The Modern “Liberation” of Homosexuals
UNTIL 1861 homosexuality was an offense punishable by death in England. In fact, the possibility of imprisonment for homosexual acts was not lifted there until as recently as 1967. Many other Western countries have a similar history.
In recent years, however, laws and attitudes have greatly changed. In California, by way of example, a candidate for San Francisco’s office of mayor promised to appoint homosexual to city boards and commissions in proportion to their share of the population, estimated at about 15 percent. As a result, homosexuals gave her their support at the polls.
Men and women prominent in public life can now be homosexuals quite openly. Many clergymen are self-confessed “gays,” freely advocating such a way of life. Homosexuality no longer is viewed by many as having the stigma it used to have. It has achieved a degree of “respectability.”
Since the first world war, the authority of the priests and clergy of Christendom has been challenged. People are no longer willing to accept without question what the churches say. They have demanded greater freedom, especially as far as morality is concerned.
A prime target has been the churches’ traditional stand against homosexuality. The Bible’s statements on the matter are now often said to be irrelevant for this 20th century. Under pressure, many religious authorities have capitulated, abandoned the Bible and openly welcomed this ‘new morality.’
Typical of such an approach is that taken by the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. He commented: “We have not modified Scripture. We have made an attempt to understand it at a deeper level. . . . Homosexual orientation is not sinful, except in the sense that it may have been conditioned within a sinful world.”
How Much “Liberation”
Is it not time for any religious restrictions to be completely removed? For the social reproach to be eradicated? Many feel this way and seek to emancipate men and women from what they consider to be intrusions on their personal lives. In this atmosphere of change the ‘Gay Liberation’ movements have been conceived and nurtured.
For many, however, this newly found freedom is short-lived. Its “blessings” are mixed and its promised happiness is an illusion.
Francis Cormier, a pastor of a small independent evangelical church in Montreal, Canada, summed up his lifetime as a homosexual. Acting now as a homosexual counselor, he admitted that “most homosexuals are not happy and well-adjusted as claimed by some, but are desperately unhappy persons.” He added: “Many even commit suicide.”
Endorsing these findings An Introduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual People, published by the Roman Catholic Church in the British Isles, has this to say: “Homosexuals commonly suffer from lack of self-esteem and a loneliness that heterosexuals find difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend. In ordinary mixed society, homosexuals feel like strangers.” Again: “Many homophiles find the loneliness of their lives a burden.” Such maladjustments are surely a far cry from the “liberation” so eagerly sought after.
Why a Homosexual?
Why, then, do people become homosexuals? What is behind the ever-increasing surge in their numbers? There is hardly an issue that has been more hotly contested in recent years.
The Roman Catholic report mentioned earlier comments: “Most young people appear to pass through a phase when the homosexual tendency is dominant; but the emotional growth can be halted at this stage.” Teen-age years are years of stress. Young boys and girls often find it difficult to relate to one another without embarrassment at that time of life. So we often see polarization—groups composed exclusively of boys or of girls.
Most are able to make the necessary adjustments and achieve a balance in sexual life. Sadly, however, there are many pitfalls. Commenting on some of these, the secretary of the Responsible Society in England said: “We are very worried about the strident proselytizing going out to teenagers from militant homosexual campaigners. There is overwhelming evidence in the American Masters and Johnson survey that homosexuality is learned behaviour.”
High schools and universities are a natural ground for such development. The Little Blue Book passed to Oxford, England, students has this to say: “Many gays ‘come out’ (i.e. start being open about being gay) when they are at college or university. Leaving home perhaps for the first time, is often an escape from certain pressure and expectations. Furthermore students tend to be more tolerant and open-minded towards homosexuals, at least on a superficial level.”
Scotland’s Glasgow University’s free guide to ‘gay sex,’ entitled “Gay Scene,” offers the following advice: “If you find that you are sexually attracted to people of the same sex as yourself, the best thing to do is to accept it.” One incensed parent is reported as saying: “There are many young students who could be corrupted by this sort of material.” In other words—homosexuality can be prevented, just as it can be learned.
