'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22)
'They shall surely be put to death' (Leviticus 20:13)
'Sons of Belial' (Judges 19:22)
''Their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature' (Romans 1 :26)
'Men leaving the natural use of the woman ,burned in their lust toward one another' (Romans 1:27)
'Men with men working that which is unseemly' (Romans 1:27)
These statements would at first glance seem to defintively prohibit homosexuality, but on further consideration this conclusion becomes less certain, if not highly questionable and is a debate that must be very carefully addressed. Those who do come to a decision against homosexuality can do so only with caution, as it results in significant implications for a number of wider issues. Two overarching questions must be kept in mind throughout, which are of great importance: 1) What is a sin? A sin is usually defined as an act or thought which in some sense is contrary to God's will for humanity. Is this always inescapable the case with homosexuality? 2) Equally crucial is in what manner scripture is to be interpreted, how literally? With what freedom? Can science, theology and philosophy make valid contributions to the debate?
From the outset it is important to point out that despite the length of the Bible there are very very few mentions of a topic which today is considered of great importance, and these are almost equally distributed between the Old and New Testaments. This sparsity should alert us to the fact that it was not an issue of great concern throughout the Biblical period, no more than a very minor issue, and thus suggests that there was no developed theological stance upon homosexuality. Thus prohibition of homosexuality is more likely to be the result not of a theological given, but an imposition of social prejudice and taboo upon scripture. Prejudice against what? This might seem a strage quesstion, but did the ancient Israelites who wrote Leviticus or the Jews of Jesus' time have any real notion of homosexuality as we might do now? The word certainly did not exist. For those who did, homosexuality was not seen in the light of a loving committed relationship between two individuals, but as a lustful act committted by the depraved. It was a degradation of one individual by another, upsetting the natural order of things. This concept of 'natural order' is very important in understanding the Biblical statements. In Genesis God creates man and woman and commands 'go forth and multiply', thus homosexuality would seem to undermine if not directly threaten this command.' Homosexuality as an act then is perhaps less of a sin in itself, per se, but more because it prohibits this injunction, and upsets natural order. It is for this reason (amongst others) that contraception is banned by the Catholic church. Consequently, any church which accepts contraception (which i believe is all except the Catholic) runs a risk of contradiction on this issue. Why should some acts be condemend on the basis that they deny the possibility of life and not others? Moreover, it was for this reason that barren women were so stigmatised in the Old Testament, being incapable of having children they were a shame upon a godly society. This would be considered unacceptable now- yet the basis of the rejection of barren women is virtually the same as that of homosexuality. The importance of children and the idea of a natural order in terms of relationships to the ancient Israelites (as it continues today amogst many Jewish communities) cannot be underestimated. Equally significant was the idea of purity and impurity. Those who did acts contrary to God's will were considered ritually impure, they could not partake in any religious activities and were considered abominable, they threatened the entire community in fact, because of the potential callimg down of God's wrath. Part of the significance of the New Testament (for Christians of course) is that God/Jesus sweeps away this conception of the divine, God is no longer a 'jealous God' who demands the complicated ceremonial observance of the Jewish law as exhaustively outlined in the Law books, and enforced by the Pharisees. Instead the God of the New Testament fundamentally alters the divine-human relationship, reorientating it and internalising it, making motive, namely love, the chief criterion of a sinful act. For tis reason Christians do not follow the Laws which many Jews follow today such as those of food and that of circumcision. The prohibition s of homosexuality in the Old Testament must thus be considered very carefully- are they still valid? The Early Church Fathers decided that while ceremonial law was to be discarded, the moral must be kept. In many ways though, this is impossible to carry out, it is an artificial distinction, for the Israelites has no separation, all acts, were ceremonial and directly related to ritual purity. Most people today would consider it highly unethical to shun the ill and the infirm, but these individuals were considered impure and to be avoided. If one is to condemen homosexuality on the basis of the purity laws, it is done at the very great risk of ignoring the fundamental message of the New Testament, and by that logic the ill, the barren and the infirm must also be rejected as sinful and outside God's Kingdom. That there are references aginst homosexuality in Romans thus adds weight to the concept that it was a social and not divine prohibition, the result of Pauls' Jewish background. While Paul's marvellous contribution to Christianity cannot be denied, as neither can his importance, one must be caitious about