Saturday, October 16, 2010

Homosexuality and The Church

What is one to make of what is going on in religious circles concerning homosexuality? In many ways, what is occurring is culture shock. In the past, churches were simply able to state their position and everyone capitulated.  It was a smaller world then.

But as many within the Catholic church began to discover a few years back while dealing with reports of pedophiles in the priesthood, the public is no longer just accepting the word of religious institutions. The public wants reasons, justifications, and explanations. Why should we believe you?  Why should we trust you? Why should we care what your book or  your leaders say?


Like a poorly prepared parent, religious institutions and their adherents often come back with a frustrated, "Because we said so!!!"

The time when such a flimsy response was adequate has passed.

I understand when religious people feel an injunction by God not to be homosexual - i.e. they believe the bible says not to, and so they may not. I once held that position myself. That is fine for a personal choice and perhaps as a constraint within one's religion; but why should anyone else be forced or pressured into abiding by the moral constraints of a religion they don't adhere to, when the violations of those moral constraints do no harm to others? Hassidic Jews may feel bound to obey Kosher laws, but it would be inappropriate for them to insist on legislation requiring it of others. I often hear Christians who fear that "Sharia Law" might be pushed into America by Islam, but I fail to see how Christians pushing the particulars of their book into our laws is any different.

I have heard many times in the past week (this is a big issue here in Utah at the moment) that those opposing homosexuality are just adhering to their morals. I would like to make a distinction here. Objecting to homosexuality, I believe, cannot be a universal moral. It is a religious conviction. I think for something to be considered a universal moral, and not merely a religious position, it has to be amenable to all faiths... and those without a faith. The bible says murder is wrong (although it acts it out more as a guideline than a rule) but I could also make a non-religious arguement as to why it is good for humanity to follow that position. On the contrary, I have yet to hear a valid argument against homosexuality that did not come back to a religious point and/or that individual's personal "ick" factor with homosexuality.

I have no sympathy for people using religious arguments to mask their own distaste and abhorrence for homosexuality. They are no different than the folks 50 years ago who used the bible to try to justify making people of color into second class citizens.

However, I do have some sympathy for folks who feel they have no alternatives due to their interpretation of their religious texts. Fine, you can choose to remain heterosexual or deny your homosexuality as needed; but please, do not feel you can step into the space of another and dictate their life according to your desires.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you.


Unknown said...

Nicely written Andrew. I had one of those long protracted discussions via Facebook this week. I see little value in pushing a belief onto others and justifying that with religious texts.

More concerning to me is the emotional impact to those who are young inexperienced and struggling to balance religious instruction with their own orientation.

I have been especially concerned by the lack of empathy shown on this issue and the willingness to condemn or the belief one deserves condemnation by their God.

You can justify anything with a quote from scripture or the Harry Potter texts but it certainly does not mean it is moral.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Andrew. Especially where you likened some Christians ideas on the subject to Sharia law. I'd never thought of that before, but it's spot on. For too long, we've used religion to beat up on and marginalize people who are different than we are, instead of using it to make a place where all God's children are accepted and loved.

Redlefty said...

I think it's fair to say you already know where I stand on this one (mostly with you), so I'll just say, "Whattup, brother?"


Don said...

Good post, Andrew!

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