Homosexuality, the Bible and Political Rights
I would like to respond to the two recent columns on homosexuality and rights by Chris Curran and Steve Lulich. To put my bias on the table from the beginning: I am a Christian biblical literalist. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Moreover, not only is the Bible the Word of God, I believe that it is the very words of God and the Holy One has given us this book as a guide for a daily life. As such, I search the Scriptures daily to glean what the Holy One is saying to me.
Lulich writes, "Being homosexual or not is no more racial or ethnic than being a vegetarian or not. Therefore it does not make sense even to think about 'protecting' homosexual rights, which are in the first place in no special way endangered." Curran writes, "But the religious justification for discrimination against homosexuals is no stronger than the biblical case for slavery." Both authors present a false dichotomy of a (fundamentalist) Christian worldview and the political rights of homosexuals, which although popular, is at its essence wrong. Many of the TV fundamentalists that the enlightened moralists like to condemn for their "close-mindedness" and "intolerance" do not like the idea of homosexuality and disproportionately speak out against this practice. In this sense, they are out of line because in no way does the Bible support making homosexuality a capital crime of the Church.
At its philosophical core, the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a moral deviation from the path that the Holy One has appointed to mankind. However, the Bible never singles out homosexuality as the crime; it is mostly listed with adultery, fornication, idolatry and drunkenness in the New Testament. The only time that homosexuality is listed by itself is in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verses 24-27. It is listed as an "unnatural (sexual) relations" resulting from the worship of images, people, birds and animals instead of God.
The other main verse about homosexuality is found in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. He is writing to this church about sexual behavior in this section because there was a temple of Aphrodite nearby with loads of votary prostitutes. It was standard practice for the people who had now become Christian to visit the temple and relieve sexual stress. Paul writes to them, tells them that this is idolatry and demands they stop immediately. He says that sexual desire is no excuse to engage in immorality (he lists many things from idolatry to drunkenness to prostitutes) and that people who engage in them "cannot inherit the kingdom of God." After teaching them this, he says that some of them were this way, but because of the power of Christ, they had been washed and must turn from the old life.
Modern sociobiology and enlightened thought disagrees with the Bible and claims that homosexuality is natural and must be protected in the same class as race and gender. One of the reasons that I respect left-wing social political theory is because of their endless ability to link everything to anti-racism and anti-sexism. Since no one wants to be a sexist or a racist, the natural thing to do is become anti-homophobic. Still, the truth of the statement rests in what is left unstated. Biblical theology poses a problem to this line of thinking; homosexuality is presented as something analogous to hair color, which is something that can be changed by an individual choice regardless of whether someone is born with it. However, whether or not one can change sexual preference is irrevalent to the discussion. The issue at stake here is larger than sexual identity but deals with democratic values and individual rights.
Going back to the idea of hair color, it is immoral by any definition of the word to fire, rape, beat, assault or refuse to hire a person because of their hair color. Hair color, despite the popularity of blond jokes, does not determine anything about a person. So is homosexuality. It does not fundamentally alter the humanity of the person who practices it, and there is no reason, other than psychological self-righteousness, to harbor any hatred or take any action against a homosexual. The Bible says that homosexuality is just like any other sin, is not a special one and does not change the humanity of the person before the throne of God. Whether it is natural or a choice, according to the Bible and modern secular philosophy, homosexuality is not a cause to discriminate.
The second point about democratic values is apparent. America prides itself on freedom of speech and the freedom of expression. In reference to free speech in Islamic and Protestant countries, Dr. Sauad Al-Sabah wrote, "It is not a democracy [simply] when a man can talk about politics without anyone threatening him. Democracy is when a woman can talk of her lover without anyone killing her." Allow me to make this more germane to the topic: it is not a democracy simply when a person can talk about politics without anyone threatening him. Democracy is when a man can talk of his boyfriend or husband without anyone killing, beating or dehumanizing him.
The legislation that Curran speaks of should be passed immediately and without hesitation. He tries to cover his political rear end, so to speak, by saying "While I see it as a moral issue, I recognize that others share a different sense of morality than I do. But if I, a reliably conservative Republican, can come to see the issue in this unconventional light, then I hope that others can reevaluate their beliefs as well." This is not an issue of morality; it is about individual rights. God will judge each person for his actions and has not given us the authority to speak of morality. Abraham said to the Holy One when He was destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, "Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" Nevertheless, this issue at hand, divine justice, is so great a notion as to be ignored completely for now.
Thus, Curran has the right idea. The Republicans and the Christian community should and need to reach out to the gay populace. Both groups should fight the seductiveness of moral disgust and resist the hatred of some leaders who pose as preachers and concerned social activists who call for them to "Purge the plague! Fight the culture war!" Were I a member of the Republican Party I would tell them this: Republicans and fundamentalist need to cast their nets in new waters; Republicans need the votes and the church needs the souls.