Dire Consequences Theology
There are, of course, a handful of people who have genuinely investigated a theological dimension to the issue of homosexuality. Their approach tends to begin with the premises that a homosexual orientation is a choice that, once made, leads to a destructive lifestyle of promiscuity, disease, hopelessness, dramatically lower life expectancy – one that is also somehow destructive to family values.
Ignore all of the willful error contained in this position, and turn for a moment to the arguments against correcting the centuries of mistranslation of the supposedly anti-gay passages of the Bible (it’s tradition, a Bible with those parts changed wouldn’t sell, etc.) Go back to the italicized line above, perfectly acceptable to homophobes, and watch as it is recast: Unjustified anti-gay translation is a choice, and that it seems unavoidable to you doesn’t mean it is not a sin. [Idea courtesy of Laura D. May.]
For a summary of the scientific research that has been done into possible neuroanatomic, psychoendocrinological, and genetic causes of homosexuality, go to The Atlantic magazine article. In addition, there is an objective, even-handed look at the subject here.
In any population, estimates of how many may be homosexual range from 1 to a maximum of 10 per cent, yet fully 30% of suicides among youth are committed by homosexuals - six times greater than youth in general. [From a US Health and Human Services report cited here. The report also cites a figure of 26% of gay youth thrown out of their families because of being gay (and it suggests that half of these then turn to prostitution to get money to stay alive).]
This may be traced directly to the rejection that society, religion, and sometimes even family subject gays to. Otherwise, the fact is that most gays manage lives distinguished from “normal” only by societal pressure to hide a fundamental and unavoidable part of their natures: that they are gay.
Murder can even happen to long-established, well-liked community figures. Consider the July 1, 1999, murder of a 14-year couple, plant nurserymen Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, by two arsonist, fundamentalist Christian, white supremacist brothers. The shooter claimed that in killing the two in cold blood, he was “obeying the law of God” and that he hoped his example would provoke more killings. There is evidence suggesting the murderer was bisexual. Link
Women are not exempt. On December 31, 1993, two ex-convicts beat, kicked, and raped Teena Renae Brandon, who identified as male and claimed to be trying to get a sex change operation. Six days later, upon finding that Teena had filed a police report of the rape, they sought her out, knifed and shot her to death, as well as killing two others living there in front of the 8-month-old child of one of them. Link
Death can be a result even without physical abuse. His mother had pleaded with the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield MA for six months to do something about the ceaseless taunting, bullying, and threats that her son was enduring. But on April 6, 2009, just minutes before going to yet another meeting with school authorities, Sirdeaner Walker discovered the body of her 11-year-old son, Carl, hanging from an extension cord in the family home. “I have been homeless, but Carl and I made it through,” said Walker. “I was a victim of domestic violence, and we made it through. The one thing we couldn’t get through was public school.” Link
It isn’t even necessary to be gay. Going home from a church party, on December 7, 2008, Romel and Jose Sucuzhanya, both straight, were walking arm in arm down a Brooklyn street (typical interaction between brothers in their home country, Ecuador – and it was cold). A car pulled up and, yelling anti-Hispanic, anti-gay slurs, men jumped out, chased Romel away, and beat Jose so badly that he later died from his injuries, leaving his children orphans. “Self defence,” one of the murderers claimed, “nothing more than a fight in the ghetto.” Link
Even less-than-fatal consequences can be overwhelming.
In the fall of 1997, 17-year veteran Navy Senior Chief Timothy R. McVeigh (not the McVeigh who bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995) was the highest-ranking enlisted man aboard the nuclear attack submarine USS Chicago. His performance reviews were and always had been outstanding. Yet the Navy illegally connected him with an ‘anonymous’ AOL site that said he was gay, transferred him to demeaning menial jobs, cut his salary, and prepared to discharge him. He endured repeated harassment, including threats against his physical safety.
In his 15-page opinion on McVeigh’s suit against the military, US District Judge Stanley Sporkin reinstated McVeigh and seriously reprimanded the Navy. Eventually, McVeigh was allowed full retirement benefits at the Navy’s highest enlisted rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, with all legal fees paid by the Navy and damages from AOL. But the fact is that a highly decorated 17 year veteran’s unblemished career was ruined. Link
For a moment, set aside the awesome illogic and junk science behind this position. It maintains that the righteous Christian has an obligation to oppose such a lifestyle in any way possible and to compel such sinners to turn to God. This is called “Dire Consequences Theology;” it holds that permitting such sordid lifestyles would inevitably lead to a decline or destruction of moral society, and a Christian must try to compel gays to abandon a choice which afflicts them with such deadly consequences.
The position entails the assertion that God richly rewards righteous faith – i.e., following God’s path leads to health, wealth, and happiness – and that the absence of these is clear evidence of estrangement from God’s path for us. Ignore for a moment the existence of birth defects on infants who are profoundly innocent of sin; ignore the incidence of cancer or dementia; ignore crippling automobile accidents; ignore Jesus’ own warnings that those who choose His path would face ostracism, violence, suffering, and death – after all, people who claim to adhere to the piece of non-theology above ignore these things. The fact is that this high-sounding philosophy is nothing but a mask for bigotry. Some people need to disguise their innate insecurity by projecting it onto others, and in this case that means denying people the protections and benefits decreed by a civil state but rather showering those who are different with insult and physical abuse. And despite a pretense of encouraging people to change sexual orientations and rejoin society, the plain fact is that the “ex-gay” effort basically involves convincing people to accept a celibate lifestyle and for the rest of their lives abandon any hope of an intimate mate. Without any exaggeration, this attitude leads to church-sponsored suicide.
In spite of Jesus’ message of love, many people who mistakenly call themselves Christians seem to feel that being righteous justifies psychological and physical torture of homosexuals, sometimes including murder. Such people fail to comprehend that no one can be compelled to love Christ or anyone else. The very most this approach can do is force people to try to deny a basic part of themselves and avoid persecution by pretending to be ‘straight.’ This is to say that it fosters dishonesty (apparently a ‘family value’).
In the real world, if homosexuals were spared the abuse of such people, most would live their lives relatively free of misery. No, this doesn’t deny the belief that genuine peace and happiness cannot come without Christ; many have found an emptiness and hunger of soul corrected only when they have found Christ. But love cannot be compelled. Forced conversions only create the illusion of success.
And an approach that is superficial and not based in genuine love cannot help but be inadequate when faced with homosexual lives that are neither plaintive nor quietly desperate but rather marked with apparent happiness and material prosperity. God’s plan, whatever it may be, is of a certainty not accessible to people who do not begin from a standpoint of love and caring; and the question of why God permits good people – whether gay or not – to suffer is a fundamental one for any faith.
Dire Consequences Theology, therefore, is only something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Homosexuality has dire consequences largely because people who believe in the philosophy make it have consequences. Without the psychological (and physical) violence that they impose on gays, lesbians, and transsexuals – not to mention people of other religions and races, or on anyone different from themselves – the consequences would be solely on an individual level and without an effect on society whatever.
There is an even more significant dimension of theology that calls many – Dominionism – that is needed for you to have a complete, overall picture.