Essays Against Homosexuality

See also: LGBT and religion topics

The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and denominations, and regarding different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Present day doctrines of the world's major religions vary vastly generally and by denomination on attitudes toward these sexual orientations.

Among those denominations that generally are negative towards these orientations, there are many different types of actions they may take: this can range from quietly discouraging homosexual activity, explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality, to execution. Religious fundamentalism has been found to correlate positively with anti-homosexual bias.[1] This is the case with common religiosity too, which typically predicts homophobic attitudes [2] but has also been found to lead to physical antigay hostility, in a lab experiment.[3] Religious opposition to gay adoption was found to be explained by collectivistic values (loyalty, authority, purity) and low flexibility in existential issues, and not by high prosocial inclinations for the weak.[4] Attitudes toward homosexuality have been found to be determined not only by personal religious beliefs, but by the interaction of those beliefs with the predominant national religious context—even for people who are less religious or who do not share their local dominant religious context.[5] Many argue that it is homosexual actions which are sinful, rather than same-sex attraction itself. To this end, some discourage labeling individuals according to sexual orientation.[6] Several organizations exist that assert that conversion therapy can help diminish same-sex attraction.

However, some adherents of many religions view the two sexual orientations positively, and some religious denominations may bless same-sex marriages and support LGBT rights, and the amount of those that do are continuously increasing around the world as much of the developed world enacts laws supporting LGBT rights.

Historically, some cultures and religions accommodated, institutionalized, or revered, same-sex love and sexuality;[7][8] such mythologies and traditions can be found around the world.[9] For example, Hinduism does not view homosexuality as a religious sin.[10] In 2009, the Hindu Council UK released the statement "Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality".[11] The Sikh holy scriptures The Guru Granth Sahib, teaches tolerance, equality and acceptance of all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexuality. Sikh wedding ceremonies are non-gender specific, and so same-sex marriage is possible within Sikhism.[12]

Regardless of their position on homosexuality, many people of faith look to both sacred texts and tradition for guidance on this issue. However, the authority of various traditions or scriptural passages and the correctness of translations and interpretations are continually disputed.

Views of specific religious groups[edit]

Abrahamic religions[edit]

The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have traditionally forbidden sodomy, believing and teaching that such behavior is sinful.[13][14] Today some denominations within these religions, except Islam, are accepting of homosexuality and inclusive of homosexual people, such as Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church. Some Presbyterian and Anglican churches welcome members regardless of same-sex sexual practices, with some provinces allowing for the ordination and inclusion of gay and lesbian clerics, and affirmation of same-sex unions. Reform Judaism incorporates lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex marriage liturgies, while Reconstructionist Judaism and Conservative Judaism in the US allows for lesbian and gay rabbis and same-sex unions.[15]

Judaism[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Judaism

The Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) is the primary source for Jewish views on homosexuality. It states that: "[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is a תועבה toeba ("abomination")" (Leviticus 18:22). (Like many similar commandments, the stated punishment for willful violation is the death penalty, although in practice rabbinic Judaism no longer believes it has the authority to implement death penalties.)

Orthodox Judaism views homosexual acts as sinful. In recent years, there has been approaches claiming only the sexual anal act is forbidden and considered abomination by the Torah, while the sexual orientation and even other sexual activities are not considered a sin. Conservative Judaism has engaged in an in-depth study of homosexuality since the 1990s with various rabbis presenting a wide array of responsa (papers with legal arguments) for communal consideration. The official position of the movement is to welcome homosexual Jews into their synagogues, and also campaign against any discrimination in civil law and public society, but also to uphold a ban on anal sex as a religious requirement.

Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism in North America and Liberal Judaism in the United Kingdom view homosexuality to be acceptable on the same basis as heterosexuality. Progressive Jewish authorities believe either that traditional laws against homosexuality are no longer binding or that they are subject to changes that reflect a new understanding of human sexuality. Some of these authorities rely on modern biblical scholarship suggesting that the prohibition in the Torah was intended to ban coercive or ritualized homosexual sex, such as those practices ascribed to Egyptian and Canaanitefertility cults and temple prostitution.[citation needed][16]

Christianity[edit]

Main article: Christianity and homosexuality

Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issue of homosexual activity, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. Most Christian denominations welcome people attracted to the same sex, but teach that homosexual acts are sinful.[17][18] These denominations include the Roman Catholic Church,[19] the Eastern Orthodox church,[20] the Oriental Orthodox churches,[21] Confessional Lutheran denominations such as the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod[22][23] and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod,[24][25] the United Methodist Church,[17][26][27][28] and some other mainline denominations, such as the Reformed Church in America[29] and the American Baptist Church,[30] as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance,[31] and fundamentalist groups and churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention.[32][33][34]Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,[35] as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual sexual activity is sinful.[36][37]

