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My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
The author argues that the meaning of the Bible's passages on homosexuality have been lost in translation.
May 15th, 2012
05:39 PM ET

My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality

Editor's note: Daniel A. Helminiak, who was ordained a priest in Rome, is a theologian, psychotherapist and author of “What the Bible Really Says about homosexuality" and books on contemporary spirituality. He is a professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia.

By Daniel A. Helminiak, Special to CNN

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

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Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another."

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul's writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay "unnatural" hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: "God gave them up … to impurity."

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

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Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel A. Helminiak.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (8,831 Responses)
  1. Melvin

    "There is NO condemnation of CELIBATE gay and lesbian couples since
    they do not engage in fornication."

    Don't listen to people like this.

    The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  2. Douglas

    A key point to remember...

    There is NO condemnation of CELIBATE gay and lesbian couples since
    they do not engage in fornication.

    People keep forgetting this powerful point in scripture about GLBTQ escape from sin.

    Fornication must be abandoned through celibacy for gay and lesbian couples.

    Straight couples MUST remain ABSTINENT until marriage and after marriage remain FAITHFUL to their spouse.

    The Bible is unambiguous about these precepts.

    Best, Douglas

    October 6, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • James

      "There is NO condemnation of CELIBATE gay and lesbian couples since
      they do not engage in fornication"

      The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  3. Douglas

    Everyday more and more gay and lesbian partners are opting for celibacy as they mature in their understanding of the BIble
    and their role in the human family. This trend toward celibacy for gay and lesbian couples is natural and and at the same time spontaneous as gays and lesbians recognize that as Christians they must reject sin completely to fulfill the obligations spoken to them in Biblical scripture.

    Find the time to launch a gay and lesbian celibacy support group at your place of worship.

    Extend the hand of fellowship to celibate gay and lesbian couples and let them know you support them and are praying for their deliverance from fornication.
    Be an ally and be a friend. Our support circle continues to grow each month.

    Best always, Douglas

    October 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  4. YeahRight

    "To think that two men and or two women raising a child would yield a individual that does not differ in developement that one raise in a mother-father environment is ridiculous to state"

    There are hundred of thousands of experts that have proven you wrong. Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

    Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    October 5, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  5. Joshua

    To think that two men and or two women raising a child would yield a individual that does not differ in developement that one raise in a mother-father environment is ridiculous to state. To add im sure the sources in which you get that informtion doesnt exists. Imagine the confusion of an individual brought up in a father father or morther mother relationship. "Where did I come from?" is a question Im am sure is raised in the childs mind. God created us with no flaws. Meaning our reproductive organs correspond to that of which we should have relation to. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. I love all the people that God Loves (which is everyone) BUT that does not mean it is not my God given obligation to warn them of the path that they are currently on if it is not on the path to; "The WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE"

    October 5, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • myweightinwords

      So a child asks a question about his/her origins. How is that a problem? Kids in hetero marriages do the same.

      So the answer is a little different. 1) adoption, 2) artificial insemination, 3) previous relationship...how is that so hard to answer?

      How does that matter?

      In my experience, most children being raised in homes with parents of the same gender are more loving, more resistant to bullies, and have better social skills than their counterparts from "normal" families.

      Further, the studies all seem to indicate that the differences in development emotionally and mentally are negligible.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  6. John

    In days gone by, it was reasonable for Christians not to question conventional wisdom about the Bible. Because everyone used the Bible to justify slavery, for instance, Christians were OK with believing that some of their fellow human beings were just another species of farm animal they rightfully owned. Later, we Christians were entirely comfortable using the Bible to justify the atrocious idea that women are second-class citizens too simple-minded to be trusted with the vote.

    And up until the Internet made readily available all kinds of previously inaccessible knowledge and information, we could be excused for believing that the Bible indisputably states that God considers homosexual love a moral abomination.

