by Peter Saunders
read : Homosexuality (Part 2)
Facing up to real dangers
It is unwise and dishonest to ignore the fact that people living homosexual lifestyles are at greater risks of various forms of injuries than other members of the public. This is especially the case for homosexual men.
The most common high-risk sexual behavior include oral-genital contact, mutual masturbation of the penis and anus and anal intercourse. While the vagina and the muscles within a woman’s pelvis are well-designed for sexual intercourse, this is not the case for the anatomy of the anus and rectum. Anal sex can lead to ulcers, inflammation, tearing of the muscles around the anus, and disruption in the rectum. This can cause incontinence and increase the risk of getting an infection.
Consequently male homosexuals have a much higher incidence of sexually-related disease, regardless of whether or not condoms are used. These include syphilis, shigella, salmonella, amoebiasis, giardiasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, campylobacter, and scabies and viral infections such as, herpes, hepatitis A and B and HIV.(23) Many sexually transmitted infection agents, including human papapiollomavirus, are also strongly linked to anal cancer.(24) Consistently using condoms can reduce the risk, but condoms do not protect against physical damage.
Recreational drug use is one factor responsible for the epidemic of sexually transmitted disease, and substance misuse appears to be higher among homosexual men than in a comparable heterosexual male group.(25)
Members of the gay community often say that these differences in behavior are simply a response to discrimination by society against homosexuals in general, but much of this evidence comes from communities where homosexual behavior is readily accepted.
Multiple partners, unsafe sexual practices and substance abuse are more common in homosexuals, and leave homosexuals at risk of psychiatric condition.(26)
Suicidal tendencies also increase in gay and lesbian young people.(27) Male homosexuals are three times more likely to have seriously contemplated or attempted suicide, and are twelve times more likely to have had a major depressive disorder than their heterosexual counterparts.(23)
Biblical principles to follow
Over the last two decades the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has argued that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love a person of the same sex but also to express that love sexually.(28) Most Christian, however, believe that the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct must be God’s word. The LGCM view of homosexuality actually goes against the teaching of the Bible.
Throughout Scripture, sexual intercourse is seen as a gift from God to be enjoyed, but only in the context of a lifelong heterosexual marriage relationship. Man and woman become ‘one flesh’.(29) The seriousness with which God views sexual behavior outside marriage is dramatically illustrated in the Old Testament. Adultery resulted in the death penalty for both partners.(30) Those who took part in premarital sex were obliged to marry, but if loss of virginity was discovered in a woman by her husband at the time of marriage she was also stoned to death.(31)
Old Testament verses give specific directives: ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable'(32) and ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of have done what is detestable. They must be put to death’.(33) Homosexual practice is one of the reasons given for the destruction of Sodom.(34)
The severity of Old Testament penalties may surprise us, and Jesus death paying the price for all sins now makes them redundant. They do, however, serve to remind us of two things. God has the right both to tell us how we ought to live and to call us to account for the way we do.
New Testament teaching is even more demanding, as it shows us the true spirit of Old Testament Law. Jesus explains that not only is sexual intercourse outside marriage wrong, but even impure thoughts are sin.(35) The prohibitions against adultery and premarital sex are upheld and homosexual behavior is specifically ruled out on three occasions.(36)
Practical Christian responses
Christian who recognise that they have a homosexual orientation are more susceptible to temptation in this area than are others. This cannot however be used as an excuse for homosexual acts, which the Bible says are wrong. There is a difference between temptation and sin.
The way of escape is to recognise that Jesus, who was ‘tempted in every way just as we are’, lives in them by his Spirit. All Christians are promised his strength to endure temptation. All temptation can be resisted (37) and if we do fall we have the confidence that if we confess our sin he will forgive us and cleanse us.(38) This cannot, of course, be used as an excuse for continuing in sin.
Christians with a heterosexual orientation need to be patient and understanding towards Christians who don’t. While urging them to refrain from homosexual acts they need also to be forgiving.(39) They must also watch themselves, knowing that God views any sexual sin (even lust) as equally wrong.
Christians must not victimise or abuse non-Christians who are practising homosexuals, but instead seek to understand them and treat them with love and respect, while not affirming their lifestyle choices.
To the gay rights lobby, when Christians of homosexual orientation resist the temptation to take part in a homosexual acts, they are ‘living a lie’. But from a biblical perspective they are exhibiting spiritual self-control.
Many believe that sexual orientation is as unchangeable as eye colour or handedness. But one five year follow up of sixty-seven exclusively homosexual men and women, reported that 65% changed their sexual orientation after behaviour therapy.(40) Change happens most readily when there is a desire to change, a belief that change is possible and an environment of love and acceptance.
A Christian has the power of the Holy Spirit working in his or her life, making the possibility of change greater. However, change does not always occur. Ongoing temptation may have to be lived with and celibacy may be the only option. A person doesn’t have to have sexual intercourse to be fully human. Jesus lived the most fully human life and yet never married nor had sex, and the Apostle Paul commends the single life as one of high calling for a Christian, freeing him (or her) to serve God in a special way.(41)
Christ’s model for living
There is no better model for a Christian response than when Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery, but told her not to sin again.(42) Christians must avoid hypocrisy and recognise that all people face sexual temptations. Indeed, most people sin sexually, at least in their minds if not in action, so we must not judge or condemn. Christians should explain the biblical position, warn of the dangers of a homosexual lifestyle, and offer support and encouragement to change. Their efforts may be rejected, but this does not lessen the obligations.
Christian initiatives in this area, such as the True Freedom Trust (43), which seeks to help Christians with homosexual orientation, or Aids Care Education and Training (44), which provides compassionate care for AIDS sufferers, are good examples of what can be done.
23. Schmidt T. Straight and narrow? Compassion and clarity in the homosexuality debate. IVP, 1995. Ch6.
24. Frisch M et al. NEJM, 1997;337:1350-1358.
25. Myers T. Brit J Addiction, 1992; 87:207-214.
26. Sandfort TG et al. Arch Gen Psych, 2001; 58:85-91.
27. Fergusson DM. Arch Gen Psych, 1999;56:876-880.
29. Genesis 2:24
30. Deuteronomy 22:22
31. Deuteronomy 22:20-21
32. Leviticus 18:22
33. Leviticus 20:13
34. Genesis 19:1-29
35. Matthew 5:27-28
36. Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-11
37. 1 Corinthians 10:13
38. 1 John 1:9
39. Luke 1:3
40. Masters WH & Johnson VE. ‘Homosexuality in perspective’ Little, Brown and Co. 1979
41. 1 Corinthians 7:22-35
42. John 8:2-11
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) Files No. 20, 2003