the homosexual. He must recognize that his lifestyle and homosexual behavior patterns are no different than any other sinful aspects of one's lifestyle, but that they are, nevertheless, a sin. Christ came into the world so that we might be reconciled to God in all aspects, including our sexuality. In addition, the homosexual must understand that his sin is not any greater than any other and that God does not measure the intensity oi quality of sin, but rather sees all sin as the same. -
The third, and probably most important step in the treatment of the homosexual, is the discipling of the homosexual who has made a commitment to Christ and has chosen to turn from his homosexual lifestyle. This discipling process will many times involve a great deal of counseling as well as understanding and caring for the changed homosexual. It is not an easy road he has chosen to take once he decides to renounce his homosexual lifestyle, but rather it is a long and arduous journey back to a more fulfilling life. It is essential during this time that the homosexual be supported and cared for by members of Christ's body, the church.
Probably the most effective discipling is done by individuals who have dealt with the problem of homosexuality themselves and have subsequently received victory over their problem. The peer self-help approach to discipling of the homosexual has unique healing aspects in that judgment and condemnation many times are replaced with understanding and hope. This peer self-help approach can be seen in the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous, which has had a remarkable healing rate and ministry among the alcoholic community. In the long run, the discipling process must involve building a good self-image, learning to submit to others in love, and accepting God's forgiveness with the reality that one must still deal with the historical consequences of one's sin.Conclusion In conclusion, we must each ask ourselves, "When was the Last Time I Hugged a Homosexual?" Or, in other words, "When was the last time I really reached out beyond myself and cared for and tried to understand the homosexual?" In the long run, it is our attitudes toward the homosexual and our basic concern for his plight which will truly make the healing difference. We must see the homosexuars sin as no greater than any other sin and as no greater than our own sin. For all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but praise God we have a Redeemer through Jesus Christ and He will not fail us.
The Authors Reply
Michael A. Campion
Alfred R. Barrow
When efforts are made to comment on controversial issues, one is apt to generate controversy. We appreciate the comments of Dr. White, Dr. Pattison, and after re-reading Dr. Oakland's response, we will be starting an article entitled, "When Was the Last Time You Hugged a Seminary Professor?"
Drs. White, Pattison, and Oakland's remarks added greatly to the overall presentation, but basically, they get off the point by dealing with our article as a "scholarly work" rather than as an easy-to-read article based on personal opinion developed through observation as therapists.
Dr. White's question as to our definition of "healing" is well taken. However, we feel that the Scriptures do not necessarily point to healing as a re-directing of one's sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality. The emphasis in II Cor. 6:9-11 is upon the washing, sanctification, and justification of the individual into a new life in Christ. One does not renounce his homosexuality in the name of Christ so as to hopefully become heterosexual in his sexual orientation. This is not the ultimate motive. We feel that in some ways, heterosexuality may develop as the reformed homosexual grows into his new identity in Christ. Dr. Pattison's observations 'seem to confirm this. However, this is not always, nor does it necessarily need to be, the case.
In reference to Dr. White's concern as to our "unrealistic advice to potential parents of homosexuals", this advice was not intended to be seen as a "cure-all" but a call to action for a more thorough Christian family nucleus. We do recognize that choice of sexual orientation is ultimately the child's responsibility and no amount of "parental prevention" can be a deterrent to an act of the will.
We feel that both Drs. Pattison and White, had some difficulty in accepting our view that constitutional homosexuality is a myth. Dr. White feels that this may or may not be true. Rather, be prefers to state that "genetic transmission of homosexuality is unproven!'. Dr. Pattison states that the "scientific evidence strongly supports a psychosocial etiology for homosexuality." He goes on to state, however, that "the child is probably not born with either homosexual or heterosexual affinities, but rather the capacity for eventual sexual differentiation". In both of these views, there is an uncertainty as to the nature of man's sexuality. We agree with Dr. White that the scientific evidence is inconclusive. Dr. Pattison's statement is a Freudian viewpoint, espousing a bisexual nature of man. We feel, however, that Scripture does not necessarily see this as "natural". Homosexuality is natural only in the sense that sin is "natural" to the Adamic or fallen state of man. Scripture, we feel, strongly supports constitutional heterosexuality. The creation story, as well as Paul's statement in Romans 1:27 strongly suggest a natural inborn predisposition to heterosexuality due to the fact that we are made in God's image. We strongly feel that this issue of constitutional homosexuality is a key issue in terms of our understanding this problem and providing help for those dealing with this problem. We have known many who practice homosexual behavior who feel they are .,caught" or that this is "the way they were made". Freedom lies in the fact that they are not made this way, but rather that through help, this "habit" may be overcome. We are not ruling out scientific enterprise or research, but are encouraging it. However, we are encouraging research in this area based upon solid Christian presuppositions.
In conclusion, let us state that we are not minimizing academic excellence, but rather would like the reader to focus on the question-"When Was the Last Time You Hugged a Homosexual"?