Two Helpful Responses to the Genetic Defense of Homosexuality, by Pr. Rossow

One of the responses to our ongoing string of articles on the LCMS music director who is a gay and lesbian activist was a scientific defense of homosexuality. Both Pastor Eric Stefanski and I responded to this assertion that homosexuality is defensible with genetics. My response is pithy and rhetorical. Pastor Stefanski’s response is longer and carefully and subtely reasoned from the teachings of scripture.

Here is the scientific defense given by commenter Ed.

Scientists can now use brain-imaging technology to identify the specific brain and chemical systems that drive the complete process & sequence when determining gender whilst in the womb – this is known as the neurobiology of gender. The hypothalamus is involved. Is this not then God’s hand in creationism when he proclaims in Psalm 139:1ff that he knew us before we were born and whilst in the womb he breathed his breath into each of us and created our inner-most being knitting us together in our mother’s womb? In summary your created gay, straight or a derivative thereof.

Christians believe that humans were created in God’s image and that God expressed pleasure at His creation. Why then would God specifically create a minority group who are biological predisposed to a supposedly grievous sin that’s grounded in love? Further, why would an omnipotent but loving God select some and not others into this depraved minority? If homosexuality is unnatural, why do non-human mammals exhibit a similar incidence of it? Same-sex lovin’ is common in hundreds of species, scientists say. Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, were a couple for about six years, during which they nurtured a fertilized egg together (given to them by a zookeeper) and raised the young chick that hatched. According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others. Is this not God’s creation and handy work?

Why does a church (Lutheran or otherwise) that’s so adamant about homosexuality seemingly ignore other biologically oriented Biblical directives and prohibitions? The list of such challenges goes on.

If any theologian can provide a response that is not biologically ignorant and self-serving theologically prejudice, then I am listening.

Here is my pithy rhetorical response:

Ed,

Human reason does not accept the six day creation taught by God in his word. Human reason does not accept the ressurection of the dead taught in scripture. Human reason does not accept that the blood of Jesus of Nazareth was shed to pay for your sins and mine. Do you trust man’s reason over the word of God?

Pastor Rossow

Here is Pastor Stefanski’s reasoned approach based on the truth of scripture:

Not being a biologist, I will leave it to those who are to point out the inconclusiveness of the research.

Instead, I will point to the fact that what one finds in the process today is not what God designed it to be. For your point to be valid, we would have to conclude that God *intends* various physical disabilities that occur during gestation, etc. Since God commands against homosexuality, it is evident that the original mechanism did not allow for deviations to occur.

In short, while you wish to cast aspersions at others for theological prejudice, your reasoning trifles with Original Sin and its effects.

A second consideration: if one is physically pre-attached to a certain sin, that is no excuse for practicing it. If there is, indeed, a predisposition to alcoholism, it is nonetheless incumbent upon one so disposed to avoid it.

EJG

The Brothers of John the Steadfast will face these types of arguments from science regularly. I hope these two scriptural and confessional responses will help you be better prepared for this sort of genetic defense of sin.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Two Helpful Responses to the Genetic Defense of Homosexuality, by Pr. Rossow — 20 Comments

  1. Many species of animals also eat their young.Hmm, makes the teenage years for my children quite treacherous!

  2. My opinion on this goes back to Genesis at the time of Adam and Eve. He created them male and female he created them. I also believe that God was speaking to a man and woman when he said go forth and be fruitful and multiply on the face of the earth.

    If homosexuality is God ordained( and it isn’t because it is sin.) then the Bible is no longer the Word of God. Since the Bible is the Word of God the Old and New Testament and both Testaments clearly condemn homosexuality then the homosexuality being a result of genetic mutation is wrong.

    What many forget in fact is that we were born to sin and sin mainfests itself in every day life through our thoughts words and deeds. This is the same case with homosexuality. God was pleased with his creation but not hte sin that was brought into the world through man and the urging of the devil.

  3. Indy,

    That is a great argument! Many animals do eat their young. My dad claimed to be an evolutionist and he argued with my mom many times before he died about the non existence of God. He could never prove it and one Birthday she bought him a statue called Darwin’s Mistake. In this story a monkey tells the other monkey that man the hoery cuss did not descend from us because a monkey would not premeditate murder and robbery.

  4. Does the Lutheran church ignore other biological bases for sin? I have always figured that the our sinful nature is supported by our biological nature? Wrathfulness, for example, can be shown to have at least a partially biological basis.

    Sin always wants to legitimize itself.

  5. The twins study at the University of MN claims that divorce is actually at least partially genetically determined, i.e. some are more disposed to divorce than others.

    It’s our “opinio legis” – the law’s opinion which our flesh naturally follows – which seeks to treat a person’s behavior outside the realm of his will or choice, so that we can no longer judge the person as having chosen a behavior which is obviously against nature.

