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Slavery, Homosexuality, and the Bible, Part II

By Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.



Text Box: Scripture does not provide the kind of clear and unequivocal witness for slavery that it exhibits against same-sex intercourse.






In his response to my critique of his Presbyweb Viewpoint article, Rev. Krehbiel seems to miss the point—over and over again.  


1. Bad reasoning. Rev. Krehbiel operates with a very bad syllogism:

Major Premise: Any appeals to Scripture that bear some resemblances,

  in broad strokes, to antebellum, pro-slavery appeals to

  Scripture are invalid.

Minor Premise: Contemporary anti-homosex appeals to Scripture bear

  some resemblances, in broad strokes, to antebellum,

  pro-slavery appeals.

Conclusion:       Contemporary anti-homosex appeals to Scripture are invalid. 

     The problem here is that the major premise is absurd, for two key reasons. First, it takes no account of what Scripture actually says. It leaves unquestioned whether antebellum pro-slavery appeals have the same accuracy as contemporary pro-complementarity or anti-homosex appeals. In short, it treats as functional equivalents both inaccurate applications readings of Scripture and accurate applications of Scripture. Second, it takes no account of the fact that sexual behaviors that Rev. Krehbiel apparently does not want promoted—incest, polygamy, prostitution, and pedophilia—could be validated by the same major premise. One need only contend that arguments against such sexual behaviors use biblical texts to unjustly smear “sexual minorities.” Indeed, a number of pro-monogamy appeals to Scripture in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, in reaction to Mormon polygamy, resemble pro-slavery arguments. Are these arguments invalid? Then, too, if one pushed it, we could probably find some resemblances between contemporary anti-homosex appeals to Scripture and antebellum anti-slavery appeals to Scripture. Would that validate contemporary anti-homosex appeals? 

     Rev. Krehbiel’s own arguments are quite similar to a number of pro-polygamy arguments made in the nineteenth century. It is a tad inconsistent that he doesn’t like that being pointed out, but he does like to peddle far more remote connections between antebellum pro-slavery appeals and contemporary pro-complementarity appeals. 

     Rev. Krehbiel would like to get away from a discussion of what Scripture actually says about slavery and same-sex intercourse. But doing so is a false step and, in the end, makes impossible any responsible exegetical and hermeneutical appeals to Scripture.


2. Scriptural mandate. As stated in my first response, Scripture itself does not provide the kind of clear and unequivocal witness for slavery that it exhibits against same-sex intercourse. Therefore, the former does not make a good analogy to the latter.  

     In other words, Scripture nowhere expresses a vested interest or mandate in preserving slavery, whereas Scripture does express a clear countercultural and creational vested interest in preserving an exclusive male-female dynamic to human sexual relationships. Ergo, biblical authority is not at stake in the former but it is very much at stake in the latter.  

     An emancipation movement would not have appalled Jesus and Paul but acts of same-sex intercourse would have done just that. There is much to suggest that Jesus and Paul would have condoned an emancipation movement, though they might have questioned: (a) how it could be accomplished without massive violence (they did not live in democratic states and lacked political power); (b) how some particularly destitute persons would survive (they did not live in welfare states so some people might face starvation); and (c) how the disciples of Jesus would survive if it made emancipation a cornerstone (they would confirm for authorities suspicions that Christian faith was a seditious threat to the Roman Empire).  

     If Rev. Krehbiel cannot see a difference here that is so significant as to make any analogizing between slavery and same-sex intercourse unworkable, then I fear that we are past the point of reasonable discussion. Rev. Krehbiel’s stance on same-sex intercourse represents a fundamental challenge to the authority of Scripture and Jesus that far supersedes any challenge posed by emancipation movements. It is a challenge to Scripture’s core values. 


3. The Bible’s “trajectory” of critique. Although Rev. Krehbiel states that “the Bible fails to condemn” slavery, Scripture does in fact, at a number of points, show a decidedly critical edge to the institution of slavery and regard freedom from slavery as at least a penultimate good. I briefly mentioned some specifics in my first response to Rev. Krehbiel but a far more detailed discussion is available in The Bible and Homosexual Practice (see “Excursus: The Biblical View of Slavery,” pp. 443-52).  

