I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays. . . . But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.1
A little more than 40 years after Bloody Sunday, I found myself sitting in an Indianapolis city council meeting. It was December 19, 2005. Tension was thick in the air, just as it had been on that fateful Alabama day. Male and female, young and old, parents and children, educators and students, black and white occupied every seat in the room; others stood with their backs against the wall. Local media cameras were rolling. Law enforcement stood guard. Facial expressions spoke as clearly as the words that resounded from one determined voice after another. Confusion, contemplation, sympathy, determination, discussion, and prayer were clearly communicated as each side stated their case.
Familiar words were being spoken back and forth: freedom, rights, discrimination, hatred. . . . The name of God was being used by both sides to bolster their case. I felt I had been here before, that I was hearing it all again. The words used were not unlike those that were used in the courtroom the day Rosa Parks was arrested for not yielding her seat to a white man at the front of a segregated bus. (Most historians agree that Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience is what began the entire civil rights movement.)
But this was not a case of race-based discrimination. The issue being debated that day had to do with sexual preference. The city council was hearing final statements of support and opposition on Proposal 622. Proposal 622 recommended adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the human rights ordinance. This was an effort “to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.”2 The proposal defined the terms as:
Gender identity means an individual having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity, self-image, appearance, expression or behavior different from those characteristics traditionally associated with the individual’s assigned sex at birth. Sexual orientation means an individual’s actual or perceived identity or practice as a lesbian woman, gay male, bisexual person or heterosexual person.3
The proposal passed by a 15 to 14 vote. The gavel fell.
I walked away feeling that the civil rights bus had just been hijacked.
Hijacking the Bus
Homosexual activists, as part of their strategy to change laws and gain social acceptance, are strategically drawing parallels between the African American civil rights movement and their own agenda to promote gay rights. Certainly, there are some similarities. We’ll take an honest look at those. But there are vast foundational differences between these two movements . . . and surprisingly, Darwinian thinking emerges at almost every level.
Early in my journey into diversity I recognized the need to establish my views upon sound biblical interpretation. Without a biblical foundation, it was evident to me that there would be no rational distinction between immoral and moral behavior within the diversity debate. Observation and personal experience motivated me to write my first book, Prejudice and the People of God,4 to argue from the Bible for biblical diversity with moral discernment.
In this appendix, we will look at some of the similarities between the civil rights movement and the homosexual agenda through the lens of the Bible. We will consider what Scripture has to say and then make critical distinctions between the two movements—all while searching our own hearts to check the purity of our motives as we deal with the homosexual community and gay individuals.
Has the civil rights bus been hijacked? Let’s find out.
Parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the Homosexual Agenda
The Desire to Be Accepted
The homosexual agenda is extending its tentacles throughout the United States’ culture via media, entertainment, education, and the political system. Openly gay TV show hosts like Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres humor our nation with endorsements for same-sex relationships. Syndicated television shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy use humor to gain the nation’s support, movies like Brokeback Mountain use sympathy tactics to affirm same-sex relationships.
The homosexual community is trying to establish its “rights” in our present society. Just like those from any ethnic group, or any other individual on the planet, they seek to be accepted, loved, affirmed, and to be treated with equality.
Abuse and Discrimination
Both African-Americans and gays, lesbians, transsexuals, and bisexuals have been targeted by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Both groups have experienced hatred and violence. Both have experienced public outrage and disapproval. Both have been denied public housing and jobs. Marriages between African Americans and whites were illegal until 1967 as are same-sex marriages today. Both are fighting educational and legal battles for inclusion.
A person’s skin color and ethnicity is given to them at birth, rather than by a choice of their own; it is determined. Most homosexuals feel the same way. They feel that their sexual preference is not of their choice. Believe it or not, these beliefs have their roots in Darwin’s garden. If evolution is true, then human beings are nothing more than a massive compilation of cells which have evolved by natural forces and over millions of years. We are simply a product of genetics and the pressures of our natural environment. This is called “natural determinism.” It simply means that we have no choices. Our desires, choices, and destiny have all been caused by influences outside of our control. We are just a clump of cells driven by natural forces and our own internal hormones. At this point we get the “I can’t help it; it’s just the way I am” argument. (Some inject God into this equation, and say, “I can’t help it; it’s just the way God made me.”)
