An Examination of Grey’s Anatomy’s take on Homosexuality and Faith:
On Thursday, October 15th 2009, the popular ABC show aired a seemingly normal episode of blood, tears and angst in a hospital setting, but approximately 20 minutes in, the show turned into a battleground for homosexuality and faith. As you saw in the above clip, the showdown is between the lesbian Dr. Callie and her Catholic father. The two fictional characters do not concern me, but they are perfect stereotypes of the two opposing groups. The homosexuals misinterpret what Jesus said in Scripture to defend their lifestyle, while Christians choose to live in Leviticus on this one issue – secretly wishing that all homosexuals would be struck by lightning. Neither group is right. My purpose in addressing this Grey’s Anatomy clip is not to talk about what the homosexuals say or what the Christians say, but to examine Scripture and see what the Bible says regarding homosexuality, faith and how Christians are to act.
My heart breaks for Callie. Here is a grown woman, reduced to tears as she begs her father not to reject her. Her argument is irrevocably flawed, but her pain is real. Her emotional cry is “Jesus is my Savior Daddy, not you. And Jesus would be ashamed of you for judging me, he would be ashamed of you for turning your back on me, he would be ashamed.” The hurt little girl behind that statement breaks my heart – no child should have to beg their supposed Christian parent not to reject them!
Just to set the record straight, nothing about Callie is Christian or Catholic. She has never, in all 4 Seasons of her character on the show, mentioned or practiced her faith. While the rest of the conversation is compatible with Callie’s character, this statement was thrown in by the writers merely for shock factor. Based on years of evidence, Callie is not a Christian, so I will address her as an unbeliever. That said, the idea behind her statement is true. As a woman, my heart hurts for Callie. I can hear her confusion and hurt in every word. She is begging her father not to act as her god, as her judge, but to be her father – to love her unconditionally as a father should. Backhandedly or not, she rightly points out that her father cannot save her, only Jesus can (John 14:6). No Christian can save a homosexual, or any other sinner for that matter, only Jesus has that power. And honestly, Jesus would be ashamed of the harsh and judgmental treatment Christians give to homosexuals. Callie is right, her father’s attitude does not reflect Scripture.
Briefly, I want to address Callie’s misuse of Scripture in her defense of homosexuality. This strategy of defense has become mainstream, seen everywhere from television to billboards. Her first quote is John 13: 34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….by this all people will know that you are my disciples.” If she had quoted the entire verse, it would have become obvious that Jesus is addressing believers only with this specific command. Then she recites from John 8: 1-11, of the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus looks at the crowd and says “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he looks at the woman, a filthy sinner, forgives her sins and tells her to go and sin no more. Callie’s use of this passage is an inadvertent admission to homosexuality as a sin. This passage is actually right on target for homosexuals; it shows sin as sin, shows Jesus as the only Judge, and Jesus as the one who saves them from their sin. Lastly, she turns to the beatitudes in Matthew 5 as her final defense, quoting ‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God, and blessed are the persecuted for they will inherit the Kingdom of heaven.’ Mercy is referring to forgiveness, as found in Matthew 6:14. Pure in heart is explained in Psalm 24:3-5. And the definition of persecution for righteousness sake is made crystal clear in Hebrews 11:36-38. None of these passages address homosexuality at all and are being taken completely out of context. While Jesus never specifically spoke out again homosexuality, it by no means infers that He condones the sinful practice. In the time of Jesus, the Jews were still living under Levitical Law, which demanded the stoning of all involved in sexual misconduct. Jesus is the one who exposited the definition of sin, from outward adultery to inward lust, from murder to hateful thoughts (Matt. 5:21-30). Jesus would not have focused , as He did, on the demand for purity among heterosexuals while excusing the homosexuals of their behavior. The very idea is completely out of character of the nature of Christ and of the message of Scripture. Homosexuality is recognized as sin, from Genesis to Revelation.
Callie’s Catholic father upsets me; his attitude is one of judgment and condemnation, both of which are sins in the eyes of God. Like so many Christians today, he misinterprets the Scriptures concerning homosexuality. He says, “I love you, but I am scared for you. This is an abomination, it is an eternity in hell.” This father is reacting out of fear – both for his daughter and of his daughter – but his fear is not founded in Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that homosexuality is the one sin Jesus cannot forgive. Nowhere does it say that Jesus’ blood on the cross does not save homosexuals. Jesus’ work on the cross covers all sins, for those who believe. The Bible says all who sin have fallen short of the glory of God and are deserving of eternal death (Romans 3:23, John 3:16-18).
