We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in New Zealand. In fact, the two weeks have been too brief. We didn’t have opportunity to visit the South Island with its breathtaking peaks and scenes. We couldn’t even see the entire North Island. But what we saw–Rangatoto, the glow worm caves, Hobbiton, and the Lord’s churches–all blessed us tremendously. So with some sadness, we leave Middle Earth for the land down under.

As we travel, another event compounds our sadness. Today New Zealand legalizes so-called “gay marriage.” Network news stations on airport televisions feature celebrations at various government buildings. Topless men wave rainbow flags. Two men deep kissing. Groups of same-sex couples cheer. Interviewees speak of their elation and their desire to have others recognize their “love.” It’s a scene reminiscent of others in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Landing in Australia, I learned that Katy Perry has “blasted” Australian politician Tony Abbot for calling “gay marriage” the “fashion of the moment,” while Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promises that if re-elected he will introduce a “gay marriage” bill in his first 100 days. It seems this issue cannot be easily escaped.

As I’ve listened to comments on both sides of the issue, my mind wanders back about ten years ago. That’s when I think the tide changed in public sentiment and the ages-long tradition of heterosexual marriage “lost” the battle.

How Elites in Private Board Rooms Changed the Conversation

Ten years ago a number of states passed various forms of legislation to protect traditional marriage. President Clinton “betrayed” the pro-homosexuality cause by signing “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” military policies and the Defense of Marriage Act into law. These seemed at the time to be setbacks for the gay lobby. The country seemed poised to hold the line on the sexual morality most Americans held.

But there were signs of coming change. I felt the winds of change blowing in a private by-invitation-only meeting of marriage and family scholars at a prominent Washington, D.C. think tank. I’d been invited by a well-known, well-respected member of the think tank. He’d worked as an advisor to the President and as senior congressional staff in both Democratic and Republican administrations. A conservative Republican himself, he had a reputation for being fair and honest with research. Of the persons invited that day, he and I would be the only known social conservatives. He’d phoned me personally to ask if I would join the group. We had worked together before, and I think he was surprised to have found another conservative working in liberal and progressive policy groups. I agreed to attend, signed the privacy agreement and dutifully began reading the preparation materials.

It wasn’t exactly a smoke-filled room. I don’t think liberals and progressives like smoke or dark woods. The room’s only window opened onto a courtyard, though the fifteen or so attendees sat facing one another across a large wooden coffee table, exchanging views on presented papers and the social science on marriage. Turns out there were three conservatives among us, a number of people who presented themselves as impartial social scientists, a French Canadian whose work focused on the importance of traditional conjugal union in defining marriage, and a number of people who declared their pro-gay sentiments, if not an openly gay lifestyle.

We covered the very solid and long-standing research consensus on family structure. “Everyone does well or at least better when children are raised in married two-parent households.” Then the “thinking” in the tank turned political and strategic. The question of “gay marriage” surfaced. The room grew tense. Not because participants argued or tempers flared, but because everyone wanted to remain polite. People had opinions, but with the exception of one known conservative, most didn’t know where the others stood. Folks assummed, because I’m African American, that I would be supportive of a basically liberal viewpoint. Horror and surprise flashed over some faces when I made it clear that homosexual behavior was in no way comparable to the Civil Rights struggle, an analogy that was beginning to gain currency at the time.

Then it happened. The wind changed directions. If the wind could take steps, here they were:

Seize upon politeness. Turns out that being civil about indecency actually hurts the traditional cause. One of the attendees, a well-known openly-gay journalist, began to distance himself from other prominent gay activists. He rejected their militancy. He faulted their arguments as too frontal, too caustic, too beside the point. He “championed” traditional marriage and wanted it for gay couples for all the same beneficial reasons. He spoke of the research on family structure in friendly ways. He took the polite high ground and all the polite folks in the room were left with nothing but nodding.

Minimize conjugality. With most of the room nodding, he then began to divorce (no pun intended) marriage from its conjugal nature. All of a sudden, marriage was not about sex and procreation. “After all,” we were told, “there are heterosexual married couples who either cannot have or opt not to have children. So sex and procreation cannot be essential to marriage.”

Remove the “yuck factor.” Our advocate friend was keenly aware that any conversation about “what goes on in bedrooms” was death to his cause. So, he privatized those realities and their implications for what we view as “normal” or “acceptable,” and focused on other things (rights, etc.). He pointed out that most people have a visceral reaction, a gag reflex, when they think about sex between two men or two women. That deep-in-the-stomach gagging was symptomatic of an even deeper moral opposition to sodomy and other homosexual practices. He told us that this gag reflex should not and could not be allowed to affect the debate. The discussion needed to shift to other aspects of relationships. One of the great Houdini achievements of the gay rights campaign has been to take an issue all about sexual behavior and turn it into a discussion about everything but sexual behavior.

Emphasize love and commitment. Then the winds picked up. If marriage wasn’t about the conjugal relationship, what was it about? “Love and commitment” we were told. “What’s wrong with two people finding love?” Of course, this is a particularly manipulative question. The debate was never about “love.” And who can argue against “love”? But that’s the turn the discussion took in that room and would soon take in the broader public conversations. Gay marriage would be a celebration and affirmation of love and commitment, “the highest ideals in marriage” now that conjugal relationships were unimportant.

Call for “rights” and “equality.” If marriage was merely about love, and such love ought to be protected via government-recognized rights, then “gay marriage” should receive those same protections and rights.

What I’ve just described took place in about ten minutes, replete with objections answered and raised. Our homosexual interlocutor proved himself kind, winsome, insightful and reasonable. Most everyone, myself included, listened with a sense of appreciation.

Looking Back, What I Wish I’d Said

After noting my own appreciation, I attempted to offer a response in a room now deeply moved by his comments. It was a losing effort, nowhere near as smooth and multi-layered as his comments. I knew I was scrambling, just as the wider society has been scrambling for the last ten years. Though no one seemed to like my mail as much as his, I still think my basic approach is the needed approach because the “nice guys” are definitely going to finish last unless we change strategies.

Here’s what I tried to do, followed by what I did wrong:

Reject the unbiblical definition of love. I said, though it was very unpopular, homosexual marriage could not properly be called “love.” You could choke on the room’s tension. “How could I say such a thing?” I pointed out that the Bible teaches plainly that “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13). That the Bible also teaches that homosexual behavior was wrongdoing or sin. Consequently, though strong emotions and affections are involved, we cannot properly call it “love.” Love does no harm, and homosexuality clearly harms everyone involved. Despite the stares, I continued.

Reject the “rights” argument. It seems this ship has sailed. But a decade ago it was still in port, scraping off before the maiden voyage into public opinion. It was at this point in the conversation that I realized two things: (1) I’d been invited in part to address this particular aspect of the issue, and (2) most of the room gave me a fair amount of moral authority on the question. So I spoke as forcefully as I could about the wide difference between the sexual behavior we were now discussing and immutable skin color given by God. “Gay” was not the new “Black.” Moreover, I argued, there were all kinds of other intimate relationships (some of them sexual) that did not receive civil protections and benefits from government. Grandparents raising children, heterosexuals living together outside of marriage, etc. Sexual intimacy and affection were insufficient basis for extending government sanction and protection. And what of other sexual arrangements that claim as strong an orientation (say, pedophilia) or as strong a consensual commitment (say, polygamy) that we do not grant rights to? I tried to make the case that we were standing atop the slippery slope wearing oil-slicked Florsheims.

But I wasn’t heard. Or, rather, I was heard as a paranoid alarmist. So-called “gay marriage” would not ruin marriage. Heterosexuals had already done that. Why shouldn’t homosexuals have their opportunity to ruin it, too?

Here’s what I failed to do then and I’m convinced is necessary now:

Return the discussion to sexual behavior in all its yuckiest gag-inducing truth. Now to do this, we’re simply going to have accept the fact that we aren’t going to be liked. We’re going to be branded “mean” and “bigoted.” We should not in fact be mean and bigoted. We should speak the truth in love. But the consequence will be a nasty brand from the culture. I should say branded again because we’ve already been given those labels simply for being Christians. So, we don’t have much to lose and we just might re-gain some footing in this debate.

What do I mean by returning the yuck factor?

Consider how many times you’ve read the word “gay” or “homosexual” in this post without thinking about the actual behaviors those terms represent. “Gay” and “homosexual” are polite terms for an ugly practice. They are euphemisms. In all the politeness, we’ve actually stopped talking about the things that lie at the heart of the issue–sexual promiscuity of an abominable sort. I say “abominable” because that’s how God describes it in His word. I think we should describe sin (and righteousness) the way God does. And I think it would be a good thing if more people were gagging on the reality of the sexual behavior that is now becoming public law, protected, and even promoted in public schools.

So what are we talking about? (Warning: Obscene descriptions follow. If sensitive in conscience, skip the block quotes below and go to the conclusion)

We are talking about one man inserting the male organ used to create life into the part of another man used to excrete waste. We are talking about one man taking the penis of another man into his mouth, or engaging in penis-to-penis grinding.

We are talking about a woman using her mouth to stimilute the nipples, vulva, clitoris or vagina of another woman, or using her hand or other “toys” to simulate sexual intercourse.

We are talking about anilingus and other things I still cannot name or describe.

That sense of moral outrage you’re now likely feeling–either at the descriptions above or at me for writing them–that gut-wrenching, jaw-clenching, hand-over-your-mouth, “I feel dirty” moral outrage is the gag reflex. It’s what you quietly felt when you read “two men deep kissing” in the second paragraph. Your moral sensibilities have been provoked–and rightly so. That reflex triggered by an accurate description of homosexual behavior will be the beginning of the recovery of moral sense and sensibility when it comes to the so-called “gay marriage” debate.

I wish I had done a very simple thing in response to the journalist’s comments. I wish I had asked a question. In retrospect, after an appropriate moment to acknowledge the display of brilliance we’d just been treated to, I should have politely raised my hands and asked, “Do you mean to say we should all accept as normal and good one man inserting the part of his body intended to create life into the part of another man’s body meant to excrete waste?” And following the gag reflex, I should have then asked, “And do you mean to suggest that a man inserting his penis in another man’s anus is as “good” and “loving” as a husband and wife uniting with each other as God and nature designed it?”

The beauty of 20/20 hindsight is that it can be turned into foresight. The next time I’m in a conversation about these matters I hope to move it first principles and illicit that visceral response by asking such a question.

Conclusion

What we’re really talking about when we talk about “homosexuality” is not just sex gone wrong but wrong sexual behavior. Deep down we all–Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual and homosexual–know it’s wrong. The knowledge of that moral wrong repulses us because we’re moral beings, made that way by our Creator. In a Romans 1 “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” world, it becomes the Christian’s responsibility to help people acknowledge what they really know but are really suppressing. Our apologetic task is to bring to the surface what has been written on the conscience and cannot be not known. We need to do this with as much kindness, insight, warmth and fairness as the gay journalist in the private boardroom ten years ago. And we need to do this soon.

The pro-gay campaign has successfully duped many in the country and around the world into suppressing their conscience, turning the other way with the help of polite terms and phrases. And because we want to be “nice” and “liked” (who doesn’t?), we have ignored these things or willingly accepted the terms of the discussion presented by the other side. We’ve stopped gagging–at great cost.

I don’t know if the tide will wash out on so-called “gay marriage.” But if it does I suspect it’ll happen because our moral conscience is aroused by sober consideration of the behavior we’re now viewing on prime time television, celebrating on court house steps, and teaching in public schools. Time for us to wake up and shift the discussion back to what this has been about all along. The good news is our conscience will side with what we already know to be right–even the conscience of those who oppose the truth will testify against them.

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253 thoughts on “The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and “Gay Marriage””

  1. A few problems with this mindset, brother:

    1. So many believers are totally deadened to the gag reflex as they take in exactly the kinds of sexual activity that you describe through porn. Lesbian sex is desirable to the porn-watcher. So many of our brothers and sisters are lost in that muck that the descriptions you gave are titillating to them, not disturbing

    2. I’m not convinced that the gag reflex approach is the best as it appears to relegate sexuality and sexual behavior to a matter of taste. You see, for the homosexual, what you described is desirable. For the non-gay pagan, what you described is simply a matter of taste and the describing of it (however vividly you might do so) does not make it right or wrong in the eyes of those who are already convinced. I might describe Vegemite to you and you would retch or lick your lips; the gag reflex in that instance is not indicative or moral value but personal taste. Sexuality is, in our culture, now merely a matter of taste.

    3. From what I have seen in ministry, particularly among the younger generation, the dirtiness of homosexuality does not deter its acceptance. What the younger generation responds to best is the positive plan for heterosexuality that is presented in Scripture quite clearly starting from the beginning and reemphasized throughout. The moral negatives are, after all, just the flip side of the positive moral imperatives. God created a good plan; if we show it to be a good plan, the best plan, for human sexuality, we will speak volumes more than simply pointing out how gross homosexual sex is.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Benjamin,

      Thanks for your very good comments, brother. I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

      As I read your post, you seem to be saying (forgive/correct any misrepresentation as I perhaps over-simplify), “Since so many have deadened consciences and so many other problems contribute to their being unmoved by homosexuality, we should admit defeat.” I say that because you give us three very good points in response to the post, but you don’t really elaborate a different approach apart from presented the scripture’s positive teaching more clearly.

      I certainly agree we need to teach the whole counsel of God and make our major note be the positive presentation of God’s plan. No argument there. But if, as you say, so many are “totally deadened to the gag reflex” because of porn and other sexual perversions, that strengthens the need to awaken the conscience rather than weakens the need (as you seem to suggest).

      I certainly agree that there are a lot of sexual problems that need addressing–both heterosexual and homosexuality, inside the church and outside. This post isn’t meant to suggest otherwise. This post is about a particular sexual sin (lesbianism and sodomy) and a particular issue related to that sin (how we talk about these things and frame/illicit responses). I don’t think the wider set of issues you raise need to be minimized (they need to be addressed!) or that in addressing the other issues we need to undermine the importance of conscience.

      By the way, I’m having a gag reflex at the thought of eating Vegemite! I’ve had the English Marmite and now anything that ends in “mite” turns my stomach! :-)

      You see… taste does matter in determining what we’ll even go near. Even if the gag reflex gets interpreted in terms of “tastes” (a notion I don’t fully buy), it works the same way as if it raised deeper moral questions. If we can get folks to gag merely on taste, it opens an opportunity for a different conversation about why they gagged in the first place.

      The Lord’s love be upon you today, brother!
      T-

      1. James Maitland says:

        Great post and an interesting angle which I haven’t read before. Thanks for being brave and caring more about God’s word than popular opinion. Though disappointed about your views on marmite – it will certainly be present in the new creation so we better get used to it :)

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          LOL! I had you fondly in mind when I made that comment about marmite! So glad that in the new creation we’ll have all the fallen dross drained from everything–including marmite!

      2. Rachael Cousins says:

        I think the gag-factor needs to be taken one step further. Mentioning the despicability of an act isn’t enough because that’s on a temporal level and a bit subjective when you’re dealing with seared consciences. Yes, sodomy/lesbianism harms people physically and emotionally in this world, but were does this sin ultimately lead? To eternal destruction! Sin ruins people! God’s wrath WILL be poured out, and all of us have sin of which to repent. Lloyd-Jones was once asked (I’m paraphrasing) what advice he would give to people if he could only say one thing, and it was, “Flee from the wrath to come!” So, even in a boardroom, don’t shy away from the most important truth–we sinners need a Savior from eternal ruin, and sodomy is a sin that ruins for eternity without Christ!

        1. A says:

          “sodomy/lesbianism harms people physically ”

          Citation, please?

          1. Amanda says:

            I, too, would appreciate the evidence you have that consensual sodomy/lesbianism harms people physically.

            1. skinnercitycyclist says:

              I hear *crickets*!

            2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              I don’t know what Rachael had in mind specifically, but you might see the comment below with the stats for CDC. That’s a starting point.
              T

          2. Kamilla says:

            Here’s one citation:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1293903/

            Once there you might also try looking up “gay bowel syndrome”.

            1. John K says:

              Kamilla – You do realize that this study is from more than 20 years ago and sources material that is almost 40 years old too? It’s quite out-dated and sexual practices have changed given the new information regarding STD’s and transmission. Can you find an equally irrelevant source for lesbianism being harmful?

              P.S. The term “gay bowel syndrome” is antiquated and offensive.

          3. Gunnar Tveiten says:

            Clearly, if a man licks the vagina of a woman, then no physical harm results, whereas if a woman does the same thing, then physical harm results.

            This is christian logic at its best. With christians like these, we atheists can just shut up and let christianity tear itself to pieces.

      3. Kathy Moore says:

        “One of the great Houdini achievements of the gay rights campaign has been to take an issue all about sexual behavior and turn it into a discussion about everything but sexual behavior.”

        I think this single sentence is the message here – and it is one we need to continue to introduce into conversations on the issue – with grace, with the Word, and with preparation [wearing the armor of God] for the initial reaction we should expect from others when we deal with the issue actually before us – not some abstract concept separated from the conduct actually being promoted, embraced and celebrated.

        The discussion is not about human rights, generally speaking – it is about “rights to engage,support, protect, celebrate [and prosecute the rejection or criticism of] behavior deemed abhorrent by our Father.” Simply focusing on a vague issue of “rights” without addressing the core behavior actually being protected is nonsense that I, personally, fell into as a non-Christian.

        I pray that in the strength of the Holy Spirit I am able to recall this article and the importance of putting on the table exactly what the discussion is about – in clear terms so there is no misunderstanding what the issue is – and do so with grace, love and compassion for those living under the cloud of one of the great lies plaguing our world today.

        1. LM says:

          “One of the great Houdini achievements of the gay rights campaign has been to take an issue all about sexual behavior and turn it into a discussion about everything but sexual behavior.”

          What’s even more remarkable is that you seem to think it is all about sexual behavior. Is a straight marriage all about heterosexual sex? Or should I ask if heterosexual behavior should be defined by sex acts? Is everything that makes you straight what you do in the bedroom?

          1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

            Dear LM,

            Would we be having this conversation were it not necessary to affirm as “right” and “good” or at least “neutral” the sexual behavior in question? Of course not. That’s what I mean. The irreducible minimum here is the sexual practice.

            I wouldn’t reduce any person to their sexual orientation or behavior.

            T-

            1. Kyle says:

              “I wouldn’t reduce any person to their sexual orientation or behavior.”

              Sadly Thabiti, this is precisely what this article functionally does for any gay or ssa reader. Just be aware that this type of rhetoric has a human toll, and it’s not just on those outside the church.

      4. Matthew says:

        “I’m having a gag reflex at the thought of eating Vegemite!”

        Well then, obviously Vegemite is immoral!

        Since Cilantro tastes like soap to me, I can denounce a large swath of Mexican cooking as against the will of God.

