FAMILY NEWS FROM DR. JAMES DOBSON
Several weeks ago, I was approached by a congenial man in his early 20s told of his journey into the world of homosexuality. In desperation and at his father’s suggestion, he attended a conference sponsored by Exodus International, an organization that ministers to gays and lesbians. While there, he dedicated himself, heart and soul, to Jesus Christ and was delivered from the homosexual
lifestyle. It was an inspirational testimony.
As we stood and chatted, this young man described for me the deep anger and hurt that is widely felt by those in the homosexual community. Many blame Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family for wounding them, believing sincerely that they and their friends are the targets of hate. Of course that is not true. Never in the history of this ministry have we insulted or ridiculed homosexuals or anyone else for that matter–including those with whom we disagree. We believe every human being is precious to God and is entitled to acceptance and respect. There is great suffering among homosexuals, and it is our desire to show compassion and concern for those caught in that lifestyle.
There are, however, two great barriers to our efforts to build bridges of understanding with gays and lesbians. First, we have no authority to sanction or approve behavior that Scripture clearly defines as sinful. The Bible’s attitude toward sexuality can be traced back to the creation of the very first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Two parallel passages in Genesis provide
the basis on which all specific prohibitions toward homosexuality (and any other sexual behavior beyond that which exists within the context of heterosexual marriage) are to be understood:
1. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground ” (Genesis 1:27-28, NIV).
2. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. l will make a helper suitable for him.” . . . So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame (Genesis 2: 18, 21-25, NIV).
These passages provide the eternal standard for human sexuality. Try as we might, we cannot make any other behaviors–premarital intercourse, adultery, prostitution, male and female homosexuality–conform with what God has decreed from the beginning. The book of Leviticus issues this decree about homosexual behavior: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with woman kind; it is abomination” (18:22, KJV). Why is that wording so emphatic? Theologians tell us-it is because sexual deviancy distorts God’s original intention and corrupts the relationship between men, women and their Creator. When God looked at His arrangement in the Garden, he called it “good.” There is nothing in Scripture that provides a basis for making this pronouncement on any other form of sexual expression.
This is why the practice of homosexuality is morally equivalent to heterosexual promiscuity in the biblical text. Nothing can change the fact that God abhors any form of sexual sin. Paul explained it to the church at Rome in this way:
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for
unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Romans 1:24-27, NIV).
These and other scriptures clearly reveal that homosexuality is immoral and contrary to God’s plan for the human family. And if homosexual behavior is condemned, then so too are heterosexual promiscuity, bestiality, pedophilia and any other behavior defined in Scripture as sinful. We must begin with the presupposition that the universe has a Boss, and He has defined the dimensions
of right and wrong in immutable terms.
Nevertheless, we as believers are commanded in numerous biblical passages to care for and love all men and women, regardless of their sin. Each of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and there is no justification for self-righteousness or disdain among those who have been forgiven. Our mission is to proclaim the good news of Christ Jesus to a suffering and dying world.
The second difficulty for Christians hoping to build bridges to homosexuals involves our necessary opposition to the radical social agenda advanced by gay activists. We believe their ideas are dangerous to society at large and to the family in particular. Nevertheless, their advocates seem to be everywhere at once. The gay lifestyle is aggressively promoted throughout culture, especially in television sitcoms, Hollywood movies and on university campuses. Yet there is scarcely a politician or a national leader anywhere who has the courage to oppose it publicly. I suspect that many pastors and priests also avoid the subject because of the intimidation factor that has become so pervasive in recent years. It is one subject most influential people are afraid to address, unless, of course, they are echoing pro-homosexual rhetoric.
A case in point: On November 8, 1997, President Clinton spoke at a fund-raising dinner on behalf of a homosexual activist organization dedicated to the radical gay and lesbian agenda. It was the first time in U.S. history that a sitting president had given the status and authority of his office to a group defined by their sexual behavior. That alone should have created a political backlash, but nary a peep was heard from the conservative community. During his speech, Mr. Clinton referred to the writings of Thomas Jefferson and said, “We are redefining in practical terms the immutable ideals [of the Founding Fathers] that have guided us from the beginning.'”
How does one go about redefining immutable (that is, unchangeable) ideals? It was an outrageous moment in a presidency marked by outrageous moments! Without the consent of the governed or their elected representatives, Mr. Clinton was telling the American people that he had reinterpreted our most cherished foundational principles to make them suit his post-modern presuppositions. “What audacity!” I thought. “Surely, someone will rise to challenge the president.” But silence prevailed in the nation’s capital.