     Rev. Krehbiel does not like my phrase “trajectory of critique” because, he believes, there is no linear progression in the critique. Actually, there are lines of development at particular points, though of course there are regressions at others. Whether one is justified in seeing a trajectory in the historical evidence may lie in the eye of the beholder. At any rate, it is immaterial to my main point that the Bible often exhibits a critical posture toward slavery, and indeed of a form of slavery that in many ways was much less pernicious than the slavery of the antebellum American South.  

     In order for the Bible’s stance on slavery to be a good analogy to the Bible’s stance on same-sex intercourse, Rev. Krehbiel would need to demonstrate that Scripture shows serious reservations about prohibiting same-sex intercourse. But he does not demonstrate this, nor can he. There is not a single statement anywhere in Scripture—or in early Judaism—that so much as hints that a homoerotic act of any sort might be acceptable.  

     For the authors of Scripture and for Jesus, slavery was at most a sometimes unavoidable penultimate evil, given the political, social, and economic realities of the ancient world—for example, as an alternative to starvation. In order for Scripture’s view on same-sex intercourse to be analogous, even in a remote sense, one would have to demonstrate that the Bible’s other-sex prerequisite for sexual unions was actually just a preferred good. However, no one who knows the ancient Jewish and early Christian evidence could reasonably argue that Jews and Christians merely hoped that sexual intercourse would involve other-sex persons. That’s like arguing that Paul viewed not having sex with one’s mother as a mere preferred good (cf. 1 Cor 5). 


4. Countercultural witness. Along the same lines, Rev. Krehbiel ignores completely the fact that the Bible’s countercultural witness works in opposite directions as regards slavery and same-sex intercourse. I can see why he ignores it. As regards slavery, the Bible looks fairly liberating in relation to the ancient norm. As regards same-sex intercourse, the Bible moves in the direction of more, not less, rigorous opposition. This renders improbable the notion that the writers of Scripture got their stance on same-sex intercourse wrong because they were naively imbibing at the cultural well. 


5. Degrees of cultural difference. What the authors of Scripture, and Jesus, meant by “slavery” is something significantly different from what we Americans normally mean by slavery. Slavery in the ancient world was not predominantly race-based, often did not mean lifelong servitude, often served as a form of criminal justice (in the absence of long-term prison facilities), often allowed private enterprise, sometimes led to social advancement, and operated in a social and political economy that made complete abolition of the institution problematic (totalitarian states that disallowed political reform; no welfare net). These differences are well documented and help to mitigate somewhat the problem of different stances toward the institution of slavery held by ancient and modern believers. 

     Now Rev. Krehbiel continues to insist that homoerotic relationships in antiquity were so different from modern manifestations as to make it impossible to assert that the biblical authors would have been opposed to committed homosexual unions. Of course, that is easy to assert but not so easy to demonstrate. For Rev. Krehbiel and others must demonstrate not only that the authors of Scripture were unaware of committed homoerotic unions but also that the authors of Scripture rejected same-sex intercourse precisely and solely because of a lack of loving commitment exhibited by them. As it is, Rev. Krehbiel has not, and cannot, demonstrate either point.


6. Jack Rogers the “better exegete”? In fact, Rev. Krehbiel declines to offer the proof for these critical matters, instead referring readers to “better exegetes than I,” specifically to Jack Rogers’ recent essay posted at the Covenant Network website. But Rogers’ treatment of Scripture’s stance on homosexual practice is entirely without merit. I have already thoroughly debunked his remarks about my nature argument made in his 2001 Covenant Network presentation. In this more recent presentation Rogers tells us how Scripture itself convinced him that Paul was not indicting committed homosexual unions. According to Rogers, Paul in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Cor 6:9 (and, presumably, 1 Tim 1:10) had in mind the kind of massive temple prostitution (allegedly) going on in the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth in Paul’s day; that, consequently, Paul was talking only about “idolatrous people engaged in prostitution.” No serious biblical scholar, even pro-homosex biblical scholar, argues this point—not Nissinen, not Brooten, not Fredrickson, Schoedel, Bird, etc. There are many reasons why this view has not found a welcome in serious biblical scholarship. I came up with fifteen reasons yesterday afternoon without trying to be exhaustive. I will soon make them available in a piece tentatively entitled “A Bad Reason to Change One’s Mind: Jack Rogers and the Temple Prostitution Argument.” They include such points as:  

  • The consensus of historians that there was no massive temple prostitution, let alone homosexual cult prostitution, going on at the temple of Aphrodite in the Corinth of Paul’s day.