        My point is, if your argument boils down to “it grosses me out” than you have an argument for why YOU do not do a thing, but not an argument you can apply to others.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi Matthew,

          Thanks for your comment. The effort to make a moral equivalent between food preferences and sexual immorality is really quite weak.

          First, my argument is not if it “grosses me out” then it’s wrong. My argument, in moral matters, is that if it creates a strong abhorrence then we need to look at the conscience to see if our reaction is moral. In the case of sexual ethics, the reaction is moral because sex itself carries moral meaning. If sex did not carry moral meaning we wouldn’t be having these great debates and discussions about it indicating “love” and the need to extend “rights” to protect it. Lawmaking is moral and in this case it’s a debate about the morality of the acts it legitimates or leaves unlegitimated.

          Second, I’m not saying our tastes determine God’s will. God’s word determines God’s will. God’s word teaches sexual immorality of all sorts, including homosexuality, is wrong. A conscience rightly shaped by God’s word will indeed produce a strong abhorrence, a gag reflex, when it encounters things that are wrong.

          We all do this with various things. I trust that we all would “gag” (the conscience would revolt) if we heard of a 32 year old man killing a 2 year old daughter. It’s because we know killing is wrong, and especially killing innocent and defenseless children. The gag comes from the conscience, not the other way around. And sometimes we need to know the actual facts of a situation for the conscience to work properly. We all know this. What we’re really debating in this stream is whether the conscience should be shaped to view homosexuality as wrong. I think the many reactions both pro and con actually in their own way reveal that, yes, we need our consciences awakened to view this as wrong.

          T-

          1. RowanVT says:

            God’s will is also that any woman not a virgin when she gets married be killed by the community on the doorstep of her parents’ house.

            I hope you don’t eat the fatty part of meat, for that is forever an abomination unto God. And I hope you never eat gravy because consuming blood is also an abomination forever.

            Not all people find gay sex morally repugnant. You find it so, because you’ve been taught it was so. However, you cannot definitively *prove* that your deity exists, especially if you don’t use the bible (circular logic; bible is right because bible says it is right so therefore bible is right because it says so) so making laws from it is problematic and wrong. Laws should be created in order to mitigate harm, and people consensually having any sort of sex they both agree to does not harm anyone.

            Plus you seem to be unaware that straight couples have anal sex and use sex toys?

            1. John says:

              RowanVT,

              Something that concerns me is that you seems to be blind to your own hypocritical argument. First you appeal to volition with your old testament references to reveal that in our present age how could we believe that was moral when our own moral standards are so vastly different? Theological and Philosophical implications aside, you potentially have a presentist viewpoint as if things in the past only have merit if they agree with the mentalite of the present.

              Second, you cannot prove that homosexual behavior is moral because it co-aligns with an individual’s sexual appetite or because there are a number of people who think it’s okay. However, there is likely not a person on earth who would deny (given sufficient education and at least a diagram) that the biological intention of a penis is for procreation and the biological intention of an anus is for excrement. To reclassify the biological intention based on emotion or sexual appetite seems absurd. This doesn’t explain lesbianism but I do think psychological delusion is a sufficient substitute. Here is the logic. For our species to survive we have biological mechanisms that compel us to procreate. So, when to lesbians dry hump each other or one man inserts a life producing organ into a waste excreting hole they are trying to fulfill their biological role to procreate but just can’t seem to finish the job. Like a dog humping a stuff animal… Sure it feels good but it’s not very functional for procreation.

              Lastly, You argue that we circular logic is used in determining morality from the bible. I understand where you could come to that conclusion. That is not my conclusion. I rely on the philosophical arguments for the existence of God (i.e. ontological, teleological, how could something come from nothing) combined with the historicity of the bible (meaning compelling evidence for the historical accuracy of the documents). Once I establish a compelling reason to support the primary source documents written by the new testament authors then I work backwards connecting the consistency.

              Another note is that I do believe you are using your own circular logic in determining that “laws should be created in order to mitigate harm”. This is a value judgement. There is not any good way to prove or settle on what harm is in many instances. I.e. Two people consensually doing what they please doesn’t harm anyone? I disagree. It harms me psychologically, emotionally and spiritually and I believe it would do the same for my children. So the relativistic grounding for your basis of why laws should be created isn’t very solid… well, maybe to you.

            2. John says:

              I apologize for the grammatical errors. It’s quite difficult to backtrack in such a small space!

  2. Shaun Little says:

    Great post, though I cant help but wonder if many lack this ‘gag reflex’ due to having their consciences ‘seared with a hot iron’.

  3. Rod says:

    Thabiti,

    Thank you for your honest blogging, and theological reflections. While I believe in the marriage between one man and one woman, I find this post lacking. The “gag-reflex” you want to enter into the public debate is still social conservatives relying on natural law arguments, and these arguments, used now for decades are in need of a desperate reboot. A few thoughts:

    1. Where is Jesus and his teachings in all of this? In Christ’s teachings on marriage, he declared marriage to be between man and a woman. Rather than be ashamed of our Savior, Christians should be free to point to Jesus and what he taught. It is His Wisdom that we depend on, not that of social sciences or the latest theories (though, I love those too, but Jesus first).

    2. On the question of nonviolence, Christians are far too silent on the issue of bullying and LGBTQ communities face on a systemic and day-to-day basis. Jesus taught love and nonviolence, even love for our enemies. In this light, Churches need to be more outspoken and protect the helpless as Proverbs 31 instructs.

    3. On the issue of economics, you brought up benefits really briefly, but I think this is important to talk about. Marriage has been transformed into an economic institution, with married couples (now same sex couples) getting economic benefits and governmental favor over and against single people. In the same vein, churches look down upon singles (due to bad theologies of singleness) and lift up married couples because that means more members and tithes and offerings (money). I think this issue need to be talked about and addressed. Would marriage be less desirable if the economic privileges were taken away? Just a thought.

    4. RE: seize upon politeness/civility, I think that this is hardly the case. I think it was the arguments from natural/natural theology that failed social conservatives, and we need to stop relying on humanity, and look to God and revelation first, and then all others follow.

    Blessings and Peace,

    Rod

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Rod,

      Thanks for your comments, brother. Very helpful.

      I certainly don’t think the reflex is all that’s needed. In fact, all alone it could prove unhelpful. The reflex is primal, that is, it comes from an almost pre-cognitive place. It happens faster than thought, but if it’s not present then we don’t really have the conscience alerting us to the fact that we feel something to be wrong and we need to think about it.

      Take for instance your first question, “Where is Jesus?” When’t the last time you’ve spoken with an ardent homosexual or supporter of “gay rights” and raised Jesus with them? If you’re like me, then you’re dismissed milliseconds after mentioning the Savior’s name. It’s not that Jesus and the gospel need to be left out, or any biblical teaching for that matter. Recall, in that board room I went pretty quickly to biblical teaching. It’s that we need to do some apologetic work to soften the ground. Part of that apologetic work is getting the conscience to function appropriately on this issue (Rom. 1).

      If the conscience doesn’t sound alarms, then there’s less (not more) chance we’re going to hear (or even make) arguments about the rightness/wrongness of things. What I’m suggest is we need this alarm clock plugged back into the socket. And those of us who have such an alarm have to go into the bedroom of others to plug there’s back in, too.

      As for point 2, I agree with you. We do need to speak up about bullying and the mistreatment of persons–including persons with same-sex attraction. I agree with the first part of point 3. I don’t know any churches that prefer families because they give more. Perhaps they’re out there, but I don’t know them.

      As for point 3, while I agree that marriage has in some cases been reduced to being viewed as primarily or merely an economic institution, I think that’s been the politically left’s handiwork. Marriage has always been an institution that conferred economic benefit to the family. But it’s been much more than that, too! They’ve done that in order to break apart the many things taht marriage is or does. To speak of the economic benefits in isolation or as if they’re fundamental is to seriously distort marriage and to say nothing of the social, psychological, relational, parenting, and educational benefits or outcomes of marriage. Which is why the state has an interest in the institution.

      Once the alarm sounds, we can have all kinds of discussion that add all kinds of needed information.

      Grace and peace to you,
      T-

      1. RowanVT says:

        If you don’t think it was *primarily* about securing inheritances, please explain to me why in the Bible it says a man who rapes a woman can pay her father money and then marry her?

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Gen. 2:24 tells us what marriage is primarily. I assume you’re referring to an OT passage that defines what repentance for such a sin should include at minimum.

          T-

  4. David says:

    Thank you Thabiti. It is heartening to read someone accurately and boldly identifying the deceptions and false assumptions at the heart of the case for so-called “gay marriage”.

  5. Joey says:

    Thabiti,

    Is there anywhere you could point me to where you have addressed the civil rights/gay rights comparison more thoroughly? Or someone else who you think did a good job speaking to that issue? I ask because it seems to be THE trump card in the gay rights argument (essentially that the gay rights movement is akin the civil rights movement, and those against it are bigots for wanting to deny rights etc etc), and I don’t believe I have ever seen it thoroughly demolished…and I would love to see it thoroughly demolished.

    1. Robert says:

      Check out voddie baucham’s article http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/07/19/gay-is-not-the-new-black/ it was very helpful for me.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Joey, this is one of the articles I would have suggested. I think Eric Redmond might have written one as well.

        T-

        1. Joey says:

          Robert,

          Thanks, that was excellent. I will look up Eric Redmond’s as well, Thabiti. Thanks for the help.

  6. Josh Bishop says:

    I think @Benjamin Marsh is dead-on when he points to how our porn-saturated culture is impacting our views on gay marriage and, more broadly, on homosexuality. I think the gay marriage debate is benefiting from the nature and availability of today’s pornography — so different, as we’re often told, from previous generations’ “Playboy in dad’s dresser drawer” experience of pornography. It’s much easier to accept anal sex between two men when one watches graphic anal sex between a man and a woman. Or, at the very least, not acceptance but a guilty “Well, an anus is an anus, and I sort of like it, too. Is it really all that different?” I remember reading somewhere that doctors are seeing an uptick in damaging physical effects in women of anal sex — driven by the expectations of their male sex partners who view healthy sexual behavior through the lens of their online porn habits. And oral sex was once considered *more* intimate than vaginal intercourse, and a rarity (or at least not much discussed) even within the marriage bed. Today, it’s a less dangerous, less consequential, less intimate way to get one’s jollies without actually having sex. All that to say, I absolutely agree that porn culture has made gay sex more palatable/tolerable than it would have been a generation ago.

    Add to that one more thing: Thabiti is right to point out the wrongness of “one man inserting the part of his body intended to create life into the part of another man’s body meant to excrete waste” but his argument hinges on that one word, *intended*. This assumes a teleology of the human body and sexuality that the broader culture simply doesn’t acknowledge. If they have one, it’s *pleasure* — and if one finds pleasure by putting one’s sex organs in any number of holes, then who are we to judge? How do we speak of intentions or correct use or good without a shared telos?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for joining the discussion. I appreciate your comments.

      You rightly point out that my comments, in part, draw on teleology, purpose, or intent in human physical design. And you rightly point out that much of the culture suppresses that knowledge in a hedonistic pursuit.

      I’d simply say we don’t need a shared telos at the start. Rarely do two communicants share all the same assumptions about any topic. The aim of engaging is to transfer our way of thinking and understanding an issue to the other who doesn’t yet share your view. Sometimes we need a light bulb moment or a visceral reaction in order to break through the log jam of differing and sometimes opposing assumptions. Usually that log jam means we need to state first principles very clearly. That’s what a behavior description of the sort I’ve suggested here does for us. It moves us from euphemism to a graphic and gag-inducing focus on first principles. We can move to a litany of first principle questions like:

      What is sex for?
      What are sexual organs for? Pleasure, yes. But not only pleasure.
      Should we use them any part of our body in pleasurable ways that are nevertheless inconsistent with their function and design?
      Are all pleasures “good” or “convenient” or “beneficial”? (i.e., drug use)
      Don’t some pleasures kill? So can pleasure be the sole grounds for any behavior?
      Don’t we have to add other things/values to keep pleasure from become self-destructive?
      And so on.

      What I’m proposing here, at best, only gets the conversation started on a different, more fundamental footing. From there, we actually have to have the conversation in an effort to win our neighbors, family, and friends.

      The Lord bless you,
      T-

  7. Ronnie says:

    This is such an interesting post. I find the idea of introducing the yuck factor encouraging as it give me something to say. I find on examination of myself that I am far too polite. I try to soften the blow when I say that homosexuality is sin. I struggle as I know gay people and essentially I don’t want to hurt their feelings, and I know they consider themselves to be people who love in these relationships or who are looking for love. But I guess it is akin to the adulterous love a married person has for someone who is not their spouse. Or is it worse? Having read your post I feel I need to come out of the closet in the discourse of my life, and admit how much of a sin I really believe it to be, that it is utterly wrong, and that yes it is abominable.

    1. Kathy Moore says:

      Ronnie:

      I have found nowhere in the New Testament that holds the sin of homosexuality as greater than the sin of adultery. [If someone else has and I missed, it I would beg for the correction for sure.] I can sympathize with your wanting to share the truth of the Gospel on the subject with your non-Christian or even Christian friends and family who have accepted homosexuality through, most likely, the issue of “rights” and the issue of “that is what I like or how I was born.” I have found good success in really being able to discuss the issue without being attacked as some “hate onger” by acknowledging that the sin of homosexuality is wrong – AS IS the sin of adultery. Not many really argue with the truth that adultery is sin – they may still engage in it, but they don’t deny that it is a truth in the Bible and in their consciences that it is sin/wrongful [even those who know little about it and/or have never read the Bible].

      I find I can have much more in depth conversations on the issue with my liberally minded friends and family when comparing it to this issue of little dispute: adultery. Both are issues of “I want” or “I like” or “I prefer” without regard to the laws of our Lord or our inherent knowledge of right and wrong imparted to us by God. You may be attracted to someone else, but that attraction alone does not turn into a “right” to forgo the laws of God and just do as you please – homosexuals are not immune, and have just as high an obligation to deny themselves an impure fleshly impulse for forbidden sex as are unmarried heterosexuals, or married heterosexuals desiring someone else’s spouse.

      What I can see now is that this conversation is may be a good way to diffuse anger and rejection of a position against “gay rights” so that the conversation can begin on a more honest level, but that the need to really then move into the issue of what is meant by the underlying subject matter – homosexual sexual acts as being worthy of protection, promotion, celebration and elevation to a high, protected legal status in our society. Sex IS the issue here – we can’t leave that out of the discussion and still have considered ourselves to have honestly discussed the issue.

      We, as Christians, are learning and growing [hopefully] to walk as Christ walked – not as man does. Not arrogantly shoving our morality down others throats through hate and violence – but teaching our fallen brothers and sisters the ways of Christ and the laws of God, praying for them, and helping them see truth where they have been fed lies. The rest, of course, is up to our sovereign Lord.

      I really appreciate so many of these comments and the ability to participate in this discussion – and again really encourage correction if applicable to my comments.

    2. Margaret Porter says:

      How can you define love for another person? It is impossible, because you are an individual apart from that person, sharing no neurological pathways or cellular structures.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Great question Margaret. Thanks for contributing it.

        Biblically, we define love by what it does not solely or even primarily by what it feels. See 1 Corinthians 13. One thing “love” does is take no joy in wrongdoing. For example, the husband who beats his wife cannot be said to be loving, either in general or in the moments he’s hitting his wife. Doesn’t matter that afterwards he cries crocodile tears, buys flowers, and swears he won’t do it again. The guy is not a “lover.” The same holds true for other moral wrong. When we tempt or lead a person into wrongdoing or commit wrong against them, even consentually, it cannot properly be called love in a biblical sense.

        T-

        1. RowanVT says:

          You mention that Corinthians verse. How to you relay that to the concept of Hell then, which is infinitely worse than a man beating his wife. If that is not love, how can a ‘loving’ God send people to hell?

          Bonus round:

          You may use the turn around of “he doesn’t, people send themselves” because he still made the place and still controls the terms for who goes there and who doesn’t.

          1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

            Hi Rowan,

            I’m not sure what your comments have to do with the discussion or what point you’re trying to make here. Would be happy to have you clarify or elaborate.

            Grace to you,
            T-

  8. I’m not certain if it is possible to change the tide–as one commentor reflected, our society simply doesn’t have the same response as it once did to these realities. Having said that, I think you might find a parallel in how the abortion conversation changes when people are informed about what actually happens during an abortion. The details, it seems, do matter.

  9. Daryl Little says:

    While (as has been pointed out) it may not be possible to change the tide within the culture, I think that you’ve nailed this one for a couple of reasons.

    In all cases, the issue really isn’t changing the culture, but rather, it is changing individuals. After all, a culture doesn’t change unless individuals are changed. So the goal of changing the culture really isn’t all that important anyways (and cultures don’t gag…people do.)
    Also, the issue is increasingly, changing, or at least girding up, the church. The church must not lose sight of the horrible immorality that is the issue.
    I fear that the church has lost, in many places at least, the gag reflex in relation to both sodomy and abortion. Which is why both are often seen as lesser issues.

    sin if offensive, or ought to be. And to the unbeliever repentance is equally offensive, but you can’t call people to repentance unless there is something to be repented of.

  10. CPS says:

    Thabiti,

    I appreciate you! I also think that much of what you’ve said here is really dead on and frankly quite brilliant–your assessment of how the gay lobby has structured its rhetorical strategy was really helpful to me.

    What I’m not sure about, though, is your willingness to engage in such graphic description of sexual acts within public discourse on this topic. I get what you’re saying about the “yuck factor,” but I just don’t see the strategy you’re advocating at work anywhere in the Bible. It seems to me that when Paul wants to rebuke homosexual practice, he does so with a simple one- or two-word description. In fact, a euphemism, yes? He doesn’t get into any really vivid details about what comprise the sorts of sexual acts he says are sinful at all–and for anyone who’s read someone like, say, Catullus, you’ll know that the ancients could get every bit as graphic and as lewd and as vividly descriptive as the moderns.

    Further, it seems that you’re suggesting that the only way Christians can recapture the field here is for us to embrace and utilize the kinds of speech that I think Scripture everywhere condemns! As Christians, we’re commanded to put away any talk that is obscene (Col. 3:8) and to have speech that is gracious and “seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6); we’re commanded to avoid corrupting talk and to keep our speech free from worldly filthiness (Eph. 4:29, 5:4)…how can we do what you’re advocating here and still be faithful to what we’re commanded to do? I mean, by your own admission you’re offering up “obscene” descriptions of sinful sexual practices! How does this square with how God commands us to rule our tongues? Is there really no way for us to have this discussion in a way that’s obedient to the demands Scripture makes upon our language?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi CPS,

      Thanks for your comments and for joining the conversation. Thanks also for raising the issues involved in Christian speech. In fact, I wrestled with that with my wife for a long while before posting.

