Christian Founder of Online Dating Site Wants to Ease Gay Pain

Neil Clark Warren feels my pain and he’s ready to cough up big bucks to ease it. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, the 78-year-old Christian co-founder and CEO of the online dating site eHarmony, said being gay or lesbian “has been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live.”

But, he’s ready to pony up $10 million “and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first-class job of figuring out homosexuality.”

I’m so glad that Warren is so concerned with my “pain” and is ready to start “figuring out” homosexuality. Never mind that science has been trying to “figure out” not just homosexuality, but sexuality in general for many, many years.

Are any of us “born that way”? Even the experts, like  Eric Vilain, a pediatric geneticist at UCLA, says “humans do not appear to be born with particular arousal patterns—babies aren’t gay or straight.”

He suggested we think about the question a different way: Do we see evidence that, from a very early age, children exhibit behavior patterns that appear highly predictive of future sexual orientation? In other words, do children give us clues about whether they’re going to ultimately be sexually attracted to males, females, or both? To a certain extent, yes.

But, certainly, Warren is not suggesting that researchers “prove” that homosexuality is normal. He can throw away all the money he wants “figuring out” homosexuality, but if study after study continues to show that homosexuality is not a sickness in need of a “cure,” and may have some genetic links, you can be sure the already anti-gay Christians will cry foul, and demand more money be spent until they get the result they want.

Throwing money at scientific research won’t solve a thing. Science has been used to perpetuate the belief that black people were mentally and physically inferior to white people to justify passing discriminatory laws against them. Today, anti-gay factions like NARTH continue to use flawed and discredited research to “prove” that gay and lesbian people are sex-crazed and disease-ridden.

No, the only cure for “figuring out” this homosexuality thing is this: curing the bigotry against gays and lesbians fueled by religion. Slavery only ended when biblical arguments in favor of it were finally defeated. Jim Crow laws were finally repealed when federal law made bigoted state laws based on the biblical notion of “separation of the races” null and void, no matter how many charges of “attacks on religious freedom” were made. Women claimed autonomy and ownership of their own lives only when biblical arguments that women were property and subordinate to men were reduced to antiquated beliefs held by a sad minority of misogynistic men. Of course, there are still racists, misogynists, and other bigots who cling to outmoded interpretations of the Bible, but they are a decided minority.

It will be the same for homosexuality. The pseudo-science that Warren wants to spend his money on will prove nothing, and only serve to increase the pain felt by gay and lesbian people, because if our community feels any pain at all it is only because it is inflicted by people like Warren who believe gay and lesbian people are sinful aberrations in need “figuring out” at worst, and turned into heterosexuals at best.

Honestly, though, I think poor Mr. Warren is simply projecting the pain he’s felt in his own pocketbook onto the gay and lesbian community. After all, he had cough up money to produce a companion site to eHarmony catering to gay and lesbian couples after a lawsuit would have put his company completely out of business in New Jersey.

The creation of Compatible Partners “really damaged our company,” Warren said, by making his religious constituents very, very angry.

“[We] literally had to hire guards to protect our lives because the people were so hurt and angry with us, were Christian people, who feel that it’s a violation to scripture,” said Warren. Warren’s deep fear of those who value the Bible over love between two human beings of the same gender simply proves that we don’t need more science, we need more compassion. Go figure.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)