Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Source of Hatred

The vast majority of people who claim to oppose homosexuality (or civil unions, for that matter) for religious reasons are lying.

They may be lying to themselves as much as they are lying to others. We have a great deal of evidence to show that people are capable of embracing the greatest absurdities when it is psychologically comforting to do so. A person who is unwilling to face the true nature of their disapproval of homosexuals, and unwilling to accept what it says about them as a person, can easily grab onto a lie that gives them an illusion of legitimacy.

However, whether this is self-deception or an attempt to deceive others, few people, if any, actually oppose homosexuality for religious reasons.

This can be proved.

There is a fire, and the fire department needs to determine what caused it. The investigator sets out to do his work. He gathers evidence and conducts experiments. Then, several weeks later, he calls a press conference to discuss his findings. He reports that the reason for the fire was the presence of oxygen in the air, because his research has shown that if there was no oxygen there would have been no fire.

Immediately, the mayor of that community would have reason to start looking for a new fire marshal.

“Excuse me, Mr. Investigator. There is oxygen present in every house on the planet. Yet, very few of them burned down. When we asked you to find the cause of this fire, we were asking you to explain why this particular house burned down. The cause that we are interested in is what makes this house different from all of the houses that did not burn down.”

Anybody who gives us a reason, where we can answer that there is another case where that reason applies but the outcome one is trying to explain did not come about, has given us a poor reason indeed. We are justified, in these instances, to answer, “That is not the real reason. We need you to give us a reason that actually explains what we asked you to explain.”

When some people are asked why they oppose homosexuality, they answer that the Bible says that it is an abomination before God. We know that it is an abomination before God because it says so in the Bible.

Excuse me, Mr. Religious Ethicist. There are a whole lot of things that are an abomination before God, as mentioned in the Bible. These include the eating of shell fish to working on the Sabbath to collecting interest from fellow citizens to suffering a witch to live to NOT killing somebody who recommends belief in another God. However, you do not condemn these other things. So, this cannot be the reason for your condemnation of homosexuality. Why can't you treat homosexuals the same way you treat those who work on the Sabbath?

This is not a novel response to those who condemn homosexuality for religious reasons. I have not written anything that those who have been involved in this debate has not seen a number of times before. Yet, most people leave the argument here. In fact, this response opens up a number of interesting moral questions.

If Biblical abomination is not the true source of this condemnation, then what is?

"You are not getting this from the Bible. We know this. We can prove this. So, if not from the Bible, then from where?"

The fact is, those who condemn homosexuality suffer from a learned bigotry. They do not learn to hate those who eat shell fish, work on the Sabbath, or charge interese on loans. In fact, they learn to be quite tolerant of such people. As such, shellfish eaters, Sabbath workers, and interest chargers live relatively safe and comfortable lives.

The government even steps in to try to improve the lives of these people. It establishes standards that aim to keep shellfish safe to eat. People who work on the Sabbath have the same legal rights and protections as those who work on weeksays. Nobody dares argue that Sabbath workers are seeking 'special protection' by applying labor laws to Saturday or Sunday labor (which ever actually is the Sabbath).

Worse, the government participates in charging interest - through the Federal Reserve, and charging interest on late payment of taxes. This should be viewed as the biblical equivalent as the government participating in homosexual acts. This latter act itself would be the moral equivalent of the Federal Government itself setting up organizations to facilitate homosexual acts – perhaps by running a house of homosexual prostitution. Such is the government’s attitude towards the charging of interest.

On the other side of the equation, we can imagine a government that says that fair labor laws and overtime requirements simply do not apply to those who labor on the Sabbath. Clearly, the moral fiber of our country cannot withstand the assault that would befall it if we were to give weekend labor official recognition and the sanction of government protection. This is if we do not ban it outright.

Just as clearly, at the very least we must abolish the application of pure food and drug laws to the shellfish industry. If the government were to take steps to protect citizens from the ill effects of eating unhealthy shellfish, this will do nothing more than to promote this perversion, inviting an overall lack of respect for God’s law that will do nothing less than bring down civilization as we know it.

If biblical prohibition were the real source of condemnation, we would find ourselves in a society where shellfish eaters and bankers would be prohibited from participating in youth organizations like the Boy Scouts. Those who insist on such a ban would argue that those who so flagrantly violate God’s law cannot possibly be moral, and clearly cannot be considered good role models for our children.

