The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage 729.2

I have a strong personal opinion on the issue of gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

If you’re a regular listener you may think you can predict my views based on your impression of me as either a conservative or liberal. Probably half of you will be wrong.

As a missionary of ethics and virtue with the hope of inspiring and encouraging everyone’s moral ambitions and instincts, I covet every mind and conscience I can reach, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Thus, I rarely comment on religious or politically controversial issues when it’s likely that my remarks will antagonize those who disagree with me.

Still, some issues involving deeply held political or religious convictions have such profound implications on my ethical principles that calculated silence to maintain popularity would be a form of cowardice. After all, my own definition of character is the willingness to do what you think is right even when it costs more than you want to pay.

With that preface, I boldly and unequivocally support the legal rights and full extension of not merely tolerance but true acceptance of and support for every son and daughter, brother and sister, friend and colleague, and complete stranger who loves and is committed to someone of the same gender.

I understand and respect the sincerity of those whose religious views lead them to a different conclusion, but I have the privilege of knowing, admiring and loving a number of extraordinarily kind, talented and highly ethical gay men and lesbian women, and I am distressed that they must bear insults, prejudice, condemnation, and legal discrimination. It’s more than an issue of civil rights; it’s a matter of respect and caring; it’s a matter of human compassion.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Note: In preparing this commentary I did some research on various religious views of homosexuality and came to realize the irreconcilability of some perspectives, especially those of conservative Christians. I found the website particularly helpful in differentiating between conservative and liberal Christian perspectives. Here’s an excerpt:

“Conservative Christian theologians … [believe] all homosexual behavior is sinful, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Homosexuality is a chosen, unnatural, abnormal, changeable, and perverted lifestyle, which is hated by God. Liberal Christian theologians tend to follow a wider variety of translations, and to be more concerned with instances of copying errors in the original Hebrew or Greek, of forgery, and of biases among the translators. They consider some passages (e.g., those referring to slavery, burning some hookers alive, raping female prisoners of war, etc.) as not being valid today, as immoral, and against the will of God. They differentiate among various homosexual and heterosexual sex practices, treating some (rape, prostitution, temple sex rituals) as immoral and some (within committed relationships) as positive. Homosexual orientation and behavior is seen as a normal human sexual expression among a minority of adults. It is not changeable or chosen. Like all sexual behavior, it can be a sin if it is exploitive or manipulative or not carried out safely within a committed relationship.”

Update, 6/29: Watch this June 27th NBC LA news segment on New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage, featuring an interview with Michael Josephson:

Comments 85

  1. Character does indeed count. So does context. Had you taken this public stand during the debate over the “Defense of Marriage Act” or California’s Proposition 8, I would have stood and applauded. But in the context of New York’s landmark law and the rising tide that is the “It Gets Better Project” the statement loses some of it’s lustre. While I welcome the support, I would have hoped that you of all people would have led from the front.

  2. Homosexuality is WRONG-or as Dr. James Dobson says; “Gay marriage is a slippery slope leading to NMABLA!” (North American, Man, Boy Love Association) You have been wrong in the past, but legalizing Homosexual marriage is an abomination!! Now you are the one Micheal Josephson taking the easy way out!!
    8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers

    1. You are a moron, Patrick. You have no clue what you are talking about. Have you ever heard that old saying, “Until you have walked a mile in my shoes….”? Apparently not. You’re too busy pointing out the speck in your neighbor’s eye and ignoring the log in yours. You are a hypocrite, and just FYI hypocrisy is a sin. Learn what it means to be a true Christian, and try a little thing called growing up and maturing.

  3. It was heartening to hear your statement during this morning’s radio broadcast. Yes, it would have been better to have heard it sooner. But perhaps you had not yet arrived at the conclusions stated this morning.
    I am an unmarried heterosexual who believes not just in the validity but in the righteousness of two adults in a committed relationship being able to formalize and celebrate that relationship with a marriage ceremony.

  4. I love your commentaries, Michael. You are thoughtful and wise as you express the values you hold. I’ve often quoted you and most certainly will do so again.
    My concern with this commentary is that your decision seems to largely come from anecdotal knowledge of people who are gay or lesbian rather than some extrinsic value system, whatever that might be.
    I believe you quoted a source which clearly takes a view of the bible and its values that lies outside the mainstream of Christianity. None the less, I really don’t care whether gays & lesbians are granted the right to marry.
    What does concern me is that the moral fiber of our culture is driven by people who acquiesce to the loudest or most influential voices in the media. And my sense is that you are doing the same.
    Truly, I cannot believe that all your character decisions are based on what feels best, or seems best because the people are nice. I know you work well enough to know that is not true.
    So really, why this time?

  5. Dear Mr. Josephson,
    I recently returned to work and while listening for the traffic report I found you!
    Today, along with many other days your words bring me to tears.
    Sometimes sad but mostly joyful. But today your words warmed my heart because this is the way I feel, I just couldn’t put it into words.
    I can not wait to share your website with our local schools, your programs will surely be a blessing for all our children.
    Mostly, I thank you everyday for your inspiration because character counts!

  6. Thank you for your words on this important subject. Some will listen, some will turn away, but you knew that, “Character Counts”.
    John Couoltas
    Yuma, AZ

  7. Character does count, and things like dignity, respect, honesty, caring and so forth are for everyone, not just the so-called majority.
    Equality is a BIG thing in the US, and should apply to everyone. There should not be any one class of citizens that is MORE protected than others.