      I’d welcome other feedback because it is sincerely something I wrestled with, even modifying the post at various points. But here’s how I thought through it (forgive me, it takes a little explaining).

      1. Paul absolutely teaches in Col. 3 and Eph. 4 that there are strong guard rails for Christian speech. A few things to note. First, he seems concerned with everyday speech between Christians, not so much their episodic engagement with non-Christians who don’t share either their conscience about certain matters or their ethics in speech. That’s not to say there are no boundaries and therefore we can say anything outside the church. It is just to say the context it seems has to do with edifying one another. Thus the command of Eph. 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” So the test isn’t solely whether we encroach upon the line (though that is a test and there is a line) but also whether (a) it edifies, (b) fits the occasion, and (c) administers grace. I’ve tried to talk about unpleasant things not to recommend such things or introduce them into everyday Christian conversation but (a) to edify by instructing the conscience, (b) suggest it is fitting given the occasion of legalizing practices abominable in God’s sight, and (c) with the hope that an awakened conscience might lead to the receipt of grace among unbelievers.

      I was left wondering if it were better to be plain about such things and risk improper speech, or to be opaque about them and risk a further hardened conscience and the loss of souls. I know there’s a line, but the above reasons is why I risked stepping on it even in my own mind.

      2. I also think there are occasions when the writers of scripture use euphemisms (say, Paul’s use of “natural” and “unnatural” in Romans 1) but also places where I think the description is more graphic and intended to provoke the kind of reflex I’m discussing. It’s done when Paul addresses sexual immorality among Christians. Consider, for example, 1 Cor. 6:12-19. Paul tells us “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (v. 13). He then uses an analogy, saying our bodies are members of Christ (v. 14). Then he asks a rhetorical question, that though not as graphic as it could be, seems calculated to raise graphic things in the mind and to make us shrink back in horror. He asks, “Shall I then take the members of Christ (remember, our bodies are Christ’s members/body parts) and make them members of a prostitute?” (v. 15) Do you see the picture? Paul is saying Christian sexual immorality is like taking Jesus’ body parts and joining it with a prostitute! Then Paul answers the rhetorical question with a strong “Never!” in order to drive home just how gagging a thought sexual immorality should be to us. I’m attempting to employ the same rhetorical strategy.

      3. I’m using plainer speech than the apostle precisely because the moral imagination of the culture appears so stunted. I labeled it “obscene” not because I thought it violated scripture. That’s a poor word choice. It would be better to label it “explicit.” I’ve worked hard to use the language permissible in most textbooks and in scientific discussions. I’ve simply used those same terms to describe the behavior, not just as descriptions. I’ve been plain, I hope. And I understand that that’s partly what causes the recoiling. And sometimes our moral recoiling gets targeted at the language used, as if to say, “That’s too much!” That was my wife’s reaction to an earlier draft with 2-3 more adjectives that made it “too much.”

      The problem, it seems to me, is that we don’t normally fill in the blanks when we use more polite words like “homosexuality” or “gay marriage.” We don’t want to imagine such things between anonymous “others,” much less if it involves friend and family. Moreover, there’s a lobby out there that’s worked to make sure we don’t fill in the blanks. The advocates of those positions have drained the plain recognition of that behavior from the debate. I’m suggesting we need to return it. When persons suppress their conscience on any matter, then we need to lift their hands so the conscience may rise up. I don’t pretend that I’ve done that perfectly here. I hope I’m within the bounds of what’s biblically permissible, even necessary. But I really don’t pretend to have done this perfectly and thus I welcome your raising these things.

      Finally, I do not mean to suggest this is “the only way Christians can recapture the field.” But it is a way at our disposable placed there by God himself insofar as He has given even man a conscience with the law written on it. I do hope we can say plain and explicit things without being saltless, but seasoned. And the aim is to halt corruption, not spread it.

      That, at least, is how I’ve thought about it. I do sincerely welcome other feedback. But I hope we don’t lose track of the main point of the post: It seems the conscience of many has been blunted on this issue. It needs to be awakened. One way to do that is to speak plainly (yet appropriately) about the behavior so that the things we know to be true but normally suppress actually rise to the surface and guide us.

      Grace and peace,
      T-

      1. Margaret Porter says:

        The problem here is that you are taking the Gospel verses you cite literally, as if St. Paul actually said them word for word. Do you not realize that the Bible has been edited and translated and re-codified so many times, sometimes by people who desired political advantages but who called their work “sacred”? And who layered on a coat of dogma that might never have been intended by the original author of the text (we will never know). More, the original authors and translators had an entirely different grammatical structure than we use in this modern age, and grammar adds meaning. So best not to try and apply modern understanding to Biblical texts, but rather take those that are clear and simple and which fell from the mouth of our Lord: ‘Judge not lest you be judged.’ AND ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ These verses are straightforward and one cannot paste one’s own biases over them and call it the truth. Besides, I wonder why I don’t see more preaching about the problem of hypersexuality in both hetero- and homosexual communities. There are dozens of Biblical references forbidding fornication, and we have modern science and psychological evidence to show that multiple sexual partners are bad for your spirit, soul and physical health. But no one seems to want to take that one on because there are too many indiscriminate hook-ups going on in the Mega Churches.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi Margaret,

          Thanks for your comments.

          Suffice it to say we have very different views on the reliability, transmission, and clarity of the scripture. You’ve given us a pretty liberal line of comments without any historical evidence to support. Perhaps that would be appropriate on another post on that topic.

          As for preaching about “hypersexuality,” we’re clearing moving in different circles because I hear sermons and read posts about that all the time. Most of the energy I see invested in fighting for a biblical sexual ethic actually gets spent combating pornography, heterosexual fornication, and adultery. I’ve see the very arguments you mention made repeatedly.

          T-

  11. Pete says:

    Thabiti,

    Speaking from one heterosexual Christian brother to another, I have to say I find the biblical reasoning in this piece rather unconvincing.

    Am I correct in inferring that you believe the heterosexual practice of oral and anal sex to be repulsive, along with the homosexual practice of oral and anal sex? That seems implied by the partial reasoning built in to your explicit sex act descriptions (i.e. the insertion of the reproductive organ into the execrative organ).

    If so, I would find that to be a biblically unsupported view, unless you’re aware of some verses that I am not.

    If there are no verses detailing God’s disgust with heterosexual oral sex, for example, then I see no reason why we as Christians should attempt to cultivate that disgust in ourselves, either for heterosexual oral sex, or for homosexual oral sex, the latter being strikingly similar to the former in form and function.

    Furthermore, a biblical audience would be viscerally disgusted by many abominations that you and I find rather passe. Maybe we have “seared consciences” relative to them?

    What a few generations find repulsive or attractive says strikingly little about God’s will and I don’t think appealing to the shifting sands of sexual sentiment is a solid strategy with which to build true understanding on these matters.

    It seems to me that the “gut” is a rather fickle vessel to rely on in pursuit of holiness.

    Pete

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Pete,

      Thanks for your comments, brother.

      It seems to me that your response is tinged with an unhelpful relativism. For example, we don’t need to base condemnation of homosexual heterosexual sex on condemnation of a heterosexual variety when the Bible itself calls homosexual sex an “abomination” and “unnatural.” The text of the scripture is the warrant for saying those things, not some supposed equivalence with other varieties. To take your view we end up using the silence of scripture to mute the places where it speaks.

      Moreover, what you and I find passe isn’t the litmus test for what should or should not provoke disgust. Again, that’s a form of relativism, only this time the standard is your and my tastes rather than the scripture. We’re all liable to be blind, insensitive, dull or seared on a particular issue we should care greatly about. Doesn’t have to be sexual ethics, could be a host of things like modern day trafficking, abortion, gang violence, environmental destruction, or corporate greed built on the backs of the poor and marginal (sweat shops, for ex.). That we may notice or care too little on any one of these important matters doesn’t make it okay to reject the matter. What we need is consciousness. We need to be awakened and do what’s right in those cases.

      Repulsion is simply a signal that something could be wrong. It’s not sufficient in itself. In that sense, I totally agree that it doesn’t infallibly tell us God’s will and is “fickle,” as you put it. The conscience, after all, can be overly sensitive or too dull. We need to bring the conscience/repulsion to the word of God in order to understand the will of God. We don’t build understanding on shifting sentiment. There, too, I agree. We build understanding and sentiment on the word of God, which, in this case, tells us homosexuality is wrong and we should be abhorred by it. We can establish those two things from the word of God without being relativists in the least.

      Repulsion is a lot like a fire alarm. A couple things can trigger the alarm: smoke, fire, dust, or old batteries. In either event, we need to answer the alarm and respond appropriately given the cause. Maybe we need new batteries or need to clean the alarm. Maybe there’s only smoke. But maybe there’s a raging fire. The alarm alerts us, then it’s up to us to do some investigation. But if we don’t have alarms we won’t awaken when there is fire or make adjustments when it’s just the batteries.

      Grace and peace,
      T-

      1. Pete says:

        Thabiti,

        In your typically charitable way of reading your critics, you seem to get that I’m not trying to relativize the biblical prohibition on homosexual acts, simply attempting to make the point that the presence or absence of “gut level” revulsion to homosexual acts should be of little to no importance in justifying a biblical prohibition. It sounds like we are in agreement about this.

        However, I would go beyond this to suggest that Christians who trust their “gut” in responding to homosexuality are walking on thin ice, given the deep ways their assumptions have been shaped by recent cultural trends that have little to nothing to do with biblical teaching on sexuality.

        The danger in this case is that in the prevalent alarmism brought on by a “culture war”, Christians rush to bad reasoning or strategy to establish the right prohibition, thereby sanctioning an unhelpful brand of revolted ignorance that brings more cloudiness to the issue than clarity.

        For example, I believe a Christian who harbors (and after reading this kind of blog post, perhaps amplifies) his disgust for homosexuality has put himself in a bad position. He is inhibiting a careful, empathetic pastoral response to a fellow Christian struggling against same sex attraction, and–more to the point of your post–he is sabotaging his ability to clearly understand, listen to, or size up his opponents in the public square.

        On such a sensitive and nuanced issue, “seeing red” will likely be seeing wrong.

        I believe that the Christians most equipped to speak into the current public national debate about homosexuality are the rare Christians who have personally fought for abstinence in the face of same sex attraction, developing a humbly powerful testimony in the process.

        Coincidentally, these Christians will likely be the *least revolted* on a gut level by representations of the homosexual sex act.

        Pete

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi Pete,

          We’re very close in strategy, I think, and sound to be on the very same page in objective. We obviously disagree on the place of conscience in the argument. I would see it as something different than just “gut level” reactions, though strong reactions of conscience can be visceral. I would see it as morally informed because God’s law is written on the heart.

          I’d also side with you against knee-jerk uncharitable reactions, of which there have been plenty. You’re certainly correct to point out that unthinking responses to “gut” feelings can lead into all kinds of bad directions. But they need not. There is a vast difference between “seeing red” and moral repulsion. And, in fact, if the conscience is biblically informed can lead to precisely the kinds of pastoral reactions you so rightly call for. That’s why in a couple places in the post I tried to warn against anger and harshness, hoping we’d all give an answer in gentleness.

          Finally, I’m grateful for the folks who have given valiant testimony to the grace of Christ in delivering them from same-sex attraction. I pray the Lord would raise up more and more. I suspect, however, we can’t leave them alone in this battle. And I’m not sure they’ll be least revolted if they’ve come to hate their sins. They’ll be outnumbered and severely castigated by their former peers. Witness even the treatment of a Donnie McClurkin, a former homosexual gospel music artist recently uninvited from a public celebration by D.C. officials. The current environment can’t “stomach” anyone who opposes the pro-homosexual talking points. We need to stand with our brothers and sisters with love and support and voices.

          Grateful for the exchange, brother. Now I’m off to take pictures of kangaroos, koalas and sites of Sydney, Australia! Grace and peace,

          T-

          1. Jay says:

            As a celibate Christian who struggles against same-sex attractions, I agree with Pete that the “gut” reaction might be unhelpful. For one, blunt descriptions of these acts might prove to be a stumbling block for people who are struggling with temptations of this kind. Two, I think those of us who struggle in this way are already often stigmatized within the Church — the particular loneliness of this struggle comes from losing our old gay communities, yet having a difficult time finding genuine friendship within the Church, precisely because of the “yuck” factor.

            It’s important to keep in mind that even those with the most triumphant of testimonies still experience same-sex attractions to some degree. “Delivered from same-sex attractions” would imply that I no longer have any same-sex attractions, and I don’t think any ex-gay or celibate homosexual Christian would say that about himself or herself. Even if we don’t experience lust as often as, say, a sexually-active homosexual, there can be residual feelings or memories of past encounters, and such frank descriptions might work as a “trigger.” I believe the command to avoid obscene language is meant, partly, to keep one another from stumbling.

            Furthermore, I agree with Pete that anal, oral, and other forms of non-procreative sex are becoming increasingly common among heterosexual couples. In fact, some controversial preachers have spoken openly and glowingly about such behaviors in the context of heterosexual marriages. As discreetly as possible, it is helpful if the Church offers a Biblical response to the validity of these behaviors. After all, what is necessarily “yucky” about homosexual sex if heterosexuals are mimicking the same practices.

            (I’ll also note that only about one-third of gay men practice anal sex. While I have promiscuity in my past, it never involved that, and that should potentially be noted, even if it’s ultimately irrelevant to the sinfulness of it.)

            Best regards, and thanks for opening up this conversation in a charitable, clear way.

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Dear Jay,

              Thanks for joining the conversation and providing a much-needed and useful perspective. I certainly agree with the first two of your points. I’d draw a distinction between how we talk about these things in a private public policy meeting or public policy debate, and how we talk about these things with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We have to tune our comments to our audience and setting. But in every setting we need our conscience fully operative, including producing strong reactions. The reactions themselves–and this is a very important point–are not enough to determine our next comment or act. I do not intend that everyone whose conscience reacts with strong disagreement ought to with everyone express strong disagreement or cruelty. I don’t advocate that at all.

              Second, I’d note that the increased prevalence of immoral sexuality has been going on for a long time among heterosexuals and among Christians. Some Christian teachers have been utterly unhelpful by speaking authoritatively where the Bible is silent or contrary. We don’t want to view something as “normal” or “permissible” because more people are doing it. Drug use has periods of increase, and so does crime in Chicago. But we don’t want to accept that as “normal” or “right.” We want to work against it for what is right and good.

              So grateful for your courage to speak up and add helpful thoughts to this discussion. At least now we’re having the discussion that’s so necessary.

              T-

            2. Jay says:

              Thank you for the response. I’ll only add that the distinction between public and private is becoming difficult to find in contemporary society. As another reader noted, the description of lesbian sex in this article might not only tempt women who struggle with homosexuality, but heterosexual men who have been ensnared in lesbian pornography (which is often marketing and targeted to straight men). It’s important to guard speech in our pulpits and forums, because we never know who might be listening. Once again, thank you.

            3. TalkingSnake says:

              Jay,

              Reading your post makes me really sad. There is a beautiful life waiting for you if you’ll drop the shackles of self-loathing that comes with religion and just be yourself.

              Start looking at your faith critically – in the same way and with the same lens that allows you to discard other faiths.

              I cannot for the life of me understand a gay person who follows christianity – that awful, judgmental brand of schlock wants nothing to do with you, and won’t accept you for who you are.

              Free your mind, then your spirit.

            4. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Dear Jay,

              You’ve taken the right view of things, brother. Just as a person with strong heterosexual desires who refuses to commit sexual immorality has taken the right path in following Christ. I praise God for you and have nothing but respect for a brother who would take up their cross daily and follow Christ. His love not only excels all others, but He will be your final and complete satisfaction for all eternity. Press on, brother! Praying for you and for us all,

              T-

            5. Pete says:

              Jay, thanks for entering this conversation.

              I was really moved by the personal history in the church you alluded to:
              “I think those of us who struggle in this way are already often stigmatized within the Church — the particular loneliness of this struggle comes from losing our old gay communities, yet having a difficult time finding genuine friendship within the Church, precisely because of the “yuck” factor.”

              I suppose that “particular loneliness” is why brothers like you are rare – not many of us, gay or straight, can tolerate loneliness for very long. My sadness for the church is that the debate on homosexuality is so polarizing and shrill, with so much ignorance and reactionism on all sides, that brothers like you are left increasingly more lonely in our cultural moment.

              Reactionism and cultural biases cloud biblical teaching in addition to basic christian companionship. Scripture says nothing of orientation because that concept did not exist in Paul’s day. Scripture prohibits homosexuality (consistently) simply on the level of “act.” The church would do well to keep her judgment on this matter so concise. No need at all for gagging or distancing.

              Contemporary Christian churches would benefit from enfolding, worshiping with, listening to the testimonies of the *many kinds* of people whose sexual lives do not fit right in to the biblical model of procreation. I am confident that we can do this without needing to downplay the joy of those who are rejoicing in firmly-rooted biblical marriages.

              I have been given the grace of hearing testimonies from Christians struggling against same sex attraction, and they are always powerful. Not powerful in terms of some kind of simplistic, once-and-done “deliverance” or “victory”, but powerful in terms of a life seasoned by a profound grasp of the “not yet” of our salvation as Christians (Lamentations 3:25-27). Testimonies saturated in 2 Corinthians 4.

              Jay, I pray that God may give you the grace of finding a satisfying and edifying home in this body that we are a part of, which is both deeply flawed as well as subject to redemption…

              Pete

          2. Jay says:

            Thabiti, I have one more question. I was reflecting on your insights into the definition of “love.” While I agree that it is indeed unloving to encourage and promote homosexuality, is it helpful to say that homosexual couples do not love each other?

            For example, it is equally unloving — from a Biblical perspective — for Muslim, Sikh, or Mormon parents to raise their children in those false religions, but I don’t think any Christian missionary would tell those parents so boldly that they do not love their children because of that. At the very least, they would not say such a thing until they had established exactly what it is they mean by the word “love.” Our definition of love is Christ-centered and appropriate, but is it not sometimes helpful to use the world’s definitions when reaching out to unbelievers?

            Just as it is unloving for a pagan to raise his children to worship false gods, it is unloving for a homosexual couple to encourage and indulge in their sexual error with each other. But the pagan still sacrifices and cares for his children, and the homosexual couple still sacrifice and care for each other. These are, I think, examples of common grace, and it has been helpful for me to realize that such sacrifice, care, and affection are not intrinsic to homosexuality. Indeed, they can explode and grow in the most beautiful ways once the sin of same-sex sexual behavior is put to death. Again, thank you.

