by Matthew W. Bassford
Without a doubt, the greatest marketing campaign of the modern era was (and continues to be) staged by the gay-rights movement. The recent sea change in the national attitude toward same-sex relationships is the result of a brilliant, decades-long initiative in framing and public relations. Though I don’t approve of the object, I can’t help but admire the skill with which it was carried out!
Consider, for instance, the erasure of the word “homosexual”. The progressive attitude toward the word is well summarized by GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide, which says, “Please use gay or lesbian to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. Because of the clinical history of the word ‘homosexual,’ it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered. . .”
Indeed, just as there is no “I” in “team”, there is no “H” in LGTBQ+. I am skeptical, though, that the use of “homosexual” in a clinical context 75 years ago is the reason that it ended up on the ban list. Instead, it is because “homosexual”, unlike “gay” or “lesbian”, contains the word “sex”, thereby reminding the speaker and hearer that same-sex relationships are sexual relationships.
This was and is problematic for gay-rights champions because most men in the United States, even now, are repulsed by the thought of two other men having sex. “Homosexual rights”, then, is a viscerally unappealing term to just under half the population.
The solution to the problem was to drop “homosexual” in favor of “gay” and to make the gay-rights movement about love and marriage, not sex. Love and marriage poll a lot better than gay sex does. Who can be opposed to love?
From a biblical perspective, though, this shift focuses attention in exactly the wrong place. Scripturally speaking, a homosexual isn’t somebody who feels a certain way or has a certain kind of personality. It’s a man who has been intimate with other men, and unless you have done that, you’re not a homosexual. The doing is what the Bible condemns.
By contrast, the Scriptures have nothing to say about men with personality traits that aren’t stereotypically masculine, nor even about men who love one another. Indeed, the word encourages that! John was the apostle whom Jesus loved. Today, it’s commonplace for me to tell a brother in Christ that I love him. It has nothing to do with sexual desire and everything to do with the affection that we share in Christ Jesus.
“Being gay” is not a Scripturally cognizable concept, and it isn’t the problem. Two men loving one another isn’t the problem. Two men having relations with one another is the problem.
From here on out, American Christians are going to live in a world that accepts the practice of homosexuality. We have to acknowledge that and recognize that it’s going to be yet another barrier to our efforts to reach the lost.
As we discuss these things with outsiders, though, we must keep the real issue firmly in mind. Our concern is not with anyone’s inclinations and temptations, but with their violations of the law of God. If we allow others to make the discussion about anything else, we aren’t going to get anywhere.