Religion and homosexuality
Should sincere religious beliefs trump equal rights for gays, lesbians and bisexuals?
Comparing our reaction towards race, criminal behavior, gender &
This essay asks the question: "Is it homophobia if you act on your
religious beliefs when they tell you that
homosexuals should be discriminated against, or even that same-sex sexual behavior
should be criminalized?"
Unfortunately, we don't have any pat answers or paths to resolve this question.
Schools in North America generally teach that racism is evil. Discrimination
on the basis of skin color is considered immoral by a large percentage of North
Americans. On the other hand, there is strong public support for discrimination
in the form of incarceration in very unpleasant circumstances of rapists, murderers and other persons found
guilty of serious crimes.
Between these two extremes are discrimination, oppression, and rejection
of individuals based on their gender and sexual orientation. Some would argue that sexism and
homophobia 1 are immoral;
others would argue that discrimination against women and against sexual
minorities are justified on religious grounds.
||Some people believe that discrimination on the basis of gender is evil.
Men and women should be given equal opportunity to become all that they are
capable of achieving. Others, typically motivated by their religious and
moral beliefs, believe that sexual discrimination is justified in certain
cases. Women should be excluded from the clergy
and other positions of authority in their faith group. They feel that men
and women are to be restricted to specific roles in the family, at church
and in the workplace. The question exists: is it sexism if one
discriminates against women because of the requirements of one's deeply felt religious beliefs?
Should religious belief trump sexism?
||Some people believe that discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation is evil. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals should be given equal
rights and opportunities -- including the right to
marry and adopt children, be
protected against hate crimes, be
protected against employment discrimination, etc. Others, typically
motivated by their religious and moral beliefs, conclude that discrimination against persons of
minority sexual orientation is justified. The government should not
recognize their loving, committed relationships because to do so would
weaken tradition (opposite-sex) marriage. Some go further and believe
that those engaging in same-sex sexual behavior should be arrested, charged
with a moral crime, and perhaps imprisoned. The question exists: is it
homophobia 1 if one
discriminates against homosexuals and bisexuals because of one's religious
beliefs. Should religious belief trump homophobia?
How people view the "homosexual issue:"
Much of the media, and almost all mental health organizations,
gay-lesbian-bisexual-transsexual groups, liberal religious groups, human rights
groups etc. view the "homosexual issue" in terms of granting equal rights
for those with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. They generally view those
minority orientations as unchosen and fixed, which
are normal and natural for a minority of adults. Homosexuals and bisexuals are
seen as another oppressed minority group, like many African-Americans, Native
Most religious conservatives, particularly those from monotheistic faiths
like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism, portray the homosexual issue in
terms of sexual behavior, which they regard as immoral,
chosen and changeable. They generally view it as abnormal, unnatural, and
disordered behavior -- a lifestyle which is hated by God. They feel that homosexuals should not
be given equal rights. They should be actively discriminated against in areas such as
adoption, same-sex marriage, medical insurance, pensions, etc.
Some feel that they should be imprisoned.
Resolving the religion vs. homosexuality issue:
Unfortunately, in debates, sermons, articles, books etc., people rarely
describe their fundamental beliefs. Instead, they usually deal with conclusions
that they have derived from those beliefs. Thus, dialogue between those with
opposing beliefs is almost impossible. Debate deals with too high a level of
abstraction; fundamentals are generally neglected. Discussion often degenerates into mutual
My personal experience on various bulletin boards has shown that people who
post messages hold onto their beliefs with incredible tenacity. I don't recall
ever observing in a discussion that actually changed one person's beliefs on
Polls do show a marked increase in toleration and
acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality among high school and university
students when compared to their parents and grandparents. We suspect that much
of this has been caused largely by gays and lesbians coming out of the closet at
school. Perhaps only time will cure the homosexual issue.
On this website, we define "homophobia"
to be engaging in a behavior aimed at
restricting the human rights of persons who have a homosexual orientation and/or
who engages in homosexual behavior. More information.
Copyright © 2004 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2004-NOV-18
Latest update: 2007-AUG-03
Author: B.A. Robinson