Ellen DeGeneres Comes Out Explore More Content
Does the fact that homosexuals have made great contributions to society have any bearing on whether or not homosexuality is immoral?
I went through some of the news weeklies and saw that Ellen DeGeneres, the actress who plays Ellen on the show of that name, is now "coming out." It's not just her character who is coming out. She is personally coming out_of the closet, that is_announcing that she's homosexual.
This is not surprising. It's been in the works for some time, and there's been a lot of discussion about it. But this event, when it actually took place, gathered a lot of attention. Ellen DeGeneres is on the cover of Time Magazine with the headline, "Yep, I'm gay." It discusses her decision and the impact it will have on TV.
It's mostly modest fare, to be honest with you. Nothing really surprising. What's been surprising to me is to listen to some of the discussion on talk radio about this issue. I caught a couple of local secular shows toward the end of the week.
Of course, you know where I stand. I think that homosexuality is perverse--a moral perversion and a natural perversion--speaking matter-of-factly here. I'm not speaking hatefully or spitefully. I'm simply saying that I think homosexuality is immoral. I think it's not natural; it's a violation of what is natural.
You may disagree, and that's okay. You know my position, and it's coming from the Scriptures. I was very gratified, in looking at the Time article, to see a quote by a name I hadn't recognized, possibly because I'm not as well-read as I ought to be. Apparently other people have quoted her, too. Her name is Camille Paglia, the author of Sexual Persona: Vamps and Tramps. She's a self-proclaimed lesbian, but she makes a very even-handed and fair remark. My respect for her as an individual went way up when I read this first statement.
Here's what she said: "The objections of conservative Christian ministers who believe in the Bible are well-founded." This coming, remember, from an author who is an open lesbian. In other words, what she's saying is that when Christians object from the Bible, they're objecting on the basis of principle, not bigotry. In fact, she goes on to clarify, "People on the left have got to accept that it is not simply bigotry that causes believing Christians to object to this kind of element in popular culture."
Camille Paglia, author of Sexual Persona: Vamps and Tramps, an open lesbian, I tip my hat to you. This is a fair statement. Finally, someone is speaking fairly to what turns out to be, I think, the majority view of the Christian objection to homosexuality. It isn't because of bigotry. It isn't because of hatred. It's because of principle.
Now, for the sake of argument, Christians may be wrong in their biblical assessment. The L.A. Times today was talking about this, and the Episcopal Church argues it in somewhat a confused way as they quote different people, but that was their point: You can be a Christian and a homosexual, if you properly understand the Bible.
So maybe it is that Christians are misunderstanding the Scriptures, but keep in mind what their motivation is. They are people under authority. That authority is the Bible. They're obliged to follow what the Bible says, and they're simply trying to do that.
Now, there are some people who use the Bible in an acrimonious, mean-spirited way. I was a bit embarrassed when I heard that Jerry Falwell referred to Ellen DeGeneres as "Ellen Degenerate." I share the view that homosexuality is degenerate. That's my moral assessment. But it's mean-spirited and counter-productive to call people names who are homosexuals. That's just nasty and bad-mannered.
I think for the most part that Christians who object to homosexuality are objecting in a principled fashion. They're objecting because they think it's immoral. It may not be that they hate homosexuals. Most Christians I know don't hate homosexuals. I don't hate homosexuals. I'm not even deeply offended by homosexuals. They don't make me uncomfortable. Certainly lesbians don't make me uncomfortable.
My objection is moral. My objection is principled. I could be wrong in my principles, but don't misunderstand my objection, nor the nature of the objection of the bulk of Christians who oppose homosexuality.
Thank you, Camille Paglia, for this observation. I think this is fair-minded, and I wish more of those who defend homosexuality, and those who are homosexuals, would at least understand the objections Christians are offering instead of lashing out with empty rhetoric that those who disagree with them are simply spreading hate. It's just not the case.
I did see something like that in the L.A. Times. It said, "The church, by maintaining its exclusionary practices [that is, excluding homosexuals as a legitimate alternative sexual lifestyle] has sent a very wounding message, a message of injustice, particularly to those who are gay and lesbian."
But that's not what's going on here. Christians object to a behavior that they are convinced--with good reason, biblically speaking--is immoral. It's refreshing when Camille Paglia at least acknowledges that this is what's going on. That's fair-minded.
