In some of the discussion in the media and the blogosphere, Mohler was misrepresented as having affirmed that science has discovered a link between genetics and a proclivity to homosexuality. Others decried Mohler's suggestion that parents should use prenatal treatment (if and when it becomes available) to eliminate this proclivity through medical treatment.
Clearly, much of the criticism was unfair and distorted what Mohler actually said. He never argued that science has proved the genetic link, and he never specifically suggested that genetic therapy would be appropriate, although his initial blog post did not preclude it. The radio program linked above and his second post clarified how the medical treatment he would support is limited to prenatal hormone therapy, which is not equivalent to hormone therapy. (Personally, I'm unclear on the biblical or ethical rationale for permitting prenatal hormone therapy while condemning genetic therapy, but that's a tangential issue.)
Nevertheless, my mind started spinning in a direction that made me wonder whether any sort of medical treatment for a proclivity toward sin would be appropriate. Before I explain, I should probably quote Mohler's ten summary points from his first post. I think all ten are worth reading. My sense is that the most disagreement has surrounded #9. I'll be focusing on #8. Here they are:
1. There is, as of now, no incontrovertible or widely accepted proof that any biological basis for sexual orientation exists.For the record, I wholeheartedly agree with every point but #8. Frankly, I'd be far more stunned if science could prove that there is no link between genetics and a proclivity to homosexuality (or many other sins, for that matter), than if it does eventually prove that there is a link. But as Mohler says, discovering a proclivity does not in any way excuse subsequent behavior choices.
2. Nevertheless, the direction of the research points in this direction. Research into the sexual orientation of sheep and other animals, as well as human studies, points to some level of biological causation for sexual orientation in at least some individuals.
3. Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God's judgment.
4. The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible's moral verdict on homosexual behavior.
5. The discovery of a biological basis for homosexuality would be of great pastoral significance, allowing for a greater understanding of why certain persons struggle with these particular sexual temptations.
6. The biblical basis for establishing the dignity of all persons -- the fact that all humans are made in God's image -- reminds us that this means all persons, including those who may be marked by a predisposition toward homosexuality. For the sake of clarity, we must insist at all times that all persons -- whether identified as heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgendered, bisexual, or whatever -- are equally made in the image of God.
7. Thus, we will gladly contend for the right to life of all persons, born and unborn, whatever their sexual orientation. We must fight against the idea of aborting fetuses or human embryos identified as homosexual in orientation.
8. If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.
9. We must stop confusing the issues of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. We sin against homosexuals by insisting that sexual temptation and attraction are predominately chosen. We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.
10. Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God's moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.
I know it's taken me a long time to get to it, but here's my point. I'm completely unconvinced that we should use medical treatment to eliminate any genetic predisposition to sin, as Mohler's point #8 suggests we should. What if we could eradicate proclivities to homosexuality and even all sexual sin? What if we could take away physical susceptibility to drunkenness or drug addiction—or even pride and selfishness?
Theologically, I believe that it's impossible that medical treatment will ever be able to eradicate sin. All men are sinners, and that inspired statement will continue to be true. But even if we could eliminate much of it or most of it, would the world be a better place? Would the cause of the gospel be advanced or hindered if more and more people sinned less and less? Would people recognize their need of a Savior if they didn't feel so much like they needed to be saved?
I'm all for less sin in the world. I would be grateful if governments and cultures would foster circumstances that would make the proclamation of the gospel more open and available to all people from all nations, languages, geographic regions, and people groups.
Al Mohler has read more, thought more, knows more, and could articulate far better than I the central issues in this debate. I could be dead wrong. I just wonder if we are really serving the advance of the gospel by advocating treatments that will artificially mask human depravity and need for deliverance.
One more thing. While the media coverage was in high gear, a friend who was having similar thoughts sent me an e-mail. Here's his perspective on evangelicalism's elevation of homosexuality to a particularly distasteful level in relationship to some of our more "acceptable" sins:
Once again, we have a Christian leader singling out homosexuality as a worse sin than others, not admitting, of course, that homosexual sin is only one form of sex outside of marriage . . . in fact, there's a heckuva lot more pre- and extra-marital sex going on than homoesexual sex - perhaps we should fix that gene while we're at it.Well, there's some food for thought. I'm surely not settled on this one, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
When will we as Christians get off our high horses and actually take objective stances on the issues of the day, make well-thought out stances that reflect Christ-likeness, and show grace/charity/love to the world?