Liberal Christians are supportive of homosexuals. Some Christian denominations do not view monogamous same sex relationships as bad or evil. These include the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ,[38] the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the churches of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran, reformed and united churches in Evangelical Church of Germany, the Church of Denmark, the Icelandic Church, the Church of Norway or the Protestant Church of the Netherlands. In particular, the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination of 40,000 members, was founded specifically to serve the Christian LGBT community, and is devoted to being open and affirming to LGBT people. The United Church of Christ and the Alliance of Baptists also condone gay marriage, and some parts of the Anglican and Lutheran churches allow for the blessing of gay unions. Within the Anglican communion there are openly gay clergy; for example, Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool are openly homosexual bishops in the US Episcopal Church and Eva Brunne in Lutheran Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church's recent actions vis-a-vis homosexuality have brought about increased ethical debate and tension within the Church of England and worldwide Anglican churches. In the United States and many other nations, the religious people are becoming more affirming of same-sex relationships. Even those in denominations with official stances are liberalizing, though not as quickly as those in more affirming religious groups.[39]

Passages from the Mosaic Covenant and its broader Old Testament context have been interpreted to mean that anyone engaging in homosexual practices should be punished with death (Leviticus20:13; cf. Genesis19:4-25; Judges19:22-20:48; 2 Peter2:6-10; Jude7). AIDS has also been portrayed by some fundamentalist sects such as Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell as a punishment by God against homosexuals.[40] In the 20th century, theologians like Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, Hans Küng, John Robinson, Bishop David Jenkins, Don Cupitt, Bishop Jack Spong challenged traditional theological positions and understandings of the Bible; following these developments some have suggested that passages have been mistranslated, are taken out of context, or that they do not refer to what we understand as "homosexuality."[41][42]

Conservative denominations[43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55] generally oppose same-sex sexual relations based on Old Testament and New Testament texts that describe human sexual relations as strictly heterosexual by God's design (Genesis2:18-24; 1:26-28; Matthew19:4-6; 1 Corinthians7:1–40; Ephesians5:22–33), which God declared "very good" (Genesis1:26-31). As such, it is argued that sexual desires and actions that contradict God's design are deemed sinful and are condemned by God (e.g. "and with a male you [singular masculine] shall not lie [sexually] as with a female, that is an abomination," Leviticus18:22; cf. Leviticus20:13). Since love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity (cf. 1 Corinthians13:6), and since homosexual desires and actions are believed to remain contrary to God's design and condemned by God as sinful / iniquity (e.g. in general, Romans1:26-27; passively, 1 Corinthians6:9;[56]actively, including but not limited to pederasty,1 Corinthians6:9; 1 Timothy1:9-11;[57][58] considered sexually immoral, Galatians5:19-21; Colossians3:5–7; Ephesians5:3[59]), adherents of conservative denominations believe that genuine love for God and humanity is best expressed by following God rather than the world (Acts5:29; cf. Jeremiah23:1–40; Romans12:9).

Where the Catholic view is founded on a natural law argument informed by scripture and proposed by Thomas Aquinas,[60] the traditional conservative Protestant view is based on an interpretation of scripture alone. Protestant conservatives also see homosexual relationships as an impediment to heterosexual relationships. They interpret some Biblical passages to be commandments to be heterosexually married.[61] Catholics, on the other hand, have accommodated unmarried people as priests, monks, nuns and single lay people for over a thousand years. A number of self-described gay and 'ex-gay' Christians have reported satisfaction in mixed-orientation marriages.[62][63][64]

Catholic Church[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism

The Catholic Church teaches that those who are attracted to persons of the same sex are called to practice chastity,[65] just like everyone else.[66] The Catholic Church does not regard homosexual activity as an expression of the marital sacrament, which it teaches is only possible within a lifelong commitment of a marriage between a man and a woman. According to the Church's sexual ethics, homosexual activity falls short in the complementarity (male and female organs complement each other) and fecundity (openness to new life) of the sexual act.

Mormonism[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that no one should arouse sexual feelings outside of marriage, including those towards members of the same sex.[67] The LDS church recognizes that feelings of same-sex attraction may not change or be overcome in this earth life, and expect all un-married members, gay or straight, to abstain from any and all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage.[68] The LDS church maintains that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex (i.e., homosexual feelings or "temptations") are not inherently sinful, but engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the "doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." [69] Those who experience same-sex attraction should continually exercise self-control and reliance on the atonement of Jesus Christ in order to refrain from acting on such feelings.[70][71] The LDS church strongly opposes same-sex marriage and teaches that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, and that this is essential to God's eternal plan.[72] For more information on this subject, see the LDS Church's website "Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction".[73] This site strives to address, through interviews and videos from Church leaders and members, the issue of same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and affected family members.

