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When talking about homosexuality discussions often seem to get a little fuzzy because the word "homosexuality" can take on a lot of different meanings. Here are a few:

  1. The attraction
  2. Acting on the attraction (including non-physical actions, such as lust)
  3. A lifestyle

As far as I know, it is a widespread belief in Western Christianity that (2) and (3) are classified as a type of sexual immorality, and are therefore sinful. However, I have occasionally encountered Christians from a more fundamentalist background who not only consider (2) and (3) to be sinful, but also say that (1) is sinful.

For those who consider (1) to be sinful, what is the Biblical basis for thinking so? And does this mean that vows of celibacy are seen as more of a band-aid fix than a complete solution (because they would only prevent (2) and (3), not (1))?

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    I like the question. Seems distinct from the others, but several of the other questions on this site about homosexuality may interest you in their answers as well. – user16825 Dec 8 '14 at 5:15
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    I've reverted this to the first revision and locked it pending resolution of the meta dispute. – wax eagle Dec 8 '14 at 19:29
  • I'm not sure what the difference between "homosexual attraction" and "lust" would even be. To me that's a bit like someone saying "sure, it's bad to covet, but what if you just want something that belongs to someone else?" – Jas 3.1 Dec 10 '14 at 19:23
  • @Jas3.1 Consider this hypothetical scenario. George is heterosexual (attracted to women more than men). Same for Jim, but Jim also collects pornographic magazines. Based on this information, would you say that George and Jim are both committing lust? Does your answer change when "heterosexual" is replaced with "homosexual?" – Ryan Dec 11 '14 at 0:09
  • @Ryan Thanks for the example. I'd personally want to clarify what is meant by "attracted to women". Most Christians would consider "attraction" to a woman who is not your spouse to be innocent and part of God's design, but I do not. At least I can follow the logic of the question now, though. – Jas 3.1 Dec 11 '14 at 0:21
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Typically, proponents of this view would say something like the attraction is an indication of sin that is already present. They do not believe the attraction is inherent within that person, but rather is the effect of other sins.

To support this they would often quote Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. ...

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. ...

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. ...

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. ... 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

When challenged that same sex attraction is an issue of psychology, not theology, they would say that these verses clearly state the root of this psychological problem. It starts as a problem within their heart. They hate the laws of God and some even hate God Himself. They desired wickedness more than God's righteousness, so God gave them over to their wickedness. Not only would they like to engage in homosexual acts, but they now have a mind that is intrinsically attracted to that sin. Conversely, opposite sex attraction is blessed and holy and is properly sought within marriage. No such thing exists for homosexuality.

Most taking this view would likely not call it a sin, per se, but it is the fruit of sin that has been prevalent since the beginning. As an imperfect analogy, many would agree that theft is a sin, but some would also say that using that stolen item is continued theft.


I'm still looking for other corroborating sources, but they are hard to come by. It is not a popular opinion and many who do hold it are usually pretty hateful about it.


St. Thomas Aquinas has an illuminating view on Romans 1:24

Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their heart [because they "worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (v. 25)], unto uncleanness: to dishonor their own bodies among themselves

Cap. 1 l. 7 discusses the causality of homosexuality:

139. But since impurity of this kind is a sin, it seems that God would not give men over to it: God himself tempts no one to evil (Jas 1:13).

The answer is that God does not give men over to impurity directly, as though inclining a man's affection toward evil, because God ordains all things to himself: the Lord has made everything for himself (Prov 16:4), whereas something is sinful through its turning from him. But he gives men over to sin indirectly, inasmuch as he justly withdraws the grace through which men are kept from sinning, just as a person would be said to cause another to fall, if he removed the ladder supporting him. In this way, one's first sin is a cause of the next, which is at the same time a punishment for the first one.

To understand this it should be noted that one sin can be the cause of another directly or indirectly: directly, inasmuch as from one sin he is inclined to another in any of three ways. In one way, when it acts as a final cause; for example, when someone from greed or envy is incited to commit murder. Second, when it acts as a material cause, as gluttony leads to lust by administering the material. Third, when it acts as a moving cause, as when many repetitions of the same sin produce a habit inclining a person to repeat the sin.

Indirectly, when the first sin merits the exclusion of grace, so that once it is removed, a man falls into another sin. In this way the first sin is the cause of the second indirectly or incidentally, inasmuch as it removes the preventative.


(translation from: Larcher, Fabian R., trans. Commentary on the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, ed. John Mortensen and Enrique Alarcón, with parallel Latin and the Greek text of the epistle. Lander, Wyo.: The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine, 2012. pp. 47-8)

In other words: He, the Author of nature, does not put same-sex attraction in human nature.

