I never understand how homosexuality becomes inflated to the status of core issue. In a world where tens of thousands starve to death every day and thousands more die in ongoing conflagrations of violence, why is there this obsessive focus on what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own lives?
That aside, I think it is a fallacy to put abusers or embezzlers or kleptomaniacs in the same category as homosexuals for two important reasons:
1. There is massive scientific evidence that homosexuality is something that someone is born with, exactly the way they are born with heterosexuality, or red hair, or nearsightedness. In some few cases homosexuality can be the result of trauma or abuse, but those are rare exceptions. This is distinct from abuse, embezzlement, kleptomania, etc., in that, for the most part, these are decisions, or they are disorders which are acquired over the course of life. Anecdotal ‘evidence’ which presents homosexuality as a choice does not come from reputable peer-reviewed researchers but rather from fringe groups motivated by a desperate desire to justify their bigotry with pseudo-science, on par with claims that the earth is six thousand years old or with the ‘science’ of, say, phrenology.
2. Homosexuality does not harm anyone any more than heterosexuality does. It is not like stealing or violence at all. Claims that homosexuality is somehow a threat to civilization or “traditional values” are absurd. (What traditional values? Jim Crow laws? Women as property?) Poverty, racism, violence, terrorism, pollution, ignorance and disease are threats to civilization. Homosexuality is a minority sexual orientation that has a long history of engendering hatred for no good reason. Any traditional values that preclude the humanity of a class of people because of something they do not choose and which does not harm anyone around them should be rejected for the evils that they are.
Because of these two main points, I see no ethical distinction between homophobia and other “values” like racism, sexism, elitism, and any other flavor of bigotry you care to mention.
The Bible follows the historical consensus that homosexuality is an “abomination”. It isn’t special in this – it is actually a very pedestrian position to hold in, say, 500 BCE. The Bible also says that epilepsy is caused by demonic possession, that women are unclean during menstruation, that you should never wear clothes with two kinds of cloth in them, that women should not speak in worship, that defiant children should be publicly executed, and that witches should be put to death, among other things. These are all things we ignore today, and it is good and right that we ignore them. Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are no different. We should reject them because they are clearly baseless prejudices that we have no good reason to hold today. There is so much in the Bible that we ignore on a regular basis without discussing. To talk about the Bible as if its every injunction must be taken seriously just doesn’t hold water.
This isn’t even getting into how far I think this ongoing prejudice is from Jesus Christ. I think that future generations, looking back at the horrific things that we let happen with almost no protest, will see these arguments about homosexuality as a crime against humanity. They divert time and energy and ideas from things that are actually core issues. I think its about time we stop being a schismatic band of sex-police and start being the Church of Jesus Christ.