  8. Female parents supply children with guidance unique to females. The same is true with Male parents. Is it ethical to deny a child the influence of either gender parent? No it’s not! That’s what same sex marriage leads to. Forget the religious aspect and think for a minute. If you don’t want to think, read what Dennis Prager has written. He’s pretty much nailed it.

  9. I completely agree with you, Michael. I am in full support of anyone who finds and cherishes love and commitment, regardless of what gender that person finds love with. If homosexuality were a choice, I highly doubt that anyone would chose it knowing the prejudice and constant judgement they’d face because of it. Furthermore, there are far too many people in heterosexual relationships that have defouled the sanctity of marriage that receive little to no focus simply because they aren’t homosexuals. I have been in constant support of LGBTQ causes and was more than delighted when NY joined in the support of same-sex marriage (I live in CT where it is also legal.) And when my fianc

  10. If you are going to rant…Get your acronymns right…It’s NAMBLA…Thank you, and welcome to the 21st century…

  11. Michael, I have always enjoyed your postings about character. I feel very strongly that a person’s character says everything. However, I am VERY DISAPPOINTED in your commentary on gay marriage. Character may be rooted in religion for some and for some it is not. Even at the idea of putting religion aside, do people really forget that their bodies are NOT designed to be joined together with the same sex?! I don’t understand how or why that is not an issue! Furthermore, if it wasn’t for today’s technology, the world’s reproduction would come to a halt because humans were not designed to be with the same sex and reproduce. Please explain how you can justify this part? It is not what those of the same sex do in private because the public issue is it affects the family dynamics. I was very taken back, surprised, and disappointed by your commentary and felt I needed to comment on it. I believe that people should be treated with respect and care. However, that does not justify supporting human behavior that is not designed as such.

  12. Michael,
    Character is something you live and struggle with each and every day. I thank you for putting yourself out there each and every day in an effort to help us all be more caring, responsible, trustworthy citizens. Thank you for pushing the envelope and taking a stand. Caring and respect do matter and character counts! You rock!

  13. Whether gay people SHOULD marry is a religious an philosophical issue. Whether they should be ALLOWED to marry – because of the entangled inheritance, property, insurance, healthcare and other issues – is clearly an “equal protection” civil rights issue.
    Even the most conservative Bible readings (and I wonder how many literalist Christians eat bacon) only condemn the sexual ACTS between men(I believe lesbian ones are unmentioned), not the love (e.g. David & Jonathen). I know deeply religious couples who have eschewed “forbidden” acts, but nonetheless desire to join their lives.
    If one’s opposition to gay marriage is the religious or biological to the sexual acts, those are what would need to be outlawed, but the courts have found those laws to be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. So as a society, America then says promiscuous gay sex is legal, but committed, loving partnerships are not. Huh?

  14. Thank you for presenting this issue in such a clear and meaningful way!!! We have friends and family who are gay/lesbian, and what is the big deal? I totally agree with Marv in the post above. A loving partnership is the goal, whether straight or gay/lesbian. Thank you again for having the courage to share this important message!

  15. Just as you had predicted at the onset of your commentary Michael, I was wrong in my assumption of your take on the subject matter. Up until the day that I heard this commentary on the radio, I have always had deep admiration and respect for you. Now I think that you are one of the most incredibly wise and philanthropic souls to walk this earth! Thank you as always for reinforcing my belief that moral standards and tolerance can coexist in complete harmony. This country is in desperate need of a leader like you, when are you running for president?

  16. Love know no race, age or gender.. Love is a pure, and none biased emotion. Everyone deserves to celebrate their love however they so choose.

  17. Well, Michael; you were right… About half the people think you’re a sell-out and the other half love you.
    Regardless of where people stand on this issue, you have given us all some serious food for thought. And, judging by the comments, people feel pretty strongly about this – one way or the other.
    Taking a stand, voicing your opinion, choosing a side – regardless of the timing – shows character and courage. You could have said nothing, and half the folks would’ve accused you of not taking a stand. You took a stand – shared your feelings and beliefs – and you still got fried by half of them.
    Thank you, Michael for all you have done and for all you will continue to do. This retired cop and ordained minister is appreciative that you have the character to take a stand on these types of sensitive topics.
    May God continue to bless you AND everyone who has an opinion or belief on this issue.

  18. I respectfully disagree with your commentary on gay and lesbian rights. While I understand your point of view, I disagree with your conclusion. For me, it’s a religious issue – love the sinner, not the sin. While I care about my gay and lesbian friends just like I would thieves, murderers, etc., I will never approve of their actions.

  19. A wise man once told me that he didn’t make the rules that are contained in the Bible, just commanded to follow them. Even the ones we don’t like. Every person deserves respect and fair treatment, but wrong is wrong, and homosexual activity is simply wrong. I know gay persons and respect them just like you. But I do not agree with their actions. It is unpleasant to me to have to say these friends do not deserve the same rights as my wife and I, but I did not make the rules. God did.