Two days later, the White House and the president hosted a “hate crimes” conference at George Washington University, during which Mr. Clinton told participants that public schools across the nation should institute pro-homosexual diversity programs. They should be designed, in his words, “to teach [children] a different way.”
Here we find the president of the United States telling the nation’s parents that their children should be taught ideas and concepts most of them find offensive. Nevertheless, there was not the slightest suggestion of protest or disagreement from leaders of either political party or anyone with visibility and influence. Only one national figure, Dr. Bill Bennett, weighed in on the other side of the issue (3). I have searched the Internet and media reports from that period, and can find no other statement in opposition to the president’s widely publicized words.
How do we explain the lack of moral outrage–or courage–from anyone in Washington, D.C., or on the local level? The answer can be found in the unparalleled political clout of homosexual activists. In the course of two decades, they have succeeded in intimidating Washington, D.C., and most of the rest of the nation. Few dare step in front of the gay and lesbian juggernaut for fear of being labeled “homophobic,” “hateful” or “politically incorrect.”
Indeed, the Senate in 1996 came within a single vote of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have wreaked havoc on American culture (4). This legislation would have made sexual orientation a protected class equivalent to racial minorities under federal civil rights laws. On my recent vie-it to Capitol Hill, I was warned that this measure will almost certainly
resurface soon in the Senate. The question is, how many senators will cave in to pressure from homosexual activists?
Another illustration of the awesome political power of radical homosexuals can be seen in the support provided by the federal government for AIDS research and related programs advocated by that community. Returning to the president’s speech on November 8, he confidently bragged to the partisan audience that his administration had allocated more money for AIDS research than to breast or prostate cancer combined (5). How do you think that comment made victims of those other diseases feel? Unfortunately, cancer patients and those with other diseases lack the political muscle of gay activists.
More to the point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures in 1996 to show how much federal money was spent per death (in fiscal year 1994) on each of the five deadliest diseases. The findings are striking:
Heart Disease: $1,056
Why are we so concerned about the bias toward the homosexual agenda in the United States? Because it has profound implications for the well-being of our society. Any change in the traditional understanding of the family will undermine its legal foundation and render it meaningless. If, for example, marriage can occur between two men or two women, why not three men or four
women? What about between siblings or between parents and children? How about one man and six women, which reopens the polygamy debate of 116 years ago? To change the definition of marriage from the exclusive union between one man and one woman is to destroy the family as it has been known for 5,000 years.
To see where activists want to take us here in this country, we need to examine what is happening in other parts of the world. There is a highly coordinated international effort to redefine marriage, lower the age of sexual consent for minors, secure the rights to adoption by gays and lesbians, teach pro-homosexual concepts to elementary school children, gain control of high school and college curricula, achieve special rights regarding hiring and firing, guarantee taxpayer-funded marriage benefits for homosexuals, eliminate restrictions on military service, and pass laws that penalize and silence citizens who are morally opposed to the gay lifestyle. Most importantly, activists want homosexuality to be seen and sanctioned as the moral equivalent of heterosexuality. This is the common agenda pursued by its proponents throughout the industrialized world.
Nowhere is the homosexual agenda more successful than in Canada, where, unbelievably, it is becoming illegal to oppose or even criticize the movement. Several Canadian provinces have enacted human rights legislation that prohibits the publication of any statements deemed as “discriminatory” toward homosexuality (7). Additionally, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, equivalent to our Federal Communications Commission, now monitors programming that portrays homosexuality in a negative light (8). Even Focus on the Family Canada is muzzled on this topic. So much for free speech north of the border.
Just last year, the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) refused to accredit a teacher education program offered by Trinity Western University (TWU)~a Christian school. The reason? TWU requires its students to sign a code of conduct that prohibits homosexual behavior among other things. According to a BCCT lawyer, students “need to be exposed to other lifestyles” (9).
Likewise, King’s College in Edmonton–another Christian institution–fired a lab instructor because of his openly homosexual conduct. The individual filed suit against the province of Alberta, charging that it refused to extend human rights protection to homosexuality. In April, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that legal protection (preference) must be extended immediately to
Alberta’s homosexual community and that sexual orientation must be part of the province’s.
Human Rights Code. One Supreme Court justice said, ” . . . I believe that judicial intervention is warranted to correct a democratic process that has acted improperly” (10). Get it? The people of Canada can’t be trusted to make their own decisions.
Dr. Ted Morton, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, had this to say about the two cases mentioned above: “There will be strong pressures to define and isolate any private–especially religion-based–educational institutions that do not embrace ‘gay positive’ policies. The argument has already been made before the courts in Canada that ‘equality rights’ are more important than freedom of religion and freedom of association.”