    Today, however, anyone who can read, or simply watch YouTube videos, is forced to acknowledge the absolute credibility of the universe of scholarship, and the reasoning based upon it which unequivocally proves that the Bible does not, in fact, oblige Christians to believe that homosexual love, in and of itself, is necessarily any less moral than is heterosexual love.

    That closet door is now swung wide open. The truth of the matter is now there for anyone to behold.

    Christians today who take seriously the search for truth must admit that the old axiom that homosexuality is a sin has been forever reduced in status from objective truth to subjective opinion. From fact to belief. From beyond question to unquestionably dubious.

    Believing that homosexual love is a condemnable sin, in other words, is now a choice one must make.

    And what Christian - what person at all? - would choose ignorant condemnation over enlightened love?

    September 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Silvia

      Its amazing John takes societies decline as a learned good trait. While slavery was tolerated its a far cry from the the internet door flying open with all this goodness and love and knowledge. We see all sorts of immoral things now and to John that is enlightenment. Unable to distinguish from mans learned knowledge and Gods moral codes. This is the reasoning that is the dregs of society condemning society today to ultimately fail. The fall of the Roman Empire came as the moral codes were dropped not because the knowledge wasn't there. People like John NEVER learn. Yet unfortunately in his ignorance he still does have the right to vote, and will ultimately be one of the ones responsible for the moral decline and then say how did this happen? We pay for his ignorance and his rights to drag all of us down were established by laws based on moral codes and the Bible, imagine that.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Janet

      "People like John NEVER learn. Yet unfortunately in his ignorance he still does have the right to vote, and will ultimately be one of the ones responsible for the moral decline and then say how did this happen?"

      The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

      October 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  7. Douglas

    There is no "Christian case" for gay marriage.

    Jesus defines marriage as the solemn union of one man and one woman in Matthew, Chapter 19, of the Holy Bible,
    God's eternal word.

    Both Old and New Testament writings are clear in the prohibition of male/male and female/female partnerships/coitus.

    To engage in these practices is to willfully sin. Celibate GLBTQ relationships are perfectly acceptable and are not
    condemned in scripture.

    There is healing and saving power for celibate GLBTQ couples.

    Honor and respect celibate GLBTQ relationships.

    September 27, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • James

      You know your wrong yet you keep posting the same nonsense over and over again. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      September 27, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  8. Don

    The most beautiful word in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is "whosoever." All of God's promises are intended for every human being. This includes gay men and lesbians. How tragic it is that the Christian Church has excluded and persecuted people who are homosexual! We are all created with powerful needs for personal relationships. Our quality of life depends upon the love we share with others; whether family or friends, partners or peers. Yet, lesbians and gay men facing hostile attitudes in society often are denied access to healthy relationships. Jesus Christ calls us to find ultimate meaning in life through a personal relationship with our Creator. This important spiritual union can bring healing and strength to all of our human relationships

    Biblical Interpretation and Theology also change from time to time. Approximately 150 years ago in the United States, some Christian teaching held that there was a two-fold moral order: black and white. Whites were thought to be superior to blacks, therefore blacks were to be subservient and slavery was an institution ordained by God. Clergy who supported such an abhorrent idea claimed the authority of the Bible. The conflict over slavery led to divisions which gave birth to some major Christian denominations. These same denominations, of course, do not support slavery today. Did the Bible change? No, their interpretation of the Bible did!

    Genesis 19:1-25

    Some "televangelists" carelessly proclaim that God destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of "homosexuality." Although some theologians have equated the sin of Sodom with homosexuality, a careful look at Scripture corrects such ignorance. Announcing judgment on these cities in Genesis 18, God sends two angels to Sodom, where Abraham's nephew, Lot, persuades them to stay in his home. Genesis 19 records that "all the people from every quarter" surround Lot's house demanding the release of his visitors so "we might know them." The Hebrew word for "know" in this case, yadha, usually means "have thorough knowledge of." It could also express intent to examine the visitors' credentials, or on rare occasions the term implies sexual intercourse. If the latter was the author's intended meaning, it would have been a clear case of attempted gang rape. Several observations are important.