  • The mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26, which in the ancient world was not conducted in the context of cult prostitution.

  • The fact that Paul’s language in Romans 1:24-27 speaks about mutual gratification and mutual judgment, female with female and male with male, and says nothing about exploiters and persons being exploited.

  • The intertextual echoes to Gen 1:26-27 and Gen 2:24 that underlie the critiques of same-sex intercourse in Rom 1:24-27 and 1 Cor 6:9 respectively.

  • The fact that none of the other vices enumerated in Romans 1:29-31 are dependent on idolatry.

  • The parallel between idolatry as an act against creation and same-sex intercourse as an act against nature in Rom 1:19-23 and 1:24-27 respectively.

  • The distinction in 1 Cor 6:9 between idolatry and same-sex intercourse, as well as the comparable case of incest treated in 1 Cor 5-6.

  • The fact that the expression “contrary to nature,” as applied by other ancient writers to same-sex intercourse, never includes a primary indictment of cult prostitution.

  • Early Jewish critiques of same-sex intercourse, which always focus on the compromise of gender integrity, not issues of idolatry or prostitution.

  • The link between 1 Cor 6:9 and the absolute prohibitions in Leviticus, where the latter too are not restricted to temple prostitution.

  • The meaning of “soft men” (malakoi) in ancient usage, which is nowhere tied closely to matters of cult prostitution.

     I even have an argument against same-sex intercourse purportedly made by a Corinthian, in which temple prostitution is not at issue (see below). Rogers’ views would be laughable if they didn’t have such tragic potential for leading uninformed readers seriously astray. In short, if Rev. Krehbiel thinks Jack Rogers is a “better exegete” than himself, then this is a telling thought indeed.


7. The issue of committed homosexual relationships in antiquity. Many of the arguments cited in bullets above can be employed to critique Rev. Krehbiel’s general position that the biblical authors did not have in view—indeed, could not conceive of—the notion of committed homoerotic unions. Rev. Krehbiel claims that he has read and understood my arguments but finds them unconvincing. Shoving off the reasons why to others who do not in fact rebut my case is a poor defense. Let him tell us what specifically he finds unconvincing about my arguments.   

     On the question of whether the ancient world could conceive of committed homoerotic unions, how about the remarks by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium that the most noble love is male-male love and especially in circumstances where “they continue with one another throughout life. . . . desiring to join together and to be fused into a single entity . . . and to become one person from two”?  

     Or how about Callicratidas’s remarks in the pseudo-Lucianic Affairs of the Heart, which allude to “reciprocal expressions of love” between the lover and beloved to a point where “it is difficult to perceive which of the two is a lover of which, as though from a mirror. . . . Why then do you reproach it . . . when it was ordained by divine laws and has come down to us from succession? And having received it gladly, we cherish it with pure thoughts as though caretakers of its temple.” I could go on but what’s the point? Rev. Krehbiel has no arguments to refute this.  

     As none other than John Boswell has said:  

If the difficulties of historical research about intolerance of gay people could be resolved by simply avoiding anachronistic projections of modern myths and stereotypes, the task would be far simpler than it is. Unfortunately, an equally distorting and even more seductive danger for the historian is posed by the tendency to exaggerate the differences between homosexuality in previous societies and modern ones. One example of this tendency is the common idea that gay relationships in the ancient world differed from their modern counterparts in that they always involved persons of different ages. . . . (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, 27; my emphasis)

     Rev. Krehbiel claims that it is “eisegesis” to contend that biblical writers rejected same-sex intercourse because of its “same-sexness”; that is, because of an erotic desire to merge what one already is as a sexual being. I say to Rev. Krehbiel, prove it. In my own defense I can marshal a number of pieces of evidence. For example, consider these four points for starters: 

