Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Hello Roger:

I use to attend your church in Tucson and you gave me some great advice about my daughter who "came out of the closet" a few years ago. You told me to NEVER close communications. While she is still in the lifestyle, I have followed your advice and I have learned so much about God through this experience. Thank you so much.

"M"

Dear Reader,

Several years ago M wrote me just after her daughter came out of the closet. Daughter brought her girlfriend home to "meet the family." Things didn't go well. M was so shocked, hurt and angry about daughter's sinful choice of lifestyle that she "tossed" them out of the family and wanted never to see her daughter again. Dad took the opposite perspective. He was deeply hurt as well; but, he wanted to keep the relationship door open. I advised mom to acquiesce to dad's perspective. At the time I agreed with dad and still do. I wanted them to have an open door to help their daughter when she may need support, counsel and love.

I want to use "M's" experience to help us as Christians better to understand homosexuality, gay genes, lifestyle choices and our response to those who live the gay lifestyle.

Recently, I received the following letter with a question that many ask, regardless of whether a loved one is gay or not.

Hi Roger...what would you say to someone who states that they can't help their homosexuality? Someone who believes that they were born that way and that they can't help the way they feel. I'm always at a loss for words when this comes up and I don't know exactly where to point them in scripture.

Thanks,

“L”

Dear “L”

Next to divorce, your question about homosexuality is by far the most frequently-asked “Ask Roger” question.

I remember listening as one dedicated Christian woman declared that homosexuality is without a doubt one of the most heinous sins on earth. She exhibited no tolerance for the behavior and no tolerance for those involved in the lifestyle. From her perspective, homosexuality was unquestionably a personal choice, one which must be “unchosen” if those involved want to get right with God.

As she spoke I chanced a glance at her husband. He was sitting quietly with his head down. He was stunned by his wife's outburst. It dawned on me that he and his wife had never discussed the subject. When she finished I said to husband, “I watched you struggling uncomfortably with what she was saying.”

He paused and paused and finally said, “My college roommate was gay.”

All was quiet. I thought of the Good Samaritan. As long as the injured man by the side of the road is just a “certain man,” it is easy to pass on by. But when we pull back the covers and see a human being, cut and bleeding to death, it's hard to pass on by.

As long as his wife could put all homosexuals in a category it was easy for her to pass by. But when she got down off her donkey and saw her husband’s roommate injured by the side of the road, it was hard to pass by. She was stunned; she had no idea her husband's roommate was gay.

In answering your question, “L”, I will begin with the Biblical material and move to the scientific evidence regarding homosexuality. Finally, I will share several thoughts on how we Christians might choose to deal with the subject. Hopefully then you can make your own intelligent decisions.

Let’s examine the biblical material, starting with…

 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

While all of these sins are devastating and dangerously guide people into Hell, we Christians tend to focus most of our attention on homosexuality to the exclusion of the others.

A second passage, Romans 1:24-27 describes God’s judgment on a world which has rejected His personal revelation through nature and the conscience:

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

We see here God’s judgment on a society that abandons Him. He lets it run wild, leading to all sorts of sexual liberties and perversions. The ultimate perversion is the rampant overrunning of society by the gay and lesbian community. We are not waiting for God’s judgment on our American society. Judgment has arrived. We are reaping what we have sown.

Nevertheless, if we are not careful, we will approach this passage with the wrong attitude. We will swell up with a sense of righteous judgment as we see the sin in these passages: “Go get them, God! They deserve judgment!” But, when we see trapped and hurting people in these passages, our hearts will break.

Romans 1:18-23  describes Man forsaking God. Romans 1:24-32 describes God forsaking Man—leaving him to the consequences of his own devices.

In Romans 1:24-25 the Greek word, Epithumia, translated as “sinful desires” really means a “reaching out after pleasure that defies all reason.” It’s like saying, “What in the world are they doing!!?” It's the way of a society which is so completely immersed in the pursuit of sex that they've ceased to be aware of God at all.

Romans 1:26-27  describes rampant homosexuality as one of the marks of a godless, wicked and abandoned society. “Even the words Paul uses for females (θηλυς)” and “even the males (αρσην)” are not the normal Greek words for men and women. Paul used the animal terms for “male” and “female.” We might expect the males to break out like this—but not the females—and the females are leading the pack! Paul describes homosexuality as using one’s body contrary to nature. According to Paul, a look at one’s sexual apparatus should convince anyone that practices of this kind are not what’s intended.

