Monday, 14 November 2011

The Gay Thing

As you can probably well imagine, my changing views on the Bible also caused me to re-consider my views on homosexuality.  I had always been one of those people who thought it was wrong to be gay...y'know, "love the sinner/hate the sin", and all that fun stuff.

One thing that struck me, as I thought through this issue in a fresh way, was that there aren't actually any good "secular" reasons to be against homosexuality.  Now, I realize this may seem like an incredibly obvious statement, to some people, but it really was a revelation to me.  I had always been under the impression that there was a large body of research, which clearly showed children are better off with a "two parent family"; namely a Mom and a Dad.  But then, as I looked into things a little deeper, I started to run into videos like this one...

So, if the research doesn't in fact show that homosexuals are unfit parents, than what other "secular" reasons might there be for us to fight against "the gay movement"?



(I'm not aware of any.)

I now believe these "secular" reasons are just a front anyway.  Christians are well aware of the fact they can't say in public "the Bible says it's wrong to be gay", since this sort of argumentation won't hold water among non-Christians.  So, rather than just admitting they don't have any solid secular reasons, for their views on homosexuality, they try instead to find some way to argue against it without needing to invoke the Bible (although they won't hesitate to do that, also, if pushed into a corner).

This is where I agree completely with Sam Harris when he argues, in effect, that on some cultural hot buttons religion is not merely involved in the problem...religion IS the problem.  If we really want more acceptance of gays & lesbians, in society, we need to stop talking about "tolerance" and start acknowledging instead what's really going on beneath the surface.  In other words, we can't just debate the stuff that Christians are actually saying (or should I say, admitting), in public, we need to talk as well about the stuff they're not saying (but we all know they're thinking).  At the end of the day, it doesn't truly matter to conservative Christians what the research shows...they know homosexuality is wrong, because the Bible says as much, and the Bible can't possibly be mistaken (on anything) because it is a completely perfect book.  Period.  End of story.

Christians also don't see their views as "intolerant", so using this sort of language flies right over their head and gets the conversation nowhere.  Let me pause for a moment, to state that last part again...Christians don't see their views as intolerant.

They don't.

What we should be saying, instead, is something like, "Yes, I realize that you view being gay as wrong, because the Bible seems to speak against it, but, even if that's true, what is your argument for why this should be binding on the rest of society?  We're not all Christians, as I know you're well aware."  At this point in the conversation, Christians will typically revert to citing the social science studies, referenced above, and that's where you come in with fact based arguments to counter their skewed (or poor) understanding of the research in question (much like Al Franken did, to good effect, right here).

Just as with other areas of sex (and evolution), discussed in my last few posts, there are things about homosexuality which are awkward for Christians to explain and/or explain away.  For example, the ex-gay movement has been, for the most part, unsuccessful.  Also, how do Christians rationalize the fact that many animals demonstrate homosexual behavior?  Is God playing some sort of sick joke on us?  (ie. "Yes, it's wrong to be gay, just like I said in my Holy book, but I only meant that for humans...I'm cool with it otherwise!").

Let me say it straight up...homosexuality is not a "sin".

I was wrong.

And the Bible is not God's word, so it's high time we stopped treating it as such.


  1. I also am baffled as to why anyone is against homosexuality so I agree with you there.

    However, I don't see how you can be right to say that the reason people are against it is because the Bible tells them so. Look, the Bible was written by people. So why did the people who wrote the Bible hate homosexuality? Are those reasons still present today? If not, then what changed between then and now? What do the anthropologists say about how common anti-homosexuality is in various cultures?

    I've always wished I could find some good books about this subject but I've never found one. I just don't understand the hatred. Racism, fine, I can see that people want to fight for their group against other groups. Sexism, maybe, it seems advantageous for men to subjugate women and possessiveness plays a part. But anti-homosexuality I don't get. I guess it could just be that sex is always wrapped up in all sorts of taboos in human cultures, although I am not really clear on that. A slick explanation I once heard is that it is a form of sexism, it is offensive to think of a man acting like a woman, but that seems too slick.

    I have a friend who seems really disgusted and offended at the prospect of someone offering him pig eat to eat, so maybe it is just the Bible that makes peope ate homosexuals. It really is possible for someone to have deep, visceral hated and disgust for no reason except that their culture tells them so. Especially I guess when the taboo is connected to naturally charged subjects like sex or food or cleanliness.

  2. I think you're right, in the sense that there are probably a wide variety of reasons to be anti-homosexual across cultures (many, but not all, of those reasons are religious in nature).

    Really, I am just speaking here about conservative Christians...and all I'm saying is that most of them are against homosexuality because of what the Bible says.

    If society were to reject the Bible as "God's Word" (and, for that matter, the Koran as Allah's) I think the fight against homosexuality would lose nearly all of its steam (save a few bigots, here and there, but they'll always be around).

    But certainly it's a multi-layered issue, as you rightly point out, so I'm only speaking to one dimension.

  3. Oh, and in terms of "why did the people who wrote the Bible hate homosexuality"...there are a number of authors who have written about this. Have you read "God And Sex: What The Bible Really Says", by Michael Coogan? That's a really good one.

  4. I think also, they focus on the things in the Bible that support their prejudices. A straight person will naturally find the idea of gay sex (for themselves) repulsive, but they can't say "I can't imagine doing that myself so I don't think you should do it, either." Instead, they find the part of the Bible writtten by someone who did have the insensitivity to say that and then they quote it. Nevermind that the same chapter of Leviticus says that shellfish is also an abomination. They don't find shrimp repulsive, so they ignore that inconvenient passage.

    There is some evidence that the brains of conservatives are different from those of liberals:

  5. If there is no God then there is no real spirituality and we are just creatures of flesh and if so then no fleshly desire is wrong , as there is not right or wrong, how can a random collection of molecules be right or wrong.If you don`t believe in a God this is the ultimate conclusion.But most non believers won`t admit this.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Marfin. I think you may be forgetting about the fact that we, of course, have obligations to our fellow man. So a "fleshly desire" that was harmful, to another human being, would be "wrong" even in the eyes of an atheist.

  7. LadyAtheist,

    When this is pointed out to Christians they typically just revert immediately to the New Testament, since it also has passages that seem to condemn homosexuality. (But your point is a valid one regardless.)

    That's an interesting article, thanks for sharing the link.

  8. If humans are just the result of a mindless natural process , how can there be objective right
    and wrong, good or evil, who gets to make that call, as we are just an assembly of atoms , just like a tree, a dog or, a slug.

  9. I understand your position Marfin, but there are a good many professional philosophers who disagree with you on this. (Perhaps you should take it up with them.)

  10. I am not a philosopher but I know logic when I see it , Because even the worlds best philosopher is not in any position to decide right or wrong for his fellow human.If we came about via evolution and all the things that entails there is no absolute moral law, consider divorce, abortion, drug taking, gambling, alcoholism,affairs, who can tell you if any of these are right or wrong, every one of them will involve hurting our fellow human , so are they permissible, you tell me.If we are purposeless being`s just on a natural , undirected, course to nowhere , there cannot be any objective moral law and that`s just logical.

  11. All I'm saying is there are plenty of "logical" people, who are additionally quite learned in this area, that disagree with your conclusion. If you want to say they're wrong (or "illogical") go nuts.

  12. For what Leviticus actually condemns search for "lyings of a woman". In the Hebrew, this offense is toevah (unclean, NOT abomination) and is 'treated' by a mikvah! In 3,000 years, no Jew was ever killed for this 'crime'.

    For what Jesus thought, search for two words (centurion pais).

    And the King James of the so popular bible - was bisexual!

    Oh my!