Response to a Letter From a Homosexual

Can you be both charitable and immoral?

I want to speak to you about a topic that we've discussed for a couple of weeks. I've been on the defensive rather than the offensive. Some people don't know what "sad" is. That is my euphemism for "gay." I don't use the word "gay," I use the word "sad." It is more appropriately descriptive of that whole movement. But my defensive posture has to do with the very aggressive stance of the sad political movement who are seeking to cram a particular moral view down the throats of the children and adults of America, the children in particular because we talked about something in particular that was happening in the L.A. Unified School District.

A couple of weeks ago there was a fairly hot political race in the South Bay for congressional seats on the state level. One of those candidates was the mayor of Redondo Beach, Brad Parton, who is an outspoken Christian. He ran in the congressional race and made no bones about the fact of what he represented both morally and civicly. He had made some comments at a city council meeting that implied that homosexuals might not be welcome in the community. Of course, he got eviscerated in the press and I responded to that public evisceration with what I call the "new homophobia."

The "new homophobia" is the fear of saying anything that would possibly offend a homosexual or the homosexual political movement. My point was that Brad Parton was not infected by the new homophobia and therefore, he spoke his mind.

But I characterized the homophobia by a couple of different things. One of them was name-calling, in other words, anyone who would disagree with the sad political agenda is simply called names: homophobe, bigot or racist. My point was that this kind of name-calling doesn't solve the problem. It is these kinds of things that may have had some definitional content in the past but are now used devoid of that content and are used as a ad hominem attack to silence the opponent. That's what these people want to do. They don't want to discuss the critical issues in the marketplace of ideas, they want to silence anyone who opposes them.

I gave a couple of other symptoms. One of them is that the implication one gets often from the comments coming from that liberal sector of society is that if you are against homosexuality it is because you have some deep-seated prejudice or some bad childhood experience.

I wrote about that in a letter to the editor of the Easy Reader , a South Bay newspaper. This letter was responded to this last week by a gentleman named Tom Chad of Redondo Beach. He responds to this particular point by saying this, "Finally, the new homophobia includes the belief that 'objection to homosexuality is based upon deep-seated prejudice.' But many people, Pastor Koukl contends, and one must assume he includes himself, simply think that homosexuality is immoral and destructive." Then he adds with this statement. "That assertion is a sweeping generalization about an entire class of people, similar to saying that Blacks are lazy, Jews are greedy, or that Fundamentalist Christians are bigots. Incredibly, he believes that his assertion is not based on prejudice. 'Physician heal thyself.' Homosexuals are people capable of integrity, fidelity, charity and justice as well as wantonness, greed, lust and immorality. As a class of people they exhibit all of these qualities and in roughly equal proportions to their heterosexual counterparts. To claim that homosexuality is immoral and destructive is simply bigotry."

What I'd like you to notice, first of all, is that even though Mr. Chad gives lip-service to this he really fails in part. Because a person is capable of "integrity, fidelity, charity and justice," to use his words, in one area of their life and gross immorality in another. You can be both charitable and immoral. For example, you could be a philanthropic pedophile. You give to charity and you molest children. Now, please understand that I'm using this as an example. I'm not saying that all homosexuals are pedophiles. I'm simply saying that a person can demonstrate charitable behavior in one area and still be immoral in other areas of their life. It's not inappropriate to call these people who do these things immoral even though they represent a whole class of people that do these things. My point is that homosexuality per se is immoral, just as adultery per se, or pedophilia per se are immoral. These are acts, these are sexual lifestyles that in themselves are immoral.

Part of the reason that Tom Chad can't understand the thrust of my statement here is because he subtly recast the issue in civil rights terms. For example he said, "The assertion is a sweeping generalization about an entire class of people, similar to saying that Blacks are lazy, Jews are greedy, or that Fundamentalist Christians are bigots." This twist ignores the fact that a homosexual act, a homosexual behavior, is in a different category than skin color or an ethnic heritage or a religious loyalty. This is part of the moral confusion that I'm talking about. People are incapable of making that distinction.