There is one additional aspect of homosexuality that is often pushed into the background. It concerns the incidence of venereal diseases among homosexuals. How serious is this problem?
VD clinics in England get an unexpectedly high rate of homosexuals. Said one health visitor: “I think that’s because they are more promiscuous, making more casual encounters than other people.” Bearing out this fact as a worldwide problem, in New York city 55 percent of the cases of infectious syphilis in 1977 occurred among homosexual males. Free-lance medical writer Terry Alan Sandholzer reported: “Syphilis in gay men has been estimated to account for as high as 50 percent of reported cases in large cities and about a third of the cases nationally.” Surely that is a high price to pay for sexual “liberation.”
As homosexuality has come out into the open, so there has been a concerted effort to impart a new image to the practice. The word “homosexual,” with its accent on “sex,” has been viewed disapprovingly. Into prominence instead is the term “gay.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary notes that this word, used in this sense, is a euphemism, a mild word substituted for a harsh or direct one. The same can be said of “homophilia” and “homophile,” as sometimes used.
If one were going to enter the homosexual world, then it would be wise to face the facts about VD in that world.
Can the Bible help us at all? Does it relate to modern living and the changing views of morality? Since many still have respect for its authority, let us consider what it has to say.
The law of Moses is unambiguous. Twice in the book of Leviticus the prohibition against homosexuality (and in the same context, incest and bestiality) is clearly stated. The New English Bible’s rendering of Leviticus 18:22 is: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman: that is an abomination.” In its paraphrase of this same verse, The Living Bible puts it: “Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.”
What was the sanction then imposed for this offense? Again, The Living Bible’s paraphrase reads: “The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves.” (Leviticus 20:13) Elaborating upon the word “abomination” often used in a literal translation of this verse, The Amplified Bible gives as alternatives “—perverse, unnatural, abhorrent and detestable.”
From these two references it is apparent that homosexuality was fully understood and practiced close to 4,000 years ago. Also that Jehovah God took a firm stand against it as far as true worship is concerned. It never was a way of life approved by God.
Testimony of the Christian Greek Scriptures
What stand did the early Christian congregation take in this important matter? The apostle Paul was honest and forthright in speaking about homosexuality. This is what he said, as recorded at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, according to the New International Version: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes [Greek: malakos] nor homosexual offenders [Greek: arsenokoites] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.”
Malakos is drawn from the root word “soft.” Metaphorically it means “effeminate,” and ‘in this bad sense’ it refers to a practice of forms of sexual lewdness, as W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words points out. Interestingly, malakia is modern Greek for “masturbation.”
Arsenokoites is used again by Paul in writing to Timothy at 1 Timothy 1:10. Translations naturally vary in their renderings—“homosexuals” (Living Bible), “sodomites” (A New Translation of the Bible by James Moffatt) and “perverts” (The New English Bible) by way of example. There is no doubt that the early Christians took such deviations of homosexuality and lesbianism very seriously. A concluding reference to Paul’s writings, this time to the Christians in Rome, explains why.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”—Rom. 1:26, 27, “New International Version.”
The much-disputed Church of England report Homosexual Relationships comments about this as follows: “What Paul means by ‘unnatural’ is ‘unnatural’ to mankind in God’s creation pattern. All homosexual behaviour is a divergence from God’s creation scheme and, in the words of one writer, ‘when set in the context of creation, all homosexual relations are unnatural relations’.”
The report concludes: “What evidence there is seems clearly to show condemnation of homosexual behaviour. For many, this will settle the matter. They will hold that the Bible so plainly indicates the divine disapproval of such behaviour that it must be wrong in all circumstances, and especially so for Christians, who recognize the Bible as an inspired collection of writings which gives authoritative guidance for the conduct of human life.”
The Holy Scriptures are quite clear. Although many seek to justify the homosexual way of life, the Scriptural facts speak for themselves. Is it not logical that the Creator of man knows what is best for him? Should we not look to the Source of life to learn how to live lives pleasing to him?
Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been privileged to help a considerable number of homosexuals to embrace a happier way of life, conducting themselves in a way that God approves. This help can be yours too.