Aquinas is saying that "one's first sin" "is a cause of the next". Relative to this topic, the homosexuals' personal sins (idolatry, spite for God, etc.) made them even greater sinners (not just doers of homosexual acts, but those who long for that evil).

  • Since passions arise in the flesh, I think we could consider Romans 7:18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. – Alan Fuller Dec 10 '14 at 17:00
2

I will answer the question with reference to Jesus's teaching on how we should pray:

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

It can be noted that the prayer is not "Do not let us be tempted", but rather "Do not let us be led into temptation". Therefore Jesus is not condemning temptation itself, but what we do with temptation.

This should be a good indicator as to whether your point 1 is considered sinful or not. This teaching can be used to address all kinds of issues of the flesh that people appear to naturally have but which put them against God's will, if gratified.

Jesus also instructs us specifically to pray this prayer. Therefore, to not proactively pray against being led into temptation is foolish.

The second teaching which I find very useful is from Matthew 19:12:

For there are eunuchs who have been born incapable of marriage; and there are eunuchs who have been made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves incapable of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus affirms that some people are indeed born incapable of being able to fulfil marriage in the way that God intended. But he doesn't say that such people are given license to lust or sexual immorality, simply that they cannot put into practice the teaching of being one flesh with a spouse.

2

This one is very simple.

"..but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." -Matthew 5:28

Fornication is not only acted out in the flesh, but also in the heart. And both are equally sinful. Therefore, not only homosexual relations, but also homosexual feelings are sinful.

(Side note= before I came to Christ I was bisexual and a gay prostitute)

1

A thorough answer to this question would first require a detailed analysis of Fundamentalist literature going back to "The Fundamentals". We would be looking for articles and books that confirm that Fundamentalists did or do view homosexual attraction itself as sinful. Such an answer would be easy to find. Examples of the Fundamentalist view of homosexual attraction abound. Even a quick google search will reveal books that confirm this to be the case i.e., "Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003" (By William N. Eskridge Jr.) and "Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays"(By Bernadette C. Barton)

The second thing that a thorough answer to this question would require would be a study of the Biblical justification for such views. This is a bit trickier, because the answer to this second question will depend on who you ask. Who determines whether or not a belief is biblically justified? There are over 20,000 protestant denominations who disagree on a huge range of doctrinal and ecclesiastical issues. The reason I raise this issue is because Fundamentalists approach the Bible from a "Literal" hermeneutical perspective. By "Literal", Fundamentalists understand the Bible as something that ought to be able to be read in a straightforward way. In other words, the plain sense or obvious meaning of the words in the Bible is the intended meaning. Critics of this view would point out that such a hermeneutic is very subjective and that it is actually better described as "literalistic". To interpret the Bible "literally" is to try to determine what was the original intended meaning of the author as they were writing to their intended audience. (For a good explanation of this view see, "Fundamentalism and the Word of God" by J. I. Packer) All this to say, a Fundamentalist defence of their belief that homosexual attraction is sinful may not satisfy someone who does not share the same hermeneutical assumptions. For what it is worth, Fundamentalists see Romans 1:20-32 as referring to homosexual attraction as sinful. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (Romans 1:26 KJV) In quick response I would point out that temptation alone cannot constitute a sin. This is because Jesus was tempted many times and yet remained sinless.

Finally, a thorough answer will treat your third question regarding the "band-aid" status of celibacy by giving examples of Fundamentalist thinking on this issue. I am not aware of any writing or preaching on this issue, because quite frankly, I have never heard anyone ask this exact question. (I refer to my experience only because I grew up in a Fundamentalist church and have done some further study into what Fundamentalism is.) If I was to give it my best shot, I would say that since Fundamentalists view homosexuality as a choice (although some of the younger Fundamentalists are changing their views on this) then no band-aid is required. In their logic: If it is true that homosexuality is a choice and is a sin, and if it is true that once we are saved we are freed from the power of death and sin, then, if we are truly saved we will not be homosexuals any longer. Therefore, a person who identifies themselves as a Christian and as a homosexual is lying about one or the other. Thus, celibacy (which is expected of everyone who is not married to one member of the opposite sex) is not a bandaid. It is an expectation.

I understand that my answer is more of a description of what a good answer would look like, but I hope it helps nonetheless.

1

Opening

The question mentions Christians from a more fundamentalist background. The answer below will start from what these Christians believe since the OP does not mention to which particular group those who consider (1) to be sinful belong to.

Introduction

One of the five tenets that Fundamentalism is built upon is:

1) The Bible is literally true. Associated with this tenet is the belief that the Bible is inerrant, that is, without error and free from all contradictions. - Read more: What is Fundamentalism? | gotquestions.org.