Islam[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Islam

"Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing."
— Quran , Surah 26 (165-166), trans. Sahih International

All major Islamic schools disapprove of homosexuality,[74] Islam views same-sex desires as an unnatural temptation; and sexual relations are seen as a transgression of the natural role and aim of sexual activity.[75] Islamic teachings (in the hadith tradition) presume same-sex attraction, extol abstention and (in the Qur'an) condemn consummation.

The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily concerned with activities between men. There are, however, a few hadith mentioning homosexual behavior in women; The fuqaha’ are agreed that "there is no hadd punishment for lesbianism, because it is not zina. Rather a ta’zeer punishment must be imposed, because it is a sin..'".[76] Although punishment for lesbianism is rarely mentioned in the histories, al-Tabari records an example of the casual execution of a pair of lesbian slavegirls in the harem of al-Hadi, in a collection of highly critical anecdotes pertaining to that Caliph's actions as ruler.[77]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and the Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'í law limits permissible sexual relations to those between a man and a woman in marriage. Believers are expected to abstain from sex outside matrimony.[citation needed] Bahá'ís do not, however, attempt to impose their moral standards on those who have not accepted the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh.[citation needed] While requiring uprightness in all matters of morality, whether sexual or otherwise, the Bahá’í teachings also take account of human frailty and call for tolerance and understanding in regard to human failings. In this context, to regard homosexuals with prejudice would be contrary to the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings.[citation needed]

Indian religions[edit]

Among the religions that originated in India, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, teachings regarding homosexuality are less clear than among the Abrahamic traditions, and religious authorities voice diverse opinions. In 2005, an authority figure of Sikhism condemned same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. However, many people in Sikhism do not oppose gay marriage.[78] Hinduism is diverse, with no supreme governing body, but the majority of swamis opposed same-sex relationships in a 2004 survey, and a minority supported them.[79] Ancient religious texts such as the Vedas often refer to people of a third gender known as hijra, who are neither female nor male. Some see this third gender as an ancient parallel to modern western lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex identities.

Hinduism[edit]

Main articles: Homosexuality and Hinduism and LGBT themes in Hindu mythology

Hinduism has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Referring to the nature of Samsara, the Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says 'Vikruti Evam Prakriti' (perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, what seems unnatural is also natural).[80] A "third gender" has been acknowledged within Hinduism since Vedic times. Several Hindu texts, such as Manu Smriti[81] and Sushruta Samhita, assert that some people are born with either mixed male and female natures, or sexually neuter, as a matter of natural biology.

Several Hindu religious laws contain injunctions against homosexual activity, while some Hindu theories do not condemn lesbian relations and some third-gendered individuals were highly regarded. Hindu groups are historically not unified regarding the issue of homosexuality, each one having a distinct doctrinal view.[82][83][84]

The Indian Kama Sutra, written around 150 BC,[85] contains passages describing eunuchs or "third-sex" males performing oral sex on men.[86][87] Similarly, some medieval Hindu temples and artifacts openly depict both male homosexuality and lesbianism within their carvings, such as the temple walls at Khajuraho. Some infer from these images that at least part of the Hindu society and religion were previously more open to variations in human sexuality than they are at present.

In some Hindu sects (specifically among the hijras), many divinities are androgynous. There are Hindu deities who are intersex (both male and female); who manifest in all three genders; who switch from male to female or from female to male; male deities with female moods and female deities with male moods; deities born from two males or from two females; deities born from a single male or single female; deities who avoid the opposite sex; deities with principal companions of the same sex, and so on.