The father is using the word abomination to mean unforgivable, which has nothing to do with the true meaning of the word. In Hebrew, the word for abomination is To’ebat, and carries the meaning of ‘detestable sins of foreign nations’. Leviticus 18 lists a host of sins that God deems abominable and perverse, including having sex with a relative, having sex with a woman on her period, having an affair with a neighbors wife, sacrificing children to idols, homosexuality, and bestiality. God instructs his people to refrain from abominable acts committed by the pagans around them. He commands the Israelites, the people He has made clean, not to do things that would make them unclean before Him. The idea in Leviticus is that God’s chosen people are not live like the pagans, there are serious consequences if they do, but he is in no way singling out homosexuality as the worst sin known to man. God is illustrating that all sins deserve death. The Levitical Law condemns every one of us to death, but Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf. It is only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ on the cross that we have life.
So, what exactly does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Romans 1 is the most blatant passage discussing homosexuality, I have translated it from the original Greek so we can walk through it verse by verse.
In verses 18-22 the stage is set. The world, which has had ample opportunity to know God and follow God, has turned away from God. This is not saying that they were saved and turned away, but that the creation has had the opportunity to know God and chose to worship that which is created over the Creator.
Verse 23 -25 shows humanity’s actions and God’s response. Humanity chose to worship false gods over the One True God. As a result, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts. Not by causing them to sin, but by withdrawing his providential restraint from their lives, by leaving humanity to the pollution of their nature (Jeremiah 17:9).
Verse 26-28 has a two-fold message. First, homosexuality becomes the example of what all of humanity has done to God. Humanity exchanged a right relationship with God for the sinful worship of false gods, just as in homosexuality men exchange God’s plan for men with women for wrong relationships with other men and vice versa. Paul is not singling homosexuality as the worst possible sin, but rather he is using the parallelism to show homosexuality as a physical example of the spiritual exchange of God for idols. Both “exchanges” are not God’s intended purpose, both are a perversion of His creation. Secondly, it is clear in the progression of these verses that homosexuality is not the cause of the depraved situation of the world, rather the result of it. Turning from God to idols results in homosexuality and all manner of sinful behavior.
Verses 29-32 begins with the statement, “God gave them over to a depraved mind.” For some reason Christians take this to mean that a depraved mind equals unsaveable. The Greek word for depraved is adokimos, an adjective meaning worthless, unqualified, unable to distinguish between good and evil, truth and lies. In his commentary, John Gill explains it as ‘God gave them over to a reprobate mind; a mind that has lost all conscience regarding sin.’ And while the word carries the connotation of being lost in sin, nothing about this verse indicates that God cannot save humans out of this state. In fact, God is showing the enormity of His role in the salvation process. The chapter concludes with a list of sins resulting from a depraved people, including greed, gossip, arrogance, disobedience, and homosexuality. Paul isn’t saying that homosexuality is the height of all sin, nor that it is somehow worse than all other sins. His point is that humanity is utterly sinful and has rejected God.
So how does this affect Christians and homosexuals?
Are Christians obligated to witness to homosexuals? Is there a love factor required in our actions toward the lost, including homosexuals?
Let’s go back to Romans 1:14-18 for the answer. In verse 14 Paul states that he is under obligation to all people to proclaim the gospel. Why is he obligated? Because Paul did nothing to earn his salvation – it was the free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). If he did not proclaim the gospel to all people, choosing rather to tell only select groups based on class or cleanliness or sexual preference, then Paul would have been implicitly saying that some people are more qualified to receive God’s gift of salvation than others (which is not true, Romans 3:23, 6:23). And in saying that, Paul would completely negate the gospel message that he has built his life on – the free gift of salvation in which he now boasts. Verses 15-17 illustrate the universality of the gospel – that it is for EVERYONE. Verse 18 stands in contrast, showing the universality of judgment for sin – that all sinners deserve death. It is only by God’s free gift of grace that any of us are saved.
And so, we, Christians, are under obligation to witness to all, including homosexuals, because of the love of Christ showed to us on the cross! It is not a condescending, better-than-them, “fixing a problem” kind of witnessing. It is a zeal for God’s truth and an outpouring of His love for us, which we show to sinners, especially homosexuals. Nowhere in Scripture does it isolate homosexuals, and neither should we, the Church. A proper understanding of the gospel sees no distinctions between sinners: just believer and non-believer.
Homosexuals are sinners, just as we Christians once were. Sinners are slaves to sin, they have no power to resist sin or change themselves. But we, however, are no longer slaves to sin, WE HAVE A CHOICE between sin and righteousness. So why are Christians resisting righteousness and choosing to sin by judging sinners? Romans 2:1 continues the teachings of Paul on sin and judgment, “Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
Callie begged her father not to act as her god or her judge, but to be her father. Let us take her request to heart; and when it comes to homosexuals, not play God, not play judge, but be messengers of the truth in love. The depraved state of our country and of our world is not solely the fault of the sinners in it – the blame lies both with the fall of in Genesis and with those of us who know the truth and because of prejudice do not share it.