by Craig Branch- This is the introduction to Areopagus Journal Vol. 5 No. 5 September-October 2005.
This I say and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer as the Gentiles [unbelievers] also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart. And they having become callous have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. (Eph.4:17-19)
In this exhortation, God (through Paul) tells us that we too can be corrupted by “deceitful lusts” unless we are transformed by the renewing of our minds and living out God’s truth.
Unfortunately, this warning has gone unheeded in the West and America and the frightful consequences are accelerating in our society.
The West, once predominately Christian, is now largely secular. The United Sates whose laws, ethics, and cultural mores were shaped by Judeo-Christianity is also in decline, giving way to a secular, relativistic mindset. Even worse, the Church with its diminishing interest in theology and doctrine, lacks discernment and informed activism, and too often compromises Christian truth (Heb. 5:12-14; Mt. 5:13).
Fifteen years ago, University of Virginia sociology professor James Davidson Hunter correctly wrote that we are in a culture war, a struggle to define America. He wrote,
The present culture war has evolved as a struggle to establish new agreements over the content and character of American public culture. . .what seems to be a myriad of self-contained cultural disputes actually amounts to a fairly comprehensive and momentous struggle to define the meaning of America – of how and on what terms will Americans live together, of what comprises the good society.1
What are these myriads of apparently self-contained public issues and disputes? Some of these are pornography, abortion, genetic engineering, premarital and extramarital sex, recreational drinking and drug (ab)use, homosexuality, and even divorce and the institution of marriage. For example, concerning marriage the editors of World magazine wrote, Already the majority of couples (53%) who marry have lived together first. But an increasing number are not bothering to marry at all.2 They also note that a Gallup survey indicated that 45% of people between 20-29 do not believe government should have any part in marriage including licensing.3
In a growing postmodern, relativistic, libertarian culture more and more people do not just want government to back away from their “privacy” issues, but also do not want anyone morally criticizing any activity of mutually consenting adults. Many now view any moral criticism as bigoted intolerance. They invoke that thought-stopping cliché, “you cannot legislate morality.” While it is true that laws or legislation cannot transform character (although law can serve to deter wrong conduct and elevate conscience) almost all law concerns someone’s concept of morality. The question is not “Should we legislate morality?” but instead “Whose morality should we legislate, or what moral standard will we use when we legislate?”
This issue of Areopagus Journal focuses on the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, probably the most heated topics in the culture war and ones with far-reaching consequences.
We’ve Seen it Already
Sweden was the first country in Europe to legalize homosexual unions (1989), closely followed by Denmark and Norway. It is no coincidence that those countries rank first, third, and fourth in the percentage of atheists and agnostics in their populations (Sweden 85%, Demark 80%, Norway 72%).4 Today a majority of children in those countries are born out of wedlock and most younger couples are dispensing with marriage altogether. Now the family unit is no longer necessary for economic support, and taxes are extremely high causing both parents to work and incur heavy costs for childcare.5
The culture and law in such countries have turned militant against the free religious speech of Christians. Sweden passed a hate speech statute in 2002 that explicitly included church sermons in its scope. A pastor was convicted and jailed last year for preaching a sermon against homosexuality.6 The same kind of legislation has been enacted in Canada.
The Warning Signs Were There
Some will remember the first wake-up call in 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association deleted homosexuality as a disorder from their authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II. Since then it has become public knowledge that a small but very aggressive and vociferous group of mainly homosexual psychiatrists and activists caused the change not science. Ironically, the psychiatrist who administered the change, Dr. Robert Spitzer, who is an atheist, has now reversed his position and believes that homosexuality, is not unchangeable.7
Yet this reclassification by this secular “god” (the American Psychiatric Association) has paved the way for the downward slide to continue. In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy endorsing adoption by same-sex couples and urged its 55,000 members to take an active role in supporting laws allowing it – this in the face of consistent studies that demonstrate children raised by same-sex parents are at greater risk for gender and sexual confusion, promiscuity, losing a parent to AIDS or suicide, depression, and to engage in homosexual behavior.8
In an important book, Are Gay Rights Right? , noted attorney Roger Magnuson, spelled out the homosexual activists’ tactical objectives. He noted that activist s will seek to have sodomy laws repealed or declared unconstitutional (this was accomplished by the Supreme Courts 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas). Magnuson also wrote that activists would pursue equivalent status for practices permitted by law to heterosexuals but not to homosexuals, for example marriage and adoption (these are active cases in the courts today). Another tactic is to advance its agenda in public schools education “tolerance” programs and establishment of recognized clubs and campus facilities (this has been happening all over the country with the aid of the National Education Association and the ACLU).9
Their coordinated agenda and strategy of normalization through desensitization is summarized in the article “The Overhauling of Straight America.” The author stated,
