Author's Note: This is a guest post by my good friend Jacob Fisher, who holds a BA in History from Providence Christian College. Any thoughts contained in this article do not necessarily align with my own. That being said, this is a thought provoking piece, one that reminds us that we so easily forget our history, and the consequences of ideas that people have held in the past.
I first want to commend Mr. Ben Haggerty and the other contributors of the song for writing some powerful lyrics. Despite all the problems found within the song, it is still powerful and emotionally charged. It is important for people to recognize the prejudice in our culture against homosexuality. This nation screams freedom, liberty, and equality with one hand, and then discriminates and segregates with the other hand. Furthermore, as Christians, we need to remember the principle of love. Our greatest commands are to love our God, and then to love our neighbor. This even includes our perceived enemies. The command to love is not lightly given, and Christians have a very serious mandate. In all things, we are to represent our Lord with honor and to show to all men the love we have received, which was given to us so undeserved. All that being said, I want to look into the song and at some pretty significant falsities and dangers it is presenting and supporting, as well as the faulty logic that it promotes.
Mr. Haggerty, as with many people, seems to equate right-wing conservatives with Christians. While many conservatives are Christians, not all are. There are Christians on both sides of the aisle, and that needs to be recognized. Furthermore, conservative politics are not Christian fundamentals. For instance, closed borders and capitalism are conservative promoted policies, but are not ideals shared in scripture. By in large, scripture does not hold an opinion on many specific issues dealt with in politics. It is the heart that scripture changes, and so these policies are affected by such a change, but scripture does not lay out a political strategy. Mr. Haggerty seems to criticize Christians with many of the same criticisms he has for conservatives without specifics; this implies a misunderstanding of the separate spheres.
My primary frustration with the song is the implication that people are not able to change. Mr. Haggerty and Ms. Mary Lambert both support the idea of people who cannot change from certain predispositions. The line “I can’t change, even if I wanted to” is repeated several times during the song. Haggerty says, “The right wing conservatives think it's a decision and you can be cured with some treatment and religion.” As Christians, we know and recognize that change is an inherent part of human nature. This recognition, however, is not useful for those who do not believe, so it is necessary to examine this from another perspective. I’d like to put those concepts into context.
In the early 20th century, people in the U.S. were being forcibly sterilized because of the pseudo-scientific concepts of man’s immutable nature (unchangeable nature). With the recognition of a predisposition to specific actions a person could be condemned at birth, and certain people were. For example, these concepts led powerful people to believe that if a person had committed a crime, such as theft, then theft was clearly an inherent part of their nature, even their genetic makeup, and so those predispositions would be hereditarily passed down through the generations. The logical way to deal with crime, then, was to stamp it out. Sterilize any criminal and the world could be free of crime. Hitler fully enjoyed these so called facts. It enabled him, with greater ease, to commit the holocaust.
To be sure, I am not implying that Mr. Haggerty is genocidal, or comparable to Hitler in any way. I am not saying that Mr. Haggerty is going to lead a mass sterilization movement in the U.S. Nor am I saying that sterilization movements will erupt because of this song, or a holocaust will occur. This is not a doomsday article. What I want to explain is how this simple concept of immutable nature has been used in the past, and the danger with accepting nature as such. Ideas definitely have consequences.
Discrimination against homosexuality is a terrible thing. It has no place in this nation so long as we uphold the concepts of freedom that we claim. It has no place in Christianity if we follow the commands to love our neighbors and to work for the peace of Babylon.