  • Genesis 2:18-24 clearly precludes homoerotic relationships of any sort. Sex is about merging, or more precisely “re-merging,” with one’s sexual other half. That is what the story of the splitting of the originally undifferentiated adam (“human”) communicates. The only difference created by the splitting is a separation of the sexes. Hence, the only possible way of reconstituting a sexual whole is to involve male and female, man and woman. Perhaps Rev. Krehbiel would want to argue that the ancients could not think that way. Oh, but they could—see again Aristophanes’ story in Plato’s Symposium about Zeus splitting three originally binary humans down the middle (male-male, female-female, male-female). Certainly, too, Paul’s intertextual echoes to the creation texts in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6, which proscribe same-sex intercourse, make clear that this is how Paul understood the matter. A male is not another male’s sexual other half, nor a female another female’s. Rev. Krehbiel contends that the creation account makes the sex of the participants non-essential and only the expression of mutual self-giving as essential. But that is manifestly false. What is missing from the male is essential femaleness, not additional maleness. And for the authors of Scripture a sexual relationship is never just about mutual self-giving. If it were, then we should have sex with multiple partners and with our parents and siblings. Sex is about merger and merger has to do first and foremost with structural complementarity, a matter that must be settled before one considers such things as degree of commitment and reciprocal affection.

  • Not a single Jew and not a single critic of same-sex intercourse among Greco-Roman moralists ever focus on the absence of love or commitment as the main problem with same-sex intercourse. I challenge Rev. Krehbiel to come up with a single piece of evidence to the contrary. If ancient critics of same-sex intercourse did not criticize it primarily for the absence of committed love, then how could its presence in some modern homosexual relationships—to say nothing of some ancient homosexual relationships—have made any difference to their critique?

  • The prohibitions as expressed in Leviticus, Paul, and many early Jewish writers (e.g., Philo, Josephus) are expressed absolutely. No exceptions. And, unlike in the “pagan” Greco-Roman milieu, there are absolutely no cases of homoerotic relationships ever cited in Jewish literature in the Second Temple period. None. This is amazing considering the high incidence of multiple forms of homosexual practice in the ancient Near East and in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean basin. The reason for this absence of incidence can only be explained by the fact that homoerotic practice of any sort was so strongly proscribed and abhorred that committing it was out of the question. What Rev. Krehbiel, Jack Rogers, and others would have us believe is that if two adult men had come up to Paul—or to the writers of Leviticus 18 and 20, or to Philo, or to Josephus, etc.—and said, “Hey, we want to be in a committed, long-term sexual relationship,” the response would have been: “Now that is a kind of male-male sexual union that I would be willing to accept.” This is historical nonsense. I urge Rev. Krehbiel to read, for starters, my seven-point argument for why the terms malakoi (effeminate males who play the sexual role of females) and arsenokoitai (men who lie with males) are correctly understood in our contemporary context when they are applied to every conceivable type of same-sex intercourse (The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 325-30). And not just read it but tell me where my arguments, all seven of them, are flat wrong. Even Walter Wink has had to admit, based on my arguments here, that “Paul wouldn’t accept [an adult, committed homoerotic union] for a minute.”

  • In the pseudo-Lucianic Affairs of the Heart, a Corinthian—of all persons—makes a case against all forms of same-sex intercourse, committed or otherwise, by arguing something similar to what I claim the authors of Scripture found offensive about same-sex intercourse and which Rev. Krehbiel declares to be eisegesis. Charicles contends that men who engage in sex with other males “transgress the laws of nature” by looking “with the eyes at the male as (though) at a female. . . . One nature came together in one bed. But seeing themselves in one another they were ashamed neither of what they were doing nor of what they were having done to them.” What does this critique have to do with temple prostitution? Or lack of commitment and love? Absolutely nothing. The issue is that of males finding sexual completion in other males, in effect, erotic desire for what they already are, “seeing themselves in one another.”

     The above makes clear that the eisegesis lies not with my analysis but with the analysis of Rev. Krehbiel. 


8. On sexual orientation in antiquity. Further confirmation for the fact that Rev. Krehbiel has either not read or not understood my book is the following comment: “No one is arguing that ancient people understood sexual orientation as something rooted in a person’s being.” Obviously, Rev. Krehbiel has not read pp. 380-95 where I argue something akin to what Rev. Krehbiel claims no one is arguing. I now have a more extensive discussion of orientation theory in antiquity and why modern theories would not have made any difference to Paul’s critique: “Does the Bible Regard Same-Sex Intercourse as Intrinsically Sinful?” in Christian Sexuality: Normative and Pastoral Principles (ed. R. Saltzman; Kirk House, 2003), 106-55 (discussion of orientation on pp. 140-52). Even Bernadette Brooten, a New Testament scholar who is also a self-professed lesbian, contends: “Paul could have believed that . . . sexually unorthodox persons were born that way and yet still condemn them as unnatural and shameful. . . . I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism” (Love Between Women, 244).  