  12. Joe Carter says:

    Great post, Thabiti. Your description of “what we’re talking about” reminded me of a line by Christian philosopher J. Budziszewski in his book, “The Revenge of Conscience”:

    “Our bodies have a language of their own . . . we say things to each other by what we do with them. What does it mean then . . . when a man puts the part of himself which represents the generation of life into the cavity of decay and expulsion? . . . It means ‘Life, be swallowed up by death.'”

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hey brother,

      I well remember that J. Bud quote! Read it some years ago and it’s stuck with me every since. I’m sure it was at work somewhere in my mind as I was rewriting that part of the post. Love J. Bud’s work.

      T-

  13. Bill Graham says:

    Thabiti
    Thanks for the biblical insight. If anyone finds your description “too course,” one can always go down the road of examine more closely what we, as a society, have deemed normal from a slightly different angle. While Mayor Bloomberg worries about the health risks of sugary soda, what about the obvious monetary and societal impact from this allegedly normal behavior?

    From CDC: “The data, presented at CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women. The range was 522-989 cases of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women. The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women. While CDC data have shown for several years that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and new syphilis infections, CDC has estimated the rates of these diseases for the first time based on new estimates of the size of the U.S. population of MSM. Because disease rates account for differences in the size of populations being compared, rates provide a reliable method for assessing health disparities between populations. “While the heavy toll of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men has been long recognized, this analysis shows just how stark the health disparities are between this and other populations,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.”

    If this behavior were not the flavor of the day it’d be banned for obvious health reasons.
    Thanks
    Bill

    1. buddyglass says:

      “If this behavior were not the flavor of the day it’d be banned for obvious health reasons.”

      Doubtful. Cigarettes, booze and McDonald’s french fries are all still legal.

    2. Nathan says:

      @ “Bill Graham”

      Your argument isn’t against gay sex, it’s against gay promiscuity – something gay marriage will help diminish (at least, it won’t make it worse.)

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Dear Nathan,

        “Gay sex” is “promiscuity.” The promiscuity doesn’t lie in a failure to be monogamous. It comes with the distortion of the design and purpose of sex, which among other things includes procreation between male and female.

        T-

        1. John K says:

          Dear Thabiti – Nathan’s response is directly related to the previous post about the CDC. Your equivocation of the term “promiscuity” being any sex outside of heterosexual marriage purposely muddies the waters when he obviously meant it to mean “multiple/casual sexual partners.” Reducing promiscuity among gay men by encouraging gay marriage (fidelity) would undoubtedly reduce HIV transmission. Claiming that disease is an indicator of God’s disapproval of a group of people (or as you like to point out “a behavior”) is despicable. Just because a people group is at more risk than another doesn’t make who they are or what they do sinful. By Bill’s argument, lesbians must be the most godly since they are at the lowest risk of HIV transmission.

          1. Matthew says:

            “Claiming that disease is an indicator of God’s disapproval of a group of people (or as you like to point out “a behavior”) is despicable”

            It’s also the logic some white supremacists use to explain and justify the incredibly high HIV rates in a large hunk of Africa. They use it to claim that it’s evidence that God hates black people.

            Of course, the homophobia movement has borrowed a lot of language from racists. Take an old anti-race mixing sermon from the 1950’s, swap out a few words to make it anti-gay instead and no one could tell the difference.

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Hi John and Matthew,

              I don’t recall ever saying a disease is an indicator of God’s disapproval of a group of people.

              This has nothing to do with the straw man of white supremacy. If you can show me that I’m wrong about what the Bible teaches about sexual ethics–what constitutes right and wrong in sexual relationships–then I’m happy to amend my comments at whatever length necessary. As best as I understand the Bible, all sex outside of marriage–whether heterosexual or homosexual–is in fact sin. Christians have believed that for centuries. Any departure from that view among Christians is both recent and unfaithful to the Bible itself.

              T-

            2. John K says:

              Thabiti – My apologies. I was wrapping you up in Bill’s argument above. My point was that “promiscuity” as defined by society is obviously different from your definition above. You are ascribing meaning to the word that the author, Nathan, did not intend. In doing so, you ignore the meat of his argument. I assume that’s because your stance is indefensible. It makes me understand you and your perspective better though. It’s obvious you read current understandings of words and concepts into the words of a document written thousands of years ago. Let me clarify. You likely, and tell me if I’m wrong, ascribe meaning to verses in the bible that the author could not have meant since they had no concept of sexuality as it is understood by people today. The word “homosexual” was not even in the Bible 60 years ago, and yet you claim the Word of God condemns it. Does it really? Why do you completely ignore the context of other scripture and culture surrounding the few verses addressing same-sex behavior? That is interpreting in a vacuum and it’s dishonest. You’ve done it here with Nathan’s comment, so why should I trust you haven’t done it in your interpretation of the Bible?

              Thanks for responding by the way. I know we obviously disagree, but I’m impressed that you take the time to respond.

              John

    3. Tom says:

      And yet, lesbian women would seem to be at the LEAST risk, according to the stats that you cite. So is it okay to be a lesbian, but not okay to be gay?

      “That’s gross” or “That could be harmful to your health” only go so far.

  14. Pingback: Bookmarks 8/20/13
  15. Very helpful discussion. I agree that, “The pro-gay campaign has successfully duped many in the country and around the world into suppressing their conscience, turning the other way with the help of polite terms and phrases. And because we want to be “nice” and “liked” (who doesn’t?), we have ignored these things or willingly accepted the terms of the discussion presented by the other side. We’ve stopped gagging–at great cost.”

    Of course, not all dialogue from the gay community has been polite. The radical wing has turned to bullying tactics. We can and should expose the hateful name-calling and scornful ad hominem aimed at anyone who doesn’t acquiese to the agenda. This is a violation of the kind of civil and rational debate we should follow in democratic process. It’s also manipulation of the worst kind. If you oppose gay marriage you’re told that you have irrational phobias; you’re a hate-monger, a bigot, and guilty of discrimination. Why do people allow this kind of school yard bullying to push them into acquiescing to a militant agenda forcing a sexual lifestyle on others?

    We can bring this message: “Teaching people to treat each other with respect is a much better alternative to forced affirmation. Tolerance is about treating others with respect when you disagree with them. Telling people they’re not permitted to disagree is coercion, not tolerance.”

    It’s ironic how the intolerance and bigotry that was once wrongly shown toward people who chose a gay lifestyle is now aimed at anyone who dares to oppose homosexual behavior.

    Steve Cornell
    http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-gay-marriage-bullies/

  16. buddyglass says:

    I really have trouble believing that the argument, “But it’s so gross!” is going to lead to gains in the public sphere when it comes to same-sex marriage.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear buddyglass,

      Thanks for commenting and joining the conversation. Perhaps the difficulty is in reducing the argument to a straw man. It’s not merely a call for people to say, “But it’s so gross!” It’s a call for people who suppress that reaction to ask themselves where the reaction comes from and what it’s designed to tell them. It’s a call to pay attention to the moral compass we all have, the conscience, and to heed it. Certainly describing the actual behavior of homosexuality is not enough in any public discourse. But it’s necessary to describe it or we won’t actually be discussing the thing itself. As I believe Wells put it, “We’ve come now to the point where the first duty of intelligent men is to state the obvious.” Stating the obvious is what engages the conscience’s reaction, and that gives us opportunity to then talk anew about these things.

      T-

      1. buddyglass says:

        I’m just not convinced that the main problem is that people don’t know what “homosexual acts” entails. They know; they just don’t care. How will reiterating to someone what he or she already knows change his or her opinion on the appropriateness of same-sex marriage?

        This seems like a different beast from abortion, where some folks are genuinely “surprised” by the level of development they see in pictures of aborted fetuses. Would anybody be shocked or surprised to learn that gay men have anal intercourse and perform oral sex on one another?

        1. Thabiti says:

          I agree that people know. I disagree that people “just don’t care.” That’s why there’s even a cultural argument about it. Instead of saying they don’t care, I think they’re actually suppressing their knowledge of both the acts and of the moral wrongness of it. That’s why taking conversations back to first principles with a description of what we’re really talking about moves the conversation by awakening the conscience. Of course, not everyone will change their opinion. But we don’t expect unanimity on any human issue. If some change their opinion it would be progress.

          T-

          1. buddyglass says:

            When I said people don’t care, I was mainly referring to the sort of people who need “convincing” w.r.t. same-sex marriage. I’ll agree that there are a fair number of men who don’t think homosexual acts are sinful and who support s.s.m. who are nevertheless personally repulsed by the thought of male homosexual sex. And yet they still support the moral rightness of homosexual acts and s.s.m. In order to bring these folks around it won’t be sufficient to remind them that they find male homosexual sex disgusting. You need to demonstrate why that disgust should translate into opposition to s.s.m. Many supporters have no trouble reconciling their personal revulsion at male homosexual sex with the need for civil recognition of same-sex marriages. That is the logic you’ll have to change.

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Yep. You’re exactly right.
              T-

  17. MW Cook says:

    Gay sex and all those things such do trigger my gag reflex. And so do olives. But I’d be an idiot to try to make them illegal.

    Honestly, though, I like articles like these. They rouse the passions of the anti-gay movement and make them feel wonderfully indignant without actually slowing down inevitable progress.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear MW Cook,

      Thank you for joining the conversation. So, are we to believe that you think the reactions of the conscience to sexual behavior is akin to the reaction of our tongues to olives? Do you really want to equate sexual behavior with preferences for fruits and vegetables? I’m guessing you don’t want to equate those things, or you wouldn’t be advocating that everyone accept and recognize homosexual behavior as “normal” and “protected.”

      Yours,
      T-

      1. MW Cook says:

        You gag reflex is not a reaction of your conscience.

        And, yes, I do want to equate sexual preference with tastes for food. Some people like olives. Some people (straight and gay) like analingus. Just because they both gross me out doesn’t mean I should be taking action to stop them from doing it, or even going around and telling others how horrible and gross I think it is. Because I might eat things that make others gag and I might do things in the bedroom that make others gag.

        You believe homosexuality is wrong because of how you view the Bible. I get that. I used to vehemently believe that. But now you are suggesting that it’s wrong because it’s yucky. And that doesn’t work because everything is yucky to someone.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi MW,

          Two quick replies:

          1. I do not believe homosexuality is wrong because it’s yucky. I believe we find it yucky because it is wrong. There’s a great difference!

          2. If you were consistent with your own principles (and all of us because we’re limited creatures will inevitably be inconsistent with some principles we hold), you would find this post insufficient for comment. If olives and sexual behavior are equivalent and you’re indifferent to other’s preferences, then it’s likely you shouldn’t be moved enough to bother with arguing a point, or even arguing I should not “gag” or encourage others to “gag.” The fact that you comment means you likely care more than your comment suggests. And the fact that you care on some level probably means there’s moral meaning somewhere in here for you. I just don’t think it’s consistent to pretend same sex behavior is as unimportant as tastes for olives and then argue someone shouldn’t express their tastes against olives or same sex behavior.

          T-

  18. Constable Reggie says:

    The vast majority of your Christian brothers were doing anything but gagging at the description of lesbian sex, Mr. Anyabwile. If you don’t want to be intellectually dishonest, just leave that bit out and stick to what really grosses ya’ll out: dudes with other dudes.

    Anyway, I’m happy to report that your homophobia has only triggered my laughter reflex. Have a nice day and please, please, please never change. You and your ilk in your councils and coalitions are an endless source of amusement.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Constable Reggie,

      Thanks for joining the conversation. A couple brief replies:

      1. I’m in no position to know what “the vast majority of my Christian brothers were doing” regarding lesbian sex.

      2. “Homophobia” does not exist as a true phobia. Certainly hatred and prejudice exists and violence against people with same-sex attraction needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. But I well remember when the term “homophobia” gained traction in psychological circles. It did so without a shred of psychological science behind it and with a lot of ideological force-feeding. I reject the label, while defending the rights of people to be treated and protected humanely. The label is just another form of bullying and shutting down conversations.

      3. “You and your ilk” reminds me a lot of the bigotry that used to address African Americans(and on some rare occasions still does) as, “You people” and “your kind.” Yet another way the so-called gay rights movement departs from the historical African-American Civil Rights Movement. At its best, the Civil Rights movement fought for everyone’s humanity–black and white, oppressed and oppressor. What we’re witnessing is little different than revenge, the prejudicial shoe placed on the other foot, and the systematic opposition to any dissenting opinion.

      By the way, you never answered the question: “Do you mean to say we should all accept as normal and good one man inserting the part of his body intended to create life into the part of another man’s body meant to excrete waste?”

      Yours,
      T-

      1. Constable Reggie says:

        Of course we should accept it as good and normal, just as Christians (see here: http://marshill.com/2008/11/30/question-21-can-i-perform-anal-sex-on-my-wife) accept as good and normal a husband inserting same part into the part of his wife’s body meant to excrete waste.

        1. Thabiti says:

          Thanks for the link. I certainly do not agree with that post and I don’t think it’s representative of historic Christian teaching. Moreover, I think the repeated references to someone being uncomfortable with the practice is nothing more than the conscience condemning the practice as I’ve argued here. I certainly wouldn’t recommend “Christian nymphos” to anyone as a source for teaching on the issue! Geesh.

          1. John K says:

            Thabiti – Is it possible that you are mistaking your conscience’s gag reflex with your hetero-normative supremacy? You live in a culture that despises gay people and are grossed-out by gay sex as a straight person…Doesn’t that have any role in your opinion?

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Hi John,

              Anything is possible. The question is, “Is it likely?” I don’t think so. Nor do I think it’s a matter of “hetero-normative supremacy.”

              I don’t despise people who profess to being gay. Much of the culture has historically, though much progress has been made. And in a short period of time! But that’s all quite apart from the question, “Is it right?” That’s what I’m raising here.

              T-

            2. John K says:

              I would counter that…arguing for people to re-engage their gag-reflex in this debate re-enforces a climate of rejection based on gross-factor. That gross-factor is not a matter of right and wrong, but of taste. I don’t think about straight sex as a gay person, because to me, it’s kinda gross. I think in the same way gay sex to a straight person is kinda gross. I don’t go around telling straight people they are gross just because it’s gross to me. You seem to feel it’s okay to do that to gay people, and encourage others to do the same. I think it’s short-sighted to think you are immune to your hetero-normative ideals.

              Granted you could say I have homo-normative ideals that color my viewpoint…I suppose that’s possible, but I grew up in a hetero-normative culture, where being gay was looked down upon. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. I wrestled with it for years, studied the bible, had views much like yours, until I realized that God never asked me to change. I began studying more of the Word and the cultural context it was written in, compiled in and translated in. It’s become clear to me that the bible is anything but clear on this subject. People take what’s written at face-value through the filter of their hetero-normative sensibilities and claim it’s Christian. Well, it’s not.

            3. Matthew says:

              John K,

              Ultimately in this essay, Thabiti Anyabwile is admitting that he has no real arguments against marriage equality other than content from the Old Covenant (rendered moot by the Incident at Antioch) and the “Appeal to emotion” logical fallacy.

  19. Nathan says:

    The Church lost the culture war during the AIDS crisis when gay people (and others) with HIV/AIDS were treated with your so-called gag reflex. When you should have stepped in as an example of love, you chose to be judge instead. That will never be forgotten.

  20. Bill says:

    This argument simply doesn’t hold up. And for 1 reason alone:

    There does not exist ANY sexual act that gay people participate in that heterosexuals do not ALSO participate in, in much, much, much higher numbers.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Bill,

      That doesn’t weaken the argument, that simply extends its application! I’ll have to take your word for it when it comes to the relative numbers of persons engaging in various acts. But wherever sexual impropriety exists–of whatever variety (hetero- or homo-)–then we need the conscience engaged and working.

      T-

  21. Timothy Reynolds says:

    Good post, bruv, but I have one or two ‘yes buts’. The comments are long, so I haven’t read them all – sorry if I duplicate. I am amazed that there is not more of a gagging reflex to this subject – but there just isn’t much, is there? Is it because people only think about love and romance and not the physical side? I’m not sure.
    (1) As a secondary school teacher in the UK, 40 years ago I saw the yuck factor regarding homosexuality in full operation. If/when the subject came up audible yucks resulted. This disappeared in the UK about 20 years ago when the reaction became “Whatever people want to do, that’s up to them.” I suspect that the reason was that society had been cast adrift from any moral anchor and libertarian tolerance (except of intolerance) had become the new absolute. In other words it was a much wider change than just about sexual matters.
    (2) A problem with trying to engage the yuck factor for me is that when I was first told about normal intercourse (aged 12/13, completely innocent of such matters) I had the gag reflex to it. So, I suspect do a lot of people. Where does that leave us with the gag reflex as an indicator/driver?
    (3) The strange thing about even normal intercourse, beautiful though it is to engage in in the right. God-given context, is that it is at least strange, if not a little repellent, when described in print or viewed by a third party (except when the mind is perverted). I think the graphic descriptions you gave would not make much more pleasant reading if they were about normal intercourse.
    (4) [WARNING OF GRAPHIC CONTENT] The male organ that is used for procreation is also used for excreting waste water, so although the yuck factor in me is aroused fully by your description it could be said to be not such a clear cut matter. (That fact was one of the reasons I experienced the yuck factor when told of normal intercourse as a child.)
    (5) I find it difficult to know how I’m going to engage the yuck factor in a sermon!
    (6) Surely we not be seeking to oppose unnatural relations in the same way that Scripture does – that is by describing it as unnatural and an abomination to God and a sign of his judgement, and leaving the rest to the Holy Spirit and to human imagination, not by trying to provoke the gagging reflex?

    1. Timothy Reynolds says:

      That last point should read “Surely we should be seeking…”

    2. Mel says:

      I think we all still have the gag reflex to PDAs, (Public Display of Affection)regardless of how old we get.
      How many of us absolutely groaned with revulsion when Al Gore tried to look passionate with his wife on the national stage? There is a reason for that.
      Most of us really don’t want to watch someone walk around with the hands or mouths all over someone in public. It should be private.
      God made us that way. It’s the child in us that remains. That is the revulsion we feel when we hear about lust that has nothing to do with love.

      Hearts that are hardened are so much easier to tell lies to. THat is why women started kissing each other in bars in order to gain a mens attention. As if that kind of man is worth having.

  22. Texas Catholic says:

    You make a lot of good points in this article, Pastor Anyabwile. It is interesting to see an Evangelical argument that includes the Natural Law tradition. As the comments show, I think you will find difficulty getting traction for this line of thought among many Protestants, though.

    As you mentioned, marriage and procreation are no longer seen as interwoven. Now that contraception is widely accepted among nearly all non-Catholic Christians, even many conservatives treat sex as little more than a recreational activity. Further, many Christians expect the marriage bed to be an outlet for the perversions they’ve witnessed in pornography. The dual unitive and procreative nature of intimacy and the complementary nature of male and female are no longer self-evident in this new paradigm. Perhaps Evangelicals will rethink the morality of contraception now that some are beginning to acknowledge how it has paved the way for gay marriage, abortion, divorce culture, etc. It is one factor that has allowed consciences to be deadened.

