What’s really behind the homophobia?
We’ve already talked about the LDS religion’s recent letter encouraging California Mormons to push for a constitutional amendment. Also, while I don’t think it’s been mentioned on here, though I’m guessing Hellmut has probably already harangued as many people as he can about this site: Signing for Something. It contains letters from people who disagree with LDS leadership on this issue. If you haven’t been there yet, check it out.
All that aside, I’m wondering what the real motivation is behind this anti-homosexuality position. Obviously there is the Biblical injunction against homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 â€œThou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.â€ Sure, Mormons and many others can fall back on that scriptural reference, selectively choosing to accept that Biblical decree but ignoring the other 600+ laws of the Old Testament, like these from the next chapter:
- 26 Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
- 27 Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
- 28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
So, Mormons can poorly “justify” their position by saying, “The Bible says it’s wrong. We selectively choose to live by aspects of the Bible that we like, and this is one of them. So, it’s wrong.” But, come on! This position is untenable in any real argument.
Also, the oft-cited argument that “homosexual marriage threatens heterosexual marriage” is the most ridiculous claim I’ve ever heard. I have a long-standing challenge for my students that I’ll give them $100 if they can explain to me how homosexual marriage threatens heterosexual marriage. That argument makes no sense to me whatsoever.
What I think it really is, is male insecurity. When men have sex with other men, heterosexual men see this as a threat to their power and authority. Somehow the very existence of men who are willing to “submit” to other men makes heterosexual men feel like they are “lesser men” just because it is a possibility. In a sense, heterosexual men see homosexual men as giving all men a “weaker image.” As a result, they simply cannot tolerate homosexuality: it is a threat to traditional male dominance. This is doubly true in patriarchal Mormonism, where all the leaders are male and their authority is sacrosanct.
In sum, Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage is best understood as Mormon male leadership attempting to defend its power, however ill-gotten that power is. I could be wrong here, but I really can’t see another explanation for this discrimination without getting even more cynical (e.g., Mormon leadership is looking for solidarity with evangelical Christians?).