Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Abominations: Homosexuality, Football?

Some fantastic morning reading from a USA Today opinion article entitled ‘”When Religion Loses Its Credibility,” critiques the current religious stance on homosexuality—and wonders, what if religion is yet again proven wrong? This was written by a well-spoken, pro-science Baptist Minister (yes, they do exist.)

Religion’s only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop.

It’s happened to Christianity before, most famously when we dug in our heels over Galileo’s challenge to the biblical view that the Earth, rather than the sun, was at the center of our solar system. You know the story. Galileo was persecuted for what turned out to be incontrovertibly true. For many, especially in the scientific community, Christianity never recovered

For quite a while, the “homosexuality debate” (as to whether it is a choice or innate) has been a rallying point for conservative Christian leaders. As to why they have settled on this particular behavior, as opposed to any other discrimination, is unclear to me. Ultimately, as with Galelio, science will bear out the facts–already mounting genetic evidence has pointed the way. It will be yet another bitter pill for the church to swallow.

However, one thing is clear: it is something that Christians feel strongly about. Conversely, things that they do NOT feel strongly about –handling pigskin, eating catfish, backtalking your parents–also incur the death penalty in Levitacus, the same area of scripture where homosexuality is called an “abomination.”

For many of gay America’s loudest critics, the results are unthinkable. First, no more football. At least not without gloves. Handling a pig skin is an abomination. Second, no more Saturday games even if you can get a new ball. Violating the Sabbath is a capital offense according to Leviticus. For the over-40 crowd, approaching the altar of God with a defect in your sight is taboo, but you’ll have plenty of company because those menstruating or with disabilities are also barred.

The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody’s standard of ethics. We lawyers call it “selective enforcement,” and in civil affairs it’s illegal.

Go read the rest, certainly worth it.


  1. #1 Leslie in CA
    November 24, 2006

    Good stuff, thanks. My theory as to why there’s so much emphasis on homosexuality:

    a) the “ick” factor;
    b) sexual “sins” are more fraught just because they’re about sex;
    c) the church has a long history of trying to control sexual behavior, in particular;
    d) there are not very many other sins, especially sexual sins, that Christians can criticize these days without the hypocrisy being really obvious.

    Jesus talks about divorce, for instance; well, what is the church going to say about that, since divorce is so rampant now? And adultery, well, same problem. Masturbation? Pornography? Not a chance. But straight Christians can still condemn homosexuality without being hypocrites. For people like Ted Haggard, it’s even worse; it’s hard to imagine the level of self-loathing they must live with.

    Speaking of Haggard, this website has a little ditty about him (via Making Light).

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