Robert Gagnon Explains Why Consensual Gay Relationships Are Worse Than Bestiality and Incest

Jim Burroway

May 1st, 2013

Robert Gagnon

Robert Gagnon

Jeremy Hooper was forwarded a lengthy email chain sent to over seventy social conservative anti-gay activists in advance of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute’s conference at the end of May. Among those receiving the email chain was Exodus International Alan Chambers, who tired of the anti-gay rhetoric and, after asking to be removed from the chain, finally added Hooper’s email address to it. In one email response, Robert Gagnon called Chambers to task for “secretly adding the name of someone whose whole objective is to promote sexually immoral behavior and abuse those who uphold what Jesus and Scripture regarded as sacred.” Gagnon also went on to justify his use of the word “perverse” to describe gay people:

The verb “to pervert” is from the Latin meaning “to turn thoroughly,” i.e. away from the truth or right course of action. Applied to sexual practice, a perversion is “any of various means of obtaining sexual gratification that are generally regarded as being unnatural or abnormal.” Paul in Scripture makes a point of singling out homosexual practice as sexual behavior that is manifestly contrary to nature in that it is clear that a man and a woman are sexual complements or counterparts, not males with males or females with females. He als refers to such behavior as self-“dishonoring” (Atimazo / atimia) and as “indecent/shameful behavior” (askhemosune). The Levitical prohibitions and some Deuteronomical texts add the description of to’evah, something abominable or abhorrent to God. The latter (along with Revelation) adds the epithet of of “dogs” to men who actively emasculate their appearance to attract male sex partners in a cultic context, treating themselves as “sacred” (hence the Hebrew name qedeshim). Bestiality is an even more unnatural form of sexual practice since it is cross-species. Adult-consensual incest is also a particularly perverse form of sexual practice since it involves sex with someone who is too much of a familial same. But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural because the male-female requirement for sexual relations is foundational for all that follows (so Genisis and Jesus) and because sex or gender is a more constituent feature of sexual behavior than kinship.

Gagnon has argued that homosexuality is worse than incest before. In one 11-page polemic from 2007 — yes, Gagnon does like to hear himself speakGagnon writes (PDF: 61KB/11 pages):

It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture’s sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce. (The reader will note that I did not mention bestiality because the evidence from ancient Israel and early Judaism suggests that bestiality is a worse offense than same-sex intercourse.) [Emphasis in the original]

I guess in the six years since then Gagnon’s sorted out God’s mind on bestiality and, unsurprisingly, Gagnon’s God now agrees with Gagnon that gays are worse.

In addition to Gagnon’s close association with the NOM, he is also a founding board member of Restored Hope Network, comprised of a group of break-away ex-gay ministries which left Exodus International after Exodus president Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Chambers also repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights, including marriage rights.

wendy leigh

May 1st, 2013

Timothy Kincaid

May 1st, 2013

“Among those receiving the email chain was Exodus International Alan Chambers, who tired of the anti-gay rhetoric and, after asking to be removed from the chain, finally added Hooper’s email address to it. “

That has to be the best response ever to being ignored. If you won’t take me off this stupid email chain I’ll add someone you really don’t want on here.


May 1st, 2013

Frankly, I am am plain damn tired of attempting to agrue with Christians or for that matter anybody about weather or not being in a homosexual relationship is a sin. The Bible was written by man, not God.


May 1st, 2013

You know, we have discussed at length what those who wish to undo the damage they have caused through their past anti-gay campaigning have to do in order to re-considered or given a real second chance in the eyes of individual LGBT folks. I keep seeing Chambers’ name show up in a lot of the right places – actions, not just words. Quietly, not press conferences for public rehabilitation.

Many of us – myself certainly – have been very critical of those claiming to have an 11th hour “me too” revelation about LGBT rights, particularly on the marriage front – folks who seem to want something for nothing (or at least very little).

Thus, I feel it is very important to note Chambers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this exactly the kind of “reparations” some of us have called for? Is Chambers not an example of this? (Then again, I don’t know what else he’s been up to – so someone educate me if I’m wrong)…


May 1st, 2013


Baring any information, this is a step in the right direction for Alan.

Hooper basically hat tips Alan in the original post and promises ‘more later’, regarding Alan’s actions. Perhaps he will address that topic.


May 1st, 2013

Even for NOMs usual suspects, Gagnon is a special kind of heterosexist zealot. His capacity for making the Gospel message so convoluted as to be unrecognizable is an unenviable talent.

His approach to SSA and scripture reminds me of a sage insight by evangelical scholar Gerald R. McDermott.