  20. This country and its morality have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Hate the sin not the sinner but I cannot condone their actions and raising children…just isn’t right by what I was taught. You can preach equality till you are blue in the face. This has nothing to do with equality

  21. Michael, thanks so much. Please know that there are some Christians who will support and even applaud your stand. It continues to amaze me that there are those who will quote the Bible selectively, rationalizing the parts they both like and dislike, but speaking as if they believed it all. I’ve never failed to ask them if they still believe in slavery, or the killing of adulterers, or the shutting away of women who are having their period, or other things in the Bible that even literalists no longer aknowledge as God’s will.
    As a Quaker I believe that God asks us to be in constant communion, to be humble, to be compassionate, and to believe in the commandment to love with all our hearts. As Quakers we also believe in the power of love to change the world. My husband and I were enthusiastically married by our Quaker Meeting and our faith is a bedrock of our relationship.
    Thanks again so much for your support. Can you know how much it means to those of us who are only asking for the respect for our relationships that society grants to you!?

  22. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Just don’t change the definition of marriage. In changing the law, how long before churches get
    sued for not performing gay/lesbian weddings when they claim to be of a certain faith. More for the courts to ponder on in the future. Go with what is in the bible.

  23. Michael,
    I humbly disagree, probably much to the consternation of some of my gay friends and relatives. Like you, I deplore the insults, prejudice and legal discrimination they have borne. However, that can be resolved short of marriage. Marriage has an historical context of being between a man and a women and a connection to procreation. Words have meaning, and I don’t believe we need to redefine them to rid ourselves of the injustices of which you speak. I believe once one starts down the road of redefinition, not just here but in many other areas as well, one finds oneself on a slippery slope sliding to places we never wanted to be.

  24. I’m sure that Godsmack’s comments speak for many — but they are surprisingly clinical. Humans are not comprised exclusively of a physical body. We have minds — and emotions — and souls — and hearts. And when two hearts are lucky enough to find love with each other, the bodies that house them become secondary. What of a wheelchair bound person or paralyzed person, or a senior or a celibate who no longer participates in the physical act of two bodies coming together in the traditional sense? Do they love their partners any less? This is not a question of whether bodies fit together physically. Godsmack would have us believe that physical love is more importantly a jigsaw puzzle than a heart connection. I would like to believe that love is infinitely more than that…and that true love, fundamentally, has NO gender. Brilliantly written, Michael; thank you for your courage.

  25. Some quotes to address the issue of translations and copying errors: “If God doesn’t judge America, He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

  26. For me, the issue is a simple one of childrens, yes, childrens rights.
    I see that as a society we have no problem allowing gay couples to adopt. Then we treat the family as a second-class family, all the while knowing the rights and upbringing of a child are impacted. Why can’t an adopted child always refer to his married family? Why do we give this child the stigma of being in a gay family along with the stigma of being adopted? (clearly any biology student knows the child of a gay couple is unique in one way, that’s hard enough).
    BTW, a child is less likely to be molested in a gay family than an adopted child in a straight family, according to reported facts. Child molestation is wrong, and we hetersexuals need no tutoring from the gays on how to accomplish it.
    If gays are good enough to raise our cast-off children, they should get the same parental acknowledgment as their breeding counterparts.
    Conversely, those religious groups who abhor gay marraige need to clean out the orphanages and adopt all those children to save them from the gay lifestyle. Perhaps a study on how many gay adults were raised adopted in christian families would be enlightening.

  27. I find it interesting that people are quick to point out the biblical references to homosexuality being wrong, but gloss over the issues of incest and multiple marriages that some say was “just something that needed to be done at the time”. As I understand the bible, it says that “one should not judge lest he be judged”; it also says that judgement if for the Father alone. Jesus loved all and accepted all. Through love and compassion he won over his followers by simply saying follow me. So I say to all the nay sayers that are wanting to discriminate against others, that I applaud Mr. Josephson’s character in his stand for the rights of others and I dare those that have no sin to cast the first stone. Clearly no “stone” would be thrown. I do wonder if the microscope were turned on you what would be found that would be an abomination to God?

  28. Thank you Michael for helping me think through this complex issue in yet another way:
    If homosexuality is a sin, aren’t all sinners deserving of equal protection under the law?

  29. You put your money where your mouth is, Mr. Josephson, and your message remains consistent. Thank you for reminding us that love and acceptance is more important than anything else.

  30. You are very inspiring for you walk your talk in so many ways.
    I have been reading your many helpful articles and quotes, and have passed them on to my clients for many years.
    Your support for people, regardless of their preferences, is much
    needed for others to experience, especially during these times of change.
    Thank you for being truly authentic on so many levels!

  31. Wow – there is SO much here and it’s easy to see how hard it is to fight the polarization in America – but I feel compelled to say 3 things:
    1)I would agree that someone (actually all that are considered to be supposedly ‘helping’ our country) have the integrity and insist on continually addressing character discipline and respect in the responses to all the people if they are elected. So Mr. Josephson, if you can have any influence in Washington DC now’s the time.
    2)’The children’ are what is most important here. No matter what your belief is, we ALL have the responsibility to make sure that we go forward with a balanced, character based solution. The phrase ‘what would Jesus do?’ comes to mind. If not a person of faith then perhaps just thinking of how actions will affect others will help bring one to a conversation and not a ‘side to be on’.
    3) I believe that so many on both sides need to STOP the attacking of each others beliefs (judging yes?) – this never solves anything and perpetuates the anger.
    Mr. Josephson I have come out of that lifestyle because I believe God has a better plan for my life. I’m not judging and I do think some gay people, if they are committed and in love can be good representation for so much of what is has been ‘a bad stereotype’ for so long. Gay people can work on that – because they’re going to have to do it together otherwise this won’t stop, it isn’t who you sleep with that you have to put out there, it’s what kind of overall character do you want to represent. And Christians will have to be willing to LISTEN with compassion so that they can model ‘the grace’ while not judging. ‘Let no foul or polluting thing come forth from your lips’. (polluting can apply to both parties yes?) Bible readers keep reading, you must ‘rightly divide the Spirit with the Truth’.
    -In the commerce of speech – use only coin of gold & silver.
    -One GREAT use of words …is to hide our thoughts.

  32. Character does count and I just lost all respect for you, with your comments on gay marriage. You must be a very smart person with great thoughts on character. But you are dead wrong on gay’s. Remove me from the listsrv. I teach character to kids that was never taught the 6 pillars of character. I will no longer quote you or use your material. Again it is (or was) against man

  33. Wow…I am shocked. After reading your commentary for years, I am truly saddened. As a Christian, God teaches homosexuality is wrong and perverse. A person may have sexual desire for a same sex individual, but I see that as sinful lust that must be overcome. Love the sinner, but hate the sin. Sure, homosexuals are nice people for the most part who have fallen into sin, just like an adulterer or thief. They deserve no special privileges nor do they deserve hatred. They need to read your quotes and articles Mr. Josephson and find the strength of character to overcome sin.

  34. Re: Godsmark comments. I was fascinated with your physiological framework for rejecting Michael’s position. Basically, it says that the plumbing does not match up. Therefore,in the divine or other design, homosexual relationships do not make sense because the plumbing does not accommodate these relationships.
    Using your suggested building-construction imagery, what happens when the wiring does not match up? And…what is the appropriate social convention when the wiring does match up?
    Gays and lesbians are wired differently. Some prefer the plumbing image; some look to the wiring…to know what makes sense.

  35. Bravo for your words of courage, love, and above all, character. If you’ll indulge the anthropomorphism, I believe God is standing right beside me, clapping and cheering right along with me in celebration of your speaking out publicly for our gay brothers and sisters. God did not create us to hate or oppress others. We were created to love and understand each other, and to work together as sons and daughters of one God. It is our duty as caring people of good conscience and good character to stand up and speak out for those whose voices are too often silenced. For the record, I’m a heterosexual woman, happily married for many years, and I will never stand idly by when people oppress or disrespect others, for sexual orientation or any other characteristic of who they are. And to those who insist on using religion to excuse their prejudice against LGBT people, please be reminded that God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If this were easy to do, we would not need to be commanded to do so. Please join me in extending hands and hearts to ALL people.

  36. Like some of the other people who left similar comments, I (unfortunately) have to think of the far-reaching implications of gay marriage.
    In Los Angeles, 2nd graders were taken to a gay marriage. Children should not be sexualized in any manner at such a young age, and it was inappropriate. Worse, parents were not allowed to opt out if they felt uncomfortable. So, first, you have a public agenda aimed at usurping parental rights.
    Second, there will be extremists who will use this as a tool to try to destroy several churches.
    It’s unfortunate that gay couples who would simply like to get married pay the price because voters have to consider the side issues.
    P.S. I think it’s ironic that gays recognize the gift of marriage when so many heterosexual couples sneer at it and “shack up”.

  37. Marriage is an institution separate from and distinct from the State.Anthropologically , marriage existed prior to the evolution of the State.The State can only regulate marriage due to the fact that, and to the extent that, marriage places a burden on the State by producing children.The state cannot say to two people that they cannot live together in a sexually active relationship, except to the extent that the relationship affects the rest of us by producing children. . The State can say , and in my opinion can only say, to gay people that since their relationship does not produce children it has no interest in regulating their relationship.No to gay marriage But of course gays can live together in a loving reationship and tell the rest of us to go jump in the lake , they shouldn’t care whether or not we approve. Its none of our Damn business and gays should tell us so!But don’t call it marriage! Its ” NOT” marriage.

  38. I have a different take on this – people keep saying rights are being violated. With regard to marriage, all people have the same rights, i.e., if you want to get “married” you can marry someone of the opposite sex just like any of us can. If I desired to marry someone of the same sex, guess what, I can’t do that either! So what rights are being violated? It seems to me they want to change what marriage actually is/want laws changed to suit their lifestyle. When civil unions (to my knowledge) provide the same benefits as marriage from a legal standpoint, it begs the question: Why the hard push for this? Is it so they will feel more accepted? I have gay friends, people I love dearly by the way, and one couple has been together for 18 years. I have never heard them mention this. You know what I love is how comfortable they are – they don’t need my or anyone’s approval. I deeply respect that they embrace their lifestyle and if I were gay, I would aspire to that. In my opinion – and this is simply my perspective – this is more about special interest groups, and it is also my opinion that they do more damage than good. Nothing in particular seems to be important other than a constant battle brewing about something and the more hot it is, the more they fire up about it. So if they are triumphant with this, believe me it will be what’s next, which promotes other people wanting to push the envelope for what they want, too. While I’m in favor of free speech and rights, I also see the value in laws and definitely upholding the law when the American people speak. It scares me, frankly, to think as a society what this will cost us, changing the definition of an institution that’s existed…forever, really. What’s next, women and men aren’t men and women, after all? I’m willing to abide by laws, election results and court decisions regardless of how I feel or how I voted, because as citizens it’s what we’ve agreed to do. This has been challenged over and over and voted down so it’s….interesting to me, this relentless push. I don’t want to stop at red lights, either…but I do it anyway because we’ve all gotten together and decided traffic laws are just a plain good idea – what if it instead was a challenge at each and every light, who wants to stop, who is willing, who is not…what a mess, right? People died to create the wonderful country we live in, I guess I’m old fashioned because I have a deep respect for that, AND ALL people, regardless of how they be. So my final take is: There are no “special” people – how about we’re ALL special, you and me, us AND them. No law will ever make you feel accepted inside, prove that to you, one way or another – it’s inside of YOU. Looking for the world to make you happy and demanding that it do so will never, ever work, no matter how much you challenge it.

