Bigotry is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “having and expressing strong, unreasonable beliefs and disliking other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life.” Merriam-Webster describes a bigot as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices — especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”
Vice-President Pence is often attacked by leftist commentators for his conservative Christian views. When news surfaced that his wife Karen was returning to work in a Christian school in northern Virginia, Arwa Mahdawi, writing in the United States edition of The Guardian, opined that Karen Pence’s return to work “at an anti-gay Christian school should remind us of the vice-president’s dangerous bigotry.” As his wife returns to teaching kids art, “her husband works tirelessly alongside Trump to make America white again.”
What a cruel and inaccurate comment. Yes, Vice-President Pence is a professing Christian, but I have never heard him express anti-gay or racist views. Intolerance and bigotry are contrary to Christian teaching. Who is the bigot here?
Yes, Michael Pence frequently voiced his opposition to legalizing homosexual marriages. Like most evangelical Christians, he has a biblical view of the marriage covenant as being a union between one man and one woman. He did not object to a legal recognition of a homosexual union, but he did not wish to label it a marriage. Many others voiced similar opinions, including, at one time, Presidents Clinton and Obama. Perhaps their opinions changed, but when was their opinion the correct one?
Members of more liberal Christian churches tend to approach the Bible in the same way a left-leaning judge approaches the Constitution. They apparently believe that scriptures must bend with the times and be interpreted in accordance with the enlightened views of our modern age. Conservative Christians, on the other hand, consider the Bible to be divinely inspired; the very word of God, and the basis of their faith. Whereas evangelical believers allow some latitude in the interpretation of the scripture, both Old and New Testaments are clear in disapproving sexual relations between men and between women. With the Bible as their guidepost, how can evangelicals condone behavior that scripture condemns? That does not mean, however, that evangelicals are bigoted anti-homosexuals. Christians who truly follow Biblical teachings do not hate or wish harm to members of the LGBT community.
As a professing evangelical Christian, let me explain what I believe to be our view on human sexuality and practices.
First, let me say that the human sex drive is very strong, ranking not far behind breathing and the need for food and water.
The Bible sets certain high standards for sexual conduct. In the New Testament model, it calls for sexual abstinence before marriage and faithfulness to the marriage contract once made between one man and one woman. Sexual activity outside of those clear lines is considered a sin – a violation of God’s law.
These are very high standards, and who can hope to meet them? Indeed, the Bible recognizes the fact of our sinful natures. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yet the standards are valid. They provide the mark that we should shoot for. I believe that a society with standards such as these is a far healthier and happier society than one in which sexual licentiousness is the norm, where coitus has little more meaning than a handshake, and where almost anything goes. I do not wish to imply that our current society has reached such a state, but it appears that liberal extremists would like it to be so; and they receive active support from many academics, members of the media, and stars of stage and screen.
If you look at the typical conservative church congregation, among its members you may find some adulterers, a few divorced persons, and perhaps even one or two closeted homosexuals. These persons are probably not hypocrites. They do not pretend to be without sin. Instead, they are Christians who are acutely aware of their own sinfulness and are seeking God’s grace. They are still shooting for the mark, often failing but always trying. And they take comfort in a passage from Psalms, “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
All of us fall short of the standards that God set for us.
Professing Christians evangelicals seek to rear their children in accordance with their beliefs. As true adherents of Biblical teaching, they will wish their children to show love and respect for everyone, regardless of race, faith, or sexual orientation and practice. On the other hand, they also wish to protect their children from views of sexuality and from life-styles so markedly different from their own.
LGBT activists in some public school districts have successfully inserted their own agendas into school curricula. They have developed aggressive programs in which teachers are taught to identify latent LGBT students, help these gay, lesbian, and transgender young people to come out of the closet and be comfortable with their sexual orientation, and teach straight students to understand and accept the sexual life styles of their LGBT brothers and sisters. Such a program is adamantly opposed by those persons, including many education and health professionals, who believe that a young person’s choice of sexual life-style (including their sexual orientation) remains very much subject to external influences — at least through the early teens.