     Of course, too, the attempt to see a “sexual orientation” as equivalent to the benign and 100% immutable, genetic characteristic of race or ethnicity is completely bogus. Even the Kinsey Institute has recognized that the vast majority of self-identified homosexuals make one or more shifts along the 6-point Kinsey spectrum at some point of life. Homoerotic desire is more akin to a predisposition to pedophilia, ephebophilia, or alcoholism than it is to ethnicity, at least in terms of development and susceptibility to micro- and marcocultural influences.  

     Rev. Krehbiel excoriates nature arguments and then appeals to (inaccurate) theories about homosexuals being born homosexual and having an immutable, natural sexual orientation. Doesn’t he realize the gross inconsistency?


9. On outdated purity codes. Rev. Krehbiel bases his “biblical” argument for supporting committed homoerotic relationships on Jesus’ resistance to purity codes. Strange, though, that neither Jesus nor Paul (nor any other early Christian leader) ever interpreted the commands against male-male intercourse as antiquated purity legislation. Indeed, scholars of Levitical legislation—including David P. Wright, Jacob Milgrom, and Jonathan Klawans (see the latter’s recent book, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism [Oxford University Press, 2000])—argue that the legislation in Leviticus 18 and 20 address matters of moral impurity rather than purely ritual impurity. The prohibition of male-male intercourse in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 bears none of the characteristic features of legislation defining ritual, non-moral purity. For further discussion see pp. 22-28 (“Ritual Impurity and Moral Impurity Once More”) of my online rejoinder to Dan Via (pdf or html).


10. On making good analogies and the case of adult incest. Unfortunately, Rev. Krehbiel never stops to consider what constitutes a good analogy and what constitutes a bad analogy. It’s really quite simple. A good analogy has many key elements of correspondence with the thing being compared. It would be nice if Rev. Krehbiel listed all the points of correspondence—not between slavery arguments as badly used by pro-slavery forces in antebellum America and anti-homosex arguments employed today but rather between the Bible’s own view of slavery and the Bible’s own view of same-sex intercourse. I guarantee that it will be a very short list.  

Since Rev. Krehbiel likes analogies so much, it is interesting that he chooses to ignore the analogy between the Bible’s view of incest and the Bible’s view of same-sex intercourse. Clearly, the best analogies are those that most closely correlate with the distinctive elements of the Bible’s opposition to same-sex intercourse: consensual sexual behaviors that are pervasively, absolutely, and severely proscribed in both Testaments of Scripture, at least implicitly. Scripture’s stance on incest is a particularly good analogy to its stance on same-sex intercourse. Both incestuous relationships and homosexual relationships are: (1) regarded by authors of Scripture with similar revulsion as extreme instances of sexual immorality; (2) capable of being conducted in the context of adult, consensual, long-term monogamous relationships; (3) wrong partly on the assumption that they both involve two people who are too much alike; and (4) wrong partly because of the disproportionately high incidence of scientifically measurable, ancillary problems arising from many such relationships. For further discussion, see my Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, 48-50; or consult my review essay of Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture, part 1, pp. 191-95). 

     Rev. Krehbiel rejects what he calls my “slippery slope” argument regarding the analogy to adult incest. But it is more than a “slippery slope” argument—one can always pray that people won’t draw the logical conclusions from their arguments for committed, adult homosexual unions. My point is that, if Rev. Krehbiel is inclined to argue from analogies, the analogy of the Bible’s stand on, say, man-mother intercourse, is far closer to the Bible’s stand on homoerotic relationships than is slavery. By what rationale does Rev. Krehbiel choose the poorer analogy over the better one?  

