WASHINGTON (BP)–The best friends homosexuals have are conservative evangelicals, argued Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. on the Oct. 16 broadcast of CNN’s “Larry King Live” television program.
The show, guest-hosted by CNN White House correspondent Wolf Blitzer, pitted Mohler and Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell against Andrew Sullivan, a British Roman Catholic homosexual, and Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the nation’s most visible and well-funded national homosexual rights lobby.
On the day of the Caspar, Wyo., funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old homosexual student who was pistol-whipped and left for dead on a roadside fence post, the program examined whether the public statements of conservative evangelicals contribute to violence against homosexuals and lesbians.
Sullivan, who formerly served as editor of the New Republic magazine and has written extensively in favor of legalizing same-sex marital unions, and Birch claimed that the savage attack on Shepard was indirectly caused by evangelical preaching against homosexual acts and by recent advertising campaigns which offer homosexuals hope of abandoning their lifestyle through faith in Jesus Christ. Such a viewpoint indirectly leads to anti-homosexual violence, Birch argued, because it presents “gay and lesbian Americans as defective, as less than human, as imperfect.” Sullivan added such a viewpoint considers homosexuals “as diseased.”
Later in the program, Mohler countered: “I firmly believe that the best friends homosexuals in this country have are conservative Christians who love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth about what the Bible says and point them to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which offers all sinners, all of us, a means of becoming what we otherwise could not be, righteous before God, because we are forgiven of our sins and we turn and live differently.”
When asked by Blitzer if homosexuality could be categorized as a “disease,” Mohler responded that it, like other sin, could be called a “disease” that afflicts the human race from the Adamic Fall.
“The Bible speaks of sin in terms of behavior,” he explained. “Not in terms of a disease that can be characterized as the way the modern world tries to write off most sinful activity as a disease of one sort or another.”
Both Mohler and Falwell condemned the actions of the two young men who murdered Shepard. Mohler also joined Shepard’s father in calling on homosexual activists to stop capitalizing on Shepard’s death in order to further their socio-political cause.
Mohler asserted that the very fact the panel recognized the slaying of Andrew Shepard as morally repugnant pointed to the inconsistency of those who deny a transcendent moral standard to which all humans must submit.
“Matthew Shepard was made in the image of God, and no one had the right to take his life,” Mohler said. “America is outraged about this, and properly so, but these men who committed this act must be held accountable, and God’s law calls that they be held accountable, the very same law that says homosexuality is a sin.”
While Sullivan and Birch joined previous calls by homosexual-rights proponents such as actress Ellen DeGeneres and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank to make Shepard’s death serve as an impetus for enacting “hate crimes” laws which would cover violence against homosexuals, Mohler disagreed with the need for such legislation.
“What you’re doing is singling out some persons who are more deserving of protection than others,” he argued. “You’re psychologizing crimes, and as a matter of fact, had any of the prevailing hate-crimes legislation been in effect in Wyoming, it would have no bearing whatsoever on the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard. There are criminal laws gladly on the books that should be applied in this case.”
Mohler vigorously disagreed with Birch and Sullivan’s contention that laws protecting homosexuals is the moral equivalent of laws which protect African Americans and other minority groups. Homosexuality differs from race and ethnicity because it is an activity freely engaged in by individuals, he asserted.
Mohler also disputed Sullivan and Birch’s claims that homosexuals were created by God with the irresistible urge to engage in homosexual relationships. Birch told Mohler that from the first moment of consciousness, she felt “a strength within me” which made it “absolutely clear from a very early age that I was a lesbian.”
“I would have chosen this life,” she elaborated. “I think we’re given special gifts and that we can learn special lessons from being gay or lesbian, but it feels absolutely inherent down to my soul.”
Mohler countered, “The claim that this is a constitutive identity, that it is a genetic legacy, that it is a being issue rather than a doing issue, that is a very new notion and has been put forth quite straightforwardly by those who want to legitimize homosexuality.”
Mohler challenged Sullivan’s contention that “love is never wrong,” by noting that there are some passions, attractions and relationships that are universally condemned. The Bible, he continued, reveals that homosexual acts are included in that list.
In response to a caller from Switzerland who asked, “Why do you always have to refer to the Bible?” Mohler said: “Because I’m not a psychologist and I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m not a sociologist. I’m not a politician. I’m a theologian and a minister of the Word, and my conscience is bound to the Word of God. And God’s Word is so clear on this subject. Homosexuality is a sin and a sin which is an abomination before God.”
Sullivan and Birch claimed that the Bible does not,
in fact, condemn homosexuality. Birch dismissed evangelicals’ “obsessive focus” on a “so-called sin” which “didn’t even make it into the top 10 and about which Jesus did not say one word.” Birch accused both Mohler and Falwell of faulty biblical scholarship, even suggesting that Falwell read 1 Corinthians 13 so that he may cease to be a “clanging bell” on the subject.
If Falwell could “truly learn at the most intimate level what the Scripture is about, what truly loving humanity is, if he could tune in to what God could be on this earth, he could free himself of the kind of misunderstanding that has captured his soul,” Birch said.
Mohler responded, “We’ve come to a very strange point if Elizabeth Birch is teaching Jerry Falwell biblical interpretation.”
Mohler challenged Sullivan and Birch’s exegesis, noting that the Greek text of New Testament passages addressing homosexuality specifically identify both the active and passive partner in a homosexual relationship.
The morning of the broadcast, Mohler had closed his Southern Seminary “Introduction to Christian Theology” class by asking students to pray that he might not only biblically rebut the homosexual social agenda, but that he might clearly communicate the gospel to viewers across the nation. After a time of silent prayer, master of divinity student Jonathan Elliff of Del City, Okla., voiced the students’ prayer that God would enable Mohler to graciously and forcefully contend for the faith.