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Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog and Commentary

Should the US follow Uganda on homosexuality?

  • Warren Throckmorton, PhD
    Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu.
  • 2010 Feb 10
  • Comments

I suppose it was bound to happen. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill has brought out some of the schisms among social conservatives over homosexuality. Christianity Today notes just two examples: Peter Sprigg's comment on Chris Matthews and Bryan Fischer's misuse of I Timothy 1.

On Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews interviewed Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council about the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy (DADT). Sprigg, FRC's senior fellow for policy studies, said he would support banning all gays or lesbians from serving in the military. At the end of the discussion, Matthews asked Sprigg his view of homosexuality in civilian life:

MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?

SPRIGG: Well, I think it's certainly defensible.

MATTHEWS: I'm just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?

SPRIGG: I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.

MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior.

SPRIGG: Yes.

And then:

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association agreed with Sprigg. Citing policies and findings of the Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, Fischer concluded that homosexual behavior should be criminalized because it "represents an enormous threat to public health."

"It's a simple matter of common sense, sound public policy, and a concern for public health. ... Whatever we think we should do to curtail injection drug use are the same sorts of things we should pursue to curtail homosexual conduct," said Fischer, AFA's director of issue analysis.

Fischer further justified his view by claiming that 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says "those 'who practice homosexuality' should come under the purview of the law just as much as those who take people captive in order to sell them into slavery."

I addressed Fischer's misuse of I Timothy 1 recently.

One contributor to the mischief is Mr. Fischer's misreading of the word law in I Timothy. Paul is writing Timothy to warn him about false teachers who want the Mosaic law applied to the followers of Jesus. Elsewhere Paul taught that the law was a "schoolmaster" which demonstrated the need for the good news of the gospel of redemption by belief in Christ. Mr. Fischer needs to spend some quality time reading Galatians chapters 1-4.

Paul is giving Timothy religious instructions and not saying that the civil law is given to prosecute various actions at odds with Christian teaching.

Fischer has a new column out titled, "If homosexuality were against the law." He is not even concerned that such a law would be practically unenforceable. In his opinion, just having a statute on the books would prevent gay marriage, school based gay clubs, and gays in the military. How?

This list could actually be extended, but you get the point. Laws not only curb dangerous and risky behavior, they keep such behavior from being normalized, sanctioned and endorsed by the rest of society, and as such render an enormous benefit to a healthy culture.

Laws exist in Mr. Fischer's view to enforce a moral view on the rest of society. Even if the law is a sham, it acts like moral code imposed by the state. 

And every student of history knows how well that has worked.

When laws are made but ignored the effect has been to disrespect law and resent the formality and residual control over personal conscience. Prohibition comes to mind as an example of the unintended consequences of using law to coerce conscience and behavior. As Fischer notes, sodomy was widely illegal until 2003, but with none of the effects he proposes.

Other social conservatives are encouraging the Ugandan supporters of harsher criminalization. Cliff Kincaid says Ugandan Parliamentary Research Service staffer Charles Tuhaise is concerned about why more conservatives here are not supporting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

A leading pro-family activist in Uganda says that Christians in that East African country need help resisting the schemes of the international homosexual lobby. Charles Tuhaise tells AIM that he is also disturbed by the general silence of conservatives in the U.S. to stand up for Uganda and its emerging Christian culture. 

The issue is consideration of a piece of legislation to discourage homosexual practices in Uganda.

"Many Ugandans are shocked at the reaction to this bill and the extent to which homosexual activists can intimidate everyone to silence," Tuhaise said. "This is a bill written to control a problem that has largely gotten out of hand in western society and is now spreading tentacles worldwide. Perhaps Uganda has helped to highlight the danger that the homosexual movement poses to the world."

I have exchanged numerous emails with Mr. Tuhaise. In them, he asserts that homosexuality can be spread though social acceptance. We have had civil dialogue about the research and science surrounding sexual orientation. Thus, I was surprised to read this statement he made to Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid:

"I am a Ugandan and I'm writing to thank you for your bravery," Tuhaise said in his message to AIM. "The articles you've written in support of the right of Ugandans to exercise self-determination on the issue of homosexuality have thrown fresh light on the American scene [and show] that not every American is scared of the loud-mouthed homosexual lobby."

He added, "Please continue to help Uganda by educating Americans about the bill and countering the lies. The American people should wake up and reclaim America from a dangerous subculture that is destroying their children and youth under the guise of liberty and human rights."

Mr. Tuhaise surely knows that my opposition has nothing to do with the homosexual lobby, loud mouthed or not. He also knows that I am not spreading lies about the bill by simply printing the contents of it and letting people read it for themselves. He, himself, recently confirmed the purpose of the bill in an email to me:

...you have read the Bill and know that its object is to outlaw all same-sex sexual conduct. The question of "consenting adults" therefore does not arise. All same-sex sexual conduct is proscribed under the Bill.

Those who are supporting this position are, whether they realize it or not, advocating for the position that homosexuals are not competent to consent to private behavior. The bill, as written, makes giving such consent an illegal act. Furthermore, the bill, as currently written, makes any same-sex conduct among people with HIV, whether consensual or not, punishable by death.

Inexplicably, Tuhaise continues to say conservative opponents here have made critical statements of the bill without checking it. Not so of this conservative and I am confident Rick Warren read the bill before he wrote about it. If you are reading this and don't know what to believe, go read the document.