I’m a disciple of Christ first and foremost! Actually, I’m very theologically conservative in that I believe in the Resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven, the virgin birth, that Jesus is God incarnate, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (if seen contextually and accurately translated), and in virtually all theological and Christological contentions that conservative theologians support.
Of course, I vehemently disagree with homophobic clergy, be they evangelical or mere haters who seek to frame their hate in the name of “Christianity.” And, it must be acknowledged, that there are many self-defined and self-deluded evangelical Christians who speak from the hateful preconceived prejudices that exist in their hearts!
However, secondarily, I also agree with Marx’s analysis of capitalism, save for his dismissal of God. As much of organized religion does serve as “the opiate of the masses,” and that many people create God in their own image, Marx was unfortunately correct. He was dead wrong, however, when he proffered that there is no God and that God is a mere fiction created by the gullible.
However, I don’t want to deal with this particular issue here, but I do want to deal with the role of Capitalism that Marx correctly said “contains the seeds of its own destruction.” Some of those seeds in the U.S. can be seen by the fact that capitalism requires many workers to live lives of exploitation, and that exploitation has as one of its results the need for affirmation that often comes by creating one or more out-groups, constructed enemies, so that one can feel better about him/herself and feel morally superior, as well as cement in-group solidarity that shared hate can bring to those who are exploited.
Wealthy people can, of course, be homophobic, but that homophobia may in great part be used to influence the exploited workers to cast as the enemy groups other than those who are, in fact, exploiting them. Workers are needed in order for capitalists to be successful, so they must be lulled into believing that they have a stake in capital property, as well as a stake in the values of the capitalists, the power elite; what better way of deflecting workers’ animus against capitalists who are exploiting them than to monopolize the media, manipulate the media, to get many Straight people to think that Gay people are somehow a threat to the well-being of children, families, “our American way of life,” and religion?
The capitalists, the owners of the means of production and the media, have a vested interest in having workers fighting against each other rather than direct their resentment where it should belong. Outsourcing, diminishing of workers’ salaries in proportion to the economic gains of the corporate elite must be subordinated in workers’ psyches by encouraging a war of all against all, be it against Gay people, Jews, African Americans, immigrants, women, etc.
This is not to say that homophobia doesn’t occur in the absence of capitalism, for I am a firm believer in Original Sin! It is to say that in developed countries such as in the U.S., where survival of the fittest, the hallmark of Social Darwinism without which it is impossible to understand much of the values and fabric of the U.S., and in the ideology of many workers who have no vested interest in believing this sociopathic axiom, an axiom that can be heard on a daily basis on most of talk radio, leads to the seeking out of scapegoats against whom to vent their frustrations and resentments borne of their own economic oppression and exploitation.
Marx called this phenomenon, “false consciousness,” where people act against their own best interests because they are misdirected by the media and other institutions ruled by the capitalists. Homophobia is one such manifestation of false consciousness!
Let’s face it, why would anyone care if two adult people of the same sex love each other? Why would there be people making a veritable career out of condemning Gay people unless there was money to be made by doing so, and/or unless they were fearful of being Gay themselves? Why would most churches have such animus against Gay people unless they were acting as agents of the power elite and/or were comprised of clergy many of whom are self-loathing Gay people?
When there is relative scarcity of goods and services that capitalism demands for the owners of the means of production to maximize their profits, workers become frustrated and angry, and they seek out all sorts of constructed “enemies” against which to direct their anger, so that they can remain safer than they would if they directed their frustration, anger, and aggression against those creating their exploitation; direct that very frustration, anger, and aggression against groups that they feel are safe to persecute, and seek to justify their persecution of that constructed enemy by lying about them, often doing so in the name of God.
Now, the major scapegoats that serve to assuage the frustrations and consequent aggression of the exploited are Gay people!
Carl Jung once said that only the tortured are torturers! And one doesn’t have to be a Marxist to understand this truth!
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and the website Radical Christianity.