Art Kohl is the pastor of Faith Bible Baptist Church in Eden, New York. Faith Bible is a church that believes in “soul winning, worldwide missions, old fashioned music & preaching, modest appearance, and loving God” and only preaches from the “King James Holy Bible.” Recently, independentbaptist.com posted an article by Kohl titled Just Because I’m Against Homosexuality Doesn’t Mean I Hate You; Here’s What The Bible Says! (link no longer active) This is a reprint of an article written by Kohl in 2002.
In the article, Kohl trots out the usual Evangelical objections to homosexuality:
- The Bible (God) says homosexuality is a sin and an abomination against God
- Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle not a sexual orientation/sexual identity
- Homosexuals choose to be an abomination and by the saving grace of God they can choose not to be an abomination
- Homosexuals don’t live as long as heterosexuals (a thoroughly debunked argument, BTW)
Nothing new, right? Change the faces, the same codswallop comes out of the mouth.
What I want to focus on is Kohl’s subtle equating of incest, bestiality, rape, pedophilia, torture, and beating his wife and children with a baseball bat with homosexuality. Since the state legislates against the former, why not the latter? Kohl writes:
“Stay out of our bedrooms, stay out of our private lives,” is a defensive posture we hear from pro-homosexuals. There are many different laws that affect each of our private lives. Laws against adultery, fornication, pedophilia, beastiality, incest, torture, rape, even seat belt laws. Most laws in some way legislate morality. Do not kill, do not steal, etc.
For the average Evangelical church member who lets their pastor think and speak for them, this argument might seem incontrovertible. However, let me show how easy it is to dismantle this argument.
When it comes to incest, rape, pedophilia, torture, and beating your wife and children with a baseball bat, are there two consenting parties? No. Even with bestiality, the animal cannot consent, so there is only one consenting party. However, homosexual sex, like heterosexual sex, is between two consenting parties. While we have laws that govern the age of consent, once that age is reached there is no prohibition against who a person has sex with. Consenting parties have every right to expect the government to stay out of their bedroom or any other private place they engage in sexual activity.
Kohl is using an apples and oranges argument. Many of the actions mentioned by Kohl are violent acts against others, especially women and children. We rightly, though our laws, punish those who behave violently against others. To quote the opening line from Law and Order SVU, “sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.” There is no victim when two men or two women have sex. We’re human and sex is what humans do, along with eating and drinking. And we are not alone. According to Wikipedia, homosexual and bisexual behavior has been observed in 1,500 species.
None of this really matters to Kohl because the ONLY issue is what the Bible says about homosexuality. If homosexuals would only agree with the Bible when it says that homosexual behavior is “abusers of themselves with mankind”, all would be well. All homosexuals need to do is deny WHO they are and behave contrary to their nature. How hard can that be, right? Well, based on the various sexual scandals over the years involving Evangelical preachers, it must be pretty hard.
In almost every IFB church there are repressed homosexuals who, out of fear of God and man, hide who they really are. It is a sad existence, one that is exacerbated by continually being pounded by the sin verses found in the Bible. As a former Evangelical preacher, I have a lot of guilt over how I used the Bible to hammer parishioners into what I perceived was God’s rigid mold for sexuality. At the time, I did not know that there were homosexuals sitting in the pew. I now know differently because I have talked to them and asked for their forgiveness. I still shudder when I think about my preaching against homosexuality. I can only imagine how hurtful my words were to those trapped in a religious system that forced them to play heterosexual.
There’s no hope for preachers like Art Kohl until they see how harmful their preaching is. Until they are willing to chuck the Bible into the dustbin of history, they will continue to demand everyone live by the antiquated morality found in the Bible. Well, at least some of the moral teachings found in the Bible. I was curious about Kohl’s preaching on divorce. The Bible has a good bit to say about divorce, yet many IFB preachers seems to ignore what the Bible says, either because they are divorced or they have divorced parishioners. It’s one thing to preach against homosexuality, knowing that no one in the church is going to cop to being a sodomite. But, when there are tithing church members who are divorced, well that’s a whole other matter. Listen to how kind and compassionate Kohl is to those who are divorced:
…Divorce is devastating to those involved. Whether it becomes ugly or is “amiable,” few entered marriage expecting this result. Sayings like, “It is better to have tried at love and failed, than to never have loved at all,” do not help. It comes into your mind everyday. It never goes away. Some feel like they are labeled, “Unclean, Divorcee!” They feel like outcasts to family, friends, neighbors, fellow employees and especially churches.
Your relationship may have ended but your life has not!…
…I ha’ve never been able to answer all the questions and complexities that come with some divorces: lawyers, alimony, child support, custody battles, garnished wages, in-law problems, financial pressures, hurting children who blame themselves, anger, emotional agony, visitation rights, and so on. But one thing I can tell every divorced person for sure: God in heaven is very personal and he loves you very much. You can have a real relationship with him that can never be broken. He has said in his word, the Bible, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
God knows the hurt of divorce.
He was divorced, too! God had married the nation of Israel but she departed from him (Jeremiah 3:14, 20). God had to give her a divorce. Jeremiah 3:8 says “…Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce;…”
This was a spiritual relationship, but God still knows how it feels to have someone so close to you leave. He knows your hurt and feels your pain.
Why don’t you get to know this God?…
Imagine how different things might be if Evangelicals like Kohl treated homosexuals in the same manner? In 2011 Kohl stated:
“It seems we hate and we get angry at certain sins and love and coddle and pet other sins and befriend them if we’re not careful. We ought not to hate the sinner but we ought to hate the sin.”
Most observers of the last thirty years of the culture war would agree that homosexuality has been elevated to the status of THE sin above all sins. Look at how Evangelical pastors, parachurch leaders, and Republican candidates for President responded to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Conspiratorial hysteria, the end of Western civilization. No “sin” has had a greater effect on Western civilization and the American family than divorce, yet these same pastors, leaders, and candidates for President are strangely silent. Why is this? (and they are silent on many behaviors their Bible calls a sin)
Here’s what I think. There are a lot of closeted Jesus-loving homosexuals in the Evangelical church, many of which stand behind the pulpit preaching against the very desires that secretly rage in the dark recesses of their life. Many of them will spend a lifetime denying who they really are. Others will act on their desires thinking no one can see them, only to be exposed through some sort of scandal. And a few others will realize that the BIBLE is the problem, and they will seek happiness and fulfillment through embracing their sexuality. Among those who are exiting the Evangelical church for political and social reasons are those who can no play the heterosexual game. They leave because they want the freedom to be who they are and not who the church, pastor, and Bible says they are.