This past weekend my wife got off the phone with her mom and just stood there for a minute. I was hoping to work out details about our visit in the next week, but knew by the expression on her face that didn’t happen. Her mom had taken the time rather to fill her in on the family gossip, of which was that one of her cousins had come out of the closet as gay. My initial response was of course “what does this have to do with who’s bringing the pumpkin pie”, but as I headed out for another road trip the thought kept rattling around in my head. Now that the election is over I’m once again seeing a lot from my more progressive Christian friends surrounding homosexuality. More importantly, supporting the gay community with love and grace. I find myself trying to understand not just the issue of homosexual acceptance, but of homosexuality in general.
Removing the religious overtones to the argument, what makes homosexuality such a controversial issue? If you ask someone to give you a good argument against homosexuality or gay marriage without using any religious reference, what is the answer? I’d guess most people will say “It’s not natural”, but really that could be rephrased as “It’s just icky”. However, is it “unnatural” because it challenges the traditional cultural norm of a man and woman loving each other? Or are they referring to something more biological, like not being able to reproduce?
Then if something being contrary to the cultural norm makes it wrong, who then dictates what is right and wrong as a society? Isn’t it society itself?
The argument I hear for homosexuality is that it is a person’s right to love whomever they wish to love and we as a society should recognize and support their relationship. There really is no arguing with that point. Who can quantify love, let alone want to?
But as I’ve pondered this argument, it creates more questions than it answers for me. For example, a high school math teacher has a sexual relationship with a student. Both are consenting (even though one is a minor) and the student even continues the relationship while the teacher is sent to prison. Why is this illegal? Who is quantifying their love at this point? Although the student is a minor in most cases, how is the teacher taking advantage of their position any different from a boss sleeping with his secretary?
Why must you be age 18 to be legally married (without parental consent)? My great grandparents were married when they were 15 and 16. They stayed together their entire lives till they passed away in their 80’s.
Incest even among consenting individuals is considered a sexual crime and nearly every state has laws against it? But why, if it’s between two individuals who love each other?
And where does polygamy fit in?
Aren’t all of those things simply violations of a cultural norm where people just want to love each other? Yet in all the other cases it’s against the law and in some extreme cases of sexual deviance we consider the individual mentally disturbed.
I don’t make any claim to be a great theologian, understanding the delicate balance between sin and grace relevant to homosexuality. Nor am I a sociologist, psychologist, or historian who can expound upon the place of homosexuality in humanity. I’m trying to makes sense of an issue that in the absence of political dogma seems to be the hot-button issue of society. You can’t ignore it. And yet there is very little reliable information to help form an opinion. Therefore, an individuals stance on the subject is exactly a personal opinion.
But above it all, the biggest question for me is if homosexuality is opening the door as an acceptable social norm what other behaviors will or should follow?