The Reverend Malcolm Boyd--who is an Episcopal priest and a homosexual--has this to say, contrary to Camille Paglia: "I'm sick of the religious inquisitors who quote Scripture, even while they light the fagots to burn, turn the screw of the rack to draw more blood and screams, and hammer nails into countless bodies on numberless crosses, in order to murder the human spirit."
Now, come on, Malcolm Boyd, isn't this a little bit much? When someone tries to depict a homosexual as "limp-wristed and effete," those from that community complain about the stereotypes. But what is this? Is this a fair depiction of a Christian's objection to this lifestyle? Of course it isn't.
If you're a Christian who makes snide remarks and calls names and is abusive to the human beings, made in the image of God, who practice homosexuality, then shame on you.
But, to be honest with you, I don't know any Christians who object to homosexuality like this. Most that I know are quite different. They simply have moral objections. They don't hate homosexuals and they're not trying to brutalize anyone.
The fact is that people who want to do physical harm to other people will find any reason--or I should say rationalization--to justify what they're doing. After all, the Jews were persecuted by some Christians because they were called "Christ killers." Does Christianity condone such a thing? Of course it doesn't. And, in the same sense, Christianity doesn't condone this type of treatment to those who participate in homosexual behavior, even though it is foursquare against such behavior as being immoral.
So as Christians, we have to be proper and accurate in the way we approach this. We need to stand strong and clear on the biblical teaching that this is immoral. But also, in our practice and in how we treat people, we need to stand strong and clear on the biblical teaching that all human beings, regardless of their behavior, are made in the image of God. Therefore, they require a certain kind of treatment by virtue of the fact that they bear God's imprint.
This is true regardless of how immoral they might be in sexual lives or in any other way. Human beings are not vegetables, they're not fags, they're not fruits, they're not scum bags, they're not dirt. As Christians, we ought not treat them that way, and we ought not speak of them that way.
So we have our job, ladies and gentlemen, to act in a biblical way regarding this issue, both in the way we address the immoral conduct itself, and the way we treat the human beings participating in the immoral conduct.
Personally, I think the statement, God loves the sinner, but hates the sin, is misapplied. I think the Bible teaches that God hates the sinner as well as the sin in that He judges the sinner, not the sin. But I think it's a good guideline forChristians to follow. It's not our job to punish; it's God's. We can't judge the sin or the sinner, but we can still love the individual made in the image of God. That's the guideline for the Christians.
As for the non-Christians, if you're sympathetic to homosexuality or are a homosexual, please understand the view. Please at least be fair enough with our position to understand what our view actually is, and don't write us off with a wave of your hand as bigots--people spreading hate--because that just isn't true in most cases.
Camille Paglia was very accurate in describing this. It's true in some cases, and we ought as Christians to stand against that kind of abuse, just as much as we stand against the homosexuality itself. (Most Christians do, by the way. They stand against homosexuality and the abuse of homosexuals.) This issue is a question of morality, not hate, and that's the way it should be discussed.
But some of the defenses of homosexuality strike me as odd. They seem to completely miss the mark.
I was listening to a popular talk show last week, and a woman called in and said, "I'm proud to be a lesbian." Isn't that a rather odd statement? I don't mean odd from my perspective as a Christian who believes that homosexuality is immoral. Let's just forget that part for a moment. Let's just say, for the moment, that homosexuality is morally benign.
Even so, why would one be "proud" to be a lesbian? What does that mean?
I understand--though I don't agree with it--how someone could say, "I'm not ashamed to be a lesbian," because they might hold there is nothing shameful about the practice. That makes sense to me, at least.
But what is there to be proud of, as if there's some virtue in being a homosexual? I'm not proud of being heterosexual because there's no virtue in being heterosexual.
When you think about it, pride is usually reserved for one's identification with something noble or virtuous. So you might say, "I'm proud to be an employee of this company, because the company is doing something good, and I'm part of that enterprise and I'm proud of being connected with this good thing."
Or, "I'm proud to be a Boy Scout, because Boy Scouts do good things, and I'm identified with this virtuous organization."
One might say, "I'm proud to be an American." We say that when we do something virtuous or noble as a country. "I'm proud to be..." whatever, fill in the blank.
What would you say you're proud to be? Isn't it true that you're generally proud because of something in particular that is noble, some conduct or quality that is worthy of pride because of its virtue or nobility? Isn't that why we say we're proud of anything?