Now, let’s overview some of the current research regarding homosexuality. Please note! The following discussion is not a conversation or argument regarding morality and values. However, we can learn some simple facts as we overview some of the genetic, anatomical, hormonal, and chemical findings regarding homosexuality:

  • The anatomy of the gay brain is slightly different from that of heterosexuals. The gay hypothalamus is about 2/3 the size of the heterosexual hypothalamus.
  • The thickness of the Corpus Callosum in homosexuals, which sends interacting signals between the left and right sides of the brain, is midway in size between heterosexual male and heterosexual female brains.
  • The tendency to be homo or hetero sexual is influenced by the amount of testosterone produced in a mother’s womb during pregnancy. The more testosterone, the more likely a male child is to be heterosexual. The less testosterone, the more likely a male child is to be gay.
  • Conversely, the more testosterone, the more likely a female child is to be homosexual. The less testosterone, the less likely the female child is to be gay.
  • Each successive male brother tends to have less birth weight than the brother born before. There is a direct correlation between low-birth weight and the propensity toward homosexuality.
  • Also interesting is the positive correlation between the sexual orientation of mom’s brothers and homosexuality. A homosexual brother on mom’s side has a positive correlation with a homosexual nephew.

(The above material is gleaned from two books by Matt Ridley: Genome; and Nature via Nurture; and Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter).

That being the case, scientists have clearly determined (mostly from twin studies) that genes do not fatalistically determine our personality, brain chemistry, physical appearance or sexual preference. Our environment and personal interactions especially during our first six years and literally throughout the rest of our lives are turning genes on and off. Certain environments turn on certain genes to express themselves. The same genetic make-up (like twins raised in different environments) can cause different genes to turn on--or remain off. This is true of genes with a propensity toward homosexuality.

Hundreds of genes are now identified as contributing to a homosexual orientation and/or potential orientation. These genes are involved in a complex dance between nature (genetic material) and nurture (environmental factors). Many genes are turned on or off by contact with their environment, and, in some cases, personal choices.

I was having lunch with a Christian doctor friend who is well versed in both Christianity and the genetic, chemical and environmental issues regarding homosexuals. We were discussing the complexities of Romans One and homosexual genetics when my doctor friend said, “This means that it is time for us to get off our high horses and let God be the Judge. We need to enter this arena with love and compassion! We know we are called to do that.”

Homosexual behavior is a sin at any level. If you have homosexual leanings, God says, “Control yourself. You will never close the spiritual gap from where you are to an intimate relationship with Me while you are involved in homosexual behavior."

Similarly, heterosexual behavior outside of marriage is a sin at any level. God says, “Control yourself. You will never close the spiritual gap from where you are to an intimate relationship with Me while you are involved in heterosexual behavior outside of marriage.”

Let me share with you a few “Take Aways,” or things you might consider as you reach your own conclusions regarding this subject.

1. Protect children.

2. Pray for repentance throughout our nation. The chance of our nation repenting is slight. But, it does happen. Nineveh fell to its knees in sackcloth and ashes after Jonah preached of God’s coming Judgment. The entire nation turned around and judgment was stayed. I would like to think that if it happened for Nineveh, it can happen for America.

3. Let’s stop yelling, “Stop it!” at the “sinners” in our society. Few “sinners” have ever given their lives to Christ because someone yelled, “Stop it.” As far as we know, Jesus never yelled “Stop it” to the sinners, He yelled, “Stop it” to the religious leaders who should have known and behaved better. He lived with compassion for the folks who knew no better. We will turn this society around only when we show them a better way. We are called to love and to demonstrate a better set of values to a decaying culture.

4. Parents of homosexuals: be at peaceYou did not cause your child’s homosexuality, nor are you responsible for “fixing” it. By the way, there was once a widespread belief that homosexuality was the result of overbearing mothers and quiet, submissive and uninvolved fathers. This is not true. Studies reveal that dads tend to shy away from their homosexual sons because they are not necessarily “manly”. Mom then becomes over protective of her “rejected” son. Rejecting dads and overprotecting moms may rather be the result of a child’s homosexuality, not the cause of it.

5. The proper Christian response to homosexual individuals is to have compassion for them just as we do for others. They have the same needs for love and affection, comfort, acceptance, affirmation, security, encouragement and respect as everyone else. How we respond to their human needs is incredibly important for their sakes and for ours.

6. Do scientific research of your own. I have selected to share a number of scientific facts from a variety of sources. There are scores of studies and resources on this subject from an incredible number of resources.

7. Beware of succumbing to the Naturalistic Fallacy. The Naturalistic Fallacy declares: “This is the way things are; therefore, this is the way things ought to be." For example, “I'm homosexual; therefore, my sexual orientation is OK.” This like saying, “I was born with a heart deformed—this is the way it ought to be. Therefore, a deformed heart is OK.”

8. Be at peace if you are afraid that if gays are born and not made by choice then the truth and validity of the Bible is in question. No. Our faith rests on the resurrection of Christ—not on how we interpret Romans One.

“Well, “L”, I hope my answer is helpful as you sort out the issues and make your own conclusions. I’m sure that some people will tell you they have figured it all out; but, I doubt that they do. It seems to me that this is one subject we will have to wait until Heaven for the definitive answer. Remember that there is no reason to allow the confusion surrounding homosexuality to shake your faith. Our faith rests in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) of Christ on Easter morning and not on our ability or inability to understand God and homosexuality.

Love, Roger

Dr. Roger Barrier recently retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work isGot Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answerfrom Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.