McDermott notes:
“When we fail to recognize the development of doctrine both within Scripture and by the Spirit’s gradual illumination of Scripture in church history, we begin to think we are in control of the gospel. … we think we need only apply our previous understandings to new situations rather than continually listening to God through fresh readings of God, Scripture, and world. In doing so, we are in danger of hearing not the gospel but ourselves, and at that point theology becomes idolatry.”

In Gagnon’s case however, I think he gets pleasure from hearing himself. Which may be a substitute for another form of self gratification which Gagnon can’t do since, as I understand it, he believes is also a ‘homosexual activity’, because it doesn’t involve a woman.


May 1st, 2013

It is fascinating to me that people like Gagnon are perfectly happy to work with those who are also living out of compliance with God – but this time on religious grounds. NOM, despite being a very Catholic organization, is more than willing to work with Mormons, who are not even Christians, according to the Vatican. So Gagnon and his fellow NOM travellers must also believe that being gay is a worse sin than rejecting God and following a false church. Interesting.


May 1st, 2013

I think that use of the term “pervert” as a noun, and use of “perversion” to describe anything at all found in nature is the sign of an autodidact exposing his gaps, unaware. Very unaware.


May 1st, 2013

I’m not defending this creep, but for the sake of accuracy, it doesn’t appear that he’s saying bestiality is worse than homosexuality. In fact, he specifically says it is “more unnatural”. (Which is like saying “more unique”, but whatever. This guy is obviously not a brainiac). In the email, it appears that he is only referring to incest as being worse, because homosexuality doesn’t have the male-female aspect that banging your mom does. I think the confusion lies in the writing. By condemning homosexuality as “even more severely unnatural” after discussing bestiality and then incest, I think Hooper misinterpreted the email. I believe Gagnon is only referring to incest when he busts out the “even more severely unnatural” line. And I think that because his reasoning is because male/male is worse than male/female, even if that female is your mom, which is obviously a reference to incest only. And I just can’t imagine that even this guy is attempting to argue that banging a female dog is less bad than banging a male one.


May 1st, 2013

Alan Chambers saying he is going to stay out of politics, and focus ONLY on his ministry. It’s powerful!

Jim Burroway

May 1st, 2013

I read these three sentences in order: “Bestiality is an even more unnatural form of sexual practice…” “Adult-consensual incest is also a particularly perverse from…” and “But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural…”

Yes, Gagnon may personally consider bestiality as “an even more unnatural form,” but since since he considers himself a theologean, how Scripture treats homosexual practice is what ultimately matters to him.


May 1st, 2013

Yes, but as I said, his reasoning for why “the scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural” are all related to incest:
“But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural because the male-female requirement for sexual relations is foundational for all that follows (so Genesis and Jesus) and because sex or gender is a more constituent feature of sexual behavior than kinship.”

Like I said, it was badly written, but it stands to reason his third sentence there is only referring to the second, as bestiality does not meet the “male-female requirement for sexual relations”.

David C.

May 1st, 2013

Robert Gagnon called Chambers to task for “secretly adding the name of someone whose whole objective is to promote sexually immoral behavior and abuse those who uphold what Jesus and Scripture regarded as sacred.”

Translation: Really annoyed that you have exposed us for what we are and laid bare our unmistakable bigotry, hypocrisy, and calumny.

Jim Hlavac

May 2nd, 2013

You see, else where today Boxturtle spoke of NOM being against gay rights — hell, no, they are against gay existence – -and they mean to rile up the nation against us. That’s why “anti-gay” is so weak. I could be “anti-new highway,” but I’d still want the roads we have. These people aren’t against something for us — they are against our existence —

and when we recognize this, and stop talking about them as “phoboes” and “anti-” and such — and talk about their real agenda — which is nothing short of forced conversion and/or a cultural if not physical genocide — we might be able to argue with these people.


May 2nd, 2013

Gagnon hardly has a reputation of scholarly worth. I’ve read the erstwhile take-downs of his work by classical philologist, Jean-Fabrice Nardelli published on this website.

To make a long story short : with its peculiarities, defects and failures, The Bible and Homosexual Practice actually belongs to the genre of homophobic polemics of dubious value – regardless of its programmatic claims to fresh science and technical refinement – to me it reads as a work of defamation plain and simple, threatening GBLT persons, their supporters, those who advocate civil rights for them, and the Bible scholars for whom bigotry is no substitute to analysis and the exploration of all exegetic options.

Weighing up incest and bestiality against homosexuality in some moral hierarchy of sub-heterosexual grotesques is the work of a defamer and bigot, plain and simple.

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