Responding to Questions on Same-Sex Relationships

A few years ago some of my RTB colleagues and I did a couple of Straight Thinking podcast programs entitled “Adult Children of Same-Sex Relationship Parents” (Part 1Part 2). Afterward, a listener contacted me online and raised some critical questions about the content of those programs.

Although time has passed since our respectful exchange, the questions the listener asked remain relevant and I’ve rephrased them here. My brief answers are not exhaustive, but I hope they will serve as an example of the kind of dialogue all of us can have with those who disagree on serious matters.
Q1: Don’t you believe that same-sex families can have a thriving, loving, and healthy family dynamic?

A: I’m willing to grant that there are undoubtedly many same-sex couples who make good parents and who love and nurture their children. In retrospect, I should have represented that perspective in our podcast discussion. However, in my study of the topic, defenders of same-sex parenthood often stack the deck by pitting two loving homosexual parents against two unloving heterosexual parents. If the welfare of the children is to be weighed fairly, then the comparison should be between loving homosexual parents and loving heterosexual parents. In that fair comparison, I think children fare better by having a mother and a father as caregivers and role models.1

Q2: Isn’t it true that in the New Testament Jesus himself makes no mention of LGBTQ transgression? Isn’t it only in the apostle Paul’s words where homosexuality is mentioned? 

A: It is unsound both exegetically and theologically to pit Jesus against the apostle Paul. The words in red (from Jesus) don’t outweigh the words in black (from Paul). All Scripture is equally inspired and, for evangelical Protestants, carries a unique and final authority in doctrine and in life (2 Timothy 3:16).

Jesus quotes the Book of Genesis (1:27; 5:2) in affirming the creation mandate of traditional marriage being between a man and a woman (Mark 10:6–9). Jesus also affirmed the truth and value of the Old Testament law (Matthew 5:17), and the Old Testament identifies homosexual conduct as sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). Thus, Jesus by implication views homosexual conduct as sinful.

The apostle Paul clearly identifies homosexual conduct as morally wrong (Romans 1:26–27). Other New Testament passages do as well (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 7). Neither Jesus nor Paul refers specifically to LGBTQ relationships because they are summed up in one Greek word, porneia, which appears in a handful of New Testament passages and is usually translated as “fornication.”

Q3: Aren’t you aware that many LGBTQ people suffer from depression and even suicide because of the treatment that they receive from a nonaccepting culture?

A: I recognize that people who are attracted to the same sex often suffer many indignities and sorrows from others.2 My heart grieves for those who suffer in such a manner. Because all people are made in the image of God, all people should receive dignified and respectful treatment. Therefore, even though you and I strongly differ over issues relating to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, I want you to know that I respect you as a person and I appreciate that you brought your questions to me. 

Aim for Civil Discourse
I hope that this interaction allows my readers to understand how important this issue is in our culture today and how important it is to address it in a respectful and civil manner. We can differ with people on critical moral, ethical, and cultural matters but also do it in a gracious manner.

Reflections: Your Turn
What is the best argument in favor of traditional marriage? Can we strongly differ with a person over a moral issue and yet still treat that person with dignity?

Resources

For a Christian perspective on sexual sin, see John White, Eros Defiled: The Christian and Sexual Sin.

Endnotes

  1. Studies show that the children of traditional marriage are generally healthier, happier, and more well adjusted. See United States Congress Joint Economic Committee, “The Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home,” July 23, 2020.
  2. While I am not a mental health professional, I do want to strongly encourage anyone who has suicidal thoughts to seek professional psychological help. In fact, someone at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available to chat right now (24/7).

  One thought on “Responding to Questions on Same-Sex Relationships

  1. Bob Sherfy
    January 12, 2022 at 7:50 am

    One of your best articles ever. Thanks.

    • January 12, 2022 at 10:43 am

      Appreciate it, Bob.

      Thanks.

      Ken Samples

  2. January 12, 2022 at 8:25 am

    I’ve found it useful to talk about marriage as a means, rather than an end. If marriage is the goal, any marriage will do. When we see that marriage teaches us important things about God, and that some marriages make it harder to know God, guidelines for marriage make more sense. In this way we can cover the spectrum of issues, from spousal abuse to marrying unbelievers to same-sex marriage and more.

