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.
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.