What type of message does it give our children to be a member of a troop whose troop leader is known to be a practicing shellfish eater or banker – when the Bible so clearly identifies these acts as a violation of His law? These children will no doubt come to think that all of God’s law are open to question. This type of moral relativism is the last thing that we need to be teaching impressionable young minds.

We do not hear these arguments. Therefore, we need something that explains why the homosexual is subject to these types of claims, but the shellfish eater (or harvester) and the banker are not. There must be some other reason for this distinction.

So, he who says that the condemnation of homosexuality is driven by its being called an abomination in religious text is like the fire marshal telling us that the fire was caused by the presence of oxygen in the air. The fire marshal cannot explain the difference between the house that burned down and the house that did not burn down. Both, as it turned out, contained plenty of oxygen. The religious ethicist cannot explain the difference between the homosexual and the shellfish eater or the banker – all three of which are equally engaging in practices that are abominations according to scripture.

We are still in need of somebody who can tell us the real cause.

The real cause is actually quite obvious. The difference between the homosexual and the shellfish eater is simply a learned hatred. Parents and priests teach their children or their flock to hate homosexuals in ways that they do not teach their children to hate shellfish eaters and bankers. In fact, parents and priests quite openly teach their children and their flock to ignore God’s prohibitions on these activities, and to treat these practitioners with the same respect given to any other neighbor.

From this, we must ask whether there is any good reason to teach a hatred of homosexuals, but not of shellfish eaters or bankers. When we look at this question, we discover that the reasons we are typically given to hate homosexuals are make-believe. It is a hatred cloaked in a sheet of lies and nonsense.

We are told that the reason that the 9/11 hijackers were successful is because our nation has weakened its intolerance of homosexuals. As such – because we so flagrantly allow citizens to ignore God’s law – God has removed his protective hand. Yet, it would seem that, if such a story made sense, God would be even more furious over our acceptance of shellfish eaters and bankers. They, clearly, have gained far more acceptance in our society than homosexuals.

When we are asked to explain why Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans – this too was ‘explained’ in germs of God’s anger over the town’s greater tolerance of homosexuals. Yet, here too, perhaps God was not targeting homosexuals (and those who are tolerant of homosexuals) at all. Perhaps God was angry at New Orleans because it was the center of a huge shrimp industry.

These arguments against shrimpers and bankers make absolutely no sense. Anybody who tried to use them would be immediately exposed as hate-mongers devoting themselves to adding misery to the lives of others for no good reason. Moral progress will be made when homosexuals, in fact, are given the same type of treatment as shrimpers and bankers – fully accepted in society in spite of the fact that the Bible condemns their lifestyle – because there is no good reason to hate them.

So, the next time somebody says that they base their condemnation of homosexuals on religious text, call them a liar. Let them know that you cannot tell at the start if they are only lying to others, or if they are lying to themselves as well. However, they are deceiving somebody. What they are saying is false, and can be proved false.

Unless the speaker actually gives homosexuals the same social status as shrimpers and bankers, they are doing as poor a job of reporting the actual source of their hatred as the fire marshal who reports that oxygen is the true source of the fire.


Anonymous said...


First, where I believe we agree: 1) religious beliefs are not causally related to attitudes toward homosexuality, and 2) much hostility toward homosexuality is learned, 3) morally we should not condemn anyone for homosexuality or any other behaviors that are not harmful.
Where we may not agree: Reactions to homosexuality involve unlearned responses, and it may be rather careless to call something a lie, when the person saying it believes it to be true.
While I can’t deny some sexual attraction cues are learned from one’s culture, it is obvious that through the billions of years of sexual evolution, creatures have been able to appropriately select sexual partners without being taught. In humans it is generally agreed that our most powerful feelings are usually associated with sex and love. We don’t need to be taught to feel lust or love, and we don’t need to be taught what is sexually attractive. That doesn’t mean we all are attracted to the same thing, only that we all have triggers that produce sexual desire or sexual revulsion.
I would argue that emotional responses to any given sexual situation are mostly determined by our instinctive programming. We don’t consciously decide how we are going to react, our evolutionary history gives us that reaction.
Where it becomes interesting is when that reaction hits the conscious brain. Studies have shown when the brain gets information without an explanation, it immediately and unconsciously assembles a story to explain it. Usually that helps us understand the world, but sometimes the story contains completely fabricated elements needed to make a coherent story. The person is totally unaware that the fabrication is taking place, and consciously believes the whole thing.
When a man gets the unconscious message sex with another man is inappropriate (an evolutionary wrong thing to do) his brain has a “wrong” position to explain rationally. Since the position didn’t come from the rational brain, there is no rational explanation for it. The brain is forced to come up with the best explanation it can, i.e., God, the Bible, nature, or whatever says, “Don’t do it.”
Of course as you show in your post, these are demonstrably not the causes, but for the brain, they’re better than nothing. And they aren’t deliberate lies, they’re actually the best explanation the brain is able to come up with.
In fact I would suggest that the reason the homosexuality taboo got into religious doctrine to start with was a way to explain the instinctive feelings, and the reason it persists today while shellfish and banking taboos have not, is the same.

kitty said...

