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 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” 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?).


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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57 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    Damn Evangelical envy…

  2. Steve EM says:

    On a side note, the BKP position quoted in comment 42 was the basis for my concluding decades ago that he’s a false prophet and a half (there have been other conformations since). One of the main take home points from the Genesis creation myth is paradise is lost and chaos rules in this life. But BKP claims the sex of the body, sexual orientation, etc are exceptions from chaos. He also confuses transgender with homosexuality when they are obviously different phenomena. And it’s all utter nonsense when you consider the frequency of various intersexed conditions where gender assignment is ambiguous. In short, it’s plain as day that chaos rules with our sexuality too. BKP is so full of shit it’s sad. I pray everyday for the health of Pres Monson. Why can’t we purge crappy apostles like was done in the good old days? The church Pres who does it could use a parable of the church as a peach tree in need of frequent prunning if it is to bare much fruit.

    BTW, I can’t be the only one who always had the impression that BKP is a repressed homosexual?

  3. writerjake says:

    It’s been my experience, Steve EM, that those that shout the loudest of the immorality of being gay are the very ones who “struggle” with it the most. I know, I used to be one of the haters.

    Marriage is becoming less and less about companionship and more and more about tax benefits and legal rights. You don’t need to be married to live with the one you love but you’ll have a tough time getting into their hospital room to see them if your loved one’s family doesn’t want you there. Death, taxes, children, inheritance and health care all become exceedingly difficult issues if you aren’t married. And sometimes people get married JUST for those benefits. But gays can’t. Sure, there are work-arounds for us, but they cost a lot of money and take an almost Superman effort to achieve. I have a friend who has made up three-ring binders full of legal documents in case he, his partner or one of their children are taken into the hospital. This is why we say that we are being treated like second-class citizens. We can’t just run to their hospital bed and say, “But he’s my husband!”. We have to present our papers to prove our love. And THAT is not fair and equal.

  4. sheerheartattack says:

    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.

    I’ll take my $100 in five crisp TWENTIES please: BISEXUAL individuals who want the constellation of benefits afforded to straight marriage partners would marry same sex spouses IN GREATER NUMBERS under a legal same-sex marriage regime, thus THREATENING heterosexual marriage BY REDUCING ITS PARTICIPANTS.

    Woo-hoo! I’m rich!

    Incidentally I agree the “threat” is a silly point, even if it is marginally true (as I have clearly proven). ;}

  5. profxm says:

    Hi sheer… I’m tempted to give you the $100 just for giving it a go using an argument I’ve never seen before.

    Of course, the real threat to heterosexual marriage is cohabitation, which is rapidly cutting away at the number of people marrying. If religious groups want to “defend” heterosexual marriage, they should prohibit cohabitation… Oh, wait, they do!

  6. Steven B says:

    Yes, cohabitation is certainly a threat to the institution of marriage. But so are other alternatives to marriage, such as civil unions, which are usually easier to get into and easier to get out of.

    The irony is that if Proposition 8 passes, it just could trigger civil unions for all. So much for protecting marriage.

  7. Chino Blanco says:

    It’s disappointing to learn of fellow Americans who would stoop to peddling lies to support their position. Google “Six Consequences if Proposition 8 Fails” … these are six totally false talking points that the “Yes on 8” campaign is trying to use to fire up their target voters. Anyone who bothers to study the issue will quickly learn that these six “consequences” are total fabrications and sad examples of ugly fearmongering from the “Yes on 8” campaign. Shame.

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