Each year May 17 marks an unofficial calendar date for the United Nations (UN): the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. As part of their effort to promote the acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism, the UN Human Rights Office posted a short video on “human rights” to their Women Watch site, which promotes gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as to its YouTube channel.
The message of “The Riddle” is disturbing on multiple fronts. It preaches tolerance and equality for behaviors that are offensive not just to Christianity but also to other religions around the world. The message of tolerance and equality is incredibly intolerant toward those who might disagree. It claims a “victim” status for a group of people who desire that their behavior be equated with a civil right. And ultimately, it attempts to change the definition of homophobia through the use of emotional appeals.
Homophobia—It Doesn’t Mean What They Think It Means
Before diving into the content of the actual video, it is important to note that the word homophobia has been grossly misused and unfairly applied to people—Christians among them—who see homosexual behavior as sinful or wrong. The Day Against Homophobia is a day that celebrates the removal of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases on May 17, 1990.1
While we agree that homosexual behavior is certainly not a disease, we must affirm with Scripture that it is, however, sin.2 Because many Christians have heeded the Bible’s clear words on this issue and spoken out against it, pro-gay advocates have applied the word homophobic to them.
But a phobia, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear.”3 Christians do not have an irrational or illogical fear of people living homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyles—in fact, there are Christians who used be such people! Christians do not react to the presence of a person living a homosexual lifestyle in the same way some might react to having a blindfold removed to find they are standing on the edge of a cliff or confronting an eight-legged terror that is no larger than a penny.
We do, however, have a healthy fear of God. In fact, it is the fear of God that is the foundation of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). As believers we are commanded to speak the truth in love about these lifestyles, as part of demonstrating Christ-like love to those living in them, in the hope that they will see their need for a Savior. We are compelled to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are living lifestyles in rebellion against God, in the hope that they will believe and be saved and, ultimately, leave behind their rebellious lifestyle. None of this is based in fear, but in love (1 John 4:17–21).
In short, the words homophobia, transphobia, or any other words implying an irrational fear of those engaged in a life of homosexual, bisexual, or transgender behavior are not applicable to the Christian, and likely not to most other groups who view these behaviors as morally wrong. At its root, this is a form of name-calling that distracts from the real issues.
Violence and Persecution—Not Uniquely Against Homosexuality
Those profiled in the video explain that deviant sexual behavior and transgenderism are met with various forms of violence in many places:
What is hidden for fear of public shame, imprisonment, torture, or in seven countries even the death penalty? … What makes people confront brutal violence on a daily basis?
First and foremost, as Christians we must acknowledge that any brutality—verbal or physical—directed at one individual from another is wrong, because man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26; 9:6). We at Answers in Genesis do not support this sort of behavior because it is unbiblical treatment of someone made in God’s image. The only basis for human dignity is that man is made in the image of God. Neither the UN nor any other organization can provide that basis apart from the Bible. Humans do not have the authority to assign rights as they wish—rights come only from God.
But the irony of the above statements is that the word Christian could be the answer to those and many other questions in the UN’s riddle. Indeed, Christians in many parts of the world face imprisonment, torture, and even execution for their faith. Why isn’t the UN producing videos promoting their protection?
“The Riddle” also asks, “What gets … workers fired from jobs without warning?” Once again, the word Christianity could easily fit here. For instance, there have been a few fairly recent cases in the UK where Christians were clearly discriminated against by employers. A nurse who for thirty years had been wearing a cross necklace to work was asked to remove it for the “safety of nurses and patients.” When she refused, she was transferred to a desk job. A marriage counselor, who was also a Christian, was fired after he said that “he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples.” And lastly, there was the registrar (one who conducts civil partnerships and marriages in England), a Christian, “who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.”4
Where is the outcry against such treatment of Christians? It would seem that the UN’s concern for human rights does not extend to Christians whose religious convictions prevent them from embracing homosexual and transgender lifestyles. Such a double standard reveals that the UN and others simply want to promote sinful behavior.