    But on the other hand this myth that people are genetically predisposed toward acting like animals has some interesting theology. It is basically arguing that man’s essence is sin, which is the error of Flacius which we Lutherans reject in the Formula.

    But reason despises the doctrine of original sin, because it thinks it isn’t fair and that man should be able to decide whether he act good or bad.

    So the defenders of sodomy want to call their pet-perversion a coerced act on the one hand, but on the other hand they celebrate their right to choose their own behavior.

    And try to point this out to a liberal who loves his righteous defense of the oppressed homosexuals and you will “meet no suave discussion.”

    I thought I would ramble. I was just yelled at last night for opposing the oxymoron gay marriage.

  6. I just don’t buy that .. a twins study that implies that divorce is genetic??? More than likely this is a environmental issue and not a genetic issue — twins raised in a household where God is missing or faith has not been passed on may be more likely to divorce I would think.

  7. Mark P,

    Rambling is allowed here, even encouraged. Keep up the opposition!

    Pastor Rossow

  8. I took part in a similar conversation on a message board some years ago. Here is my slightly altered reply from that (the person who started the thread asked “When did you *choose* to become heterosexual?”) :

    Even if sexual orientation were something over which one has no control whatsoever, actions are something which we can control. For example, I am a heterosexual but I am unmarried. Because I believe that God calls us to refrain from sexual intercourse outside of marriage, I am also a virgin. I choose not to have sex. Not just once, but on a continuing basis. Daily, if you will, for the past 33 years. I will continue to make that choice until such a time as I have the blessing of a husband. If I never get married, I will make that choice every day for my entire life.

    For the above mentioned reason, I do not think that a genetic predisposition towards homosexuality, even if it were provn beyond a shadow of a doubt, has any relevance to the discussion. It might be an interesting academic question. But for Christians, who believe that homosexual behavior is a sin, it makes no difference.

    The choice then becomes whether the individual will act on his or her sexual feelings. There is also a choice as to what an individual will do to support, encourage or intensify said feelings. For example, choice in reading material, movies, people to hang out with. Those are choices that all of us make. Even those who are married, heterosexual, and in all other ways fall into the traditional/conservative Christian family unit make decisions about acting or not acting on sexual desires and feelings.

  9. “Is this not then God’s hand in creationism when he proclaims in Psalm 139 that he knew us before we were born and whilst in the womb he breathed his breath into each of us and created our inner-most being knitting us together in our mother’s womb?”

    My Psalm 139 doesn’t say that.

    Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. – Psa 139:16

    Emphasis on “unperfect”
    Sam

  10. Regarding Stephanie’s comments above, that regardless of what one’s sexual (pre)dispositions may be the chief point, perhaps, is whether one acts or does not act on what the Bible reveals to be sinful sexual desires and feelings, I would add the following insight of Dr. John Kleinig.

    In a lecture he gave on the Book of Leviticus, he noted that the Bible always speaks in terms of same-sex sexual ACTS when speaking about what we would today call homosexuality. He argued that when speaking of homosexuality we should rather use the Biblical terms of sodomite and catamite, as these indicate ACTIVITY rather than biological or pychological disposition.

    To use the term homosexuality is to have already given in to a purely scientific approach to the issue.

  11. That is a very good point Jesse. I have heard that argument before. I guess I have been using “homosexual” because it currently communicates so much more clearly than sodomite and cadamite.

    Do you have a page reference in the Leviticus commentary by chance on that?

    Pastor Rossow

  12. I thought perhaps we could call sodomites melancholies instead of gays.

    The OT scriptures deal only with the act of sodomy just as they deal only with the act of all crimes, murder, theft, rebellion, covetousness. The desire is obviously within the spirit of the Law and condemned with the act, just as hatred is condemned in the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” and lust in “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

    We should condemn the desire as a perversion. We condemn greed, hatred, envy and other things even if they are not acted upon by a person’s choice. No one knows the depth of his own wickedness and no one wants to admit it until he actually acts upon it, but “keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

    I had a conversation with a woman the other night with whom I had argued before about sodomites attempting to marry. After I thoroughly trounced her in showing that no government has ever conceived of marriage as existing to protect the mutual emotions of two human beings, she chose two attack methods.

    First, she asked, “What do you have against them? Do they hurt you personally? If not, why do you care?” Now I parried the blow in a retreat because I had already had a couple beers and I must admit her vehement audacity was a bit alarming. I said, “It’s not a matter of having anything personally against them, it’s that they are attempting to claim something which wasn’t meant for them.” But I have a new answer, which I will have ready the next time. I do have something personally against them because the actions of fellow human beings affect all other human beings. If a man wants to chop of his hand to show his loyalty to his friend, should we allow him to do this? Maybe, some would say. But then should we allow him to show this hand in public and demand that no one be allowed to condemn his action as the folly that it is? So also, when a man does what is medically detrimental and unhealthy (ask sodomites about their medical bills) – something which goes against the way that life itself continues! – and then demands that my government acknowledge this affront to the way society exists, I am personally offended! I am downright mad. I’m an American and our ancestors didn’t die to give sodomites “civil rights” that run contrary to the very manner in which the lives they gave came to be.

