Science in Christian Perspective
Department of Psychiatry
The University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E OW3
From: JASA 29 (June 1977): 109-110.
We should commend Campion and Barrow for their courageous attempt to bring before Christian and the scientific communities a subject we have all been running away from. They make several valuable points.
First they condemn the casual and irresponsible labeling of young men and women as homosexuals who may have experienced an erotic encounter or who experience erotic thoughts toward bodies of members of their own sex. Again, they rightly point out that homosexual behaviour ranges from occasional homosexual encounters to an exclusive homosexual life style. I agree wholeheartedly with their view that homosexuality should be defined (both scientifically and biblical) as conduct rather than condition. They should also b e warmly commended in coming right out and calling homosexual behaviour sin, while at the same time pleading for compassion and help for the sinner.
In other sections of their article they seem to be less well informed and to underestimate the problem. 1 agree with them that Holy Scriptures must be our guide. But the Bible says nothing either about the etiology of homosexuality, or about its "treatment." This is understandable, for a sinful act is still sinful whatever the psychological causes leading up to it. And sin calls for forgiveness, not "treatment."
I am also unhappy about the Campion and Barrow attempt to deal with etiology. To say that the idea that "homosexuals are created" (I presume they must mean born) homosexuals is a myth" may or may not be true. Many of the older physiological theories have long since been discarded but modem research still comes up with new genetic evidence. I would prefer to say that genetic transmission of homosexuality is unproven.
To say that environmental factors account entirely for homosexuality is again a commonly held but unproven viewpoint. Both behaviourists and analysts would agree with the view-but neither of them (analysts or behaviourists) has demonstrated satisfactory evidence for their hypothesis.
The issue is important since the authors base their suggestions about preventing homosexuality on ideas which are neither biblical nor scientific, and which may add to the distress of already guilt-ridden parents.
I also am unhappy about what I feel is a superficial understanding of the gravity of the problem. While many male homosexuals behave in the way described in the opening paragraphs, I have encountered others (both male and female) whose search is not for eroticism, but for intimacy and companionship, and while their chances of finding it are not nearly so good as it is for those of us who enjoy heterosexual marriage, homosexual love (as distinct from homosexual eroticism) is a real and profound emotion. Many of the suicidal patients I treat are persons who have been abandoned by a homosexual lover. Many (men as well as women) weep heartbrokenly in my office over a sense of isolation or abandonment.
The word "healing" in the article is not defined. Does healing mean a change to heterosexual urges and feelings? Or does it mean peace with God and a willingness to accept life as a single person?
Among the many men and women practicing onenight-stand homosexuality a good number find it
I am unhappy about what I feel is a superficial understanding of the gravity of the problem.
Others find it extremely difficult (and I refer now to born again homosexuals) either to have a warm relationship with, or an erotic relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Regenerated or not, they react with fear and revulsion to the very idea, and while I agree that the Holy Spirit through prayerful loving counsel will sometimes change such a situation, there are times when these unhappy people must adopt sexual abstinence.
After all, a man who is sexually intimate with a different woman every night is morally no different from a one-night-stand homosexual. He can and should be told to flee temptation and to quit his promiscuity. A homosexual can be given the same advice.
My final concern is the unrealistic advice to potential parents of homosexuals. In my experience, by the time parents wake up to inappropriate parental behaviour, these children are already too far along the road of homosexuality for the advice to help. Let us by all means teach parents to be good parents, but having had long experience in this too, I question whether we will thereby cut down-children's vulnerability to homosexual behaviour,
I warmly commend the authors' comments on discipling homosexuals. There is a tremendous need for such men and women to be brought back also into what should be the healing fellowship of the church. I have one caution on the idea of ex-homosexuals helping newly converted ones. The comparison with A.A. is valid. But it should be remembered that A.A. can reach only 5% of alcoholics, and that while the contribution of a sober alcoholic cannot be overemphasized, there are some alcoholics who respond better to non-alcoholics.