From Normalization to Legalization: The Homosexuality Problem

From Normalization to Legalization: The Homosexuality Problem<span class=18 min read" />

Introduction

In his book, The Secular Age, Charles Tylor, a political and social philosopher, identified three stages that religious faith has gone through: premodern, modern, and postmodern.

The premodern world was when it was impossible not to believe (impossibility of unbelief). Belief in a divine being was a given. In fact, the word atheist did not come into the English dictionary until Miles Coverdale invented it in his English bible translation in 1535.

The enlightenment engulfed Europe, and we moved to the age of modernity, where it was possible not to believe. Now, religious faith was no longer a given but a choice. People could philosophically and practically hold to an atheistic worldview, especially with the Darwinian account of the origin of species.

Now we live in a post-modern world where it is impossible to believe. Our societies are now so secularized that belief in a God is becoming “unorthodox” in intellectual and elite circles (and from there to the popular culture). We moved from an age where it was impossible not to believe to one where it was impossible to believe. Unbelief is now mainstream, while belief is becoming unconventional.

The other side

Taylor’s paradigm also mirrors the way unconventional and ostracized ideas and practices become mainstream in cultures.

First, we begin at the stage where everyone agrees that such ideas and practices are sinful, unacceptable, or illegal. Those who promote the ideas or indulge in the practices are the pariah. They have to hide to promote their ideas or indulge in their practices.

Suddenly, we move to the period where that idea or practice is becoming acceptable. Such acceptability may be due to the indirect effects of a technological, intellectual, or cultural revolution. Whatever it may be, the idea or practice begins to gain acceptability, especially among the cultural elites.

From acceptability, we move to normalization. It’s no longer the indirect effects of another revolution; it becomes the object of a revolution. The idea or practice now moves downstream from the cultural elites to the popular culture.

Normalization then ends up in legalization, and now those who oppose the idea or practice, which was the entire community some years back, are now the new pariahs. The tables turn, to use the words of Beautiful Nubia.

Homosexuality in the United States as a case study

There was a time in the United States when being homosexual was culturally unacceptable. There were laws that made it illegal. More than the laws, there was a societal consensus that it was evil, sinful, and unacceptable. Those who thought otherwise and those who indulged could not do it in plain sight.

But the second wave feminism and sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s had an indirect effect that began to make it acceptable.

The development of the pill meant sex can be divorced from childbirth. Once sex had been “sterilized,” people could indulge in sexual practices without the “risk” of pregnancies. That sexual “freedom” birthed sexual license and exploration. Sodomy (anal sex) in heterosexual sex became more popular.

The sterilization of sex and the popularity of sodomy combined to make sense of homosexual relationships. Some of the crusaders for “women’s rights” and the sexual revolution began to include the cause of the homosexuals as part of their freedom fights. That emboldened many more homosexuals.

Normality was achieved from acceptability, leading to the Obergefell v. Hodges case in 2015, where the Supreme Court legalized homosexual marriages.

After that, those who dared to speak out against homosexual marriages or acted in a way that showed a lack of empathy for its normalization became the new pariahs. Some were canceled, de-platformed, and shamed. Now people can be charged to court for refusing to bake cakes for a gay “wedding,” Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a case in point.

The situation in Nigeria

On January 13, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill into law that made gay relationships punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. As you would expect, the Obama-led US government was not impressed.

While that law shows that we may be far away from the legalization of homosexuality, we are already at the stage of acceptability, especially among the cultural elites. Remember, when you get to this stage, normalization is not far ahead, and legalization only a stone’s throw away.

In a different article, cultural transformation goes beyond politics, I argued that politics (and everything involved, like laws) are downstream from culture. We kill ourselves over elections because we believe politics is the substructure that determines all else (superstructures).

But if history and the spate of events in the US have taught me anything, it is that today’s culture becomes tomorrow’s politics. The conservatives were doing the intellectual debates while the leftists dominated the cultural centers-Hollywood, schools, and media. Now they have the cultural centers and control the three arms of government to boot.

Therefore, while it seems that we are far away from the legalization of homosexuality, the current state of things suggests that we should take this issue seriously.

So what are those current state of things?

From Simi to Bolu Okupe

Simi Kosoko is a popular Nigerian musician whose songs center majorly on love, relationships, and romance. She is a household name in the music industry.

In one of her vlogs, she commented, “They (the gay community) say they’re born that way, but I haven’t seen any biological proof.” What she said there is absolutely true.

However, after facing some backlash over the comment, she apologized: “I carelessly and casually addressed an issue that is a matter of life and death for many,” she said.  “It was not my intention to you, but I did, and I am sorry.”

It doesn’t matter what Simi believed or believes about homosexuality at this point. What matters is that there was enough pressure generated to make her apologize. Secondly, she moved from stating a biological fact to the emotional waters. Notice that she didn’t say she confirmed that gays are truly born that way, apologizing for her ignorance. No.  That was not the issue.    

The problem is that she can no longer make a biological statement because it hurts someone’s feelings and that those “someones” are now large enough to make her apologize.

