Why are homosexual acts wrong?
OK, I don’t know if this is the right place to send a letter like this, but I’m at wits’ end! I’ve asked pastors, friends, parents, God, and message boards this question, and still haven’t gotten an intelligent answer that I can live with. Why are homosexual acts wrong? I am a Christian and believe very much in the Bible, but this part of it always stumps me.
The reasons why other sins are wrong are obvious. Murder, rape, adultery, theft — they all harm other people. But homosexual acts don’t harm anyone. People say it’s not natural, but it occurs in nature among animals. People say gays can’t procreate, but since when is sex even mostly about procreation? It’s about love, intimacy, and pleasure, and gays can experience all of that. Also, what about people who are born sexually ambiguous? Who are they supposed to fall in love with? If you are born with the physical traits of both a male and a female are you gay no matter who you sleep with, or are you straight no matter who you sleep with? It just doesn’t add up to me.
I don’t believe in disregarding parts of the Bible that I don’t agree with, so it’s important to me that I settle this in my mind. If you can’t help me, point me to someone who can! Thank you.
Don’t blame the other people you’ve talked to for being unable to answer your questions. If we lived in normal times, it would be better not to discuss certain sins at all. Because we live in abnormal times, we have to. But it makes people uncomfortable to discuss them, so they never learn how to give good answers. Actually I’ve dealt with this topic pretty often; you can find what I’ve written about it before by using the SEARCH function, and at the end of this note I’ll suggest another online article for you to read. In the meantime, I’d like you to reconsider your assumptions. I suspect that you’ve been listening to propaganda, because you’re making some serious mistakes. Once those are cleared up, I think the answer to your question will jump out at you.
The meaning of the word “natural.” Our nature is how God designed us, so what’s “natural” for human beings isn’t whatever you can find some animal doing; it’s whatever fulfills our design. Men and women were plainly designed for each other — not men for men, nor women for women.
What harms whom. The idea that homosexual acts don’t harm anybody isn’t even close to being true; they harm those who commit them at every level, physical, emotional, and spiritual. To begin with the most obvious — the physical — how could it not harm a man to suffer rectal trauma because a large object has been repeatedly forced into an opening which was designed for a radically different function? Lesbian sex is no picnic either; the rate of syphilis among women who practice homosexual acts is nineteen times higher than the rate among women who don’t.
Other levels of harm. At the emotional and spiritual levels, the damage of homosexual acts is less obvious but just as grave. Consider emotional harm. God designed the male-female pair to balance each other; by contrast, same-same mating drives the partners to extremes. Instead of balancing each other, they reinforce each other. If you want an example, think of the promiscuous tendencies of men in general. Unbalanced by women, these tendencies lead to the anonymous, no-brakes promiscuity of men who have sex with hundreds, even thousands, of other men. Now consider spiritual harm. In homosexual acts you’re seeking union with someone who is only your own mirror image, so in a way, you’re still trapped inside yourself. You haven’t experienced the power of marital sex to take you beyond the Self; you’re rejecting the challenge of union with someone who is really Other. In that way, homosexual acts are less like marital love than like masturbation with another body.
So-called ambiguous gender. Genetically, every child is either male or female. To say that a girl whose sexual organs resemble a boy’s is part-boy is like saying that a baby whose arms resemble flippers is part-seal. She doesn’t need to mate with other girls any more than he needs to eat raw fish. What she needs is restorative surgery, which usually corrects the problem.
How pleasure is related to sex. No, pleasure is not the purpose of sex. Of course sex is pleasurable (God made it that way), and it’s right for a husband and wife to enjoy that pleasure (God intended that). But to say that pleasure is the purpose of sex — to say that it’s why God invented sex — to say that it’s what tells us when sex is right and when it’s not — is quite another matter. You see, you can get pleasure from misusing God’s gifts as well as from using them properly. If pleasure were the purpose of eating, then whatever caused eating-pleasure would be good; we should do as some Romans were said to do at banquets, vomiting in order to eat some more. If pleasure were the purpose of sex, then whatever caused sex-pleasure would be good. Some people get sex-pleasure from kids, from corpses, or from physical pain and humiliation. Pleasure wouldn’t justify those perversions, would it? Then why would it justify sodomy?
The first purpose of sex. The first purpose of sex is procreation — having children. To say that sex “isn’t about” having babies is like saying that eating “isn’t about” taking in nutrition. Besides, if sex isn’t about having babies, how do you suppose that God did intend us to procreate? I’m not just talking about the fact that homosexual acts are sterile, although that’s part of the problem. The procreative purpose of sex applies not only to bearing children, but to raising them. A child needs a Mom and a Dad — one of each.
The second purpose of sex. The second purpose of sex is intimacy. You’re right about that point, but only partly right. What you mean by intimacy is feeling close, and feelings aren’t enough. An episode of the “Jerry Springer Show” featured a guest who claimed to have “married” her horse. I suppose she “felt close” to it, but when we say that the second purpose of sex is intimacy, that’s not what we mean. Marital intimacy is the unique bond of self-giving brought about by the complementary union of husband and wife in a procreative partnership. They are “complementary” because each sex provides something missing from the makeup of the other. Two men do not complement each other, and neither do two women. They can have warm friendships, but sex doesn’t improve these friendships; it only degrades them.
For Christians, sex has a third purpose too. You can read more about it in the article “What’s Good About Sex?”
Grace and peace,
Copyright 2003 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Professor J. Budziszewski is the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Stay Christian in College, Ask Me Anything, Ask Me Anything 2, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, and The Line Through the Heart. He teaches government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.