     Rev. Krehbiel also claims, as regards my comparisons with incest and polygamy, that there are “clear distinctions between the nature of each of these relationships.” Well, of course there are distinctions. If there were no distinctions we would no longer be discussing analogies but the same entity. The issue is that the very same arguments that Rev. Krehbiel employs for substantiating homoerotic relationships—the unions can be consensual and committed, people who engage in them are ostracized, scientifically measurable harm does not accrue to the participants in all circumstances—can also be used to validate adult incestuous and polygamous unions. So I ask Rev. Krehbiel: What is so bad about these unions that you feel compelled to proscribe them absolutely but not committed homoerotic relationships? Could it be that some consensual and committed relationships are structurally incompatible or unnatural in some way that we should preclude all of them? 

     Rev. Krehbiel cites a 21-year gay relationship that he knows of. So what? I have never denied in any of my writings that such relationships can occur. But, as I noted in my first response, even pro-homosex researchers recognize that the overwhelming majority of male homosexual relationships will not be monogamous and long-term (to say nothing of lifelong). In the end, the church will have to validate the norm for the sake of the tiny exception—as both J. Michael Bailey and Marvin Ellison (cited in my first response to Krehbiel) have acknowledged. Even more importantly, a long-term monogamous relationship no more validates a homoerotic union than it does an incestuous one. We don’t want the relationship to be long-term and thereby regularize the sin and distorted sexuality that arises from it. The problematic aspect of same-sex intercourse—sex with a sexual same rather than with a sexual counterpart—is not improved by making it long-term or even monogamous. 


11. On sexual narcissism, sexual self-deception, and psychology. Rev. Krehbiel says that “nearly the entire psychological community rejects” the notion that homoerotic desire is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. I don’t doubt that the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns in the APA, to which such matters would be referred, or their political supporters, would reject the notion. But apart from their lack of credibility, neither they nor any other psychologist can deny that a homoerotic desire is an erotic attraction to what that person already is or has as a sexual being. I mean, what else are homoerotically-inclined persons attracted to? Why else would a person who experiences homoerotic desire, especially exclusively so, desire specifically a person of the same sex rather than a person of the other sex? And we are not talking here simply about a friendship or admiration. We are talking about erotic attraction, a desire to sexually merge and become one with a person who is not a complementary sexual counterpart but a person of the same sex. That’s why we call it “homosexual” intercourse (homo- for homoios, “like” or “same”) and distinguish it from “heterosexual” intercourse (hetero- for heteros, “other, different”). It is patently a desire for the essential sexual self that one shares in common with one’s partner. By definition it is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. There is either a conscious recognition that one desires in another what one already possesses as a sexual being (anatomy, physiology, sex-based traits) or a self-delusion of sorts in which the sexual same is perceived as some kind of sexual other. There are no other alternatives.  

     Notice here that I am not asserting, as Rev. Krehbiel seems to think, that two or more persons in a homoerotic relationship can never exhibit care and compassion toward one another. Such a claim would be absurd for virtually any proscribed form of human sexuality. Rather, so far as the erotic dimension is concerned, homoerotic desire is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. The church has no objection to intimate, non-erotic same-sex relationships. We call them friendships. It is only when an erotic dimension is introduced to a same-sex relationship that problems develop. If one protests that there is only a fine line between intimate and erotic, another may respond: parents who do not maintain a clear distinction between intimate and erotic in dealings with their own children are candidates for criminal prosecution. 

     Mind you, I’m not talking merely about what some pro-homosex advocates derisively refer to as an “obsession with plumbing.” Quite clearly, though, most homosexuals, especially male homosexuals, exhibit an obsession with the “plumbing” or anatomy of persons of the same sex. The tremendous emphasis on “gay” pornography in the male homosexual community, their significantly higher average rates of sex partners, and gay bath houses are all striking testimony to this. To say that distinctive, same-sex anatomical features are not critically important to homosexual men would be like saying that most heterosexual men experience only minor attraction to beautiful female anatomical distinctives. At the same time, I am talking about something more than “plumbing” or anatomy: a recognition of something holistic, an essential maleness or essential femaleness. We have to ask: Why do about 99% of all persons in the United States limit their selection of mates to persons of a particular sex? The only reasonable answer is that sexual differentiation is the primary consideration for mate selection. Either people want a mate of the other sex (97% of us) or they want a mate of the same sex (2%). No other criterion for mate selection comes even close to this one consideration. Clearly, there is a basic human acknowledgement that a person’s sex matters, that there is something essentially male and essentially female that causes persons to rule out of consideration an entire sex when they choose a sex partner. And it is precisely the erotic attraction to the same essential sex that one already is, to the distinctive sexual features that one already has, that can be labeled sexual narcissism.  