Once a group of people can put enough pressure on you to “unsay” what you said even when your convictions are not different, we are already at the advanced stage of acceptability, especially when the argument devolves from rational to emotional, facts to feelings, truth to perceptions.

The above is especially problematic when it occurs among the cultural elites, of which Simisola is one.

Some days ago, one Godwin Maduagu, an upcoming comedian and actor, was seen having “sex” with another man. Some hours later, Uche Maduagwu came out openly as gay. In the latter’s case, we see that popular emotional appeal: respect people’s choices. As if that’s not bad enough, he urged his followers to “practice Jesus kind of love.”

In case you miss it, the summary of his point is: accept it. What they are striving for is acceptability since it’s the prelude to normalization and legalization.

Before Maduagu and Maduagwu, Bolu Okupe, the son of Doyin Okupe, a former presidential aide, also came out as gay. In an interaction with someone who commented on his post, he attributed his (the commenter) angry reaction to his ignorance and religious backwardness.

The problem with all of these is that the arguments are always on the emotional side, and in this atmosphere, acceptability grows, and normalization emerges. And much of these are emerging among the cultural elites.

The problem with homosexuality

In Leviticus 18:22, God condemned homosexuality, describing it as detestable. “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

The word the NIV translates as “detestable” is translated as abominable in the KJV. BDB defines the Hebrew word as “a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable,” and Strong also adds “abhorrence” in its definition.

The whole chapter-Leviticus 18-is about sexual improprieties that God warned Israel against. Just after the command against homosexuality is one against bestiality. God called the latter a confusion/perversion.

In the Law of Moses, homosexuals were to be put to death because “both of them have done what is detestable” (Leviticus 20:13).

In the New Covenant, Paul included homosexuals among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men…will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The words in Greek describe both the active and passive participants in a homosexual act.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul also categorized homosexuals as those lawbreakers and rebels for which the law was given. “We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful…for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality” (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

The main problem

While homosexuality is one of the sexual sins the bible condemned, it is a different sort of sin. We see this in Romans 1.

In Romans 1:18-23, Paul described the basic problem with humanity: we know that there is a God-we see his eternal power and divine nature from what he made-but we refuse to glorify him. Instead of glorifying him, our foolish hearts became darkened, and we worshiped created things rather than the creator.

This rejection of God as creator and giver of all good things manifests itself in the sinful desires of our hearts (verse 24). Then God, in an act of judgment, gives us over to those desires. He allows us to go our ways and hardens us in our unrighteousness.

What is the nature of this sinful desire that God gives us over to? “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27).

Notice two things from these verses. First, when God gives people over to their sinful desires, it is so that he could punish them. Said differently, it is a judicial act. God gives people over to their sinful desires so they can receive in themselves the due penalty for their error.

When homosexuality pervades a culture, it is a sign that God is giving that nation over to judgment. And when God does that, they will receive the due penalty for their error in themselves. Or, as the ISV puts it, “the appropriate penalty for their perversion.” A society that normalizes homosexuality is ripe for God’s judgment.

The second thing to notice is the use of “natural” in Romans 1:26-27. Homosexuality is a different sort of sin because it perverts the natural order; it is a rebel against the created universe, and by consequence, the creator.

Remember that the whole context of Romans 1:18-25 is exactly about this rebellion against God. We know there is a God, but we ignore him, refuse to thank him for his gifts, and then worship created things instead of him. We suppress the truth about him in unrighteousness. By worshiping the created things, we rebel against the creator.

But our rebellion against the creator goes to the zenith when we distort his created order. When God made humans, he made us man and woman (Genesis 1:27)-Adam and Eve. A man and a woman are to come together (Mathew 19:4-6) in a loving and sexual relationship. Sex belongs to the confines of marriage, and sex is between a male and a female, an Adam and an Eve, not a Mary and Martha or a Paul and Peter.

Therefore, when men have sex with other men (or women with women), within or without a “marriage,” it is a perversion of God’s created order. It says that creation can be reconstructed according to our whims and caprices, that we are in charge, and we can do what we want to reconstruct God’s reality.  And when we pervert God’s created order, we receive God’s judgment for our perversion.

If the idea of God judging or punishing a nation for its perversion of the created order is strange to you, then remember Sodom and its surrounding towns. “Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near them, which like them committed sexual sins and pursued homosexual activities, serve as an example of the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7, ISV).

NIV uses the word perversion in place of “homosexual activities,” and KJV uses “going after strange flesh.” This reminds us of Genesis 19, where the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with Lot’s visitors (angels in human flesh).

Gill commented on this verse as follows: “or “other flesh;” meaning not other women besides their own wives, but men; and designs that detestable and unnatural sin, which, from these people, is called sodomy to this day; and which is an exceeding great sin, contrary to the light of nature and law of God, dishonourable to human nature, and scandalous to a nation and people, and commonly prevails where idolatry and infidelity do, as among the Papists and Mahometans; and arose from idleness and fullness of bread in Sodom, and was committed in the sight of God, with great impudence: their punishment follows.”

