The Moral Opposition
Times, February 4, 2001
P. O. Box 2491, Roanoke, VA, 24010
Most Americans believe gay sex is wrong. Yet a majority believe gays and
lesbians should be able to live their lives free of government interference or
discrimination on the job.
By Cody Lowe, The Roanoke Times
In one sense, the questions are not tough at all for Blacksburg resident
Is homosexuality a sin? Yes, he believes the Bible clearly teaches that.
Does he love his homosexual son? Yes, indeed. No doubt about that, either.
For most of the past 25 years until just recently, LeDoux said his
family has been able to closet whatever misgivings they have about homosexual
behavior in order to embrace the one member who is different.
Their gay son has the same right to their love as their seven other
children, LeDoux and his wife believe. And that son has the same right to work
and the same right to privacy as everyone else.
LeDouxs opinions on the subject reflect the national mood, recent polls
say. Significant majorities object to homosexual sex, a slim majority of them
on the basis of the Bibles injunctions against it.
But an even larger number believe that homosexual relations should be a
private and legal matter between two consenting adults.
LeDoux just doesnt want anyone his son included to tell him that
he has to accept homosexuality as an equally good alternative to
In that, LeDoux, a former Virginia Tech engineering professor and a
political activist, shares a position with any number of conservative
Christian churches and organizations.
But LeDoux also understands the issue on an intimately personal level.
A retired U.S. Navy commander, the 76-year-old LeDoux and his wife of 52
years have eight children four boys and four girls. The couple raised the
family Roman Catholic the religion of LeDouxs family for more than four
centuries. But after extensive study and a religious conversion experience in
a charismatic worship group, they left that church. LeDoux is now an elder in
Tried Stone Christian Center in Blacksburg, a conservative Pentecostal
The churchs statement of faith begins with a proclamation that "The
Bible is the only inspired, infallible and authoritative Word of God."
LeDoux says now that he never saw any indication that one of his sons,
Duffy, was gay while he was growing up at home. As a high school student, the
artistic Duffy dated girls and seemed pretty serious about at least one, his
father said. After graduating, he went to art school in Ohio.
There he met a man with whom he began a homosexual relationship. The family
found out about it not long afterward and, LeDoux says, quickly adjusted to
Over the next 25 years, Duffy and his partner continued to participate in
family gatherings, although the physical distance involved they eventually
moved to California made visits rare. "We never condemned them,"
LeDoux contends, and "never had any problems" although it was no
secret that he and his wife believed homosexual behavior was wrong and
"We still loved him," LeDoux says, and he and his wife were
impressed that his son and his partner were able to maintain their
relationship so long. Although he wishes his son were not gay, LeDoux is quick
to praise him his talent on the piano, his sense of humor. "Hes a
Then two years ago, there was an argument after a family gathering at which
Duffys partner was accused by another family member of inappropriate
behavior. After a lengthy exchange of letters, in which LeDoux says he
continued to express his love for his son, contact was cut off.
LeDouxs eyes turn sad when he explains that he doesnt even know where
his son is now; the last letters were returned unopened. He believes his son
had been diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease before his last visit
home. Now he wonders whether he is dead or alive.
"Even if you forget what the Bible says," LeDoux says, his
anxieties about his sons behavior are driven by what he understands are a
host of medical problems associated with homosexual behavior, among them AIDS,
hepatitis, and "gay bowel syndrome."
Underneath it all, however, there is the Bible. "It says it is an
abomination," LeDoux says softly.
But, he quickly points out, the Bible also says "all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God," eliminating the justification for
picking out any individuals for special condemnation.
In fact, there are only a handful of biblical references to homosexuality.
One story stands out above the others:
A long time ago, two angels approached a man who was sitting at a city
gate. The man invited the angels to his dwelling. After dinner, the men of the
city came pounding on the hosts door. "Send out the two strangers who
are with you that we may know them." The men of the city didnt have
after-dinner conversation on their minds, but sex.
"Please dont do this," the host said. "I have two virgin
daughters, take them instead."
Fortunately for the daughters, the angels presumed to be male
instead struck the attackers blind and pulled the father back inside. Next
morning, the angels forced the man, his wife and the daughters out of the
city. "Flee, and do not look back," they said.
When the family left, the angels called on God to rain fire and brimstone
on the city of Sodom, utterly destroying it and its inhabitants. Their hosts
wife could not contain her curiosity and was turned to a pillar of salt when
she gazed on the destruction.
It is a story so commonly known that the act of homosexual sex has come to
be known as sodomy.
Dating back 4,000 years, the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been
used throughout the Jewish, Christian and Muslim worlds as evidence of Gods
displeasure with homosexual behavior.
Today, some see the Sodom story as a condemnation of rape and inhospitality
rather than of all homosexual conduct. Certain theologians also have
reinterpreted other biblical passages on the subject in recent years. They
argue that some passages literally read condemn homosexual
prostitution or homosexual behavior by heterosexuals, but not all homosexual
For the majority of Christians, however, the biblical record seems clearly
to ban homosexual relations.
Indeed, when Moses is recorded as having written down some specifics about
Gods laws, the ban on homosexual acts is codified. Leviticus 20:13 says,
"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed
an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them."
The penalties have changed, but homosexual behavior continues to be a crime
in more than a dozen states, including Virginia, where it is a felony
punishable by jail terms and fines.
