Ignorant intolerance, what is your name? This week it's "Gen. Peter Pace," chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who believes that homosexuality is as immoral as adultery.
It's also the Portland Oregonian columnist David Reinhard, who strongly supported Pace's religious bigotry in his "Tolerance or Approval?" piece a few days ago.
Homophobes do their best to ignore science, just as global warming deniers and intelligent design advocates do. But the truth has a way of sliding through even the most closed-off minds.
Consider the case of Rev. Rob Schenck, a prominent evangelical leader, who came to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a choice but a "predisposition," something "deeply rooted" in many people.
This is, of course, also the conclusion favored by the scientific community. I admire Schenck for looking beyond his religious belief system and opening his eyes to the evidence. Neil Swidey wrote a Boston Globe story, "What makes people gay?" He said:
Schenck told me that his conversion came about after he'd spoken extensively with genetic researchers and psychologists. He argues that evangelicals should continue to oppose homosexual behavior, but that "many evangelicals are living in a sort of state of denial about the advance of this conversation." His message: "If it's inevitable that this scientific evidence is coming, we have to be prepared with a loving response. If we don't have one, we won't have any credibility."
A loving response.
Hear the advice, Pace and Reinhard? If homosexuality isn't a psychological choice, but a physical compulsion, calling gays immoral for wanting same-sex sex is as ridiculous as calling straights immoral for wanting opposite-sex sex.
No, it's more than ridiculous. It's immoral. To sit in judgment on someone for a mostly (if not entirely) genetically-based attribute is so wrong it's sick.
Would Pace or Reinhard call someone born with a birth defect a sinner? No, they simply would be viewed as different from most people. Likewise, about two to four percent of the population is attracted to members of the same sex.
Ever-increasing evidence points to the conclusion that they are born gay. I've got little doubt that soon we'll look back on those who hold that homosexuality is a sin with the same how could they ever believe that? incredulity as we now view racists.
That's my hope, at least. Sadly, fundamentalist religion may help keep gay-bashing alive for longer than it would otherwise survive. Consider this bizarrely head-in-the-sand statement from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
In the end, the scientific evidence is not morally important, though it may be medically useful. The church's witness to the biblical condemnation of homosexuality as sin is a crucial test of faithfulness, no matter where the biological research may lead. The church must take its stand on the Word of God, and leave the genes to the geneticists.
They've got it backwards. A morality that isn't founded on reality is what's immoral. The Bible isn't the word of God. Whatever or whoever the ultimate reality often called "God" may be, few would disagree that truth is what God speaks.
And the almost-certain truth is that homosexuality isn't a choice. If you're religiously inclined, you could call it God's plan for some people. Or (my preference), a strong genetic predisposition.
Either way, it isn't immoral.