    1. RowanVT says:

      If you want to tie in marriage and procreation…

      Are infertile people not allowed to marry? How about people who know they would be unfit parents due to a dislike of children/lack of patience? How about people with genetic abnormalities that either should not be passed on, or would result in severe harming or even death of the woman should she become pregnant? How about after menopause? Are marriages dissolved once the woman is no longer fertile? What about older widows and widowers?

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Dear RowanVT,

        You know the answer to all those questions. And I well remember these sorts of things argued ten or so years ago. The problem with these questions is they attempt to justify homosexuality “normal” by arguing from exceptional cases. It’s a weak argument. If you want to argue for the normality of something, you should argue from the norm. How does the pattern and potential of homosexual behavior fit with the normal state of sexual activity, procreation, etc?

        They don’t. And that’s why folks have used these sorts of rhetorical devices.

        T-

        1. Matthew says:

          You know what else is banned in the Bible?

          Racial integration.

          Look up the article “The Bible and Segregation” By C. R. Dickey. The Bible has a LOT more to say justifying and condoning racial segregation and slavery than homosexuality, yet here we are, a multiracial group, discussing the same article, flagrantly disregarding the Bible’s strict and clear guidelines against race mixing.

          Why do we ignore those parts of the Bible? Because civilization has evolved past condoning slavery. We’re working to fight racism. We’ve become more moral than Saint Paul, who not only condoned slavery but gave directions on how Christians could own Christian slaves.

          Does condoning racial integration and refusing to execute rape victims who didn’t scream enough make us heretics? Of course it does. We’d be executed for such liberal, perverse ideas by the patriarchs. We’ve already set the morality of man above the morality of God. If Thabiti Anyabwile really wants to return to a strictly Biblical society, then he needs to strip off his collar, throw away his books and kneel, for as a descant of Ham, he’s cursed with genetic guilt for a perverse act even the Bible, with all its rape, blood and violence, only referred to euphemistically.

  23. Bernard says:

    The p word is misspelt in the article – please correct it! I rejoice that you have the courage to say these difficult things. Another point that needs to be made firmly and without embarrassment is that gay sex has serious health consequences. In Britain the National Health Service refuses to accept blood donations from men in active gay relationships. How can their sexual behaviour be considered normal if it automatically disqualifies them from making blood donations?

  24. Nell says:

    I am curious about one matter.

    There are well- known Reformed pastors who have been commending a certain other Reformed pastor for his book on sex and marriage. This particular pastor believes that certain acts, oral and anal sex, are appropriate, and even desirable, behaviors between Christian couples. In fact, it does appear that he encourages said activity and he does not believe that such acts are “yucky.”

    Could you please comment? Are they yucky or not yucky? PS: I am not a fan of said pastor but many are.

    1. Aaron says:

      You hit the spot there.

      Said acts are only yucky if its with two people of the same genitalia , because Jesus/Bible. If, lets say, you are a loving submitting wife to a Strong Christian Manly Husband, and said husband wants to put his stuff up the exit, or perhaps have you get down and on your knees for some other fun, or anything else, it is really your Christian Duty to oblige and please your husband, regardless of whether you want to because Jesus/bible.

      Remember, its not about mutual informed enthusiastic consent. Thats a bunch of liberal feminazi nonsense. Its about Pleasing the Head of the Household, cuz in that way you please Jesus/bible. Women, after all, want to be conquered, penetrated and colonized; right Jared Wilson????

      1. kristen says:

        I think what we’re getting at here is the fear of egalitarian pleasure parties. one person must be subservient for it to be approved by jesus.

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Neil, I think said pastor is dead wrong on those matters. I think Tim Challies’ and Wendy Alsup’s reviews of the book were spot on.

          Aaron, these acts are wrong whether hetero- or homosexual in practice. Moreover, it’s absolutely wrong and a caricature of biblical complementarity for a husband to require, coerce, badger or insist on such behaviors.

          It seems to me that 1 Cor. 7 very clearly teaches mutuality in marital intimacy, not anything remotely resembling domination, etc.

          Kristen, huh?

          T-

  25. kristen says:

    This is why millennials want nothing to do with you horrible people.

  26. Joy says:

    How quaint. Do you honestly believe that heterosexual couples never engage in oral sex? Or anal sex? Or use sex toys? And what about the fact that both a man’s and a woman’s sex organs also eliminate waste? A male penis releases urine in addition to semen. A urethra and a vagina are millimeters apart on a woman’s body, and a vagina releases blood and uterine lining once a month(ish). All your gag-reflex arguments fall completely apart.

    I mean, I guess it’s good that someone finally came out (heh) with the REAL reason they oppose marriage equality — it’s because they find the idea of man-to-man or woman-to-woman sexual activity repulsive.

    1. Matthew says:

      If Thabiti Anyabwile is that horrified by oral sex, then I suppose his wife must be a rather unfulfilled woman.

      His real issue with homosexuals appears to be the fact that most of them have more, and better, sex than he does. His rhetoric reminds me of Ted Haggard. It has all the earmarks of someone insisting they’re disgusted by something that they find deeply attractive.

      Protip kids: When you see a “heterosexual” who spends more time thinking about gay sex than actual homosexuals, they’re probably a closet case.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Hi Matthew,

        Welcome to the discussion. Thank you for insulting my wife. Thank you for slandering me with references to Haggard and using the cheap tactic often employed of insisting that anyone who thinks biblically about these things must be a closeted homosexual.

        Thank you for illustrating that not everyone who supports homosexuality or “gay marriage” actually occupies the moral high ground.

        T-

        1. Matthew says:

          I didn’t insult your wife. I pity her. I insulted you by pointing out how sterile and barren your relations with her must be, given your gag reflex reaction to sex acts common even among heterosexual couples.

          I don’t think you’re a closeted homosexual because you think homosexuality is a sin. I think you’re a closeted homosexual because you work so hard to try and convince yourself that gay sex is disgusting. I’m reminded of a Jewish friend of mine in high school who ranted endlessly about how evil bacon was. Eventually he admitted to me that he always complained about it not because he thought it was a sin to eat it, but because he LOVED the smell of it and found it a constant temptation.

          I know plenty of people who oppose marriage equality and who believe gay sex is a sin yet are probably NOT closeted homosexuals. You spend too much time agonizing about the intimate details of gay sex for this to merely be a religious objection.

          “Thank you for illustrating that not everyone who supports homosexuality or “gay marriage” actually occupies the moral high ground.”

          You dragged this conversation into the gutter with the hatred, fear and anger in your original article. As I was raised in a Conservative Christian home, I’m quite comfortable stepping down into the gutter to exchange a few words with you at your level.

          1. James Maitland says:

            Grace and truth versus rudeness. Only one winner.

            1. Matthew says:

              There’s no grace on either side of this thread. While Thabiti Anyabwile’ homophobic ranting is certainly rude, I offered no grace, just truth.

  27. That’s funny, whenever someone describes gay sex to me, I get horny!

  28. kristen says:

    “I don’t like gay rights cuz it’s yucky” doesn’t hold up too well in a constitutional law argument.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Kristen,

      You’re absolutely correct. It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.

      But this post isn’t about constitutional law. Actually, it doesn’t make any comment on what should be the law or what my own perspective is. It’s a comment on the rhetorical and framing issues involved in the discussion. That’s all.

      T-

      1. kristen says:

        “It’s a comment on the rhetorical and framing issues involved in the discussion. That’s all.”
        yes. A discussion about why gay people should NOT have the right to get married. A discussion about how the christian right can regain power in the national conversation, which is ultimately about rights, which are decided by courts, which use the constitution as their guide. What is the point of this whole conversation if you’re not concerned about the legal implications? Is it just about being right and winning an argument? Because the yuck factor doesn’t win arguments either. Most people are smart enough to recognize that it’s an appeal to an emotion and separate it from the evidence at hand.

        1. emily says:

          Kristen, THANK YOU for your educated response.. The separation of church and state lines have been blurred significantly & the author of this post is a perfect example of that.

  29. Erin says:

    In many posts dealing with the legalization of gay marriage, I’ve seen Christians far and wide complaining about the argument saying that marriage must be about procreation. I still find this to be very problematic. There are plenty of couples who do not have or are unable to have children for any number of medical reasons. Simplifying marriage down to only procreation implies that people who are infertile, have genetic disorders, or are no longer able to procreate should not be allowed to marry. What then are older couples to do, when the woman hits menopause? Should two people who get married and discover the husband is infertile no longer be considered married? Are people who have no children of their own because they fear passing on genetic diseases to their biological offspring be forbidden to marry?

    I understand that procreation is a facet of marriage, but making it the only deciding factor for marriage makes me very uncomfortable. How are we as Christians to deal with this? And should we even be using this argument in the first place?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Erin,

      Thanks for your comment and your questions. In brief, I’d say:

      1. Procreation is an essential aspect of marriage, but by no means the only and would be insufficient as a basis for determining who could marry.

      2. Marriage has other important benefits for society, including: child rearing, wealth and asset creation, social stability, and so on. These need to be factored into discussions of the purposes of marriage.

      3. Marriage also communicates what is “good,” “natural,” and “beneficial” in that society. It has moral meaning. Attached to that moral meaning are all the activities and benefits of marriage, including the sexual behavior it normalizes and protects. That’s why discussion of the actual sexual behavior of marriage cannot be downplayed in the discussion. At the bottom of the same-sex marriage debate really is the question of whether or not we should “normalize as good and right” same-sex activity.

      The problem, of course, is that the debate has focused on everything but this most basic question/issue. As Christians, and as thinking non-Christians, we have to solve first-principle issues: What is sex for? What is marriage for? How/should we associate sex and marriage? And so on.

      T-

      1. Matthew says:

        By your own admission then, marriage equality would benefit society, as it would provide stability to gay couples, especially those with children. It would also highlight the virtues of monogamy and fidelity within a community often stereotyped as promiscuous.

        Your own arguments AGAINST marriage equality actually favor it.

      2. Erin says:

        What is sex for? This is an important question. And one I think you haven’t answered. If sex for procreation, what does this mean for infertile couples? The implication of what you’ve said seems to be that sex should only be used within the strict bounds of child bearing. Which is something that seems to reduce sex to a merely biological thing, which I find troubling.

  30. Alise says:

    If one’s gag reflex is the best reason that you’re able to give to oppose marriage equality, then you absolutely deserve to lose the fight.

    The move away from sex acts is because, brace yourself, folks who are attracted to the same sex do a lot more than have sex. They have families. They work their jobs. They fix spaghetti. THEY GO TO YOUR CHURCH.

    Yes, go on about the nastiness of gay sex. The rest of us will move quietly along and recognize that there are PEOPLE in those discussions.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Alise,

      I fully recognize there are PEOPLE in this discussion. People like my sister, a cousin, a boss I once worked with and greatly respected, members of my church, some teenagers, and a good number of friends. All of whom I’ve had these kinds of discussions without anyone leaving feeling unloved, unheard, or invalidated as people. I think every one of those persons would say two things following those conversations: (1) I was genuine and honest with them, and (2) I was caring, sympathetic and on occasion helpful.

      Here’s the deal: If we really do recognize that our family, friends, and neighbors with same-sex attraction are people–and more than that, people made in God’s image–we’re going to want them to flourish as people made by and for God. That, from a historical Christian point of view, will mean living according to the will and intent of God, which we only reliably find expressed in God’s word. And, though it offends modern sensibilities, God’s word couldn’t be clear about the matter of sexual behavior and ethics. But those of us who love people will try to help people see things the way God sees them in His word and find a way to embrace it as good and right.

      I welcome anyone wrestling with these things to my church. They will, as some do, feel very warmly welcomed by the entire church family and sometimes feel very uncomfortable, as all of us do, with those parts of God’s word which confront us about our sin. But there’s grace if we receive conviction and trust in the Lord.

      T-

      1. Matthew says:

        “I fully recognize there are PEOPLE in this discussion”

        Nonsense. I read the article. Don’t try to claim you were treating homosexuals as people with your hate filled rhetoric.

  31. Dalmos says:

    I think this sort of “yuck” factor is as easily applied to heterosexual sex as to homosexual sex. It is frankly very easy–and demoralizing–to remind our fellow apes just how base we creatures really are.

    By what biological criteria do you suppose the rectum is used only for the excretion of waste, and where do you draw the line? Are the tissues surrounding the rectum also reviling and morally reprehensible, or can a chaste couple feel confident in enhancing their sexual union by employing conscientious stimulation to the surrounding area? Or should stimulation be avoided altogether? Also, by what biological criteria do you neglect to show that biological waste is also excreted from the penis? Further, by what biological criteria is an unfertilized gamete, accompanied by blood and mucus, not also waste? And in what way is a penis–which is used to excrete biological waste–being inserted into a mucus-lined cavity which excretes blood and other waste in order to evacuate unfertilized gametes, not equally disgusting and perverse?

    More importantly, I have always been curious about the treatment of infertile individuals. Is it unchaste for them to engage in sexual relations, despite the fact that they are unable to create life? Should we not insist that they, too, be discouraged from fruitless sexual activity? Isn’t it clear that God does not want them to have sex? God’s intention in such situations are clear, are they not?

    I have often heard faithful Christians say that, in situations such as these, the chaste couple may pray to God for a miracle. However, such miracles do not occur when the organs are physically incapable of sustaining life, or are missing outright. In this case, isn’t continued sexual activity against God’s will? Isn’t it disgusting, too?

    If that is not the case, and chaste couples may pray for miracles despite every piece of evidence suggesting to them that they are not able to bear life, then it is surely due to God’s awesome power, and his love of life and of his faithful followers. Could not a homosexual couple do the same? Could they not also pray for the miracle of life? Surely God’s powers are not limited, nor was he mistaken in creating homosexuals. Or is that not the case? Is it that God loves only his heterosexual children? Or is it possible that God loves only the same people that you love? Please tell me that this is not the case; that would break my heart.

    And finally, isn’t it true that textual and linguistic evidence suggests that any reference to men having sexual relations with men were referring to temple prostitutes, and that a close reading of the content shows that 1) the law and the punishment applied only to Jewish men, and 2) the law was denouncing idolatrous cultic worship, as it follows a series of laws prohibiting male temple prostitution, and uses “to ‘evah”–often translated as abomination–which is almost invariably associated with idolatry. Firstly, are not Christians in a state of grace, and no-longer under the law of the Hebrews? And is it not possible to have homosexual relations without overtures of idolatry? Wouldn’t it be best to approach the subject from that perspective, teaching heterosexual and homosexuals alike that sex and pleasure are not proper avenues for worship, and that such acts should be respected for their life-affirming properties outside of physiological reproduction?

    And lastly, since it has been mentioned elsewhere in these comments, I am not convinced that there are serious adverse health effects that occur from anal intercourse that do not also occur with vaginal intercourse. Many studies associate increased risk for infections and sexually transmitted infections to a lack of public discourse on anal intercourse, and relevant studies have shown decreased risks due to education. Between knowledgeable, consenting adults, when alcohol and drugs are not involved, there is little risk for infection, or for physical damage. Life-long anal intercourse does not result in incontinence as compared to incontinence in males who do not participate in anal intercourse. While the argument was not your own, it was also not objected to. Yet, it arises from ignorance of the subject–not to mention, it seems in poor taste to invoke scientific knowledge to defend a worldview, and yet not extend that worldview to incorporate scientific thinking in moral discrimination.

    So, with all this said, I am not surprised that many people are objecting to your opinion that there is something inherently disgusting in homosexual intercourse, and that homosexual intercourse is inherently immoral. On the contrary, there seem to be a fair representation of arguments on both sides–some based on reason and observation, others based on biases and narrow worldviews. At the end of the day, too, I think it is necessary to see where the suffering is, and where it originates: I cannot believe that God’s Will would thrive in a world replete with anger, ridicule, and self-righteous torture and discrimination. The world is opening to a whole new purview of moral questioning and thought, well outside the scope of the bible–concerning the nature of information, of communication, of thought, of feelings, of experience; for instance, it is no-longer the case (nor has it ever been, despite our ignorance) that simple physical features or even genetic markers can signal a person’s nature, or their role in society. There are no true-born slaves of inferior intellect, there is no weaker sex, and in some cases males are born with female organs, and vice versa, and in some cases they are born with organs that are in between, or neither male nor female in characteristic. What defines a man or a woman? Their shape, the pattern of their mind, the role they play in society, their calling, their identity? What gives you the confidence and authority to decide?

    1. Luke says:

      Amen! As a Christian, who happens to be gay, I wholeheartedly appreciate this comment. This is what I wish the Church would discuss and contemplate. Maybe then young gay christians will have hope instead of fear for their future.

      My faith journey has been long, difficult, and painful with an internal battle between my sexuality and the faith I had been brought up in. Too many LGBT people have been driven from the Church through bad theology.

      The only reason I am in such a good place with God now is that I found solid affirming theology that gave me hope for a lifelong committed relationship that will be holy and pleasing to God. And it helps that I live in New Zealand where, in God’s timing, I will be able to marry my future husband.

    2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Dalmos,

      Welcome to the discussion. Just a couple brief comments, though your comment deserves more careful time and attention I can give while traveling.

      First, you wrote: I cannot believe that God’s Will would thrive in a world replete with anger, ridicule, and self-righteous torture and discrimination. The world is opening to a whole new purview of moral questioning and thought, well outside the scope of the bible–concerning the nature of information, of communication, of thought, of feelings, of experience.

      That, I think, is really the heart of the matter. We all stand before God as our Creator, Ruler and Judge. He’s a law-giving God of impeccable morality–perfection. Since He is Creator and we are but creatures, it’s the height of hubris to reject His expressed will and opt for a morality of our own making. That really is the issue: Does God have the right to rule our sex lives? And should we ever oppose His rule in this area?

      For my part, I say “yes” God as our Creator has the right to rule our sex lives and “no” we should never oppose His rule, not even in the most intimate of behaviors.

      But that’s where the lines are necessarily drawn, and have been drawn since our first parents rejected God’s rule in the Garden.

      The only hope is repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who restored us to God’s rule, God’s love, God’s fellowship and the image of God marred by sin. I pray everyone finds there hope in Jesus.

      T-

  32. Justin says:

    The only thing that has triggered my gag reflex is this poorly reasoned, bigoted, and offensive article. Deep down–I as a christian–do /not/ “know that it is wrong.” But have been convicted, not only for political, social, and ethical reasons, but also for distinctly religious reasons, that homophobia is utterly and absolutely wrong.

  33. crystal says:

    this is one of the dumbest things i have ever read… you make baby jesus cry at your idiocy.

