Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Sin is NOT Homosexuality

I've read a lot of the news reports on Rev. Barnes' resignation from his megachurch after he "confessed" his homosexuality. They all quoted a religious leader on the right who declared homosexuality a sin, and several stated their belief that homosexuality was a choice.

None directly quoted a religious leader who flatly countered these positions. Let me do that here.

There is no sin in being homosexual or in engaging in same sex eroticism in a loving, just relationship. The sin is homophobia, the denigration of our neighbors because they are physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same sex. The sin is heterosexism, the presumption that heterosexuality is normative for all people and morally superior. The sin is forcing people to deny their God-given gift of their sexuality and to suffer to try to live their lives in a way that is antithetical to who they really are. The sin is violence and discrimination against GLBT persons and denial of their civil rights. The sin is when any of us, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, violate our commitments to our partner and hurt our families. The sin is making sexual decisions that hurt us and hurt others.

Reverends Haggard and Barnes are primary evidence against the myth that people choose their sexual orientation. Both confess that they have struggled with their same sex attractions their whole lives. They tried to pray it away; they tried to marry it away; they tried to make it go away by having sex with women they loved; they tried counseling to make it go away. From the news reports, it certainly seems that they did everything they could to "change."

But, they couldn't. No more than I could change my sexual orientation...or you change your's.

It's time for the churches that condemn homosexuality to learn that lesson. It's time for the congregants to think through what it means to "love your neighbor as yourself." I am reminded of this line from I believe Meister Eckart, "When will grown men and women stop believing in a God that makes them sad? It is a lie, any talk of God that does not comfort you."


Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Rev. Haffner. Very well said.



Anonymous said...

Thank you! I've linked to this from

Nichola Torbett
National Organizer
Network of Spiritual Progressives

Anonymous said...

Rev. Debra, I partially agree with you. While I do not believe it is sinful to be homosexual, I do believe it is sinful to engage in same sex eroticism. Nor do I condone violence or discrimination against GLBT persons. I hope you do not think that those who disagree with sex outside of marriage hate those who partake in it.

Many heterosexual men struggle with fidelity in marriage. Some might say that men, by nature, really aren't designed to be monogamous. Perhaps that's the case or perhaps people are confusing the effects or our fallen nature with biology. I gather most people would not excuse a man's infidelity on biology. Even if it were the case, does biology always dictate our decisions? I may be genetically disposed to alcoholism, but does that mean I act on it? As rational creatures who are fallen, we will constantly be battling passions and desires even ones that seem "natural and good". Reason tells us otherwise and we, in turn, subject our body and passions to the will.

Regarding Meister Eckart's quote, I have to have to disagree somewhat. Sometimes, talk of God does not comfort me. I don't want to change my comfortable ways. It's much easier to do as I please and not as He pleases. Of course, I also thought my Mother was also being incredibly harsh and unfair when I was child and not allowed to do as I wished. Now, I understand why mother denied me certain things. It was for my own good even though I did not see it at the time.

Sparki said...

I also offer partial agreement with your statement, Rev. Haffner.

I do not think homosexual orientation is a sin, but I also don't think homosexual orientation is a LICENSE to sin. Both of these evangelical pastors who have so publicly stepped down from ministry committed the sin of adultery by having sex with people who was not their wives. That is not an excusable sin, just because they felt oppressed. Some people struggle with a sexual attraction to CHILDREN all their lives, but just because they are born with it doesn't mean it's okay for them to commit a sin by molesting a child.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being willing to lovingly present this truth.

Besides, I do not believe in any sin--excpet for the archery term, that is.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding post, Debra. We have posted it on our blog at CrossWalk America and it has drawn some thoughtful comments from readers. I think they would be thrilled if you responded to them. Your specific post is at:

Conversely, you can just go to the blog and scroll down a few posts (

Keep up the good work, Debra! I just received your book, Beyond the Big Talk, in the mail that I ordered at the Fosdick Convocation. I've been enjoying what I've read. A nice mixture of casual, frank talk about sexuality and scientific knowledge.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian gay man I do not believe it is a sin to be gay and express that love within a committed monogamous relationship.

How can you honestly tell someone with a gay orientation that its ok to have a gay orientation but you can't express that in love? Cassandra and Sparki how would you feel if you were told you couldn't express your natural feelings towards your opposite gender? Imagine now you were constantly told it was a SIN and it was WRONG to be who you are and that you were going to hell for it. Day in. Day out. You'd be naturally upset and would feel the idea of living your life without any expression of love whatsoever to someone else to not only be wrong but it would be a very lonely life wouldn't you think? No one to hold. No one to say I love you. Or share your life with. Being gay is NOT all about sex. I wish more people understood that.

Cassandra, your alcoholism analogy doesn't fly. You show me one instance that a person's homosexuality caused deadly car crashes? Or caused liver damage? Never. Not once.

Its so easy for those on the other side of this debate to have the mentality "its ok to be gay but don't act on it" when you don't experience those natural feelings yourself.

Please talk to other gay and lesbian Christians. Perhaps you'll have a better understanding on the whole issue.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Haffner,

I was so impressed with the wording of your Dec. 15 blog post that I have reprinted it on my own blog with a citation and URL to your site.

