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Spirituality for the Skeptic




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GAYNESS AND THE BIBLE

BIBLICAL MORALITY: 

Christian opposition to
homosexuality presents a good
opportunity to re-think Biblical
morality per se.  Generally we
can approach morality in two ways. 
 
(1) we can blindly obey
strict orders without question,
and consider all who deviate as
sinners subject to severe punishment. 
 
(2) We can follow the universal
GoldenRule, which urges empathy and
non-harm.  We could temper that with
fair justice for harm-doers.
 
The former approach is appropriate
fordictators, soldiers in battle,
and children too young to judge
which behavior is harmful.  The
latter approach is appropriate for
free, peace-loving adults. (See
Kholberg's moral stages.)  Many
Christians would spare themselves
difficult decisions by choosing
blind obedience even if they are
free, mature adults. 
 
But the Bible itself contains the
same two approaches to morality! 
Hence we still are obliged to
choose and make rational decisions
wisely - despite the dictates of
certain church leaders and their
flocks of "sheep". And in order to
choose wisely, we must also know
something of the culture and times
in which our chosen passages were
written.
 
So let us now use homosexuality
as a test case and visit the
appropriate passages.
 
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
 
Genesis 1:27 states humanity was
made in God's image as male and
female who should join together,
be fruitful, and multiply.  This
could be interpreted to meanonly
males and females should join
together in order to procreate,
and to not procreate is unnatural. 
But we must remember: procreation
was urged at thetime of the
first humans  because then the
world was virtually empty of
people!  Today the world is dangerously
overpopulated. 
 
Also both Jesus
and Paul themselves chose to remain
celibate(along with innumerable 
priests, monks, and nuns, after
them)  This does not mean we should
remmain celebate. However, we do not
need to produce more unwanted children
in a world where half the children are
already starving.
 
And as far as the strict
separation of male and female
goes, Galatians 3:28 states:
"There  is neither Jew or Greek,
slave or free, male or female. 
For you are all one in Christ
Jesus."
 
Then what about Genesis 19?  Were
not Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed
because of homosexuality?  Most
scholars are in agreement that the
capital crime emphasized there was
inhospitality and violence to strangers. 
Today we might finda worse  crime in
Lot's then offering his two young
daughters to be ravished in place
of his guests. 
 
Similarly in Juges 19:23-29 a
virgin daughter and concubine
were offered to appease violent 
sodomists  who raped the
concubine to death.  It seems
morality there was quite
lacking when it came to women.
 
What then of Leviticus 18:22 and
20:13?   Here prohibitions are
proclaimed against incest,
bestiality, homosexuality, ect.
under penalty of death. But
Leviticus 19:17 states: "Ye shall
love your neighbor as yourself." 
Following up on this statement in
Luke 10:29 Jesus gave the
Samaritan as an example of the
neighbor to love.  Samaritans were
deviant  to Judah's Jewish laws. 
Moreover, Exodus 21:24 states an
eye for an eye is just punishment,
signifying the death penalty is
appropriate only for murder. 
 
Such exuberant overkill is again
proclaimed by Paul in Romans
1:24-32, who lists a string of
offenses, including boastfulness
and disobedienceto parents as well
as homosexuality - then claims
even those approving of such
behavior are deserving of death! 
Compare this extreme pronouncement
with the Golden Rule or even the 
fair justice of an eye for an eye.
 
The Christian prohibition of
homosexuality can beseen more
clearly in the light of the Greco-
Roman culture in which it took
place. It was a culture of
aggressive bi-sexuality toward
slaves, including young boys,
who could be homosexually raped
at will by free men with impunity.
 
And what of the Jew's attitude 
toward homosexuality?  After all
they should be the best
interpreters of their own Hebrew
("Old") Testament.  Their Halakah
(Traditional Law) serves wisely to
make the Law fit new understanding. 
Today only Orthodox Judaism
prohibits homosexual practice,but
doesn't blame anyone for his orher 
sexual preference.  Conservative
and many Reformed and
Reconstructionist Jews endorse
gay marriage and ordination.  As
early as 1965 the Women of
Reformed Judaism riled against
homosexual discrimination.
 
A FRESH OUTLOOK:
 
Methodists and other mainline
Christian groups now endorse a
four way interpretation of
Scripture: (1) Bible study (2)
Tradition (3) Reason  (4)
Experience. 
 
Here we can stay with the Bible
and the tradition of our faith,
but the interpretation must be
rational and based on ever-
improving knowledge and
experience.
 
Hopefully the cumulative
knowledge of civilized humanity
has by now shown blind obedience
to draconian laws and punishments
leads only to dictatorship, bigotry,
injustice, violence, even bloody
wars. Recall the medieval
inquisitions, the endless religious
wars, the mass blind obedience of
Nazi Germany...and so it goes on
today.
 
Cumulative knowledge, empirical
reason, and empathy for humanity
should tell us by now that harmless
behavior, even if different, should
be left alone regardless of
preachings by self righteous bigots
and hate mongers - especially if
bigotry or violence is preached in
the name of God.  On the other hand
if the act is definitely harmful,
we should then deal with it justly.
 
Just like straight sex, gay sex
becomes harmfulwhen used for rape,
child molestation, spreading
disease, or using others as mere
meat. In fact straight sex has 
even two more ways to do harm:i.e.
through adultery (now  becoming
applicable to gays), and by
creating unwanted children. 
 
In his volume of Church Dogmatics,
Karl Barth urgedviewing scripture
and tradition through the lens of
"God's Freedom" whose will cannot
be predicted by mere human beings. 
"God's grace is new every morning
For we are speaking of a living
God who is vitally active today
and every day." 
 
Biblical teachings are not stilled
photographs frozen in history.  We
have instead a living Bible which
must be seen in the context of all
its books and the entire story of
humanity.  In this light even your
sexual orientation can be an
important part of your calling....
 
But woe upon those - straight or gay
who use their sexual orientation for
rape, defiling children, spreading
STD, committing adultery or pursuing
mindless permiscuity.  For all these
defy the Golden Rule. And what you 
sow - you will therefore reap....

 

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