Monday, October 12, 2015

Homosexuals in church

I'd like to compare and contrast the question of homosexuals in church with pedophiles in church. I'm no expert on psychopathology, but since I doubt most seminaries discuss these issues, it's something that needs to be hashed out in formulating church policy and pastoral ministry:

i) As a rule, I think outright unbelievers should be welcome in attend church. In that regard, active homosexual are no exception. I'm referring to homosexuals who make no pretense to be Christian. Indeed, they are well aware of the fact that their lifestyle is contrary to Christian ethics. 

It's good for unbelievers to attend church. To be exposed to the Gospel and Christian fellowship.

ii) In addition, it's possible for someone who struggles with homosexual impulses to make a credible profession of faith. They can be church members. And that's distinct from active homosexuals (see above). In Christian ethics, single men and women are supposed to be celibate. 

iii) There's the increasingly popular category of "gay Christians." I don't think that's helpful. If I'm a Christian who's a recovering drug addict, should I call myself a "junkie Christian"?

iv) From what I've read, homosexuals and pedophiles are distinct, but sometimes overlapping categories:

a) Some pedophiles prey on kids of either sex. It's about kids, not about gender.

But there's a subset of pedophiles who prey on kids of the same sex. So some pedophiles are homosexual.

b) In the technical sense, pedophiles prey on preadolescents whereas homosexuals are drawn to adolescents or young adults.

c) Although some pedophiles seem to be sexually attracted to kids, pedophilia appears to be a subdivision of sociopathology/psychopathology. 

From what I can tell, the primary motivation for some or many pedophiles is to harm children. It is not, in the first instance, about sexual gratification. Rather, molestation is just one way of harming children. The general impulse, the deeper impulse, is to do harm. They hate children. 

So it's more like serial killers. The difference is the age range of the target group. Although serial killers may rape or sodomize the victim, it seems to be less about sex than violence, humiliation. Harming the victim psychically and psychologically. Same thing with pedophilia. 

By contrast, homosexuals are motivated by sex, albeit deviant sex. 

d) In general, I don't think the presence of homosexuals in church is hazardous in the way that pedophiles would be. 

For one thing, I'm not sure that homosexuality is as compulsive as pedophilia. Pedophiles, like psycho/sociopaths in general, take extreme risks. It's not clear to me that homosexuals are usually prepared to take the same risks. When necessary, they can exercise more restraint. But I could easily be mistaken about that. 

e) Another factor is that, by definition, pedophilia is coercive. There's no such thing as consensual pedophilia. By contrast, there is such a thing as consensual homosexuality. And because consenting partners are readily available, a homosexual isn't tempted to resort to the expedients of the pedophile. In that respect, homosexuals are safer to be around. 

f) In addition, it is easy to quietly subdue a young child. And it's easy to intimidate the young victim into silent through dire threats.

By contrast, it is not easy to subdue a teenage boy, or compel his silence. To attempt that when many people are around puts the perpetrator at tremendous risk of detection. 

For these reasons, I don't think the presence of homosexuals in church presents the same risk factors. 

v) Homosexuals are dangerous to minors in situations where homosexuals are put in positions of trust and authority over minors. Where minors are temporarily separated from parents, or heterosexual supervisors. If you give homosexuals power over minors, then that's an invitation to sexual abuse. Examples include the orphanages, involuntary commitment, youth detention, all male boarding schools, queer Boy Scout leaders on retreat, and the clerical abuse scandal in the church of Rome. I'm not saying abuse always occurs in these settings–just that the opportunity is greater.   

I'd add that this isn't confined to teenagers. In the military, homosexual superior officers have an opportunity to force themselves on adult subordinates.


  1. Sure, all of this is true. But there are a few additional issues: Transsexuals are going to be a problem if they demand to use the bathroom of the biologically opposite sex. They're going to have to be told in no uncertain terms that the church isn't going to accommodate them. Transexuals are also incredibly distracting if they are obviously "trans"--a man in drag, for example. Transexual behavior, to my mind, counts as inappropriate behavior in church, as does introducing oneself as a woman, demanding to be called by the opposite-gender pronouns, and so forth. That's really "acting out" and shouldn't be accommodated.

    Ordinary homosexuals who come *as couples* can be problematic, because they present themselves as a couple and demand to be accepted as such, even as church attenders. This undermines the church's moral message and conveys to children that "Mr. and Mr. So-and-so are a couple" is a normal category. I think it is legitimate to demand that homosexuals _not_ demand to be accepted *as couples* in this way, even if they are unbelievers, if they wish to attend one's church regularly. Let the kids think they are just roommates or friends or something, but don't try to get people to refer to the two of you as "spouses" or "partners" or what-not.

    The other problem with unrepentant unbelievers or people in blatant sin as regular attenders is that it is very easy for this to morph into their being "functional members." There comes a point where, if they attend for long enough, most people may not even know they are non-members. It is assumed then that they are Christians and that what they present themselves as is acceptable to the church body. This is a problem when the person is an "out" homosexual. It would also be a problem, by the way, if it were a man and woman living together unmarried. How do we avoid giving the appearance of approving of their openly sinful lifestyle while they are in church every week and appear to be treated "just like everyone else" unless, e.g., they ask to teach a Sunday School class or some other function narrowly defined as a "member function"?

    1. i) My post wasn't on the topic of transgenderism. I agree with your first paragraph.

      I realize that to some degree your doing preemptive pushback against the squishy Christianity Today type accommodation to transexuals.

      ii) I agree with your second paragraph.

      iii) The third paragraph is trickier. That's why it can useful to have formal church membership based on a credible profession of faith.

      One aspect might be "fencing the table."

      I suspect many impenitent unbelievers who live in blatant sin only attend "open and accepting" churches, not churches where traditional Christian morality is a regular part of preaching.

      The size of a church can also be a factor. You have fewer socially "awkward " situations in megachurches where everyone doesn't know everyone else.

  2. Good thoughts. Lots of issues to consider here. "Gay" and trans (or "gender questioning") teens and even pre-teens are also coming on the scene. VBS may never be the same.