Meanwhile in Ontario, the highest court in the province recently ruled that the traditional definition of “spouse” is unconstitutional and demanded that the federal Income Tax Act be rewritten to include same-sex partners (12). And on it goes–even very young children are not safe from the repercussions of Canada’s sexual permissiveness. The age of consent in that nation is (14), which
places very immature boys and girls at the mercy of adults who would exploit them for sexual purposes (13). Pro-family advocates in some provinces want to raise that age limit to 16 for girls, but haven’t been successful.
And the problem certainly isn’t confined to the North American continent. In the Netherlands, where prostitution, pornography and pedophilia are already rampant–and in many cases, legal–the Dutch government recently allowed homosexual couples to form legal unions, with the same inheritance and tax rights as heterosexual married couples (14). Homosexual couples have now gained
the right to adopt children and share parental authority (15). Though not widely publicized, there are also efforts in the Netherlands to lower the legal age of consent from 14 to 12 years of age (16)!
Truly, the homosexual movement has become a steamroller in nations around the world. Just last week, I received a letter from my friend Lyndon Bowring, who heads the Care for the Family ministry in the United Kingdom. He wrote, “We are up to our eyes here in London with the rampant advances of the militant gay lobby. Our Parliament is planning to reduce the age of consent for homosexual intercourse between ‘adult’ males from 18 to 16. Apart from a sovereign miracle of grace, we will not succeed in persuading them not to do so. We are doing everything in our power to prevent it and calling on His divine power to intervene on behalf of our young boys” (17).
There is hardly a place on the globe where similar struggles are not occurring, except where no fight remains in discouraged or outnumbered Christians.
But what about here in the United States? How is the movement doing locally? Like everywhere else, the battle to legalize same-sex marriage is raging in every state in the nation–the only question being which state will be the first to buckle. You’ve probably heard about the situation in Hawaii. This November, citizens of that state will put the question to a vote. It is expected to be a very close contest, and the outcome is still very much in doubt. In addition, Vermont’s very liberal Supreme Court (18) will hear arguments this summer in favor of same-sex marriage (19). A strong possibility exists that these judges–many of them hostile to the traditional family–may end up legalizing it, thereby creating an explosion of moral and legal chaos that will reverberate from coast to coast.
Now the battle has moved to California, where homosexual activists are vigorously seeking to implement their agenda. Once again, their ultimate goal is “gay marriage.” If it becomes legal in California, gay activists will have achieved most of their objectives in one fell swoop. And as our most populous state goes, so goes the nation.
California is especially vulnerable, because a 126-year-old law mandates that it recognize and validate all out-of-state marriages (20). This means that as soon as another state validates homosexual “marriage,” those relationships automatically will be legal in the Golden State.
That’s why California’s homosexual community is working feverishly to change public opinion regarding their issues. In February, right before Valentine’s Day, gay activists across the state celebrated “Freedom to Marry Day.” In Sacramento, lesbian activist Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), chair of the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee, aggressively asserted that
proponents of gay marriage will “press onward despite any obstacle,”‘ (21) and fellow lesbian Sheila James Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), the Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, characterized anyone who opposes same-sex marriage as being “hysterical” (22). At the same time, a billboard advocating homosexual “marriage” hung above a busy intersection in West Hollywood (the display brashly showcased two lesbians on a motorcycle with a “Just Married” sign) (23).
These are sobering developments, but is the situation hopeless? No. The tide can be turned if Christians will commit to taking a stand on these issues which are so critical to the preservation of the traditional family. I understand that each of you is extremely busy with commitments to your church, your job and your own family. Still, I implore you to consider the importance of making your voice heard. It is not enough to be a regular churchgoer. It is not enough to read the Bible or to nod in agreement with this letter and this ministry. While we need and appreciate your support, that alone will not turn the advancing tide of the homosexual movement, especially with regard to the issue of same-sex marriage. Your concern and convictions must be translated into action.
Here are a few suggestions for accomplishing that objective. First, become informed about the status of same-sex marriage in your state. It is important that your state do two things: legally define marriage as being between one man and one woman; and specifically clarify that it will not recognize same-sex marriages from other states and jurisdictions. Here is a list of the states that have various “defense of marriage acts” which meet both of these necessary criteria:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South: Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah and Washington.