accepting on face value all that he writes. If Paul's views are to be followed exactly then slavery is tacitly accepted as is the subjugation of women as naturally inferior to men (eg 1 Corinthians 14:35 'If they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.') Paul is thus clearly speaking in the mould of treditional Jewish belief, and this has serious implications for the woman's movment. It goes without saying that any church that gives women any role within it is already inconsistent with Paul, thus condemning homosexuality is a double inconsitency. To follow Paul in all things it to reject female equality and the dignity of freedom to all individuals. This is not to undermine Paul but simple to be aware of his limitations as an individual of his time, albeit inspired by God as an apostle. Jesus noticably says nothing on the issue of homosexuality, it is simply peripheral- does this not suggest that it is irrelevant if one's relationship with God is one of reciprocal love? A mentioned, God's love and HIs wish for this to be extended to all individuals is the defining feature of the New Testament revelation for Christians. Consequently, those who condemn homosexuality must do so with great caution- are they themselves failing to live up to a far more fundamental injunction of love? Love in its fullest sense surely inclides the wide-hearted, prayerful acceptance and tolerance of individuals. This is not a blanket acceptance that does away with morality, but that the debate must be conducted on this basis and that homosexual people must be considered as individuals with needs and desires who have their own relationship to God. Jesus in the New Testament is the friend of the outcasts and reviled minorities and those who condemn homosexuality should be very much aware of this- they may be attacking those whom God holds dearest as the persecuted. Moreover, modern psychology and genetics shows that homosexuality is not a lustful whim of devil possesion as the Israelites and the first Christians saw it, but an unallterable aspect of an individuals sexual preferences. Why would a loving God implant such inherent sinfulness in such a basic human urge? Romans might prhibit homosexuality as it is not a 'natural use', but surely it is a natural use for those whom it is their sexual orientation? Prohibiting homosexuality runs the risk of denying God's essential goodness. God as loving surely wills all His creatures to be happy and fulfilled. Relationships (whether woth other humans or with God) is the chief means to do achieve this- espescially the close loving bond of sexual relations with another person that simultaneously is a groing towards God, and for this reason marriage is considered a sacrament that should take place within the Church. Are homosexuals to be denied this, because of an unalterable facet of their nature which God himself has made? Other sexual practices such as bestiality or incest are immoral because they can never be non-exploitative and thus truly loving, but homosexuality is of another category and can fulfull these criteria, surely where love is, God is, as God is love? Moreover,to take the Biblical texts at face value is in many ways a direct affron to God's love and wisdom. A literal reading is a superficial one, and thus is failiure of respect for the Bible, and incredibley beautiful and complex text that God has caused to be written over thousands of years and through hundreds of individuals, it is truly representative of the mass of humanity and its thirst for God over time. To take it literally is to debase it to a simple text and without its true richness and value, and surely such a rejection of God is far more serious a sin than homosexuality ever sould be? As is the mental torture and judgement of individuals whom God loves. it strikes me that homosexuality can be seen as a challenge by God, a particular one of the present time to mankind to widen their love to more people. And it is interesting that the debate on homosexuality is espescially conducted in America, which (with the greatest respect for the diveristy of views that exist there) is having great difficulty in applying Christian love to people on an international basis. The Bible, far from declaring homosexuality a sin, actually may suggest that it is one of the many ways that individuals can reach out to God and reach out to each other in mutual love, trust and tolerance.
― Bumfluff, Sunday, 7 November 2004 15:39 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Sunday, 7 November 2004 16:02 (8 years ago) Permalink
Fine, let gays have marriage. Whatever, they can keep it. So long as heterosexuals get to have SUPER marriages!
― David Allen (David Allen), Sunday, 7 November 2004 16:18 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Bumfluff, Monday, 8 November 2004 00:46 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Fight the Real Enemy -- Tasti D-Lite (ex machina), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 20:37 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Dan (Awesome) Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 20:42 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 21:25 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 21:29 (7 years ago) Permalink
― don weiner (don weiner), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 23:34 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Curt1s St3ph3ns, Tuesday, 18 April 2006 23:37 (7 years ago) Permalink
― don weiner (don weiner), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 23:44 (7 years ago) Permalink
They aren't official anymore, unfortunately.
