Question: My church tends to be on the liberal side of most social issues, and it teaches that since homosexuality is inherited and therefore involuntary, it should be affirmed and accepted by Christians. This is of importance to me because my son is seventeen and has announced that he is gay. Would you comment on the position taken by my church and how I can make sense out of the situation in our family?
Answer: First, the only way your church can validate its position is by ignoring the biblical passages that condemn the homosexual lifestyle. But let me answer your question on another level by asking two questions of my own. They are "What if?" and "So what?"
"What if" it could be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is, as activists claim, genetic, biochemical, and neurological in origin? We would still want to know, "So what?" As you said, the homosexual activist community would have us believe that because their behavior is genetically programmed and beyond their control, it is morally defensible. That is not supportable. Most men have inherited a lust for women. Their natural tendency is to have sex with as many beautiful girls as possible, both before marriage and after. Abstinence before marriage and monogamy afterward are accomplished by discipline and commitment. If men did what they are genetically programmed to do, most would be sexually promiscuous from about fourteen years of age onward. Would that make such behavior any less immoral? Of course not.
"What if" a pedophile (child abuser) could claim that he inherited his lust for kids? He could make a good case for it. Certainly his sexual apparatus and the testosterone that drives it are creations of genetics. Even if his perversion resulted from early experiences, he could accurately claim not to have chosen to be what he is. But "so what?" Does that make his abuse of children any less offensive? Should society accept, protect, and grant special civil rights to pedophiles? Is it blatant discrimination that they are tried, convicted, and imprisoned for doing what they are "programmed" to do? No! The source of their sexual preference is irrelevant to the behavior itself, which is deemed to be immoral and reprehensible by society.
"What if" it could be demonstrated conclusively that alcoholics inherit a chemical vulnerability to alcohol? Such is probably the case, since some races have a much higher incidence of alcoholism than others. But "so what?" Does that mean alcoholism is any less of a problem for those families and for society in general? Hardly!
I hope the point is clear. Being genetically inclined to do immoral things does not make them right. There are many influences at work within us, but they are irrelevant. I know of no instance in Scripture where God winked at evildoers because of their flawed inheritance or early experiences. In fact, the opposite is implied. In the book of Genesis we are told that an angel informed Ishmael's mother that the child she was carrying would be "a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers" (Genesis 16:12). In other words, Ishmael was genetically inclined toward violence and rebellion. Yet there is no indication that he enjoyed a special dispensation from God that excused his sinful behavior. Each of us is accountable for what we do, without excuses and rationalizations. That's why we all need a Savior who died to eradicate our sins, regardless of their source.
There is one other "so what?" which I should address. If homosexuals can claim to be genetically predisposed to lust after their own sex, why does that make their circumstances different from unmarried heterosexuals? Single individuals are certainly programmed by heredity to desire fulfillment with the opposite sex, but they are called to a world of purity. I know that is a tough requirement—especially for those who will never marry—yet this is my understanding of Scripture. Promiscuity for unmarried heterosexuals is the moral equivalent of promiscuity for homosexuals. Liberal ministers who are revising church standards to sanction sexual expression by homosexuals must, I would think, extend the same concession to heterosexual singles. But before they do, some scriptural justification should be found to support the "new morality." I think none exists.
I hope this has been helpful. As for the situation in your family, I am sorry you are going through such difficult times. Since your son is seventeen years old, there is little you can do to require him to seek help. Your task at this time is to stay on your knees and ask the Lord to talk to him in the terms he needs to hear. Many seventeen-year-olds who think they are gay later return to the world of heterosexuality. I suggest that you maintain your relationship with the boy and that you be there for him when and if he comes back.
Book: Bringing Up Boys
By Dr. James Dobson