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Columnist: Is homosexuality wrong? What does the Bible actually say? Part 1

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

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Growing up in the South in the late ’50s and ’60s, morality was important to our family and my peer group. Mothers and fathers were respected and children knew that being smart and working hard were key ingredients for future success.

Going to church was just as important to us as attending school. We tried to live by the Golden Rule — ” Do unto others, as you would have them to do unto you.”

This message was reinforced and hammered into our psyche at every grade level. We knew that we must fear God and live by the tenets of the Bible. In doing so, we instinctively learned the importance of shame and conscience.

We truly believed that to dishonor your parents would lessen your life span. Shame essentially governed our behavior and virtually every aspect of our lives during this period. It was the inculcation of a way of living and lifestyle that prevented us from making a fool of ourselves and being an embarrassment to our family and loved ones.

Conscience, on the other hand, was our attempt at being the embodiment of Godly principles utilizing the Bible as our blueprint. We knew that it was bad to steal, to kill and to harm others whom God had created. Too many of our children today do not have a sense of conscience and shame.

Most girls and boys knew their gender, which was assigned to them by God and behaved accordingly. From the time I entered elementary school until I graduated, I never knew what homosexuality actually meant.

Sure, I had known during this period guys who acted effeminately and girls who behaved like boys. We never, though, associated their acting in this manner with their engaging in “same-sex” activities.

As a male, I never singled out any males or females who behaved this way as a target for bullying. Neither did my peers. When we got angry with them, however, it was not uncommon for us to call the guys “sissy” and the girls “tom boys.” As I remember it, the guys whom we called “sissy” bested us in sports and we often included them as team members.

Door opens to the world

I entered college in the late ’60s. It was truly at this time that I put away my childish thinking and became a man. I found campus life fascinating. I absorbed everything.

Most of the things that I had been taught not to do at home I saw others doing at college before my very eyes. Drugs were very prevalent and campus was like a Garden of Eden, with students believing it to be their rite of passage to engage in forbidden activities away from the scrutiny of their parents.

Within this environment of social change I discovered a home away from home. It was reinforced at my new home that my prior environment was in desperate need of an overhaul — a kind of revolution, so to speak.

We learned to be tolerant of others, and most of all I learned that prejudice and discrimination were harmful and wrong. It was preached almost daily in the classrooms and in social gatherings that God did not condone any man’s inhumanity to others, and that just as Moses defied Egypt’s Pharaoh to demand the release of His people centuries ago, it was mandatory that we become active participants in the dismantling of the country’s system of segregation and hatred of others because of their race, color or religious preferences.

College was awesome! It was an environment that was tailored to assist youth in developing their innate potentials. Being away in school I would ponder sometimes what my friends were doing who did not go to college and instead took jobs in the local mills.

Personally, I knew after my first month on campus that I would never return to live in my place of birth. I discovered, however, that some of my former classmates also eventually left our hometown permanently to settle in other states.

An even bigger shock to my belief system

College was definitely where I wanted to be: right in the midst of a social and cultural revolution in the country unfolding before my very eyes. Nothing prepared me, however, for the first time I saw a guy on campus that appeared to be very certain as to his gender identity, and it was not as a male! We would describe this person as being “buff” today — muscular, handsome and pretty.

He was in fact the “prettiest” man I had ever seen. He was very popular, especially with the ladies. The guys described him as a “faggot” — a term typically used by homophobes or person insensitive to gays — who dated men as opposed to women. These terms were different from my high school use of the word “sissy.”

As I reflect on those years, even though I witnessed quite a lot of this behavior during my college years, most homosexuals I discovered preferred privacy as opposed to publicly flaunting their sexuality or interest in the same sex.

I wondered, was homosexuality also destined to be acceptable as part of the new social and cultural revolution?

(See the second half of this column in a future edition of the Daily News.)

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at glenn.dowell@gmail.com.