Is Homosexuality a “Simple Trait”?
The question is asked, “What simple trait gets people treated as second-class citizens everywhere they go?” This all-inclusive statement is simply not true, primarily because there are gay-friendly cities, regions, and even entire countries where those living a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyle would be welcome. Such a generalization once again appeals to a viewer’s emotions but holds little factual substance.
Furthermore, the claim assumes that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are a “simple trait.” However, God has designed us as male and female, and His plan for sexuality is that one man and one woman would enjoy sexual intimacy within the confines of marriage (Genesis 2:24). All mankind is born under this system of male and female.5 So if a person chooses to live a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyle, he or she is choosing a perversion of God’s good design.
There is much debate about whether homosexual tendencies are the result of a so-called “gay gene” or if they are a choice. But the fact of the matter is, man is born with a sin nature, and God commands believers to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). Simply put, the biblical standard is either to enter an appropriate marriage—between one man and one woman—or to remain abstinent (Matthew 19:4–6, 11–12; 1 Corinthians 7:7–9). Obedience is required of the believer in every area of our lives, including our sexuality. If we allow the existence of a desire to determine what is right or wrong, then there is ultimately no standard of morality. The desires of the hearts of men apart from Christ have always led to destruction and judgment (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9, 23).
But the message that the UN sends to those living homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyles is that these behaviors are unchangeable parts of their lives. Such a message fails to acknowledge those who have left such sinful behaviors behind. The video concludes by suggesting the solution to its own riddle:
The answer? Being gay, being lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. All over the world, millions of people face violence and discrimination just for being who they are. (emphasis added)
This is a popular argument to make when a person wants to justify a behavior. He might say, “I can’t help it. It’s just who I am.” But if this standard is applied to homosexual, bisexual, or transgender behavior, then why not apply it to the behavior of a pedophile? Or could the rapist simply say, “This is just who I am”? Taken outside the realm of sexual behavior, why not affirm the tendencies of a murderer or a thief by saying, “It’s just who they are”?
Such an argument reveals the total inconsistency of a worldview not founded on the Word of God. The Bible offers the only consistent system and solid basis for morality—contrary to atheistic evolution and any other man-made religion. When people stray from God’s revealed truth, inconsistencies like those in “The Riddle” flourish. To allow a person’s desires to identify them actually serves to dehumanize them, not to affirm their dignity as image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26–27).
The conclusion of “The Riddle” demonstrates the humanism that has become typical of the secular world:
The United Nations has one simple message to the millions of LGBT people around the world. You are not alone. … LGBT rights are human rights. … Together, we will build a world that is free and equal.
These final statements are in direct conflict with the authority of God’s Word. Human rights are grounded solely in God, and the supposed “right” to engage in homosexual behavior is not something His Word allows without severe consequences (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). The idea that man can “build a world that is free and equal,” creating “human rights” that conflict with and are apart from the foundation of the Bible, is reminiscent of the incident at the Tower of Babel, where man said, “
Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Man is making himself the authority, rather than the Word of God.
One of the few truths of the video lies in the statement, “You are not alone.” Indeed, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community is not alone. There are many, many other people living in open rebellion to God’s Word in other ways, too. But God is near to those who call out to Him, and He helps them. As Christians, we are agents of hope and change through the preaching of the gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
So what is the Christian called to do for people who have embraced a homosexual, bisexual, or transgender lifestyle? First, we must share the gospel with unbelievers. A person who has not received salvation is going to hell; every believer should have a compassionate heart toward the unbeliever, calling him to repentance and faith in Christ to His glory.
Second, we should then explain God’s design for sexuality and gender, calling those in rebellion to submit to the lordship of Christ. The only hope for the abolition of the hatred and mistreatment of any group of people, including those engaged in sexual sin, is in submitting to God and being washed clean by Christ.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)