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Sexuality, Science, and Scripture

The heart of the matter is not our preferences, and it is not science. It is what God has revealed in His Word.

Sep 20, 2016

I just read something absolutely fascinating. It was an article about the causes and consequences of sexual expression like homosexuality and transgenderism in The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. The article was by Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for 25 years. The article was entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences.”

This is what the authors said as they reported on their findings about the experience of homosexual and transgender men and women, “Compared to the general population, non-heterosexual and transgender sub-populations have higher rates of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and suicide, as well as behavioral and social problems such as substance abuse and intimate partner violence.” That is a stunner! Homosexual and transgender persons are more anxious, depressed, suicidal, abused, and addicted than everybody else. The information is not stunning because it is new—plenty of other studies have reported the same facts over the years.

It is stunning because we live in a culture that makes an embrace of these aberrant forms of sexuality seem like the only possible option for a society that would be characterized by love and inclusivity. If we are to be on the “right side of history”, if “love wins”, then we must embrace homosexuality and transgenderism. And then comes a scientific research study that indicates that these very behaviors are some of the most dangerous and deadly things a human being can do.

Christians have already begun an eager embrace of this newly-released study. They are pointing to it as proof-positive of the dangers of sinful sexuality. They are excited over scientific “proof” that sexual behaviors like homosexuality and transgender are wrong. I suspect such information will turn up in the still un-fought battles over city ordinances in places like Jacksonville where elected officials are, even now, seeking to impose their preferences for faithless sex on the electorate. I want to be clear that I am thankful for much in a research study like this one I referenced. I am glad whenever unbelievers can be honest about the terrible realities of sinful sex. I also want to urge caution.

The “proof” that these behaviors are wrong and harmful is not a scientific research study that points to statistics demonstrating they bring pain. As Christians, we have not been waiting around for a research study to confirm our personal commitments to traditional expressions of sexuality. Christians embrace sex between one man and one woman for life in the context of Christian marriage because God said to the first man and the first woman, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall be come flesh” (Genesis 2:24), Christians reject that men and women should try to alter their gender because, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Christians know that sexual lifestyles that differ from this bring pain because God promised that, “The way of the sinner is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).

We are thankful whenever unbelievers get the truth right. But as Christians, we believe as we do about sexuality, not because we read it in a scientific journal, but because we read it in Scripture, which is our exclusive authority for life and and godliness. The heart of the matter is not our preferences, and it is not science. It is what God has revealed in his Word.

This column originally appeared in the print edition of the Florida Baptist Witness.