Culture,  Politics

Can a public servant call homosexuality a sin?

I don’t look to the editors at the New York Times to agree with Christian teaching on sexuality, but neither do I expect them to advocate a policy that effectively excludes Christians from government service. Yet that is precisely what they have done today in an editorial about President Bush’s nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger. They argue that Dr. Holsinger’s adherence to his church’s teaching on homosexuality should exclude him from being the Surgeon General. They write:

“What’s troubling is the view he once expressed — and may still hold — on homosexuality . . . because church doctrine deems the practice of homosexuality to be ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ . . . [The Senate Health Committee] must determine whether Dr. Holsinger holds these benighted views today. The Senate should not confirm a surgeon general who considers practicing homosexuals abnormal and diseased.”

There may be other reasons people may oppose Holsinger’s nomination (e.g., his previous views on stem-cell research), but his faithfulness to his church’s teaching on homosexuality should not be one of them. I think most Americans would agree with that. Still, what does this say about our culture that “the newspaper of record” could even suggest such a thing?


  • patrick lafferty

    Denny, why are you surprised?

    It is difficult to know how his moral compass would affect his policy decisions about issues related to the care and treatment of those with diseases issuing from homosexual activity. I have a hard time imagining him withholding funding, resources from, say, AIDS research, even though the primary sufferer of that disease (in this country) is the homosexual.

    His role–every government role–has some moral framework for how they fulfill that role. Holsinger’s would be to see to the public health. And while his moral commitments to the teaching of Scripture would necessitate honesty about his view of homosexuality, I don’t think that commitment necessarily would have to impinge on the fulfillment of his role. He can still be deeply committed to the containment and cure of AIDS without compromising his moral convictions. And he can still warn against the inherent medical dangers of homosexual sex without violating his mandate as a public servant.

    I suppose all Dr Holsinger has to do is to invoke the memory of a previous Surgeon General who was no less committed to his faith in Christ and still an advocate, not of homosexuality, but of care and compassion for those in the lifestyle. Of course we’re talking about C. Everett Koop. He, you will find in Yancey’s What’s So Amazing about Grace, was deeply respected by the homosexual community, but not for his advocacy of homosexuality.

    If Koop can negotiate that fine line between advocacy for and antipathy against homosexuals, why can’t Holsinger?

  • Matthew

    I notice that they describe a caricature, not a character. Holding that homosexuality is sin does not mean treating gays as “abnormal and diseased,” especially for a Christian who holds that all have sinned. Unfortunately, it’s not atypical for main-stream media to use such caricatures. (Of course, some “Christians” do publicly preach hate for gays, but that isn’t Hoslinger’s fault)

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.