Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is Your Baby Gay? - A Response to Dr. Mohler's Recent Article

Is your baby gay? Not your toddler who has just developed a love for Legos, or your newborn who after months of immobility has just begun to roll over on her own. No, is the baby that is still six months away from full gestation and entrance into this world gay? You know, the one that keeps mommy up all night kicking and stretching and doing somersaults. Yes, the one in the womb; the one who is unborn.

Indeed this is an interesting question and one which Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, poses to his readers on his blog today (actually Friday 3/2). Apparently, Scientists at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station are conducting research into the sexual orientation of sheep through "sexual partner preference testing” and they have determined that research suggests that there is a biological effect that bends sheep towards or away from homosexuality or heterosexuality. This is one of those questions that has raged in conservative and liberal circles alike. For, if Johnny was born with the predisposition towards homosexuality why should he fight it? If he did, would he not be going against the very make-up of his nature and thus “sinning” against his body and God? But, then there is always the “conservative” argument that God would not make an individual homosexual because, as the old heterosexual adage goes, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Both of these arguments are so wrong on so many fronts and the purpose of this article is not to address either side of the debate. My opinions will follow later.

Dr. Mohler continues, “What makes the sheep "sexual partner preference testing" research so interesting is that the same scientists who are documenting the rather surprising sexual behaviors of male sheep think they can also change the sexual orientation of the animals. In other words, finding a biological causation for homosexuality may also lead to the discovery of a "cure" for the same phenomenon.” If you knew that your baby had a genetic disposition towards homosexuality (and assuming that you were a heterosexual Christian who agrees that homosexuality is a sin as defined in the Bible) would you take measures to prevent this disposition if there was a genetically altering procedure that could accomplish this work?

I am not a medical expert, but my understanding is that there is a procedure called Amniocentesis which is used to determine whether there are any chromosomal abnormalities existing in the unborn baby. (Yes, the unborn child is a baby, not a fetus.) This test is used to check for possibilities of Downs Syndrome and other possible birth defects. (I must mention that I am not fond of the term “birth defects” because this carries the weight of a child that is now therefore “lesser than” another child who does not have “defects.” But, since I am not keen on any other term that is acceptable for use here, I must include it.) Many have used Amniocentesis in the past, foresaw the potential for a defect, and after “genetic counseling” have chosen to kill the unborn child….uh….I mean “terminate the pregnancy.” If during this Amniocentesis (assuming that the procedure would be applicable for determining “sexual preference” or “orientation”) and any possible procedure to “correct” the genetic disposition towards homosexuality was available, would you follow through with implementation?

On the surface this would seem clear enough. Yes, correct any potential “defect” that my child may have. Prevent Downs Syndrome, prevent extra or not enough appendages, prevent autism, prevent, ADD, ADHD, or OCD, and the list could go on an on. Would we go so far that we would want to say that we would like to genetically produce a baby that was “perfect” in our eyes with the proper eye, hair, and skin color, proper pheromones, and even prone to interests similar to those of his parents? If you had the choice, genetically, would you have your baby predisposed towards Alabama or Auburn Football? Extremes, I agree, but if it was possible and the only thing preventing such a measure was a dollar amount, how many of us would be willing to follow through? Thus, the question remains, where is the line to be drawn? Should I stop at Downs, or is ADD too far? Is a request for his first words to be “Roll Tide” too far down the acceptable spectrum or is it more proper to suffice with eye color preference?

And this brings me to the point of this article. All of this was introduction to make the statement that I find myself in a peculiar position. I do not often stand in disagreement with Dr. Mohler, but today may be a first. In his article, he offers several suggestions of the possible ramifications of the development of a procedure that could genetically alter the sexual preference of our unborn child. He writes from the position that we should still fight for the right of the unborn child regardless of his or her sexual preference – if it is possible to biologically prove a disposition towards homosexuality. Dr. Mohler mentions that

“The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery [that homosexuality could be proven biological]. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible's moral verdict on homosexual behavior.”


“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.”

I agree wholeheartedly with both of these statements. Where I disagree is what follows when he states,

“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.”

