Hermaphrodites and homosexuality
Morality cannot be decided by biological abnormalities
Published: 1 May 2010 (GMT+10)
Roderick, from Canada, writes:
I can understand that hermaphrodites are a result of sin. But if homosexuality is wrong then what moral basis does a hermaphrodite or “its” parents have for selecting a gender? If the individual disagrees with “its” parents’ choice, would it be morally acceptable to switch once they become old enough to choose for themselves?
I get challenged with questions like these. I’m not trying to be ridiculous—I just would like to have a good answer.
Dr Don Batten replies:
The biological causes and nature of the (rare) human hermaphrodite condition are described in the article Creationism and the problem of homosexual behaviour (search for hermaphrodite).
We would not say “that hermaphrodites are a result of sin”. That implies that the person is personally responsible for their condition, or the person’s parents. That would be unbiblical, and also very cruel. Jesus spoke of this when a blind man was brought to him. He was asked whose sin was specifically responsible and he discouraged such a notion (John 9).
Now of course bad things happen in today’s world because of sin in general; the rebellion of mankind against the rule of the Creator-God, beginning in Genesis with the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, with whom death and suffering began. So God has withdrawn some of His sustaining power from the creation and things are falling apart. Consequently we see mutations, cancer and developmental abnormalities. So in the broadest sense, hermaphroditism is due to sin, though not the particular sin of the person or the parents, etc., but the general fallen nature of mankind since the Rebellion.
Just as Jesus dealt with people born with defects with compassion, so should we. Every case needs careful medical and psychological evaluation to ascertain the best way forward for the person, so attempting a single ‘one size fits all’ answer would be unwise. We are all fallen creatures in need of help and compassion and people with genetic or developmental defects should not be ostracized or persecuted. A truly Christian society will see those whom the world might see as unlovely as “made in the image of God” and therefore special and to be valued. This contrasts with atheistic or animistic societies where no one has any special value (except perhaps those in charge!). To the atheist, humans are just intelligent animals, so we are nothing special and so abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, etc., are on the agenda. Hitler, with his evolutionary notions, decided to help natural selection along in eliminating the unfit. That included anyone with a defect such as hermaphroditism. See: Eugenics: death of the defenceless.
If a person is an hermaphrodite, it does not give a licence for sexual experimentation. The same standards of sexual fidelity still apply. A person medically determined to be genetically and hormonally male and who underwent operations to clarify the physical features to make the person clearly male would be under the same biblical injunctions as any other male to be sexually pure. If marriage became possible, then the person would be responsible to be faithful to their spouse. If marriage was not possible, then sexual purity outside of marriage would be God’s standard (just as for anyone else).
It is likewise with homosexuality. If someone has homosexual desires, this does not mean that it is OK to give in to those desires and be involved in sex outside of marriage (where the Bible defines marriage as a specifically heterosexual union).
To suggest that someone cannot help their behaviour is to reduce the person to a mere animal, rather than someone “made in the image of God”. The article on homosexuality linked above, which was written by a man who worked as a clinical psychologist counselling people, including those with homosexual leanings, is very good on this whole topic. See also the Q&A topic on homosexuality.
I hope this helps.
Dear Dr Batten,
Now of course bad things happen in today’s world because of sin in general—this is what I meant by “that hermaphrodites are a result of sin” of course.
I think I have read your articles regarding hermaphrodites but I read them again. The answer you gave is the best one I have seen so far [Roderick said he had tried other ministries but had not even had proper replies—Ed.]. I would summarize it like this:
- The issue is too complicated for a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
- An hermaphrodite’s true sex can sometimes be medically determined to be hormonally male or female in which case that would probably be the route to go.
Like I said, this is the best answer I have seen. Thanks for that. When I tell people that homosexuality is wrong they will bring up hermaphrodites as proof that sometimes females are born with male genitalia and vice versa. You don’t have to keep answering me if you don’t want to, but I would like to know exactly how you would answer them. (One person asked me if I knew that there were people who were both male and female. He then went on to tell me that this blew my beliefs regarding homosexuality right out of the water.)
Thank-you for helping me out with these tough questions.
Dr Batten responded:
“When I tell people that homosexuality is wrong they will bring up hermaphrodites as proof that sometimes females are born with male genitalia and vice versa … . He then went on to tell me that this blew my beliefs regarding homosexuality right out of the water.”
This has nothing to do with the morality of homosexual promiscuity. Morality is not determined by biological abnormalities. You could use the reductio ad absurdum approach:
Say a person was born with a gene that made them a kleptomaniac. Would that mean that we should legalize / legitimize stealing? Hardly. Say it is found that there is a genetic predisposition to pedophilia in some people; would that mean that pedophilia should be accepted? There are people who have such a serious personality disorder (sociopath) that they will abuse and even kill other people without remorse. Does that mean that their behaviour should be accepted by society because they naturally want to behave like that? Of course not; the prisons are replete with such individuals to protect society at large from their behaviour. Just because someone has a natural bent to do something does not mean that society should accept their behaviour. This is a ridiculous argument. You could probably think of even better examples to prove the point.
I hope this helps.
Thanks. Good answers.
Fantastic answers from CMI on this specific article.
I commend the authors of the response comments, as well. I like what Sam said, "This follows the fall of man and is a result of the resultant imperfection in the cosmos. Does it give license to engage in odd behaviour like homosexuality, bestiality or general sexual experimentation? There’s no paragon for such in the Bible, with there being prohibitions instead."
And likewise what was stated by Jim, "We are called by God to discipline ourselves in many ways (ie: not express our anger even if we have been given cause). Our sexual decisions are no different. I restrain myself for the health of myself, my wife, my family, and my society. My friends who are homosexual will receive the same mercy and grace as the adulterer, (or the angry man), when they admit the sin and repent."
This gives much hope in knowing there are so many loving Christians in the world with a great grasp of Scriptural principles and how to put them into action. These answers will also assist me in my witnessing. Blessings to all and to your personal ministries.
This is a great response. Especially the demonstration of reductio ad absurdum principle that can be used in demonstrating many fallacious arguments
Thanks for standing true on the biblical perspective of these issues. We need uncompromising folks such as CMI in a time when society is slipping back on this issue.
All humans have the potential of acquiring another gender but it tends to get suppressed in a ‘normal’ human being. Males might lack a uterus but they have nipples and some are relatively big-breasted. In terms of hormones, oestrogen and testosterone are present in both genders.
While that is generally true, there are times when it isn’t simply XX or XY, femaleness and maleness, it can also be XXY or any other combo. This follows the fall of man and is a result of the resultant imperfection in the cosmos. Does it give license to engage in odd behaviour like homosexuality, bestiality or general sexual experimentation? There’s no paragon for such in the Bible, with there being prohibitions instead.
The answer given to Roderick’s query is first class and also fair. There’s no attempt at embarrassing him or making him feel stupid. I agree with fellow commenters.
The pedophilia argument is good and I use it, but I go one step further and say that just because I am heterosexual and have normal desires for women it does not follow that it is morally right to then act out on those desires with every woman that turns my eye; Even though they are normal feelings. We are called by God to discipline ourselves in many ways (ie:not express our anger even if we have been given cause). Our sexual decisions are no different. I restrain myself for the health of myself, my wife, my family, and my society. My friends who are homosexual will receive the same mercy and grace as the adulterer, (or the angry man), when they admit the sin and repent.