I'm talking about homosexuals as a group of people in that they are all characterized by a certain action, an action which per se is immoral. I say this in the same way that I would say that all adulterers are immoral, even though they may be charitable and just and gracious in other areas of their lives. They are patently immoral because the behavior that they exemplify is immoral behavior. Anyone who participates in immoral behavior is by definition an immoral person. It doesn't mean that they are utterly immoral or that they are incapable of producing anything of moral worth, it merely means that in this circumstance, under these conditions they are immoral people because they are doing immoral acts. That's the point, Mr. Chad.

Recently there was a discussion between Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell. In defending the military's ban on homosexuals Powell pointed out that homosexual behavior is inconsistent with maintaining good order and discipline. The discussion that he and Schroeder had on this issue is reminiscent of the same bit of confusion that Mr. Chad exemplifies in his moral thinking.

The Congresswoman's reply to the General was that such thinking would have kept him, a Black man, out of the mess hall a few decades ago all in the name good order and discipline. I'm reading here from the Conservative Chronicle , June 17, 1992. Powell's tart reply is loaded with wisdom and moral clarity. Here's what he has to say, "I know you are a history major, but I can assure you that I need no reminders concerning the history of African Americans in the defense of their nation and the tribulations they faced. I am part of that history.... Skin color is a benign, non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. The comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument." With that I agree. He points to the fact that skin color and moral behavior are two categories of things and to compare the two is like mixing apples and oranges. The General demonstrates some moral clarity in this discussion. When I say moral clarity I don't mean that he happens to agree with me on the moral issue. He is able to distinguish between a moral issue and a racial issue. Tom Chad was not able to do that.

I also have in front of me a letter that I'd like to read in part to you. Someone wrote to me and this letter exemplifies this same type of confusion. A listener, her name is Michelle, felt that my comments on the so-called "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" were completely out of line. This letter actually deserves a public reply because it serves as an excellent example in my view of the moral confusion on these issues. I should just read what she wrote and then respond to the points item by item.

"I happen to be in a position where I'd heard your discussion on L.A. Gay and Pride Month yesterday. Your words were completely out of line. First, you commented that if we have to have a gay pride month then we ought to have a heterosexual pride month, etc. I strongly feel that it's important to teach about all types of minorities in public schools, not most of them and leave out the more distasteful ones. To me, gay pride month is a great way to ease tensions between various groups later on and there could be no better time to start learning about them than Kindergarten.

"Second, I think it extremely wrong for you to encourage parents to write to the school board to have teachers to stop encouraging homosexuality during the month of June. Teachers are not encouraging students to live one way or another. They are simply letting them know that not everyone lives the same way. Why could it be so incredibly bad for people of the same sex to date and sleep together? Besides, if God didn't like us homosexuals he wouldn't have created any.

"Also, when you started to talk you said you weren't talking from a homophobic point of view when you announced where parents should write to tell the teachers how incredibly bad teaching on gays and lesbians is. I feel the only reason for having such a discussion was to show off how arrogant you are just because you are not gay. God created all people equal, he didn't create all people equal except for homosexuals just so we could be used as scapegoats.

"As far as Boy Scouts of America is concerned, great job Bank of America, Levi Strauss, Wells Fargo. We don't need organizations to hate gays, the church is bad enough. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more companies quit supporting the Boy Scouts? Maybe the people involved in that organization will get their acts together. It's bad enough that the Boy Scouts of Orange tried to expel a couple of atheists who refused to say the word 'God.'

"All we homosexuals really want is to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the world. I may be gay, but I still have a conception of God that says He loves all people unconditionally. This conception also included the mentally retarded and criminally insane. God is loving, not prejudiced. The only real belief I have in Jesus is that He is a forerunner to the Jewish Messiah, but I'm sure He loves me and the rest of my people the way we are. Very untruly yours, Michelle"

Well, Michelle, a couple of things stand out about your letter. I'll go through them item by item. First of all, you say that it's important to teach about all types of minorities. I'm not sure how you define minority, but once again I want to make a distinction between a skin color and an ethnic heritage and a moral act. They are different. If you mean any group of minorities should be highlighted and taught about, in other words, any group that is not part of the majority (I guess that means Anglo) then we have to include a whole lot of teaching about a lot of people which means my forebears, Bohemians. I'm a minority in this country because there are a lot of larger nationalities than Bohemians. I think what she means to include with the racial minorities that have significance in our country is homosexuals. But it's a mixture of categories because we're mixing skin color and ethnic origin with a sexual activity and they're different kinds of things.

