Civil Rights and the LGBT Movement
According to the study of eugenics conducted by Lutz Kaelber, it wasn't so long ago in my home state of Delaware that homosexuals were arrested, tried, incarcerated, and even sterilized because it was believed that they were mentally defective. It was thought that their genetic makeup ineluctably inclined them to homosexual acts, much as the genes of the Jukes and Kallikak families supposedly inclined them to stupidity, licentiousness, and criminality.
Since the high tide of the horrific eugenics movement of the 1920s and '30s, Delaware has moved across the spectrum -- from incarceration and sterilization of homosexuals to embracing the entire spectrum of gay rights as promoted by the far left. Delaware's governor Jack Markell and the state's overwhelmingly Democratic legislature now support the LGBT liberation agenda, including gay marriage, as a matter of civil rights.
Behavioral genetic determinism, once a basis for the state's odium and persecution of gays, is now considered a basis for civil rights.
How ironic is this? How bizarre is it that both anti- and pro-homosexual activists have utilized arguments based on behavioral genetic determinism but have come to two wildly disparate conclusions?
The chief reason for the philosophical schizophrenia is that the philosophical bases employed by advocates and persecutors alike have proved infinitely pliable, allowing polar opposite conclusions. Delaware's wildly divergent ambivalence over policies toward gays illustrates the foolhardiness of using contemporary "scientific" hypotheses as infallible bases for the dispensation of human rights.
Behavioral genetic determinism, the idea that one is pretty much destined to turn out a certain way because of inherited characteristics reinforced by environment, has proved to be a thin reed to lean on when it comes to expanding or disallowing human rights. In fact, the theory has been utilized time and again actually to deprive humans of their rights, as Stephen Jay Gould illustrated in his classic work The Mismeasure of Man.
The truth is that the substitute religion of racial and behavioral genetic determinism has been an ideological basis of the most egregious assaults on human life and liberty in history, as the 20th century has proved. Few students of history need to be reminded of the regime that used the "science" of genetics to label Jews, Slavs, gypsies, and homosexuals as less than human and therefore worthy of death.
The state of Delaware's ambivalent attitude toward homosexuals illustrates that here in America, the State that can arbitrarily define human rights can take away those rights in a heartbeat if a particular group becomes an impediment to state policy. While the State may ally itself with a particular genetically identified group for its own cynical political purposes, the status of that group is always in jeopardy, for what the State gives, the State can take away.
Favoring or disfavoring select classes of human beings become means of expanding the reach of the State, which then forces itself into every sphere of human activity. By employing the techniques of class and racial warfare, the State can demolish institutions, override individual conscience, re-define the family unit, and trash religious freedom -- all in the name of providing inalienable rights to temporarily favored factions who enjoy the advantage of contemporaneous "science."
Americans who have been seduced by the concept of behavioral genetic determinism must soundly reject it, no matter in what form it reappears.
After all, who can forget that here in the USA, blacks were once considered inherently inferior because of their genetic makeup? Martin Luther King, who led the effort to guarantee blacks equal rights, insisted that every man, woman, and child has intrinsic, inalienable worth that cannot be infringed upon by the state. He believed that the state has no right to define who is or who is not worthy of human rights.
The basis for King's beliefs was the ancient Judeo-Christian concept of imago dei, which is the belief that every human being is made in the image of God and therefore of inestimable value that no entity can diminish.
King followed the reasoning of his spiritual progenitor and mentor, reformer Martin Luther, whose commentary on Genesis reflected on the meaning of man as being made in the image of God as pronounced in Genesis 1: 27-28. "And God said: Let us make man in our own image[.] ... And God created man in His image."
For Martin Luther the Protestant reformer as well as for Martin Luther King the civil rights leader, no one human being could be dismissed as not belonging to humanity and therefore undeserving of life in its fullest meaning.
The LGBT movement rejected the concept of imago dei because it was seen as a restrictive, overtly religious concept that depends on authoritative revelation. Conservative Jews, Christians, and Muslims all view homosexuality as against the commands of God. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the LGBT movement opted for a substitute for sacred scriptures and divine revelation. It replaced the Judeo-Christian idea of a sovereign God who gives rules to guide the conduct of humanity and instead embraced the "scientific" infallibility and sovereignty behavioral genetic determinism supposedly supplies.
In turn, the supposed scientific infallibility provided by the rationale embraced by the LGBT movement means that the movement has become not a civil rights movement, but a revolutionary vanguard of the sexual and political revolution begun in the 1960s. The LGBT movement has used the idea of scientific infallibility and inevitability in order to provide itself an unassailable and authoritative ideological wedge by which it may bypass the tedious process of rational dialogue and institutional reform. The concept of predestined and hereditary proclivities has been linked with the idea of inevitability in order to discourage opposition. Opposition is seen as futile before the inevitability of "progress."
