Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve received numerous well-reasoned emails asking me to explain my differences with radio talk show host Neal Boortz – at least as they pertain to an ongoing controversy involving Augusta State University student Jennifer Keeton. Insofar as our present differences arise from more fundamental differences regarding human imperfection and personal redemption I am pleased to elaborate.
For those not aware, Keeton was threatened with expulsion from Augusta State University for refusing to submit to a re-education program run by state-employed university officials. The re-education program was not targeted towards the manner in which Keeton had articulated certain ideas (including private conversations outside of class with fellow students). Instead, it was focused upon the substance of those ideas.
According to state officials, the principal “problem” was Keeton’s assertion that free will plays a role in homosexual conduct. Because she is a counseling major the state was concerned that, upon graduation, she might incorporate those views into her private professional practice. The “solution” mandated by the government was forced abandonment of her belief in free will. This was stated as a condition of remaining in the state-funded university program.
Neal Boortz’ position on the matter was succinctly summarized on his privately owned website back in early August. His support for the government reeducation program appeared then, as it does now, to be based upon two premises – the first of which I believe to be accurate, the second of which I believe to be deeply flawed.
The first premise is that feelings of homosexuality, when first experienced by a young person, tend to be accompanied by rather intense feelings of confusion and anxiety – as does the decision to seek counseling regarding one’s sexuality. In this regard, Boortz has characterized the situation accurately.
The second premise is that hearing a counselor articulate the view that the patient has some degree of control over his sexuality would heighten, rather than attenuate, his feelings of confusion and anxiety. In this regard, Boortz has characterized the situation inaccurately.
It is unclear how Boortz arrives at the conclusion that someone would find the phrase “You can change” to be more traumatic than the phrase “You cannot change.” Human beings have always been comforted by the idea that they have some control over their fate. To suggest that homosexuals are somehow emotionally traumatized by ideas that are found comforting by others is to suggest a high degree of emotional volatility. The idea is not only condescending but lacks any basis in reality.
The idea that homosexual conduct is fully under the control of genetics has been refuted. If sexual orientation is fully genetically determined, identical twins will always have the same sexual orientation. If one is gay, the other identical twin will always be gay. If one is straight, the other identical twin will always be straight. Since this is not always the case, other factors are involved. This situation cannot be as simple as Boortz imagines it to be.
The State of Georgia is attempting to do no less than force a student to articulate a position that has been empirically falsified; namely, that the genetic influence upon homosexuality is so complete as to nullify free will. Their motivation is predicated upon a second falsehood; namely, that the first falsehood promotes self-esteem.
To date, too much has been made of the fact that the Boortz position is at odds with his professed libertarianism. Not enough has been made of the fact that his position is at odds with his professed Christianity.
Put simply, the Boortz position fails to recognize the distinction between temptation and sin. It also fails to distinguish between living an imperfect life and living a life ruled by imperfection. Those who may have given in to temptations to engage in homosexual conduct are not genetically resigned to the full indulgence of the homosexual lifestyle.
Ideas have consequences. The ideas we express have specific consequences in the course of human history. They may either produce life or they may produce death among those who hear them. In that sense, this case is not just about liberty for one individual. It is about hope for an entire generation.
Jesus did not come into the world to establish government programs that teach people there is nothing wrong with them and that they lack the ability to change. He came into this world to save sinners. But His offer is available only to those willing to acknowledge their sin and willing to change. And He gives us the power to change even when talk show hosts tell us we cannot.
We live in a world that hates God – so much so that it nailed Him to a cross. But Hope was resurrected and is there for every man today. And that is our greatest source of comfort in a world that preaches hopelessness.