The Abuse of Scripture
In the past, Scripture was misinterpreted concerning the status of African Americans and interracial marriage. Today, many homosexuals claim that the Bible is being misused when someone uses it to teach that homosexuality is morally wrong. During the December 2005 Indianapolis city council meeting, a local minister, Mr. Miner, publicly challenged me by stating that God would hold me responsible for what I taught my people. Miner stated that I knew that the Bible had nothing negative to say about homosexuality! Mr. Miner boasts of a 15-year monogamous relationship with his partner and says the Jesus Metropolitan Church where he serves as senior pastor has the largest homosexual membership of any church in the state of Indiana. Mr. Miner and two other colleagues defended their position of the Bible’s acceptance of homosexuality during a forum entitled Homosexuality, Civil Rights, and the Church.5
Miner represents a number of churches who are advocating that Christianity accepts the homosexual lifestyle, and they claim to use the Bible to support their stand. The Rev. Dr. Jim Wolfe states, “When you hear it is wrong to be ‘gay’ or that the Bible condemns ‘homosexuals,’ it is clear that you are getting a message from your culture and that the Bible is being misused to conform to cultural beliefs.”6
Since the Bible was misused to condone the legalized oppression and discrimination of African Americans, is this not identical to those who oppose homosexuality today on biblical grounds? This is a legitimate question. But not only is this a legitimate question, this is the central question of the whole debate. It’s a question of the Bible. Is the Bible God’s Word? And if so, what does it say?
What the Bible Says
Homosexuality is unnatural. It is contrary to the Creator’s design of male and female, which is a natural fit. Homosexuals cannot naturally give birth to children. God clearly sees homosexual activity as symptomatic of living by one’s desire rather than the Creator’s design (Romans 1:25–27).
Homosexuality is consistently considered morally wrong throughout the Bible. Genesis 19 (Sodom and Gomorrah), Leviticus 18 and 20, Romans 1, and 1 Corinthians 6 argue consistently and clearly that homosexuality is morally wrong.
Attempts to distort the obvious teaching of the Bible by imposing speculations are unacceptable. Some speculate that biblical male friendships (such as Jonathan and David) are biblical examples of homosexual relationships. That is ludicrous. Some people who claim that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality assert that texts like Genesis 19 and Romans 1 are speaking of activities like gang rape or promiscuous lifestyles. In their minds, these Scriptures do not address loving, monogamous homosexual relationships. That’s just not true. The Jude 7 reference to Sodom and Gomorrah (using the words “strange flesh”) speaks to the truth of homosexual activity. The description in Romans 1:26–27 could not be more clear:
Therefore God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own person the due penalty of their error.
Furthermore, the Romans 1 passage refers back to truth
from heaven (
These and other speculative arguments are refuted in The Bible, The Church and Homosexuality: Exposing “Gay” Theology. For a very thorough treatment of these speculations, Robert A.J. Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics is a definitive work on the clear and consistent biblical teaching that homosexuality is morally wrong.
The Scriptures never set forth roles and responsibilities for homosexual relations as it does for biblical marriage between a man and a woman (Ephesians 5:21–33, for example). The biblical concept of marriage is violated by homosexual relationships. Furthermore, if homosexual relationships are legitimized based upon personal desires, where does society draw the line with other deviant and destructive behaviors that some find desirable?
What makes marriage to children, multiple parties, deceased individuals, or animals wrong? What is the standard that denies the desires of one while approving the desires of another? From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible has a consistent message: There is one race (the human race) and two genders (male and female). The Bible clearly states that all humans are created in the image of God and that each individual has intrinsic value as a result—and with a divine authority, it says that homosexuality is wrong. It is an extension of the Fall and our sin-cursed universe. Just like those who have struggles with lust, greed, anger, etc., Christians who struggle with homosexual tendencies can find full forgiveness and grace in Christ, and just like those that struggle with any sin, they can immediately and continually turn to the strength of God as they seek to obey His revealed will in the Bible.
Darwinian evolution, however, undermines the authority of all Scripture. In order to believe in Darwinism, one must reject the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis. When that happens, the rest of Scripture becomes negotiable and Scripture’s authority is thrown into question. After that, when the Bible clearly states that something like homosexuality is wrong, someone can look at the direct commands of Scripture and say, “This is just part of the book of fables and legends that has no real authority in my life today.”
On June 9, 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay Anglican bishop. As he defended his homosexuality, he concocted an interesting mixture of religious and personal justification for his choices:
Ultimately, of course, Jesus Christ challenges us to take Him at His word, to accept the extravagance of His accepting love, to be the Child of God we were created to be, no matter the cost—in order to better serve Him. I answered God’s call to acknowledge myself as a gay man. My wife and I, in order to KEEP our wedding vow to “honor [each other] in the Name of God,” made the decision to let each other go. We returned to church, where our marriage had begun, and in the context of the Eucharist, released each other from our wedding vows, asked each other’s forgiveness, cried a lot, pledged ourselves to the joint raising of our children, and shared the Body and Blood of Christ.
