The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) & homosexuality
2012: Analysis of the SBC resolution on same-sex
Disrespect towards LGBs within the resolution: Part 2
In this website, "SBC" refers to the Southern Baptist Convention,
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays and bisexuals, and
"LGBT" refers to LGBs, transgender persons & transsexuals.
Analysis of the SBC resolution:
This resolution appears to be based on three foundational principles:
That "... the biblical definition of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman." This appears to be inaccurate. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech became the first known polygamist when he took two wives. Subsequent men who took multiple wives included: Esau with 3 wives; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Solomon: 700 wives of royal birth; Rehaboam: 3; Abijah: 14. Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives. The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) contains no negative comments on such marriages except for Solomon's marriages which were criticized because he married many non-Hebrew wives who followed Pagan religions.
- That "The Scriptures indicate that all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful..." This also appears to be inaccurate. In the Hebrew Scriptures, a man could keep numerous concubines who could be dismissed when no longer needed: Abraham had two concubines; Gideon: at least 1; David: many; Nahor: 1; Jacob: 1; Eliphaz: 1; Gideon: 1; Caleb: 2; Manassah: 1; Saul: 1; David: at least 10; Rehoboam: 60; Solomon: 300; an unidentified Levite: 1; Belshazzar: more than 1. Again, this arrangement existed without condemnation.
In addition, the resolution is directed at loving, committed same-sex couples who are actually married, either in a civil ceremony or in a religious ritual. and whose marriage is registered and recognized by the state government. Thus, their sexual behavior is within marriage. As the Bible states at Hebrews 13:4: "Marriage [is] honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (King James Version).
- That "... homosexuality does not present the distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections, like the classes of race and gender." This is restated later in the resolution as: "homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender."
Their implication appears to be that a person's race and gender are determined before birth -- in fact at conception. Thus they are totally beyond a person's control. When women, African Americans, etc. are discriminated against because of their race and/or gender, Southern Baptists feel they have every right to fight for equal treatment as a civil right.
However, the vast majority of Southern Baptists, along with most other religious conservatives, believe that homosexuality is a behavior that is consciously chosen by the individual, and can be changed with prayer and considerable effort in adulthood.
For that reason, they conclude that sexual orientation is not something that they are born with; it is not pre-determined at or before the time of birth. It is often referred to as a lifestyle, like choosing whether to live in the city, suburb or a rural area; whether to be self-employed, or work for a company, etc. They conclude that gays and lesbians have no right to fight for equal treatment -- including access to marriage -- as a civil right, as women and racial minorities do.
However, the vast majority of religious liberals, secularists, professional psychology, psychiatric, counseling associations, human sexuality researchers and the LGBT community agree that homosexuality is an orientation that is discovered and is fixed -- or essentially so -- among adults. Further, sexual orientation has a strong genetic component. This is evidenced by studies of identical twins with matching DNA who were separated at birth and raised independently. Where one twin identifies themselves as gay in adulthood, there is about a 60% probability that their twin is also gay. (The percentage of adults who are gay is of the order of 5%; thus the 60% probability represents a 12 fold increase among identical twins.)
A person's identification as lesbian or gay typically occurs about the time of puberty or later. In this respect, it is unlike gender and race that are normally 1 obvious at birth. However, the evidence shows that it is strongly determined by genetic factors, and thus is like gender and race.
Even if one believes that homosexuality is chosen and changeable, the SBC argument completely collapses when one considers religion. Essentially everyone believes that people should not be discriminated against because of their personal faith. If they are not treated equally, they they have every moral right to fight for equality as a civil right. But religion is something that one adopts as a child, youth or adult -- long after birth. 3 Religion is not like gender and race, and yet is freedom of religion is a civil right in the U.S. Thus, no matter whether sexual orientation is a choice during ones life or is determined before birth, one might argue that discrimination of a person on the basis of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, degree of disability, national origin, language, etc. can be resisted as a civil right.
To reinforce the concept that demand for equal treatment as a civil right for a personal characteristic not identifiable at birth, the SBC in 2012 adopted a resolution protecting religious liberty which calls on the government to protect military chaplains who wish to freely express negative religious views on homosexuality.
Displays of disrespect towards lesbians, gays and some bisexuals within the resolution:
Webmaster's comments; bias alert:
The SBC resolution states in its third from the last "Resolved" statement that they: "stand against any form of gay-bashing" including "disrespectful attitudes ..." However, they seem to be exhibiting disrespect towards lesbians, gays, and those bisexuals in same-sex marriages even within the resolution:
When referring to marriages by a loving, committed same-sex couples they use the expression "same-sex marriage" enclosed within quotation marks. They appear to do this in order to indicate that they do not consider them to be in a valid marriage. This is in spite of the couple having legally obtained a marriage license from their state and solemnizing their marriage in a civil or religious ceremony. The quotation marks, often seen in conservative religious web sites, would appear to indicate disrespect for the couple's status.
- The lead up to many, perhaps most, marriages follows the same sequence: two people meet; they enjoy each other's company; they decide to date; they decide to elevate their dating to that of an exclusive relationship; they become sexually active; they become engaged to be married; they move in together; they plan their wedding; they obtain a marriage license; they solemnize their marriage by exchanging vows in a civil or religious ceremony, and sign a document which is then registered with the government. They are then married. In the words of an Apache marriage blessing:
"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling, to enter into the days of your life together,
and may your days be good and long upon the earth."
However, the final "Resolved" statement seems to imply that all same-gender sexual behavior is intrinsically sinful, even private intimate activity between two spouses of the same gender in a marriage. While we are aware of biblical passages that have been interpreted as condemning certain sexual activities by same-sex couples, including:
- Male rape;
- Ritual same-gender sex in a Pagan temple;
- Same-gender sex by heterosexuals in violation of their basic nature;
- Child sexual abuse: men molesting children;
- Bestiality -- men having sex with male angels; and
- All sexual activity outside of marriage;
we see nothing in the Bible that would seem to consider private sexual activity by a married couple to be sinful. However, we do recognize that many biblical passages related to same-gender sexual behavior to be ambiguous.
References used, and two footnotes:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- I write that gender is normally defined at conception because gender can be defined in three ways:
- one's birth-identified gender due to the appearance of their genitals, or
- one's genetic gender as defined by the sex chromosomes in the DNA of every cell of their body, or
- one's gender identity -- their feelings of being female or male -- as defined by internal structures in their brain. 2
In the vast majority of persons, these three genders are congruent. However, among transgender persons they differ in adulthood, and gender identity dysphoria is often obvious during their childhood.
- "Transsexual and intersex gender identity," A.E. Brain, at: http://aebrain.blogspot.ca/
- Islam is an exception to this statement. Most traditions in Islam teaches that every newborn is a Muslim, but often is later converted to Christianity, or another religion, or to no religion by their parents.
Copyright 2012 Ontario Consultants on Religious
Original posting: 2012-JUN-26
Latest update: 2012-JUN-26
Author: B.A. Robinson