Homosexuality and Human Rights

PMT 2013-013b by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Below is a study on the question of human rights and homosexuality.

Awhile back, a firestorm of controversy exploded in Greenville, South Carolina, over a County Council resolution regarding homosexuality. The controversial resolution reaffirmed “established state laws regarding gay lifestyles” by stating that “lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers.”

Several prominent Greenville, South Carolina, opponents of the resolution called the resolution “restrained” (Beth Padgett, Deputy Editorial Page Director, Greenville News) and a “mild expression” (Tom Inman, Editorial Page Editor, Greenville News). Yet at the same time they and several others vigorously attacked it as “intolerant,” an “invasion of privacy,” “disrespectful of diversity of opinion,” and a “senseless government intrusion.” Well over a hundred letters to the editor, dozens of counter resolutions by liberal churches, the Chamber of Commerce, Furman University, and other organizations, and numerous public pronouncements lashed out at the County Council and its resolution.

Unfortunately, the whole controversy is a study in muddled ethical thinking, contradictory assertions, sloganeering, and outlandish charges. The resolution, though deemed “mild” and “restrained” by the editors of the local paper, has been ridiculed as: “a breach of the separation of church and state,” “Naziism,” “menacing authority,” “an atrocity,” “right-wing extremism,” “poisonous,” “ayatollah-like,” “warped,” “a return to the dark ages,” “frightening,” “appalling,” “a witch hunt,” and more. Consequently, the dispute exposes our inability to think through moral issues. But public socio-political discourse is not the place for such moral confusion.

So for these reasons, even if for no other, the methodology of the moral charges levied against the council statement demand careful analysis. I will focus on the two highly charged issues so prominent in the debate both locally and nationally: privacy and tolerance.

The Right to Privacy

First, the privacy issue: Those who fear this resolution as an “invasion of privacy” by “senseless government intrusion” seem unaware of current legal realities. The resolution did little more than reaffirm current South Carolina state law. What is more, government is already (and necessarily) involved in private moral concerns. The liberty ideal asserting the primacy and inviolability of privacy rights has never been the case in America. We have many laws restricting the private acts of consenting adults, including laws against polygamy, prostitution, incest, illegal drug use, bestiality, consensual sado-masochism, suicide, and more.

We also have anti-privacy laws demanding compulsory education, overriding private family convictions regarding medical treatment (e.g., forced blood transfusions), forbidding cruelty to animals, and so forth. Privacy is only one value among many other competing values. At points of collision, privacy values must give place to other values such as justice, security, and human life.

Private morality cannot be a matter of public indifference. If civil law failed to witness against the abnormality of homosexual conduct, then governmental authority would allow a progressive degeneration of moral values in society. This would be detrimental to society’s moral stability, government’s legal substructure, the dignity of human life, the monogamous foundation of all civilized societies, the ability of parents to raise their children in a stable moral environment, and more. The issues relative to privacy are of gigantic proportions and poorly understood.

The Toleration of Diversity

Second, the toleration issue: The call for “tolerance” is a moral demand. That being the case, it must come from within a particular moral system. And the system that best supports and gives meaning to public, universal, invariant moral principles must be recognized and defensible. This, then, requires public moral discourse which cannot preclude the Christian system at the outset, as so many try to do. In fact, on historical grounds this “one nation under God” that asserts “In God we trust” should not disallow Christian moral values. The U. S. Supreme Court has noted in Zorach v. Clauson that “we are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” (343 U.S. 306 [1952]). Neither may the Christian sit idly by, for he must “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

In addition, though the term is carelessly tossed about, “toleration” has limits. Those limits must be defined by moral considerations, not loud assertions. The tolerance of all opinions would lead to moral relativism, which would undermine a stable and just society. Such also becomes self-refuting in that it destroys any and all moral objection to any actions, including the call to tolerance. The very existence of an orderly society of men and laws militates against absolute moral toleration. Rather than absolute tolerance or maximum personal freedom being the goals of the civil order, social rectitude and civil justice should be.

The issue of civil legislation discouraging homosexual conduct is not a question of whether values will be imposed, but whose values. All law necessarily involves the imposition of values (we have different values from cannibals, for instance), or else laws are merely suggestions. Law is always an imposition of someone’s religious values, in that all law is rooted in morality, and morality is based on ideas of ultimacy and value which are intrinsically religious conceptions. Consequently, all law is fundamentally religious in character. Historical evidence of this has been noted by the Supreme Court in Abington v. Schempp (374 U.S. 203 [1963]): “Nearly every criminal law on the books can be traced to some religious inspiration.”

Greenville County Council’s resolution is justified as a concern for the moral well-being of the community. This concern is warranted not only by America’s continuing moral decline in general, but by recent national debate seeking to expand homosexual influence by legally endorsing same gender marriages. As Edmund Burke warned long ago: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


Helpful studies

Redeeming Pop Culture (book)
by T. M. Moore

Pop culture surrounds us—its music, movies, fashions, fads, literature, and lingo. We can hardly shop, watch a sporting event, or catch up on the news without wading through a sea of popular cultural influences.

How should a Christian understand pop culture? What in it should we appreciation and enjoy? Why is it important for us not to ignore the culture around us? How can we engage, influence, and advance pop culture, and how can we put popular forms to good use in God’s kingdom?

T. M. Moore applies his knowledge of Scripture and a keen perception of popular culture to these questions in this readable book, complete with questions for study and discussion. He urges us neither to flee from popular culture nor to immerse ourselves in it blindly. Popular culture present countless opportunities for the alert, thinking Christian to glorify God through all that he has made. Its artifacts, institutions, and conventions also provide insights into a lost world and avenues for communicating the gospel of the kingdom where people live.


The Homosexual Question” (4 CDs)082 Homosexual Question
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Four sermons on the growth and danger of the homosexual rights movement. Excellent material for helping Christians understand the biblical and social issues relating to the gay rights movement.

(1) The Challenge of the Hour.
(2) Homosexuality and Scripture.
(3) Justifications of Homosexuality Answered.
(4) Homosexuality and Cultural Chaos.

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