Many socially conservative parents respond to public school societal pressures and problems by sending their sons and daughters to Christian schools. But even these schools are not immune from growing LGBT influences, and Christian schools therefore erect somewhat rigid rules regarding teacher and student hiring, admission, and conduct. These rules evoke frequent cries of bigotry from the liberal left.
Homosexuals are often driven by desires that heterosexuals find difficult to understand. The evidence indicates that many active homosexuals do not consciously choose to follow a gay or lesbian life style. It is just the way they are, and their sexual orientation seems to be inborn. Truth is, no one fully understands the root causes of homosexuality. Some people apparently have a natural predilection, but in others the behavior appears to be learned. Nevertheless, social conservatives believe that even individuals with a strong homosexual orientation can make choices about sexual activity. They can choose to live as a heterosexual, or they can abstain from sexual activity altogether.
Is this a totally unrealistic expectation? Is it cruel?
There are many individuals, male and female, who, for various reasons, never develop intimate sexual relationships with another person. These people have heterosexual or homosexual desires which remain unsatisfied. Nevertheless, if they are mature Christians, they do not blame God for their circumstances and recognize that failed relationships and disappointments are part of the human experience.
There are some persons who, for unknown reasons, are sexually attracted to children — either to children of the opposite sex or to children of their own sex. If we believe that homosexuals should be free to seek sexual fulfillment with members of their own sex, why should we not accord the same right to pedophiles? Are not pedophiles also driven by desires and passions beyond their understanding and control? Should we condemn them or punish them for behavior that many of them evidently consider perfectly natural? A few classical writers pictured the sexual relationship between an adult male and an adolescent boy as the purest of all sexual relationships — healthy for both man and boy. If we abandon the Biblical standard, who of us is to say, and on what authority, that these classical writers were wrong? Will pedophiles eventually capture the support of the liberal media and begin insisting on acceptance and respect?
Mature men with normal to high testosterone levels are sexually attracted to physically endowed, nubile young women. One could even say that it is “in their genes” or “because of their hormones”. Married or not, why shouldn’t these older men seek sexual fulfillment with younger women? Many of them do, of course, and many marriages are wrecked as a consequence. The sexual drive in these men may be as intense as that in the most active homosexuals. Again, if we abandon the Biblical standard, who is to say that these men are wrong to indulge their sexual appetites?
As we ponder these things, and as we examine the Bible, a pattern begins to emerge. The core element in all Biblical teachings about sexuality and moral conduct is that it espouses behavior calculated to strengthen the health of the individual and of the family. The teaching is never arbitrary. It is consistent, and it makes sense. For the true believer, it is not a question of one’s wishes or desires, natural or not, but a question of what is the will of God. His will, as expressed in the scriptures (the ultimate authority for Christians), is for a monogamous heterosexual union (a family) into which children are to be born and in which they are to be nurtured physically and spiritually. For the faithful, there is also a firm conviction that man’s higher nature, with God’s help, can control his more brutish or unnatural instincts — in other words, they believe in self-control and responsibility. Those persons who do not fit into the pattern of a blissful, monogamous, male-female relationship may feel that God has somehow let them down, but remember that God never promised us lives of tranquility or of physical and emotional fulfillment. The life of faith is a life of joy, but it is also a journey of discipline and self-denial for all of God’s children, whatever their sexual or other predilections. Living up to Biblical standards of sexual conduct can be just as difficult for the heterosexually oriented person as for homosexuals, but the standards apply to all.
Homosexuals and their brothers and sisters in the larger LGBT community should be treated with compassion as human beings and they must be protected from blatant discrimination and harassment. All people deserve courtesy, kindness, and consideration regardless of their differences, and there is no excuse for violent or destructive acts or name-calling by persons on either side of the volatile issue of sexual orientation and practice.
In the final analysis, I believe that most Americans support the concept that a person’s private life is essentially his own concern, a matter between that person and God, so long as that person’s actions do not adversely impact the health and well-being of those around him. On the other hand, I am also convinced that most of my fellow Christians are with me in believing that the heterosexual majority must resist efforts by LGBT activists to define themselves as a protected minority and to impose their own views of sexual morality and acceptability upon our society at large, efforts which, if successful, could do irreparable damage to the American family and to our nation. LGBT people can believe as they wish, but we insist that they keep their hands off our children!
And a pox on bigotry on either side.