USA Today contributor Tom Krattenmaker (On gay rights, keep fighting or adapt? USA Today, February 14) wrote recently that we've reached a point on gay rights that is similar to that moment in a football game . . . when you know it's over even though it's not overclaiming that social conservatives have already lost on this issue.

It is true that social conservatives suffered a defeat in the vote to repeal the 1993 law against homosexual conduct in the military. (It is also significant that the repeal bill was forced through a lame-duck Congress using desperate maneuvers at the last minute, because they knew that the new Congressthe one that actually represents the contemporary political consensuswould never pass it.)

However, to say that social conservatives should surrender to the forced affirmation and celebration of homosexual conduct, because of a single legislative defeat, is like saying the Green Bay Packers should have forfeited the Super Bowl once the Steelers achieved a first down.

And to walk off the field because the far-left advocacy group the Southern Poverty Law Center throws the hate label at pro-family groups would be like retiring from the sport because one loud-mouthed fan of the opposing team yells, You stink!

The biggest trophy that homosexual activists now seek is the redefinition of marriage. Currently, only five states call same-sex unions marriages, while the other 45 all continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In what sport would a team leading by a score of 45-5 be losing? Furthermore, where the people have decided, 31 out of 31 states have upheld marriage as a male-female union. A 31-game winning streak rarely signals a losing season.

The rest of Krattenmakers argument is as weak as his football analogy, as it totters between ignorance and slander.

Krattenmaker claims that conservative warnings of a threat to religious liberty from same-sex marriage rest merely on fear that Christians do not get to dictate the law of the land. But it is nature (which says that it takes one man and one woman to procreate) and social science (which shows that children do best with a mother and father) that dictate that marriage should be the union of a man and a woman, not Christianity. Yet legalization of same-sex marriage would result in zero tolerance of those who believe in natural marriage, threatening the livelihoods of religious marriage counselors, adoption agencies and educational institutions.

Krattenmaker says that many Americans . . . live and work with gay people . . . [and] have family members . . . [and] people in their lives who really matter to them who are gay. There is no disputing this. He also urges adherence to a foundational Christian principle: Treat others as you wish to be treated. I agree whole-heartedly.

Heres how I would wish to be treated. First and foremost, I would want to be told the truth. Homosexuality is not an identity, as Krattenmaker describes itit is a behavior. There are abundant secular grounds to be concerned about homosexual conduct, such as the physical and mental health problems that are associated with it. These are not fabricated by social conservativesthey are well-documented in the medical literature and have even been summarized by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

As to theology, one newly-published book by a liberal theologian cannot overturn two thousand years of Christian sexual ethics. The Bible depicts a wide variety of sexual behaviors, from polygamy to incest to rape, because it is an honest book that shows the truth of human experience. But its references to homosexual conduct, in both the Old and New Testaments, condemn such conduct in every case.

If family members saw that I engaged in behavior that put my physical health at risk, I would expect them to warn me and urge me to stop. If my closest friends believed I was in a harmful relationship, I would want them to tell me, and help me escape it. And if I were falling into sin, I would want my brothers and sisters in Christ to call me to repentance.

What I would not want is to be told soothing falsehoodsthat I was born this way, I can never change and that all my problems are somebody elses fault. Such a message is comforting in the short run, but far from loving in the long run.

We will continue to speak the trutheven hard truths. We will continue to do so in lovethough love must sometimes be tough. There is one thing we will not dowe will not be silent.