Risking the loss of my children and the exercise of my ordained ministry in the Church was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, but it left me with two unshakable things: my integrity and my God.7
On the surface, these words seem to sound convincing. Bishop Robinson uses religious terms, mixes it with the sacrament of communion, seasons it with some emotion—and then does the exact opposite of what the Bible says he should do.
Is he taking God “at His word”? Hardly. If the bishop really believed in the “extravagant love” of God, he would seek to follow Him, knowing that His loving commands are in his best interest. But he doesn’t. He instead bases his decisions on his own desires and worldly reasoning.
Peter Sprigg, the senior director of policy studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., says same-sex marriage is not an issue of civil rights. At a 2005 “Defend Maryland Marriage” rally in Annapolis, Sprigg stated:
Homosexual activists continue to hitch their caboose to the civil rights train—something which is offensive to a majority of African Americans. We ban discrimination based on race in this country for the specific reason that race is a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary (you can’t choose it), immutable (you can’t change it), and innocuous (it harms no one). Plus, race appears in the Constitution. The choice to engage in homosexual behavior is none of the above.8
Even the Rev. Jesse Jackson says the fight of gays and lesbians for same-sex marriage is not to be compared to the fight of African Americans for civil rights.9
African Americans’ struggle for civil rights in the United States is rooted in the systemic fact that there were human beings created in the image of God who were being denied rights guaranteed to them in the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, same-sex relationships, whether multiple or monogamous, are biblically and morally wrong. Such relationships are contrary to the divine design, non-reproductive, declared to be wrong, changeable, and never positively regulated in the Bible. To equate the created essence of a person with behavioral moral choices is flawed thinking. The attempt of homosexual activists to form a holy union between the African American civil rights struggle and the homosexual agenda is a marriage made on earth, not in heaven.
The Bible clearly argues for one human race. With equal clarity it identifies homosexuality as morally wrong. “Morality” is not some philosophical, abstract concept. Things that are morally wrong have serious repercussions in practical life. Biblical morality is rooted in the fact that life was designed to be lived within certain parameters. If we step outside of those parameters, the consequences are never positive.
Homosexuality hurts. Beyond the biblical and psychological aspects, it hurts society from a public health and economic perspective. In the United States, “men who have sex with men” constituted 70 percent of all estimated HIV-infection cases among male adults and adolescents in 2004, even though only about 5 to 7 percent of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as “men who have sex with men.”10 Of the 756,399 American men who acquired full-blown AIDS from the beginning of the epidemic in this country through 2004, 506,213 (66.92 percent) were in the risk category of “men who have sex with men.”11 For too many years, political correctness has kept the public from asking itself a logical question that must be addressed: Why has a population group that is relatively so small been tied to such a disproportionately high percentage of HIV/AIDS cases?
Regarding the economic costs, the American public continues to bear the financial brunt of failing to examine the homosexual lifestyle’s role in the spread of disease. Federal spending (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid) on HIV/AIDS in this country in 2004 alone was $11 billion.12 Costs borne by the states and counties (taxpayers) are another story, as are the costs borne by private insurance companies, whose rising outlays for HIV and AIDS drugs, treatments, and hospice care mean increasing health costs for everyone. Tragically, the common sexual practices of gay men lead not only to a hugely and disproportionately high incidence of HIV contraction but also, according to one doctor, “a far greater risk to numerous STDs and physical injuries, some of which are virtually unknown in the heterosexual population.”13 Society no longer can stand idly by and watch a small segment of the population attempt to normalize homosexual behavior—behavior that is not only morally but also medically and fiscally detrimental to all of its members.
The cost to the family has been great as well. In the name of “sexual preference,” countless families have been sacrificed on the altar of personal passion. When some homosexuals “come out,” they fracture family bonds and promises. Spouses who believed they were secure in a relationship till death find themselves deceived and abandoned due to a greater commitment to one’s personal desire than one’s promises.
Children are also wounded and abandoned. Robert Knight, director of the Culture & Family Institute (an affiliate of Concerned Women for America), wrote a letter that the Washington Times printed in response to a column written by Hoover Institution Research Fellow Tod Lindberg entitled “The Case against Same-sex Marriage.” In the letter, Knight said:
Polls indicate broad support for marriage that transcends religious affiliation, race and socio-economic status, and that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the social fallout of homosexuality, especially on children.
Media consistently ignore well-documented evidence that children do best in intact, married homes, and that homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks, even in places where governments promote homosexual unions.14
Media pressure, political correctness, and social acceptance have silenced many of the critics of homosexuality. If one truly believes a behavior is morally wrong and detrimental to both individuals and society, he or she feels immense pressure to stand idle and keep silent. Meanwhile, many individuals take the extreme position that society should redefine behaviors for the sake of tolerance. Proponents of same-sex marriage believe the word “marriage” can mean what they desire it to mean. We must stand up and speak for truth. We must preserve the truth that marriage is between one man and one woman, period.
