The issue of homosexuality as it relates to Christianity is obviously one of the hot button issues in Christian theology today. It is also a topic that I have been wrestling with for some time now. I am at this point in time unable to side wholeheartedly with either of the majority positions in this debate. First of all, I am not persuaded by the common conservative position. That is not to say that conservatives get everything wrong when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. It is just that I find the homosexuality is unnatural and sinful because the bible tells me so argument to be rather superficial and far from convincing (and this is not because I reject biblical authority, which I do not). I tend to buy into most of the liberal critiques of the conservative position. However, I do not believe that these critiques provide the church with irrefutable evidence that we have been entirely wrong concerning our traditional condemnation of homosexual practice. When it comes down to it, I would be inclined to suggest that liberalism’s alternative might not be quite as progressive as those on the left usually presume.
The principle assumption that I take issue with when it comes to liberal understandings of this subject is that homosexuality is more or less neutral with regard to all matters of nature and sin. To put it another way, I have a problem with the either/or (all good and natural/all bad and unnatural) binary that exists between liberal and conservative viewpoints. I am currently leaning towards a position which would simultaneously recognize that homosexual behavior should not be universally condemned nor universally accepted (leaving the question of whether or not it is natural or not unanswered). This due to the fact that homosexual activity (as well as the promotion of it as good and natural) could potentially be employed as a means for serving both justice and injustice concurrently.
I, and I believe all serious Christians, ought to take this issue much more seriously and to think it through much more thoroughly than we have as of yet. This conviction of mine has sparked me to post this non-exhaustive list of arguments and counter-arguments that I have been tossing around in my own head while grappling with this difficult matter. These arguments in no way represent my final conclusion with regard to this issue. While many of the subsequent points are not original to me, there are points that I have not heard anyone else make. Some of these assuredly need to be investigated further by more capable scholars than me. I pray that they will be received with grace and mercy, and that they will be heard in the spirit of love and mutual edification that I intend.
1) The bible univocally condemns homosexual activity as unnatural and unclean and thus ungodly and sinful.
2) There are only a handful of texts in the entire bible that forbid homosexuality.
3) Other sin issues which are allotted substantially greater space in the pages of the bible (i.e. greed/poverty, oppression, self-righteousness) receive significantly less attention (if they are not ignored altogether, perhaps tolerated or even encouraged) in conservative circles and are contended against with far less ferocity than homosexuality typically is.
4) The placement of the OT denunciations of homosexuality within the priestly code and amongst other cultic laws relating to cleanliness and sexuality which the church has eradicated raises the question as to why the condemnations against homosexuality are still applicable today.
5) Some NT writers (not all) argue for the elimination of the cultic laws regarding cleanliness. However, certain of these same authors simultaneously uphold a few of the laws which relate to sexuality; specifically homosexuality.
6) We have no record in the bible that Jesus Himself ever condemned homosexual activity.
7) Even if Jesus believed that homosexuality was unnatural and ungodly, it is significantly relativized by His love ethic wherein He taught His disciples to unconditionally love, forgive and accept the other, the outcast and the sinner.
8) The apostle Paul, who rails against homosexuality harder than any other NT author, relativizes his own denunciation of the behavior to some extent when he uses a common second Temple era Jewish condemnation against homosexual practice as a ruse to unveil the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the chosen people; and this in order to establish his case for the inclusion of Gentile sinners within the people of God.
9) Apparently, the apostle Paul considered homosexuality to be but one facet of the universal sin problem, of which the elect people themselves partook of, participated in and even perpetuated through their self-righteous, judgmental, separatist/exclusivist approach to dealing with those whom both they and the Torah had condemned as sinners.
10) Jesus and Paul both despised sin and called all people to repentance and Godly ethics.
11) The NT does not condemn, and in fact it even upholds evil institutions such as slavery and patriarchy; the former of which the overwhelming majority of Christians today, and the latter an increasing number of Christians today, would (against the NT!) condemn as unnatural, unbiblical and ungodly. It is possible that the NT’s judgment against homosexuals should be thought of as yet another devilish tradition that the love ethic of Jesus would, over time, lead the church to transcend.
