Pentecostal leader Michael Brown continues to throw homosexuality into the mix with an array of exotic sexual fetishes, including pedophilia, zoophilia and coprophilia, sexual arousal from human feces.
In January, we looked at Brown, the latest evangelical leader to join Love Won Out‘s roster of conference speakers. Ex-Gay Watch found Dr Brown’s rhetoric to be aggressively militaristic. Those who read the discussions here and on Warren Throckmorton‘s website will be familiar with his argument that nothing separates homosexuality from any other manner of non-conventional sexual practices.
Last week, Brown appeared on the Concerned Women for America (CWFA) radio program, alongside Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth. The subject was evangelical Wheaton College’s decision to invite left-leaning, pro-gay evangelical Jim Wallis as a speaker. Without a hint of irony, host Matt Barber condemned the decision, saying that Wallis’s views were
… unequivocally unscriptural. That’s why I have a problem. I’m all for academic freedom, but if something is just so on it’s face!
All for academic freedom, except when something is “unequivocally unscriptural.” A strange sort of academic freedom, which appears to amount to “academic freedom except when I disagree.”
Then Michael Brown entered the conversation to reiterate the same arguments he has made here on XGW and elsewhere. His contention amounts to the claim that nothing distinguishes homosexuality morally from any other sexual practice, no matter how bizarre or offensive.
No moral line between homosexuality and pedophilia
Broadening the definition of “orientation” as widely as possible, Brown asks:
Are all sexual orientations gifts from God? Zoophilia, or coprophilia, the sexual stimulation by faeces, or bestiality, I mean things that everyone would be repulsed by, or paedophilia. Are those gifts from God? … How do you distinguish which sexual orientation is a gift from God and which is not?
Really, there’s no line between saying this is a gift from God and saying pedophilia’s a gift from God. Not to put the two in the same class, but to say, how do you reject anything morally any more? If I like it, if I feel good about it, it’s all about me.
Love? Respect? Fulfilment? Capacity to help and not harm? Abuse? Consent or lack of it? Ultimately, however, maybe these things are side issues to those whose morality is tied only to the authority of a single interpretation of a single holy book.
Misrepresenting gay morality
If I like it, if I feel good about it, it’s all about me. … [It's the] Will and Grace culture and the culture of If-I-feel-good-about-it-then-it’s-good.
And there you have Brown’s slanderous assessment of the morality of gays and lesbians: If it feels good, do it. In other words, gays are hedonists: they have no moral compass other than their own sense of pleasure. This is an outrageous accusation, but unfortunately a ubiquitous one.
In the discussions here and elsewhere, Brown continually argued that we as gays had no moral basis for distinguishing between homosexuality and other (supposedly) non-traditional sexual practices. On the contrary, how about the following as a list of questions I, as a gay person with a moral compass, might ask about my own sexual behaviour:
- Is it loving?
- Is it consensual?
- Is it respectful?
- Is it giving or selfish?
- Is it mutually beneficial and fulfilling or abusive and unequal?
- Does it dignify or degrade me and others as human beings?
- Does it help or hinder me in becoming a better person?
Is there something immoral in that preliminary list of criteria? Is there something lacking (other than that it might not match up to a particular religious viewpoint)? Is it any more or less moral than any other set of criteria? Does it have anything to do with Brown’s woeful caricature of gay morality as “if it feels good do it”? (If that were really the basis of my morality, at this moment I’d be out doing a hundred more exciting things than sitting here writing this article, believe me!)
The contradiction: Does Brown really not see the difference?
The big contradiction – and it’s either a logical flaw or a sign of disingenuity – is that Brown clearly does see the difference between homosexuality and other sexual practices and orientations. He first makes the outrageously offensive, albeit sadly typical connection between pedophilia and homosexuality, but then tellingly adds the caveat that he doesn’t want “to put the two in the same class.” Why? So far he has argued that there is nothing to distinguish them.
And yet something in him wants to make a distinction. Brown knows quite well that pedophilia is about control and manipulation, where homosexuality is consensual. He knows that pedophilia is abusive, where homosexuals can have adult relationships that mirror heterosexual relationships. If he really recognized no moral distinction, he would be in favour of criminalizing homosexuality. After all, we jail practicing pedophiles. We lock up people who rape animals. What’s stopping Brown from campaigning to have the gays brought to justice? (Answer: There are very obvious moral differences, which even Brown knows.)
Manufacturing a crisis
Brown ends the discussion with an overstatement that again is typical of the charged rhetoric of those who claim LGBT rights are a threat to civilization:
What about the undoing of the foundations? You undo male-female, you undo marriage, and everything is up for grabs, totally. What about the effect on the next generation that grows up with complete uncertainty about marriage, complete uncertainty about male-female? Don’t we have a responsibility in terms of justice to care about the family and the children and the next generation?
This has as much validity as the illogical argument that “if everyone were gay, there would be no reproduction, and the world would end.” Who suggested everyone would or should be gay? Likewise, who’s suggesting that male and female, and the concept of marriage be entirely undone? Let’s be honest: The majority of the world will carry on as they have always done. Most people know and will know with certainty whether they are male or female. Most people are and will be quite aware whether they are gay or straight. People figure these things out for themselves, and the fact that there are other people who are gay, or bisexual, or transgender, and that that is something to be respected, is not going suddenly to throw them into confusion about their own identity.
Brown and those who share his heady rhetoric of a society doomed to confusion and uncertainty are manufacturing a situation that simply does not align with the reality.
The question restated
And so Ex-Gay Watch asks once again, is this the sort of hardline political sensationalism with which Love Won Out’s allies, such as Exodus, want to be associated? Granted, it’s been the general direction of the mainstream ex-gay movement for a long time. Exodus has generally distanced itself from the ilk of Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber, with whom Michael Brown is clearly at home in his message and style. With hardliners like this coming aboard, isn’t it time the rest of the ex-gay movement took stock of where they’re headed?