A Treatise on Homosexuality, Part 6: Why I Believe in Equal Rights for Homosexuals*
I’ve now answered—as best I could—“Bob’s” questions for me…but the subject isn’t done yet, because I want to finish with two posts that are somewhat related, one looked at from the viewpoint of how I, as a Christian, believe our society ought to deal with the question of homosexuality, and second, how Christians themselves ought to deal with homosexuals themselves. A quick word before I begin (and some of my readers may not like this, nor some of the other things I say in this and the next post; brace yourselves): I think that for a lot of Christians, the response to my delineation of two different viewpoints above might spark the question, “aren’t the answers one and the same? Shouldn’t society deal with the issue of homosexuality in the same way as Christians ought to?” To which my answer is, simply, “no”, in this respect: we are not a theocracy in America. This is disappointing to some, and heretical to others, to hear me say this, but while I agree that basic Christian principles are clearly built into the warp and woof of American society, and while our founding fathers all acknowledged some deity (though I’m convinced that few were nearly as “evangelical” as either we’d like ’em to be, or as some people would tell the story), and thus America owes much to the teachings of the Bible, we nonetheless live in a pluralistic society—I’d argue that the roots of a respectful, truly tolerant society come directly from the Bible! Again, I do not argue that Christians ought to not take the appropriate place at the table; we certainly should, and we should seek to bring our faith into every endeavor of life. But that is an altogether different thing than saying, for instance, that we should adopt, say, Old Testament laws for dealing with homosexuals. I do not believe this is appropriate in our society; we can’t with integrity just make the wholesale leap from God’s law for Israel straight into “this is how we ought to do it in America”, and start lynching homosexuals. Get the point?
In a nutshell, I believe in equal rights for homosexuals—though I reserve the right to qualify that statement in my comments to follow. Of course I reserve the right; it’s my blog!
Back in 1994, the homosexual lobby pushed for—and was granted, by President Clinton, the right for homosexuals to serve in the military. At that time, most homosexuals applauded the decision, and most conservatives and Christians stood against it. I agreed with the policy, agreed with Bill Clinton (one of the few times), disagreed with most of my fellow Christians. Funny how time changes things: now, the homosexual lobby hates it, and most conservatives and Christians seem to have made their peace with it. I’m right where I’ve always been.
Why do I raise this issue? Because it illustrates to me, on the part of my fellow Christians, an attitude that I find wrong-headed, and it goes something like this: “let’s oppose anything and everything that seems to remotely work to the benefit of homosexuals.” Maybe you’re a Christian, and you don’t feel that way: good! But too many Christians have, for too long, and many still seem to feel that way. For some reason, we’ve taken this particular sin—deplorable as it is to many, I grant—and not only judged those guilty of it more harshly than others, but used it as a club to deny some basic rights to homosexuals. If our generals are convinced that military preparedness isn’t compromised by allowing homosexuals (who agree as a condition of soldiering not to make their sexuality a known issue) to serve, then why would we oppose such, except for what I’ve said: there are some folks who seem to act as though any advance for homosexuals is an affront to God, and ought to be opposed vigorously. I disagree strenuously with this point of view.
Before I proceed, let me make a point that is germane, and one which I believe is often overlooked: what is legal, and what is moral, overlap at some key points, but there’s nothing approaching a 1-to-1 correspondence between the two nor, I would argue, ought there to be. I illustrate thusly: there is absolutely nothing wrong with driving on the left-hand side of the road; a continent of Europeans do it, I’m given to understand, at least the Brits and I assume the rest. There’s no moral reason not to drive on the left—but there is good reason why it ought to be illegal to drive on the left-hand side of the road in America: it’s legal to drive on the right! At this point, and we can likely think of many examples of this, what’s legal and what’s moral are two very different things. Taking the point the other way, lying is wrong, condemned clearly by Scripture. And to be sure, certain lies are considered criminal in the U.S. (libel, for instance), but would any sane person want all lies to be criminalized? I rest my case, fellow liars.
Therefore, it does not follow in a pluralistic society that the simple fact that something is immoral means that that action ought to be sanctioned. Many states had laws prohibiting homosexual sexuality for years; some may still have that. Question: what business is it of the state what two consenting adults do in privacy? None. Every person ought to be able to leave their personal effects to whomever they choose, and to have whomever in the hospital room they choose. Laws that restrict homosexuals from these fundamental human rights need to be removed from the books. We could think of other laws as well.
Are there exceptions? I would make only a few (thus the asterisk in my title), and the criterion would be one issue and one alone: does the particular proposed right in question serve to do harm to others? I would not, for instance, allow homosexual couples to adopt children; I believe that this harms children, though I’ll quickly add that those words ought not be taken as an endorsement of all heterosexual marriages either.
Further, since I believe the primary purpose of the military is to defend our country, and not to serve as a politically-correct battlefield for social change, I would not be in favor of implementing any policy which would serve to decrease military preparedness—which is why I think “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” strikes the right balance. One could probably envision another issue or two of similar nature which would warrant something short of what we’d understand as “equal rights”.
Finally, what about homosexual “civil unions”? I’m just going to confess here that I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, as I’ve stated, I believe that we ought to go the extra mile to afford rights to homosexuals that are as equal as prudently possible; at the same time, “gay marriage” is a serious mistake for us to make societally, as I’ve suggested previously. Here would be my two criterion for supporting “civil unions”: one, is this the only way—and not merely the most expedient—to reasonably secure such rights in the area of relationships between homosexuals? Two, will the push for “gay marriage” end if we grant this legal recourse? Under those two circumstances—which would be difficult to guarantee, particularly the latter—I could be persuaded to favor “civil unions”.
There now, I’ve probably said enough in this post to anger folks on both sides of this spectrum…