This past Saturday, Dr. Frank Turek and I debated Rev. April Johnson and Rev. Ladale Benson at Southern Evangelical Seminary on the subject, "Must Love and Tolerance Equal Affirmation?" Dr. Turek and I are white and Revs. Johnson and Benson are black, and both of them argued that what we were doing to gays was the same thing whites had previously done to blacks. We were "othering" them — treating them as different and inferior, thereby hurting them with our views.
This is similar to what President Obama said to Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, when visiting there in 2015: "When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode." (The president, of course, was addressing LGBT policies when he said this.)
Ironically, Obama's words remind us that the debate over homosexuality is not a white vs. black debate, as if whites were now suppressing gays the way they previously suppressed blacks. To the contrary, both in America and around the world, blacks oppose homosexual practice more strongly than whites. As a recent Newsweek article reminds us, "Homosexuality is a crime in dozens of countries in Africa ..."
In other words, Africa, an overwhelmingly black-majority continent, has much more conservative views on homosexuality than does white-majority America (or white-majority Europe). And here in America, blacks oppose same-sex "marriage" at a higher rate than do white Americans. As a June 2017 Pew Research Forum survey stated, "Today, 64% of whites support same-sex marriage, as do 51% of blacks."
That's why, according to David Axelrod, candidate Barack Obama hid his real views on homosexuality when running for president in 2008. As reported by Time Magazine in 2015, Axelrod "admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. "Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a 'sacred union.'"
So, candidate Obama allegedly lied about his views on homosexuality so as not to lose black Christian voters, who tended to be more conservative morally than their white counterparts.
This, of course, was a point that I emphasized in the debate, suggesting that all the race-related arguments that were being raised against our position would immediately disappear if Dr. Turek and I were replaced by conservative black ministers. Those arguments would disappear even more quickly if Dr. Turek and I were replaced by two conservative, black ministers from Africa.
I would even suggest that Rev. Johnson and Rev. Benson have embraced a white-dominated movement. As the Associated Press reported in June of this year, during gay pride month, "Gay pride marches in New York City, San Francisco and in between this weekend will have plenty of participants — and also protests directed at them from other members of the LGBT community, speaking out against what they see as increasingly corporate celebrations that prioritize the experiences of gay white men and ignore issues facing black and brown LGBT people."
This is one reason why some cities feature separate gay pride events for the black community. The larger gay pride movement is seen as dominated by whites.
Of course, the whole idea that gay or transgender is the new black is highly offensive to many black leaders, especially to some who participated in the Civil Rights movement. As expressed by Rev. Bill Owens, who marched with Dr. King 60 years ago, "I marched to be able to go to the school of my choice, to get a job that I was qualified for. I did not march one foot, one yard, one mile, for men to go into women's restrooms."
As for other problems with the argument that gay (or trans) is the new black, you must "come out" as gay (or trans), because no one knows for sure until you declare it. In contrast, you don't "come out" as black, nor do you need to declare it. And while there are plenty of former homosexuals, there are no former blacks.
As for comparing the suffering of LGBT Americans to that of African Americans, what is the gay American equivalent to the Middle Passage, which killed several million Africans in transit to America? And when have gays been sold as slaves and auctioned as chattel in our country?
To compare the suffering endured by many gay Americans, which I do not minimize, to the horrors of slavery and segregation is to diminish the history of millions of African Americans.
In the end, though, the only real question is: What does God's Word say about homosexual practice and relationships?
The bad news for those with same-sex attractions is that God did not make you to be gay. The good news is that Jesus loves you deeply, that He died for you, that He reaches out to you right where you are, and that He offers you new life and eternal hope in Him. And He does this whether you are black or white or yellow or red or brown.
Let us, then, take our eyes off of the debate about race and focus on the one who shed His blood for all of us — for the human race. He is the Savior of gay and straight alike.
To watch the livestream of the debate on Facebook, go here.