I have great difficulty with this statement. Having not been personally faced with this issue previously, I must be clear that my opinions may change when confronted with something similar. However, as we are called to rule our lives based on our biblical convictions not our feelings I hope that I will remain steadfast on this up until the time that the Lord or one of His servants may seek to counsel me in light of biblical truth. Having said this, I do not currently think that genetic altering is a biblically-based, God-glorifying procedure, regardless of the reason or “defect” that one is attempting to correct. In doing so, we discount God’s sovereignty and His ability to bring glory to Himself in all situations.

I know that this has the potential of being taken to the extreme and out context so let me clarify a few things.

I am not a proponent of the Scientology view of medicine and that we should only treat ourselves with mind therapy. If you have cancer, and chemo is the prescribed treatment, take your chemo treatments to the glory of God, trusting that His glory will be foremost and that His desire will be accomplished – whatever that may be. Whether it be healing in this life or the next, God alone is sovereign over all medical treatments and should be exalted as such. If you break your leg and need to be placed in traction for a month prior to a body-cast for two months followed by crutches for another two months before you are able to walk unaided again (which was a true case for my brother), then submit to your physician’s wisdom and do so to the glory of God depending on Him for all strength and support. He is able to work through physical means in order to accomplish His purpose. If He chooses to not let your leg heal, He is still able to accomplish His purpose in your life for His glory.

All this said, the aforementioned are all reactionary remedies. Cancer was diagnosed and it was treated. A leg was broken and it was addresses to mend. Cause, then effect, followed by attempted correction. But in the case of genetic altering, these are all forward-looking propositions that may or may not become true.

I know a gentleman whose son has Downs Syndrome. In a conversation regarding Heaven, where there is no sickness, no pain, and all defects have gone away, all the former things have passed and all things are made new (Rev 21:4-5) the idea that his son would not have Downs Syndrome surfaced. He said, “But the [Timothy] I know will not be the same [Timothy] because his personality is so influenced by Downs.” He understood that Timothy’s personality and who he is was determined by his Downs Syndrome. Timothy is a Christian who came to know the Lord several years ago. He is active in serving His church and His family and although he has “defects” he is quite useful for the kingdom and has an ability to glorify God in all that he says and does. Would the church be better off if we were just rid of these children? I don’t think so.

This then brings me to questions of MMR vaccines, Polio, Small Pox, and other diseases that once plagued our nation are now merely a thing for history books. With the advancement of medical technology, many vaccines have been developed that are able to be given near birth and the effects are life-long. Am I to say that these vaccines are wrong, unethical, or unbiblical? I confess that I have come to a loss on this and other issues similar to this. I can not imagine looking to my sister and counseling her to NOT have my nephew vaccinated from any of the aforementioned diseases and let him run the risk of contracting one of them at the possible expense of his life. However, this does not necessarily make the idea of vaccines wrong or right, just different from the social norm.

The Bible teaches that all life is precious and is to be valued and protected – born and unborn. But where do we draw the line when it comes to genetic altering and other bioethical matters that affect the future of the individual. I am all for protecting our children from sin and its destructive grip that it can have apart from the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ, but I do not think that I am currently willing to say that this is feasible through medical technology. Thus, I am left wondering where is the line on any of these issues. I am afraid that Dr. Mohler’s position of unapologetically supporting “a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation” may be going a little too far and will thus open a watershed of other possible treatments for any random personality trait, preference, or struggle in life to where we have now reduced the baby to a laboratory of our own perversions. We will never make a sinless human being. That has already occurred in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and we should not expect it to happen again. We, therefore, should anxiously await His appearing, and seek to preach the life-changing gospel message that He has given us to proclaim in hopes of seeing a fraction of the redemption that creation longs to see. I am not sure what the answers are to a myriad of bioethical issues, but that should not prevent thinking Christians from wrestling with these and other issues. As our culture moves further and further away from the authority of Scripture, we must continue to evaluate each argument in light of what has already been revealed and make informed decisions that do not counter the Word or our conscience.

Also, visit Justin Taylor's blog here for other discussion.

Dr. Mohler has apparently received much hate mail in response to his recent artice. Today, he posts some clarifying statments on his website which may be accessed here. this was topic of discussion in one of our staff meetings yesterday and the confusion continues to rage on. I am quite thankful for Dr. Mohler and his ministry to the Church. I believe him to be one of the brightest and gifted individuals serving the church today and his leadership at SBTS sends ricochettes around the globe. He should not be easily buffed and should continue to be an authority on biblical thinking.

No comments: