I object…

Jay has an interesting piece raising the issue of where Christian rejection of homosexual practice comes from:

I was looking at Warren Throckmorton’s blog earlier this week and noticed his links to these pieces by both Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber. I’ve written about Barber before, and I don’t much care for him. I don’t know much about LaBarbera, but I doubt I’d be too much a fan of his, either. Both of the men seem to be so virulently opposed to homosexual people that any possible logical arguments they have are overshadowed by polemical statements and sheer ignorance of what it means to be gay (i.e. It’s not about sex!)

However, I think there might be a reason behind their negativity that goes much farther simple adherence to Scripture. Here was a quote by Barber late in his piece that caught my attention:

“The sheer mechanics of homosexual conduct very naturally elicits revulsion in most rational folk.”

That seems simple and unsurprising, but it got me thinking. For one, he pretty much implies that if you don’t have “revulsion” towards gay sex, then you most likely aren’t “rational.” I guess that means he thinks if one is actually attracted (or maybe simply tempted) by gay sex, and certainly if one participates in it, then that person is inherently irrational. Seeing your opponents as inherently irrational is nothing new, and both sides of the political arena do it. However, I don’t think it’s really Christ-like. More than that, I don’t think one should hold up their “knee-jerk” reaction to something as the starting point for their belief that it is wrong.

It’s not hard to see something as wrong when you naturally are grossed-out by it. But to build a variety of political, Scriptural, and ethical arguments around that “knee-jerk” is irresponsible. I’ve happened to notice that pundits who admit to being repulsed by homosexuality tend not to be the most tempered or nuanced about the subject. Whereas people like the folks at Exodus — like them or not — do seem to guard their words a bit more, despite the fact that both groups disagree with homosexual behavior for the supposed same religious reasons.

Like I said, just a thought. I don’t think we should disqualify folks with a “knee-jerk” reactions towards homosexuality from commenting on GLBT issues, but we don’t need to be holding up those reactions as the basis for good political or religious argument. People, at best, need to be calm, cool, respectful, and objective. Maybe I’m just hoping for too much here. :)

Jay’s right of course. The Christian argument isn’t sociological or biological or psychological. It’s theological and every time a Christian says “It’s not natural” or words to that effect, they actually undermine the argument against same-sex practice. Complain about promiscuity and I’ll show you a monogamous gay couple. Argue about the grossness or medical dangers of sodomy and I’ll show you a gay couple who don’t practice it.

Ultimately this is a conversation in the church which needs to be theological and scriptural. What does God say, not what do people think.

7 Comments on “I object…

  1. It reminds me of the phrase that’s used to describe opponents of stem-cell research or human cloning: “the Yuck Factor”.

    Yes, the only possible reason for opposing these practices could be an instinctive revulsion based on a benighted lack of understanding. The idea that people could have principled objections without a hint of “yuck” Does Not Compute.

    That said, I suspect the intensity of Christian opposition to homosexuality has a lot to do with more visceral and emotional factors (and a certain degree of homophobia, sad to say). Why is it that false teaching and wrong practice on gay issues is splitting the church in a way that other ethical/moral issues (in human sexuality and other aspects of life) haven’t? Why is this the point at which people have said “Enough is enough”?

  2. By discounting “what people think” and the argument from what is “natural” (and setting that over and against “theology” – although I’m not sure how theology can be separated from “what people think”), aren’t you in essence saying that your opposition to homosexuality is nothing to do with human reasoning? And isn’t that essentially irrational?

  3. I think the distinction is between what Scripture says and “what people think” in terms of “yuck, you stick it where??”. Arguments based simply on emotional response aren’t very good ones.

    Obviously human reasoning is important (so the medical argument against sodomy is based on this), but what I’m saying is that Christians should primarily frame their objection to homosexual practice on theological grounds.

    I’ve corrected your post – BB code don’t work but HTML does. See those tabs above the comment entry box…

  4. Hear, hear. By definition, a Christian argument has to be a theological one.

    And as you say, a medical argument based on medicine.

    A Buddhist / natural law / something like that argument may be based on the ‘unnaturalness’ of homosexuality. The homosexual is certainly ‘handicapped’ when it comes to sexual union, in the somewhat but not exactly the same way heterosexuals unable to engage in natural sexual union are. Handicapped does not mean useless or invaluable, of course. One makes due with what one has.

    I also agree that from a pastoral perspective, non-theological arguments may actually hurt the cause.

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