Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.)
Let's count the problems:
First, "gayness" as the cultural expression of homosexuality is probably a could deal less than a century old. Indeed, homosexuality itself, understood as a full-time condition, isn't much older than that. So this "thousands of years' worth" business is at best an order-of-magnitude exaggeration with respect to "gay people".
To homosexuality's modern cheerleaders, of course, the notion of "gay people" is indivisible from the specific homosexual acts enjoined in the Bible. Social conservatives in my lifetime have resisted this indivisibility, either from an effort to "hate the sin, love the sinner" or, in the more fundamentalist case, from denial of such a full-time condition. (This second has never been especially plausible to me. While I can appreciate the difficulty that the "natural" existence of particular predispositions -- homosexuality, pedophilia, kleptomania, etc. -- to commit evil acts poses for the Christian understanding of sin, I also know from my own felt experience that something is organically different about people with such predispositions.) I assume that Ross, as a Christian so-con, would at some level align himself with the first of these motivations were he not obligated by his standing with the New York Times to play the ball where they've placed it.
But in light of scripture, what accommodations to homosexuals, if indeed that is what he means by "charity", does Ross believe Christians, as Christians, should have made but didn't?
But let us concede that Sodomites, where their activities have become known, have occasionally been treated roughly. This rough treatment has not been confined to Christian cultures, nor is it unique to homosexuality. All cultures attempt to discourage behavior seen as anti-social. I fear Ross is falling into the liberal trap wherein every folk wisdom or cultural antibody not precisely aligned with the priorities of present-day Leftism is by default laid at the feet of Christianity. Now for those for whom "Gay Rights" is a vehicle for their war on normal Americans, this default is a feature, not a bug. But for everyone else, I invite you to find an anti-gay hate crime -- and good luck finding one -- that was motivated by Christianity.
And it's not just hate crimes. In point of fact, if Western Christendom has routinely enforced the Biblically-required penalty for homosexual sex, I am not aware of it. I assume that Douthat is acknowledging Uganda here, but at least two objections come to mind: (1) it is strictly the anti-Christian opportunism of the Leftist media (but I repeat myself) to blame "Christianity" rather than "Africa"; and (2) I would not assume that the practice of homosexual sex in Africa maps all that well onto American-style "gayness" (and indeed I'm not even sure that what goes on in America is exactly the way "gayness" is marketed by the Leftist media -- dang, there I go again!) So while I leave to Uganda how best to deal with the challenges that beset it, I would not recommend their policies for the U.S. But then, what mainstream so-con has?