Monday, April 14, 2014

Define "Intolerance"

Ross writes

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?


sykes.1 said...

Leaving aside the dubious distinction between gayness and homosexuality, the numerous references to homosexuality in the ancient classical literature (including the Bible) indicate that homosexuality is itself ancient and not an invention of the 19th Century. Lord Byron wasn't the first gay man.

Considering the gays I have seen and met, gayness is clearly genetic, and is evident at a relatively early age, say post pubescent. Whether it is due to a mutation or an intrauterine infection is something to be determined.

The persecution of gays for their condition is reprehensible. The Bible (always a problematic source for moral choice) itself has been used to justify the persecution of gays, and it has also been used to justify slavery (black, white, yellow, brown), domination of women and the extermination of non-Jews (Amalekites et al.) However, it is obvious that this is not a problem merely with the Bible. Racism, patriarchy, elitism, and anti homosexuality were features of Socialsm itself until very recently. Think Margaret Sanger and Fidel Castro as well as Adolph Hitler et al.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"All cultures attempt to discourage behavior seen as anti-social. "

Or at least that behavior seen as un-constructive.

Homosexuality is at best unproductive behavior that is an evolutionary dead-end. In the middle it is a somewhat mitigatable hazard, both morally and from a public health perspective. At worst it is a deadly toxin that will kill its host.

Based on what little I know of history, it is when societies begin to tolerate homosexuality in significant amounts, particularly among its men, that things go awry. Homosexuality could then be viewed as a symptom of a society past its apogee, one that has traded vigor for fabulousness.

Sykes wrote:

" Bible. Racism, patriarchy, elitism, and anti homosexuality were features of Socialsm itself until very recently."

Perhaps then the issue itself isn't necessarily with the Word, which I very much disagree with you about it being a problematic source of moral instruction, but with the humans who read, interpret, and apply it.

cecilhenry said...

Homosexuality is clearly NOT genetic.

Twin studies have refuted this, as have sibling studies. Check out Narth...

And making something 'genetic' does not justify it.

Aggression is genetically acquired, murder is not justified by it.

Dr. Φ said...

Sykes: I would align myself with EW's response and add this: the classical literature forbids (or recounts, or celebrates) homosexual acts. I'm unaware of much in the way describing the homosexual condition before the 19th Century. But I will look at any references you have.