• Heterosexuality: God’s best?

    February 14, 2012

    Joel Osteen’s smile is so perfect, so all-consuming, that I once turned his picture upside down to see what he would look like with a frown, and he was still smiling. Seriously.

    This is just an aside, a brief interruption in the flow of my posts on homosexuality and the church. A friend asked me a question yesterday that reminded me of something Osteen once said in an interview with Larry King. My friend wanted to know my thoughts on the Genesis account, why if homosexuality is ok did God make the first couple male and female. Joel Osteen would say that the heterosexual arrangement is “God’s best.” At least, that is what he told Larry King when the famous interviewer asked Osteen about gay couples. Osteen, never one to rock boats, did his best to dodge the question, but King wouldn’t let him off the hook. Finally, Osteen said, “I don’t think homosexuality is God’s best.”

    I’ve heard this line before, and I don’t follow the logic. It’s as though Osteen and others think gay people could have chosen God’s best and for whatever reason decided they would settle for less. I seriously hesitate to use the following analogy for fear someone will think I’m suggesting homosexuality is a handicap. Not what I’m saying. It’s just an analogy, clunky perhaps, but the best I can come up with this morning: if you are confined to a wheelchair, and that chair is your only means of navigation, how helpful is it to have someone tell you, “I don’t think that wheelchair is God’s best. God’s best is that we use our legs and feet to get around”? We can all agree that most people can and should walk on two legs, but for some people, that just isn’t an option, and no amount of protesting will change that. What use is there in telling someone, “That’s not God’s best,” if God’s best is not available to them? Or does Osteen still think being gay is a choice, that gay people could get up and walk if they’d just decide to?

    Again, clunky analogy, I admit.

    Or maybe what Osteen meant by “God’s best” was singleness and celibacy. If that’s God’s best, why didn’t Osteen choose it for himself and his wife? Does he not love his wife? Does he not want God’s best for her? I’m not being snarky. Well, maybe a little. But really, we need to think more critically about this issue before we speak because silly comments on the topic are hurting the reputation and witness of the church in our culture. Why didn’t Jesus encourage celibacy more strongly if it is “God’s best”? He only says, “The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19:12). Paul, who seemed to think the whole world would be better off single as he was, nevertheless concluded in 1 Corinthians 7 that this was not an option for most people:

    1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of “God’s best,” be it heterosexuality or celibacy. “It’s good not to have sex, but since it’s apparent you’re going to, at least keep it between you and your spouse. Stop taking someone else’s wife or husband as though they were your own.” That’s my paraphrase. Seems as though Paul didn’t have much faith in the practicality of celibacy for most people.

    Whatever Osteen means by God’s best, I’m not sure it makes much sense to tell those for whom it isn’t available that they should choose it.

    Posted in: The Gay Posts

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