Several Hindu priests have performed same-sex marriages, arguing that love is the result of attachments from previous births and that marriage, as a union of spirit, is transcendental to gender.[88][89]

It is often regarded that Hinduism does not condemn homosexuality.[90]

Buddhism[edit]

Main article: Buddhism and sexual orientation

The most common formulation of Buddhist ethics are the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path, one should neither be attached to nor crave sensual pleasure. The third of the Five Precepts is "To refrain from committing sexual misconduct."[91] However, "sexual misconduct" is a broad term, and is subjected to interpretation relative to the social norms of the followers. The determination of whether or not same-gender relations is appropriate for a layperson is not considered a religious matter by many Buddhists.[92]

According to the Pāli Canon & Āgama (the Early Buddhist scriptures), there is not any saying that same or opposite gender relations have anything to do with sexual misconduct,[93][94] and some Theravada monks express that same-gender relations do not violate the rule to avoid sexual misconduct, which means not having sex with someone under age (thus protected by their parents or guardians), someone betrothed or married and who have taken vows of religious celibacy.[95]

Some later traditions gradually began to add new restrictions on sexual misconduct, like non-vagina sex, though its situations seem involving coerced sex.[96][97][98] This non-vagina sex as sexual misconduct view is not based on what Buddha's said, but from some later Abhidharma texts.[99][100]

Buddhism is often characterized as distrustful of sensual enjoyment and sexuality in general.[101] Traditionally, sexual conduct are seen as obstacles to spiritual progress in most schools of Buddhism; as such monks are expected to refrain from all sexual activity, and the Vinaya (the first book of the Tripitaka) specifically prohibits sexual intercourse, then further explain that anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse amount to sexual intercourse, which will result in permanent exclusion from Sangha.[102] A notable exception in the history of Buddhism occurred in Japan during the Edo period, in which male homosexuality, or more specifically, love between young novices and older monks, was celebrated.[103]

References to pandaka, a eunuch/impotence category that is sometimes interpreted to include homosexual males, can be found throughout the Pali canon as well as other Sanskrit scriptures.[104][105] In the Chinese version of Sarvastivada Vinaya, the pandaka also trying to have sex with women, not just men.[106] Leonard Zwilling refers extensively to Buddhaghosa's Samantapasadika, where pandaka are described as being filled with defiled passions and insatiable lusts, and are dominated by their libido. Some texts of the Abhidharma state that a pandaka cannot achieve enlightenment in their own lifetime, (but must wait for rebirth) and Asanga and Vasubandhu discussed if a pandaka was able to be enlightened or not. According to one scriptural story, Ananda—Buddha's cousin and disciple—was a pandaka in one of his many previous lives.

Some later classic Buddhist masters and texts disallow contact between monks/Bodhisattva and pandakas/women and classify non-vagina sex as sexual misconduct, including for lay followers.[107][108][96][109][110][111]

The third of the Five Precepts of Buddhism states that one is to refrain from sexual misconduct; this precept has sometimes been interpreted to include homosexuality. The Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism interprets sexual misconduct to include lesbian and gay sex, and indeed any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse, including oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand; the only time sex is acceptable is when it performed for its purpose of procreation.[112] When interviewed by Canadian TV news anchor Evan Solomon on CBC News: Sunday about whether or not homosexuality is acceptable in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama responded that "it is sexual misconduct."[113] This was an echo of an earlier response in a 2004 Vancouver Sun interview when asked about homosexuality in Buddhism, where the Dalai Lama replied "for a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct".[114] However, the Dalai Lama supports human rights for all, "regardless of sexual orientation."[115]

In Thailand, there are some prejudice accounts propose that "homosexuality arises as a karmic consequence of violating Buddhist proscriptions against heterosexual misconduct. These karmic accounts describe homosexuality as a congenital condition which cannot be altered, at least in a homosexual person's current lifetime, and have been linked with calls for compassion and understanding from the non-homosexual populace."[101] However, Buddhist leaders in Thailand have also condemned homosexuality,[116] ousted monks accused of homosexual acts, and banned kathoey from ordination. As per BBC article 27 April 2009, Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedh is very concerned by flamboyant behavior of gay and transgender novices such as the wearing of make-up and tight or revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows. Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood - so he introduced Thailand's & Buddhism's "good manners" curriculum - the country's first.

A later popular Japanese legend attributed the introduction of monastic homosexuality to Japan to Shingon founder Kukai, although scholars now dismiss the veracity of this assertion, pointing out his strict adherence to the Vinaya.[117][118][119] Nonetheless, the legend served to "affirm same sex relation between men and boys in seventeenth century Japan."[119][120] However, Japanese Buddhist scholar and author of Wild AzaleasKitamura Kigin argued that there was a tendency in monasteries to avoid heterosexuality and to encourage homosexuality.[121]

Although Mahayana Buddhism has some texts against homosexuality (from later Abhidharma texts & Buddhist apocrypha), the majority of its teachings assert that all beings who correctly practice the dharma may reach enlightenment, since all possess an innate Buddha nature. Enlightenment being achievable even in a single life.[122][123]

The capacity of Buddhism to reform itself and its great variety of distinct beliefs and schools, provide many liberal streams of Buddhism, which are accepting of all sexual orientations. Reformist Buddhism is predominant in the west and in some eastern cosmopolitan cities.