If your state is not listed above, then it is among the most vulnerable to pro-homosexual forces. But you can do something about it. You can contact your state representatives and senators, and urge them to protect the well-being of the family by passing a law that will properly define marriage and block the recognition of same-sex marriages. Many attempts are being made to pass
appropriate legislation in some states, but most have yet to succeed. Listed on the next page are the states in which such legislation is either pending, under court challenge or has been defeated.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
If there is legislation pending in your state, do all that you can to support its passage: contact your representatives; talk to your friends; ask your pastor to speak out on the issue; get the word out. If such legislation has already failed, contact the sponsoring representatives and senators to find out why it was defeated, and what can be done to reintroduce it again–this time successfully. It may be that you cannot find legislators who care enough about this issue to do something about it. In that case, you may want to consider starting a ballot initiative to bring the matter before the voters of your state. This will involve time, money and a deep commitment. But it is worth the effort.
Before closing, I want to re-emphasize a point I touched on earlier. We must always remember that regardless of the gravity of the issues at hand, we are commanded to demonstrate Christlike love to those with whom we disagree. I began this letter by introducing you to a man who had been delivered from homosexuality through an Exodus International conference. His decision to
commit his life to Christ was motivated not by political action, but by the love that was shown him by concerned and compassionate Christians on an interactive, personal level.
At the same time, the issues at stake are of the utmost importance to our children and to the future of our country. Any nation that mocks the laws of God will ultimately fail. It is inevitable. And each of us is either part of the problem or a part of the solution. Edmund Burke, the English parliamentarian, summed it up this way: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” 24
May the Lord bless you as you seek to both share His love with those around you and take a stand for those principles of righteousness He has established from the beginning of time. My prayers are with you! We would also appreciate your prayers for Focus on the Family. These are challenging days for all of us here at the ministry. God’s blessings to you and yours.
1 President Clinton remarks at Human Rights Campaign Dinner, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, D.C., November 8, 1997
2 Paul Bedard, “Clinton Urges School Diversity Training,” The Washington Times, November 11, 1997, p. Al
3 William Bennett, “Clinton, Gays and the Truth,” The Weekly Standard, November 24, 1997, p. 13
4 Jon Frandsen and Fredreka Schouten, “Senate Votes Against Same-Sex Marriage, Rejects Anti-Gay Discrimination Bill,” Gannett News Service, September 10, 1996
5 Clinton, op. cit.
6 Research Funding Dollars Spent per Death, Department of Health and Human Services, FY 1994
7 Norm Ovenden, “Supreme Court Blasts Alberta Over Gay Rights; Sexual Orientation Not Protected UnderProvincial Law,” Ottawa Citizen, November 5, 1997, p. A5
8 Religion Roundup, Ottawa Citizen, November 5, 1997, p. I7
9 Sandra Thomas, “Christian University Sues B.C. Teachers’ College,” The Vancouver Sun, May 8, 1997
10 Norm Ovenden, “Provinces Must Protect Gays Against Bias,” Ottawa Citizen, April 3, 1998, p. A3
11 Dr. Ted Morton, “Decision Opens the Door for More Challenges,” Calgary Herald, April 4, 1998, p. 15
12 “Ontario Court Advances Recognition of Same-Sex Couples,” Associated Press, April 24, 1998
13 “Age of Consent Comparatively Low,” Ottawa Citizen, December 10, 1997, p. A19
14 Deb Price, “Roads to Equality; Gay Rights in Europe; Danes . . .,” Detroit News, October 29, 1997, p. E1
15 “Dutch Homosexual Couples Given Adoption Rights,” Agence France Presse, February 6, 1998
16 interview with Robert Hondsmerk, Director of Sterling Chris, a ministry to youth based in the Netherlands, April 27, 1998
17 Personal correspondence between Lyndon Bowring and James C. Dobson, Ph.D. Used with permission.
18 E.J. Graff, “In and Out in Vermont: The Traditionally Liberal Atmosphere in Vermont Almost Assures That a Same-Sex Marriage Bill Will Pass . . .,” The Nation, October 20, 1997, p. 19
19 Cheryl Wetzstein, “11 States Back Vermont’s ‘Same Sex’ Ban,” The Washington Times, May 1, 1998, p. All
20 California Family Code, Section 308: “A marriage contracted outside of this state that would be valid by the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in this state.”
21 “National Freedom to Marry Day” News Conference, hosted by LIFE: California’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender and HIV/AIDS Lobby, Sacramento, CA, February 12, 1998
23 press release, “Freedom to Marry Gay Billboard Unveiled,” December 1, 1997
24 Letter from Edmund Burke to William Smith, January 9, 1775
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, 1998, PAGES 1-8. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.