Legally, Virginia defines sodomy as oral or anal sexual relations between
people of the same or opposite sexes, but its origins are in opposition to
homosexual behavior. A recent challenge to the Virginia sodomy law resulted in
its being upheld in the state court of appeals. Additional legal challenges
While Virginias law was written under the influence of the Christian
faith of most of the states residents, opposition to homosexual behavior
transcends religious boundaries and is widespread in the United States.
A 1998 poll conducted for the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser
Foundation and Harvard University found that 72 percent of Americans believe
sexual relations between two people of the same sex are unacceptable. Some 76
percent said marriages between people of the same sex are unacceptable.
Despite that disapproval, nearly three-fourths of the sample said it did
not bother them to live and work around homosexuals, and they said that
government had no business trying to either discourage or encourage acceptance
of homosexuality. More than half 55 percent said private homosexual
relations between consenting adults should be legal. A large majority, 87
percent, believe homosexuals should have equal job opportunities with
Among those who object to homosexual relationships, 22 percent said that
was because they were "not natural." But more than half 52
percent said they objected because homosexuality is a sin forbidden by
That slim majority may reflect the decades-long debate in many religious
denominations over just what Gods will is. A sometimes rancorous dialogue
has led to some changes in the way many churches and synagogues
construe those holy texts.
Primary among them is the now widespread though not universal
acceptance of homosexual orientation as distinct from homosexual practice. The
predominant understanding now is that romantic or sexual attraction to people
of the same sex is not sinful. Only actions resulting from that attraction
specifically, genital sexual contact are considered a violation of
The Roman Catholic Church has taken that position for some time, and United
States bishops recently issued a call for the parents of homosexual children
to love them, even though the church officially condemns homosexual behavior
as "intrinsically disordered." Gays and lesbians can participate
fully in the life of the church, but "are called to chastity."
Because all Roman Catholic priests vow to be celibate, homosexual
orientation is not intrinsically a bar to ordination.
Among Protestant churches, positions can vary widely.
The nations largest Protestant body, the Southern Baptist Convention, a
decade ago amended its bylaws to include a provision excluding from membership
"churches which act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual
behavior." Several churches have been expelled from the denomination over
the issue, and some others left it voluntarily.
Last summer, the SBC reworded a doctrinal statement, the Baptist Faith and
Message, asserting that Christians should oppose "all forms of sexual
immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography." While
the statement is not binding on congregations or individual members, it
appears to reflect a majority view in the denomination.
Other churches notably the United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA)
and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have struggled with refining
church law. The result has been to welcome homosexuals to membership but to
avoid official sanction of homosexual behavior, the ordination of non-celibate
gays and lesbians, or the endorsement of a formal wedding rite for
Some Episcopal Church bishops have ordained non-celibate gays and lesbians
in the United States. The denomination is currently studying the creation of a
rite for homosexual unions.
The American churchs position has brought it into conflict with the
apparent majority of the international Anglican Communion, whose bishops in
1998 called "homosexual practice ... incompatible with the
Scripture" and counseled against union ceremonies.
Some other denominations refuse to admit homosexuals into membership.
Numerous World Wide Web sites run by individuals and organizations condemn
homosexuality on religious grounds, sometimes in terms of hatred and disgust.
The most notorious is www.godhatesfags.com, run by Kansas Baptist Fred Phelps.
He protests at the funerals of gays and lesbians who die of violence or of
AIDS and other diseases associated with homosexual behavior. By pointing out
his view that God hates homosexuals and their behavior, he says, he hopes to
get other gays and lesbians to change their ways.
Condemnation of homosexual behavior also is common in other faiths, some of
which also are debating the issue. Among Jews, responses range from the
traditional Orthodox Jewish opposition to homosexual relations to Reform
Judaisms approval of same-sex union ceremonies.
The Korans only direct mention of homosexuality appears to be in
condemnations of the people of Sodom. But many Muslims also revere the Hadith,
a collection of the sayings of Muhammad, which specifies the death penalty for
homosexual behavior between men. It also condemns lesbian sexual activity.
Like most large religions, Buddhism is practiced in many forms. Many
Buddhist monasteries prohibit homosexual activity, while other practitioners
find no problem with homosexual behavior. The Buddhas discourses apparently
do not touch on the subject. The Dalai Lama, revered by millions of Buddhists,
said in a 1997 interview that homosexual relations are "generally
considered sexual misconduct." Homosexuality is not improper in itself,
he has written, but Buddhism prohibits all oral, anal and manual sex as
"an improper use of organs that previously have been defined as
inappropriate for sexual contact."
Other religions including some forms of Hinduism, the Bahai faith
and Scientology also proscribe homosexual behavior.
While depictions of homosexuals and homosexual behavior have gained
increasing acceptance in the popular entertainment media, and the performances
of openly homosexual artists are common, gays are still targets for slurs and
condemnation, especially in some forms of rap or hip-hop music.
Companies that provide benefits for gays or that are perceived as
gay-friendly have been criticized and sometimes boycotted by religious
groups that oppose the normalization of homosexual relations.
And many people believe that acceptance of homosexuality threatens public
health, families and society by legitimizing behavior they see as inherently
destructive and dangerous.
John LeDoux believes most people are like him. They understand that
"gay people do good things," and that sex constitutes "only
about 3 percent of who anybody is."
And he says he thinks most people, like him, dont care what a persons
private sexual activities are as long as they dont try to compel him to
join them or approve of them.
"I dont think Ive ever hated anybody," he said.
"People are people."
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