from “Anthem”, by Leonard Cohen

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Bible Says Nothing About Homosexual People (updated)

In Bible times, no physician ever diagnosed a man’s hypothalamus-pituitary endocrine system as not functioning -

         therefore, people who lived in Bible times assumed (wrongly)             that the “shame of barrenness” was a woman’s fault.

Back then, no one understood that epilepsy was a malfunction of the brain’s electrical system -

         rather, people assumed (wrongly) that demon possession caused the grinding of teeth and the thrashing about.

When the Bible’s story was being written, a bacterium called mycobacterium leprae had not yet been discovered under the lens of a microscope -

         for centuries, people reasonably assumed (wrongly) that lepers deserved the stigma of “religiously unclean”.

In Bible times, the notion that every human being had a unique, irrevocable sexual orientation would have been considered bizarre -

         lacking the insights of modern psychology, most assumed         (wrongly) that same gender attraction was unnatural and reprehensible.

Fact of the matter is, biblical authors could not have written accurately about sexual orientation even if they wanted to -

no more than they would have written accurately about gravity, vitamins, NETFLIX, or, for that matter, the hypothalamus-pituitary endocrine system !

­- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Most of the people of the Bible
(as well as the writers who brought them to life)
sincerely believed human beings were normally,
naturally and exclusively
heterosexual .

When Bible people clumsily or hurtfully opined about same sex attraction, they were not really being hard-hearted or even close-minded.

Rather, they were simple minded because they were mis-informed.
So, what then to do with all those “clobber verses” in the Bible, warning about homosexuality?

First, it might be noted that since all people were thought to be heterosexual as an orientation, no biblical injunctions about homosexuality as an orientation were ever introduced into the Scriptures!

For starters, gay folk might want to start celebrating their own collective exemption from exhortations in Scripture which were intended exclusively for people with a heterosexual orientation!

OK, that may be a bit of a jump, but there is truth in it.
The reality of sexual orientation was simply invisible when the Bible was written.

Obviously, one cannot talk about that which one cannot imagine.

The Bible cannot have offered moral guidance about a topic it cannot have understood.

In short, the Bible offers nothing particularly useful about being gay.

For sure, the Bible has nothing useful to say about the morality of homosexuality, anymore than it has anything useful to say about the morality of infertility, epilepsy, or leprosy!

­- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So, if you still believe that being gay is a sin, you might want to consider this short quote:

“Why do you judge others for their sins,
just because they are different than your own?”

I have no idea whose quote it is, but it finds home in a refreshing way.

(It has helped me to begin to address my own judgmental self,
- no small feat!)

Like the Bible says, “All of us are to blame” or “None of us is to blame”, I ‘m not quite sure.

One thing for certain:
we are all more alike each other

than ever we will be different from each other.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

… this agitating subject !

                       Thoughts About Marriage Equality 
                           During Black History Month

            Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive him of that right which he derives from the law of  nature.

            If, therefore, you have any regard to justice (to say nothing of mercy, nor the  revealed law of God) render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature.

            Be gentle toward all men; and see that you invariably do unto every one as you would he should do unto you.

     excerpted from John Wesley’s pamphlet “Thoughts on Slavery”,   printed 1774.

            “If you have not resigned your credentials as a minister of the Methodist  Episcopal Church, I really think that, as an honest man, you should now do it. In your ordination vows you solemnly promised to be obedient to those  who have rule over you; and since they (the General Conference) have spoken . . .  distinctly, on this subject, and disapprobate your conduct, I conceive you are       bound to submit to their authority, or leave the church.”
from a letter to the editor written by the Rev. George W. Langhorne, which  admonishes an unnamed  Methodist pastor who, in 1836, continued to agitate for “racial equality” even after the General Conference voted NOT to support abolitionists who  advocated for the end of slavery.
            “The New York Annual Conference met in June, 1836, and Resolved,  . . .   we are  decidedly of the opinion that none ought to be elected to the office of a deacon, or elder, in our church, unless he give a pledge to the conference, that he will refrain from agitating the church with discussions on this subject, and the more especially as the one promises,“reverently to obey those who (have) . . . charge  over them.”
           resolution passed by the New York Annual Conference (1836) aimed against progressive  pastors who advocated for the ending of slavery.       
            Methodists are to “abstain from all abolition movements and associations, and to refrain from patronizing any of their publications . . .” and further, “From every view of the subject which we have been able to take, and from the most calm and    dispassionate survey of the whole ground, we have come to the conclusion, that    the only safe, scriptural, and prudent way for us, both as minsters and people to  take, is, WHOLLY TO REFRAIN from this agitating subject . . .”
  summary of the bishops’ report at the General Conference of the Methodist Church in Cincinnati: cited in The Methodist E. Church and Slavery by Rev. D. Scott, printed in Boston, 1844. 

The “agitating subject”  dividing the church was the morality of  slavery.

 “The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.”    
                                                                                                            William Faulkner