Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As many of you know, on December 22 President Obama signed into motion the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. This law was enacted under the Clinton administration to allow gay men and women to serve in the military as long as they kept their sexual orientation to themselves. Commanding officers were prohibited from asking about sexual orientation, and gay men and women were prohibited from announcing their sexual orientation. Some may say that this repeal is a good thing, because it gives more freedom to homosexuals. Others would argue that when one joins the military, and they sign their name on the dotted line, they are agreeing to sacrifice certain freedoms to serve and protect their country. They are agreeing to hold the good of the country and of their unit above their personal desires and freedoms. As a civilian, I am free to be at home on Christmas, to take weekends off, and to turn my phone off if I don’t want work calling me after hours. Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors do not have this freedom, this luxury, because to do so poses a risk to operational security and readiness. Some would argue that anything that could affect operational security and readiness should not be allowed, or at the very least, heavily scrutinized.

As Christians, there are several ways we need to look at this historic event. Whether it proves to be a positive or negative historic even is still to be determined. We must look at this operationally, intellectually, and Theologically.

Operationally, we must consider that gay men and women being open about their sexual orientation could very well result in members of the military trying to drive homosexuals out through various forms of persecution, resulting in broken trust and division in the unit. While tragic, this is the best of the bad scenarios. It’s also possible that in a combat situation, out of fear or hate, members of a unit may not respond to a call for help if it’s a gay person making the call, possibly sacrificing the mission to rid the unit of a gay person. It’s even possible that members of the military in combat environments may even exercise friendly fire to murder a gay man or woman. If caught, that person will certainly be prosecuted, but it still resulted in the death of a person due to their openness about their sexuality.

My brother, Seth, raised a good point when he said that we faced the same concerns and issues when racially integrating the military. Intellectually, he’s right. We had to go through the same intellectual barriers to operational security when race was integrated. We had to deal with the intellectual ranges of those who were completely okay with integration, those who were fine either way, and the harsh racists who would serve as a catalyst by inspiring others to try and persecute people of other races, hoping that they would leave the military to avoid persecution. All of the above scenarios were considered when racially integrating the military. Why did we do this though? Why did we put our operational security and readiness at risk to racially integrate our military? Was it merely for “civil rights”, or was there something more to it? What drove this intellectual enlightenment to change “separate, but equal” to “integrated because we’re equal”?

When we look at the Declaration of Independence, we see the following lines:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The very document that provides the basis for our ancestors being willing to fight and die to be free from the tyrannical rule of England is derived from the Bible, from Theological understanding. The first lines of the Declaration presuppose that all men have been created, and that as such, our Creator has given all of us unalienable rights. Many would argue against the belief of creation today, stating that evolution is more probable, more scientifically accurate, etc. Our ancestors understood that the only hope any of us have for equality is being created, because evolution leads to natural selection. Charles Darwin understood this when he wrote Origin of the Species, which was originally titled The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection Or The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life. To argue for evolution is to argue for racism, to argue for a superior race, to argue for slavery.

Perhaps one of the most beloved political activists involved in the Civil Rights movement was Martin Luther King, Jr., a pastor and theologian. King understood the deep theological roots of the Declaration and demonstrated this in his I Have A Dream speech when in conjunction with seeing an end to racism that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

The intellectually enlightened people who fought so hard to integrate races did so from a theological understanding that we are all the same in God’s eyes. When we look at what happened in the Civil Rights movement, it gives the appearance that it raised other races to the elevation of white people. Practically, that may have indeed been the outcome of that portion of the Civil Rights movement. However, when we step back out of the political arena, and examine Scripture, we see that regardless of our position relative to each other, our status in front of God is not so lofty.

When we consider the Theological implications of homosexuality, most Christians immediately jump to Romans 1: 26-27

Romans 1:26-27 ESV

[26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

We read this text and come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not natural, that it is rooted in idolatry (when taken in context of the rest of the passage), and that God is punishing them for it. According to Scripture, this is all true. But, it doesn’t end there.

