Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, now thinks that high-tech, fetal research is OK — if it leads to a cure for homosexuality.
If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.
Note that this is not your old-school, naive eugenics he is proposing; developing a prenatal test for homosexuality and using that to decide whether to abort the fetus is completely unacceptable. The middle part of his article is an expression of horror at the possibility of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (” one of the greatest threats to human dignity in our times”), and the dilemma with which conservatives would be confronted: if they could find out their prospective child was going to be gay, would even good Christians be tempted to abort the abomination? What Mohler wants is full-blown genetic manipulation of human embryos to delete undesirable genes, not individuals.
There are a few problems with his scenario, as you might presume when one of these ignorant theocrats (Mohler is also a young earth creationist) starts wrestling with science.
One is that I really doubt that there will be a “gay gene” to eradicate. There will be a number of alleles that may contribute to an interaction with environmental factors that may predispose an individual to favor one sex over another. I also suspect that if there are such genes, they will also contribute to other aspects of social and sexual interactions — disentangling the nuances of preference from the whole damn problem of loving people might well be impossible.
There is no test like the one Mohler postulates, and if there were, it wouldn’t provide simple and absolute answers. This isn’t CSI, where ‘science’ is magic. At best, such a test result might list the presence of a few alleles correlated with a certain frequency of homosexuality, and it would have to admit that a) a significant number of people with this configuration are heterosexual, and b) absence of the ‘homosexual genotype’ is not a guarantee of heterosexuality. We aren’t products of billiard-ball biology.
Finally, the kind of transgenic manipulation of human embryos that Mohler is proposing isn’t cheap or trivial. It would take a tremendous amount of work to develop reliable techniques to carry out the process that he favors, and these skills don’t just poof into existence by divine fiat. It would take years of experimental work on human and non-human embryos — embryos that would not survive the experiments — to build up that repertoire of reliable expertise.
At the end of his thoughtless little daydream of a technological means of eradicating gayness, Mohler sounds almost Augustinian in his concern that Christians not make themselves look like fools on scientific issues.
Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God’s moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.
Does anyone else find it incredibly jarring when these guys talk about scientific research and then suddenly switch gears and start telling us what a god tells them is his personal opinion? You do not know “God’s moral verdict,” Albert Mohler. You’re making it up as you go along.