Search This Blog

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Adam & Eve meet Adam & Steve

Whilst there has always been a strong Christian protest against same sex marriage, and homosexuality in general, the campaigning by both sides is heating up.

On one side of the fence is the gay community, which includes a diversity of sexual proclivities, namely Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI).

On the other is the Christian lobby, whose opposition to homosexuality is reliant on the interpretation of a number of biblical scriptures and the incorrect assumption by many Christians that people are not born 'gay'.  There are also a number of Christians who believe that people are born 'gay', but that it is a defect which can be cured by God. Nonetheless, most of them believe that homosexuality is a sin.

The old adage that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, ignores the fact that the bible teaches that God did actually create Adam and Steve and Bob and Joe and Mary and Lucy and you and me.  According to the bible, God created all of us and knows how our lives will pan out before we were even born.  Psalm 139:13-16 describes this beautifully: 'for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.'

People are born homosexual. People are born lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual. People are born heterosexual.  There are a multitude of variations of chromosomes from just the normal XX and XY genes. There are XX males, XY females, X0, XXY, XYY, XYYY and numerous other combinations which impact on a person's sexuality.  These occur naturally.

Some of these manifest under the broad description of intersexual (or hermaphrodite).  In terms of intersexuals, the stereotypical image of a person with both male and female genitalia is not always correct,  often chromosomal variations which may result in a person being born intersexual are unable to be physically detected.  Instead, they will manifest as a desire for the same gender, or a feeling that they are a woman trapped in a man's body or vice versa.

The reason that I refer to intersexuals is because this is perhaps the best physical example of people born with a variety of sexual combinations and subsequently their sexual urges may manifest as transexual or homosexual.

With such a natural variation in chromosomes, hormones, genetics and brain structure, how can it be argued that people are not born LGBTI?

There are a number of ways in which a person's sexuality is formed, particularly in terms of attraction to the same sex:

  • they are born that way;
  • through societal influences;
  • their upbringing is punctuated by abuse, rejection, lack of appropriate affection; or 
  • they chose to - there will always be people who decide to rebel against the established position or wanting to experience all that life has to offer, or for any other reason.

Some Christians believe that LGBTI people are acting against nature, in keeping with their flagship scripture found in Romans 1:26-28, which says:

'For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.'

This scripture is talking about people acting against their natural sexual urges. Now, for this scripture to effectively condemn homosexuality as a sin, it requires that people are not 'born gay', that homosexuality is against their nature. Yet, it is natural for people to be born homosexual.

Verses 29-32 go on to say:

'being filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.'

Pretty much every sin that a person can commit is listed.  Many of those who aggressively criticise and abuse the LGBTI community are committing many of the sins listed in Romans 1:29-32.  It should come as no surprise that the bible is opposed to fornication, that is, sex outside of marriage.  So those people who are naturally attracted to the same sex should have the opportunity to live within wedlock if they so desire, to live in a committed relationship with their chosen partner and entitled to the same legal benefits that other married couples have.

Back to biblical scripture.  There are a number of other scriptures which Christians use to condemn homosexuality.  Many of these are based on the interpretation of the scripture's context or subjects.  Before launching into this, I want to preface it by saying that the Bible is not incorrect, however, our interpretations may well be. Below are my interpretations of specific passages relating to homosexuality, I'm sure that many will disagree; I'm also sure that a large number will agree.

  • Romans 1:26-28 - For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves the recompense of the error which was meet.

    As discussed above, this scripture is talking about people acting against their natural sexual urges. For this scripture to effectively condemn homosexuality as a sin, requires that people are not born gay, that homosexuality is against their nature. Yet as discussed above, people are born homosexual, it is their natural sexual urge.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9 - Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind ...

    The word 'effeminate' in this verse is incorrect. The correct term in the original scriptures is 'catamite', which means 'male prostitute'. This is in keeping with the nature of the verse which was referring to those having sex outside of a committed relationship. Additionally, the term for 'abuser of themselves with mankind' is based on the word 'arsenokoitai', which was used by Paul when writing this scripture. This word was not a common word and in fact, its meaning is unclear. If Paul was referring to homosexuals he would have used the term 'paiderasste', which was the common Greek term for homosexuals. A number of interpretations have been given to the word 'arsenokoitai' since the early Christian church, including 'temple prostitutes' (generally males servicing women), and masturbators.

  • Leviticus 18:22 - 'thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind'.

    The book of Leviticus was centred on the law of the Israelites at that time. Many of the laws do not apply today, nor are they acceptable to modern society. For instance, these days most of us sanction divorce, we don't ban people from sleeping with a menstruating woman, we happily accept the charging of interest on loans, farmers now harvest the corners of their fields, we don't punish the victims of rape, we eagerly devour pork and shellfish, all of us wear clothing manufactured from two or more types of fibre and many people (including Christians) are tattooed or admire tattoos - in fact, there is a small industry in Christian tattoos.