Sikhism[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Sikhism

Sikhism has no written view on the matter, but in 2005, a Sikh religious authority described homosexuality as "against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature," and called on Sikhs to support laws against gay marriage.[124] Many Sikhs are against this view, however,[125] and state that the Sikh Scriptures promote equality and do not condemn homosexuality.[126]

Marriage in Sikhism is seen as a union of souls. In Sikhism, the soul is seen as genderless, and the outward appearance of human beings (man, woman) is a temporary state. Same-sex marriage advocates refer to this fact.[126]

In Sikh Scripture

The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the highest authority in the Sikhism, it is seen as the 11th and eternal Guru. It serves as a guide to Sikhs on how to live positive lives, and details what behavior is expected of all Sikhs. It is seemingly silent on the subject of homosexuality; however, married life is encouraged time and time again in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Whenever marriage is mentioned, it is always in reference to a man and a woman. Some Sikhs believe that Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the complete guide to life, and if a marriage between two of the same sexes is not mentioned, it is therefore not right. The counterargument to this is that man and woman are only mentioned in this way to give light to the relationship of the soul and the soul force as being one. This denies gender and sex as an issue. Thus, Sikhism is more concerned with ones attainment of enlightenment rather than habitual desires such as sexuality. True love is attained through the Guru and no man speaks on behalf of the Guru as the Granth is open to interpretation and misrepresentation.[127]

There are five vices (habitual desires) outlined in the Guru Granth Sahib that one should try to control. One of these vices is lust, and some Sikhs believe that homosexual thoughts and behaviour are just manifestations of lust. However, Sikhs that are more accepting of homosexuality claim that this is equally applicable to heterosexuals. These same Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak's emphasis on universal equality and brotherhood is fundamentally in support of the human rights of homosexuals.[127]

Views on homosexuality tend not to be a primary concern in Sikh teachings, as the universal goal of a Sikh is to have no hate or animosity to any person, regardless of race, caste, color, creed, gender, or sex[127]

The Guru's silence on homosexuality has led to a history of ambivalence on the topic.[127]

Zoroastrianism[edit]

The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is a man that is a Daeva [demon]; this man is a worshipper of the Daevas, a male paramour of the Daevas
— Vendidad

The Vendidad, one of the later Zoroastrian texts composed in the Artificial Young Avestan language, has not been dated precisely. It is thought that some concepts of law, uncleanliness, dualism, and salvation were shared between the religions,[128] and subsequent interactions between the religions are documented by events such as the release of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity by Zoroastrian Cyrus the Great in 537 BC, and the Biblical account of the Magi visiting the infant Jesus. The Vendidad generally promotes procreation: "the man who has a wife is far above him who lives in continence; he who keeps a house is far above him who has none; he who has children is far above the childless man; he who has riches is far above him who has none." It details the penance for a worshipper who submits to sodomy under force as "Eight hundred stripes with the Aspahe-astra, eight hundred stripes with the Sraosho-charana." (equal to the penalty for breaking a contract with the value of an ox),[129] and declares that for those participating voluntarily "For that deed there is nothing that can pay, nothing that can atone, nothing that can cleanse from it; it is a trespass for which there is no atonement, for ever and ever". However, those not practicing the Religion of Mazda were pardoned for past actions upon conversion.[130]

However, many Zoroastrians, termed "reformists", eschew the teachings of the Vendidad as corruptions of Zoroaster's original message,[131] claiming the rules do not conform with 'Good Words, Good Thoughts and Good Deeds', and therefore have no spiritual significance. Hence, many of these reformist Zoroastrians are openly accepting and supportive of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage.

East Asian religions[edit]

Among the Taoic religions of East Asia, such as Taoism, passionate homosexual expression is usually discouraged because it is believed to not lead to human fulfillment.[132]

Confucianism[edit]

Confucianism, being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality; whether homosexual or heterosexual. However, the ideology did emphasize male friendships, and Louis Crompton has argued that the "closeness of the master-disciple bond it fostered may have subtly facilitated homosexuality".[133]Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Analects of Confucius.[134] "Biting the bitter peel", a euphemism for homosexual relations, generally taken to mean anal sex, is mentioned as having been practiced by several individuals in the Classic of History as well as the Spring and Autumn Annals,[citation needed] both texts belonging to the Five Classics.

Taoism[edit]

Main article: Homosexuality and Taoism

There is no single official position on homosexuality in Taoism, as the term Taoism is used to describe a number of disparate religious traditions.