12) Modern science claims to have revealed strong connections between genetics and sexuality; insights which were not available to the ancient authors of our sacred text. If someone is born with innate homosexual attraction, it could easily be argued that it was the God who formed them in the womb who made them that way, and thus that homosexuality is both natural and good.
13) It is more or less impossible to identify with infallible accuracy how much of our behavior is guided by the nature of our genetics and how much of it is steered by the nurture of our environment.
14) Even if a person is born predisposed to perform certain behaviors due to either genetics or environment, said person is not a complete slave to those genetics or that environment. For instance, if a person is born with a deep desire for power and control and into an environment which fosters those traits, said person should still be held responsible for their unjust actions performed (even though nature and nurture should both be taken into consideration when passing judgment upon said person).
15) In the bible, sexual intercourse is deeply connected to and principally for the purpose of procreation; even though the bible does also recognize sex as a pleasurable experience.
16) Procreation was of utmost importance for the survival of the nation of Israel. It was apparently also perceived to be a threat to oppressive empires (an idea which was possibly voiced by the empire itself, but which was certainly promoted by and within the oppressed Israelite community).
17) The fact that procreation was central and crucial to Israelite self-understanding is evidenced by the fact that the Torah spins tales of God striking down a man for spilling his seed on the ground in order to prevent reproduction, the historical books record an event wherein rape and murder were sanctioned for the purposes of procreation in order that the endangered tribe of Benjamin could be salvaged, and all throughout the bible, Israelite women who were barren were regarded as accursed by God.
18) It is not much of a stretch to suggest that homosexual relationships were considered unnatural because they are incapable of reproduction and additionally that homosexuals were labeled ungodly and deemed worthy of stoning because of the fact that their semen was not being utilized in a manner which would contribute to the survival and further the cause of the nation of Israel.
19) The dissociation of sexual intercourse from procreation that occurs in many (mostly Protestant) Christian circles (i.e. supporting the use of birth control, encouraging people to have sex for pleasure rather than procreation, tolerating masturbation, etc.) significantly weakens any argument that these same Christians might submit against homosexual practice.
20) In our scientific and technological age, where babies can be created in laboratories and apart from sexual intercourse, homosexuality is much less of a hindrance to reproduction than it had been in times past. These advances have therefore to some extent rendered the biblical writers’ fear of homosexual practice superfluous.
21) If procreation can and should still be judged as a means of resistance against empire, then we need to acknowledge the fact that the wealth inequality which exists throughout the world prevents poor and oppressed peoples (those who might benefit most from procreation) from gaining access to reproductive technology. This datum would considerably relativize the importance of this technology in relation to the homosexual debate; at least as far as poor and oppressed peoples are concerned.
22) It would be unjustified to write off suspicion of homosexuality within poor and oppressed communities who value procreation as an irrational fear since it is a real possibility that the acceptance of homosexuality as natural and good within such a community could be a legitimate threat to its survival.
23) If procreation and homosexuality are each deemed natural and good, there will be an inevitable tension between endangered people groups who esteem procreation and those who treasure the rights of homosexuals. Christians will often be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. For example, is it better for the church to support the suppression of the rights of individual homosexuals within an endangered community for the sake of said community’s survival, or to contend for the rights of individual homosexuals within an endangered community even if it could potentially contribute to said community’s annihilation?
24) We live in fallen world, where the liberty of one group is typically gained at the expense of another. Until the return of Christ, no one will ever experience pure and unadulterated freedom. It is thus vital for Christians to beware of the ways in which our unwavering support for one allegedly oppressed group could be aiding in the oppression of another allegedly oppressed group. Even if we conclude that homosexuality is not inherently ungodly, we must still be aware of the fact that it is not neutral, and that both it and we can be used by the principalities and powers as instruments of oppression.
25) As an interesting concluding note, the traditional conservative position concerning the resurrection life in the new heavens and the new earth (read the ideal world) which will occur just subsequent to the return of Christ renders all matters concerned with marriage and procreation irrelevant, being that humanity, like the angels, will not participate in either act.