Almost Getting It

This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at this site.

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Ben in Oakland

April 17th, 2008

Beautifully put, timothy.

The insistence upon the correctness of those beliefs defies logic, knowledge, compassion, half of their so-called theological underpinnings, experience, ethics, morals…everything.

Which leads me to believe that it isn’t really about any of those things, as i have said before. It’s just aobut how much the existence of gay people bothers some straight people, and a whole lot of other people’s lack of consciousness around how they think about the world and the people in it.

In other words, just plain old prejudice, tho’ of a deeply held and pernicious kind. And that is why, i think, it is so not amenable to change on the basis of the items above defied.

There is nothing so true on heaven or earth but wishing will make it so…

…describes this exactly.

Except that it is not a true statement. It doesn’t make it true, it just makes other people’s lives difficult.

Zeke

April 17th, 2008

Mr. Kincaid, I really appreciate this commentary.

It really doesn’t make any difference to me whether a person thinks I’m evil or unworthy of being treated fairly and equally because they think my sexuality is an inborn orientation upon which I refuse to refrain from acting or a chosen “lifestyle” that is defined by homosexual sex which they call “behavior”.

I’ve had people tell me that they know that my sexual orientation is inborn and that’s OK; it’s just when I express that orientation through a sexual act with my partner that they disapprove, like that’s supposed to make me feel better. I actually find it more offensive when people tell me that my attraction/affection/love and sexual orientation is inborn but I shouldn’t dare act on it because THAT would be a sin.

When someone tells me that my sexuality is a “lifestyle” that is chosen and evil, that lets me know that they are ignorant and in need of information and education but when a person tells me that my orientation is inborn but is something that I should never act upon, that tells me that they are willfully ignorant, cruel or both.

I can forgive ignorance long before I can forgive cruelty.

Joel

April 17th, 2008

Comment removed – off topic

Samantha Davis

April 20th, 2008

There is a fourth assumption that she made that you missed though.

4) The Bible is a valid oracle into the nature and will of God.

Just some thoughts

January 19th, 2009

I guess my interpretation of what the Bible says would really through a Monkey in your wrench. I have done quite a bit of study on the subject and from what I can see God didn’t make a “Gay-gene” as you call it. It states very clearly in Gen 1:26, 27; Gen 9:6; Acts 17:29 ; and Rom 1:23 that man was created in God’s image. If that is the case then we are all created perfect. We then through our life experiences and choices have the opportunity to change what God has given us and become something different. No one is forced to be something they are not born to be.

When you said “This seems rather odd from a God that places little importance in the distinctions of race, sex, personal situation or political power.” You were not being very accurate. God says quite a bit about all these topics. He states very clearly that we should not marry outside our race. This was due to people from one religious background and culture mixing with someone from another religious background and culture and creating a situation that would lead to divorce. When it comes to sex you really have to give Leviticus a good read. There are all kinds of things we are not suppose to do with sex. As far as personal situations or political power you haven’t read the rest of the Bible. Every verse is filled with stories on how to treat people when it comes to disagreements or living daily with one another. Unfortunately, it seems as though you have only heard the arguments from very extreme ant-gay Christians who do not seem to be using God’s love to discuss the topic with you. I personally am a Christian who believes that being gay is a sin but, I also believe that it is equal with adultery, stealing and murder. I also know that I can not judge anyone for their choices, that is God’s job, I can only inform and try to help. The real choice is up to the person.

David C.

January 19th, 2009

4) The Bible is a valid oracle into the nature and will of God.

And this God appears to exhibit or to at least have been imbued will all the frailties of man, including jealously, vengeance, hatred, and a host of other things I have no intention of worshiping. A truly loving god is not the one represented by much of scripture as found in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is sad.

I also know that I can not judge anyone for their choices, that is God’s job, I can only inform and try to help. The real choice is up to the person.

Wisdom that all Christians should embrace wholeheartedly. I, like many gay people, am not asking for help, but to be let alone. All Christians and adherents to other religions are free to believe whatever they want in private. History is replete with many instances of persecution of religions by religions and by religions of everybody else. All of that was the work of men, just as all of what is written in the Bible. Reasoning with the tools of the bible is ultimately unsatisfactory because reason and logic do not enter into faith, in spite of ecclesiastical efforts to argue logically about belief and the will of God to which no man is privy.

The Founding Fathers of the United States recognized the need to keep religion and politics strictly separated. That wisdom is apparent in their writings and American History. Whenever religion attempts to assert itself as the dominant political power, it is and must be beaten back, or both the secular government and religions, whatever they may be, are lessened and their freedom of conscience endangered.

nick

February 16th, 2009

Just some thoughts,
The fact that you compare homosexuality to murder, stealing and adultery prove the obscene irrationality of your religion. Yuck.

Jason D

February 16th, 2009

“I personally am a Christian who believes that being gay is a sin but, I also believe that it is equal with adultery, stealing and murder.”

It’s interesting that a vague and arguably nonexistant sin of homosexuality is somehow equal to two of The Ten Commandments. How’d that happen?

Other than being a list of things you find distasteful, homosexuality, adultery, stealing, and murder have little in common. In fact, this is a perfect example of a standardized test question “Which one of these things is not like the others?” Clearly homosexuality, as it is the only thing that by definition has no victim, and doesn’t violate the golden rule either.

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