Such is the radicalism promoted by some members of the LGBT movement that the erasure of the distinction between the sexes is seen as a positive good, as the elimination of sexual differences is seen as making "equality" absolute. By so doing, the movement reveals itself to be an heir of the French Revolution rather than the American Revolution. Leaders of the French Revolution adhered to the notion of "natural equality" enforced by the State. Ultimately, the State was used as a means to reject the moral law entirely; consequently, institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church were abolished and secular Reason elevated as the arbiter of society and its mores.
As E. Michael Jones writes concerning the "freedoms" sought by one of the founding fathers of the French Revolution:
Freedom for the Marquis de Sade ... meant willingness to reject the moral law. Unlike St. Augustine, the Marquis de Sade proposed a revolution in sexual morals to accompany the political revolution then taking place in France. ... [T]he rhetoric of sexual freedom was used to engineer a system of covert political and social control.
America needs to decide if it wants to substitute the ideas of behavioral genetic determinism and supposed historic inevitability of the LGBT agenda for the Judeo-Christian concept of imago dei and the ongoing reformation of society the idea affords.
Americans need to decide if they will again embrace the core tenets of an ideology that has caused so much suffering -- not just in the U.S., but around the globe. We need to ask ourselves the following: in view of what happened to blacks because of pseudo-scientific ideology, why should we now embrace a so-called civil rights movement that relies on behavioral genetic determinism as its chief ideological basis?
We need to think about what it means to narrow the definition of the human being by jettisoning the concept of imago dei. We should ask ourselves if we want to elevate a particular race, sex, tribe, behavior, or political faction to special status that excludes the rest of humanity, giving special rights to some but not to all, narrowing the universal to the particular, thus ensuring factionalism. We should wonder about the possible establishment of what amounts to a caste system based on genetic determinism.
All of us, including those in the LGBT movement, should ask themselves if they want to see the force of the State employed to overturn ancient Western institutions such as marriage between one man and one woman. They need to question whether or not they want the complete disruption and disordering of society in order to comply with radical and extremist demands.
Consideration of the following should also be included in the discussion: is there a reason others cannot arbitrarily claim a so-called scientific sexual or ethnic identity and demand rights and privileges attendant to that identity, whether it be a penchant for pedophilia (NAMBLA) or an arbitrarily invented ethnic identity such as claimed by Elizabeth Warren? As Justice Antonin Scalia pungently observed in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers' validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding[.] ... What a massive disruption of the current social order, therefore, the overruling of Bowers entails.
Scalia is correct. The entire social order is at stake if the LBGT agenda is enacted.
The fact is that tides of "scientific" opinion are infinitely and dangerously changeable. The changeability is due to the fact that all so-called "scientific" definitions excluding the concept imago dei are inherently reductionist and infinitely malleable. Therefore, the societal order is always up for grabs.
It is good to recall, for instance, that "Aryan" was once considered a noble, scientific term denoting an infallible superiority inherent in one's genetic makeup. It was part and parcel of a new societal order. It now is a term so odious that scarcely anyone uses it.
The tragedy of humanity is that it too often seeks the lower rather than the higher as the key to meaning of life. If at times we humans think too much of ourselves, there are also times when we think too little of ourselves. Humans are more than they themselves and science define them to be. The magnificent concept of the human being as made in the image of God, and thus only a little lower than the angels in the hierarchy of created beings, is infinitely greater a definition.
There is nothing hateful about calling humans to their higher identity. There is nothing persecutory in urging the re-establishment of the idea that every human being is made in the image of God and possesses inalienable rights no government can take away.
On the contrary, there is everything right in returning to the principle that every man and woman is created in the image of God and as the creature of God, is meant to seek the higher rather than the lower identity as the greatest good for themselves and for all mankind.
America must return to the concept of imago dei that so inspired Martin Luther King if she is to retain civil rights for all.
By so doing, she will be enabled to follow the Golden Rule, which is, as founder John Adams noted, a rule of love, a rule that demands we treat all our fellow human beings as we ourselves would like to be treated.
Governor Markell, along with governors and legislatures of other states inclined to legalize gay marriage, would do well to pay attention to the true basis for civil rights.
Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. She was chosen as one of Delaware's "Winning Women of 2008." Her articles have appeared in American Thinker, National Review, and Delaware Politics. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.