  39. Michael,
    I disagree with the use of this forum for a strictly personal opinion, one not connected to the larger purpose of promoting ethics.
    As a “missionary of ethics and virtue with the hope of inspiring and encouraging everyone

  40. It is never easy to stand for something knowing that there will be opposition to it. It takes courage to stand for what you believe in. Michael, you did just that. As a Christian, I have read the sections of the Bible about homosexuality AND other sinful and immoral acts. There is no confusion in its meaning and we should strive to be aware of these actions in our own lives before pointing the finger at others. As Kevin pointed out earlier, our Lord Jesus Christ loved everyone and did not judge anyone. He offered everyone the “Living Water” and the path to salvation. He sat and dined with sinners and in his loving actions many came to know God and were saved from their sins. It is often hard for people to separate their beliefs with doing the right thing especially showing compassion to those whose beliefs are different than ours. I learned this lesson a few years ago when I was asked to help start a new Toastmasters club. It was to be the district’s first Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender club. As a district officer, my duty was to help start new clubs and the organization is very clear any act of distrimination towards anyone. I proceeded to work with the members on chartering the club. Boy, was I in for a shock. I received “hate” mail from members I felt would be understanding and open-minded about this new club. I was accused of allowing the club to “stain” the reputation of the district. Nevertheless, I pushed on and the club was charter. To this day the charter members do not know about my Christian beliefs on homosexuality. Why? I took on a leadership role and my duties were clearly written…”start new clubs.” It did not state that I should denied potential members from forming a club because their beliefs are different than mine.

  41. To call it Marriage.. is just WRONG! A slippery slope!
    Even our Liberal President Obama knows.. this is WRONG! Yes.. character counts!
    ~God Bless our country.

  42. Mike,
    You’ve now sold your soul to populaity. I never thought you’d stoop to that. I was sucker punched, thinking you were strong for all these years, but you are just another weak suck looking to be liked by everybody. So long.
    Bruce Wells

  43. As I have learned and taught my high school students, we treat all people with respect and dignity, not because of who they are but because of who WE are. It is perfectly acceptable to have differences of belief; only when those differences manifest themselves as hurtful words and actions do our differences become unacceptable.
    Thank you, Michael, as always, for your beautiful words of encouragement!

  44. Kudos Mike-I have battled my own propensity for same-sex relations all my life. Ironically , because of the social stigma attached I stayed “in the closet”, and still there publicly, but am now free emotionally since joining a very conservative evangelical church. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a clear-cut condemnation by Jesus Christ of homosexual behaviour except obliquely with reference to the sanctity of a child’s virtue. Today I know that true love dominates over all other human emotions because it is from a spiritual, not a religious source.I prefer the company of a woman in a monogamous relationship, but still pant after young viral men,though no longer act on it, except pornographically sometimes. God made our sexual preferences as they are-we have to live with them as best we can-Love is a dynamic that transcends other considerations, and if two people of the same gender feel true and permanent love for eachother why not seal it with marriage vows ? All unions of true love are based on spiritual values, and on those alone will fall or survive, through all machinations of religious or secular laws. I commend your courage of character and celebrate my own freedom from the jaws of misguided self-loathing and comdemnation. The true love of God rules supreme !

  45. I have enjoyed your commenteries for the past 10+ years; however, I believe this where we must part. Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Reminding you that character and obedience counts.

  46. Mr. Josephson,
    As a youth leader of 1000’s of youth and their adult mentors I am sickened by your response to gay marriage. I have been a teacher of character and my friend you have been found lacking for your conclusions. Here are some things you and your supporters need to think on.
    While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals

  47. Stop the decline of moral values. Marriage is between a man and a woman period. Stop redefining marriage. Relationships of the same gender are partnerships, not marriage. If a same gender couple wants to enter a legal partnership, that is great. Everyone should have protection under the law if they want their finical assets, medical rights, child custody rights to be shared with another. Who you have sexual relations with does not mean you can redefine it as a right for marriage. Love does not justify changing the definition of marriage either. I love my mother and father, brothers and sisters, children, cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents etc. Love them so much and would give my life to keep them from harm. Some would say you could have sexual relations with them all too, but that does not mean it is correct or right. Wake up people. Women did not want to be called men when they were fighting for equal rights. Think about it.