When faced with question regarding homosexual attraction, an outsider looking in may expect the Fundamentalist to start by looking to the bible to find out what the bible says on the topic, and of course, the bible says nothing on the matter. Therefore the outsider looking in would say that the fundamentalists would be hard pressed to find a biblical argument against something that's is not in the bible.

How then do Fundamentalist address the attraction?

In one of his series Homosexuality and the Bible, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says what one would expect a Fundamentalist to say. Dr. Mohler says that the notion of homosexual “orientation” is a modern one and highly political and as a natural human condition cannot be squared with the Bible., and that the only orientation indicated by Scripture is the universal human orientation to sin.

In response to the arguments that use the modern concepts "homosexual" and "homosexuality," Dr. Mohler acknowledges that indeed, [St.] Paul and the other apostles seem completely ignorant of modern secular understandings of sexual identity and orientation — and this truth is fundamentally irrelevant. Modern notions of sexual orientation must be brought to answer to Scripture — not vice versa. Scripture must not be called upon to defend itself in light of modern notions. Paul will not apologize to Sigmund Freud or the American Psychological Association, and the faithful church must call this approach what it is — a blatant effort to subvert the authority of Scripture and to replace biblical authority with the false authority of modern secular ideologies.

For biblical support for his position, Dr. Mohler then says extensive argument against homosexuality are found in Romans 1:22-27, which he quotes and then goes on to say:

As Romans 1 makes absolutely clear, homosexuality is fundamentally an act of unbelief. As Paul writes, the wrath of God is revealed against all those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” God the Creator has implanted in all humanity a knowledge of Himself, and all are without excuse. This is the context of Paul’s explicit statements on homosexuality. Homosexual acts and homosexual desire, states Paul, are a rebellion against God’s Side - sovereign intention in creation and a gross perversion of God’s good and perfect plan for His created order.

From this we see how at least he deals with attraction, he states scripture condemns homosexuality, and homosexual acts and homosexual desire.

Therefore from a fundamentalist point of view, whatever Romans 1:22-27 condemns as regards homosexuality is the biblical basis or argument that Dr. Mohler argues condemns homosexuality, and homosexual acts and homosexual desire, after having dismissed modern secular understandings of sexual identity and orientation because even though Paul and the other apostles seem completely ignorant, this is fundamentally irrelevant. Emphasizing again what he says:

Modern notions of sexual orientation must be brought to answer to Scripture — not vice versa. Scripture must not be called upon to defend itself in light of modern notions.

Notes:

  1. The outsider would have difficulty understanding how homosexual desire made the condemned list.

  2. The outsider would note that to a Fundamentalist, sexual identity and orientation must be brought to answer to Scripture. What this means is not stated and unclear, and therefore does not address their sinfulness.

In building up his article Doctor Mohler states:

The Christian church must have a distinctive message to speak to the issue of homosexuality, because the Bible has a distinctive message. Faithfulness to Holy Scripture demands that the Church hold to the biblical witness. Anything less is a road to theological oblivion. [...] Those churches that reject the authority of Scripture will eventually succumb to cultural pressure and accommodate their understanding of homosexuality to the spirit of the age.

Therefore the outsider would conclude from these remarks that those fundamentalists who adopt modern notions and arguments no longer believe as fundamentalist should, and therefore, there cannot be a fundamentalist who considers the "attraction" following modern notion, and therefore there cannot be a fundamentalist who can term the "orientation" as sin or not sin.

Since the sinfulness of the orientation is not addressed, the other questions are not answered.



How the answer was built

Religion and homosexuality | Wikipedia identified the Southern Baptist Convention as a fundamentalist group and church.



Further reading:

  • Please remove the non-answer meta content from the top of this post. If the question is clear enough to answer in its current form, then answer it. If not then don't answer and VTC and note what clarifications are necessary. The meta talk about the question (and especially other posts) does not belong in answers. – Caleb Dec 18 '14 at 6:23
  • Does Al Mohler actually self identify as a 'fundamentalist'? As I argued about the question itself, it is a very unhelpful term to use. I think it would be better for you describe the answer you present as a Southern Baptist one. – curiousdannii Dec 19 '14 at 1:44
  • No, you didn't follow my suggestion. Wikipedia labelling is not evidence of self identification, and the label is still unhelpful and a distraction from the question! This would be a good answer if you weren't fixated on that. – curiousdannii Dec 19 '14 at 5:35
  • Following @curiousdannii's comment and explaining that Wikipedia identifies the Southern Baptist Convention as Fundamentalists. - explained my edit. Does Al Mohler actually self identify as a 'fundamentalist'? - This was a question and not a suggestion the answer to which I do not have at the moment. You may wish to assist in the research. OP used the label and not I. I will keep to myself what I make of your entire comment. – user13992 Dec 19 '14 at 6:58

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