Gays and Christianity 3: If God Exists and Is Good, He Cannot Oppose Gay Love

In two previous posts, I have addressed current tensions in the Anglican church over gays. You can find those posts here and here. In reply to my second post on the topic, I received several excellent comments. I decided to reprint the one which challenged me and my reply to that comment here to keep the debate moving forward, but I also encourage you to read the insightful remarks of the other commentators as well.

seanachain writes:

While I agree with the direction of your argument, there is a point you make which beg analysis. The first, from Five:

“If there is such a God who created people this way in order to force them into a choice between (1) being in a loveless miserable marriage, or (2) being ostracized, or (3) being left to die alone and celibate, then he’s pretty simply a sick bastard not worthy of worship.”

If we remove the sexual context of this postulation, we are left with the typical “Why would God create hardship?” Dismissing God as a “sick bastard” because he theoretically established a universe in which such difficulties exist is nothing more than a judgment based off an aversion to existential pain. This is not sufficient enough a reason to posit that God is either a) bad and not worthy of worship, or b) good and misrepresented. In fact, it appears to be an oversimplification of God—a mistake similar if not identical to that of your commenter.

On the subject of pain, I would argue that the presence of “evil” and “bad” in the world has a definite function in that it gives meaning to the concept of the good, which would make it a welcome however incorrectly interpreted influence. This is an assertion certain religions do claim: Manichaeism and, to some extent, Taoism come to mind.

Bracketing the larger problem of evil for the time being (though I think it does satisfactorily refute the idea of a morally good, omnipotent God—for example that good cannot be defined without evil you show a limitation in God’s ability to create), let me just assume for argument’s sake that hardship itself does not indicate a “sick bastard of a God.”

The question is whether or not we can simply switch out someone’s natural pair-bond love orientation and switch in the word “hardship” with no change.

The reason I think this is problematic is that someone’s basic sexual/romantic love orientation is a deep part of their basic psychological and biological needs. If God creates a nature that is rampant with homosexual creatures throughout the animal kingdom (as He supposedly has, since this tendency has been found in members of species upon species now) and he specifically creates human beings who are fundamentally oriented towards members of their own sex for their fundamental love needs, and THEN he has specifically laid down a law against the fulfillment of those love needs, then he has not simply allowed them to suffer a hardship, he has burdened them with an unjust law.

If God is in any meaningful way to be said to be “good” or praised in the manner in which we praise morally good people, then he cannot set up a law which demands people suffer according to their fundamental biological and psychological needs. It is one thing to give a law for their moderation. You can argue that God wants us to restrain our sexual impulses away from rape and child molestation, etc. But if you acknowledge his responsibility for our basic physiology and psychology and you acknowledge that homosexuality exists as a real physio-psychological orientation, and you are saying God forbids homosexual behavior, then you are saying he gave them a desire that he not only wants channeled into moral outlets but which he wants to be perpetually frustrated.

This is the equivalent of creating a hunger in a being and then ordering that being to starve. That’s not hardship, it’s torture. While there are some of us who willfully can abstain from all pair-bond love relationships and/or remain celibate out of a self-imposed asceticism, it would be unfair for a God to create an entire subset of human beings who were required to remain emotionally out of love and sexless as the MINIMUM necessary to avoid being sinners.

This goes well beyond hardship, it goes to the point of a cruel and impossible standard, by which it would be completely unfair to judge anyone. Every natural propensity we have must have an outlet through which we can express it healthily, even if we have ethical limitations and guidelines for its exercise. If there is a God and He created gays, then He must either approve of their love relationships (including the sexual component) or he must want them to be forced to starve their need for love, or he wants them to marry members of the opposite sex towards whom they are not most fulfillingly inclined, or he wants them damned to hell should they decide to live in accord with the desires he gave them.

If God exists and he wants people in loveless marriages, starved of fundamental pair-bond relationships as a matter of principle, or damned to hell for following the basic psychology with which he equipped them, then the only inference possible is that he is malicious. Or at least malicious towards those he has treated thus.

Your Thoughts?

Before I Deconverted: Christmas Became A Christian Holiday To Me
Marcus Aurelius’s Stoic Stand Up
A Moral Philosopher on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson
Philosophical Advice About The Friend Zone
About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • alfaarooq1

    It’s time to stop fighting and work on common goals, lets rid the world of gays and lesbians once and for all… Search here for The UMN Intl Open letter to Vatican and Neturei Karta International or United Muslim Nations to view this letter.

  • The Rambling Taoist

    I couldn’t agree with you more!! I think you covered the topic quite nicely. :)

  • Dan Fincke

    Thanks Rambling Taoist!

  • Leon

    It is crazy that gays are still trying to justify their life stiles even after nearly 6000 years of existence. They still are not settled in their ways as straight people are. Are they bad people? No. Many are better and nicer than Straights. They do have a problem that they can overcome. They are demonized. They have picked up a demon somewhere, even before birth, and because they feel the way they do, they believe that they are born this way or at least can not change. They can if they want to. I have personaly cast these demons out of people and they are then free to choose again. We are all free to choose.God does oppose the gay life style but loves the gay. Leon.

  • Day

    Dr. Fincke,
    I have not read all your articles, but I get the impression you’re very intelligent and so I will not be so pretentious as to assume I have thought of something that you haven’t and that “my insight” is going to change your mind. However I will pray tonight that God inspires his love in you once again the way it used to be.
    I did want to contribute my two cents on the topic of homosexuality, though. I strongly believe that the Christian God wants a close relationship with each and every one of us. I think almost anyone who’s ever read the Bible would agree that this idea is supported in there, but just to give a scripture more clearly stating it:

    1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

    With that understanding, as well as what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, I have come to emphasize my love for God in my life, rather than my love for another human being. Don’t get me wrong, we are called to love our neighbors, but what I’m talking about is replacing the desire for a romantic relationship with the desire to truly pursue God with all your heart. I believe that this would be the best route for someone who isn’t attracted to members of the opposite sex. The fact of the matter is that according to the Bible, ANY sexual act outside of marriage is one of lust and is sin, whether it’s homosexual or heterosexual. The difference is that someone who is attracted to members of the opposite sex, may one day be able to have a romantic relationship with one, and a homosexual would not. However I’d encourage both groups to seek God first, and not a worldly relationship.

  • DavidM

    From such an intelligent guy, this is puzzlingly simplistically wrong. Fincke conflates love with sexual stimulation (obviously God does not oppose gay LOVE – that is such an obvious and silly straw man of the Christian view) and claims that sexual stimulation is a biological need (it’s obviously not – even if I really really want to masturbate, perhaps in the intimate company of someone of the same sex, that desire does not in the least become a biological – OR psychological – need).

  • smrnda

    I think this makes a great point – if God exists and is good, then he should have rigged things so that doing the right thing actually makes people happier, or a society which indulges in wrong impulses ought to self-destruct.

    If a case is made that God wants to be a bigger part of our lives than a human romantic partner, then God’s asking people to make a relationship which fails to be a relationship by any standards we use for human relationships to take priority over human relationships, as if God wants us to prioritize chewing gum over eating food. A relationship requires frequent, consistent, unambiguous communication. When I hear religious people talk how God won’t let us down like people will, even some of my shittier friends will possibly return a phone call. So God, who isn’t going to actually show up and have a conversation anytime soon, is supposed to be a bigger part of my life than people who will? How am I even supposed to pretend that’s a ‘relationship?’