Monday, March 23, 2009

Marriage And Homosexuality: A Christian Response Part 2

In Part 1 I introduced this book, and looked at the section dealing with Marriage. Chapter 2 deals with the author's ideas about gay people, and it is here they start to get nasty.


"Homosexuality is in violation of God's plan for humanity," the authors tell us, offering four verses that confirm this view (without actually providing the text for those verses, nor the context that goes with them). Then they proceed to give us "the facts about homosexuality." It's the usual Christian stuff: nobody is born gay, gay people can be 'cured', "homosexual male relationships are rarely monogamous," the gay lifestyle is "intrinsically more risky than heterosexual practices," etc...

The writers cite studies and books that agree with them, naturally. A few of those studies and books were even published recently. Nine of them, however, were published over fifteen years ago, and one source goes all the way back to 1972. Call me crazy, but I'd be a lot more convinced if all their sources were published within five years of this book's publication date (which isn't given, but I suspect it came out in 2004 or 2005). Also, given the obvious bias of this book, I'm extremely wary to take the authors' word on what those studies say.

What's worse are the things the authors say without any kind of supporting material, like this statement: "Homosexuality is intrinsically misguided and sinful, independent of anyone's response to it." The authors' attitude seems to be that anything a gay person tells you is wrong, but we don't need to prove we're right because you probably already agree with us.

The writers also demonstrate a knack for something I'll call linguistic gymnastics. When addressing the issue of homophobia, the authors say "the word 'homophobia' confuses the issue," because it implies "that all opposition to homosexuality stems from bigotry and irrational hatred." No, they tell us, "the vast majority of people" oppose same-sex relationships because of their "deeply held religious, moral or philosophical beliefs." Oh, that's so much better.

Similar wordplay is used to say that their condemnation of the gay lifestyle does not incite hate crimes. "Simply arguing against certain behaviour does not incite violence," they say, adding that "no one kills liars, even though most preachers argue against it." Yeah, but no one tries to deny marriage to liars, or drum them out of the military. And while it's true that "bigots need no sermons to motivate them to hatred," anti-gay sermons and scriptures certainly do not help matters. "Most Christians never commit or condone violence against gays," the writers say, and one hopes that this statement is true. However, the authors do not back that statement up with any study or fact.

I remain thoroughly unconvinced by the flawed methodology used to describe what a 'homosexual' is, and I hope most thinking people will be, too. Chapter 2 seems slapped together, relying on highly questionable data (or nothing at all) to provide "a Biblically based understanding of homosexuality." I suspect this chapter was intended to make non-thinking readers feel they've been informed about things they already believe, so they'll be more willing to accept what comes next. In Part 3 I'll look at Chapter 3: The Challenge To Marriage.

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