  48. No they should not be called names or treated badly (no one should be) but what has that got to do with having the right to marry? If they wish to live in a caring committed relationship that is between them and God not anyone else. It is uncaring and wrong when they want to take marriage as their right and demean it for men and women unions. This don’t mean that we are not suppose to love them and care about them because God cares and Christ died for all but where does that give them or their supporters the right to demand the RIGHT to trample over those who are not of their sexual orientation? It seems to me they are like young children crying give me give me I want whatever you have give me give me. Where are they showing caring and consideration for us?>

  49. You lost me on this one. I have and always will go by what the Bible specifically says about homosexuality. And, it is not about being nice, or un-natural attraction. Look at the over-all results of what homosexuality have caused. It is part of our country’s current downfall and further separating the USA from God.

  50. Dear Mr. Josephson,
    Thank you for your discernment in responding to the Gay Right/ Same-Sex Marriage Issue. Like most people, I struggle with my (many) shortcomings, and try hard to be the best person possible, in the eyes of God and man. We all fall short, therefore to judge another individual human is wrong on every count.
    I am, however, very grateful that you did not declare the Gay Right/ Same-Sex Issue to be superior to Hetero-Sexual Marriage in the eyes of God; and His design intention for mankind. That would have been an overstep and disrespectful to God (and some people). Again, we all fall short… and it’s wrong to judge another individual. Your decision to not conclude that Gay Marriage is ‘God’s Will’ was welcome. Many have tried to tell me otherwise.

  51. As the Christian mother of a single Christian gay son, thank you for stating a sensible, informed, factual stand on gay marriage. Selective quotations from the Bible, frequently out of context, have been used for generations to oppress those who were different, or who made those with the most power uncomfortable in some way. What we don’t understand, we often attack. Members of my own family, and former church family have done so. Some have since apologized for their ignorance, but others feel justified in their ‘righteous indignation’. The day before my son acknowledged his sexuality, he was hailed by all as a ‘great person’, only to have some of those same people shun him because he is now openly gay.
    My mother always said there will be plenty of surprised people, both in heaven and hell. Surprised because of where they landed, and surprised at who their new neighbors are for eternity.
    Every man or woman must seek out their own relationship with God. It’s not my place to judge, nor anyone else’s. God is the only judge whose opinion matters when it’s all over.

  52. To those who fear that churches will be sued for not performing gay marriages:
    Churches have been refusing to perform ‘regular’ marriages for a long time for various reasons, so such refusals are not new. Churches have the right to not perform marriages which they do not support. Inter-faith marriages are currently not performed in most churches.
    Also, when the priest or minister believes the couple to be unprepared for marriage or to be seeking marriage for inappropriate reasons he (or she) is expected by the community to refuse to perform the marriage, and that right and responsibility is protected.
    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin
    PS Still not convinced? Ask yourself if a Catholic priest would be permitted to refuse to marry an influential Moslem man to a devout Catholic woman, given that according to Shariah the children would be raised as Moslems.

  53. A request for all those who fear that ‘marriage’ is being redefined:
    Please take a few weeks to study the term and institution, not just in modern usage but the history of marriage and the varieties of marital patterns.
    Thank you,
    Bob Griffin

  54. Few people care who others choose to live with. If two people want to go into a same-sex ralationship most everyone would accept it and agree to similar/same legal rights as a married couple. If they want to stop the opposition they should consider dropping the idea of calling it marriage and find somehing else – something like ‘Common Law Partners’. This would not offend those who are in the traditional Marriage. It might even give them the acceptance they are seeking. Hurting other people just to have your own way is never right. Compromise pays dividends.

  55. Dr. Josephson,
    I hold your views in high regard and have been following your “Character Counts” commentaries for years. I do not put my confidence and trust in your opinions because they are like mine, rather, I have found the positions you have taken to be ethical, immersed with integrity, and full of character.
    As a principal of a conservative Christian secondary school, I often quote your references from your publications. I have had to stand against the highest levels of church leadership in ethical matters – to the point of nearly losing my job. Righteousness prevailed in those matters with significant cost.
    On the issue of homosexual marriage you couldn’t be further from the mark. While I subscribe to the idea that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, the act of joining same sex couples in marriage not only defies biblical principles but “natural” laws that are supported through the institution of marriage. Who can deny that males and females were “designed” to procreate. From a non-religious perspective, considering only this fact that nature intends for the continuance of the species through the “sexual” acts of a man and woman – marriage (as it has been defined historically and biblically) should be (p)reserved for this very purpose.
    In fact, my argument against your position, and those who share it, is that you are attempting to redefine the meaning of marriage. I fear, like others, you have taken the politically correct road, for purposes I can only imagine. To change the definition of marriage, as laws and society are attempting to do, moves further away from absolute truth which brings order to our world. As a society we continue to subscribe more and more to the ideas of humanism, relativism, and tolerance. (Please don’t confuse tolerance with respect and dignity that all deserve).
    I understand that all people are not alike. It grieves me that the sexual preference of individuals 1) causes persecution, discrimination, and hate; and 2) prompts society to pass laws based upon one’s sexual orientation. That issue should be a matter of privacy, intimacy, and not one for public consumption. We only need to refer to the history of the sexual revolution to see why we have taken to the idea of publicly announcing our sexual orientations, acts, and opinions.
    In conclusion, it is an undeniable fact that men and women are attracted to people of the same gender, whatever the reason, like it or not. Redefining marriage is NOT the way to deal with this matter. Everything is not relative, undeniable truths of this world exist. Despite the fact that medical technology has provided opportunities for procreation without the intimacy of male/female interactions does not change the natural order by which the preservation of the species exists.
    Please do not subscribe to popular notions simply because there is dignity and respect ingrained in those attitudes. Dignity, respect, and tolerance can exist without redefining our institutions. It is not the institution of marriage that disrespects homosexuality!