The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with emotion. . . .You can forget trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social right s is virtually won. . . .In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straight s will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector.10
Indeed, the homosexual strategy specifically includes: (1) portraying homosexuals as victims and promoting anti-harassment policies; (2) using biased, exaggerated, and false data to position homosexuality as genetic; (3) pressing the legal system to pass anti-discrimination, hate-crime laws and give all civil rights to homosexuals; (4) utilizing the media to portray homosexuality as good and normal; (5) portraying anyone who is against homosexuality as an intolerant bigot; (6) developing and organizing pro-homosexual school curriculum, and persuading school teachers, the National Education Association, and school clubs to adopt policies that promote the normalcy of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The strategy is working. Today 30% of Americans believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable, and 20% of born-again Christians agree! It should be noted that the generational responses are even more indicative of the hardening process taking place in our culture. 41% of those 18 to 38 accept homosexuality as morally acceptable compared to 32% of those 39-57 and 14% of those 58 and older.11
The Church’s Complicity
Another trend that confuses the issue is that many mainline churches have begun to accept homosexuality, same-sex marriage, civil unions, and/or ordination of homosexual clergy. For example the very liberal 1.4 million member United Church of Christ ordains openly homosexual men and women as does the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Currently, serious conflicts exist within the Anglican Church of England, the Episcopal Church USA, the United Methodists Church (UMC), and the Presbyterian Church USA. Over the past several years, those opposed to and those affirming the moral legitimacy of homosexuality have come repeatedly into heated clashes that threaten to split those denominations.
For example, the Methodist Church in England reaffirmed this year its commitment to embracing homosexuality. In America, the UMC, the second largest denomination, recently acquitted Rev. Karen Dammann, a practicing, married lesbian minister of the charge of practices declared by the UMC to be incompatible to Christian teachings. Yet this acquittal is in direct conflict with the UMC Book of Discipline which states that homosexual behavior and ordination are incompatible with Christian teaching.
The Episcopal Church’s New Hampshire diocese elected openly homosexual Gene Robinson as bishop and he was approved by the denominations bishops despite protests of heresy from conservative bishops around the world. In May of 2003, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) had nearly 30 cases pending in its church courts concerning presbyteries that ordain openly homosexual clergy. Strong efforts are in the works to change the official PCUSA language to redefine marriage from “a covenant of marriage between a man and a woman,” to “a covenanted relationship between two persons.”
Conservative elements in all of these denominations have responded and a significant struggle continues which threatens to split these church bodies. The liberal element bases their reform position on three premises. The first is to position their cause with the rhetoric of openness, tolerance, inclusiveness, and recognition of monogamous commitments. The second is that basic human rights and civil liberties are due to all persons without discrimination. The third premise is that the Bible is not infallibly inspired and inerrant. Instead they assert that the Bibles authors reflected their own views. While trying to understand and explain the mysteries of life, they were nonetheless limited by a lack of scientific knowledge.12
Those liberals who try to take the Bible seriously have attempted to reinterpret key texts in the Bible that demonstrate homosexuality to be rebellion and sin against God’s order and design for humankind. These texts include Genesis 19:1-9f; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:25-27; and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. For an apologetic response to the liberal twisting of these texts you may contact our office for our packet on the subject.13
The Push For Same-sex Marriage
The pro-homosexual agendas major target is the legalization of same-sex marriages. Currently Massachusetts recognizes same-sex marriages while Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont grant similar legal status with “civil unions” and “domestic partnerships.”14
However, thirty-seven states have enacted Defense of Marriage Acts banning same-sex marriage while seven other states have laws prohibiting it. The legislative movement s in those other states have prompted conservative efforts to have congress pass a Federal Marriage Amendment clearly defining marriage and its privileges to one man and one woman. Yet thus far this has not garnered enough support. Barna research (June 2004) revealed that 37% of voting age citizens have never heard of the Amendment. His poll revealed that 46% of the population supported it while 44% opposed it.15
Christians need to awaken to the seriousness of this particular issue as well. Marriage is the foundation of civil society. It is Gods design for sexuality in the natural created order and His provision for human beings to function in the social order. Marriage is not just about love and sex or even companionship. It is about establishing a nuclear family, and families are the bricks out of which every society, every culture, and every government is built.
In This Issue
In the following articles of the Areopagus Journal, our goal is to provide you with a substantial understanding and an apologetic response to the homosexual agenda in America. We will focus on the homosexual attempt to legitimize their practices with science and law, and on the prominent battlefield issue of the day: same sex marriage.