Keep up the good work. Your words seem very Christ-like to me, whereas the denunciations from my own church and other organized religions seem antithetical to the "Good News" of Christianity.

Here is the link to your blog editorial:

Michael Guth
Progressive Roman Catholic

Anonymous said...

Ken, sometimes these discussions can come off as clinical. When two doctors are discussing a patient, their conversation can sound cold and impersonal. That doesn't mean they are being cold and impersonal. They're just discussing the facts. Their tone changes, naturally, when discussing matters with the patient.

My brother is an Atheist. I disagree with him. He understands my position and I understand his. I don't hate him. I don't say he is going to hell. We spent a lot of time together and enjoy each other's company. It is possible to disagree with someone and still love them.

Sparki said...


>>>How can you honestly tell someone with a gay orientation that its ok to have a gay orientation but you can't express that in love? <<<<

The same way you tell someone with a heterosexual orientation that it's okay to have a heterosexual orietnation, but you can't express that with anybody who isn't your spouse.

>>>Cassandra and Sparki how would you feel if you were told you couldn't express your natural feelings towards your opposite gender? <<<<<

I *am* told that. It was true before I married, in regards to my natural sexual attraction to various men, and it has been true since my marriage in regards to any sexual attraction I might have had toward men who were not my husband. (I've been fortunate not to have been tempted thus, but I do know that it is common for married people to be attracted to people who are not their spouses.)

The fact of the matter is, Ken, that everybody in every single society in every single era in the entire history of the world has been instructed to practice self control in regards to their sexual desire. It's harder for some that others, to be sure, and those who have a difficult time deserve the support and encouragement from others in maintaining their self control, but the fact remains that NOBODY has license to have sex with whomever they want, whenever they want. Even in a marriage, there are times one spouse wants sexual activity and the other doesn't, and there must be an exhibition of self control.

>>>>>Imagine now you were constantly told it was a SIN and it was WRONG to be who you are and that you were going to hell for it. <<<<<

I do not believe that it's a sin to be who you are, or that it's wrong to be who you are, nor do I belong to a Church that teaches it. Who you are is who you are. Likely, that's not a perfect person -- I'm not perfect either. We all have natural inclinations that must be mastered in order to live holy lives. Every one of us. You are no different than me.

>>>>You'd be naturally upset and would feel the idea of living your life without any expression of love whatsoever to someone else to not only be wrong but it would be a very lonely life wouldn't you think?<<<<

Neither do I believe that you must live "without any expression of love whatsoever." There are many, many expressions of love that do not include sexual activity, and if you don't know that, you are in a very sorry condition indeed. You can hold people. You can say you love people. You can share you life with others. You probably have some wonderful gifts and abilities that would greatly bless other people, when you share those gifts and abilities...without making sex the end-all, be-all of your existence.

>>>>Being gay is NOT all about sex. I wish more people understood that.<<<<

Of course it's not. But if it's not all about sex, why do you claim that being asked to show self-control in your sexual desires is so crushing to you? We all have to do it, some more than others.

Surely as a gay man, you know of other gay men who prefer boys in their early adolescense for sexual partners. (I have many gay friends and a few gay relatives, so I personally know of at least two men who are like this.) Would you tell those particular gay men that because their desire is "natural" to them, they are free to prey on youth who are not even close to being at the age of consent? Or would you demand that they practice self-control with their desires?

You have mistakenly assumed that I'm clueless about the gay lifestyle. I'm not. My sister, whom I love, is gay. I've had many gay friends. I once shared a house with a lesbian couple and played on a softball team sponsored by a gay bar, where I spent many enjoyable hours socializing with my gay friends. My gay friends and family know they can count on me for undying love and any emotional support they might need from me in maintaining self-control regarding their sexual desires...same as my heterosexual family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Education is the greatest gift to all.
Continue your work, Debra ... and ...Blessed be,

Anonymous said...

Yours is a refreshing voice, a spiritual decree that same sex love (and action pursuant from it) is not 'hateful to God' and so forth. I have been studying faiths to determine their positions on this for a while, and can say that Christianity and Islam are very hostile to same-sex despite and not because of their scriptures. Even some deistic types are chilly to same-sex. Up to now it is only among Wicca and certain formal Paganisms and Pandeism that I've heard a truly positive view. Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

The only way to know if something is right or wrong is by the word of God..that is the Holy Bible.As a Christian it makes me sad that some now believe that being born a certain way justifies that is is alright and no longer "sexual sin".I know that God gives people tests in life ,tests that they can pass,he does not give us more than we can handle,overcoming sexual sin is oner of those tests and those who pass will be greatly rewarded for it in heaven,do you think God rewards his people for giving in to the sin of the world??whether sexual sin or not sin is sin and being born a certain way does not justify it, maybe in your eyes but the bible says other wise

Anonymous said...

I am sure you wont post this becuase i dissagree with you,but if this is a fair forum than you should,people have the right to hear both sides.So now its your opinion that is THE ultimate truth??i WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOUR deceiving people!!!Where in the bible have you ever read about a homosexual and God condoning it?Jesus states that marriage is for man and woman.The bible also says that a man should not lie with a man

Anonymous said...

I used to have lesbian relations but I gave them up for God ,I know it may be lonely but my reward will be greater in heaven for it,whether he truly wanted me to give up those relations or not I did it for HIM isn't he great enough to give it up for???