    Her other attack was that marriage is only a “label,” and that if it makes sodomites happy (see, they’re not “gay” yet, they’re only trying to be; they think they’ll be “gay” when they can get “married,” but they’re only fooling themselves; really they’re melancholy) then what problem should we have with it?

    I replied that marriage is more than a label and was meant to protect the propagation of children and foster new life and a healthy way. But then my libelous opponent countered with the argument that no one in America looks at marriage that way anyway. She said that people divorce whenever they want to and many choose not to have children at all or how many children they want.

    Now, I still think her argument is bunk. It’s sort of like the baptist argument that because so many people have been baptized and fallen away that baptism doesn’t work (as if their invented altar calls will have a higher success rate than God’s institution). But still, it makes me wonder. We have been allowing divorce in our own churches for unscriptural reasons. I have heard from the time I was a teenager from Lutheran girls and women my age that they don’t want to have any children at all, or maybe only one or two. And I’ve heard Lutheran men express the same sentiment, laughing about too much responsibility.

    Much of the purpose of marriage and its continuity is hardly known to us anymore. This is the foundation of all relationships between men and women and of “sexuality” in general. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do when other perversions come to claim their place among us?

    More rambling. I have to go write a syllabus.

  13. Pastor Rossow,

    I don’t know that the reference is in the Leviticus commentary itself. It came up during the Madison Continuing Education course offered by Kleinig after his commentary had come out. A recording of this very excellent presentation used to be available. You may contact Rev. Christopher Seifferlein at propiatied at yahoo dot come. He is the site coordinator for Madison.

    Jesse

  14. I would attack this from another angle. God reveals Himself to us in the book of nature and in the book of the scriptures. The book of nature is called natural revelation and theologians can draw some conclusions about God from this revelation which they call natural theology. Now I may be treading on dangerous ground here because natural theology is controversial in various denominations and theological perspectives. But before you react please just follow the flow of my argument. God does not save anyone by contemplating nature and reflecting about natural theology. The only conclusion that we can come to is that there must be a God who created this stuff which we perceive with our senses and minds. This is the only thing that the new Intelligent Design Theory of creation can lead us to. As one theologian put it “creation is a most elegant book designed to lead us to contemplate the invisible things of God and some of His attributes……Natural revelation is sufficient only to leave humans inexcusable before the bar of divine justice……….Nonetheless, however elegant natural revelation, the effects of sin are such that neither the light of nature, nor the law is capable of giving that knowledge of God and of his will, which is necessary for salvation.”

    So, the book of nature is a very unreliable and unclear revelation of the will of God. We cannot really come to any conclusions about what pleases or displeases God in regards to His will. Therefore, to come to any conclusions about whether homosexuality is acceptable to God by studying anything in nature is erroneous. The only clear revelation comes from the book of special revelation which is called the scriptures. And the scriptures quite clearly condemn homosexuality. So, homosexuals are without excuse just like all of us. Homosexuality is a sin just like any other sin which can be forgiven if we repent and get baptized. And this, of course, is a gift of God.

    Now, I am of the opinion that homosexuals may struggle with this sin for the rest of their lives but as long as they acknowledge it as sin and are regulary attending a confessional Church to listen to the Gospel proclaimed to them and partaking of the supper regularly they are considered clean and clear by the word of God because of their faith in Christ. Christ lived the law perfectly for us that we would not be punished for the sin which still dwells within us. Others may disagree with me but I see no scriptural reason for what I said is not the truth. If I am wrong please correct me.

  15. For Sam Lewis-

    I don’t understand the point you’re making about “unperfect” in Psalm 139. It means “unformed” or “incomplete” here, right? Please explain.

  16. Why has the ELCA diminished the Lutheran Church through support of the sin of homosexuality and the LCMS has done the same through its six day 24 hour creationism going against truth and reality?

    Is this why these churches are both declining? Are they somehow both disconnected from the truth? Please tell me.

  17. Eric,

    The Bible says that the everything was created in six days. The LCMS upholds this teaching of truth which is in accord with reality.

    TR

  18. TR

    The real issues in this country revolve around the original truth laid out in the Trinity – God (God’s Word), versus the original(native Americans)and other peoples’ “truths” that they brought here with them from overseas or later developed here in the USA.

    Sorry to say – what follows IS truth and will not be refuted!

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/category/creation/

    http://www.stjohn-indy.org/documents/Articles/Pt-4-The-Presentation-of-the-Orthodox-Gospel-.pdf

    Respectfully,
    EN

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