Although this article is obviously aimed at evangelical Protestants, I think the warning applies to Latter-day Saints, as well.
Some, at least, in what might be called the militant homosexualist movement — a movement that is increasingly vocal, confident, and influential — seem to demand not merely equal rights but approval, even celebration, from the rest of us.
Homosexuality is, I confess, not a topic to which I’ve devoted a lot of thought or attention. And I’ve had scarcely anything to say about it, whether in public or privately. (I do have a few thoughts about which I may write in the near future, but, thus far, they’ve gone unexpressed.) Yet even I’ve been diagnosed by a number of my most vocal critics as suffering from the mythical mental illness now fashionably termed “homophobia.”
While I have reservations (based on historical usage of the word, etc.) about granting the title of marriage to same-sex couples,* I’m quite okay with removing legal penalties for homosexual behavior (already largely taken care of, I think) and, off hand, I have no particular objection to granting domestic partnerships and/or civil unions. And while, as someone strongly inclined to libertarianism, I don’t think that the State has any business interfering with the freedom of association, which means that I have trouble with anti-discrimination laws in principle, and would have such trouble even if they were designed to protect people like me, I strongly disapprove of discrimination based upon irrelevant matters of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Such discrimination is, in my view, both unethical and profoundly unchristian. I’ve tried, as earnestly as I know how, to search myself for any signs of hatred for homosexuals — I have homosexual acquaintances and, even though I’m based in isolated and “straight-laced” Mormon Utah and am employed at Brigham Young University, have worked, and worked quite well, on a few projects with homosexuals and have counseled with others — I can honestly say that I find no trace of it. None.
However, I suspect that my attitudes on these matters won’t be enough to spare me condemnation for “bigotry,” “hatred,” and “homophobia.” (Far and away most of the “hatred” that I’ve seen in connection with California’s Proposition 8 has come from the “No on Prop 8″ folks, not from its proponents.) After all, I belong to a church that teaches — and I myself believe — that homosexual behavior is wrong. I don’t think that it ought to be legally punished, any more than I think that drinking coffee should be prohibited, but, yes, I believe it to be wrong and, both as a bishop and now as a lay member of my church, I claim the right to regard it as a moral/spiritual problem. (Indeed, as an exceptionally difficult and painful one.) Thus, as elite and perhaps popular opinion shifts on this matter, we Neanderthals who persist in believing that homosexuals have the same inalienable rights as the rest of us and should not be interfered with by the State but, at the same time,that homosexual acts are wrong and reflective of a disordered sexuality, will come under increasingly harsh criticism and ever mounting pressure. The trend seems to me fairly clear.
* In this regard, one of Mr. Lincoln’s stories, told in a very different context, seems to me apropos: Arguing with a group of fellow Washington politicians about something or other, he’s said to have asked how many legs a dog would have, if the dog’s tail were redefined as a leg. ”Why, five, of course,” responded a member of the group. ”No,” Lincoln replied. ”Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Marriage, in my judgment, is a quite specific kind of relationship, with thousands of years of tradition behind it, and it can’t and shouldn’t be casually redefined.