August 2, 2008

Born Gay or Born Sinful??

Fellow Christ follower Jesse Morrell made a very interesting and insighful post the other day on his message board regarding homosexuality and the doctrine of sin nature. You can find the post here. Essentially, Jesse puts forth the following argument:

Calvinist and many doctrines today state that sin is a result of human nature. In other words people are not sinners by choice, but by birth. That sin is a part of our DNA or an inherent part of our flesh. For example, Calvinist or proponents of Original Sin doctrine will often say: "We sin because we are Sinners". I on the other hand would argue that we are sinners because we choose to sin. What's the difference? One is essentially stating we sin because of what we are - we are born totally depraved and therefore can not do anything but sin. On the other hand, I would argue that one sins because one willfully chooses to sin, that sin is a moral choice, a decision.

Calvinist have argued for centuries that mankind is born sinful, that we have a depraved nature from the moment we leave the womb. However, in recent years with homosexuality on rampant the rise, Calvinist are facing a real dilemma explaining away an argument the gay and lesbian community have recently taken that actually agrees with Calvinist! Homosexuals in recent years have argued that they are born gay and have no real choice in their behavior or lifestyle. They say homosexuality is not a choice, but is merely something you're born with.

But I have yet to find a Calvinist that would be willing to agree with the homosexuals that being gay is something your born with. If they would agree to this argument, then they would be actually giving the homosexuals a legitimate excuse for their behavior. Many Calvinistic Christians would argue the exact converse to this argument and say that homosexuality is not something your born with, but is a choice. But wait a minute! Aren't the homosexuals actually agreeing with the Calvinist for once?! If Calvinism is true, then would every murderer, pedophile, rapist, homosexual have the same legitimate argument and that is they are neither responsible for their sin, nor can they can be held accountable for their sinful actions??

The real issue here is that homosexuals want to say they are born this way because they want to cover and excuse their sinful acts of perversion. If they can somehow excuse their sin under the guise of being "born that way", they have then a "legitimate" excuse and therefore can ease or quiet their tormented conscience. The problem is most of our doctrines in most of our churches these days actually fuel this type of argument rather then refute it! Here is what author Alfred T Overstreet said regarding this type of theology:

“Homosexuals often cover and excuse their evil acts of perversion by saying that they were born homosexual. And if the teaching is true that men are born with a sinful nature, homosexuals are right to say they were born homosexuals. For they were born homosexuals if they were born sinners. Also they are right to excuse their evil actions of perversion. For if they were born sinners, they were born homosexuals; and if they were born homosexuals they can no more be blamed for their evil acts of perversion than the brute beasts can be blamed for being born brute beasts. Likewise the alcoholic cannot be blamed for his drinking if its true that he was born with the ‘disease of alcoholism’. In fact the murderer, the rapist, and all other sinners have a perfect and legitimate excuse for all their sins if they were born with a sinful nature. But God never excuses the murderer or the drunkard or the rapist or the homosexual or any other sinner for his sins. For God created all men with a good nature. All sin is a corruption of man’s nature, it is a perversion of man’s nature. It is rebellion against our nature – it is rebellion against the ‘law of God written in our hearts’ and against the God who has written his law in our hearts. No man is born a sinner. No man is born with the ‘disease of alcoholism’. No man is born a homosexual.” Alfred T. Overstreet (Over One Hundred Texts From The Bible That Show That Babies Are Not Born Sinners, pg. 8).

Furthermore, the bible is clear that homosexuality is not a normal part of our human nature but rather it is a perversion (See
Rom. 1:26-27; 1:31; 1 Cor. 6:9; 2 Tim. 3:3; Jude 1:7).

Jesse Morrell brings up a very valid questions to the Calvinist community and one that I suspect will go unanswered, and that is:

1. Is human nature sinful?
2. Is homosexuality a sin?
3. Is homosexuality human nature?

Jesse goes on to make a very valid point and that is :

A person who says that homosexuality is human nature is a person who either:

1. Does not know the Bible (at least not very well).
2. Does not believe the Bible.

It has to be one of the two.