In a similar way to Buddhism, Taoist schools sought throughout history to define what would be sexual misconduct. The precept against Sexual Misconduct is sex outside your marriage. The married spouses (夫婦) usually in Chinese suggest male with female, though the scripture itself does not explicitly say anything against same-gender relations.[135][136] Many sorts of precepts mentioned in the Seven Slips of Cloudy Satchel (雲笈七籤), The Mini Daoist Canon, does not explicitly say anything against same-gender relations as well.[137]

Homosexuality is not unknown in Taoist history, such as during the Tang dynasty when Taoist nuns exchanged love poems.[138] Attitudes about homosexuality within Taoism often reflect the values and sexual norms of broader Chinese society (see Homosexuality in China).

Paganism[edit]

Main article: LGBT themes in mythology

Neopagan religion[edit]

Wicca[edit]

The Wiccan Charge of the Goddess, one of the most famous texts in Neopaganism, states in the words of the Goddess, "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals".[139] In traditional forms of Wicca, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, magic is often performed between a man and a woman, and the "Great Rite" is a sex ritual performed between a Priest and Priestess representing the God and Goddess;[140] however, this is not generally seen as excluding homosexuals or magic between same-sex couples. Most groups still insist, however, that initiations be conferred from man to woman or woman to man. Any ritual sexual acts, whether actual or symbolic, take place between two consenting adults, normally a couple who are already lovers. See also LGBT topics and Wicca.

Satanism[edit]

Satanism, in both the theistic and the LaVey tradition, are open to all forms of sexual expression, and does not preclude homosexuality.[141]

Unitarian Universalism[edit]

Main article: Unitarian Universalism and LGBT topics

The first ordained minister of a major religious sect in the U.S. or Canada to come out as gay was the UU Minister James Stoll in 1969.[142] There have been UUA resolutions supporting people regardless of sexual orientation since 1970. Unitarian Universalism was the first denomination to accept openly transgender people as full members with eligibility to become clergy; in 1988 the first openly transgender person was ordained by the Unitarian Universalist Association.[143][144][145]

The Unitarian Universalist Association supports the freedom to marry[146] and compares resistance to it to the resistance to abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, and the end of anti-miscegenation laws.[147] Several congregations have undertaken a series of organizational, procedural and practical steps to become acknowledged as a "Welcoming Congregation": a congregation which has taken specific steps to welcome and integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender (GLBT) members. UU ministers perform same-sex unions and now same-sex marriages where legal (and sometimes when not, as a form of civil protest). On 29 June 1984, the Unitarian Universalists became the first major church "to approve religious blessings on homosexual unions." Unitarian Universalists have been in the forefront of the work to make same-sex marriages legal in their local states and provinces, as well as on the national level. Gay men and lesbians are also regularly ordained as ministers, and a number of gay and lesbian ministers have, themselves, now become legally married to their partners. In May 2004, Arlington Street Church was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States. The official stance of the UUA is for the legalization of same-sex marriage—"Standing on the Side of Love." In 2004 UU Minister Rev. Debra Haffner of The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published An Open Letter on Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality to affirm same-sex marriage from a multi-faith perspective.

Humanism[edit]

Humanism is a lifestance that supports full equality for LGBTQ individuals,[148][149] including the right to marry.[150][151]Humanism and Its Aspirations, a statement of humanist principles from the American Humanist Association, states that "humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views...work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner."[152] The American Humanist Association provides a LGBT Humanist Pride award [153] and has funded a LGBT-inclusive prom for Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi.[154] The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association from the U.K. promotes "an awareness and understanding of the Humanist ethical outlook, bringing lesbian and gay rights issues to the attention of the public, and playing a full part in the campaign for lesbian and gay equality," [155] and in 2009 they gave Stephen Fry an award "for his services to humanism and gay rights." [156] The Galha LGBT Humanists "is a United Kingdom-based not-for-profit that campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and human rights and promotes Humanism as an ethical worldview."[157]

Candomble[edit]

In Candomble, homosexuality is usually accepted and explained by the sex of one's orisha [158]. Homosexuality would be more probable in a man with a female orisha, a woman with a male orisha, or any of them with an androgynous orisha (such as Olokun).

Queer religions[edit]

Radical Faeries[edit]

The Radical Faeries are a worldwide queerspiritual movement, founded in 1979 in the United States.

Religious groups and public policy[edit]

Opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT rights is often associated with conservative religious views. The American Family Association and other religious groups have promoted boycotts of corporations whose policies support the LGBT community.

