Arguing Against Homosexuality Based On Its “Yuck Factor” is Gross

Image- Marta Crowe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

I love Thabiti Anyabwile. But I think he’s really, really wrong in his article “The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and ‘Gay Marriage’.” You should go and read Anyabwile’s arguments, but if you have a bad case of the lazy, I’ll sum it up: his claim is that an effective way to combat the current toleration of homosexual sex is to describe it, and that will work because people naturally think that it’s gross. Anyabwile recalls an incident where gay marriage was discussed, and here’s what he wishes in hindsight he would have said:

I wish I had asked a question. In retrospect, after an appropriate moment to acknowledge the display of brilliance we’d just been treated to, I should have politely raised my hands and asked, “Do you mean to say we should all accept as normal and good one man inserting the part of his body intended to create life into the part of another man’s body meant to excrete waste?” And following the gag reflex, I should have then asked, “And do you mean to suggest that a man inserting his penus (sic) in another man’s anus is as ‘good’ and ‘loving’ as a husband and wife uniting with each other as God and nature designed it?”

There are at least three reasons why I’m glad that Pastor Anyabwile didn’t argue like this then, and why I hope he will not start it now.

First, appealing to the “yuck factor” is a bad way to go because there are thousands and thousands of people who have no “yuck factor” whatsoever when they watch lesbians or when they think about places that excrete waste. This underestimates how many people like to watch all kinds of sex acts, as is testified by the booming online industry for porn of all kinds. Additionally, “yuck” is horribly subjective. I get sick thinking about potatoes au gratin. I hate those things. You simply cannot count on the “yuck factor” to win the argument because some people really, really like what both he and I might think is terribly disgusting.

Second, vivid descriptions of sexual acts, including “hetero-normal” sex acts, are gross. I hope that Pastor Anyabwile never reads A Game of Thrones because heterosexual sex is described in such a way that it nearly completely discourages the practice. Besides, if we tried to get rid of behaviors by describing them, “deep kissing” would be the first thing to go. Our mouths are such nasty places that we have to brush them with minty toothbrushes twice a day and floss after meals. Next time you see a mouth breather you might think, “Someone might want to stick their tongue in that entrance for food. Yuck.”

Third, it’s a rude argument. Homosexuals think their sex is fun and beautiful, I’m sure. They enjoy it. They certainly aren’t going to be deterred by someone describing it in a most derogatory manner. I know it may be hard for Anyabwile to understand, but they really like having gay sex just like straight people like having straight sex. His comments would most likely be offensive, or just laughed off as juvenile.

I agree with Anyabwile that homosexual sex is sin. I also think pre-marital sex and adultery are sin. I even think that lusting after people is sin even if the desire isn’t acted on. But I do not think that making these acts sound “gross” is the way to get people to stop the behavior. (In some cases, such shaming would even be counter-productive to healthy “marriage bed” sex.) Rather, the Gospel of Christ is the first and only answer. The only way a person ever feels “yucky” over sin in the right way — the way that leads to healing and repentance — is when the Holy Spirit regenerates us.

At least in that, I know that Anyabwile and I are in total agreement.

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About Brad Williams

Brad is the pastor of a Baptist church in a small town in Alabama. Brad has a lovely wife, two children, two dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five bee hives. Besides the incredible fact that he managed to persuade his wife to marry him, he is proud that he served six years in the Army National Guard, managed to graduate college with an English Lit. degree, graduate seminary, and finish the original Bard's Tale as a youngster by making maps on graph paper.


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