So my question is, what is virtuous or noble about being a lesbian, per se? It isn't as if homosexuality itself carries with it something of nobility or virtue, that you can take particular pride in being associated with it as you might in being associated with some organization, or group, or family, or country. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
Here's another thing that seems odd to me. Some have objected to the prejudice against homosexuals, and I heard even Dennis Prager say this the other day. I mention him because he's someone who is very committed to ethics and defends ethical behavior. But he did make the comment that he is against any prejudice against homosexuals.
I would liked to have talked to him about this, because I think I understand some of what he means, that prejudice implies ignoble treatment of homosexuals as human beings because of their homosexuality, and I'm against that. I think homosexuals ought to be treated with respect as human beings because they are made in the image of God. That's my ethic; that's what the Bible teaches.
Part of the problem here is this word "prejudice." This objection has force because of our general sense that all prejudice is wrong. But that's simply not the case when you consider what prejudice means. It means to prejudge.
A classic case of prejudice is looking at a black man and assuming he's lazy. "Oh, you're prejudiced," someone would say, because you're prejudging that man based on an irrelevant characteristic--that of his skin color.
I think that would be a good example of wrongful prejudice. We could think of other things like that. But prejudice has another side to it. Moral assessments are by nature prejudicial in that they are pre-judgments of things. All moral judgments are a type of prejudice, "pre-judgments." We bring a prior moral standard to bear on a certain type of moral conduct. That's what a moral judgment is. In advance we have as a point of view that some act is immoral.
We call "gay-bashing" immoral. That is actually a prejudicial statement, because we've prejudged that any time we see someone gay-bashing, we're going to call that wrong. It's a type of prejudice, but it's not an objectionable prejudice; it's a good one.
I think it's proper to say in advance that certain types of conduct toward homosexuals are immoral on their face. We establish the moral standard and apply it to the behavior that then presents itself in the future. So we're prejudging the circumstance in saying this behavior is immoral when it arises, and when it arises, our pre-judgment applies. It's prejudiced.
All moral statements are prejudicial in that sense, and this is what objections to homosexuality really amount to. We bring a prior moral standard to bear on a certain conduct. That's what makes morality what it is. The standard of judgment always precedes the behavior to be judged. Therefore, all assessments that homosexuality is immoral are a type of prejudice.
Here's a third odd idea. Some have said, "There are homosexuals at every level. Most families have homosexuals in them somewhere." Or how about this statement: "Homosexuals have made wonderful contributions to society." Both of these have a similar flaw as a defense for homosexuality.
Regarding Ellen DeGeneres declaring her homosexuality, I guess it's a big deal for the homosexual world to have a star of a show and the lead character of the show both come out at the same time. Now we have a lead character, not just a bit player, as it were, who proclaims herself a homosexual.
In the midst of the celebration some odd comments have surfaced. "I'm proud to be a lesbian," for one. I don't understand anything virtuous about any sexual orientation such that one would be proud of theirs. I could see not being ashamed of it, if you think there's nothing to be ashamed of. That's the one thought.
The second is the comment about prejudice toward homosexuals. If the concern is that "prejudice" means you're a gay-basher, I agree and deplore the same. Because I'm a Christian and I believe human beings ought to be respected. But if it means you shouldn't pre-judge a homosexual, it seems to me that all moral judgments are pre-judgments. Morality just is prejudicial. That's what it means to be moral, that you prejudge a circumstance based on a moral rule. That was my second point.
The third point I brought up was a pair of defenses for homosexuality that both prompt the same question for me. The defense is this: There are homosexuals at almost every level, and most families have homosexuals in them somewhere.
I was reading the article in Time Magazine that noted, "Lesbians are people who live down the street. They're people who work with you. They're your cousins, they're your relatives, they're your sister, maybe." I've also heard the statement, "Homosexuals have made wonderful contributions to society." My response to both of those statements is, "What does this have to do with whether homosexuality is moral or not?"
"There are homosexuals all around you." Okay, if I agreed to the truthfulness of that, so what? What follows from that? Therefore, my attitude toward homosexuality should be--what?
No, the implication is, of course, that my attitude should not be morally hostile. But how does it follow, because there are a lot of homosexuals around me, that therefore I should change my moral assessment about homosexuality?
Or how does it follow that because homosexuals have made wonderful contributions to society, I should therefore change my moral assessment of homosexuals?