Homosexuality becomes the norm when God gives a nation over to their idolatry (it’s evidence that a nation’s sinful idolatry is reaching its zenith). It’s not just a sexual sin; it is a perversion of God’s created order, contrary to nature and dishonorable to human nature. God judged Sodom (and they are but an example) and its surrounding towns because of it.

Idolatry (worshipping anything and anyone that is not God) is the sin that God hates the most, and homosexuality, by distorting the created order, brings that sin to its fore.

Moreso, it never stops with homosexuality. From there, it moves to transgederism-another perversion of God’s created order.

A gospel for homosexuals

Contrary to moderns who say they were born with homosexual desires, the bible calls it a perversion, an abomination, something detestable and abhorring that arises from idolatrous hearts laden with sinful desires.

Homosexuality is not a part of the creation (such that you were born with it); it is a perversion of it. It’s a sinful sexual desire like the desire to fornicate, commit adultery, or steal.

Jesus Christ came to the world, died, and resurrected to save people from their sins (John 1:29). Christ is sufficient to both forgive you of your sinful desires and actions as well as give you the power to overcome those sinful tendencies (1 John 3:5, Romans 6:1-23). There is a double cure for sin in the gospel- it saves from its guilt and power. In Christ, you can receive forgiveness and a new nature (Ezekiel 36:24-32). He can help you overcome all your sinful desires (whether you think you were born with them or not).

But if we come to Christ, we must do so in faith and repentance. And that begins with calling our sins by their name. Even if you believe that your genetics made you susceptible to one sinful desire or the other, it does not change the fact that it is still a sinful desire (we don’t give the thief a pass because he said the theft is in his genes, or the fornicator a pass because she claims the lustful desire is in her gene) nor the fact that Christ can equip you to overcome it.

Acknowledge that your homosexual desires or acts are sinful, repent of them (and your other sins), and come to Jesus Christ for cleansing and healing.

We live in a fallen creation permeated by all sorts of evil desires. But Jesus Christ came to this world to save it from its sins, every single one of them. Repent of your sin, put your faith in Jesus’ finished work, and you will be saved. Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Accepting homosexuals?

The gospel is a cosmic attack against sin. However, the weapon of the warfare of the gospel is Christ. Christians don’t conquer sin by violence or virulent hatred. Attacking or killing homosexuals is a sin that, like homosexuality, must be repented of. (But publicly condemning the act as sin or unnatural, or refusing to bake a cake because homosexual “marriage” is not marriage is not violence. God’s word, not the queer community, defines violence).

We don’t use violence, but that does not mean we don’t do anything about sin. We apply Christ as the remedy to sin. We proclaim the gospel to sinners and call them to repent and believe the gospel.

We don’t accept homosexuality, just like we don’t accept adultery, fornication, or what have you. Christians are in the business of conquering sin with the gospel of Christ, not accepting it. To “practice Jesus kind of love” is to work for the salvation of the sinner.

Homosexuality is not to be celebrated, accommodated, accepted, or normalized. However, the tool in our toolbox for preventing those is the gospel. Because Jesus died to rescue men from sin, we cannot make peace with sin, especially a sin that is the pinnacle of idolatry and a perversion of God’s created order.

Conclusion

Every sin is evil, and God will judge every sinner. But homosexuality, the pinnacle of idolatry and sinful sexual desire, is a different sort of sin that brings God’s temporal judgments on individuals and nations.

Every nation on earth should have a law that makes it illegal.

But beyond the laws, we must be careful of accepting it (making peace with it). If we do, we will end up normalizing it and legalizing it, which means we are setting ourselves up for God’s judgments.

What should we be doing in the meantime? As individuals and nations, we should be repenting of all our idolatries and sinful desires. Homosexuality is often a judicial act of God, which is a preparation for his punishment. If we don’t want to get to that place (since homosexuality is a judgment against our idolatries), we must be repenting of our sins and putting our faith in Jesus Christ. Our hearts are idol-making factories, and we must come to Jesus for forgiveness and new hearts. Only Jesus can save us as individuals and as cultures.

The gospel offer is for all of us-heterosexual or homosexual. Whatever the nature of our sins, we need the grace of Jesus to cleanse us and clothe us with Christ’s perfect righteousness. So every one of us must lay our deadly doing down and come to Calvary.

Yet there is room: the Lamb’s bright hall of song,

With its fair glory, beckons thee along;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

Day is declining, and the sun is low;

The shadows lengthen, light makes haste to go;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

The bridal hall is filling for the feast;

Pass in, pass in, and be the Bridegroom’s guest;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

It fills, it fills, that hall of jubilee!

Make haste, make haste; ’tis not too full for thee;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

Yet there is room: still open stands the gate,

The gate of love; it is not yet too late:

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

O enter in; that banquet is for thee;

That cup of everlasting joy is free;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

All Heaven is there, all joy! Go in, go in;

The angels beckon thee the prize to win:

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

Louder and sweeter sounds the loving call;

Come, lingerer, come; enter that festal hall;

Room, room, still room! O enter, enter now.

Ere night that gate may close, and seal thy doom;

Then the last low, long cry, No room, no room!

No room, no room! O woeful cry, No room!

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