A Baptist minister wonders, "What if we're wrong about homosexuality?"
Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is a Baptist minister who wonders "What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality?" and suggests that a refusal to disregard the mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation is not a choice will undermine religion's credibility.
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.
This time, Christianity is in danger of squandering its moral authority by continuing its pattern of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the face of mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation has little or nothing to do with choice. To the contrary, whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother's hormones or the child's brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth. The point is this: Without choice, there can be no moral culpability.Although there are certainly small pockets within Christianity (and Orthodox Judaism and Islam, which Thomas also rightfully charges with intolerance) who are ahead of the curve, and either simply don't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or do fully regard homosexuality as a legitimate and intractable part of the spectrum of human sexuality, it's difficult to imagine a time in which Christianity wholly submits to the prevailing view of science and ends its reign of persecution against the LGBT community. This time, they are not going after one man, but millions of people, and some of Christianity's most prominent leaders -- including the Pope -- regularly speak out against gay tolerance. In America, many Christian leaders actively pursue discriminatory legislation, seeking to limit the rights of the LGBT community throughout society. Should they eventually embrace the scientific view this time, they will have a lot more for which to answer -- which certainly means their reluctance to admit their error is much greater.
Medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, people of science of every stripe, are telling them they're wrong. Tolerant religious people are telling them they're wrong. Parents of gay children and friends of gay people are telling them they're wrong. The LGBT community is telling them they're wrong. At what point will they listen? At what cost will they continue to insist they are right?
Thomas describes watching the "growing conflict between medical science and religion over homosexuality" as like watching a train wreck from afar: "You can see it coming for miles and sense the inevitable conclusion, but you're powerless to stop it. The more church leaders dig in their heels, the worse it's likely to be." Indeed -- if the church eventually become the singular voice of antagonism against the LGBT community, the blood of every Matthew Shepard will be on their hands. And they will have lost much more than their credibility.