One way to understand hate, is in terms of harm. The fact of harm can be part of a test for hate. It is in this sense that the following harm hypothesis hangs together with the hate hypothesis. This is the current formulation:
- The harm hypothesis: The Alliance Church harms people who have a disposition towards homosexuality.
It’s important to note that the Alliance Church welcomes people who have a disposition towards homosexuality. That is, they welcome, and love, homosexuals. But here’s the catch. They tell these folks that acting on these impulses is sinful. They tell these folks that gay behaviour, unrepented, will block them from god’s love. They tell gay folks that acting on their homosexual thoughts and feelings is a sin much like idolatry, adultery and thieving. It’s forgivable, but wrong.
This condemnation of gay conduct is an important factor of the harm hypothesis.
Another key premise is that the social and sexual well-being of humans is a fundamental part of a healthy human being. Not being able to explore and grow in social and sexual ways is a serious detriment to the well being of a whole, healthy human.
Just to be clear, I understand that some humans freely choose not to explore their gay natures. And that’s fine. When humans choose not to do so, free from coercion or a disproportionate power imbalance, well, that seems fine. It is a matter of choice sometimes, and it seems likely that there is a way in which denying one’s gay nature can be done in a healthy way. Much in the same way, some folks with heterosexual impulses might control their impulses and not pursue heterosexual behaviours. Which is all great, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
One question is, are people living within an Alliance Church community really free to choose? There is a significant power gradient. Doctrine and social cohesion are powerful moral authorities. There is significant moral pressure. The consequences of sinning and not repenting are probably an eternity in hell. If so, that’s a very serious doctrinal disincentive. (Actually, I don’t know what Alliance Church doctrine is on this. I’ll have to find out.) And the collective moral condemnation is also a powerful social disincentive. It’s not like you could bring your partner to church. You couldn’t introduce them to your church elders. You couldn’t introduce them to your church friends.
You couldn’t get affirming and positive emotional support for your relationship.
Everyone would look at you with the same doey eyes they give violent thieves: “we love you but please stop beating people, stealing their money, and holding hands with so and so.” I’m not even talking about minors within the church. That’s a whole messed up other thing. I’m just considering adults, and I think it’s fair to say that a congregation would make it very hard for an adult to freely choose to pursue homosexual behaviours.
Actually, it seems plausible that the result of the social, spiritual and emotional condemnation would be that an individual might be more likely to pursue actually harmful behaviours. They might be less able to get good information, or learn about healthy kinds of homosexual behaviour. They might, for example, find ways of having unprotected sex with anonymous same-sex partners without using protection, for fear of being found out, or for fear of having “premeditated” sex.
I guess an argument might look, very roughly, something like:
- the overwhelming empirical consensus by doctors and psychology research is that homosexual conduct is as healthy and important to human well-being as heterosexual conduct
- blocking someone from developing and growing in their experience and understanding about context appropriate conduct relating to intimacy and sexuality is a kind of harm
- more specifically, blocking someone from developing and growing in their understanding and experience of context appropriate homosexual conduct is a kind of harm
- teaching people who have homosexual tendencies that homosexual behaviour is sinful and condemned and discouraged by their community is harmful to their emotional and social well-being