    First, the judgment on these cities for their wickedness had been announced prior to the alleged homosexual incident. Second, all of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority of the population been homosexual. Third, Lot's offer to release his daughters suggests he knew his neighbors to have heterosexual interests. Fourth, if the issue was sexual, why did God spare Lot, who immediately commits incest with his daughters? Most importantly, why do all the other passages of Scripture referring to this account fail to raise the issue of homosexuality?

    Romans 1:24-27

    Most New Testament books, including the four Gospels, are silent on same-sex acts, and Paul is the only author who makes any reference to the subject. The most negative statement by Paul regarding same-sex acts occurs in Romans 1:24-27 where, in the context of a larger argument on the need of all people for the gospel of Jesus Christ, certain homosexual behavior is given as an example of the "uncleanness" of idolatrous Gentiles.

    This raises the question: Does this passage refer to all homosexual acts, or to certain homosexual behavior known to Paul's readers? The book of Romans was written to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who would have been familiar with the infamous sexual excesses of their contemporaries, especially Roman emperors. They would also have been aware of tensions in the early Church regarding Gentiles and observance of the Jewish laws, as noted in Acts 15 and Paul's letter to the Galatians. Jewish laws in Leviticus mentioned male same-sex acts in the context of idolatry.

    The homosexual practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1. Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from loving, responsible lesbian and gay relationships seen today.

    What is "Natural"?

    Significant to Paul's discussion is the fact that these "unclean" Gentiles exchanged that which was "natural" for them, physin, in the Greek text, for something "unnatural," para physin. In Romans 11:24, God acts in an "unnatural" way, para physin, to accept the Gentiles. "Unnatural" in these passages does not refer to violation of so-called laws of nature, but rather implies action contradicting one's own nature. In view of this, we should observe that it is "unnatural," para physin, for a person today with a lesbian or gay sexual orientation to attempt living a heterosexual lifestyle.

    I Corinthians 6:9

    Any consideration of New Testament statements on same-sex acts must carefully view the social context of the Greco-Roman culture in which Paul ministered. Prostitution and pederasty (sexual relationships of adult men with boys) were the most commonly known male same-sex acts. In I Corinthians 6:9, Paul condemns those who are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind," as translated in the King James version. Unfortunately, some new translations are worse, rendering these words "homosexuals." Recent scholarship unmasks the homophobia behind such mistranslations.

    The first word – malakos, in the Greek text-which has been translated "effeminate" or "soft," most likely refers to someone who lacks discipline or moral control. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but never with reference to sexuality.

    The second word, Arsenokoitai, occurs once each in I Corinthians and I Timothy (1:10), but nowhere else in other literature of the period. It is derived from two Greek words, one meaning, "males" and the other "beds", a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Other Greek words were commonly used to describe homosexual behavior but do not appear here. The larger context of I Corinthians 6 shows Paul extremely concerned with prostitution, so it is very possible he was referring to male prostitutes. But many experts now attempting to translate these words have reached a simple conclusion: their precise meaning is uncertain. Scripture Study Conclusion…No Law Against Love

    The rarity with which Paul discusses any form of same-sex behavior and the ambiguity in references attributed to him make it extremely unsound to conclude any sure position in the New Testament on homosexuality, especially in the context of loving, responsible relationships. Since any arguments must be made from silence, it is much more reliable to turn to great principles of the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not judge others, lest you be judged. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love . . . against such there is no law. One thing is abundantly clear, as Paul stated in Galatians 5:14: "......the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself".

    September 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Don, read Jeremiah 10, then you will know that these doctrines of the gospel were not of the King YHWH(God), as you were taught to call Him, and while you're at it read Jeremiah 23, these men were not at His counsel YHWHs love. YHWH BLESS.

