Thursday, January 25, 2018

Robert Oscar Lopez and a new lack of civil restraint

Robert Oscar Lopez
I am in the process of writing something about Katy Faust which diverted into seeing what Robert Oscar Lopez is up to. Turns out that Bobby is still writing virulently bigoted anti-gay pieces on his English Manif blog. His polemics seem to be far more Christiany and considerably more rabid than in the past. Perhaps that reflects the fact that he left Cal-State Northridge and is now at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He is no longer restrained by polite society and there seems to be something in the Texas water supply.

Apparently Lopez believes — and asserts — that homosexuality is a contagion that wickedly spreads through society. His latest essay is titled: “Mapping the Swamp: Sodom and Contagion.” It is a somewhat verbose exercise in theology mixed with sociology. I will just quote from two paragraphs:
Years on Twitter, Facebook, and Disqus have schooled me in the myriad obfuscations and manipulations by which people deflect counterarguments against homosexuality. If we bring up the damages of anal sex, someone will mention that lesbians do not engage in it, while others will claim that most heterosexuals engage in anal sex as well …
Lopez's very premise is false. There are no “arguments” for or against homosexuality. Arguing over a natural variation of human sexuality makes about as much sense as arguments in favor of, or opposition to, being left-handed. Moreover, if anal sex is damaging then Lopez hasn't been doing it right (Lopez is a bisexual ex-gay). Whether or not heterosexuals have anal sex is irrelevant. But we don't get there. At least we should not because it is a proxy for whether or not it is okay to be gay.

At its core, Lopez's expression is all about biblical opprobrium using Sodom as a vehicle. Lopez sees wisdom in those ancient chronicles. I see superstition and ignorance unless they are considered in the context of the times in which they were written. Conservative Christians never consider that Jews came to believe that the Torah alone did not serve as a practical application of law. That is why, in the fourth century, rabbinical scholars began to compile the Talmud.

Lopez's religious objections to gay people are not universally shared among theologians. They constitute Lopez's acceptance of the religious opinions of others — and they are merely opinions. They constitute part of a belief system based on faith. Medicine, psychology and sociology are sciences. Science is evidentiary. People who mix faith with science are, at the outset, confused. We get into the territory occupied by people who have lost the ability to objectively recognize, understand and appreciate the difference between the two.

Lopez's closing paragraph is telling (and I have given his 1,900 word article an aggressive drivelectomy):
Discipline, preaching, punishment, and healing all need to work together to stop a complex, ambiguous evil from spreading through society. Sodom is a telling case study because it shows how thoroughly a contagious evil spreads when people are unsure of what to do, afflicted by fear, unmotivated to act righteously, and lacking in the empathy and charity to know that the problem is really harming people whom God loves.
So Lopez wants to discipline, preach at and punish gay people and then cause them to heal. And he wonders why he is marginalized. Get a grip Bobby! The story of Sodom is biblical mythology. Many rabbinical scholars do not associate the story with homosexuality. Also, has anyone been turned into a pillar of salt lately? It is just a story and it might be about homosexual rape in contrast to the sex of consenting adults. It is also primarily about the sin of being inhospitable to strangers.

All that aside, Lopez sees a sexual orientation that he does not approve of as spreading like a virus. Is it airborne or does it require direct contact? There is no evidence that there are more gay people as a percentage of the population today than there were, say, 50 years ago. Today there are more openly gay men but that is another issue. From where, then, does Lopez derive the notion that homosexuality is spreading? Does he think that gay people recruit other people into being gay? It's a theme that even the hate groups have generally stopped trying to perpetuate because is it facially illogical. Lopez's “evil” is an article of faith. Something “spreading through society” speaks to sociology which Lopez is ill-equipped to address.

Sexual orientation is a continuum. Each of us has a a needle pointing somewhere at, or between, heterosexuality and homosexuality which are at the extreme ends of the continuum. The needle moves a bit from time-to-time but there is nothing that we, or anyone else, can do to influence its direction. Lopez suggest otherwise and that is just plain wrong. There is no evidence to support Lopez's contention. And not for lack of trying. Yet even NARTH cannot support their religious ideology with scientific evidence.

We can choose whether or not to have sex but why should we have to make that choice? Because of some religious opinions based on ancient texts?

But we get it. According to Lopez's opinion of the opinions of some religious leaders and his opinions regarding the interpretation of biblical passages, homosexuality is evil. It is an opinion based on a particular flavor of Christianity. It is one that is not shared by many Christians and Jews and is, or at least should be, irrelevant to public policy. The fact that Lopez is ex-gay, ex-bi or ex-whatever does not give him unique insight into sexuality. In fact, it limits his critical thinking to an analysis of those facts and also fallacies that conform to his life experiences.

Sexual orientation is not contagious. Crackpots like Lopez create contagion in the form of ignorance and bigotry. They are the authors and promoters of nonsensical arguments that will be repeated and adopted by others who seek affirmation of their religious beliefs. Were I to confront Lopez on social media I would start with questions: Why do you insist on debating something that is not subject to debate among most sane people? Is there peer-reviewed research to support the notion that sexual orientation is subject to debate?

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