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A Pre-Birth Determination?

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the leading voices of the 16 million-strong Southern Baptist Convention, raised the possibility of a biological basis for homosexuality in his blog.
The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the leading voices of the 16 million-strong Southern Baptist Convention, raised the possibility of a biological basis for homosexuality in his blog. (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Via Associated Press)

On his blog, Mohler wrote that the search for a biological cause of the "disorder" could also lead to a "cure." In the interview, however, he distanced himself from the "therapeutic language of a 'cure' " and spoke instead of "salvation through Christ." Homosexual behavior is sinful, he said, whether based in nature or nurture.

The Rev. Rob Schenck, a pastor and member of the Evangelical Church Alliance, which he said is probably the most conservative of the evangelical groups, applauded Mohler for launching a dialogue.

But, he warned, "this is such a delicate and risky conversation to have for a number or reasons . . . We're going to have to be extremely prayerful and careful about making any decision to tinker with a child's genetic or biochemical construction. We may be awfully close to violating the sanctity of that child's life and their integrity as a person."

Mohler has "touched the third rail of the radical religious right's view of homosexuality," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, executive secretary of the National Council of Churches, which represents 35 denominations and 45 million congregants.

"What he said lends credence to the fact that it's God's creation. His brothers in faith would be more surprised than liberals with his comments." Ironically, Mohler's musings on these subjects were based on an article in an irreverent pop culture magazine. Gray, the article's author, said he was "not real happy" with the way Mohler used his writings.

"You can't just pick the parts that you like and say, 'I'm going to use this to say that I would be okay with a treatment that would eradicate homosexuality,' " said Gray, whose article raised the prospect for hypocrisy among conservatives and liberals faced with choices about the sexuality of their unborn children.

Mohler's missive has had a "chilling and frightening effect" on the homosexual community, said Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group. "My word for [Christian conservatives] is they should be more focused on repentance for the sins they have committed against homosexuals than on manipulating the next generation of the unborn."

Besen said Mohler's musing are akin to calling for a "final solution" for gays.

"It's the first time I've ever used such a term, and having a family background that included the Holocaust I don't take that lightly," said Besen, author of "Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth."

"However . . . if you follow what he said there would be no gay people in the future."

Homosexuality is a "huge challenge" to Christianity, said Mohler, referring, in part, to the Rev. Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who was forced to step down last November because of a gay sex scandal. And the Rev. Lonnie Latham, a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, was embroiled in a gay sex scandal but was found not guilty of having solicited sex from another man.

"In our churches and in our families there are people struggling with homosexuality and for a long time this was kind of hidden," Mohler said in the interview. "It is no longer hidden, and the fact is we've got to be coming up with genuinely Christian responses to Christians who are in this struggle."

Asked if he perhaps was moving ahead of the science on homosexuality's origins, Mohler said, "I don't think it's that far off. The battle for human dignity is already here."

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