      September 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • midwest rail

      More pigeon chess. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

      September 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  9. Lorraine

    Alright,were going to ignore the truth here, so when someone is ready to do what we all need to really do, then we all can disgusts this matter.

    September 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Disgusts this matter"?

      Why should I pay any attention to your opinion on the Bible, God, Jesus, or the weather?

      September 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  10. JP

    Is homosexuality a sin?

    Self-indulgence is a sin. But the relationship of two people of the same sex may or may not be self-indulgent.

    Abusing the neighbor is a sin. But the exploration of relationships among homosexuals as they search for partners, evaluate their existing formative relationships, and relate to each other may or may not be abusive.

    Disobeying what God commands in the Bible is a sin. But, we have biblically-derived criteria for assessing and applying specific commands by reading them against larger themes.
    Turning your back on God is a sin. Homosexuals are often among those who have turned their back on the church, and may be sinning because they also rejected the God they found in church. The church needs to be in mission to homosexuals with the message of Jesus and who God really is.

    Yielding to your passions, even celebrating them is a sin. Homosexuals do include those who have done this. But it is not an inherent aspect of being gay.

    Since we see people who have dedicated themselves to God, and for whom their gay sexual life is integrated into that decision and we see that their sexuality does not draw them away from church we must conclude that being and living gay is not a behavior in and of itself that produces pain to the neighbor and leads one away from God.

    By the criteria the scripture sets for us for what is godly life, and by the reasoning scripture asks us to employ, homosexuality cannot be described as against God’s law.

    If this seems like a rather quiet sort of justification for homosexuality; then perhaps it is because the grand cliches of this debate have been shouted at us for too long. But look at the Bible: it's demands and vision cut across all categories, not staying on the surface but penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, rejecting all forms of self-justification, all forms of attack on the "other" and all forms of escape from God's assessment of our behavior. How on earth could we have ever thought that a series of flat rules was all God wanted to tell us on morality?

    September 25, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  11. Douglas

    The Holy Bible is unambiguous about its prohibitions against gay coitus.

    Both the Old and New Testament warn believers to avoid gay coitus.

    There is thankfully a place for GLBTQ folk. Celibacy provides a refuge for GLBTQ
    believers intent on joining the rest of us on the road to salvation.

    Welcome celibate GLBTQ couples to your place of worship...extend the hand of fellowship
    and let them know they are bound for glory when they jettison the excess baggage of fornication.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • James

      You don't know what you are talking about. The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  12. Lorraine

    tallalah13, and jwt, when one wants to look at it in a selfish way, and not look at the mayhem all around this world, then yes, ok, it's right for each individual to do whatever the crap they want, and don't look now, but when you hear about, or see things that blow up from people all doing whatever, then don't cry out about how terrible it is, for it goes along with the rest of the selfishness of being absorbed into what one wants without thinking of the others around them, or future generations. It's inevitable to go into a pitfall in the end. There must be righteousness when it comes to a world, to maintain its inhabitant of a wholesome living, according to YHWH He knew what we would need, but now we are in droughts, mayhem, wars, and more crime, and crazy senseless killings than ever before, and it has only begun. We are all responsible for our own righteousness, and the consequences are what we face in this world now, from many not being, or caring to be righteous. YHWH Bless us all.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  13. Erik

    "It maybe a civil right, but it is not a righteousness right in the site of the Creator"

    That's why people are born gay. Being gay is not a choice science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

    All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

    Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

    In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

    The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

    On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

    Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

    But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

    This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

    The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

    Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

    Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

    Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

    September 24, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  14. Lorraine

    Lorraine

    It maybe a civil right, but it is not a righteousness right in the site of the Creator YHWH, whether the naacp, has a play in it, or not, that doesn't make it moral, or make it righteous. No matter how you dress it up, its not moral, nor the way of righteousness of the perpetual law of the 10 commandments. YHWH changes not in Malachi 3:6, none of His law has changed in His site as taught in Isaiah 24. It is now just going to be financially legal whether it is morally, or not. As taught in Malachi 3:13-15, calling wrong, right, and rewarding, and rejoicing in it, prophecy fulfilled. YHWH Bless.