  • Leviticus 20:13 - 'If a man lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them shall committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death: their blood shall be upon them.'

    See Leviticus 18:22

  • Genesis 19 - The story of Lot in the city of Sodom. Two angels stay with him and the men of the city want Lot to give them over so that they can have sex with them. The men also ask for Lot's son-in-law and daughters. God destroys the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone.

    Homosexuality is commonly given as the reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, the story is not about homosexuality but about rape and the treatment of strangers (the angels). The men of Sodom wanted to rape and sexually humiliate both the male and female members and guests of Lot's household. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for the complete rejection of biblical standards. In fact, Ezekial 16:49-50 explains why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed: '... this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.'

  • 1 Timothy 1:9-10 - 'Knowing this, that the law is not made for the righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.'

    Refer to the response to 1 Corinthians 6:9 regarding the word 'arsenokoitai' being translated as 'them that defile themselves with mankind'.

  • Jude 1:7 - 'Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire'.

    This scripture clearly states that Sodom and Gomorrah had given themselves over to fornication and 'going after strange flesh'. It condemns sleeping around, but it does not condemn committed homosexual relationships. 
There have also been studies published which provide evidence that same-sex unions were sanctioned and conducted by the church between the 4th and 14th centuries. Most notable are the books 'Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe' and 'Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexualityby John Boswell, a Yale historian.

Sexual attraction is based on natural, innate impulses which we are born with or have developed.  The majority of people are attracted to the opposite sex, some are attracted to the same sex and some are attracted to both. 

Marriage is a promise of commitment between two people who want to share the remainder of their lives with each other.

Not all people who oppose same sex marriage are Christian.  Besides biblical scripture, some arguments against same sex marriage include the obvious issue that same sex couples cannot procreate.  Based on this argument, heterosexual couples who can't procreate also should not be allowed to marry, that would include those who are infertile or who are older and won't be having children.  The point of marriage is commitment, not procreation.  The desire to commit to someone is generally because we love that person and want to spend the rest of our lives with them.

This leads to the fallacious argument of 'where will it end'.  This argument states that if same sex couples are allowed to marry 'for love', then why not allow polygamy, incest, bestiality and so on. This is similar to the so-called sexual relativism argument which claims that people should be able to engage in any sexual activity they want, including homosexuality, sado-masochism, exhibitionism & voyeurism, fetishisms, polygamy, bestiality, incest, pedophilia and necrophilia. Both arguments are blatant scare-mongering and raise issues which are of no relevance to the same sex marriage debate.  To humour those who argue this, it is important to understand that polygamy, bestiality and incest are activities which very few people indulge in. They are based on lust and sexual gratification. Homosexuality on the other hand is a natural sexual urge, just as heterosexuality is, and forms a person's identity - it is not an "activity", it is a basic, primal desire and is not just concerned with sexual activity, it includes all other aspects of human relationships. Marriage (same-sex or otherwise) is based on two people committing to each other for the rest of their lives, not on more than two people marrying. It is biology and psychology, not mathematics.

Other arguments centre around adoption with the assumption that same sex couples do not make good parents. This argument ignores the fact that many people in this situation already have children from previous heterosexual marriages. It ignores any evidence to the contrary, that people are people regardless of sexual orientation and generally parents have a desire to protect and nurture their children, regardless of the parent's gender. The argument then goes on to say that the children will suffer because of the stigma of living in a household with same sex parents. Many of those children grow up as well-adjusted as any other child.  Children can suffer regardless of the gender of the parents who raise them if they are in a household without love, tolerance and respect. Every year, children become the unwitting victims in domestic violence or divorces. Certainly far more are in those situations than children who are raised in a household with same sex parents.   

Whilst some people may find the thought of homosexuality to be abhorrent, it needs to be remembered that it is more than just the sexual act. Just like heterosexuals, LGBTI people have emotions, attractions, needs, love and the desire to be loved.  They also want committed relationships based on respect and love; the very things that are the corner-stone of any successful marriage.  Those who oppose same sex marriage, are dictating how others should live their lives.  They are stating that they know better than others and through this they are delegitimising the lives of others.

Marriage is the right of all adults, the basis of which is commitment, respect and love - gender is not a criteria.

1 comment:

  1. God created everyone. He loves us all the same. Adam and Eve were created by God. The Bible says that after he finished creating the world, he saw that it was good. But then, Adam and Eve sinned. Hence, all of the imperfections of the world. Including our desires. If you believe the Bible, and call yourself a Christian, homophobic thoughts and acts are sin due to the sin in the world. Just like I may want to have premarital sex, does not mean I need to act upon it.