Almost Getting It
This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at this site.
April 17th, 2008
I can’t report every homophobic rant that comes out of Jamaica. We’d hardly have time and space for anything else.
However, one letter to the editor illustrates not only the mindset of this island nation but also the thinking process of a great many anti-gay Christians in the United States as well.
I am replying to a letter by one Patrick Harding in which it was stated that one did not choose to be gay. I cannot conceive how a loving God would create someone with a gay gene and then have it stated in the Bible that it is an abomination.
I once came to the same question as Elaine McDonald wrote to the Jamaica Gleaner. But my questioning came to a different conclusion.
Elaine, like so very many Christians, believes that her religious beliefs define the world around her. If “God said it”, or more realistically, if her prejudices are confirmed by her interpretation of Scripture, then it really doesn’t much matter what is factual; she’s already knows what is “true”.
But this statement of hers has three assumptions: 1) God is loving, 2) homosexuality is stated in the Bible to be an abomination, and 3) a loving God would not create someone only to declare them abominable. From this she concludes that God didn’t create someone gay.
McDonald, in her unwillingness to look at all of the variables of her logic, comes to the wrong conclusion. But at least she sees the inconsistency.
I agree with her point 3 as a matter of definition. Although some religious folk believe that God predestines some to eternal torture, I cannot fathom that such a deity could be described as “loving”. Such a god, though an object to fear, would not be worthy of adoration or praise.
Thus either God is not loving, gay people become so of their own volition, or the condition of being homosexual is not an abomination.*
I knew, unquestionably, that neither I nor other gay people made a conscious decision to be same-sex attracted. God had, whether by means of genetics, environment, or some other method, created us irrevocably gay.
So I then had to determine whether or not He condemned me for the way he created me, thus earning my eternal derision and scorn. As I began to study, it became clear to me that being homosexual is not in any place condemned in scripture.
This is where I think much anti-gay and ex-gay theology falls apart. There is an insistence that recognizing or accepting one’s attractions is sinful. But the rather simple-thinking Elaine McDonald has put her finger on the logical inconsistencies of their argument. In order for a “homosexual identity” (which is, of course, nothing more than a recognition of the direction of ones own attractions) to be “a sinful lifestyle”, then one must believe that God is capricious and cruel.
And sadly, reorientation is not the answer. In almost no instances do same-sex attractions change, leaving those who continue to struggle with little hope of redemption. All that the anti-gays and ex-gays can do is to play semantics games about “identity” and “change”.
As for whether specific sexual acts are universally condemned, that is a matter of great debate between various theologies. And I do respect those who, for religious reasons, live celebately and yet dismiss both the games and the condemnation as contrary to gospel.
Personally, I believe that it’s rather unlikely that the correct interpretation of Scripture is one that condemns a specific subset of the population to a life without love. This seems rather odd from a God that places little importance in the distinctions of race, sex, personal situation or political power.
But, as McDonald clearly illustrates, there is no practical distinction in society or the church between those who are same-sex attracted and those who express such an attraction with a partner of the same sex. Rampant anti-gay discrimination and homophobia do not distinguish between the two.
So the next time you hear someone insisting that “there is no gay gene”, just realize that they are acting out of their understanding of the nature of God. And as the preponderance of evidence as to the biological basis of orientation becomes more evident, their internal dissonance will become stronger.
And although some may then argue their newfound distinction between orientation and behavior, they all know that this is a losing argument so most will either become ever more shrill or will quietly go away.
So although the ‘no gay gene’ers may seem the most hateful, it’s probably because they really almost get it. And it’s tearing them apart.
* The atheists among us could argue that another alternative is that God does not exist. I concede that logic but this does not add much to the point of my commentary and is not a subject of this thread.