    • January 12, 2022 at 10:44 am

      Thanks, Tony.

      Ken Samples

  3. January 12, 2022 at 8:48 am

    This is really good and I appreciate you taking the time to think through and write it up. It is a great, concise resource. I had not listened to the two podcasts but I will put them on my list for a future listen. Meg

    >

    • January 12, 2022 at 10:45 am

      I appreciate your comments, Meg.

      Ken Samples

  4. January 12, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    Ken, thank you for sharing this. Interacting with people on LBGTQ questions is becoming all to common, even within confessional churches. I teach the “Foundations Class” (i.e new member class at our LCMS church and often need to address these questions. Your post will help me do that.

    • January 12, 2022 at 8:06 pm

      Appreciate your words, Francis.

      Warm regards in Christ.

      Ken Samples

  5. Johnie Everett Brake
    January 15, 2022 at 11:11 am

    Thank you for the article and the opportunity to comment.

    I have a somewhat lengthy comment spurred by my family experience. As a child I had a male second cousin, a couple of years younger than I and my first cousin, who from childhood demonstrated a stubborn preference for all things girlish. He played with his older sister’s dolls and even wore their dresses when he could. His parents (and our family) were staunch Southern Baptists and prohibited this behaviour and punished “Bill” frequently with groundings and spankings (we all got spanked or belt- whipped with little hesitation). I and my other cousin teased and tormented “Bill” mercilessly, God forgive us. As soon as he grew up and could manage it “Bill” ran away from this family to San Francisco and started living as a woman. This was in the early ’70’s and he soon contracted a disease we had never heard of and died (AIDS).

    I also have a female first cousin, 30 years younger than I, who from early childhood identified as a male. She hated dresses and dolls and played with her brother’s trucks, knives and guns. My aunt and uncle are life-long Southern Baptists and very active in the church. However, when this child turned 18 she legally changed her name to a male name and began living as a man. The extended family were notified about this fact and accepted it, because we love her. However, the church did not. My cousin was denounced and forced to leave, followed shortly by my aunt and uncle.

    I am also a member of a Southern Baptist congregation and my question and my stance to my pastor and any other church member is: Although I believe homosexuality is a sin, in what respect is it a greater sin than any other sin? I have seen with my own eyes that, sin or not, two of my family members were born to identify with the opposite gender, (and my wife has a similar experience). I have seen them suffer greatly because of that, but I have also seen heterosexuals commit many sins for which they are not singled out and punished in the church. How can we Christians reject them and add to their suffering? How can we be so unfair, so unloving?

    The answer is, if you are Christian, you cannot. In my opinion the words in red, and just as important Jesus’s actions, do mean more than the words and actions of others in scripture because Jesus is our Saviour, the Son of God, and was sin-free. The inescapable fact is Jesus did not condemn sexual sinners the way that Paul did and pointedly protected them from punishment and condemnation. Jesus did not reject or belittle them, and neither should we. Just as inescapably, Paul did not follow Jesus’s example and he did condemn and reject sexual sinners. He did this because, well, Paul was a sinner, just like you and me, and he fell short of Jesus’s examples and his teachings, just like the rest of us do.

    Thank you.

    • January 15, 2022 at 12:04 pm

      Johnie:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      Just a few brief comments in response.

      1. Every person regardless of sexual orientation is made in the image of God and therefore has a dignity that should be respected. Unfortunately people with same-sex attraction have often been treated shamefully.

      2. As I read Scripture, I don’t necessarily think homosexual behavior is the greatest sin. It seems to me heterosexuals could possibly engage in sin that may cause greater collective harm. Yet homosexual acts are described in Scripture as unnatural acts (Romans 1:26-27).

      3. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and in a sense his words and acts carry a unique moral authority. Yet most of what Jesus taught has deep roots in the Old Testament. With regard to Paul, he was a sinner like us in need of a Savior. But in terms of his writing, he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and thus his written words carry the same divine authority as that of Jesus’s words that are recorded in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

      Thanks again for sharing your perspective.

      All the best to you in the New Year.

      Ken Samples

  6. April 16, 2022 at 11:16 am

    This is helpful, thank you Ken

    • April 16, 2022 at 11:30 am

      Peace be with you.

      Ken Samples

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