The Religious Prejudice Trilemma
Some more likely possibilities to consider before accepting that God belives it's wrong to be LGBT.
It seems rather obvious that a divinely all-knowing and perfectly moral being would not think it’s wrong to be gay or transgender. In fact, such a belief counts a pretty clear evidence that such a being is not, in fact, morally perfect. And yet many disagree, and that disagreement raises I call the “Religious Prejudice Trilemma,” three alternative explanations for religious claims against the morality of LGBT identifies and lifestyles—alternatives that are considerably more likely to be true than a morally perfect divine being taking an anti-LGBT stance.
Quite a lot of people believe that scripture tells them it’s wrong for a man to have a sexual relationship with another man. They believe that their god has dictated that there are only two, immutable genders. Or they believe that gender roles are part of the divine order, and so a virtuous life entails men living “traditionally male” roles and women living “traditionally female” roles.
This prejudice needn’t manifest as hatred for those leading sinful lives or making sinful choices—though of course it frequently does. Instead, it can manifest in a “hate the sin, love the sinner” way, in a motivation to convince LGBT people to give up their ways for something more godly, and for a desire to keep those lifestyles away from children and from being normalized.
Of course, even if the believer doesn’t descend into outright hate, holding and expressing these moral beliefs, and particular trying to manifest them in society at large, makes the lives of LGBT—who see nothing wrong with their identities, feelings, and behaviors—worse. It does them harm and, unless you share the believers’ religious priors, it’s an unjustifiable, and thus unjust, harm.
If we step away from religious motivations for anti-LGBT views, it’s difficult to find a cogent argument for the immorality of gay relationships or the wrongness of transgender identities. And it’s difficult because basically moral principles, or a basic understanding of the virtues, tells us there in fact is nothing wrong with being LGBT.
So what are we to make of claims that the creator of the universe says otherwise?
Given both the paucity of non-religious arguments against LGBT lifestyles, and the obvious harm that flow from anti-LBGT beliefs, religious faithful should thoroughly consider three alternatives, any of which is considerably more likely to be true than that an all-knowing and morally perfect being opposes gay and transgender lifestyles.
First, it might be that the particular deity the religious believer has in mind doesn’t actually exist. After all, the majority of people are convinced any particular divine being isn’t real, although they disagree on which ones aren’t real. Thus, while atheism is a way to approach this prong of the trilemma, it needn’t be the only way to interpret it. Perhaps the deity you currently believe exists and opposes LGBT lifestyles in fact doesn’t exist—but another one with different moral values does.
Second, it might be that the deity you have in mind does exist, but that its beliefs and commands, as presented in your scriptures, have been misinterpreted in such as away as to characterize LGBT lifestyles as wrong. Again, the fact of disagreement pushes in this direction. Many Christians think homosexuality is wrong, or that transgenderism is sinful, but many don’t. And both sides claim to find support for their position within scripture.
Third, if your deity does exist and you’re not mistaken about how to interpret its will via scripture, then you must finally consider that your assessment of that being as morally perfect is what’s mistaken. Anyone who’s read stories from mythology is familiar with all manner of morally imperfect gods and goddesses, beings who might be powerful, and had their share of worshipers, but were not moral paragons worthy of emulation. Perhaps your deity falls into that same camp, given that if it is telling you to see LGBT lifestyles as wrong, it’s made at least one moral error. If that’s the case, then your obligation is not to follow it down a morally incorrect path, but instead to strive to be better.
The simple fact is that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, and there’s nothing wrong with being transgender. If a religion says otherwise, then that religion is based on a god that doesn’t exist, has been misinterpreted, or isn’t morally perfect. No matter which of those is true, our obligation is to reject the misguided moral claims and accept gay and transgender people, and their lifestyles, as worthy parts of a pluralistic and humane society.