Friday, February 22, 2013

FRC Leader Condemns LGBTQ Equality in Charisma Magazine Column

Charisma Magazine, the online Christian magazine that warns readers about demon nookie and gender-bending ghosts, recently shared a commentary piece condemning homosexuality. In a February 12th column at Charisma Magazine, Family Research Council senior vice president Rob Schwarzwalder insists that the Bible limits sexual activity to one man and one woman in marriage. (Actually, no; the Bible condones polygamy and concubinage, but that's another discussion.) He frowns on efforts to "diminish the Bible's teachings about homosexuality", lumping homosexuality together with adultery and fornication as a sin. His frustration, it seems, stems from progressive theological attempts to reinterpret scripture in LGBTQ-friendly ways.

Schwarzwalder defends Christians who condemn homosexuality, insisting that people of faith must accept certain moral standards without picking and choosing. He ignores the fact that all faith communities engage in selective interpretation of holy texts to some degree, that many interpretations of scripture exist, and that Christians and Jews are not monolithic in their approaches to sexuality.
"First, evangelical Protestants, faithful Catholics and Orthodox Jews don't pick and choose their moral standards. We accept them, based on our belief in the divine inspiration of our written texts, and how we see them vindicated in human experience.

Second, our acceptance of these tenets is not merely intellectual ... Unlike mere intellectual assent, since we believe our moral standards are issued by a God with Whom we have a relationship, and to Whom we owe our core allegiance, we cannot keep them neatly confined to the space within our crania. In other words, we are obligated by our Creator not just to acknowledge the correctness of what He has said but to live accordingly."
By claiming that believers do not "pick and choose" their moral standards, he absolves homophobes from having to reflect on their beliefs and jettison unjust attitudes. Healthy faith is a dynamic process, characterized by inward reflection and evolution of beliefs, not static adherence to dogma.

He insists that right-wing Christians harbor no ill will toward LGBTQ persons, insisting that they are not placing burdens upon the LGBTQ community. Right-wing Christians' opposition to LGBTQ rights is presented as a moral imperative rather than prejudice.
"I know of no conservatives who wish to disrupt homosexual homes. We don't want to be invasive any more than we want to be coerced ourselves. But we reject the redefinition of marriage on theological grounds, as well as on a surfeit of sociological data showing that children benefit most by being raised by a mother and a father.

This is not bigotry. It is not hatred. It is not homophobia. It is, to quote one of my pastors, theophobia. We fear God, and thus we submit to what we believe is His revealed will. No one is requiring any homosexual to do anything. Catholics, Protestants and Jews who believe biblical morality is absolute and final are being asked to treat homosexuality as morally neutral behavior. Yet we do not believe it is, and thus cannot countenance its widespread social or legal acceptance any more than we accept heterosexual cohabitation.

No one is demanding that any homosexual become a heterosexual, or that homosexuals be in any way harmed, demeaned, or persecuted. To the contrary, true Christians should and do show the love of Christ to every image-bearer of God, whether that person is homosexual or heterosexual. Period."
First, by preventing same-sex couples from marrying, visiting partners in the hospital, adopting children, or seeking protection from discrimination, right-wingers ARE disrupting their "homes". Anti-LGBTQ policies and the lack of just LGBTQ policies create real problems and heartache for millions of people who cannot marry their soulmates, visit sick partners in the hospital, become adoptive parents, or seek legal recourse when treated unjustly.

Second, Schwarzwalder cites no research showing that children are better off when raised by opposite-sex couples than by same-sex couples. To boot, he ignores studies that show no ill effects of being raised by same-sex parents. For example, a 2004 study published in Child Development found no statistically significant differences in psychosocial adjustment and school performance between adolescents raised by same-sex couples and adolescents raised by opposite-sex parents. The quality of the parent-child relationship was a much stronger predictor of school adjustment than family type, the study found. A 2008 review of 19 studies on same-sex parents published in the Journal of GLBT Family Studies found that children raised by same-sex and heterosexual parents did not differ significantly in terms of cognitive development or psychological adjustment. Moreover, the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study found no statistically significant differences between children of lesbian couples and children of heterosexual couples in terms of quality of life. To boot, none of the children of lesbian parents in the study reported experiencing sexual or physical abuse from their parents. Instead of suggesting that same-sex parents are inadequate, Schwarzwalder should do some research.

Third, by refusing to legitimize LGBTQ people, Schwarzwalder is condemning an entire population as aberrant and unworthy of equality. Saying that you love all people, gay or straight, isn't the same as showing them love by acknowledging their rights. Yes, Rob, this is homophobia.

In perhaps the most offensive part of the column, Schwarzwalder accuses "homosexual activists" of bullying and threatening homophobic "traditional believers". In a mind-boggling reversal, those who seek to deny rights to an entire community are depicted as victims, while those who are denied equality are cast as villains. So much for love!
"Coercion and repression are the signs of fascism. No one, in any sphere, is either coercing or repressing homosexual men and women. Rather, homosexual activists seek to shut down those who believe their behavior is immoral. Raise a moral concern about homosexuality and immediately accusations of bigotry and hatred are showered upon you. The outraged viciousness of the response is commensurate with the intensity of one's allegiance to full cultural and legal affirmation of homosexuality. Since traditional believers won't change on this point, efforts are made to bully us into silence or reserve our beliefs for our homes and the four walls of our houses of worship. We are called names, are threatened in late-night phone calls, or, in the case of my colleagues and I at the Family Research Council, we become the intended targets of a would-be assassin's bullets, as last summer's shooting at our building demonstrates."
Schwarzwalder's commentary features the usual Religious Right tropes on LGBTQ issues: homophobia as a allegedly unchanging moral standard, homophobia as harmless, homophobes as victims of combative "homosexual activists", and contempt for LGBTQ persons masquerading as "love". These anti-gay tropes are getting old. Does the Religious Right think that repeating the same rhetoric over and over makes it true?


  1. I know of no conservatives who wish to disrupt homosexual homes. We don't want to be invasive any more than we want to be coerced ourselves.

    Well, that's a new one. Aside from the current examples you cite, a lot of these religious bigots were firmly in favor of laws criminalizing homosexuality until Lawrence v. Texas struck them down, and that was less than ten years ago.

    This seems to be their last, desperate gambit -- the Orwellian claim that anyone resisting their oppression is somehow oppressing them by doing so. But everyone can see this for what it is.

    1. Infidel753 -- That cartoon summarizes their activism far more succinctly than I ever could. Fortunately, more and more people are recognizing this.

  2. Why is it that they seem to be reading an entirely different Bible than I do? Are they reading the Satanic Bible? It's possible.

    1. Anomaly100 -- I will resist the temptation to make a Salman Rushdie joke!

      The faith of Religious Right people is a hostile one that leaves little room for love, fairness, or acceptance. I'm relieved that progressive Christians exist and are trying to rescue their faith tradition from people like that.


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