iris-robinson-mp.gifOf course she will – and does – deny it is hate, but doesn’t everyone who hates? Those who oppose and discriminate against gays and lesbians may be quite sincere, and it never looks from the inside like they’re doing a disservice. On the contrary, from the anti-gay mindset, they’re actually doing gays and lesbians a favor by telling them the truth and offering them a way out of their hideous lifestyles. To them, it’s love.

Iris Robinson, a Member of UK Parliament for the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, caused a furore last week when she claimed that homosexuals could become heterosexual through therapy. She described homosexuality as an “abomination” and in doing so provoked the ire of the gay community.

In the US, ex-gay therapist Warren Throckmorton had the sense at least to admit her words were “harsh” and came with “poor timing,” where in the UK Peter Ould sympathizes with Robinson, and instead condemns as witchhunters those who take offence:

[Robinson] dared to simply repeat what the Bible clearly says in Leviticus, that homosexual acts are abominable. What has followed is a “witch hunt” because she challenged the accepted public orthodoxy that same-sex attraction is something you are born with and that it can’t change.

In fact, Robinson’s ugly diatribe against gays went beyond “simply” repeating “what the Bible clearly says in Leviticus”:

I know [an abomination] it is something that God abhors, absolutely abhors … [Homosexuality is] so distasteful, so abhorrent …

When asked to expand on the meaning of “abomination,” she and presenter Stephen Nolan had the following exchange:

Nolan: Do you think for example that homosexuality is disgusting?

Robinson: Absolutely.

Nolan: Do you think that homosexuality should be loathed?

Robinson: Absolutely.

Nolan: Do you think it is right for people to have a physical disgust towards homosexuality?

Robinson: Absolutely.

Nolan: Does it make you nauseous?

Robinson: Yes.

Nolan: Do you think that it is something that is shamefully wicked and vile?

Robinson: Yes, of course it is, it’s an abomination. how much stronger a word can one use to describe what homosexuality is to the Lord Jesus Christ?

When taken to task for her inflammatory statements, Robinson later upped the stakes in offensiveness, saying:

Just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of christ, so can a homosexual … and if anyone takes issue they’re taking issue with the Word of God.

So we gays are on a par with murderers, but “there is a way to salvation through Christ if [we] give up what [we] do.”

There are two massive issues here. The first is the offensive and patronizing way in which Robinson addresses gays. At one point she sets gays apart from decent, moral citizens:

The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are believing Christians, and they have standards and morals.

Later on in the interview she is invited by a gay activist (who could not have been more peacable, frankly) to meet with gay men and women and in order to understand what they face. Robinson’s response is that she has no need to meet with gays because she has nothing to learn:

I don’t need to put my hand in a fire to know I’ll get burned. I understand about homosexuality.

Nolan presses her to reveal what she understands about the problems facing homosexuals, to which her response is to put the blame squarely at the feet of gays and lesbians themselves:

They are set apart from society because of their behaviour; and if you had watched the behaviour in the gay parade, I don’t think anyone would have been … enamoured by their behaviour, by their dress, by the outrageous things …

Prejudice and hatred are seemingly a side issue; gays are ostracized because of their own behaviour. Pardon my witch hunt, but Robinson did much more than “simply repeat” a Bible verse.

The second issue is how a person in public office (Robinson is not only an MP, but Spokesman [sic] for Health, Youth and Women in the Northern Ireland Assembly) can expect to be able to make public claims purely on the basis of a holy book. This was no minor aside; almost invariably Robinson appealed to the “Word of God” (the Bible) as justification, and barely tried to offer a rational argument:

What I said was scriptural. … Homosexuality … is an abomination. That is very clear, not just in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament. … [Homosexuality] is offensive to God; that’s why it’s in Scripture. … The Word of God teaches us that He made man and woman to be together and to procreate and to populate the Earth. … [The Bible is] the inspired Word of God. … All I know is that the Word of God is the infallible Word of God and He is very clear what He says. … I have a right not to be pilloried because I have a view that is taken from the Holy Bible. … I make no apology for what I said, because it’s the Word of God. … and if anyone takes issue they’re taking issue with the Word of God.

Incredible. How far would a politician expect to get claiming that her views were valid and true because they were clearly written in the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon? What would be the response to “I make no apology for what I said, because it’s in the Qu’ran”? How far in political life would “What I said agrees with the Book of Mormon” get a person? How far should such claims get a person?

People of faith are certainly entitled to a place at the table when it comes to politics, but they must come on the same basis as everyone else – with reasoned arguments, not with appeals to the authority of a holy book.

Witch hunt? No. Respect for equality, dignity and a sane, rational political process? Indeed.

Mrs Robinson claims to know Jesus. Many of us – when we’re not doing vile, loathsome, disgusting, nauseating and offensive things like loving our partners – also claim to know him and walk with him, listening to his words and learning from him. And we have a feeling, Mrs Robinson, that you have underestimated the love of Christ. Jesus might just love you (and us) more than you will know.

[Hat-tip to Emproph for inspiring the title!]

Categorized in: