Why Popular Talking Points Obstruct The Gospel From Homosexuals

Photo By: Peter Friederich
Talking points are concise statements that are used to support a side of an issue. Such statements can either develop through popular use or are designed by political think tanks in order to tactically frame public opinion to their favor. Frankly, everybody has talking points. Republicans and Democrats have them. Atheists and Christians have them. The Pro-choice movement and the Pro-life movement have them.
Talking points are not inherently bad and I am certainly not advocating that we dismiss them. It is helpful to have pithy statements in order to clarify positions. It is healthy to have succinct avowals that can argue for certain positions in the arena of debate. However, talking points can be very detrimental to vigorous debate when they are naively embraced without first substantiating them by facts. Furthermore, ill-founded talking points become harmful when they turn into repetitious statements that intensify with each use and sometimes with increased volume or anger, as if the repetition itself offers validity (i.e., argumentum ad nauseam).
As of late, talking points have certainly heightened from both sides of the same-sex marriage issue due to the recent Supreme Court rulings of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act While some of the talking points are very solid and compelling, I have come to question the validity of several common talking points that have been circulating in the media and social marketing venues for quite some time.
Talking Point #1: Gay and Lesbians Constitute 10-15% of the Population
The talking point for the last 60 years has typically been that at least 10% of the population is gay or lesbian and that this number would only increase as culture became less homophobic. The 10% number is derived from a 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey titled, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, where he reports that 10% of American males surveyed were more or less solely homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. In 2002, Gallup asked Americans in telephone interviews to estimate the percentage of people that were gay and lesbian. Respondents estimated that 21% of men were gay and that 22% of women were lesbian. Indeed, it seems that there is validity to this talking point. However, is this talking point true?
In April 2011 the Williams Institute found that an estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Conversely that means 96.5% of Americans are heterosexual. This statistic is substantially lower than what average Americans believe to be the case. This number is also lower than what is portrayed on prime-time television (i.e., in 2010-2011 FOX had 6.8% of regular characters being cast as LGBT).
Hence, the ‘10-15%’ talking point has not been adequately substantiated.
Talking Point #2: Homosexuality Is Genetic
The second talking point is that homosexuality is a genetic issue (i.e., there is a gay gene). This talking point is prevalent because it is a way to uphold homosexuality as a profound, significant, and secure part of who a person is. If genetics establishes homosexuality, then it is something that is hardwired, not a choice, and thus should not be criticized.
Is this true?
What researchers are finding is that homosexuality is not genetic. “Eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia during the last two decades all arrive at the same conclusion: gays were not born that way.” In other words, the studies are conducted among identical twins. Since identical twins have identical DNA, if one of the twins is a homosexual, the other twin ought to be also. However, the studies are showing, “if an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11% for men and 14% for women.”
Furthermore, if homosexuality were genetically dictated or strongly influenced, there is no way a ‘homosexual gene’ or ‘genes’ could maintain themselves in the population. For example, one adult needs to have an average of one child if a specific gene, or many specific genes, present in the adult are to stay in the gene pool. But, on average, five ‘exclusive’ homosexuals produce only one child among them. At that rate, homosexuality would die out of the population in several generations. Obviously this hasn’t happened. However, about 50% of homosexuals are or have been married to the opposite gender, making them bisexuals, with an average of 1.25 children each. Exclusive homosexuals and bisexuals, combined, still produce an average of only 0.9 children each, meaning that a homosexual gene or genes would still slowly, but inevitably, disappear from the gene pool.[1]
The ‘gay gene’ talking point has not been adequately substantiated.
Talking Point #3: Children Raised By Homosexuals Turn Out As Well as Children Raised by Heterosexuals
The final talking point is the talking point that children raised by homosexuals turn out as well as children raised by heterosexuals.  Otherwise stated, the talking point that asserts that sexual orientation within the parental structure of the family has no significant disadvantages for children.
Is this true?
Mark Regenerus has recently challenged this talking point by using one of the largest statistics sets ever collected. In his study he interviewed 15,000 Americans ages 18-39 and found that,
respondents with parents involved with homosexuality were more apt to report ‘being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things.’[2]
Jamie Dean reporting on this study stated,
The study found the respondents in homosexual settings reported less stable upbringings, with less than 2 percent of children in lesbian households living with a mother and her partner for all 18 years of their childhood. [3]
The study did not establish that sexual orientation was at fault for the less than ideal upbringings, but Regenerus certainly challenged the talking point and the assumption that kids are all right in same-sex family units.
This third talking point has not been adequately substantiated as well.
So, why take the time to show that these three talking points have not been adequately substantiated? Am I merely trying to score points in the polemical arena of debate and public opinion? No, this is not about being polemic, nor is it about being an intolerant jerk or being a bigot. Rather, the reason why this is important is because these talking points actually obstruct the Gospel from those who are encapsulated in homosexuality. This is an issue about the Gospel. Let me explain. All of these talking points have something in common and that is the intent to standardize homosexuality.
Homosexuality is normal because 10-15% of the population is also homosexual. It is naturally genetic; therefore, it should not be criticized. Homosexual family units are just as good if not better than heterosexual family units in raising children.
Standardization of these talking points either advertently or inadvertently puts homosexuality in concord with natural law and God’s revealed Law in the scriptures, consequently removing homosexuality from the Biblical category of sin. Thus, by removing it from this category, the need for the Gospel is also removed.
Let’s face it, as humans we are all under the compulsion to justify ourselves. “We are forced to justify ourselves, and as we do so, we usually want to be right.”[4] Often we can use talking points to validate that we are not alone thereby employing the majority principle to prove our own righteousness. “We want constant recognition of ourselves because it is vitally necessary. We need its confirmation and renewal. If it is lacking, we try to regain it or even to coerce it.”[5] We attempt to justify our departures from the norm of the divine Law. We attempt to diminish our violation of God’s Law.
Practically speaking, the sad reality is that many churches and groups who accept and promote the talking points above may consider themselves to be strong on the Gospel, when in reality they are actually denying the Gospel to homosexuals.
We need to keep in mind that the essence of the Gospel is neither a fluffy abstract love feeling, nor the essence of tolerance. Rather, what makes the Gospel really good news for so many people is that they know their sin is forgiven for Christ’s sake; the Gospel is for sinners only. Yes, the Gospel is about forgiveness of sins. The personal application of the Gospel presupposes that one knows their sin problem. “One cannot know the magnitude of Christ’s grace unless we first recognize our malady.”[6] Thus, can there be good news when there is no such thing as bad news?
In confronting the sin of homosexuality, it is important to remember that homosexuals need not to be singled out in this vast sea of sinners. Rather, homosexuals need to join contrite: heterosexuals, males, females, children, elderly, rebels, self-righteous narcissists, Democrats, Republicans, greedy executives, church goers, thieves, teachers, plumbers, adulterers, IRS agents, white collar workers, blue collar workers, uncompassionate jerks, truth compromisers, North Americans, Africans, Europeans, Asians, and so forth, who are confessing that, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; that we are by nature sinful and unclean and we are in need of forgiveness and the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood.” Really there are not different classifications of people; rather there are sinners who confess sin and sinners who don’t confess. Thus, Gospel resolution begins with identifying sin and confronting it. God’s Law has been given that sin may be confronted and exposed. Sin is sin, no matter what commandment is involved, no matter what flavor of sin, and no matter who commits the sin. We are all sinners with different manifestations of sin; we are all sinners in need of Christ crucified. By normalizing sin, no matter what that sin may be, individuals are in essence denying their need of the Gospel. “Those who are well have no need of a physician.”[7]
The Gospel is for sinners. Because we are always sin-sick (Genesis 3, Romans 3), we always need to take the medicine of Christ’s forgiveness.[8] Therefore, may God protect us all from talking points that would attempt to convince us that we don’t need the medicine, that we don’t need the great physician, and that we don’t need the complete forgiveness of Jesus Christ won for every sin of thought, word and deed. Jesus came not to call the righteous but sinners, and this is really good news; news that should not be obstructed.
[1] Karen Hart, “Meeting Homosexuals at the Cross” (Fergus Falls, MN: Lutheran Brethren Seminary J-Term, January 2004).
[2] Jamie Dean. “Less than ideal.” 15 June 2012, http://www.worldmag.com/2012/06/less_than_ideal (2 July 2013).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Oswald Bayer, Living By Faith: Justification and Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003), 1.
[5] Ibid, 2.
[6] Apology of the Augsburg Confession, II:33.
[7] See Matthew 9:12.
[8] Paraphrase of a St. Ambrose quote.

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