Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Gay Shibboleth

Opposition to homosexual behavior may now be a bar to high office.
A Christianity Today editorial

As a member of the United Methodist Judicial Council, physician James Holsinger voted with the majority to affirm Methodist teaching that bans practicing homosexuals from ordination. Holsinger also wrote a white paper for the denomination 16 years ago on the health hazards of gay sex and on the biological complementarity of the human sexes.

Should that bar him from serving (as President Bush desires) as U.S. surgeon general? It's not surprising that homosexual-activist groups like Human Rights Campaign think so. But most of the major Democratic presidential candidates agree. John Edwards was particularly harsh: "In a profession dedicated to healing and compassion, it cannot be hard to find a qualified candidate for surgeon general who sees all human beings as equals. … Holsinger's anti-gay writings and beliefs suggest that he will undermine, not advance, the cause of equality and fairness in health care."

The Boston Globe called for Bush to withdraw his nomination, since "no one should go into the job with a record of discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation." A Washington Post editorial called Holsinger's white paper "bigotry masquerad[ing] as science" and mocked him for this sentence: "In fact, the logical complementarity of the human sexes has been so recognized in our culture that it has entered our vocabulary in the form of naming various pipe fittings either the male fitting or the female fitting depending upon which one interlocks within the other."

"Is he a doctor or the Ace Hardware man?" asked the Post. Satirist Stephen Colbert went further: "For years, we have tolerated smoking just like we currently tolerate homosexuality. But the surgeon general alerted us to the dangers of smoking with warning labels. With Holsinger at the helm, we can use the same approach for homosexuality. Every gay man and woman should come with a label: 'Warning! Plumbers have found homosexual behavior to be dangerous and unnatural.'" The Bush administration didn't exactly rush to Holsinger's defense. "That was not his belief. It was not his opinion. It was a compilation of studies that were available at that time," a spokeswoman said. "Over the last 20 years, a clearer understanding of these issues has been achieved." The spokeswoman added, "It should be noted that in 1991, homosexuals were banned from the military, and several years before that, homosexuality and Haitian nationality were considered risk factors for HIV/AIDS."

Contrast this with, say, 2007, when the military still bans "persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" and gays and Haitians are still at high risk for HIV infection.

So some things don't change. But tolerance for dissent on homosexuality apparently has. The Holsinger denouncements and the White House's assertion that Holsinger couldn't possibly have meant what he wrote suggest that opposition to homosexual behavior is becoming a disqualification from serving in high public office.

That's a remarkable change from even a few years ago, and we're not alone in seeing it. "On no issue is history moving faster than on 'gay rights'—an already antiquated term for full and equal participation and acceptance of gay men and women in American life," Michael Kinsley wrote in Time.

On the other hand, as of press time, Holsinger hadn't been rejected yet, and other newspaper editorials, along with Holsinger's medical colleagues (including some homosexuals) are defending him as fair, professional, and compassionate. Still, affirmation of homosexual behavior seems to be shifting from an in-group shibboleth to an unwritten requirement for American leadership.
Where does that leave biblical Christians? We may soon come to the point where supporting a sexual ethic based on an orthodox reading of Scripture becomes part of our cross to bear.

The rest here.

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