Thursday, March 15, 2007

Baptist Theologian's "Gay Fetus" Comments Create Firestorm

The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary concedes people may well be born gay. That belief has led Albert Mohler to urge Christians to support prenatal therapy to steer such persons towards heterosexuality. What? You read that right. His comments are naturally drawing criticsm from not only gay activists, but also hardline theologians who strongly believe persons choose to be gay. The Louisville Courier-Journal's Peter Smith, quoting Mohler, writes:

Babies could be born gay -- and Christians should support prenatal therapies to steer them toward heterosexuality if such therapies are ever developed, says Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

The online column in which Mohler wrote those views drew sharp criticism from gay activists, even as it departed from conservative evangelicals' common assertion that homosexuality is chosen, not biological.

"If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin," Mohler wrote in an article posted March 2 on his blog at

In the article -- "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?" -- Mohler cited recent research showing that significant numbers of rams have same-sex attractions.

He cited a Slate magazine article, "Brokeback Mutton," that discussed how researchers are exploring ways to alter rams' orientation to make breeding more efficient -- a prospect that has made gay activists nervous because of the possibility of using it on humans.

But Mohler said Christians should support such a therapy if it's ever developed -- for example, using a hormonal patch on an expectant mother.

In an interview last night, Mohler stood by his comments. But he noted that most of the article addressed a question raised in a recent Radar magazine article on the subject, speculating that even liberal parents might take advantage of such a treatment if they learned their developing baby would have a same-sex attraction.

Mohler said it also raises the specter of parents choosing to abort such a child -- something "we'd better oppose before it happens" . . . .

Mohler conceded in his column what many opponents of homosexuality have rejected -- that there may be a biological explanation for why some people are attracted to those of the same sex.

At the same time, Mohler said that harmonizes with traditional Christian belief that human sin has infected all of nature.

"Given the consequences of the Fall (first sin) and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found," he wrote. "After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God's judgment."

In the interview, Mohler said he's been "barraged by e-mails" from other evangelicals saying that there couldn't be a biological cause for homosexual orientation because that would eliminate the moral responsibility for homosexual acts.

"That's just a bad argument," Mohler said. "I am absolutely confident that a large number of homosexuals are telling the truth when they say they did not choose that orientation," he added, although he said it's unclear how much of that is caused by nature or nurture.

But he said homosexual acts are sinful and that people are responsible for resisting whatever sins they are tempted toward.

"We're all completely responsible, regardless of orientation, to obey the word of God," he said.

I guess Mohler is trying to get ahead of the inevitable conclusion people will come to understand--that a person's sexual orientation is an innate characteristic with which one is born. That will leave the anti-gay bigots searching for another reason to justify discrimination against people who are gay. I liked this respsonse from a minister who supports equal treatment of gays:

The Rev. Aletha Fields, founder of Genesis Ministries in Louisville, said she was stunned by Mohler's comments.

"What would be really interesting if there would be a prenatal test that would detect and determine bigotry," said Fields, whose group ministers to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons.

"I wonder what the treatment would be -- I suppose some love-thy-neighbor hormones and some peace hormones," she said.

A Baptist minister and medical ethics expert rejected Mohler's claim that such therapies could be used to cure "homosexuality." Quoting Paul Simmons, Smith writes:

Paul Simmons, a Baptist minister who teaches medical ethics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said researchers have found such therapies to be "a waste of time."

He said no one has yet determined a genetic marker or treatment for any type of personality characteristic, although he said there is a treatment for a pre-determined type of immune deficiency.

"My own hunch is, the genetic factors in sexual orientation are so complex that we'll likely not find a single gene, so it's likely not to be subject to genetic therapy, but that's speculation," he said.

"I'm not surprised about this attitude, because fundamentalists are so opposed to homosexuality," said Simmons, who used to teach at the Baptist seminary but left around the time of Mohler's arrival as the school was undergoing a conservative shift.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the good theologian is trying to help, however difficult it is for him. With some folks, it's like pulling teeth.

I think his heart is in the right place.

Please, keep him out of Indiana and away from our legislature until after adjournment. They need no more distractions and half-truths.

Wilson46201 said...

Those theological contortions remind me of Ptolemy's epicycles within epicircles...

Folk are gradually coming around to the simple understanding that gayness is as normal and natural as "straight", just not as common - kinda like lefthandedness.

None said...

Social libertines will allow the killing of unborn children because "they are not persons". Hey, if they are not persons then hetros can do whatever they want with them. If fetus' do have rights then you can't kill them.
The irony is that if a test is found for homosexual orientation then masses of non-Christians hetros will abort homosexuals. The irony is that it will be the Christians who would not kill them Alter them, yes, but not kill.
This might be the last gay generation is the Rev. is right. Ironic isn't it, since the gay community has been big on pro-choice ... pro-choiced yourselves out of existence.