"Homosexuals have written great plays, and great books and poetry, and have composed great music, have been in the military as great war heroes." And I say, okay, if I were to acknowledge the truthfulness of every one of those statements, what follows from that? What comes next? "They've done these good things. Therefore I should..." what? I don't see what follows from. Therefore I should be in favor of homosexuality?
Ladies and gentlemen, it isn't because of homosexuality that they did these great things, as if I were to condemn homosexuality, then their contribution would be lost. They didn't do these things as homosexuals; they did them as human beings.
In fact, you can see this in a recent show mentioned in the article to be aired, "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." They have Walt Whitman being portrayed as a homosexual. There may be some evidence he was a homosexual, I don't know. But if he was, does that make his poetry more beautiful? Less beautiful? What? Nothing. If I discover he was a homosexual, and I say homosexuality is immoral, then what does that say regarding his contribution? Nothing.
Allen Ginsberg just died. He was a great poet and a publicly professed homosexual. Is his poetry any more or less effective because of his sexual preferences? I don't see how it is.
Tchaichovsky was supposed to be homosexual. So what? He didn't do his music as a homosexual; he did it as a musician. The two are unrelated. If I approve of his homosexuality, his music doesn't become more beautiful, and if I disapprove, it doesn't become less beautiful. It's unrelated.
Greg Louganis is a homosexual. He's a great diver. What's the relationship? There is none.
So Allen Ginsberg, and Tchaichovsky, and Walt Whitman, and Liberace, and Van Cliburn, and Greg Louganis--all allegedly homosexuals--all have made this great contribution. And what follows from that? I take nothing away from their contribution as artists when I condemn their sexual conduct. I feel no compulsion, because of the virtues of their contribution as human beings, to therefore have to approve of their private sexual behavior. It's unrelated, ladies and gentlemen.
My point is really quite simple. I hope this occurs to you when you hear it, though it strikes me as so common-sensible, so straightforward and obvious, that people who use this technique would understand this and quit making foolish statements like this.
Isn't it axiomatic that because one is skilled in some way--a skilled diver, a skilled pianist, a skilled poet, a skilled writer, a skilled actress (Ellen DeGeneres)--that because one is skilled in one area of their lives, they can't be immoral in another area? How does that follow? Isn't it obvious that though I can applaud their contributions, I'm not obliged, then, to be morally silent about the other areas of their lives? The two are unrelated; don't confuse them.
Ellen DeGeneres is either a good actress or not. Her skill is unrelated to her sexual preferences. Should we celebrate adultery simply because John Kennedy was a good president? Or, on the other hand, do we condemn marital faithfulness because Jimmy Carter or George Bush were ineffectual presidents, at least in the minds of some? It's unrelated. One has nothing to do with the other.
Therefore, the fact of one's contribution to society has no bearing whatever on whether one's sexual choices are deemed moral or immoral. They are irrelevant. The discussion on this issue misses the point entirely. We wouldn't make these kinds of statements about anything else.
But I think I know what's going on here when people make statements like, "I'm proud to be a lesbian," or "This is a prejudice against homosexuals," or "There are homosexuals all around us, in everybody's family at some level, in everybody's workplace." Most aren't promoting the "one-in-ten" lie, which is what it was. But they will still acknowledge there seem to be a lot of homosexuals around, and many of these people have made wonderful contributions to society.
The whole point is this: they want us to think that homosexuals are just like everyone else except for an inconsequential difference--their sexual behavior: "We're just like you. We work with you. You may not even know it. We sit next to you every day on the bus. We're in church with you. We're normal people, ordinary people. We're just like you."
Ladies and gentlemen, the difference between a homosexual and a heterosexual is not inconsequential. They may be just like us in every area of life. It doesn't mean this difference is inconsequential. It is of consequence.
Homosexuals are not just like heterosexuals. They are significantly different in virtue of their homosexuality. Even if they were identical in every other way, their homosexuality sets them apart in a morally relevant way, and you do not have to surrender your convictions on that and you ought not be bullied into doing so.
You do not need to be ashamed of that judgment, and we do not need to shrink from that judgment when it's given in a gracious and principled way, no matter how many nice people, how many skilled people, how many people "just like us in every other way" come out of the closet.
It doesn't change the salient factor one single bit: homosexuality itself is immoral.