Timothy Dalrymple, over at his blog Philosophical Fragments, hosted a guest post from Rob Schwarzwalder, a leader of the Family Research Center: Hatred, Bigotry and Truth. He’s basically arguing that simply because evangelicals resist things like gay marriage, this doesn’t mean they’re actually homophobic. And I agree with him: people can have good-faith disagreements without one of them having to hate the other. I do think that in practice many religious conservatives act in a way that is more driven by negative feelings toward homosexual people, often including a hatred for what homosexual people represent. There’s a good way and a bad way to approach this issue, even if you believe homosexuality is morally wrong or sinful.
I have a grudging respect for Mr. Schwarzwalder here. He’s laying out a challenging position and he’s doing it coming from a place where he probably isn’t used to hearing people disagreeing with him. Tim Dalrymple’s site is fairly conservative, but it’s on a blogging site that represents pretty much all corners of the religious blogosphere (including atheists blogging about religion). He could have picked a safer venue. I did find him dismissive toward people like me, folks who take the Bible seriously and interpret it as honestly as we can bug come to different conclusions about what it says. I honestly don’t believe the Biblical passages most often cited about homosexuality are talking about what we recognize as homosexuality today. This isn’t me dismissing Leviticus 18 and Romans 1, so much as me disagreeing about what they mean. And I found Mr. Schwarzwalder dismissive on those points. At the same time, though, I recognize that his organization was threatened with physical violence last summer, and I think his basic point – can you think homosexuality is immoral without actually hating gay people – is a question evangelicals aren’t used to asking in a situation where someone might actually answer “no.” So I wanted to give him an honest answer.
Mr. Dalrymple’s site threw me back my comment as potential spam, I think because it was too long. So I’m going to post it here. I hope you find it interesting, whether or not you choose to read Mr. Schwarzwalder’s essy.