“The Old Testament also says you’re not allowed to eat shellfish. You don’t follow that law, so why are you against homosexuality?”
Messages like that one might refer to the Mosaic ban on things like getting tattoos instead of eating shellfish, but the concept is the same. They are asking why fundamentalist Christians seem to single out homosexuality from among the Old Testament laws and ignore the others. I have seen that sort of thing posted on a lot in memes and held up on signs at rallies, but I think it misses the real issue.
Not only does it misunderstand fundamentalist Christian beliefs – which is not helpful when it comes to arguing with them – but it seems to assume that blame lies with cherry-picking and naturally hateful people, and absolves Biblical doctrine itself of being the real problem driving the anti-gay movement.
But for the majority, opposition to homosexuality is not an issue of cherry-picking and people who are hateful by nature. We must make an honest effort to read and listen to fundamentalists’ own explanations of their own viewpoint so that we can understand them. I think this is quite preferable to just being mired in confusion, because then we can see where the problem really lies instead of merely assuming others are just inherently hateful individuals.
It’s not about the Mosaic Law
Christians who oppose homosexuality are not concerned with it because of the Mosaic Laws of the Old Testament. They often mention Leviticus but they are not advocating following the law prescribed in it. Most of these Christians are not advocating to actually kill gay people.
What they are doing is referencing the part where God calls homosexuality an abomination as merely one of several passages in the Bible to show that God despises homosexuality – because unlike many of the other things god condemns in the old testament, homosexuality never becomes an acceptable behavior in the New Testament. Fundamentalist Christians also commonly cite the condemnation of homosexual acts in Romans 1 and Jesus speaking about marriage in Matthew 19, for example. These passages are used like slogans. They have nothing to do with the Mosaic Law.
So the people who are singling out the Mosaic law are actually the atheists and moderate Christians.
Christianity is dogmatic about sex
Christianity is heavily concerned with sexual thoughts and relationships between all people, not just homosexuality. The opposition to homosexuality is just one part of the mindset of strict control over sexuality which is propagated by the New Testament.
For example, Jesus condemns sex before marriage and even declares it a thought crime to feel lust for a woman when you merely look at her. This dogmatic attitude is central to Christian views of sex, so it should not be surprising that homosexuality is also a target.
Consider the other things fundamentalists are dogmatic about: They demand abstinence-only education because they think it helps dissuade people from sex before marriage; they have events and lectures and organizations to get people to wear “promise rings” to save oneself for marriage; many even try to ban pornography; millions of Catholics fight against the use of condoms; and fundamentalists in the United States are currently fighting against having to provide contraception to their employees.
So the focus on homosexuality is not totally arbitrary and fundamentlists are not being inconsistent on this matter. Christianity is just obsessed with sex. So those who follow it most devoutly with the most faith in its doctrines are going to have severe views on sex of all types.
So don’t just blame bigotry itself. Blame the Bible for causing it.
Whether Jesus said anything about homosexuality is completely irrelevant to my point in this article. The only reason I mention it in this note is because I know people bring it up whether it is relevant or not.
The issue I am discussing is about the overall mindset fomented by Biblical doctrine. And remember that most fundamentalist Christians accept the whole Bible as God’s word, not just the Gospel passages where Jesus himself is speaking. And when one takes the rest of the Bible into consideration, we find homosexual acts explicitly condemned in Romans 1:26-32 (and probably condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, and Jude 1:7 as well but they are more open for debate).
And regarding Jesus himself, he never said anything explicitly in favor of homosexuality either. If you’re interested in this topic, I wrote an article explaining why I think Jesus was against homosexuality.