Sam Braden (he/him)
In the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination, a dynamic exists among the candidates which would have been unthinkable a couple decades ago: the candidate who invokes God and his Christian faith the most, who constantly appealed to morality and his religion, who is trying to take up the mantle of the American Evangelicals from the Trump-era Republicans, is the only fag in the race. Of course, I’m talking about Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Now, widely, this has been considered extremely positive for America, and especially for the LGBT community. At a time when the candidate whom Christians would normally support is a thrice married, lying, manipulative jackass who has cheated on his pregnant wife with a pornstar and admitted to assaulted women, it seems that for many Christains, their desperation in finding an alternative may allow them to accelerate the larger trend that has been happening in Christianity - forgetting the whole “gay thing.” LGBT people across America, whom for so long have been the target of discrimination and hate based in the teachings of Christianity, seem finally to be able to exist as citizens who are equal to the rest of straight, cisgender America. Outside of the argument against LGBT people which comes from Christianity, there exists virtually no reasons for the immorality of our actions. Many churches and faiths have formally opened their arms to the LGBT community, and because of this we are now seeing many members of the LGBT community actually joining faiths, adhering to the precepts of Chrstianity, and even serving in leadership roles in the church.
But, while this is good for the LGBT community, I believe this is still very problematic. Not because I think that LGBT people should be hated, but rather because the teachings of Christianity are clear that they can’t be compatible.
When discussing this topic, we can’t make the mistake of focusing on the Old Testament. We should consider the New Testament, and this supplies us with three main New Testament scriptures covering homosexuality: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. I’m not going to deal with the first, because it is not completely clear if Paul is condemning any and all homosexual intercourse here. The other two read, “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God… neither fornicators… nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” and, “The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane… for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers,” respectively.
Some have argued that the words translated as homosexuaity either applied to pedastry or prostitution. However, the word used is ἀρσενοκοῖται, which is a cognate created by Paul from the Greek ἄρσην (“male”) and κοίτης (“bed”), meaning “to bed men.” It seems that Paul purposely invented a word here in order to be able to discuss just any general sexual practice between two men, because Greek lacked a general term for homosexual sex, just words focusing on specific actions or the roles of those invovled (passive or active). If that wasn’t Paul’s intention and he wanted to criticize specific sexual practices that could be enacted by two men, then he could have used other words available to him at the time. But he made a point to invent one. Therefore, he has to be discussing just general, gay sex.
Now, some people may respond, “Well, ok, sure. The Bible does say that homosexuality is a sin, but the NT was written 2,000 years ago and the authors couldn’t envision the world we live in today.” But we must deny such an argument because its qualification of Scripture’s authority damns any following Christian teachings by questioning the primary source material from which they might opine, synonymously to the quandary of the Skeptic attempting to disprove the existence of reason by using reason. If we can just forgo with one part of the Bible, how does any of it have authority? If Timothy isn’t the true word of God, then how can we know that the Gospels are, where it says Jesus is the Son of God and rose on the third day? As St. Augustine wrote, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” This is problematic because of a central Christian teaching of the supremacy of scripture as divinely inspired and infallible. While some argue over how literal some aspects of the Bible are to be taken or if there can be other teachings added to its teachings when the Bible doesn’t cover a specific topic, none question either its completeness or its truth. Being a Christian, going to church, belieivng in Jesus, his resurection, and the importance of his teachings, but saying that homosexuality isn’t a sin, would be like using the multiplication tables to prove 8x10 is 80 and 10x10 is 100, but insisting that 9x10 is 6.
Now, this doesn’t mean that being gay is a sin according to Christianity. Rather, having homosexual sex is. Therefore, being someone who is attracted to another gender does not make someone sinful. Acting upon it does. Moreover, being someone who has acted upon their acts does not make one unable to be a Christian. One can even be a Christian and even have had homosexual sex after one has converted - but one must at least acknowledge the sin and genuinely try to be better. Even the denominations with most lax requirements of being a Christian teach that sin a terrible thing. Christianity is sometimes criticized as giving its followers a “free pass” to sin, by saying that salvation simply comes from acknowledging Jesus as one’s Lord and savior (it must be noted that Catholicism and Orthodox don’t have this teaching, and say that sinning can keep one from salvation). But if one is truly to adhere to Christianity, sinning is still a horrible thing by which any good Christian should be disgusted. If one is a true Christian, one should do everything one can do not continue. This is why Pete Buttigieg can’t be a Christian. There’s no problem with him being attracted to men. There exists a problem when he is married to a man and takes pride in it, makes no effort to not sin, and chooses to deny scripture. He is either just willfully ignorant of the teachings of his faith or is choosing to eschew them for his own benefit. Both are wrong.
Now some may ask why I’m writing this, as a gay man. I admit that writing this article is against my better interests. If every Christian who reads my article believes it, then I will have turned 73% of my country against me. Don’t get me wrong - I love the new “pro-gay Christian” movement. The fact that the people with whom I grew up now support me is amazing. But from an academic standpoint, this isn’t right. As a scholar, I value intellectual honesty more than I value my own comfort. I think it’s problematic to live in a world where we pick and choose from a moral theory we claim adherence to.
Moreover, my focus isn’t on the Christian mom who thinks the gay couple at her salon are “so cute.” Rather, this article is intended for the active homosexual who nonetheless calls themselves a devout Christian, i.e., Mayor Buttigieg. Franklin Graham was absolutely right when he tweeted at Buttigeig that his homosexaulity is a “sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized,” if one adheres to Christianity, which Buttigieg does. I’m bothered by people who actively choose to interpret something a certain way based on the moment, especially when that something isn’t ambiguous. One’s beliefs should hold regardless of one’s situations or comfortability. If one can eschew a commandment of one’s religion out of convenience, how do we know they won’t likewise do away with any of their moral beliefs when it’s not comfortable. Nonetheless, Christian gays break this value of a moral coherence.