The time: November 29, 2005.
The place: Sweden's Supreme Court.
The person: Pastor Ake Green.
The issue: charges that Pastor Green committed a hate crime under Swedish law by preaching against homosexuality.
The verdict: acquittal. After intense international pressure and the prospect that a conviction would likely be overturned by the European Court for Human Rights, Sweden's High Court chose not to view Pastor Green's statements as "hate speech.
Now the question: how does opposition to a behavior become defined as a criminal act motivated by hate?
The mere expression of opposition to homosexual behavior has become so widely assumed to be motivated by hate that entire nations have criminalized it or are seriously considering doing so.
Such a widespread assumption must be the result of a systematic process. That process must start with a premise and follow that premise to its logical and necessary conclusions.
A false premise consistently followed will lead to a false conclusion. When the conclusion is obviously wrong and irrational to thoughtful people, reason demands a critical examination of its starting premise.
Our case in point is the outrageous prospect of putting pastors and others in prison for reading and expounding on biblical statements. How does this happen? What premise leads intelligent people to criminalize biblically based speech?
The premise behind the effort to gain acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is that homosexuality is genetically determined. Although this is the premise, it is not the driving force. The driving force is homosexual activism. This activism has seized upon this premise as its rationale.
The first assumption that flows necessarily from this premise is that the person and the behavior are inseparable.
If the person and the behavior are assumed to be inseparable, the next link in the chain of assumptions is that opposition to the behavior is ipso facto opposition to the person as a person.
The next assumption follows logically: because opposition to the person as a person is hate, opposition to the behavior must also be hate.
Finally, because hate is an offense, whoever commits the offense is an offender and should be regarded and treated as such. Thus a new class of "criminals" is created: pastors, priests, Sunday school teachers.
This line of "reasoning" makes such bumper stickers as "hate is not a family value" and "separation of church and hate" so incomprehensible and downright offensive to people who oppose homosexual behavior but who have no enmity toward homosexuals as persons. Little knots of protesters carrying "God hates fags" signs are just as reprehensible to them as they are to anyone else. Their opposition to the homosexual lifestyle is motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of the person. The outrageous charge of "hate" is totally false and personally insulting.
We in the United States of America have not yet gone so far as to criminalize speech opposing homosexual behavior. Before we do, we need to wake up and look at where we could be headed.
Societies that have already gone down that road need to ask themselves: "How did we come to the place where we put good people on trial for expressing their biblical beliefs? Where did we take the wrong fork in the road?" The answer is: back at the beginning with the false premise that homosexuality is genetically determined and therefore the person and the behavior are inseparable. Wrong premises lead to wrong conclusions, and wrong conclusions lead to unjust laws.
The dogma that homosexuality is genetically determined is based largely on Simon LeVay's 1991 study of the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus—group 3 (INAH3) in 41 cadavers, and Dean Hamer's study of an area of the X chromosome known as Xq28 (published in 1993 and 1995). Both studies were very preliminary; they were not subjected to the rigorous standards of thorough scientific research; and their results have been challenged by researchers who have pointed out serious flaws in their methodology and have rejected their conclusions.
The immediate acceptance of the LeVay and Hamer studies lies in the eagerness of homosexual activism to seize upon anything that gives credence to its ideology, and the readiness of the media to hype the studies as conclusive.
The causes and conditions of homosexuality are too complex for a conclusion based on such a tentative foundation. It certainly does not provide a rationale for the vicious charge of "hate" that is recklessly hurled at good people and the unjust laws that criminalize and oppress them. Also, it provides no valid rationale for the acceptance and legitimatizing of homosexual relationships, particularly homosexual ("gay") marriage or "civil unions."
People who oppose homosexual behavior out of a regard for the health and well-being of the person build upon a correct, realistic premise: the causes and conditions of homosexuality are complex; therefore, the person and the behavior are separate considerations.
Respect for the person provides a common ground for us. It means no taunting; no treating people in such a manner as to cause pain, rejection, and alienation. What divides us is linking respect for the person with acceptance of the behavior, because to so many people that is totally unacceptable. It is based on a false premise and is ideologically driven. It does harm by affirming people in a destructive lifestyle and taking away any hope of becoming free from it. It makes masses of innocent people the targets of the familiar self-righteous but abusive code words: "bigotry," "discrimination," "intolerance," "hate."
These epithets are aimed, not only at the few who do hate homosexuals, but also at the many people of goodwill who are unjustly judged and injured by these false charges. Thus "hate" has become a vicious hate word, aimed at punishing those who do not agree with the premise of homosexual activism.
Civilization, particularly western civilization, urgently needs to reflect seriously on the premise that is leading it toward cultural disintegration and secular repression. The time for sound thinking is now.
Dr. J. W. Jepson writes from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, and is the senior paster of Life in Christ Center(Assemblies of God) in The Dalles,Oregon.