     In this connection, too, it is interesting that homosexual men, even those who bear effeminate traits, usually desire very “masculine” men as their sex partners. Why? Undoubtedly many desire what they see as lacking in themselves: a strong masculine quality. Such a desire is really a form of self-delusion. In the perspective of Scripture and indeed of science, they are already men, already masculine. They are masculine by virtue of their sex, not by virtue of possessing a social construct of masculinity that may or may not reflect true masculinity. They need not seek completion in a sexual same. Rather, they must come to terms with their essential masculinity. 

     As for scientifically measurable mental health issues, no form of sinful behavior leads irresistibly to mental distress and disease for all participants and in all circumstances. But homosexuals experience a disproportionately high rate of such problems, even in homosex-affirming areas such as San Francisco or the Netherlands. 


12. On ostracism. Rev. Krehbiel’s ostracism argument is a complete red herring, for three reasons. First, there are a number of persons, sexual or otherwise, that receive equal or greater ostracism than persons engaged in homosexual behavior (e.g., polygamists, prostitutes, persons engaged in incest, pedophiles). The fact that some persons or groups of persons experience some degree of societal disapproval or censure is no argument for endorsing all behaviors, even behaviors that do not necessarily prove scientifically measurable harm in all circumstances (few do, and none of the sexual behaviors mentioned above).  Second, the right Christian course of action is, and must always be, to love the very persons who violate the standards of God that we are called to uphold. This was Jesus’ approach to economic exploiters (tax collectors) and to sexual sinners. It is the work of the church in the world. At the same time, Christians who support legally enforced, cultural incentives for homosexual behavior make a huge mistake. They bring on themselves and on our children legal marginalization and even persecution. This leads to my third point. The real threat to lose of civil rights and freedoms in the Western world has come with the advancement of homosexual civil “rights.” For example:  

  • On Feb. 4, 2004 the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that Chris Kempling, a Christian school teacher, could be suspended without pay from his job simply for writing to a local newspaper a reasoned and compassionate defense of why homosexual behavior should not be endorsed. This is not even a case where Kempling was promulgating a critical view of homosexual behavior in the classroom. He was acting as a private citizen, not as a civil servant. According to Justice Ronald Holmes, “discriminatory speech is incompatible with the search for the truth.” There is almost no end to how this ruling could be applied. Anybody who has a white color job and makes a statement critical of homosexual behavior, even outside the work place, as a private citizen, could be terminated from employment. Certainly, too, if “discriminatory speech is incompatible with the search for the truth” and any statement critical of homosexual behavior is treated as “discriminatory speech,” then no scholar or teacher at any academic institution can be critical of societal approval of homosexual behavior, at any time, and expect to remain employed.

  • This past year Cheryl Clark, a mother who, after becoming Christian, had separated from her lesbian partner, was ordered by Denver County Circuit Judge John Coughlin to “make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic.” Her lesbian ex-partner, who had no legal or biological relationship to the child but was nonetheless granted joint custody by the judge, was not specifically required to abstain from remarks critical of Cheryl Clark’s beliefs.

  • In 2001, AT&T Broadband ordered Albert A. Buonanno of Denver to sign a “certificate of understanding” stating that he “values the differences among us,” including “sexual orientation” differences. When he and others refused, but still affirmed that they wouldn’t discriminate or harass homosexuals, they were fired. The case is currently under litigation.

  • In 2000, Kenneth P. Gee Sr., a Bureau of Reclamation job training teacher in Nampa, Idaho, and a Mormon, was ordered by his employer to “observe gay and lesbian pride.” Gee e-mailed his supervisor, saying that he believed homosexual behavior was sinful and did not want to celebrate it. Three supervisors told him that his e-mail violated federal policies. He was warned not to express disagreements in the workplace again or face termination. The case is currently under litigation.

  • On Jan. 6, 2004 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the firing of Richard Peterson, a Christian employee of Hewlett-Packard, for silently protesting homosexual activism in the workplace, was justified. Peterson’s crime: responding to a “diversity posters” celebrating homosexuality by posting two or three Bible passages implicitly critical of homosexual behavior on the overhead bin in his cubicle.