In conservative Islamic nations, laws generally prohibit same-sex sexual behaviour, and interpretation of Sharia Law on male homosexuality carries the death penalty. This has been condemned as a violation of human rights by human rights organisation Amnesty International and by the writers of the Yogyakarta principles. With the signature of the USA in 2009, the proposed UN declaration on LGBT rights has now been signed by every European secular state and all western nations, as well as other countries—67 members of the UN in total. An opposing statement put forward by Muslim nations was signed by 57 member states, mostly in Africa and Asia. 68 out of the total 192 countries have not yet signed either statement. In 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a landmark resolution initiated by South Africa supporting LBGT rights (See Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the United Nations)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Religious protest of homosexuality in San Francisco
An LGBT Pride flag in front of the iconic Mormon temple.
Khajoraho scene of three women and one man.

I am a gay man who, when arguing for gay marriage, has been called “lesser”, “unnatural”, “deviant” and “sinful”. In these arguments the love I have for my fiancé has been belittled as just “sex” or only “friendship”. I have been told my natural urges are a choice. I have been told I do not deserve equal rights. I have even been told I am going to hell. Furthermore, I have been told it is offensive to brand such remarks “bigoted”, and that I am the bully.

I do not believe all opponents of gay marriage are hateful. Some have just not been exposed to the right arguments, and so I will demonstrate here that each anti-gay marriage argument ultimately serves to oppress or imply the lesser status of the minority of which I am a part. In rallying against the introduction of equal marriage, religious campaigners have frequently stressed that their objections are not driven by homophobia, and have deployed numerous arguments to demonstrate this. To the untrained ear these arguments sound like they may have grounding in reason, but on closer inspection reveal themselves as homophobic.

What follows is a handy guide to spotting, and refuting, these arguments

Type A: The Insidiously Homophobic Arguments

1. “We need to protect marriage.”

The word “protect” implies that gay people are a threat to the institution of marriage. To imply that including same-sex couples within the definition of marriage will somehow be detrimental or even destructive for the institution is to suggest gay people must be inherently poisonous. It also implies a nefarious gay mafia that is out to wreck marriage for straight people. Naturally if such a mafia existed I would be bound by a code of honour to deny its existence. However, it doesn’t exist.

2. “We must preserve traditional marriage.”

Given that marriage has always changed to suit the culture of the time and place, I would refrain from ever calling it “traditional”. If marriage was truly traditional, interracial couples would not be allowed to wed, one could marry a child, ceremonies would be arranged by parents to share familial wealth and the Church of England would still be under the authority of the Pope.

3. “Marriage is a sacred institution.”

The word “sacred” suggests marriage is a solely religious institution. The Office for National Statistics shows how civil, non-religious marriage made up 68 per cent of all marriages in the UK during 2010. Let us not forget matrimony existed long before Jehovah was even a word you weren’t allowed to say.

4. “Marriage has always been a bond between one man and one woman.”

This declaration ignores the legally married gay couples in Canada, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Netherlands, and South Africa. It conveniently forgets the 48 countries where polygamy is still practised. It also omits from history the married gay couples of ancient China and Rome, Mormon polygamy, and the ancient Egyptians who could marry their sisters. The assertion is obviously false.

5. “Gay marriage will confuse gender roles.”

This hinges on the idea that gender roles are or should be fixed, as dictated by scripture, most often cited for the sake of healthy child development. The love and care homosexual couples routinely provide children are, it would seem, irrelevant. Perhaps it would help to reiterate that gay people are not confused about gender, they are just gay. It is the churches who are deeply confused about gender and sexuality. I would ask them to stop focusing on my genitals, and start paying attention to my humanity.

6. “Gay marriage will confuse the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, or ‘mother and ‘father’.”

Another form of the previous argument. It is not hard but I’ll say it slowly just in case … married men will refer to themselves … as “husbands”, and married women will refer to themselves … as “wives”. Male parents will be “fathers” and female parents will both be “mothers”. Not so confusing really.

7. “Gay people cannot have children and so should not be allowed to marry.”

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu used a barely disguised version of this argument in a piece for the Guardian when he referred to “the complementary nature of men and women”. He is insinuating, of course, that homosexual relationships are not complementary by nature because they cannot produce offspring, and therefore they are unnatural and undeserving of the word “marriage”.

May I refer him to the elderly or infertile straight couples who cannot produce children? If a complementary relationship hinges on procreative sex, are these relationships unnatural? Should they be allowed to marry?

8. “But studies have shown heterosexual parents are better for children.”

No, they have not. Dozens of studies have shown gay people to be entirely capable of raising children. While it is true that many reputable studies have shown two-parent families tend to be most beneficial, the gender of the parents has never been shown to matter.