― Maria :D (Maria D.), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 16:16 (7 years ago) Permalink
Hahaha this is actually my baseline opinion and why I think "marriage" should be secularized! Why should a household be defined as a married man and woman? That doesn't describe every household out there and there are certain living situations that make enough long-term sense that it seems odd to me that the people involved can't enter into some type of legal contract that would grant them the same legal status as a traditional married couple.
― Dan (Egalitarianism: It's What's For Dinner) Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 16:42 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 16:55 (7 years ago) Permalink
I think her point is more that there is a slippery slope for the government to validate gay marriage.
― don weiner (don weiner), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:20 (7 years ago) Permalink
Gay activists often point out various same-sex unions that have outlasted many heterosexual ones. But I don't see why sexual relationships of any stripe, if they're not at least inherently procreative, should trump all others.
I'm surprised it even shows up on the screen, so quickly is it disappearing up its own ass.
― phil d. (Phil D.), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:23 (7 years ago) Permalink
or a man's relationship with a man, or a woman's relationship with a woman - if you want to be unbigoted about it. I hope you realize, don, as the essayist you link above apparently does not, that many gay couple decide to have children via adoption, IVF treatment or what have you.
your suggestion, of course, amounts to a very slippery, very short, slope towards taking away privileges from people who decide not to have children, which hardly seems fair.
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:39 (7 years ago) Permalink
A year and half later, still roffleicious!
― rogermexico (rogermexico), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:47 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:50 (7 years ago) Permalink
Which privileges are eliminated from people who don't breed in my scenario?
― don weiner (don weiner), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:52 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:55 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 17:57 (7 years ago) Permalink
The columnist's position rests on the assumption that gay marriages are "inherently non-procreative"; the increasingly large number of gay couples whose coupledom is reinforced and tested by the experience of raising children together looks an awful lot like any other marriage-with-kids to me. Why not grant it the same protections and benefits?
"It's a straight thing, you wouldn't understand"
― Drew Daniel (Drew Daniel), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 18:00 (7 years ago) Permalink
I think what Cathy Seipp is saying is that if we allow gay marriage then what logic does the law hold against polygamy or Kate & Allie or a handful of broke college kids getting married to achieve the same privileges as two guys or two gals whose basis for this privilege is homosexuality. I think she's pointing out that marriage as a legal institution probably isn't going to ever leave the cages of government intervention, so we're better to be vigilant about trying to limit it less we face a slippery slope in the other direction.
― don weiner (don weiner), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 18:30 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 19:06 (7 years ago) Permalink
― -++-++-+--, Wednesday, 19 April 2006 19:08 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tracey Hand (tracerhand), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 19:14 (7 years ago) Permalink
― awesome is as awesome does (lucylurex), Wednesday, 19 April 2006 21:37 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Thursday, 20 April 2006 05:24 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Courtney Gidts (ex machina), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:21 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:24 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Jessie the Monster (scarymonsterrr), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:28 (6 years ago) Permalink
― gabbneb (gabbneb), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:33 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:36 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Huk-L (Huk-L), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:50 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Jessie the Monster (scarymonsterrr), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:50 (6 years ago) Permalink
MAYBE WE SHOULD STOP GAY MARRIAGE BECAUAES ONE DOESNT KNOW WHERE IT COULD LEAD
― gear (gear), Monday, 5 June 2006 18:52 (6 years ago) Permalink
― ((((((DOPplur)))n)))u))))tttt (donut), Monday, 5 June 2006 19:03 (6 years ago) Permalink
Under the old monogamous system, we didn't have the problem of apportioning Thanksgiving and Christmas among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the breaking point. A child can now grow up with eight or nine or 10 grandparents -- Gampa, Gammy, Goopa, Gumby, Papa, Poopsy, Goofy, Gaga and Chuck -- and need a program to keep track of the actors.
And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife's first husband's second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin's in-laws and Bruce's ex, Mark, and Mark's current partner, and I suppose we'll get used to it.
The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show.
― jaymc, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:40 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:42 (6 years ago) Permalink
― jaymc, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:44 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Michael White, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:47 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:48 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Michael White, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 22:52 (6 years ago) Permalink
― gabbneb, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 23:51 (6 years ago) Permalink
― gabbneb, Wednesday, 14 March 2007 23:58 (6 years ago) Permalink
― nabisco, Thursday, 15 March 2007 00:02 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Maria, Thursday, 15 March 2007 00:07 (6 years ago) Permalink
― nabisco, Thursday, 15 March 2007 00:26 (6 years ago) Permalink