Romans 1:28-32 ESV

[28] And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. [29] They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, [31] foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. [32] Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

When we look at the rest of the passage, we now see a much broader description of what displeases God, of what and who God’s wrath is poured out upon (Rom. 1:18). God’s wrath is poured out against all those who covet, envy, murder, cause strife, lie, GOSSIP, disobey parents. God’s judgment against all who do these things is that they “deserve to die”. Paul continues his dialogue of those who are judged by God until he sums it up in Romans 3:23 by saying that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. Translation: We are all guilty of fracturing basic writing on the kindergarten wall morality, much more complex Christian ethics. We don’t pass go, we don’t collect $200, we all go directly to jail, none of us make it through. We are all guilty before God, judged by Him, condemned to Hell. Paul goes on to say in Romans 5 that we all died in Adam, that we’ve lost the fight to be morally right or even morally neutral in Adam, before we were even born! God does this because He is Good, Holy, and Just. God is not wicked for this, He is GOOD for this.


Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV

[4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— [6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Because God LOVED us, His enemies, He chose to save those who confess Christ as Lord rather than leave EVERYONE dead in their sins and condemned to Hell.

Now, we see a fuller sense of our equality. To be sure, we have all been created with unalienable rights to live, love, pursue joy (and I would submit that the only joy we can really attain is that which comes through bringing God glory, all else is fleeting moments of shallow happiness), and to do so without persecution from our fellow man. We are also born into a body, spirit, and soul that is so totally corrupted by sin that we ALL need God’s love and grace to make it through this life, and much more to spend eternity with Him.

Now we see homosexuality for what it is, not merely a lifestyle choice, but a sinful perversion of the heterosexual drive that God created in us. That said, EVERYTHING we do apart from Christ is a sinful perversion. The person who seeks out sexual partners before marriage is being affected by a sinful perversion of the desire for intimacy; the person who lies, cheats, and steals to attain wealth or status is affected by a sinful perversion of the desire for affirmation and worth; the father who emotionally or physically abuses his wife and children is affected by a sinful perversion of the desire to be the head of the house as God intended him to be. Many people think of homosexuality as a further perversion of what God created, when it is actually perverted differently, not more than other perversions.

In light of the understanding that we all need God’s grace and mercy, what do we do? We see that God’s wrath is and/or will be poured out on all those who remain in their sin apart from Christ. How to we respond to this though?

Many Christians will say something along the lines of “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” First, that is nowhere in the Bible and is not on Jesus’ lips. The Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi said that. Second, I do think that when viewed Scripturally, that it can serve as a good guideline. Most people take this statement to equate tolerance, while this may be true in Hinduism, it is most definitely not true in Christianity. Tolerance implies that we disagree on an action and consequence, and I’m going to be content to leave you alone as long as you leave me alone. That is not the gospel. For the Christian, this phrase must mean to express one’s love toward a person by humbly communicating what the Bible says about God’s intolerance for sin, His grace and mercy toward those who repent of their sin and confess Him as Lord, and His righteous judgment of those who do not repent.

Furthermore, this is to be our attitude toward anyone known to be apart from Christ, or living in habitual sin. If we “love” others in any way that is not gospel-centered, we are not truly loving them, we are merely tolerating their differing views and being content with their eternal damnation in hell.

How does this affect us politically? First, by recognizing that legislated morality isn’t a win. It doesn’t save souls, change lives, or draw people to Christ. It makes us more comfortable, and helps us avoid the need to openly show God’s grace and mercy toward those who need to see a living example of it the most. Second, by all means, vote according to that which you can support Biblically, showing love, grace, and mercy to all sides of the topic, regardless of outcome. Third, use and seek Godly wisdom and counsel when participating in political demonstrations, so that we do not become subject to feelings of superiority and religion, which drives people away from the church as a whole.

Lastly, if you are or have struggled with homosexuality, like every other sin, you can’t beat this alone. If you want help, please email me so I can put you in contact with people who can lovingly walk through this season of repentance in your life with you.

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