The following is a response to Chuck O'Conner to questions he posed to me in another topic on another blog. I didn't feel that that topic was the appropriate place so I have answered him here. As usual, I'm posting now and this will be proofread later.
You can take my silence as evidence that I'm a busy man with several irons in the fire and more discussions than I can handle in the limited time I have.
Secondly, as of late, I am more concerned about answering the topic. Are we serious about dealing with this point or not? Is agnosticism really the best Christians can do? As far as I am concerned, I've already dismantled this argument. But dguller doesn't think so and I'm hoping to respond to his points first. What you ask me is very important, but they are red herrings. I'll happily discuss them, but I don't want the topic lost because we've allowed red herrings to do what we don't want them to do, throw up a smoke screen. I could just as easily be dealing with the question of homosexuality in a thread on that, and someone could cry foul because I raised theological issues and then they'd want to ignore points I've made challenging me to prove God exists. So I'll answer your questions, and my answers will probably lead to more questions, but I'll go only so far and afterward, I want an honest grappling with the topic with the realization that we can only deal with these issues with a reasonable thoroughness one point at a time (not that I'm asking you personally to deal with the topic, but I mean in terms of what is expected of me here in this blog topic). This whole homosexuality question is very far afield of that topic. Of course, there is the connection that you mentioned (human dignity and worth) and everything is connected, but it's still reasonable to expect focus that doesn't insist on every single consideration of one's world view all at one time (which just isn't practical and thus not fruitful).
Regarding the persecuted church, if I implied that my particular church was persecuted, it was a typo. I'm a member of the body of Christ which is persecuted terribly in many parts of the world.
As for Barb who is my mother and her blog, The Barb Wire, we generally agree on many things but we have important disagreements. There are a few matters regarding homosexuality that I would not see with her eye to eye. I don't know if she brought up her "first thought" theory, but I'm not a fan of that. I do believe that many if not most homosexuals frequently have their attractions without the instigation of a choice, and just because a first thought is suppressed doesn't mean there won't be a second, third and fourth and so on. We share a blog and we agree on many things, but we are independent thinkers and I'd be cautious with a guilt by association approach. For one thing, in some ways, I am not as conservative as she is. And she is not as theologically nuanced as I am. I'm pretty sure that John Loftus himself has said that he wouldn't necessarily agree with everything that anyone wrote for a topic on his blog.
The thing about gender is that it goes to the very heart of who we are. Our sexual natures are sacred and the sexual relationship provides a foundation for gratifying both the individuals and the couple in a way that nothing else does. Marriage, the union in general and the sexual union, involves a gratification where the significance and worthiness of each one's existence is exalted. So in Genesis, with this issue, it is extremely inadequate to note that God created humanity as male and female and stop there. The whole formula is that God "created the human in the image of God, male and female he created them." Our relationships with neighbors, friends, siblings, children and parents all reflect the image of God, but only the marriage relationship was explicitly mentioned (though I think community in general is implicit as well) in that passage that describes our divine likeness which I think is the most metaphysically important statement anywhere. Nothing is more important nor more sacred than personhood in general and persons in specific (with God as the supremely personal being) and gender is part of the design that manifests the sacred.
We don't have to fully express that sacredness (we can stay single, though we still will almost always relate to people in a gendered way.) There are disappointing ways (which were tolerated) in which our sacred nature can be expressed (particularly polygamy). And then there are ways that trample and disgrace that aspect of our reflection of the divine image. Infidelity does this and so does homosexuality.
As a Christian, I know I am at odds with the world in much that I believe. The world reverses this claim (above) about homosexuality which I believe is one of the powerful deceptions of our time. Supposedly, we are to believe that homosexual orientation is innate and immutable. To the eyes of the world, suggesting to someone that they should seek healing is the real profaning of the sacred, of the dignity of humans and turning these people into a shell of what they are supposed to be. They look to science to support these claims, and yet the appeal to science has been without integrity and should make us skeptical. For years, the voices have been shrill, insisting that it has been demonstrated that homosexuality is biologically determined and those who don't accept this are bigoted, uneducated, hateful and so on. They take statements like this from the APA on homosexuality and run with it: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."
The APA however has reversed this statement, now noting that there is no scientific consensus on the origins of homosexual attraction (click to page 4 to see the exact quote). Maybe the science was never so intemperate in these claims, but the culture and the homosexual movement have used them as a weapon to promote a view of orientation as innate --though the science could be stretched only so far and has blunted that weapon.
You ask about homosexual 14th amendment rights. I agree that people with same- sex attraction should have all their legal rights. I certainly don't consider same-sex marriage to be one of those rights because I don't believe the basis is a matter of equality since homosexuality isn't an innate, normal, immutable expression of humanity and homosexual relationships cannot be equal to heterosexual ones. I oppose violence against gays, not only because it is something that is wrong to do against people who are redeemable, because there is no biblical justification for it (as we are no longer under the old covenant but under the new which is entered freely and not via birth) and because the sympathy spurred by anti-homosexual violence is mixed in with support for homosexuality itself.
As for this last question:
Your faith commitment to entrust revealed truth equal to (or greater than?) empirical evidence as a basis for decision making leaves open the question of human rights.
Christianity does not provide support for denying anyone human rights. Of course, under the old covenant, those who lead people from God were punished by death. I see in this a lesson that our relationship with God is measured as important as life itself, but this cannot be used as a basis to deny unbelievers rights under the new covenant in which evil is to be opposed through peaceful means. There simply is no room for denying the rights of believers on that account, though believers who are unfaithful may be expelled from the body of believers. That is the model we are given, not legal sanctions against unbelievers, not a denial of their rights.