Biblical Practice Or Biblical Principle

October 18, 2004
ThINK Response: The following essay was submitted by Harrison Kohler in response to "Welcoming, not affirming: Truett theology professor Roger Olson responds to the wider debate about homosexuality in the church and in society," an essay which ran in the Summer 2004 issue of Baylor Magazine. Dr. Olson's piece is available by clicking here.
Kohler graduated from Baylor in 1964 and has been an attorney in Atlanta since 1975. He and his wife have two grown children.

Baylor Magazine encourages our readers to weigh in on topics of societal relevance for consideration as thINK pieces by submitting essays of 650 words in length. It will be at the discretion of the editor as to suitability and civility of submitted work. Submit your essay by clicking here.

Given the fact that fact that the word homosexual does not appear in the New Testament and Jesus had nothing to say about the subject, we as Christians ought to be tentative concerning what the Christian position should be. There is a proscription in Leviticus and a few comments attributed to Paul, but the Bible as a whole has precious little to say about homosexuality.
The problem of giving authority to Leviticus and other Jewish law is that we Christians ignore many of its admonitions and practices. We do not offer animal sacrifice, most Christian groups do not observe the Biblical Sabbath, we do not consider a woman ritually unclean while she has her menstrual period and we do not require male converts to be circumcised. I believe some of our Christian conflict on the subject of homosexuality results from confusing biblical practices with fundamental biblical principles.
Divorce has touched in some way nearly every family, and in the cases of abuse or criminal conduct, most of us would assert that a divorce is the right thing to do. Yet Jesus made strong negative comments about the practice of divorce. It seems that we are much more comfortable with divorce in our church than we are with the idea of gay and lesbian persons committing themselves in marriage.
The fundamental question, it seems to me, is whether homosexual conduct is viewed as a rational choice of two available lifestyles. If one says yes to this question, our sexual orientation is one of moral choice. The weakness of this view is that the sexual drive of those of us who are heterosexual has not been the produce of our rational choice. We did not simply enter puberty, rationally weigh the alternatives of heterosexual vs. homosexual conduct, and choose the former. I believe that creation pointed us in a direction, and when at puberty the hormones started raging, we shifted our heterosexuality into overdrive. I admit not to be certain, but whether we are homosexual or heterosexual, in my opinion, is essentially the result of forces beyond our control. In religious language, we are created that way.
If I am correct, and I believe that anecdotal evidence supports my opinion, then what the church ought to be about is encouraging homosexuals to engage in the same kind of relationships to which we encourage heterosexuals - relationships characterized by love, commitment and fidelity. I must confess that I am not totally comfortable in referring to a committed gay or lesbian relationship as marriage, yet I also believe that we as a society and we as a church should honor people who commit themselves for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
Finally, when one reads David Popenoe's Life Without Father and David Blankenhorn's Fatherless America, one comes away convinced that the fabric of marriage is not threatened by gay and lesbian marriages but by heterosexual fathers who are not committed to their children and by a society that frequently seems to view fathers as superfluous.
I do not believe that the church will be able to speak with one voice about homosexuality. Yet I believe it is important to accept that Christians of good faith may strongly differ on the subject.
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