Do we have the moral right to choose to die?

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 6 October 2004 0 Comments
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My dear friend of 25 years is a fundamentalist Christian who has prayed about my position on the gay rights issue (I am a gay rights advocate). Her position is that if God had made her a gay person, she would still not be free to indulge in sex. Also, if everybody got to do whatever made them happy, then where do we draw the line? She has challenged me to go to God and basically ask God which one of us is right. As a member of the church alumni, I really don't know what to say to her. Complicating matters is the fact that my son is gay but she doesn't know that yet. Can you help?


I waste little time engaging in arguments about homosexuality. That enterprise is generally nothing more than an ill-informed emotional debate. My recommendation to you is that you say, "I simply do not agree with you and I see nothing further to be gained by future conversation on this subject." If your friend is not willing to observe that boundary then your only choice is to move out of that friendship.

For the record, the fundamentalist Christian position assumes that sexual orientation is a choice. There is not a shred of evidence to support that. You do not go to God to determine truth. You go to the commonly accepted knowledge that is available to you in the fields of science and medicine. My bet is that by "going to God," she means consulting the Bible, which was quoted to condemn Galileo and Darwin and to support slavery and a second-class citizenship for women. That is not a very impressive set of credentials. If we followed the Bible, we would put all homosexuals to death (see Lev. 20).

If you told her your son is gay, she would assume that he chose this way of life or that you were the cause of his 'deviation' by being an inadequate parent. Either way you lose.

My advice is to love your friend. Be kind and sensitive but on this issue simply tell her you do not wish to discuss it further since your two understandings are mutually exclusive.

-- John Shelby Spong




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