I must agree with Jesse here. What we as Christians must do is be willing to do is to take a long hard look at our theology and see if it is actually giving sinners an excuse to sin, or are we presenting the truth so that they will be saved from it! Any theological doctrine that makes sinning easier or excusable is one that needs to be heavily scrutinized and examined - for most likely it is no Truth after all.


Nathan said...

Only casual conservative Calvinists would oppose the idea that homosexuals are born gay. When Al Mohler came out with his opinion that science is starting to prove this as factual, the majority of committed calvnists that I know jumped on board to defend this idea, pointing to sin nature as the culprit.

stephanie said...

to say that one does not know the bible or does not believe in the bible merely because one states that homosexuality may in fact be human nature.... absolute shame on anyone who states that!! we are all born into this world with a sinful nature. whether that means one is selfish, or prideful, or perhaps even homosexual. god frowns upon all. pride, even, can cause one to lose their place in heaven. what it comes down to it is between the homosexual person and God. that is exactly where it should be left at. you cannot judge what is truly in another person's heart, they may truly condemn themselves for the way they are, yet cannot change. it would be like a heterosexual person trying to change what turns them on, or, for example, anyone trying to change something that they have always been naturally inclined to preferring. interesting that so many churches cover, and forgive, child molesting priests in their churches yet will not adopt such a forgiving attitude for homosexual people. to suggest that homosexuals are just as bad as murderers and rapists, shame on you.

Preston N said...


If I take your logic here regarding homosexuals are we then to say Pedophiles and those who engage in bestuality are "born that way" also? What about those who are born with a "temperment" for rape are they " born this way" also?

D said...

preston, human beings are not lock's tabula rasa. modern genetics and generally empirical observations have ruled out a completely "nature-induced" paradigm for the development of our behavior, as i'm sure would the common sense of the common man. we are not a product solely of our environment; this is something that even the most fundamental theologians accept a priori. that being said...

in response to your immediate post, i'll use the example of alcoholism: the bane of feel-good southern baptists the bible belt over (i grew up in a small mississippi town; this particular subject is all too familiar and familial). turn-of-phrase aside, it is a severely destructive condition that i have seen tear households and families apart. while it would be convenient to simply bear biblical witness to these individuals, this only adds to an already toppling mountain of guilt, anxiety, and self-destructive tendencies. "it's your fault! this was your decision!" there is a choice factor involved, i agree, but this isn't the root of the issue; in fact it's the most incredibly superficial focus point. what motivates the actual choice made? what compelled the alcoholic to his vice in the first place? the answer is a dynamic interplay of environment (family, friends, social circle) and heredity. the latter seems to be the issue that modern church-goers (my peers) feel resigned to decline. there is a large body of rigorous scientific research dedicated to the biochemical and physiological origins of alcoholism ( just a smattering of the actual work available).
religion may tell us that certain actions are sinful, but we cannot stop there. if we are to truly combat these destructive behaviors armor-laden and sword unsheathed, we need to see the underlying motivation behind them - utilizing both our faith and faith-based reason to arrive at a solution.

now to my point.

There are countless examples of homosexual displays in nature - many animal species are known to show homosexual tendencies regularly. numerous species of animalia even change whole genders at the slightest of stimuli (temperature, food content in their troposphere, etc). it is evident from simple observation that the world is neither black nor white about sexuality. in fact, it seems that cross-sexual tendencies are more common in specific species, indicating a hereditary or gene-based cause to these actions, i.e, they are not alone a choice but a mixture of genetics and response the the natural world.

Preston N said...


