Many of you know Buzz Thomas--he's a Baptist and formerly worked for the Baptist Joint Committee, where I also blog. He has a book coming out in March, and an op-ed in yesterday's USAToday that addresses the current religious venom toward same-sex couples. Yeah, I know, they would say it's not venom it's love. But we know what it sounds like.
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.Some of his arguments are better than others but the whole thing is good and wouldn't it be nice to hear that kind of sermon in a Sunday morning Baptist service? (J.R.--I know you're reading this...I know you do use the pulpit to say some things I agree with, but if you want to start the trend of dismantling the Leviticus and Romans anti-gay "arguments" during a sermon, I'll be there on the front row...)
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.
As a former "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" kind of guy, I am sympathetic with any Christian who accepts the Bible at face value. But here's the catch. Leviticus is filled with laws imposing the death penalty for everything from eating catfish to sassing your parents. If you accept one as the absolute, unequivocal word of God, you must accept them all.