Wholly Rambling Thoughts About Choices:

For some time now, homosexuality has been described as a depraved choice that those on the dark side of sex consciously make—they could choose otherwise, but they simply don’t. What if this isn’t a choice—the choosing of the ultimate sexual sin, defined as an unnatural sexual lifestyle that is freely embraced in open defiance to God and society? What if homosexuality comes as standard equipment from the factory and not as an aftermarket add-on?

In my professional life as a Presbyterian minister and a trained and certified counselor, I noticed something that caused me to question how this issue of sexual identification and expression comes about. Through over 30 years of ministry and counseling, I never had someone come into my office and tell me that they were going to choose to be homosexual because they had noticed that the gay community was simply having too much fun not to be with them. In all the cases I observed, that question of sexual expression was presented as a struggle. And it was never presented as an easy struggle; it was always filled with anxiety, anguish, fear, guilt, worry and great personal distress.

This contradiction that I noticed in those struggling with sexual expression and identity led me to see what science and research may have to say about it. The research in this area seems to point in the direction of the indication that homosexuality is strongly influenced in the womb by hormones and also powerfully influenced by the genetic structure of the individual. And the continuing study and research steadily reinforces that conclusion—scientific conclusions, based on continuing scientific investigation, that a person is born gay or straight, as the terms go.

Many denominations/religions are not willing to give this scientific research/information any credence at all, even in the smallest degree—instead a stance of attack/denial is adopted, usually based on the Old Testament’s pronouncement about homosexuality being an abomination and certain Pauline references in the New Testament—but the Pauline references are really quite vague—then add to that the Biblical fact that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality—all this is most troubling to those who wish to condemn based on a Biblical condemnation!

The use of the scriptures in this way has always been problematical because the Old Testament has quite a number of references to behaviors that come under the heading of abomination, including the definition that handling pigskin is an abomination—sorry, but there goes NCAA and NFL football. The Old Testament also states that the penalty for working on the Sabbath is death—oops, there goes Wal Mart, Sams, Target, etc. There is also the death penalty for taking the Lord’s name in vain. And there are other areas of human behavior with which the Bible, Old and New Testaments, has had and still has some difficulty: it justifies slavery; it relegates women to a place of being a non-person when compared to men; it allows divorce only for adultery.

And you can see that we haven’t stopped playing high school, college or professional football; we don’t kill people for working on the Sabbath; we have outlawed slavery and have made an attempt to work on racial prejudice; we have reluctantly allowed women to vote and have granted them an equal place in society, sort of; and divorce is now so much a part of our culture that we don’t take much notice of it, even for ministers.

Biblical interpretation stresses that the Bible was written within a specific culture and at a specific time—and that both of these factors had an affect on the writers and on what they wrote. Their writings reflected the world in which the writers lived—so we attempt to study what they wrote, what was going on in their world when they wrote it and let the Bible speak to us in our world. Such is a reasonable and reasoned way to approach scripture and faith.
The church and its leaders cannot simply go on either attacking or ignoring the gathering scientific evidence—I have to remember that it was the Christian leadership that condemned Galileo for putting forth the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. They were willing to kill him for that idea—and, don’t overlook the fact, that he was right!

There is a Christmas carol that asks the question—“Do you hear what I hear?” I think the implication of that question is that God might be doing or saying something that deserves my attention. I have to listen—sometimes I don’t listen well enough and I miss some important things that could make a real difference in my life and in my living with others. We have ears, but sometimes we don’t listen and consequently we don’t hear. Sometimes I choose not to hear! And sometimes, choosing not to hear is a really bad choice!

“Do you hear what I hear?” In 1870 the Methodists in Indiana were holding their annual conference on the campus of a college. The president of that college was asked to speak to the conference. In his remarks, he indicated that they were living in a quite exciting age—that in their lifetimes they would be seeing some things that were unbelievable. The bishop was fascinated by those remarks; he was so fascinated that he interrupted the presentation with a question—what did the man see in the future, what kind of unbelievable things would be happening?
The president of the college responded that there would be all kinds of things, all kinds of new inventions. He said that this was 1870 and that he believed that one day soon man would be able to fly thought the air like a bird. “You believe what?” the bishop asked. “You believe that one day we will be able to fly?”
“Yes sir, I do,” the college president replied. The bishop erupted with his response. “Why that is heresy, just plain heresy. The Bible says that flying is for angels and angels alone! Enough of that drivel. We will hear no more of such talk here. Flying! What a ridiculous idea!”
And when the conference was finished, that bishop went home to his family—his last name was Wright—he went home and told his family about the absurd speech given by the college president—to his wife and two young sons—whose names just happened to be—Wilbur and Orville! The bishop had ears, but he wasn’t listening; he had tuned out.

Have we tuned out? “Do you hear what I hear?” Listen! God may just be saying something we as individuals and as a nation really need to hear!

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