You also mention that teachers aren't encouraging students to live one way or another. It's a little bit stunning to me that you would say that because what is gay pride month if it isn't an encouragement to live in a certain way? You say they are simply letting them know that not everyone is the same. That is not what's happening. They are promoting what they call "diversity in education" saying that homosexuals and the homosexual way of life is an appropriate alternative and anyone who disagrees is a homophobe. That's right in the curriculum. I read it to you a few weeks ago.

Thirdly, "Is it so incredibly bad for two people of the same sex to date and sleep together?" Yes it is. It's not just bad, it's immoral, it's a sin. It's an aberration and an abomination to God. But I guess it depends upon your moral perspective. If you don't believe in the God of the Bible then you couldn't say that. You don't so that's why you don't. But I do without embarrassment.

You say that God would not have created homosexuals if He didn't like them. That assumes a couple of things. First, that God made people as homosexuals which basically gives the divine approval to homosexuality. I don't know where it says that God made homosexuals as homosexuals. That's the first problem. The second problem is that your argument proves too much because if God made homosexuals then He made pedophiles, He made murderers, He made criminals of all sorts and we must have the same kind of openness and acceptance of those people according to your argument. If God made everyone and if He didn't want them to be that way He wouldn't have made them that way.

I'm not sure what you mean by this statement, "I feel the only reason for having such a discussion was to show off how arrogant you are just because you are not gay." All I can say is that I don't know what that means.

Also, you talk about God creating all people equal except homosexuals and that attitude is only so we can use homosexuals as scapegoats. I don't understand what you mean by all people being equal. Just because all people are equal and have some value before God does not mean that all choices are morally equal which is what you imply. I don't understand how not celebrating "sad" pride makes homosexuals a scapegoat. We're saying simply we shouldn't celebrate this. You're saying that makes them a scapegoat. I don't understand that non-sequitur.

You're also making some points about what God wants and what God doesn't want. I'm curious where you're getting your information. You want everyone to abandon the Boy Scouts as if the Boy Scouts have done something terrible, that people should quit supporting the boy Scouts. Tell me the terrible damage the Boy Scouts have done that deserves the scorn that you have expressed.

I don't believe your statement that "All we homosexuals want is to live in peace and harmony." If it was true then you wouldn't be promoting your agendas and forcing people to accept it and wanting people to acknowledge homosexuality as a legitimate sexual lifestyle. You would just leave everybody alone and be left alone yourself.

So in summary, the moral confusion in this letter is first of all the inability to distinguish between ethnic origin and ethical conduct, between skin color and sexual conduct. Second, there is an inability to see the difference between moral neutrality and advocacy. In other words, if you teach that the "sad" lifestyle is an alternative, it is appropriate, it is not an abnormal choice and you couple that with a month dedicated to emphasizing the pride of that lifestyle, that is advocacy. That is not, to use your words, "simply letting them know that not everyone lives the same way." That is advocacy.

Third, the inability to distinguish moral censure from hate. To say something is morally wrong is not the same as saying you hate the people who do that. Every time I say homosexuality is immoral I hate them. That's not the case. Fourth, there is an inability to distinguish between the fundamental equality of human beings and the respect due them on the one hand, and the quality of respect for any choices these human beings would make. I can respect a human being as a human being and not say that the choices they make are equally valid and equally moral. Finally, there is an inability to distinguish a scapegoat attack on a group from a refusal to be morally proselytized. I'm refusing to be morally proselytized. I'm on the defensive here, not on the offensive. Last, there is an inability to understand God's unconditional love and His concern about condemnation of unethical and immoral behavior. You get the two mixed up. God can love unconditionally and still condemn behavior and judge it.

Michelle, I thank you for your letter and for the unfortunately fine illustration of the moral confusion that so many people are in. My genuine condolences. And I'm not being glib--this is very sad.

At least that's the way I see it.

Greg Koukl