I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but while I am on the subject of churches, faith, God and such, and before I completely put to bed the subject of Religions, their belief systems and their usage of shame and guilt, I thought I might touch upon their association with that most non-controversial of issues. That one on which we can all agree. That of homosexuality. Why not? Let’s wade on in.
I confess I have long been perplexed, flummoxed and confounded by the whole concern.
That it continues to be a contentious subject, a matter which provokes and angers so many, is an absolute mystery to me. And that we are still debating it in terms of basic Civil Rights is a National Embarrassment. In my mind it speaks to the point that what we do not understand, we subsequently fear. Then we aggressively resist it and eventually attack it. Fundamentally, fear turns us all into dopes and idiots. It’s a Rule. You can look it up.
That said, I for one understand resistance to change. Change is generally not something I relish. I understand the conflict. And in regards to homosexuality specifically, many of us of my generation were raised with a certain hostility towards homosexuality. Again, it was mostly fear of the unknown, but those who exhibited even minute signs of gayness were shunned, mocked, avoided and verbally abused. Most all of us jumped in. “You faggot!” we’d yell at anyone at all sensitive. Not necessarily gay but just different from us. “Get away from me, you homo,” we’d say whenever any of us showed any tenderness. It was great sport for knuckleheads.
But I will say in our defense, we grew out of it. Most of us. As we matured and then met and became friends with gay men and women, we recognized that they were no different than us in a fundamental sense, with virtues and flaws, strengths and weaknesses, qualities and quirks to match our own. But so much decency. So much courage. And generally more honesty than we could ever muster. So to our credit, we changed.
But largely, Christianity has not. I hesitate to paint with too broad a brush here, but many churches and their ministers and subsequently their congregations retain prejudices acquired over hundreds of years. Bigotry unchanged by the ages. Written in stone, perhaps on a tablet somewhere.
And I confess it is an amazement to me. We know that governments and civilizations are slow to change, dominated as we are by fear and distrust. It has always been so, and we have not grown much smarter. But somehow, I always had higher expectations for People of God. Although you would think, given History and Experience and all, that I would have learned.
As a young man, educated in Catholic schools, I grew up revering the Catholic Hierarchy--the Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals. They were the saintliest of men. God’s Right-Hand Men, we called them. Now, based on the unenlightened and prejudicial statements of the Hierarchy in any number of civil and religious disagreements regarding LGBTQ issues, I recognize them as the same twits and turkeys and vested patriarchs who burned heretics, sold indulgences, operated Magdalena Laundries, brought charges against Gallileo and banned Copernicus’ books for presenting provable Science. Their brains are locked in First Millenium cellars, and their hearts are held hostage by some sense of inherited authority and superiority. In this age, in my view, they stand for nothing but vestigial power.
And across all Christian denominations, one can certainly not deny that same-sex relationships have been widely and consistently denounced by Religion. Or more precisely, complicated by purveyors of Religion who have ostensibly looked into the Heart and Mind of God and determined that homosexuality is a Sin. And a bad one at that. Theologically, it is, as one hears so often: “An Abomination”.
This of course is from the book of Leviticus, one of the books comprising the Old Testament. The Bible itself is an ancient book written and rewritten in several languages by hundreds of Jewish men over more than a thousand years. It passes judgment on many things. Later, in that same Book of Leviticus, it says that the eating of shellfish is “an Abomination”. This one however is not often quoted or enforced with as much vigor by the religious hierarchy. Nor is the one (Leviticus 19:28) forbidding tattoos and certain types of haircuts and improper beard trimming.
And oh, by the way, in Leviticus 25:44 it is permitted for the Israelites to purchase and own foreigners and chattel slaves. This portion of course was espoused by enslavers in early America (and other countries as well) to justify the ownership and coerced labor of other Human Beings. This Biblical assertion is thankfully no longer followed. We decided God didn’t really mean that. He misspoke. But the one forbidding “lying with a male as with a woman” (Leviticus 18:22) is taken as straight from God’s own Divine mouth.
“Reprehensible in the sight of God,” they pronounce. I would argue: You want ‘reprehensible’? I’ll show you ‘reprehensible’, you pious sleaze-ball. Pardon me, but you have the arrogance to believe that your insecurities and aversions are God’s directives? Hah!