  56. Virtue, character,manliness, womanhood, true purpose and family are all intertwined. At least I always thought they were.The answer to the question is literally right between the legs.Its the ol’ round peg and the round hole fundamental truth and reasoning.
    Sorry, but I just don’t think that the virtuous man marries another man. And I surely don’t think that the virtuous man should allow it to happen in this, OUR culture without a fight.Especially the Virtuous family man who values the word “marriage” for the sake of his kids and the future of their world. C’mon Michael, you’re a man of character right? Character also means boldness, strength, truthfulness,and making a stand.At least “manliness” does.This is no time for men to be “tender, sweet and understanding” somtimes “tolerance” needs to stay back at camp with the women while the men go to war.Now don’t get me wrong, I surely don’t believe in bashing, outward disrespect, and mocking, as that’s just not virtuous or manly. But manhood and family is under attack, and I’m fighting for my rights.

  57. Thank you so very much for your words of wisdom and kindness. I am the mother of a gay son who I love very much and it took time for me to accept my son. He is the best son I could every have. I continue to support him in every way.

  58. Michael,
    Two things about the topic:
    1. Biblically, it is a sinful lifestyle for which Christ died. He died for all of our sins. As a Christian, one can’t promote something for which his Savior was punished. You can’t say it is OK to do (whatever) even though my Savior died for it. There is hope to bring all sinners(including me) into a right relationship with Christ but not when you say it is OK to practice that sin. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
    One must simply trust that Christ was punished for his sins and arose from the dead.
    2. I have worked closely and directly with at risk students for over 15 years. I have seen one common thread that over 90% of them have: they are missing their dad (abandoned, jailed, divorced)
    * Michael, when I ask the students, “Can you name me one good father/husband model in which they can emulate? Most have none. I then ask, “In the media, how many good father/husband role models do you see?”
    I have yet to have one student give me one. I show them the old Andy Griffith Show and they fall in love with that show. Why? A good relationship between a father and son and Aunt Bee (who helped raise Andy and Opie)(and of course Barney).
    Michael, you have got to fight for the family (mom and dad) and not accept (and promote) the lifestyle that is so self destructive as well as a means by which the family can further be ruined.
    Please don’t be swayed by political correctness but I appeal to you and especially if you claim to know Christ as Savior. All kids have problems and they need help at every angle. Don’t deny their problems and further their confusion and ruination in life. Thank you for having this venue by which I can speak the truth in love.

  59. While every person should be treated with respect and caring, you have also taught people to stand up against what they know is wrong. My disappointment with you and the Josephson Institute for your position and this piece is incredible.

  60. I was pleased to see that you are a person who doesn’t judge others. I must say as a hetereosexual female who has been married 24 yrs, I don’t know what it is like to be homosexual. I may not understand it, and I will never say they are sinners. Our Lord created both heterosexuals and homosexuals….. He called us to love each other and not condemn or judge.

  61. I have been a member of Character Counts for several years. I use many of your articles as a basis ofr theaching the concepts of moral behavior that leads one in the direction of being a person of good character. I do this in my youth basketball program. When I saw your article and your stnace on same sex marriage, I was appalled. This is the second time that I have been on the other side of what you were writing about. To me that is a pattern. I have my invoice for payment for my next years membership sitting on my desk. I will be sending it back with a large note to cancel my membership. I can no longer support your organization and that makes me sad. I agree with most all of the other things you talk about. You know the old saying about one rotten apple spoiling the barrel. You have spoiled it for me with your stance. Good By. Kevin

  62. VERY DISAPPOINTING. Everyone deserves understanding and respect. But to admit an immoral lifestyle as OK is an aberration in itself. I think true character means being able to tell people candidly that they are wrong without necessarily giving up on them.
    Gay & lesbian lifestyles and same-sex marriages are BAD EXAMPLES for both the young and old. They are lies which an ultra-liberal society has gotten used to.

  63. Michael, I appreciate your willingness to share your opinion about the appropriateness of gay marriage. What is your opinion about the character of those who disagree with you?

  64. I don’t understand or appreciate anything about gay relationships- but so long as we have an equal rights ammendment that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race & sex, we cannot prohibit two consenting adults from entering into a legally binding relationship that comes with rather specific rights and responsibiltities. If it were up to me, I would define marriage as a civil union between a man and a women- and everything else would simply be a civil union with precisely the same rights and responsibilities.

  65. What really breaks my heart with this issue is how it divides us as people. Hate for homosexuals. Hate for conservative Christians. We are all people and we are all on the same team, with so much more in common than different. The sooner we can put the fear away and talk civily, the better off we will be. I am a heterosexual Christian female who whole-heartedly supports gay marriage. I make my decisions based on love, not hate, and certainly not fear. God will judge as he will. That’s not my job. My job is to love.