Many have done so successfully. Within weeks of the filing of a lesbian couple’s tribal marriage application, the Cherokee National Tribal Council voted to clearly define marriage as between a man and a woman.15 According to the Federal Marriage Amendment, marriage in the United States consists only of the union of a man and a woman.16 Merriam-Webster’s 1996 Dictionary of Law defined marriage as “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law.”17
Clearly, the civil rights bus has been hijacked. By using similar-sounding words and appealing to similar heartfelt emotions, homosexual activists seek to draw parallels between these two political and social movements. Christians who believe homosexuality to be immoral are said to promote homophobia: the fear of homosexuals. Many in society who promote the homosexual agenda seek to make it an issue of either accepting the practice or hating the individual. The media, like MSNBC, often flashes pictures of church groups carrying signs that claim God hates homosexuals.18 One overly publicized example of this was the media coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. This small band of evangelicals would protest at the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and assert that the soldiers’ death were due to God’s anger with America because of homosexuality.
On the other side, entertainment celebrities and others charge organized religion with promoting hatred toward gay people. ABC’s The View host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said that militant Islam provides a threat to free people. In response, Rosie O’Donnell said, “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state.”19 The Indianapolis Star ran an ad with a picture of the Ku Klux Klan which read:
Remember a time when a symbol of love was used as a symbol of hate. The Bible shouldn’t be misused to justify discrimination against any group, including gay people.20
The media communicates the message that disagreement with the homosexual agenda is equivalent to hating homosexuals. While it is regrettable that some extremists do despicable things in the name of God, it is unfair to characterize the majority of Christians by these few.
Many Christians and other U.S. citizens see homosexuality as morally wrong and harmful for society.21 Their opposition to the aggressive homosexual agenda is motivated by love, not hate. Love motivates laws against public nudity, pornography, marriage to close relatives, and polygamy. To argue that the only motivation for one’s opposition to the homosexual agenda is hate manifests ignorance or a deliberate attempt to misrepresent. In many cases, all Christians are painted to be the bad guys, paralleled with the Ku Klux Klan. Enough is enough. In the name of love and truth, it’s time to take the bus back. It’s time to roll.
Love, not hate, motivates many to oppose further decline into the immoral abyss of secular tolerance. Doesn’t anyone care for the family members who have been sacrificed on the altar of personal desire? When a spouse violates his or her promises to remain faithful until death, he or she leaves behind wounded and abandoned individuals. Is it wrong to ask society to fight for the security of family units? If one truly believes a behavior is morally wrong and detrimental to both individuals and society, is it right to ignore or accept such behavior?
The Bible is clear that all mankind originated from Adam; as image bearers of God, all humans have worth (Genesis 1:26–28). This foundational belief motivates Christians to fight for the unborn, the physically disabled, and the elderly, even when many in society see them as unwanted or too big of an intrusion upon their personal pursuit of happiness. Concern for God’s human creation has given birth to many social agencies, from the YMCA/YWCA, to hospitals, to adoption agencies, to ministries to the elderly and physically handicapped.
Christianity has a long and impressive history when it comes to ministries of compassion. Christians have started compassionate ministries to serve the families of the homosexual community. Christian compassion for men and women struggling with homosexual desires is seen through the establishment and support of ministries like Exodus International22 and Pure Life Ministries.23 These are two national ministries that attempt to help individuals who are seeking to bring their behavior into conformity with God’s moral code. Family members of those struggling are assisted, too. Far from hating and hurting those caught in the immorality of homosexuality, these ministries—without government funds—offer compassion and help to lead people to freedom.
Once the issues are clearly understood, it’s not difficult to argue for reclaiming the civil rights bus and driving it in the direction of continued racial reconciliation. Along the way, however, it’s important to remember the roots of Darwinian thinking that are affecting the issues. Darwinian thinking would lead one to assume that the homosexual is determined to be that way, rather than by choice. Darwinian thinking also erodes the scriptural authority that is necessary for morality and living by truth.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Scripture repeatedly commands us to let love be our motive, and that all we do be done in love (Leviticus 19:18; John 13:34; Matthew 5:44; etc.). Love for individuals and society as a whole has been the motivation for many laws prohibiting behavior considered morally wrong. Love, not hate, motivates many Christians to seek the salvation and health of homosexuals who are willing to conform to moral lines. We would be wise to heed the challenge of Psalm 139:23–24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
It is time to take back the bus, but what a tragedy it would be if we allowed the same fallen spirit of Darwinian evolution and racism to steer us into hateful relationships with the homosexual community. Scripture makes it clear, that love—not hate, condemnation, or judgment—is to be the basis of all we do.