  34. Jonathan says:

    To all of the kids who read this. For all the kids who read this who are LGBTQ. Please disregard this man. You are loved unconditionally by God. You are not dirty, disgusting, yucky, wrong, evil, unloveable or any more broken than anyone else in this world. God created you and loves you. This author does not represent God or the Bible. His views represent someone who is running out on his own beliefs not on the Bible’s.

    To the author. How do you explain this to a 9 year old who is gay who reads this article? What will you do when you get before God and he shows you a child who killed themselves because you stole all hope from them? You withhold grace and love. Christ said something about millstones.. maybe you should read that before you post again.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      To all of the kids who read this, who are LGBTQ, YOU most certainly are not yucky, dirty, or disgusting.

      YOU are made in God’s image and made for His love.

      But we ALL do things that are yucky, disgusting, displeasing, wrong and even evil in God’s sight. It’s called sin. And ALL of us are guilty of sin.

      That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why God sent His Son. God loved us while we were still sinners. But God love in Jesus Christ removes our sin, our guilt and our shame. And Jesus Christ, who lives in those who believe in Him, will take away our desire and help us defeat our desire for things that are yucky in God’s sight. You can have a new life and victory over sin through faith in Jesus. Trust Him and follow Him as your God and Lord.

      To Jonathan, I would explain it to them the way I have written it here, which obviously does not include the venom and hatred you seem to read into the post. What will you do when you get before God and He shows you a child who killed themselves because you encouraged them in a lifestyle that they knew was wrong.

      I offer the only grace I know: the grace of God that comes in Jesus Christ. But check Titus 2:11-12. Note what that saving grace teaches us.

      The Lord shower you with His love now and always,
      Thabiti

      1. Jonathan says:

        It is impossible to shame an act without shaming the participant. I came close to killing myself several times as a child. The first time was when I was 11. A preacher got up and said almost the exact same thing you did. I knew I was gay. I figured there was no hope for someone so disgusting as me. Fortunately God saved and is in the process of redeeming me. You write out your own beliefs based on about 5 verses in the Bible, all of which are inapplicable to monogamous, loving, same sex marriages. I know you disagree on this. I’m not going to even bother giving you the arguments because I’m sure you’ve heard both sides of the arguments in Leviticus, Romans, etc. I’m not reading venom into your post. It is filled with venom. A poison that kills. If you are too blind to see that, then I pray God opens your eyes. God is saving me and redeeming me the same way he is others, and I hope yourself. I think the grace of God is bigger than either you or I could possibly imagine. It’s also not your grace to offer. It’s the grace of God. I don’t “encourage” anyone into the gay lifestyle. I tell all the kids I come in contact with that they are loved by God regardless, and they are loved more than they could possible imagine.

  35. How has the “tradition of heterosexual marriage ‘lost’ the battle?” Traditions don’t fight battles, people do. Those opposed to homosexual marriage may have lost their fight, but heterosexual marriage will continue on unimpeded — no one’s stopping heterosexuals from getting married.

    1. Matthew says:

      “no one’s stopping heterosexuals from getting married.”

      Or divorced.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Dan and Matthew,

        You’re right on both counts. But the issue isn’t heterosexual marriage. The issue is the normalization of homosexuality and the ability to talk plainly and honestly about what we’re normalizing.

        T-

        1. Matthew says:

          What we’re normalizing is the realization that in a secular nation where multiple ethnicities and theologies must co-exist, it is immoral for one religion to rise up and impose an absolute oppression upon others.

          If religion is allowed to dictate public policy, then there will be nothing to stop a predominantly Catholic neighborhood to require the students at the public school pray to the virgin Mary at the start of the school day.

          If religion is not kept in check, what’s to stop a Muslim mayor from banning pork in his town?

          I know people who quote the Bible and declare you, as a black man, should be enslaved. Would you let them have their way, just because they support their bigotry with the bible?

  36. Mr. Conservative says:

    I tend to agree with those above who question the “gag reflex” basis for confronting the homosexual movement and mindset(although I agree it should be challenged). Notably, Christ, while certainly addressing sin, never seems shocked or “grossed out” about it. It was the natural result of rebelling against God and his truth. He never went to the prostitute and exclaimed, “how nasty!–you let strange men perform sexual things upon your body for money?” No, he loved them, ate with them, called them to leave their sin, and to follow him. The only vitriol (and even violence) I see in Christ was reserved for people who misued the church and its authority (Pharisees–“you brood of vipers” and those selling in the temple). So, to the individual homosexual, I say, there is escape and hope and forgiveness and acceptance in Christ alone, all other roads lead to despair and death.

    1. John K says:

      Mr. Conservative – Totally with you until the last sentence. If you’d left out the word “homosexual” you would’ve had it right. You imply that being a “homosexual” is sinful but there is hope. That’s patently false. Being a gay is immutable and if you are telling a gay person that they can change, you are selling a lie and sentencing them to despair and death. Your kind of compassion kills people. They buy into it thinking it’s the only option only to find after sometimes years of trying that “praying the gay away” doesn’t work. Have you been under a rock? Even Exodus, the largest ex-gay organization in the world, admits reparative therapy doesn’t work, but only causes damage and is closing it’s doors. And before you tout that “All things are possible with God” triteness, remember, not all things are probable with God and He NEVER asks a gay person to be straight.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Hi John K,

        Thanks for your comment, but it’s misleading. God calls us all to repent of sexual immorality. We’re even told that His express will for us is to be holy, which is defined in part by abstaining from sexual immorality. See 1 Thes. 4:1-9. And we’re told that our holy God will judge all those who continue in such sins.

        It’s also not true that “gay is immutable.” That’s just false. Consider the example of Donnie McClurkin, recently in the news because he left a gay lifestyle and is now being forbidden to perform at a Washington, D.C. gathering because he has. He’s not alone.

        There is hope. And the hope is strong enough to deliver us all from our own variety of sexual sin.

        T-

        1. Rachel says:

          Donny McClurkin by his own testimony is bisexual and chooses to act only on one aspect of that at this point. He’s not a “gay conversion to heterosexual” story.

          The whole “leaving homosexuality” concept is a misnomer. See Justin Lee and his website for more: gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/42688921577/when-ex-gays-arent-ex-gay-its-not-about-hypocrisy

        2. John K says:

          What you preach KILLS people. This is the result of your kind of “love.” Please take a moment and read it. http://freedhearts.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/what-do-you-do-when-your-son-is-gay/

          I’ve met Linda and know she loves her son. You must put a face on those you will be affecting with your words. You are believing a lie. SEXUALITY CANNOT BE CHANGED. Anyone that tells you it can is selling snake oil. It’s a lie from the very pit of hell. It gives people false hope that they waste their lives on and in the end are worse off than before. Have you not done any research on this? The experts (psychologist, psychiatrists, sociologists, counselors and other medical professionals) agree that attempts to change one’s sexuality are harmful and is ill-advised.

          1. John K says:

            Sorry Rachel. My “you” in my response was directed at Thabiti.

  37. Nish says:

    For an organization so vehemently driven to speak of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I’m surprised to see this post – an offensive, graceless, mean-spirited engagement of an issue that deeply affects the lives of real people. I don’t always agree with TGC on a variety of issues, but I certainly expected better than this.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Nish,

      Could you please point out what you found “graceless, mean-spirited” in this post?

      I don’t recall labeling anyone. I don’t recall speaking negatively of anyone’s person or attacking anyone’s motive. I don’t recall saying condemning a person in the post. All of that has happened to me in the comments thread.

      So, what is it that you find offensive, mean-spirited and graceless? Is it the statement that homosexual sexual behavior is wrong and that the conscience of many will react repulsively to it? If so, while we may disagree, I fail to see how that amounts to the charges you’re making. But I’m happy to talk more specifically if you’d like.

      Grace and peace to you,
      T-

  38. Captain Obvious says:

    By that logic, it must also be pretty bad for a man to insert the part of his body that excretes urine into the part of a woman’s body that excretes blood.

  39. So if I’m understanding this post correctly, the author is saying that opponents to gay marriage who cannot win the legal argument, the rights argument, the love argument, or the family argument should resort to dehumanizing gay and lesbian people by focusing on how disgusting they are perceived (by some) to be. This is not only bad logic; it flies in the face of everything Jesus taught us about how to treat our fellow human beings.

    Labeling people as disgusting, telling them that they make you want to gag, is not loving. It’s hateful. This post only adds fuel to the fire of those who would bully and ridicule an already marginalized group.

    In discussing this topic, I am careful not to resort to calling those with whom I disagree bigoted or hateful. I realize that good, Christ-honoring people can disagree about gay marriage. But this is bigoted and this is hateful.

    1. Margaret says:

      Thank you Rachel Held Evans for pointing out the bigotry and hatefulness in this post. I am a gay Christian and I find this extremely offensive and distasteful. I used to be a big fan of TGC but they seem far from interested in the Gospel, have consistently failed to wrestle on the topic in any depth, and seem content to sit back as if Church tradition is the new Reformation. I am sad to see that the Reformation spirit has been lost among so many of my reformed friends. Thankfully, not among all of us:)

      1. …and it sure as hell is not the gospel of Jesus.

        1. I had previously enjoyed and been blessed by this man’s writing. But statements like: “Love does no harm, and homosexuality *clearly* harms everyone involved,” “the Bible teaches plainly that ‘love does not rejoice in wrongdoing’,” and “deep down we all–Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual and homosexual–know it’s wrong” are so ignorant, so ust blatantly and provably *untrue*, along with the entire sense of hatred, venom, and disgust this article is dripping with, cloaked in moral righteousness..it’s hard to imagine why I would come back to this blog for spiritual guidance.

          1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

            Hi Ryan,

            thanks for your comment. It seems your argument isn’t with me. It’s with the Bible. Those are quotes and applications of scripture.

            There is no hatred, venom or disgust in this article. It certainly isn’t “dripping” with those things.

            Perhaps you won’t return to this blog. But I do hope you’ll continue to think about these things as the Lord leads you. And may the Lord bless you with every good gift in Jesus Christ,

            T-

            1. Gunnar Tveiten says:

              No. His argument is with you. Where in the bible does it say that we should feel repulsed or nauseous at the idea that someone might lick a vagina ? You are off course aware that oral sex is something that most heterosexuals also engage in.

    2. Micah says:

      Nice try, Rachel. But not once did he dehumanize any individual or describe any person as disgusting. It is the act of homosexual sex that is disgusting — that point is very clear from his blog post. Sin is disgusting — lying, murder, gluttony, and yes, all sex outside of marriage. But, of course, those who are as adept as you are in exchanging the truth of God for a lie will run with your interpretation of things — as always.

      1. John K says:

        Micah,
        Why is homosexual sex disgusting? (Note: The author clearly describes some aspects of it, all of which are common practices between heterosexual couples). Why does marriage make it not disgusting? Why do you assume that because a person disagrees with you that they are not only believing a lie but actively casting the truth aside? If evidence arises that something is contrary to God’s Word…like “owning slaves is cool with God,” who is wrong, the Bible or the abolitionists? In this case Christians have re-examined the Word and come to new conclusions…aka new understanding of God’s Word. Can that not be the case for the gay-debate? Perhaps it’s you that’s believing the lie?

        1. Micah says:

          John K: Homosexual sex is disgusting because, like all sinful acts, it is rebellion against an infinitely holy, loving and pure God. (I’m sure you’re familiar with all the verses that proscribe homosexual behavior so I won’t list them). If I truly believe that God is pure, holy, powerful, etc. then I should gag at all of my sins — not matter how small (or pleasurable) they may seem to me. My prayer is that he continually sharpens my gag reflex so that I don’t become desensitized to sin.

          It is not disgusting when a man and a woman in a covenant marriage engage in sexual behavior. In that case, it’s a blessing that can bring pleasure and *gasp* even create life.

          It is not *me* RHE is disagreeing with or vice versa. She is slandering a brother, saying that he describes people as disgusting when he clearly does not. She is doing so intentionally to falsely accuse him of bigotry and detract from his message. Why didn’t she just stick to arguing against why homosexual sex is not disgusting or “yucky”?

          RHE is believing and perpetuating a lie by telling her readers that a person can continue to engage in unrepentant sexual immorality and inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9. I used to read her blog; I don’t anymore so maybe she has changed her tune. But from this response up thread I doubt it.

          I don’t know what you mean by new understanding of the Word. Do you mean interpretation in order to suit our sinful desires or to put ourselves in the place of God? Is that what you mean by new understanding of the Word?

          My descendants were slaves in the Caribbean so this hits close to home for me. The Bible is clear (always has been) that human kidnapping and race-based slavery are wrong, and under Mosaic law such kidnapping was a capital offense. Southern Baptists and others may have gotten it wrong at one time, but their sin had nothing to do with the truth or infallibility of God’s word. I don’t think the slaves ever needed a new understanding of the Word (check out the lyrics of some negro spirituals).

          John K, can you honestly believe that a God whose “eyes are too pure to look on evil” is looking at two men or two women engaging in that behavior and thinking that it’s a good thing?

          1. Ruth says:

            Micah,

            If you truly believe that you should gag at all of your sins, no matter how small (or pleasurable) they may seem to you, and if you are supposedly sharing this view with Thabiti, then where is his (or your) post about his (or your) own disgusting sins? Where is Thabiti’s reflection of the sins he commits that make HIM gag? Or does the blood of Christ only cover the ones pointing fingers?

          2. John K says:

            Micah, thanks for the response.

            It’s not slander if it’s written. It’s called “libel”. Anyhow, Yes, I’m familiar with all the verses. I’m also familiar with the context of them within the bible, the culture in which they were written and the climate in which they were translated. I would assume you are unfamiliar with at least the last two or you would not be posting what you are posting.

            By “new understanding” I mean the fact that women can be pastors, brothers don’t have to marry their deceased brother’s wife, christians can eat bacon and shrimp, slavery is bad, women aren’t property, working on the Sabbath isn’t worthy of death, etc.

            These are all examples of things that have changed in Christian history, some of it recent. My question was whether it’s possible that people’s ideas of what the bible says about being gay could change too? I’m not saying the bible changes, but our understanding of it. Much of what was forbidden was a response to the culture in which they lived. Cannot our culture inform our interpretation of the Bible too?

            I think God can handle seeing some loving.

            John

    3. Kamilla says:

      Congratulations, Rachel! You proved Pastor Thabiti right in one smile comment.

      Would you mind providing us with the quote where he labeled “people as disgusting”?

      1. John K says:

        Kamilla – When you tell people that something about them is disgusting, granted something you and Thabiti think is purely a behavior, it is destructive. Why? Because it’s a part of who they are that cannot be changed. It’s like shaming a person for being a ginger. They can dye their hair or cut it all off, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still a red-head. Gay people have romantic and sexual attraction to some members of the same sex. It’s not a choice any more than hair color. The whole point of Thabiti article is to link “gay” with “gross”. How do you think that makes gay people feel? And in spite of your rationale, he did call a whole people group disgusting and no amount of sticking your head in the sand saying “No! Gay people don’t exist, just gay behavior,” is going to change the fact that gay people do exist and feel every barb and diatribe thrown at them. Thabiti said: ““Gay” and “homosexual” are polite terms for an ugly practice.” What we hear is “Homosexuals or Gays are ugly.” You reduce gays to an “ugly practice.” We are people who do know love despite what Thabiti arrogantly says.

        1. Kamilla says:

          Twaddle, John.

          There is no basis to your claim that SSAD cannot be changed. No proof that we have no choice but to act on our desires. In fact, the whole of the Christian life is one of denying ourselves and yes, sometimes that includes deeply, deeply rooted inclinations and desires.

          One wonders if you would claim the same moral status for polygamy, neceophilia, pedophilia, zoophilia …

          1. Same old straw man, slipper slope argument that is used by desperate people with no fact, no reason and no compassion. Willful ignorance is sinful.

            1. Kamilla says:

              I totally agree. Willfully ignorance is sinful. As is bearing false witness.

          2. John K says:

            Kamilla – I don’t understand what you are saying by SSAD? I’m assuming you are referring to “Same Sex Attraction Disorder”. Are you out of your mind?! Same sex attraction is not a disorder. No professional organizations in the health industry recognize it as a disorder and in fact expressly say it is not a disorder. And just to be clear your bible clearly condones 2 of the practices I find abhorrent in your mis-guided list. I’ll let you figure out which ones since you are so well-versed.

    4. Laedy G says:

      Aww, thanks for being what I cannot-gracious and discerning :-) I really appreciate your perspective, Rachel!

    5. Joe Carter says:

      Rachel said, “”In discussing this topic, I am careful not to resort to calling those with whom I disagree bigoted or hateful.”

      You must have missed your own Tweet where you wrote, “You were wondering where the hateful Christians were? How about here [referring to this post.]”

    6. Melody says:

      Rachel you really do women, Christian women specifically, a dishonor when you restate what someone writes in such an obvious dishonest manipulative way. By what stretch of the imagination is Pastor T a hateful man? Shame on you.

      When truth is not on your side the easy out is to demonize someone you disagree with. The fact that so many angry people follow you should be a mirror for you but I get the impression you enjoy the power. Please reconsider what you are sowing.

      1. The truth is most certainly on Rachel’s side and nothing that this man says is either pastoral or Christian.

      2. Ruth says:

        Melody, she may do YOU a dishonor because you want to be associated with the hateful words of Thabiti, but not all women. Not all Christian women. Not this one.

        If your only defense against hateful rhetoric is to demand specific phraseology, then you’re looking at the letter and not the spirit. The *tone* of this piece is hateful. The *attitude* of Thabiti is hateful. By carefully avoiding anything that can be specifically cited, he’s manipulated the conversation so that his hands appear clean. We may be unable to cite a direct quote, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t see right to the heart. Do keep that in mind.

    7. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Rachel,

      It’s good to finally “meet you” via the blog. Thank you for your comments.

      As someone who has faced a lot of criticism for her views and her writing, I suspect you appreciate it when people accurately reflect what you’ve written rather than mischaracterize your positions or attack you personally. I’ve been saddened to see that sometimes happen where you’re concerned.

      I would expect that you might work hard to accurately represent folks with whom you strongly disagree. But you haven’t paid me that courtesy. Nowhere have I written that any people–including homosexual persons–are “disgusting.” Nowhere. Nor did I say someone makes me want to gag. Not once.

      You fail to distinguish between the person and a behavior. I’ve been accused in this thread of reducing people to their sexual acts. But, it seems to me, it’s the folks who’ve most strenuously defended homosexuality and/or attacked me that have reduced people in this way. You do that when you misrepresent my post.

      Then you assume omniscience and conclude that I’ve been “hateful.” Come on, sister. There’s no hate in this post. I understand your visceral reaction. Your conscience has been provoked and the reflex is your strong disagreement (and dislike?) for me. But as best I know my own heart, I harbor no hatred for people and nothing in this post is written in that spirit.