  • In 2002 a Christian British man holding up a sign that equated homosexual behavior with immorality was surrounded by 30-40 angry persons who doused him with water and knocked him to the ground. A British court convicted the beaten man of disturbing the peace. In January 2004 Britain’s High Court ruled that the conviction and the reaction of the crowd was justified.

  • On Nov. 19, 2002, Mary Stachowicz, a 51-year-old wife, mother of four, and devout Catholic, was murdered by a 19-year-old homosexual man when she asked him, “Why do you [have sex with] boys instead of girls?” In a fit of rage, Nicholas Gutierrez punched, kicked, stabbed, and strangled Mrs. Stachowicz; then stuffed her body into a crawl space under the floor of his apartment, where it remained for two days until he confessed to police. Not surprisingly, the news outlets gave this story very little attention—the same course of action that they followed in 1999 when 13-year-old Jesse Durkhising was sodomized and killed by a sadomasochistic homosexual couple.

  • In 1998 Annie Coffey-Montes, a New York Bell Atlantic employee for 20 years, was fired for attempting to remove herself from the e-mail list of GLOBE (Gay and Lesbians of Bell Atlantic), which advertised “gay pride” parades, “coming out” parties, and homosexual dances. After a year of petitioning her supervisor to have her name removed, she responded to one GLOBE e-mail with: “Please take me off this email. I find it morally offensive. God bless you.” She ended by citing Romans 1:27. Coffey-Montes was then fired for “creating a hostile work environment.” She appealed to the New York State Department of Health. The Department of Health dropped the case against New York Bell even though New York Bell failed to show for all three hearings. The decision to drop the case was not all that surprising, considering that Coffey-Montes’ caseworker had pro-homosex posters on her office wall.

  • In October 2002, Rolf Szabo, a 23-year employee of The Eastman Kodak Co., was fired when he responded to an e-mail requiring supervisors to promote a “Coming Out Day” for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees with the following: “Please do not send this type of information to me anymore, as I find it disgusting and offensive. Thank you.”

  • On Dec. 11, 2002, the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatchewan (Canada) validated a 2001 ruling of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission that had ordered both the Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspaper and Hugh Owens to pay $1500 to three homosexual activists. The reason for the fine? Owens had paid for an ad that gave biblical references against homosexual behavior; and the Star Phoenix published it (chapter and verse numbers only). The court ruled that the ad, which referenced Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1, and 1 Cor 6:9-10, exposed homosexuals to hatred and ridicule.

  • In 2000 Scott Brockie, owner of an Ontario print shop, was fined $5000 by the Ontario Human Rights Commission for refusing to print materials promoting homosexual activity given to him by the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives.

  • In 1997 the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the airing of a James Dobson “Focus on the Family” program, entitled “Homosexuality: Fact and Fiction,” violated the requirement that opinion be presented in a way that is “full, fair, and proper.” Focus on the Family Canada is no longer allowed to broadcast programs that criticize homosexuality. Radio stations that broadcast such programs will lose their licenses.

  • At some institutions of higher learning, Christian groups such as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship have been barred from campus and have lost school funding for not being willing to accept into their leadership self-avowed practicing homosexuals.

These are only the tip of the iceberg so far as denials of freedom of religion and freedom of speech are concerned. For the rest of the iceberg, including enforced indoctrination of children in many public schools from the first grade on, see Alan Sears and Craig Osten, The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today (Broadman & Holman, 2003). Rev. Krehbiel is not against ostracism per se. He wants to promote ostracism so far as persons opposed to cultural endorsements of homosexual behavior are concerned.


     I don’t expect to convince persons like Rev. Krehbiel. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to him what Scripture says or even what Jesus thought. His ideology and experience trump Scripture no matter whether Scripture opposes some or all homosexual practice, no matter whether Scripture views an other-sex partner as a requirement for sexual unions or only a preference, and no matter whether the prohibition of same-sex intercourse violates core values in the Bible’s sexual ethics or violates only marginal concerns. Nevertheless, there is still some value in showing those who care what Scripture says and Jesus thought that they should not be misled by the false arguments put forward by pro-homosex advocates, however well meaning such advocates might be. 


© 2004 Robert A. J. Gagnon