It vexes me that many of my friends in the LGBT civil rights movement – and many of my evangelical friends – seem to take it for granted that opposition to LGBT rights is a traditional part of Christian theology and that this Christian opposition is the main obstacle to LGBT rights today.
First of all, Christianity doesn’t have a long history with LGBT folks, mainly because the modern concept of sexual orientation didn’t really exist until the late 19th century (hat tip to Dr. Krafft-Ebing). And secondly, the Bible really doesn’t have anything to say about modern, committed same-sex relationships.
But, most importantly, opposition to gay rights really isn’t a Christian, or even a religious, problem. Three of the countries that currently recognize gay marriage – Portugal, Argentina and Israel – are societies dominated by abrahamic religions.
On the other hand, China and India, which account for a third of the world’s population, have huge LGBT rights problems despite being secular societies whose largest religious groups are neutral towards same-sex relationships.
And he’s absolutely right. In primitive, feudal societies – societies dominated by caste and inherited property – it is very important to ensure the production of “legitimate” biological children (just look at the ubiquity of arranged marriages in India). Sadly, this sort of culture does not leave much room for LGBT individuals.
Accordingly, I think it’s important for us to remember that homophobia is, above all, a cultural and societal problem. For LGBT folks to remember that they are welcome in many churches, and for Christians to ask ourselves if we want to incorporate the values of Uganda and Iran or those of Canada, Belgium, Massachusetts and Iowa.