      The real weakness in this discussion is your using an ad hominem rather than actually saying something that advances your “side” of the argument. You’re capable of better. Then you write about being “sure as hell” about the gospel. Please do be sure that hell is real and that what’s ultimately at stake are the souls of unrepentant sinners who face an eternity there. That’s why this matters and small attacks on me are really beside the point.

      The Lord bless you and keep you,
      T-

  40. My own gag reflex is activated when I imagine having sex with a man. I am a Christian. I am a mom and a wife. I am a community member. I am a church goer. I am an employee. I am a taxpayer. I am a writer. I am a lesbian. I am a child of God My sexual behavior is only a part of who I am just as a straight woman’s sexual behavior is only a part of who she is. I love a woman. I am married to a woman – in a church. It is a covenantal partnership between my wife, myself with my community as witness and God as our binding agent. I want to give my whole self, heart, mind AND body to the one woman I love for all time.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/

    1. Kimberly Knight wrote: “My own gag reflex is activated when I imagine having sex with a man.”

      Mine too!

      I am not my sexual behavior. I do not believe any of us are = to our sexual behavior as this author seems to believe.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Doreen,

        Thanks for your comment. You, too, Kimberly.

        Doreen, I agree with you. None of us can be reduced to our sexual behavior. That should mean we’re free enough from our sexual behavior to evaluate it morally.

        T-

  41. Anonymous Gay Christian says:

    As a black gay Christian I find this ironic, that there is a stock photo of black women and children picketing for “Biblical marriage”, and the whole “black rights” fallacy, when they have the lowest rates of marriage among Americans, and the highest abortion rates in the Nation. Maybe win the war in backyard and maybe we would listen to you voice on a bigger stage.

  42. Anonymous Gay Christian says:

    (Corrected the typos I apologize)

    “As a black gay Christian I find this ironic, that there is a stock photo of black women and children picketing for “Biblical marriage”, and the whole “black rights” fallacy, when they have the lowest rates of marriage among Americans, and the highest abortion rates in the Nation. Maybe win the war in your own backyard and maybe we would listen to your voice on a bigger stage.”

  43. Anna says:

    This is a disgustingly arrogant article. Your views are what’s worth gagging over!

    I’m glad that you came to Aotearoa and saw how full of joy we are to celebrate love in all its different manifestations. Though, you seem to have an issue with separating fiction from reality in more ways than one – Middle Earth does not exist and following Jesus does not mean you should persecute others.

    To further compound your arrogance you didn’t even bother to spell our place name properly – it’s Rangitoto.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thank you for the correction to my spelling, Anna. I appreciate it.

      This post isn’t about persecuting anybody. Attempting to equate disagreement with persecution is either a bad mistake or it’s an intentional effort to shut down opposition. Just as I welcome your comments here, however much I disagree with them, you should accept the disagreement of others without trying to vilify.

      T-

  44. I’m interested in your engagement (whether it’s Thabiti or anybody else in this echo chamber) on a thesis that I have. I think that opposition to homosexuality is only coherent under a patriarchal understanding of gender. I wonder if you might agree with me even though you endorse a patriarchal view of gender while I oppose it as someone who is married to a female clergyperson. Would you argue that egalitarianism is a slippery slope that leads to acceptance of homosexuality? Anyway, check out my piece that I wrote about it: http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/what-is-the-burden-of-proof-in-the-methodist-homosexuality-debate/

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Morgan,

      Though I haven’t read your piece yet, I personally don’t believe heterosexual egalitarianism leads inexorably to the acceptance of homosexuality. Surely there are untold numbers of egalitarians who do not believe homosexuality to be biblically justifiable.

      T-

    2. Christina says:

      I don’t think it necessarily does–I know egalitarians who don’t support same-sex marriage. However, I do think that it’s virtually impossible to hold a complementarian view of gender and support same-sex marriage. If you view distinct gender roles as an integral aspect of marriage, you’re not going to view a same-sex relationship as healthy and good.

  45. kristen says:

    Gay people have sex????? I never knew! I feel as if I’ve been bamboozled!

  46. BabyRaptor says:

    Please ask someone with a grasp on reality what a graphic description is. Your descriptions were far from it.

    That said, you are truly a disgrace to humanity. If you are personally opposed to homosexuality, then fine. Keep living your straight life. And more power to you.

    But you have no right, or business, trying to shame the people you disagree with. I don’t care what you think your bible or your god say. I don’t care what verses you can cherry-pick to enable your personal beliefs.

    Oh, and by the way? Some people find your personal tastes in sex just as “disgusting” as you find gay peoples’. How would you feel if someone took your plan and turned it against you? Somehow, I get the feeling it’s only okay when being used against something you don’t approve of. Sure makes people want your god!

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi BabyRaptor,

      I’m fine with people using my argument against me. It’s happened abundantly in this post and I’ve tried to respond to each person who has invited a response. I’m happy to engage with people, even when I’m in the unpopular position and when I’m in the majority position. I think engagement is a far better habit than trying to squeeze people out of the conversation or relegating them to the confines of private opinion (as you suggest here).

      T-

  47. “Some Christians find homosexuality more distasteful than sinful.
    Too many Christians try to deal with the issue of homosexuality by dismissing it with disgust. Leon Kass, chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, is a major moral philosopher of our times. He describes what he calls the ‘yuck factor’ as an attitude of disgust that lacks any substantial moral argument. The “yuck factor” is an interesting observation about the public mind, but it is implausible and unhelpful as a moral principle. Christians must go beyond mere disgust and point with gospel passion to the objective biblical truth about the sinfulness of homosexuality. We cannot trust the ‘yuck factor’ because human beings have demonstrated time and again that we can overcome any amount of disgust if we are determined to rationalize misbehavior. The fallen human mind is a moral computer of infinite rationalization, a fact that underlines again why we are so utterly dependent upon the authority of Scripture.”

    Page 117-118 of Sex and The Supremacy of Christ: http://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5191/books_bssc.pdf?1340642172

    1. Megan says:

      Dear Mr. Mohler,

      Can you point to an objective occasion of a homosexual relationship in the Bible? The only thing the BIble addresses are gay acts wrapped up in lust and idolatry. If Romans 1 is about me, then why all the talk about animals, bird and why the excessive lust? In the vice lists why is it wrapped up with slave trading?

      Is the authority you are appealing to really in the Bible or is it coming from somewhere else like this author’s heterosexual bias? I am a Bible believing Christian with the Spirit of God in my heart. What you call sin I call worship. I think you need to seriously consider what you are claiming as “objective truth” based on the “authority of Scripture.”

  48. as says:

    Now how ’bout an article on the ‘yuck’ factor of gluttony. I think I’ll just followed Jesus’ example and love people. After all, not one person is without sin.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear as,

      I’m glad you’re committed to following Jesus’ example of loving people. I pray that by His Spirit He enables you to do so more and more. And I pray that you might also see His loving example of calling people to “go and sin no more” and of warning people of a very real judgment that’s coming upon the world. Pointing out sin and warning people are as loving as telling them of God’s grace and a free salvation earned by His blood.

      The Lord keep you strong and use you greatly,
      Thabiti

      1. Ruth says:

        I pray that you might see that before calling someone to “go and sin no more” he told her, “Neither do I condemn thee.”

        I do sincerely request an explanation of why you wrote a blog post about our gag reflex towards homosexuality and not any other sin. Not pride. Not greed. No cowardice. Not selfishness. Not arrogance.

        We live in a culture that worships prosperity, even from within the walls of the church. Christians often aline themselves with certain political parties because they want the right to keep “their” money or protect “their” bodies. Why doesn’t this trigger your gag reflex enough to write a blog about it? Jesus talked an awful lot more about money than He did homosexuality.

        1. James Maitland says:

          Hi Ruth,

          I can understand your point- there are loads of issues to write about. The list is endless! But why condemn this article over simply it’s choice of topic. If Thabiti had chosen to write about pride, would you then dismiss the article because it wasnt about another topic that you listed above. If you read his blog regularly then you would know Thabiti address’s a range of topics. Jesus may have talked a lot more about money, but he still spoke about marriage. Your point at the beginning doesn’t seem very coherent either: Jesus did say say I don’t condemn you. But he also said go and sin no more. Don’t dismiss this article because it is simply on a topic not of your choice.

          1. Ruth says:

            Thanks for the reply, James.

            The reason the topic of choice matters is that people are not routinely beaten and killed because their pride is viewed as disgusting. There’s not a group of pastors in my town arguing against for the right to deny someone a job or housing based on their pride. I fail to see the loving touch of Christ in a call for Christians to basically cry “unclean” at a group of already marginalized people. Didn’t we already go through this 2,000 years ago?

            Unlike a lot of dissenters, I do actually believe that gay sex is sinful. That’s why this article grieves my soul (and my gag reflex, incidentally) so much.

            Jesus *lead* with “I don’t condemn you.” That is my point. He showed love and forgiveness first. The people to whom He cried “Repent!” first were not the unclean–they were the Pharisees. I think we need to keep this in mind and ask ourselves which category we fall into.

  49. F says:

    If i were you I’d remove the photo of the Air New Zealand plane…..I doubt you have permission to use it and seeing as they were the ones who sponsored a very well publicised gay marriage they may not take too kindly to this here article. Just a friendly piece of advice. Spoken in love. Not taking into consideration your views at all. Because I care about the greater picture here – looking out for fellow mankind. Loving my fellow mankind. Not condemning. Not judging.

  50. Laedy G says:

    I can’t believe what I just read. Your opinion used to matter to me. You’re telling me you’ve never used your mouth to stimulate your wife’s sexual senses? Poor woman! Has she no pleasure in bed? I could probably teach you PLENTY about satisfying the sexual needs of your wife. And how arrogant of you to focus on MALE homosexuality. I like my clitoris and I like the clitoris of my woman. I hope you gag reading this. Seriously. Get really, really grossed out. ‘Cos I don’t give a shit about your opinion. I do, however, hope I see you in heaven.

    Some day all this will be behind us and we’ll be basking in God’s presence together.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Laedy G,

      May the Lord hasten the day when faith shall be made sight, when the corruptible gives way to the incorruptible, when sin’s reign has ended and Christ’s everlasting righteousness is all that’s known! I hope to see you in heaven, too!

      The Lord bless and keep you,
      Thabiti

  51. Brian Burchett says:

    While Thabiti responds patiently to any who ask honest questions, haters fill up the comment section with disgusting attacks and degrading comments. Given that context, is it still fair to read the article as hateful? No, in fact, Thabiti shows tremendous patience and grace in his comments. Many of those comments further explain things he wrote in the article.

    1. Sundown says:

      Brian, Thabiti’s responses to comments, candid and forthright as they may be, do not make his original post less of an embarrassment. He may be a perfectly polite person, but that doesn’t mean that people are supposed to agree with his article.

  52. Hu Mi? says:

    7 Things This Article Left Me Wondering:

    I wonder just how foolish he’ll feel when he realizes that straight people have sex in all the ways he’s described.

    How embarrassed will he be when he remembers that another prominent member of the Gospel Coalition wrote a book and has preached a sermon series declaring that anal, oral, manual stimulation and toys are not evil and are just creative ways to enjoy the God-given gift of sex as encouraged in Song of Solomon?

    He writes disdainfully of the practice of the male organ that is “used to create life” going into an organ that produces waste; I wonder if it would change his point if he recalled that the male organ also produces waste (i.e. urine, liquid waste). According to his logic, the male organ should then have no contact with an organ that is “used to create life” as a vagina is. Does this mean that vaginal intercourse is also gag worthy?

    I wonder how long it will take him to realize that saying something is “clearly” harmful isn’t actually an argument.

    I wonder…if the gag reflex is “symptomatic of a deeper moral opposition”, then should we outlaw senior citizen sex? Just the thought of old people doing the “no-pants-dance” immediately makes me gag! (Also my parents probably shouldn’t have sex anymore either.) Most people I know, Christian or non-Christian cringe when they read that Abraham’s century old, geriatric body got frisky with Sarah’s 90 year old, antediluvian frame and his ancient baby-gravy caused her to conceive. yuck!

    I wonder if he’s aware that scripture never draws a connection between our “gag-reflex” and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

    I wonder how long he’d gag after being hit with the realization that many gay men find the gag reflex just as important as he does but not for quite the same reasons.

  53. Trevor Thom says:

    Honestly, my gag reflex goes off while I’m reading this. The Gospel Coalition is clearly NOT a Christian organization. If they were a Christian group, they would recognize that EVERYONE is a sinner and that God loves EVERYONE.

    My gag reflex goes off when I smell fish, but I do not believe that fish is the spawn of Satan. The same goes with this article. I do not believe that the writer is the spawn of Satan, I believe that the author is misguided and has a few things to learn about God’s love for all of creation.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Trevor,

      Thanks for your comments. I just want to make one thing clear. The views expressed here are my own, not The Gospel Coalition. There’s an understandable tendency to attribute anything on the site to the Coalition as a whole. That’s a mistake. This site is like a lot of other sites, take Patheos, for example, which hosts individual bloggers whose content is their own. That’s the case here. So, feel free to attribute everything here to me, not the Coalition.

      May the Lord bless and keep you,
      Thabiti

  54. Christina says:

    Dear Pastor Thabiti,

    I was very saddened to read this article, all the more so because I’ve appreciated many of your contributions to sensitive issues such as race relations, domestic violence, and sexual assault. They were marked by a grace and sensitivity that is unfortunately lacking in this article. I understand that your approach to interpreting the Bible suggests that God condemns same-sex sexual relationships, but I found that the tone and content of your article (which reduced same-sex romantic relationships to intercourse by calling gay rights “an issue all about sexual behavior” and denying that love was present in same-sex relationships) was dismissive not only of people in same-sex relationships but also of our LGBT brothers and sisters who share your convictions on the morality of gay sex and live abstinent lives as a result. Giving up the hope of a future marriage involves much more than giving up on the hope of sex–think of all the things your relationship with your wife means to you. Emphasizing gay sex and its unpalatability to you and other straight men and women is not a helpful addition either to the Church’s internal conversation on same-sex marriage and homosexuality or to its ongoing witness to society at large. As straight Christians, you and I are privileged in that our relational desires line up perfectly with what most Christians throughout history have considered blessed by God. Our LGBT brothers and sisters, regardless of what they conclude on the question of whether or not God might bless some same-sex relationships, do not have this privilege. I wonder sometimes whether I would still be part of a church if the cost of membership involved permanently severing my relationship with my husband, or if complete strangers in pews or on the Internet frequently felt the need to comment on my sex life as they imagined it.

    I would encourage you to take some time and read about the hopes and experiences of your LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ. For a perspective from a gay Christian who is committed to lifelong celibacy, I recommend the work of Wesley Hill (who edits a blog about celibacy and friendship at http://spiritualfriendship.org/ and wrote a memoir entitled Washed and Waiting) and for a thoughtful and grace-filled position from a Christian who has revisited traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality I recommend the work of Justin Lee, who blogs at http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/. I have consistently found his contributions challenging, thought-provoking, helpful, and unfailingly kind. The Holy Spirit may or may not lead you to a new understanding of same-sex relationships, but either way I believe that you will not regret taking the time to listen to and empathize with your brothers and sisters in Christ. From your writings, you strike me as a man with a deeply pastoral heart. I pray that God gives you wisdom on how to minister to the LGBT people in your community and in your own church (and I guarantee that the majority of sizable churches have LGBT attendees, even if their orientation isn’t public knowledge) as you seek Him.

    Grace and peace,

    Christina

  55. Christopher says:

    How about articles describing the gag reflex to poverty, homelessness, war, global capitalism, misogyny, and on and on and on?

    Oh, and homophobia sets off my gag reflex.

  56. Erika Rae says:

    “We are talking about one man inserting the male organ used to create life into the part of another man used to excrete waste.”

    A penis is also used to excrete waste, as is a vagina.

    Also, I know quite a few homosexuals who are not promiscuous at all (the author indicates that homosexuality is synonymous with promiscuity)– and who are in long-lasting monogamous relationships.

    Additionally, I even have carried on interesting and meaningful conversations with homosexuals about Jesus (because they are Christians who respect the life of Christ).

    I’d be interested to know the author’s take on hermaphrodites, of which there are more than 150,000 “true” hermaphrodites currently in the US. This “true” delineation means that they have BOTH sexual organs present to the extent that it is impossible to label them male or female, because they are both male AND female (as opposed to the MANY more people who may possess characteristics that blur the lines, but seem to favor one sex to the other). I bring this up not because I am arguing that homosexuals are the same as hermaphrodites — not at all – but rather to point out that “the way God intended” may not be quite so clear cut as this author’s argument suggests.

    Many have made this point above, but I’ll echo them. The primary flaw of this article is that the author is suggesting being gay is “yucky” based on their sexual practices. Whether heterosexual couples get their ideas from porn these days or not, there are a lot of sexual practices between heterosexuals which would clearly not get this author’s stamp of approval. The author doesn’t prefer these methods, this is clear. And that’s OK. But to point the finger at those who enjoy it…and even in hetero relationships? That goes way too far.

    Which is why this argument or “approach” doesn’t work. In fact, it nullifies it. Sorry, but it does.

    I’ll finish my comment with this lovely quote from Song of Solomon (5:4):

    “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”

    *gag*

  57. Grant Walsh says:

    So, let me get this right, your conclusion of – “We need to do this with as much kindness, insight, warmth and fairness as the gay journalist in the private boardroom ten years ago,” includes resorting to approaching homosexuals with a gag reflex apologetic? Nice. Let me know how that works for you. Meanwhile, I will continue to befriend gay folks, love them unconditionally (like I do my 50% of Christian friends who have been divorced (and unbiblically remarried) – of which Christ calls unacceptable as well), and let God sort it all out in the end.

    I wonder why Mark Driscoll didn’t write this? Have any thoughts about “your brother’s” views on sexual practices in the bedroom? Gonna write about that next??

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Grant,

      I’m glad you’re committed to loving people and, with this comment, I’m praying the Lord makes you incredibly fruitful as you do so.

      The Lord will sort it out in the end. The sorting will be perfect, and in His holiness some will be lost. I weep over that reality. Since you’re committed to loving people, I’m sure you do also. I pray that as you love people, you’ll also love them by pointing out the grace of God that much more abounds over sin and teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions. I pray the Lord would make you extremely effective at that difficult balance.

      Earlier comments in this thread reveal my thoughts about Driscoll’s views on sexual practices. On the matters relevant to this thread, I disagree strongly.

      The Lord bless you and keep you,
      Thabiti

      1. Grant Walsh says:

        Thank you for your reply, Thabiti – and I hope and pray that God makes you incredibly fruitful as well.