You make the assumption that since you are made in ‘the image and likeness of God’ that you and God share your little, misguided sensibilities. Get out! Rather, it is that you who are offended have somehow managed to confuse God’s sensibilities with your own. To interpret God’s sensitivities as the same as yours.
So what exactly is it about homosexuality that ‘offends’ your God? I would offer that God could give two hoots about who we mate with as long as we are consenting adults. I would suggest that this God, who presumably created both love and lust, supports those who are true to their own hearts and minds. Who we love and how we perform coitus is of no matter to the Almighty. And they should be particularly of no matter to the hypocritical agents of Religion.
I would further offer that there is and has always been an ‘ick’ factor at play here. Virtually all of our anti-homosexual policies, both theological and legal, have come from men. And there is often among men a decided visceral reaction to men having sex with men. We get the serious willies with men kissing men. Holding hands and nuzzling. Many are affronted and offended by it. Revulsed is not too strong a word.
Although curiously, not so much by woman-to-woman sex. The men’s magazines and porn machines are full of THAT kind of homosexuality. They are a big turn-on and no doubt tremendously profitable. So lesbian sex we will perhaps allow to slide on by. From the sexual perspective, we encourage it. It’s a real turn on. Though of course they will all burn in hell for it.
But man-on-man sex, now we have crossed the line and made men uncomfortable. Now we get God and the legislators, the priest and the preachers involved. WE are offended, and because WE are made in God’s image and likeness, that must mean that HE is also offended.
But could it be…hmmm…a fear of some personal inclination to homosexual sex? Just asking for a friend. History is full of horrible crimes and horrible legislation against gays perpetrated by men who were latently or sometimes actively gay. Just saying.
So let’s not even mention that Religions, past and present, are absolutely FULL of clergy misusing their power against both boys and girls. But particularly young men. Ruining lives by the thousands.
And by the way, it was not ‘gayness’ that drove them to commit those abominable crimes against powerless boys. It was their own self-hatred translated into cruelty and malice against others. It was the most vile form of rape that Churches have obscured and concealed for Centuries.
But to return to the ostensible justification for homophobic policies, let me confirm something here. Jesus is your guy, right? Isn’t he the centerpiece of Christianity? And what did He say about homosexuality? Let me point it out. Here is what Jesus said about homosexuality: “I say unto you, ____ ______ _______ ___ _______ __ ________ ____ ___ ___ _______!!!” These are all bold-faced, capital letters, by the way. Jesus was very emphatic about this subject.
HE DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT, YOU BLOCKHEADS!!!
You tell me. Wouldn’t you think he would have mentioned it if it were an intolerable evil? Many apparently assume that this was an oversight by the Son of God. He meant to preach on the evils of homosexuality but just forgot. Or ran out of time. So, many have ordained themselves as Christ’s Own Spokesperson in this matter. That it is their life’s work to make up for His oversight.
And where is it in the Gospels? Negatory. Except for Paul, who was probably a repressed gay himself. But he wrote: “In Christ, all of us are One”--the most profound words in the entire New Testament. So we forgive him.
How about The Ten Commandments? Nope. Unless you go all legalistic and infer all sorts of things that aren’t really there.
My bottom line is this. Your god may not believe in homosexuality. And you may personally not believe it is OK to put your gadget into someone else’s widget. You may not agree that it is acceptable for someone to rub their whatsit up against your precious doodad. You are free to believe that and to practice it or refrain from it. But do not try to prevent others from loving others how they will, citing your righteous Biblical indignation. Your ‘direct line to the Father’ bullshit. I’m not having it. You may be absolutely convinced that you speak for your Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. But I object. I maintain that YOU DO NOT.
Look, most of us were raised by a man and a woman. And the thought of two men or two women together, assuming that same role, being lovers, may be anathema to you. I don’t agree with you, but I understand that. But it is a past, present and a future that is as sure as the rising and setting of the sun. You will almost inevitably be confronted by close friends, by members of your families, by people you love, who are gay or lesbian or other. And you will have a choice.
Recall that they are the wiser of the two intellects, the gentler of the two souls. The ones who accept and love what they cannot understand.