I just want to start off by saying that I'm a former Xtian, and am now a very proud atheist. However, I am curious as to what your opinion is about this "article":

It claims that the various Hebrew words used that were translated to abomination somehow give drastically different meanings to eating shellfish vs. homosexual acts. I would just like to hear what you think, or if, like me, you think it hardly matters and it's just another fundamentalist argument for protecting the "holy estate of matrimony" (laughable in the midst of a 50%+ divorce rate).

Anonymous said...

People would be far more receptive of what you have to say if you didn't call them liars or bigots for not agreeing with your views.

Someone who reads your opening sentence, and opposes homosexuality (or more accurately, sex between those of the same gender, or with animals) is going to have a bad taste in their mouth, and a frown on their face. Try to argue with the opponents in mind as well as yourself in future? I try too.

But, to get to the point;

I liked your illustration of the fireman very much, good lateral thinking there (made me smile too ^.^). BUT, you went wrong with your lack of understanding of the opposition.

There are reasons, WHY it appears that Christians 'pick'n'choose' what they want to believe.

Mostly because while the arguer references a scripture, they fail to reference anything related to it, such as words quoted from Jesus, explaining what to do on the sabbath, and for 'Dietary Laws'.

Also for the reason why no-one (as far as I know) sacrifices anything to God. Before making such a bold statement, you should avoid insulting those you oppose, by misunderstanding what they believe, or stand for. Understanding both sides of the argument, is to have an answer for any question about either side.

Although this argument probably sounds really arrogant, it is not intended as such, and I assume that you haven't studied religion greatly (as an atheist...), if that is wrong, I apologize.

The end of the matter is, the ultimate question you pose ('if the Bible is not the source of this hatred, then what is?') is flawed, because the Bible itself defeats you. Seeing as the Bible EXPLICITLY teaches you to love your brother, and treat him better then you would yourself. And the mistake you made, is that the Bible invalidates laws on the Sabbath and Dietary laws after the coming of Jesus in the New Testament.

Thats all for now! Please write back!

Fare Thee Well.


E-Mail me at : (please don't spam) and I'll do my best to answer any questions asked.

Anonymous said...

Someone who reads your opening sentence, and opposes homosexuality (or more accurately, sex between those of the same gender, or with animals)


What the hell kind of a person are you?!?!?

Oh that's right, you're a Christian (or more accurately, one who follows Christ, and molests children)

Jonathan Moore said...

World Class Fool said...

"And the mistake you made, is that the Bible invalidates laws on the Sabbath and Dietary laws after the coming of Jesus in the New Testament."

Some Christians mistakenly think they no longer have to obey any of the laws and commandments set out by God in the Old Testament since they are now operating under a new covenant with Jesus. But this view is incorrect. Jesus Himself says that He did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it. Here is the verse. This is Jesus talking:

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." (Matthew 5:17-18)

This verse right there tells you that all of the basic commandments set out by God in the Old Testament still apply for all Christians today. This includes all of the 10 Commandments, all the commands not to engage in homosexuality, the occult, getting tattoos, etc.

Furthermore, if we are to take the antinomianism position, why not extend it to homosexuality? Why not also argue that the sexual restrictions only applied to the Jews in the Old Testament and now that we are under a new covenant we no longer have to obey them?

Emu Sam said...

Some Christians are liars. But to paint all Christians as liars is to commit the moral crime of bigotry.

There are some Christians who do not even lie to themselves. I have known people who do not believe in a god or a divinity, even in the most abstract sense, yet still feel some of the teachings of Jesus were worth following, and that the social network of a Christian church is worth belonging to.

They may or may not be guilty of the moral crime of enabling those who DO lie to themselves.

Norcalben said...

Let's face it, hate forms a much stronger bond that love. Everyone who walks through the door of any church support this philosophy. If they call themselves christian then they must subscribe to rhetoric. They are the power base for the fanatics who make all the noise. The heart of Fred Phelps beats in every christian. Every christian.