        I have committed my life to overseas work in the name of Jesus – and am surrounded by (millions of) people who dont know the name of Jesus, and yes, it is sobering. But, I guess in the end I think this work should just be done in a different way. I do think we need to stand against ungodliness – but only in love..and I don’t think this post reflects the heart of Jesus, His love, and the Gospel of grace (truth spoken in love). The Gospel compels us to throw away stones – not pick them up.

        And I am a bit weary of the huge emphasis placed on the sin of homosexuality when Christians are divorcing at a 50% clip, we are running rampant in consumerism and greed (of which Jesus taught more about than any other subject – that being, money/riches/wealth), etc. etc. But, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I will go ahead and spend some time scrolling through your blog to see how many times you have approached other biblical sin topics to see what you say there.

        Thanks for responding in gentleness and kindness – even though we may disagree – I appreciate that.

  58. karen says:

    Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ALL the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

    You might call this the importance of doing what Jesus said and did when discussing homosexuality and gay marriage.

    ”It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” Billy Graham

  59. Sophie says:

    So what about heterosexual couples who engage in anal, rimming, use sex toys, use their mouths on each other’s nipples, or engage in oral sex (which includes all couples I know); should they be stopped from marrying and how would this be done?

  60. Larry Gist says:

    Your problem, and the problem with the religious right in general, is that you lose your argument the second you trot out your Bible. This is America, a country found on the freedom of religion. The old argument that freedom of religion implies freedom from religion, although distasteful to your side, is indeed valid. All this talk of slippery slope, and you all never for one second think about what is going to happen when and if you are in the minority. What if tomorrow you all woke up and it was indeed unfashionable to be a believer? Suddenly laws are being passed that limit the rights of one religion over the other, and all of this is being backed up by Biblical references, chapter and verse? How can you argue with that? The majority is on the other side and you are left with what are perceived to be hollow arguments by the majority. “Eat the body and drink the blood? That is disgusting and must be outlawed!” The religion, one that you were born into, or chose to follow later in life is under attack! “I was born this way!” No this what you chose, a religion the majority says. The cite verse after verse, decrying their logical moral objection to you and your ilk. I hope that you never have to go through that. I hope that after the fight for LGBT rights is over and we have won, that you will see the folly of your ways, somehow though, I doubt it. I can already see the “new gay” on the horizon, our politicians have to have someone to blame, to marginalize, and that someone is now Islam. “Sharia law!” they scream. Not even for a second noticing the similarity between them and the shariaists. Religion is fine, its great that you have one, that it brings you comfort, but please, do not try to force your morality on the rest of us through the change of civil law. We are merely trying to correct a centuries old wrong.

  61. Patrick says:

    New Zealander here, proud of my nation for doing what I consider is the right thing, allowing all citizens equal rights and protections under the law, this was a change to legislation and laws regarding wording that excluded certain people from rights freely available to others based on a difference, their sexuality, which many current laws rule a breach of civil liberties, this has now been corrected. Unfortunately where the law is concerned the same laws that protect your rights to practice your religion without persecution also protect these individuals access to fair and equal rights also.
    Also Air New Zealand our national carrier are huge LGBT Supporters so found your choice of picture rather amusing, I counter your image with this promotion of theirs, Its very much safe for work image no kissing or nudity:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151724512285777&set=a.10150577618650777.377970.23637220776&type=1&theater

  62. Dan C says:

    ““Gay” and “homosexual” are polite terms for an ugly practice.” I cannot even begin to describe to you how destructive that statement is. Being gay is not a practice. It is a state. Even a Christian who finds themselves attracted to the same sex but NEVER has sex is still gay. You have now just told this struggling person that he or she is an ugly sin. In no other context do we consider the temptation to be the sin. Yet when you weld the term “Gay” to the active practice of sex you completely mis-understand the issue and really wound people. If someone was to ask you “Is it a sin to be Gay?” you better keenly understand that difference before answering or you will condemn the person instead of the act.

    1. Larry Gist says:

      For the life of me I do not understand why you people insist in focusing on what we do in the bedroom. Why do you not condemn straight people for having anal, or oral sex? It happens, get over it. If you would quit worrying about what we do behind closed doors, we won’t worry about what you preach in your pulpit. Your sacred 10 Commandments basically boil down to one thing: “Mind You Own Business.” We are not asking to accept the act, just not to condemn us through legislating your perception of morality. Some of the ugliest periods of human history are the result of the majority attempting to impose their view of moral order on the minority. A lesson we never seem to learn.

  63. Kathy Baldock says:

    Take a class on human sexuality and step out of the 1960s– problem solved. The burden is all on you to educate yourself. Only you can help you. Until then, live your life, let others live theirs. I personal wish ignorant people would not get such a broad platform, but they do and, to me, that is REALLY icky.

    1. Larry Gist says:

      Hear! HEAR!!

  64. Darby says:

    You do realize many heterosexual couples have and enjoy anal sex, right? Do you really think heterosexual men and women are only having “vanilla” sex that meets YOUR standards for sex? Your point is moot. You are not invited to these people’s bedrooms, so don’t worry about what goes on in them. There are many homosexual couples who have been together for DECADES; how dare you say their relationships aren’t based on love. Heterosexuals can marry for reasons other than love, and the government is perfectly fine with allowing it.

    Also, government decisions should not be ruled by a religious book.

  65. nieciedo says:

    You’re aware, I trust, that there is pretty much nothing that gays and lesbians do sexually that straight people do not also do. I suppose if you are so sexually repressed that anything beyond fully-clothed missionary position intercourse with the lights off grosses you out, then this tactic might work – but if that’s the case you don’t have issues; you’ve got whole subscriptions.

    Hebrews 13:4 tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled. The more restrictive natural law ethics of the Roman Church says anything goes as long as the act in the end is open to the transmission of life. So, it seems unlikely to me that such talk will disgust and outrage people as much as incite their prurient interests.

  66. eline says:

    Umm… I dunno what comes out of your penis but if you are a mostly healthy male with standard biology, then your penis is in fact a waste disposal unit for urine, which is waste produced by your kidneys. On the other hand, a woman’s vagina produces no waste (menstrual blood is not waste in the sense urine and excrement are, and urine comes from a different hole than vagina) and you are more than happy to stick your waste disposal unit into our pure and clean waste-free vaginas. Ewww, that is pretty disgusting.

  67. Rob Tisinai says:

    “Deep down we all–Christian and non-Christian, heterosexual and homosexual–know it’s wrong.”

    This just isn’t so. And this sort of willful and determined ignorance about your opponents is why you deserve to lose, and why you’re going to lose. I hear people say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” but you cannot claim to love a “sinner” whom you refuse to know.

  68. Justin Phillips says:

    Thabiti,

    Should I tell fat people I see eating they make me sick/gag? You know, gluttony and all… Seems snarky but, honestly, how is it different? Why does the church and more specifically the gospel coalition consistently harp on homosexuality but says nothing of gluttony and greed. Two “sins” that are definitely prevalent in our culture. Would be interesting to read a scathing article on obesity, but I doubt it will happen.

  69. Thank you for writing this brother. A provocative and interesting piece. I would have to disagree with a lot of the people who’ve commented here by saying that I think this would have been a very appropriate question to raise in that meeting. The people at the table with you were exactly the kind who need to be shocked in the way you are describing. I also agree that there are people in the church who are brushing this aside and sanitizing it and could also use a wake-up call.

    I also appreciate your point that we as Christians should not be expending huge amounts of effort and raising false hopes about suddenly being “cool” to the culture, because it ain’t gonna happen, especially on this issue. Nothing less than full capitulation will be excepted.

    If I could take issue with one thing about your article, it would be that I think this tactic is only appropriate in a very narrow range of circumstances. I don’t know if I want “the discussion” writ large to become chock-full of graphic descriptions of this stuff. There are certainly plenty of normal, morally sane people sitting in our churches who don’t need to see or think about these acts, particularly younger people. So for example, I wouldn’t want a pastor to begin incorporating such descriptions into his preaching.

  70. Stephanie Morgan says:

    Wow, why do you care what adults do in the bedroom? Did you really just compare homosexuality to being a pedophile? That last one is when I quit taking this seriously, you’ve got to be a troll lol, no person with any sense would have done that. Unless of course, you don’t know what pedophilia means.

    1. Matthew says:

      Yes, they do care, very deeply.

      They care so much that, in a secular nation, they want to enact their own version of sharia law to force people who don’t share their religious views to live the way they want them to. They want to restrict the freedoms of others for the glory of their interpretation of a heavily edited book purporting to be a holy text.

  71. Elle says:

    Sir, it took government intervention to allow blacks like you to get educated in Christian schools, like Liberty University, alongside whites. It took government and progressives to allow black people like you to marry non blacks.

    Church had a real gag reflex when it came to blacks sitting in the same pews with whites.
    Christian arguments for segregation were much louder then current arguments against homosexuality.
    Do you really think church can win this one?

    Tide is turning, gays will be accepted just like blacks were, Glory be to God.

  72. Justin says:

    Woof.

    That article strips marriage down to merely engaging in sex. As much as I like sex, that certainly isn’t all there is to marriage. He doesn’t even realize that he’s creating a black hole for anyone on the fence about deism/atheism, not to mention Christianity. This kind of ideology will fall flat on it’s face because it only makes sense to someone in an anti-homosexual mindset… Whether it’s a sad reality or not, those folks are becoming a very small minority relatively quickly. Much more can be accomplished by promoting the benefits of heterosexuality and learning to love those who don’t agree. I don’t have to agree with you to love you. Corrective behavior is only helpful when it comes from someone with whom you’re in relationship/community. In nearly every other context it will appear as bigotry. I’m certainly not pro-homosexuality, but this guys has faulty logic. I wonder if he had sex with his wife because loved her or whether he just wanted to get his rocks off… I’m not denying I wasn’t first attracted to my wife, but I learned to love her long before we ever entrusted our bodies to each other. Love is a valid argument for practically every relationship as far as I’m concerned. Sex before love isn’t healthy whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual. Most non-religious people would probably agree.

    Strike three…

    Christians will continue to appear as bigoted, fear-mongering, Bible-thumpers who can’t think beyond their own theological prisons…

    1. Larry Gist says:

      Another obvious question is this: do you, when meeting a married heterosexual couple automatically wonder what they do in bed?

    2. Matthew says:

      “That article strips marriage down to merely engaging in sex”

      I think he tells us more about HIS marriage than he intended with his hate filled essay.

  73. Matthew says:

    A Mark Twain quote that’s relevant here:

    The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes…The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

    Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…..There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.
    – Mark Twain “Bible Teaching and Religious Practice,” Europe and Elsewhere

  74. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with a wide audience. I remain as always in utter disbelief over how folks are more willing to disobey trustworthy God Almighty and hurt selfless Jesus than they are to hurt corrupt humans, those not to be trusted. Keep preaching the Truth in Love! The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom! Our society is in desparate need of regaining the fear of God.

  75. Kirsten says:

    “I’d draw a distinction between how we talk about these things in a private public policy meeting or public policy debate, and how we talk about these things with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.”

    Thabitiani,
    I think you would use more nuance in private conversation. I think your desire would be to express to individuals that they are loved by God and by yourself in such a context. You shared this publicly to an anonymous readership. You don’t know their names, their stories, or what would communicate love to them as you would in private conversation. Some who read this will be deeply wounded–given the forum you’ve chosen you won’t ever know who they are.

    Please continue to talk to others about these issues in the context of real relationship, and please pull this post off the internet. What help you hope to be is not worth the hurt that has been and will continue to be done.

    1. Elle says:

      I hope he keeps the post up. Considering all the interest and disgust it generates it greatly helps the gay rights. He reveals the ugly side of his position very nicely.

  76. Aric Clark says:

    Multiple times in this thread Rev. Anyabwile and others have asserted in his defense that he never called PERSONS disgusting, only BEHAVIORS. This is in this case a false distinction thoroughly demolished in the response of Dr. Richard Beck who has literally written the book on the theological implications of disgust psychology: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2013/08/on-love-and-yuck-factor.html

    Disgust is an inherently dehumanizing emotion. It exhibits what psychologists call “negativity dominance” – this means that the unclean object contaminates/pollutes the clean one rather than the other way around. If there is a fly in your drink you do not just deem the fly disgusting. If the fly was removed with a spoon the drink does not become adequately clean (for most people). They fly makes the whole drink unclean. In the same way when we leverage disgust against other people’s “behavior” we end up contaminating the entire person with our disgust. You cannot claim to respect the humanity and dignity of a person who you have said behaves in a way that triggers your gag reflex. Your disgust will invariably infect your attitude toward them.

    Attempting to elicit and direct disgust against other people is unconscionable behavior. It is not a coincidence that “disgusting” traits have been imputed to every oppressed group through history, and that the call for purity underlies the hideous logic of ethnic cleansing.

    For this reason Anyabwile’s post has been rightly called hateful. Not because he feels hatred in his heart (no one ever thinks of themselves as being a hateful person) – but because he has leverage, intentionally, language designed to dehumanize. Disgust, far from being a mechanism for identifying moral impurity is an obstacle to living and serving in the manner of Jesus: http://twofriarsandafool.com/2013/08/the-connection-between-my-conscience-and-my-disgust/

    Doubtless, someone will try to say that my condemnation of this post proves that Anyabwile provoked my conscience, which is true – but not because of his tame and boring (if selective) description of sexual behaviors. Hopefully, many people have had their conscience provoked by the stark contrast between his way, and the way of the carpenter from Nazareth who touched lepers, made common cause with the poor, and kept company with sex-workers.

  77. Jonathan says:

    Brother,

    I’m deeply saddened, both by your post and by the hateful, uncharitable responses. I regret that I don’t have much positive to say, since you’ve received so much unfair criticism already. So much of your writing has been helpful to me, so much of it I’ve shared with friends. But I fear that in this post, you’ve done exactly what you rightfully criticized Douglas Wilson for. If I recall correctly, you criticized him not for being racist, but for being racially insensitive. At least from my perspective, I can’t help but see this post in a similar light. If any of my LGBTQ friends (who know that I take a relatively conservative position on this issue) were to read this piece, they would see this piece as another in a long line of Christian words and actions that condemned, oppressed, and shamed them, and it would set back our relationship deeply.

    I trust that’s not what’s actually on your heart. That’s made clear by the charity of your responses to those who heap derision and scorn upon you. But I wonder if you would continue to stand by this post, if you reflect upon it through the lens I’ve offered?

    1. emily says:

      Well said Jonathan- thank you for wording this with grace.. I have felt so saddened by this article & haven’t been able to put words to it in the way you just did.

  78. steph says:

    Is it wrong for one man inserting the male organ (used to excrete liquid waste) into the part of a female used to excrete solid waste for the pleasure of bot parties?
    Is it wrong for one man using his mouth to stimilute the nipples, vulva, clitoris or vagina of a woman, or using his hand or other “toys” to simulate sexual intercourse?

    Should two people not be allowed to be legally recognized if they engage in this behavior?

  79. Dillon says:

    Hey Thabiti,

    You took an unpopular stand. That took courage. You’re unmasking euphemisms that provide false security from sin. That took conviction. The vitriol aimed your way by folks who are supposed to be loving and tolerant is astonishing.

    Hang in there, brother. We’re praying for you, we love you, your family, your ministry, and TGC. More than that, we love an awesome God who is sovereign over this whole show–he’ll sort it out to his glory, despite everyone’s ignorance–ours and our accusers’.

    Let God be true, and every man a liar.

  80. emily says:

    this is the most disheartening article.. i read it last night & felt physically ill – NOT because of the reasons the author was going for w/ the “gag reflex” concept – but because of the serious misuse this platform..The authors thoughts in NO WAY reflect the gospel & I am honestly shocked that TGC supports this. You’ve lost a reader because I can not support a faith-based website that allows this kind of shaming in God’s name..My older sister is gay, and I do desperately want her to know God & receive His healing – over her brokeness, not specific areas – It’s not my place to cherry pick – I want her whole, and I know only Jesus can do this, and funny thing is – He never requires us to “clean up” prior to receiving His grace, He never shamed either.. WHY do so many christians believe that’s the answer? it breaks my heart, and has caused me to really struggle with my place in church. Is God not big enough? I believe the true Gospel,and I believe that is the first step – the rest is God’s work in a believers life, and I have seen Him first hand transform hearts, and minds, and actions of all addictions, ranging from sexual, to alcohol, to porn – we are such a broken body.. We need Jesus.. This article has repulsed me, and broken my heart, for people like my sister who have one more barrier to cross through because of someone’s insecurity.. You said your concepts haven’t been working for the past decade & you’re asking people to get on board – well I am not on board with something so clearly against the core values of my faith.. You may be a theologian, or scholar- but you my friend have lost site of who you’re studying. You have no grace for others because you have either forgotten the grace given, or haven’t received it in your heart. Get on your knees for stuff like this, not on a public platform. And to the editors of this website- I am so sad to say, I am done – you’re support & keeping this up shows you’ve drifted from your core purpose- The Gospel.

  81. S Hampton says:

    Your post was brave. At the end of the day, Scripture says what it says (Rom.1:24-28), Jesus said what He said (“Go and sin no more”), and “people will gather around them a GREAT NUMBER of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (from 2 Tim. 4:3-5) My heart has been grieved over the acceptance within the Christian community of what God says is sin. Not just this sin (homosexuality); this one is just glaring in our culture today. And it is also a grievous and hateful sin against CHILDREN (who are put into these same-sex parent homes). The Body of Christ, has to stand for what God says is right, with love and humility, against the powerful pull of the culture we live in. But we can’t expect the world outside to embrace Scripture and act as though they are redeemed.

  82. Summer says:

    Plenty of straight men and straight women enjoy oral and anal sex, as both the author and every single commenter in the thread know. In addition, disgust is both an encultured and an innate phenomenon. In previous centuries it was not thought disgusting in the West to bathe once a month; to eat game that was “hung” for a while so that it partially rotted; to eat cheese with small worms in it; etc. etc. etc. And of course the Hebrews of the Bible found all sorts of things and people disgusting and therefore proper to morally shun (women with chronic bleeding; people who ate non-kosher meat; anyone with a chronic skin condition; anyone with a mental illness; etc. etc.) Christ taught us better.

  83. hadhufang says:

    I don’t get your point about “gag reflex” at all. What is yucky about anal sex? Lots of hetero couples use it too. What is yucky about lingual or manual stimulation? As a straight woman, when I was married I would never permit my partner to penetrate WITHOUT prior stimulation, including my own orgasm at times. (Orgasm releases more lubrication, making penetration easier for the man.) Most of the “how to have good sex” videos that are *recommended* by therapists to straight couples TEACH these techniques. You appear to have an extremely naive understanding of sex in the straight world.

  84. I really did not have time to read all of the comment thread (since I do have a life and a business to run), however I do find it somewhat encouraging to find that there is such a large number of sodomites who follow this blog. Perhaps God in his infinite mercy will use that fact to call some of them to repentance and faith.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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