After taking his own Southern Baptist denomination to task for its homophobia, Albert Mohler is now doubling down on that same homophobia.
In an op-ed in the Wall St. Journal, Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, characterizes the issue of homosexuality as one that is “shaking the foundations” of Christianity itself. Mohler has chastised his followers for their “homophobia” which, to him, means that evangelicals have been so mean and nasty to gays and lesbians that they have lost their chance to get them to “come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins.”
But in his op-ed, he encourages this brethren to continue the fight—calling “sin” a “sin,” of course, just not being so rough on the sinners. Since Mohler, by his own rule, can’t bash gays and lesbians anymore he turns his ire on “liberal churches and denominations” who “accommodate themselves to the new moral reality.”
In this one sentence, Mohler completely discounts the deep and painful experiences that each of these denominations has gone through over the years. They are not “accommodating” anyone. Instead, they have listened deeply and compassionately to their gay and lesbian (and transgender) members and have seen God’s spirit move in, through and around their lives. They have not accepted gay and lesbian people because it’s the path of least resistance, as Mohler implies. Some of those denominations have paid a steep price, losing members and entire congregations because of these decisions. Instead, they have done it because they have felt the Holy Spirit whisper to them that is it is the right, moral, and graceful thing to do.
Mohler also bemoans the speed at which gays and lesbians have gained acceptance.
In less than a single generation, homosexuality has gone from something almost universally understood to be sinful, to something now declared to be the moral equivalent of heterosexuality—and deserving of both legal protection and public encouragement.
I would submit that the difference is this: gay and lesbian people, because they were the targets of such universal scorn, have been forced to hide who they really are. Gays and lesbians have been in church and society undercover for decades. People of a different race or gender cannot hide in social or church situations. It’s easy to discriminate—and sustain that discrimination—against an obvious other.
With gays and lesbians, however, people already knew them, but did not know of their sexual orientation until they came out for one reason or another. As more and more gay and lesbian people found their voices and emerged from their closets, people were shocked to learn their close friends or family members were gay or lesbian. In that recognition, they realized what they had been told about gays and lesbians were lies. They saw for themselves that they are not the “sinful” monsters they have been portrayed as being. Instead, they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and good, upstanding citizens of the country we all love.
This is why acceptance of gays and lesbians has moved at such a fast clip; we’re already in your community, already in your pews and pulpits. You know us, and you know we are not what the religious right says we are.
For Mohler, though, knowing gay and lesbian people only makes him more dedicated to “saving” them from an eternity in hell for their “sin.” The homophobia he condemns is because that desire to “save” had meant by any means necessary, even shunning or shaming gays and lesbians. Now, he wishes to welcome them (but still with the same agenda to “save” them) not to accept them.
Tell me again how that’s not just another form of homophobia?