Friday, June 26, 2015

An Excerpt from Straight & Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate by Thomas Schmidt

Thomas Schmidt writes,

"An acquaintance at the office, or a neighbor, approaches you and says, "You're a religious person--tell me, what do you think of all this homosexuality stuff?"

"You reply, "Well, I think the Bible is pretty clear that such activity is inappropriate." You think you have made a simple statement expressing your belief in the authority of Scripture. But what the other person hears may be altogether different."

"To many people today, it is as though you had said, "Well, I think that the Bible makes it pretty clear that light-skinned people are superior to dark-skinned people." Why? Because for increasing numbers of people, sexuality is no longer a moral issue but a civil rights issue."

"How did the shift occur from morality to rights, and why has it proven persuasive? In the broadest terms, we might consider developments in Western and especially American culture. Begin with the affirmation that all people are created equal, and continue with the principle that the state should not rule in matters of personal conscience. Implication: the state should protect privacy."

"But then--and here's the rub--gradually remove the notion of a universal standard by which to evaluate behavior (the Judeo-Christian tradition), and people are left to evaluate their own behavior, which is all equally moral because it is all equally legal. The flip side of this is that it becomes immoral--and it could actually become illegal--to express intolerance, and the definition of intolerance could extend to any challenge to a legally protected behavior or opinion."

"The confusion between what is legal and what is moral, and the emergence of tolerance as the supreme virtue, stands behind most of the important issues being debated today... Within this cultural climate of confusion, in the past few decades there has been considerable civil rights legislation for minorities and women... the key issue in the link with civil rights is the issue of choice. Is homosexuality something you are, like being black or elderly or handicapped or female, or is it something you do, like adultery or polygamy or incest? Those who practice these latter behaviors have certainly been discriminated against... but they are not linked to the civil rights movement."