On March 9, I broke an extremely disturbing story on a blog posting by one of this nation's most influential and powerful religious leaders, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rev. Mohler praised the opportunity, thanks to advances in genetic science, to root out sin in the womb by altering the gay gene and save souls from the abominable sin and tortured life of homosexuality even before birth.
This QueerSighted post quickly led to a blogosphere and media frenzy culminating in a story in the nation's leading and most influential national newspaper, The New York Times. And the Times got it wrong, missing the real import of the story. In fact, almost no one seems to have understood the true meaning and impact of this story. The Times headline suggests that a leading Evangelical leader has embraced nature over nurture. But the real headline is, "So What?"
...Rev. Mohler's extraordinary and earthshaking point is that the hand of God, the creator, is to be found everywhere--nothing is accidental and everything is by design. Mohler has laid the groundwork for sweeping away any role that science and reason might have played in the education of America and the advance of a humanist and rational society. Science may be right, suggests Mohler, homosexuality is determined genetically along with the inclination to all sin. What science has uncovered is the mechanism that God has used to carry out his punishment of man for the fall, for original sin...
The work of Jesus is to wash away original sin and his followers have the obligation to further that holy mission. Mohler is celebrating science as a potential new tool that can now be used by good Christians to do the work of Jesus and remove sin even in the womb.
...Or to put it another way, the nature vs nurture debate is somewhere between futile and irrelevant. A Mount Sinai of proof that homosexuality is biologically determined changes nothing for Dr. Mohler. God is perfect. God has made homosexuals, but Mohler's point is that God has cursed us with the burden of homosexual temptation as punishment for the sin of Eden and the fall of man. The agony of Child birth and subservience to man is Eve's punishment. Homosexuality is Adam's punishment. Pity the lesbian; God screwed her twice.
...Mohler himself says it best in his latest blog entry, "All manifestations of homosexuality are thus representations of human sinfulness and rebellion against God's express will. Nothing can alter this fact, and no discovery in science or any other human endeavor can change God's verdict."
In other words, God says it's kreplach and God says the hell with it. And with you, too, if you don't get with His Program. Circular argument: see "argument, circular."
But at the same time, it makes perfect sense. The whole point of homophobia as well as fundamentalist zeal is that -it's not rational.- You can't go, aha! I will now prove with infallible logic and reason that you are wrong! Okay, I'm ready for my civil rights now, Mr. De Mille! They don't care. It won't work.
Yeah, of course, a lot of people do understand that the point of this very public argument isn't actually to convince the hardcore bigots (although hope springeth eternal in the bosoms of the scarlet and pink letter'd more often than they let on, i am beginning to suspect); it's about swaying the fence-sitters. And yeah, to an extent, with some people, this seems to have worked, in the sense of: "No, Mom and Dad and various Community Pillars, it isn't just a phase I took up to annoy you; -this is actually who I am.- It's not gonna change, and it's not about you. Please to be dealing with it." At this point I think the general culture has gotten that memo, though, as much as it's probably going to.
The other part of this is predicated on the assumption that people will be more sympathetic to your plight if they realize that it's not something that you can change.
I have always had huge problems with this assumption. The general theme of this last post (and the posts inspiring it) reminded me of why:
Pity. Is implicit in that argument. "Look, I can't help it, okay? It's just who I am. I'd be like you if I could, really. Fuck knows it's preferable to be just like you. I've tried and I've tried. *tears* But I can't. So, lay off, and let me live my life."
First of all, I can't remember: exactly when in any other civil rights struggle was "I was born this way" particularly conducive to melting the hearts of bigots? Or for that matter winning legal battles? It's an honest question: I truly don't know, especially the second part. Maybe there -was- some legal precedent back in the day, and that's why people are pushing this line. Because it works. Short-term at least. Well...okay; but...
But. Even assuming people like Moher don't set the terms for the next phase of the battle. What are the drawbacks to this approach? Who gets left behind? And most of all, what are we sacrificing?
Because me, I always thought
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
was the point. I am pursuing my happiness, not to mention my liberty and indeed life; it is not interfering with yours. The onus is on you, reactionary bigots, to make a case that it is otherwise, and frankly, you've done a piss-poor job of it thus far, and I for one am not interested in more of these stupid red herrings. You don't get to frame the terms. This is not a theocracy.
And the foundations of a genuine democracy are not rooted in pity.