It Wasn’t Natural In 1958. Did Nature Change?

Question: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?

Answer: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it. Read more»

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. | “Advice For Living” Ebony Magazine, 1958 (HT: Here I Blog)


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  1. In a world that rejects an objective meaning to language, why not? Why does natural have to mean, well, natural, when major dictionaries are now changing the definition of “literal” to “not literal” based on common usage (I am also alluding here to your last “guerrilla” post)?

    Based on common usage, “natural” is often used to mean “what I feel like doing,” so it follows that society will eventually come to see homosexuality as “natural.”

    If you can’t claim a word or a term as your own, just use it as if it were your own, and eventually you’ll have re-defined it. Hegel comes to mind, in a way.

  2. What more in the name of love! Certainly we have evolved quite a bit since ’58.

    Hearing the Kinks’ old song “Lola” in the past couple weeks (on an MP3 player, not the radio) caused some reflection as I thought about how politically incorrect the song must be in our current times!

    • I’ve had the same thought. Who would have thought that the Kinks would represent a conservative social position? You know things have gone off the rails when a Kinks’ song represents what many today would call homophobia.

    • That’s a good point Dr. Clark. I’ve never been a Kinks expert, but recall “Well Respected Man” and some mid-80s music that protested corporate layoffs and downsizings, a la Springsteen. Those do strike me as contrary to conservative views.

      And imagine the renamings of streets, highways, schools, and other public buildings if Dr. King were so audacious today!

      None of this is to point fingers at a segment of the population, however; if we were to be truthful many of us could identify with the person asking the quoted question, or something else that may have been seen as shocking back in 1958. I can’t forget from Rosaria Butterfield’s book how complex and deep-rooted some of our inner thoughts and attitudes are, and how we act upon those. While standing strongly for the truth, she leaves no space for self-righteous condemnation of others.

  3. ​I am always bewildered how quickly we become Pelagian when it comes to homosexuality. As Reformed folk, we talk of total depravity, the bondage of the will, original sin, and yet, when it comes to homosexuality, we join with a chorus of other Evangelicals saying it is a matter of choice. We weren’t born that way!

    We don’t think of other sins that way. When did we choose the desire to lie? When did we choose the desire to steal? Every sin has its locus in the evil desires of our own hearts which were there in conception.

    The World thinks, “If I was born this way, and it wasn’t a choice, then it’s natural and, therefore, okay.” When someone says to us, “I was born this way,” our response should be, “More than you know!”

    The Law of God was given to show us that the inclinations of our hearts are evil all the time. One man’s sinful inclinations are different from another’s, but each is in bondage, incapable of change. The Law of God gives no other recourse but to flee to Christ.

    We need to stop acting like typical Evangelicals when dealing with the issue of homosexuality. We need to say what the Scriptures say about all sinners, “Yes, in Adam you were born this way and are under the wrath of God, but only in Christ can you be free.”

    • Hi Brian!

      Well, shouldn’t we distinguish between homosexual inclinations and homosexual acts? We’re all born corrupted (depraved). All our faculties are corrupted. Nevertheless, we do distinguish between an inclination to steal and the act of theft. Every sexual act is a choice, homosexual acts are sexual acts, ergo: Homosexual acts are choices.

      What intrigued me about this quotation from Dr King is how he was able to say, without recrimination, in a public, secular magazine in 1958, that homosexual acts and even homosexual inclinations are not normal and unnatural. That was only 55 years ago. Today, were someone, even Dr King to say something like this, the world would erupt in electronic (twitter, facebook, blog posts, cable news) outrage.

      This quotation also confirmed some of the things that Mika Edmondson said in his Office Hours interview about the conservative elements in Dr King’s theology.

  4. Thanks Scott,

    I would agree, it is interesting how Dr. King, from whom the gay community has borrowed so much of its methodology, could say something so contrary to homosexuality just a short time ago with full public acceptance.

    However, I disagree with Dr. King’s prescription. His theology may have had conservative elements, but it was not Biblical or Reformed in this case.

    Also, I do not believe we should distinguish between homosexual inclinations and homosexual acts. If we were just talking about the distinction between thoughts and actions, then I would agree. However, there’s more to it than that. Jesus, much to the dismay of his hearers I’m sure, said that a man is already guilty of murder or adultery before the act is even committed, just by having the evil intent in his heart.

    In that sense, no distinction is necessary. Both the inclination and the act are sin, both are caused by the same depravity, and both are unavoidable. Sinful men will act accordingly.

    When it comes to dealing with homosexuals, it is important not to make this distinction. Most homosexuals I know would think it’s absurd to say they “chose” to be gay. I am inclined to agree with them, and I don’t think it’s necessary to make this distinction in order to have a discussion about their spiritual condition. Whether or not a conscious choice was made, the Law of God condemns both the act and the desire of the heart, leaving them justly under the wrath of God.

    Those who are seeking cultural transformation can argue endlessly about whether people are born gay and how gay is a choice, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.

    Those who want to preach the Gospel should use the homosexual’s own admission to show his bondage to sin, total depravity, and no hope of salvation apart from Christ.

    • Brian,

      1. I quote MLK not for his prescription but to illustrate what counted as “liberal” in 1958.

      2. The jury is still out on why people become homosexual but it probably varies. Some may have a natural disposition but others may not. The environment in which people are thinking about sexuality has changed so radically in the last 40 years that we cannot discount the massive influence that the sexualization of the culture has had. There were no positive homosexual characters on TV 40 years ago. Today, homosexuality is present virtually everywhere out of all proportion to their statistical presence in the population. Clearly the media elites are intent on fostering the acceptance and practice of homosexuality.

      3. Choice in this situation is complicated but the argument, “why would anyone choose x?” (with the implication that no rational person would) is not compelling. People choose to do all manner of harmful and evil things, homosexual acts are among those. Any criminal could make the same argument. Few of them lead desirably lives and yet they do it. Humans, as we know, are twisted by sin and its consequences.

      4. We agree entirely about preaching the gospel to sinners of all sorts, as I’ve argued here repeatedly.

  5. ​Thank you again, Scott, for such a gracious response. I do actually realize that my comments aren’t really addressing your points. I fully agree with you. I should have stated from the outset that I intended to shamelessly use your post as a springboard to make another point. And so I continue.

    I think the way most Evangelicals address this issue is completely Pelagian and that Reformed Christians can do a better job.

    Since the Fall, sin is not a choice; it’s our nature. So, when a man says that he has always been this way since he can remember, for crying out loud I think we should take him at his word and tell him, “You know, the Bible actually says that we were born in sin and that no man is capable of not sinning or doing what God requires.”

    Now the Law of God can be properly applied to show what a precarious position we are in: Under the wrath of God without the ability or even the inclination to do what God requires.

    The “I was born this way” argument has no power here, and Christ can be preached, in love, to people who are the most fiercely in bondage to sin.

    Thanks again for your keen and precise commentary. I always enjoy tuning in.

    • Brian,
      If sin was not a choice, then there would be no common grace and all unregenerate would be as bad as they possibly could be. On top of that, if sin was not a choice, then one could not make any sense of punishment for crimes etc. People could never learn from the punishment that X is not acceptable and would simply turn around and do the same thing immediately again.

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