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The Achilles Heel of "Being Gay is Not a Choice."

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Over a decade ago, I had a long conversation with a student of mine at Miami University (Ohio) who was an adult pastor of an independent Baptist church. He described to me how a new theological position was developing in the Baptist community and the issues that drove it. There was (and is) a growing movement among fundamentalists to adopt the "limited salvation" election of the Reformed churches.

What drove this particular group, several years before 9/11, was the massive missionary failure to convert Muslims to Christ. To this pastor, the church certainly was not at fault. The culprit was a religious tradition that forbade Christian missionaries, condemned Christian converts to death, and forbade the free discussion of religious ideas other than those of Islam on the media and in the work place. Concluding that this great wall could not have been of human or demonic origin, the only remaining logical conclusion is that God built this wall, and those within the Islamic nations are not "predestined" for salvation. They are vessels created only for destruction (Romans 9:21-22), and like poor Esau, they are created only for hatred and scorn, hardened by the will of God alone to resist the truth (Romans 9: 13-15, 18).

Now the thought of 1.2 billion people being consigned to the fires of Hell in a rather cavalier fashion was quite a shock to me. But I haven't seen much traction for this movement since then (other than the followers of Coral Gables), but I have learned over the years that every spooky doctrine seems like a parasitic entity, in search of a host. I believe I have found its logical target.

For the past years, the church has consistently lobbied that being gay is a choice. They affirm that one could be converted to the straight life. Numerous junk science seminars assure a nervous Christian population that their gay sons and daughters chose to be gay and that biological factors are the mere phantoms of evil liberals and gay activists. This view is gradually eroding as the basis for their conclusions withers under intense scrutiny from both mental health professionals and the media (such as the recent appearance of hug and snake oil charlatans like Richard Cohen on Rachael Maddow).

But don't crow too loudly. The cure may be worse than the disease. Lurking in the background is the specter of John Calvin, potentially pointing the finger to gays as vessels of wrath, chosen by God for destruction. In other words, if being gay is not a choice, but predetermined by biological and genetic factors, this is by "intelligent design" and was an active choice of the sovereignty of God. Like my Baptist pastor friend dismissing the potential of Muslims to be "saved," I foresee a number of fundamentalists proclaiming that gays are beyond salvation. And that does not mean they will give up imposing their sectarian views against gay marriage and gay rights. They will intensify their efforts, dehumanize and devalue gay Americans more, and move towards sanctioning religious violence. Without the value of gay humans being potentially healed converts, their potential to be demonized, considered reprobate, and persecuted increases exponentially. This will not result in a "live and let live" mentality. It will result in political and militant actions to purge gays from the community of the righteous. And since these theocrats tend to view America as their righteous community, I can only predict violence.

Theologically this gun is already loaded. It just requires some big mega-church leaders to pull the trigger. And with recent studies indicating that having liberal political views may also be genetic, this gun may be pointed at more people than you imagine (see Alford, Funk, and Hibbing. "Are political orientations genetically transmitted?" American Political Science Review (99) May 2005).
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Now a quick Google search does not show this idea of "gays as non-savable reprobates" has much of a web presence (apart from some of the wilder statements of Rev. Phelps). But the potential is there. I know how these organizations can stop and reverse direction on a dime ("Here's what God is saying to the church right now!") and immediately mobilize to not only completely reverse their previous position but to create the propaganda campaign that will claim that they've preached this for decades! These are typical tactics of a church not interested in truth as much as social control.

So I'm wondering: what are the counter measures? I believe the time to think about this is now and not later.


I live a quiet life in Maine, teaching for the past decade or so within the University System. I was at one time a Republican and a Pentecostal, but I grew up! My passion? Maintaining the separation of church and state to save America from the (more...)

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The Achilles Heel of "Being Gay is Not a Choice."

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Gays are lucky that the Bible-thumper Christians a... by TL Winslow on Thursday, Dec 17, 2009 at 2:03:41 PM
What do these people hate so much? Why are they co... by daveys on Thursday, Dec 17, 2009 at 9:18:29 PM
Why so much hate? Because religious radicals live ... by Phronein on Friday, Dec 18, 2009 at 9:32:25 AM