As one who comes from a long line of addicts I understand the physical proprinicity to sin. However it is clear from the bible and moral ability of mankind that the mind or the will is stronger than the flesh, hence Willpower! A recovering addict is proof positive that one can over come the desires of the body. Paul clearly explains this by his command that we must renew or minds on a daily basis. Sin is not in the flesh but is a choice one makes. This apples to all sin and yes including homosexuality. As for you example of the obsevations of the animal kingdom committing acts of homosexuality, this reveals your weakness to excuse human behavior as nothing more than animal instincts or your propincity to believe that man has evolved from animals. Animals also eat there young, eat there own feces, abandon the weak and the sick, commit incest, etc. If mankind starts to commit such heinous acts in society are you so quick to say that these too are nothing more than a genetic predisposition? Furthermore, if homosexuality and evolution are true then the homosexual behavior is then considered weak and does not lend itself to the survival of the fittest as this behavior would be totally inconsistant or contrary to benefitting the promotion of the species, thus "nature" would naturally eliminate those who engage in such "weakness"

D said...

you're exactly right in regards to the differences between animals and humans (i'll expand this to differing animal phyla, class, order, etc). rarely do two distinct animalia have completely analogous behaviors and physical traits - even closely related species are markedly different in situ. humans do not warm-heartedly dine on excrement for sunday dinner and obstetricians do not slice a neonate like a birthday cake. these acts are not, to understate, common place. but i wasn't talking about the differences between us; i drew an analogy to behaviors that are shared across all large majority (if not all) of the living world. all living things eat, reproduce, metabolize, etc. likewise homosexuality is a behavior that is shared across a broad spectrum of the animal kingdom.

side note:

i would like to address your last sentence. you misunderstand the precepts of evolution. no reputable member of the biological scientific community would refer to evolution as survival of the fittest. evolution is something that occurs in a population, not in the individual. what you refer to is "lamarkism", a ubiquitously discredited addendum to modern evolutionary theory. also, i would at least read a wikipedia article on darwinian evolution (a simple start). there is a great public misunderstanding on what exactly evolution is. to continue - a population has the propensity to overgrow itself, so a species contains genetic adaptations to curb its growth, such as the eating of children, etc. you committed a slippery slope fallacy in your argument here - if we recognize similarities in the animal kingdom, that does in no way assert that human morality will degrade in the process and start killing our lower class a la hitler. humans possess a more versatile adaption, that is, the self awareness to realize that resources are short or living conditions are unsuitable for more progeny. that self awareness results in a sense of altruism that expands the success of the self to the success of the community. in fact, from an evolutionary stand point, this is necessary to our survival (we are social beings, most lone-living creatures like reptiles are not subject to such notions nor have need for them to survive). key scientific point: the individual is not evolutionarily fit, the population is - so it could very well be beneficial to the whole of a community of, say alligators, to eat their young, but not so for humans as we have hereditarily dissimilar bio-social dynamics.

it may be that we may misunderstand each other on the semantics of the word "nature". i define it as genetically inspired behavior. you may consider what is "natural" as the Christian ideal. it is pointless (or a whole different argument) to ask "is homosexuality natural" from the latter perspective. the bible is very clear on this (1 Corinthians takes a particularly assertive stance). but what i assume is your definition does not hit the meat of the subject. yes, an alcoholic may combat his urge with will power, but the urge is still there - where does it come from? if it is the intangible fluid of sin, where does the sin manifest? this information will ultimately allow him to methodically attack his problem, not simply suppress it.

I belive you missed my point in the previous post. never did i give a justification of homosexual behavior, rather, i gave it a tangible origin. i'll repost...

"if we are to truly combat these destructive behaviors armor-laden and sword unsheathed, we need to see the underlying motivation behind them - utilizing both our faith and faith-based reason to arrive at a solution."

we cannot combat something if we don't understand it. the Christian community must take sound action to understanding the source, history, and development of homosexuality to properly base an argument against it. it is clear from your earlier misunderstanding of science that you are not in such an empirical habit, nor are you alone; this attitude does not help the issue of homosexuality in society, it exacerbates it.