Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Topic of the Day: The Sin of Homosexuality
Today's Topic of the Day was inspired by many things lately. This rant has really just been building up inside and I had to let it all out. Things like this and this (honestly, don't bother reading them, you've probably heard about it already, if not, you can guess what they're about). Now as a completely straight and well-educated (yes, the "educated" is important here) male, I feel some duty to throw an argument into the mix that should receive more press.
While the main point I want to make in the Topic of the Day isn't anything that's normally heard, let me quickly root out the more often discussed logical pitfalls.
The logic is common:
- The Bible says homosexuality is a sin.
- Therefore, gay marriage should be illegal.
- The Bible has been translated several times and many claim the original documents refer more to adulterers and prostitutes than actual homosexuals as we know them today.
- The Bible was written by fallible men, not God, and shouldn't be taken word-for-word.
- Marriage is both a religious and governmental institution. The Bible, being a religious document, should only apply to the religious marriage.
- Separation of Church and State means that the government shouldn't care what the Bible says.
- As the good Reverend Kelvin Calloway has said: "Oppression is oppression is oppression"
Is it a Sin? Who knows. But some say: I report, you decide.
I'm actually going to work under the assumption that the Bible, and Jesus Himself, declared homosexuality to be a Sin. Yes, that's right. I'm going to hand the wing-nuts every card in the deck...and I'll still win, just watch me.
Get into the proverbial time machine and jump back 2000 years into Christ-era Hebrew culture. What was it like? Homosexuality was almost unheard of and certainly kept very low-key. Young men were, as per Jewish culture, expected to be married by their early 20's, if not earlier.
"But, Spitfire!", you say. "If everyone was married and homosexuality was so taboo, how did it find its way into the Bible enough for Dr Dobson to get so up-in-arms about it?"
Well first, Dobson's a jerk without much self-confidence...but that's beside the point.
Notice I said homosexuality was low-key. It was not, however, that uncommon. Alexander the Great, along with many in Ancient Greece, were known to have secretive homosexual relationships (see Greek Homosexuality by KJ Dover). Everyone knows about Sodom and Gomorrah, but that story is so filled with allegory that it is likely a Dobson-like depiction of what happens when you enter a hedonistic culture with no values [insert Tom DeLay joke here (John Bolton jokes work too)]. Many historians argue that the presence of homosexuality was just as high as today (a case against that whole "homosexuality is a choice" argument), but that the acts of homosexuality were not as prevalent. Obviously men and women acting on their homosexual tendencies was less common because it was taboo and brought about death by stoning (although Pat Robertson would like to change that sentence into the present tense).
Now in hindsight, we can separate the tendency of homosexuality from the act there of. But at that time it wasn't possible. Their knowledge of the human psyche and hormones wasn't so advanced (another thing Robertson would like to bring back). Case in point: remember when Jesus got made and cursed the moneymakers and tax collectors and such? Jesus wasn't condemning the individuals for choosing that profession (as one would become an Apostle), he was condemning the context of how they operated. In other words, he wasn't condemning the fact that someone was a tax collector, just the acts that were associated with (blackmail, ripping off, etc).
Now for all those who are worried I'm going to declare homosexual intercourse a sin, just give me another paragraph or two.
The important thing to remember is this: when the Bible declares something a sin, it declares it a sin based on the context of the time. Now we know the context of homosexuality in the Bible was that men and women who were almost always married secretly had a homosexual relationship on the side. So when someone at this time committed a homosexual act, what did that mean?
1. Having sex with someone other than one's spouse (''Thou shalt not commit adultery")
2. Lying about it to cover it up ("Thou shalt not bear false witness")
3. [Often times] having sex solely for pleasure, not love ("Thou shalt not wear ribbed condoms" --Benedict XVI)
To sum it up: the context of homosexuality, at the time of Christ, was a whole range of sins rolled into one. Since 2000 years ago they knew little about homosexuals, the context (which was, if you look at the 3 mentioned about, without a doubt sinful) could not be separated from the genetic fact.
Combine this with several translations plus crazies like Dobson and Robertson and you get the sorry state of our debate on gays.
They'll never make me Pope (although, as a Roman Catholic, I technically qualify), but here is my view on the real sins relating to homosexuality:
- I think adultery is a sin
- I think sex solely for pleasure, not as a symbol of a bond between two people, is a sin
- I think (as an extension to above) having multiple lovers is a sin
- I think lying about who you are, to someone else but most especially yourself, is a sin
It pains me that the Catholic Church cannot simply learn more about the life and times of Jesus Christ and determine the context that homosexuality was viewed in during those days. Remember, the Catholic Church was able to make the determination that evolution doesn't compete with religion. The Catholic Church, compared to the major Protestant sects, is much more lax on its interpretation of the Old Testament.
Some day the leaders of the Church are going to realize where they went wrong. I just hope they do it while a Church still exists.
Thou shalt consider yourself learned