Our first article, “How Did We Get Here?” by Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church, traces the history of the homosexual “social revolution” in our country and reveals the stated strategy and tactics of the activist homosexual community. Lutzer writes, “As I hope to show, we all share responsibility for what many regard as a frightful social experiment taking place before our eyes. We must respond to this crisis, but how we respond is of utmost importance.” Lutzer correctly points out that our complacency and accommodation has allowed a “frog in the kettle” syndrome to take place which must end.
Lutzer concludes with an import ant biblical exhortation as to how we proceed on this battlefield: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Lutzer comments, “First and foremost, we must aim at redemption, not rancor. We must lower our voices in this debate, speaking with respect and dignity.”
The second article is written by a Christian psychiatrist and scholar, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, titled “The Gay Gene?” Satinover responds to the frequent pro-homosexual mantra that homosexuals are “born that way,” explaining how science has not demonstrated that homosexuality is genetic and therefore normal. Dr. Satinover, who holds degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, and Harvard, who has served on the faculty as Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University, presents a somewhat technical but accessible article exposing the fundamental fallacies of so-called “gay gene” research, and the erroneous conclusions drawn and broadcast by the liberal media.
In the next article, ARC’s associate director, Dr. Steve Cowan, explains “Why Same-Sex Marriage is a Bad Idea.” Cowan argues four reasons why same-sex marriage is wrong: (1) it would require the state to sanction an immoral practice; (2) it will undermine traditional marriage; (3) it would open the door to other perversions of marriage; and (4) it would require the state to adopt a non-neutral, relativistic perspective. He concludes with responses to major arguments offered by supporters of homosexual marriage.
We conclude with an article by Rob G., a former homosexual, a Christian, married with children, titled “Getting Out: Some things you should know about the journey out of homosexuality.” Rob is on the staff of a ministry to homosexuals and writes from first-hand experience. He writes compassionately and realistically about the challenges facing those who desire to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
Take advantage of the ministry websites we note as well as the excellent books we recommend. These books can be ordered through ARC or through your local bookstores. Also, don’t forget that we have amassed a substantive file on all dimensions of this issue and welcome requests for specific information packets.
In closing, let me remind you that our calling is to be people of grace and truth, salt of the earth – a redemptive preservation of a just, peaceful, and orderly culture. We are called to walk with Jesus, to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to free the oppressed – to love our homosexual neighbor. Otherwise the path of depravity will continue. As Romans 1:26-28 says, more will continue to depart from their natural heterosexual function and go to the degrading passions of homosexuality. Y et the good news is that we have the riches of the glory of His inheritance. . .the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe in accordance with the strength of his might. . . .I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph.1:18-19; Phil.4:13).
Craig Branch is Director of the Apologetics Resource Center, Birmingham, Alabama. (at the time of the oripublication)
1 James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 63, 51.
2 Leadership U, “Nuclear Fission,” World Magazine 18:30 (August 9, 2003), online article found at www.worldmag.com/displayar-ticle.cfm?id=7577.
4 http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist s.html.
5 Gene Edward Veith, “The Nordic Track,” World Magazine Vol. 19, No. 9 (March 6, 2004): 22.
6 See Crosswalk.com article by Al Mohler (March 5, 2004), “Criminalizing Christianity: Sweden Hate Speech Law” at http://crosswalk.com/news/weblogs/mohler/1277601.html?vie w=print.
7 Spitzer, professor of Psychiatry and Biometrics at Columbia University, published the results of the study he conducted of 143 men and 57 women who claimed to have changed from homosexual to heterosexual. He concluded from the results, a 68% effective change, “that highly motivated individuals using a variety of change efforts can achieve good heterosexual functioning”(See the website of Leadership U at http://www.leaderu. com/orgs/narth/spitzer3.html. ) I heard Dr. Dobson interview Dr. Spitzer on a program and when Dobson asked him if he discovered that his son was oriented to homosexuality and wanted to change would he recommend or encourage it. Spitzer chuckled somewhat uneasily and said in all the many press interviews he had done since the release of his findings, he was nervous that someone would ask that question, but no one had – until now. He paused and said, “Yes I would.”
8 NARTH. http://www.narth.com/docs/endorses.html.
9 Roger Magnuson, Are Gay Rights Right? (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990), 10-12.
10 Marshall K. Kirk and Erastes Pill, “The Overhauling of Straight America,” Guide (November 1987) as quoted in “Love Won Out” Conference Guide, Focus on the Family, no date or location given.
11“Morality Continues to Decline,” Barna Update (Nov. 3, 2003) at www.barna.org.
13 See also Terry Wilder, “What the New Testament Does and Does Not Teach about Homosexuality,” Areopagus Journal 1:4 (October 2001): 28-32.
15 See www.barna.org.