I am reading the Letters to the Editor section of Tuesday’s USA TODAY dealing with General Peter Pace’s remark that homosexuality is immoral (March 20, 2007). I disagree with General Pace’s assessment of homosexuality, but that is not the subject of this essay. Rather I want to comment on the comments in the Letters section.
Steve Friedberg of Lititz, Pa. writes, “Christian scholars have argued that morality comes from outside of mankind. Otherwise you end up with whole societies that condone immoral acts, such as those in Nazi Germany or the pre-Civil War South.”
By “outside” Mr. Friedberg means religion. Unfortunately religions don’t agree among themselves as to what is and is not moral. Killing in the name of God, Christ, and Allah have been deemed moral and immoral depending on whose God is being cited. Killing for Christ is moral to many Christians while killing for Allah is not. This is simply a matter of personal preference not absolute morality.
Furthermore religions often disagree within themselves. Mr. Friedberg mentions immoral societies like the pre-Civil War south. The problem is that the pre-Civil War south was committed to slavery as a moral act. God commands it. Christian pastors in the south taught that enslaving blacks to Christian whites is the way Africans got God. The supporters of slavery quoted the Bible no less emphatically than their abolitionist opponents. So having a Bible to quote and a religion to follow is no guarantee of morality.
So where does morality come from? Let me know if you figure this out.
Herb Stark of Massapequa, NY also supports General Pace and the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy saying, “As long as these folks [homosexuals] have volunteered for military service out of loyalty to this nation, then so be it. As long as their practices aren’t forced on other military personnel, I’m comfortable with that set up.”
Two things trouble me about Mr. Stark’s comments. First, what is the “it” to which his “so be” refers? Maybe he means as long as gays want to serve and die for their country then the military will have to let them do so? Second, his concern that homosexuals might foist their homosexuality on heterosexual military men and women is bizarre. While it is common in some circles for straight people to try and foist heterosexuality on gay people, I have never heard it go the other way. Gays and lesbians don’t want to redeem heterosexuals from the madness of inter-gender unions; they just want to be left alone.
The Letters disturb me because of the low level of discourse around important issues that they represent. Most likely this is always so, and I admit to being an elitist, but for the newspaper to give a forum to this kind of thinking just seems like pandering to the lowest common denominator. I can get that on Fox & Friends.