There’s nothing new in this video. The Catholic Church takes a stand against gay marriage. A few people speak out against it. The Catholic Church stands firm, and collection plates stay full. Rinse, wash, repeat.
That’s not really what I’m interested in today. I’m more interested in why. Why does it happen?
Why does the Catholic Church hate gay people? Well, there are a few possibilities. Maybe homophobia is just intrinsic to human nature. I’ve heard some people — all religious, by the way — suggest that homophobia is God’s way of letting us know that he’s right about homosexuality being an abomination.
But this seems like a poor argument to me. For one thing, there are a lot of societies — both now and throughout history — where homophobia is not the norm. There are mythologies filled with tales of non-heterosexual acts that are seen as normal and functional. There are cultures whose conception of gender isn’t as rigid as ours. (Ancient Egyptians recognized five genders. Modern day Polynesians recognize at least three.) More than that, there’s the direct evidence that homophobia can be both acquired and lost. In scientific study after scientific study, people’s homophobic tendencies have been demonstrated to be incredibly malleable.
I think there’s a better explanation for the church’s homophobia.
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22)
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13)
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26-27
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
These passages are from the Church’s holy book. The book which must be believed on faith. We cannot question it. If it is in the book, it is true, even if science proves it false. This book is the only thing that can be counted on to give us the real answers to life’s mysteries.
The evidence for this explanation is pretty strong. For one thing, Catholics will tell it to you outright. Ask them how they know they’re supposed to be against gay marriage, and they’ll tell you that God told them so. In the book. And when we look at the political battle, it’s almost entirely religious people on the side of discrimination. Not just Catholics, but virtually all of the religions which believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
I don’t want to jump the gun, though. It would be wrong to just accept this conclusion without asking some more questions. What if some people are homophobic by nature and others are not? What if the people who are already homophobic naturally gravitate towards the church, and those who are not do not?
If this is true, we ought to see the same pattern in other cultures where Christianity is not a major factor. In other words, all cultures ought to have fierce battles over the acceptance of homosexuality, and there ought to be some unifying mechanism which attracts all the homophobes and unites them in their common cause.
We don’t see that, though. In fact, we see that in many cultures where the Bible is not taken as the literal word of god, homophobia still exists, but in much smaller segments of the population, and with no unifying political force whatsoever. We see other cultures where it’s openly accepted, and it would be political suicide to try to legally discriminate against homosexuals.
It appears that there’s something else at work here. Maybe a little bit of homophobia is intrinsic to human nature. It’s hard to say for sure, but it does seem like there are a few people in any society who are genuinely repulsed by homosexuality. But for an entire society to be dominated by homophobia? Something else besides unadulterated human nature must cause it.
So we’re back to America and the vicious battle between the people who vehemently oppose equal rights for homosexuals and those who vehemently support equal rights for all citizens. When we look at the demographics on both sides, we see men, women, blacks, whites, straights, gays, adults, children, high school dropouts, college grads, doctors, lawyers, McDonalds employees…
Is there one thing we can find which could unify such a diverse group of people either for or against discrimination?
How about this…
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In the holy book used by the overwhelming majority of the people who support discrimination, there’s this passage which they believe tells them they must believe the holy book even when it disagrees with science.
Interestingly, the people who support equal rights for all people don’t seem nearly as convinced that faith is a good thing. Sure, there are Christians who oppose discrimination. Lots of them. Even some Catholics, like the ones in the video. It seems like the message of the church doesn’t convince everyone who hears it. Some people let their conscience, or their belief in scientific evidence, or something else, trump the demand that they ignore evidence and do what the holy book says.
But it certainly does seem like there’s a pretty strong correlation between faith in the Bible and opposition to equality.
And that seems like pretty good evidence that faith based belief is a catalyst for causing otherwise good people to do bad things. Can you think of another explanation with this much evidence?