A Southern Baptist leader assailed from both the left and right for suggesting there may be some biological cause for homosexual orientation and supporting the use of prenatal treatment to reverse it if any medical test or treatment is found blamed much of the furor on headlines he said were misleading.
"If I saw a headline where a seminary president says 'Babies Born Gay,' I would disagree with that seminary president," Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said Monday on his call-in radio show. "It turns out, according to the media, that I was that president. But that's not what I said."
Mohler prompted a national debate with a March 2 column he titled "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?" In it he said science is pointing to the possibility biological factors may contribute to sexual orientation, but that even if people are born with same-sex attraction acting on those impulses would still be a sin.
Mohler said the article went largely unnoticed until a "blog swarm" brought it to the attention of national media. At the end of last week, he said, "it just exploded" in media requests and e-mails mounting into the thousands.
Asked by a caller Monday if he believed God created some people as gays, Mohler responded: "I don't believe there's any kind of simple biological or genetic causation that would simply say this baby is born gay. I don't think you can go through a prenatal test and determine this baby is gay, this one is homosexual. I do believe that for instance as medical science continues, it could very well be that in the complex issues of who gets attracted to whom and how sexuality works, we may discover there are some correlations here in terms of some level of biological correlation or causation, which means there may be some biological factors involved."
Mohler said it would be a "grave mistake" for Christians to say biological factors could not be involved. "We as Christians believe in the fall, which means that all kinds of things that happen, both in the womb and in life, that God allows that do not reflect his good pleasure," he said. "In other words, this is not what would have happened if the fall had never occurred. If a baby has a heart problem in the fetal experience, we have no problem, in fact we rejoice, in people being able to go in and do surgery on the heart."
Mohler also said every single person is "born with a sin orientation."
"God not only allows that, he has ordained that," Mohler said. "The question is what we do with that."
Mohler summarized reaction from both sides to his article.
"What I'm getting from the homosexual movement is this: We are going to demand the absolute normalization of homosexuality and acceptance of homosexuality, and the insinuation that homosexuality is sinful behavior, which Scripture clearly teaches, and it is abnormal in terms of human experience, is something we will not accept," he said. "We will marginalize anyone who tries to make that argument. We will try to make you look like Dr. Mengele or like some kind of person who is a throwback to the medieval era. We will try to make you look intolerant and hate-filled and all the rest, no matter the motivations behind your writing or the motivations behind truth-telling."
Mohler said he was disappointed with "dismissive, condescending, mean-spirited responses" from Christians, many whom who had not even read his article. "I think I can understand some who feel the sting and go away wearing the scars of confronting some who call themselves Christians," he said.
Mohler said Christians cannot ignore the issue of homosexuality, in part because, "There are very real human beings, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, in all of our families, if you expand that out largely enough, that are experiencing some trouble with this."
"The reality is in the old world, where homosexuality was just understood to be wrong and in the culture homosexuality was not tolerated, people who were struggling with such things largely kept that struggle to themselves," he said. "But now, as it were, when the valve is broken and the lid is off, now this is right out in public."
"If we really love them we want to understand that struggle," he said. "If we really love them we will confront them with biblical truth. If we really love them we will point sinners, all sinners, not just homosexual sinners, but all sinners, to the grace of God, the mercy of God and the atonement of Jesus Christ, which alone can save."
Mohler said there is a "big problem" with people who profess to be Christians while practicing homosexuality.
"I fully expect in our churches we should find some people who struggle with homosexual temptation," he said. "We may even have in our churches, I wouldn't be surprised about this, some persons even after they have made a profession of Christ have fallen in terms of homosexual temptation. But they can't be satisfied with that."
"One of the signs of regeneration is the Holy Spirit within us convicts us of sin," he said. "And if a person is wholeheartedly resistant to the Holy Spirit convicting of sin as revealed in Scripture, then I think we have a real problem there."
"If the person is not convicted of sin, obstinately refuses to be convicted of sin and really embraces this as a lifestyle, we've got a big, big problem," Mohler said. "Because what they're really saying is 'I don't believe this is sin.' And that's rejecting the Bible's clear teaching. If you get the sin question wrong, you can't possibly get the salvation question right."
Responding to one caller who said his lesbian daughter is tempted to stop attending church because people there condemn her, Mohler said a homosexual walking into a church "should expect sin to be condemned."
"If I had a daughter who was involved in homosexuality and she came to church, I would want her to be confronted with her sin," he said. "I mean I would praying about that. I would be praying the Lord would use that in her life to call her to salvation in Christ and wholeness in Christ."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.