  66. Wow! You sure did stir the pot. Why not wade into the immigration debate? Surely there is a question of ethics and morality in there somewhere. What about abortion? Or the war in Afghanistan or Iraq? Or the budget debate?
    I agree with a previous commenter that you used this highly regarded and greatly respected forum for personal gain. The benefit derived was to promote one position on the topic.
    Would it not have been more logical and reasonable to present both sides of the debate with pro and con arguments for each? Then, the listeners could have been educated, discussed and debated and perhaps enlightened. The public would have been well served.
    The fact that you presented only one side of the issue strikes me as more of an editorial. I could easily go watch Bill O’Reilly or Michael Savage or someone with a single-minded position who tries to bludgeon the other guy.
    I listen to you commentaries because there is good reasoning and well considered arguments. What I see is that you have succumbed to popular culture notion that your argument is the best because you say so. This is a very difficult, thorny and emotional issue. I don’t think you did much to “be significant” or “leave a legacy” here.

  67. Wow, I’m speechless… You lost all credibility in my book and I now view you now as a godless man. What a shame you talk about virtue and righteousness but you have none. You remind me of the scripture, people give me honour with their lips, but their heart is far from

  68. Thank you Michael. I liked your commentaries and have been touched with some more than others. I wish I had heard this on the radio but found out about it today with your commentary about the reactions. For what it is worth you have risen to the top for me and from now on I will smile when I listen to you and know that you are wise, sincere and human. Thank you for acceptance of all of God’s children. Yes character does count!

  69. Michael,
    “Trust those who seek the truth, mistrust those who have found it.” I’ve found this admonition to be a very good guide in evaluating people; especially myself. Loosely attributed to Bhudda the concept embodies other points of awareness about the importance of now and awareness of approaching challenges and opportunities with an open mind and an open heart. This does NOT mean that one cannot have very strong principles and priorities which guide their actions and their continuing search for the myriad truths in THEIR life. Though human history is relatively short there is so much to learn and benefit from that single minded folks with pre cognition bias ( a Jungian concept recently confirmed by research) will almost always criticize when one of their hot buttons is touched. So….. speaking for myself and all the folks who are not yet God I say THANKS Michael for your help as I continue to search and act as best I can. Yours was a wise and strong statement on a central issue of our common humanity, beautifully presented at a wonderful moment.

  70. Micheal,
    I just have this one qustion about gay rights. Did you pray about this before you decided to support this? If you did not I hope you do spend sometime in prayer if you feel the same so be it.

  71. I was just preparing to write a comment of strong support for your stance, your integrity, and the simplicity and clarity of your message. I was preparing to respond to a few commenters who incensed me with their ignorance and/or rhetoric. Then I read Westernfan’s comment, and all I need to say is “What she said!” Bravo, Michael, and Bravo, Westernfan!

  72. YOUR MISSION: The mission of the Josephson Institute is to improve the ethical quality of society by changing personal and organizational decision making and behavior.
    THE COMMISSION (Matthew 28:19-20): “GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHing them to OBEY everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the world.”
    I cannot understand how your statements and stance on this issue further your mission–it seems to have incited more controversy and further division.
    On the other hand, it is easy to see how your commentary is in conflict with the ultimiate Mission of the human race given to us by our Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for all sins. We are warned in 1 Corinthians 8:9 to “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Although this passage refers to eating meat that was offered to idols, the statement itself can be applied in any situation, in any era, and even outside any religion! Further, Matthew 18:6-7 tells us that we’re better off dead than making a “little one” stumble. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”
    Loving one another involves being a good example and letting Christ work through us to reveal the righteous path for ourselves and for others so that we might keep each other from stumbling.
    My heart aches for those who refuse to believe that there will be no penalty for living in the ways of the world instead of the Way of God. My prayers for you, Mr. Josephson, that you might see the error of your beliefs and for causing so many to stumble. My prayers for those who have accepted the gay lifestyle as “normal” and “worthy” of such rhetoric as this commentary.
    With Christ’s Love, Always.

  73. You have confirmed my belief in the honor of taking a right stand for human compassion and equality. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of your inner convictions.

  74. The one who said, “love thy neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39) also said, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).
    He also said, “… My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. … Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.” (Revelation 22:12-16).
    Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and note the words “and such were some of you.” These verses clearly shows the extent of the Lord’s love and mercy toward us, and also that He requires people give up their life of sin (ie. John 8:12; Revelation 21:8; Acts 2:38-39).
    Because He loves us He is “not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 cf. John 3:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

  75. I think once we as people get – all of us – that this isn’t about the individual so much as what legacy we leave for youngsters, either a great legacy or a great big mess, it will all work itself out. Gay issues are just one factor of that, I will add. Problem is, in my opinion?? People aren’t thinking about others, they’re thinking about what they want NOW and what suits them. I’m ok with someone being gay, as I’ve established. But…I’ve also surmised: You can’t have kids naturally being gay. I’m willing to admit it is what it is on my end…and it isn’t a shot, it’s a fact. In time….how will that work?

  76. The issue of gay marriage is not a religious issue, as it does not involve what the churches should do. it is a cultural issue, dealing with what the state should allow. It is also a moral issue, dealing with whether or not certain relationships should be open for erosion/corrosion or should be protected.
    Leaving gay relationships without protection will not stop homosexual relations; it will merely leave it difficult for people involved in committed gay relationships to maintain the commitment.
    If we are looking for guidelines for the church, we might consider how a lcal church should handle a polytheistic family immigrating into a small community which lacks any other families from their cultural/religious background. Obviously the local churches should not engage in idolatry, but how should they treat these idolatrous strangers? Should they try to forbid them from worshipping their gods? (This was the law in the Byzantine Empire, and is the practice under Sharia)
    Be Well,
    Bob Griffin

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