    September 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  15. 2Cents

    The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right; putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality; calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.

    "The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political; social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

    Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

    The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

    "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

    Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

    Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.

    The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.

    "We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

    September 24, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  16. Lorraine

    I'll give you authority; Malachi 2, Jeremiah 23:1-8, and Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 20, Ezekiel 34, all describing how those who have authority today, as they did in the past are going astray from the truth, and Word of YHWH; and are to be dealt with soon for their lies. His righteousness is near, in Isaiah 51:5, then we'll all see who has the authority. And just to add scholars, and masters, are cut off of this knowledge, they deceive many as taught in Malachi 2:10-17, so who's stupid now, Praise YHWH

    September 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Authority? By whose measure? Not mine.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Well, tom, tom piper, that's good you are not part of this society, because that is whose authority its coming from; those leaders of this world misleading the people, to control, and to gain through these false religions, and false governments. All prophesied in the book of Daniel, Daniel chapters 7-12. This prophecy has either come to past from julius ceasar, to agustus ceasar, to constantine, of your world history, that's still being taught in this educational system, and the ones of the future government who are diverse, prophesied in Daniel 7:19, wearing down the saints of old, until this day doing idolatry, and wrong, and calling it good. PRAISE YHWH.

      September 23, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JWT

      No god has the authority to do anything. People who choose to do so have the authority to do anything they want in the name of some version of some god. This is their inherant right as people. Of course for both Tom.. and I no god and no people have any right to include us in their beliefs of a god. We have different equally correct beliefs about life.

      September 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Though I hate to call names, I have to believe that those who ignore reality in favor of a book of ancient Middle-Eastern mythology are at least being deliberately obtuse. Your "authorities" are simply unknown men who wrote down their own beliefs.

      September 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. YeahRight

    "that's what animal, or insect species may do, but humans should be more knowledgeable, 'intelligent' r i g h t?"

    This is about civil rights and the experts around the world have proven that being gay is normal.

    Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

    The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

    A federal appeals court on May 31st ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples, making it likely that the Supreme Court will consider the politically divisive issue for the first time in its next term. This most likely will be decided in the courts and since most courts keep ruling in gays favor they should be able to over turn all the unconstitutional laws prejudice bigots have been trying to pass.

    Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being

    September 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Lorraine

      This don't make it right, neither does profanity, and perversion, violence, unnatural affections, in the music today, and in the media, in daily family lifestyles, etc.etc. but, since its becoming the normal for many now as it was prophesied it would in Malachi 3:13-15, well, prophecy fulfilled. YHWH Bless us all.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      zzzZZZzzz
      zzzZZZzzz
      zzzZZZzzz

      Oh are you done yet Lorraine? Why are you on the computer anyway. If things are supposed to be as they are in the bible, then you have absolutely no authority when it comes to espousing biblical matters.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Lorraine

      yeahright you are who used 1500 species as example

      September 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  18. Lorraine

    yeahright, that's what animal, or insect species may do, but humans should be more knowledgeable, 'intelligent' r i g h t? Doc Vestibule, if you can find the prophecy of jesus,mary, and his story, being born of a virgin, dying for our sins, then raised up again, just crap, anywhere in the so called OT, by the prophets, from YHWH, in the book of remembrance please post it for us, please.

    September 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  19. YeahRight

    "James, and Les, but no matter how you change it it is not right by YHWH"

    Huh, that's funny since gay relationships have been documented in over 1500 other species, so it's totally natural. Plus, heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    September 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    Jesus had two dads and he turned out OK.

    September 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Joshua

      Wrong! Jesus had/has One Father. His Father the Creator of the universe and everything that resides in it placed Him (Jesus) in the womb of the virgin Mary Jesus's earthly mother. He has and will foever have one Father

      October 5, 2012 at 12:10 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.