The studies cited by actively homophobic organisations like the Coalition for Marriage were funded by anti-gay organisations, or have basic methodology flaws – for example, they would compare married straight couples with un-wed gay couples, or they would take a person who may have had a single curious experience with the same sex and define them as exclusively homosexual. Sometimes, the even more disingenuous will reference studies [PDF] which do not even acknowledge gay parents. Same-sex parents are simply presumed by biased researchers to be equivalent to single parents and step-parents, and therefore use the data interchangeably, which as anyone with an ounce of scientific literacy knows is not the way such studies work.

Arguments based on “traditional family” will always be insulting, not just to the healthy, well-adjusted children of gay couples, but to the children raised by single parents, step-parents, grandparents, godparents, foster parents, and siblings.

9. “No one has the right to redefine marriage.”

Tell that to Henry VIII. When marriage is a civil, legal institution of the state, the citizenship has a right to redefine marriage in accordance with established equality laws.

10. “The minority should not have the right to dictate to the majority.”

Asking to be included within marriage laws is certainly not equivalent to imposing gay marriage on the majority. No single straight person’s marriage will be affected by letting gay people marry.

Another form of the above argument is “Why should we bother changing the law just to cater to 4% of the population?” By this logic, what reason is there to provide any minority equal civil rights?

11. “Public opinion polls show most people are against gay marriage.”

A petition by the Coalition for Marriage claimed to have 600,000 signatures in opposition to gay marriage in the UK. It should come as no surprise that the directors of the organisation are religious and manipulation of the results was easy. A single person could submit their signature online multiple times providing they used different email addresses (which were not verified). Programs that allow for anonymity of IP addresses also enabled anyone around the world to add their signature.

The majority of UK polls demonstrate a majority in favour of gay marriage. These include a 2004 Gallup poll, a 2008 ICM Research poll, a 2009 Populus poll, a 2010 Angus Reid poll, a 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes survey, a 2011 Angus Reid Public Opinion survey, and a 2012 YouGov survey.

Even if most people were against gay marriage, which polls consistently show is not the case, majority will is no justification for the exclusion of a minority.

12. “Why is it so important for gay people to have marriage?”

For the same reason it is important to straight people. Our relationships are just as loving and valid as heterosexual relationships, but our current marriage laws suggest it is not. We are equally human and we should be treated by the law as such.

13. “Why do gay people have to get society’s approval?”

To turn the argument on its head, one simply has to ask why society feels the need to segregate our rights from those of heterosexuals. It has nothing to do with approval, and has everything to do with equality.

14. “There are two sides to the argument. Why can’t we compromise?”

Should women have compromised their right to vote? One does not compromise equal rights otherwise they are not equal rights.

15. “Gay people in the UK already have civil partnerships which provide all the same rights as marriage.”

Civil partnerships were born out of politicians pandering to homophobia. A step in the right direction, perhaps, but they are a separate form of recognition that reaffirmed society’s wish to keep homosexuals at arm’s length should we somehow “diminish” true marriage.

Type B: The Arguments That Don’t Even Bother to Hide Their Homophobia

While we must look closely to spot the homophobia inherent in some arguments against gay marriage, with others the prejudice is barely disguised at all.

16. “I am concerned about the impact gay marriage will have on society/schools.”

There is no concern here, only prejudice. We can conclude this because there is absolutely no evidence to suggest gay marriage will harm society. Have the 11 countries where gay marriage is legal crumbled yet? Ultimately the argument turns out to be hyperbolic nonsense designed to instil confusion, fear, and mistrust of gay people.

17. “Gay marriage is immoral.”

If there is something immoral about legally acknowledging the love between two consenting adults, it would help the argument to state precisely what that is. “God says so” is not an argument. And this article, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is the real “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

18. “Gay people should not be allowed to marry because they are more likely to be promiscuous.”

This claim is based on the degrading preconception that gay people do not feel true love and just have sex with as many people as possible. It is also beside the point - straight couples are not precluded from marriage on the basis they may be unfaithful, so why should gay people?

19. “I love my best friend, my brother and my dog. That does not mean we should have the right to marry.”

Thank you for reducing the love I have for my long-term partner to friendship, incest or bestiality. May also take the form: “The state should not be blessing every sexual union.”Thank you, again, for reducing my long-term, loving relationship to just sex.

Type C: The Really Silly Homophobic Arguments

20. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

Clearly not a Biology graduate.

21. “If everybody was gay, mankind would cease to exist.”

Ignoring the fact not everyone is gay, and also ignoring the fact gay people can and do have children through donors and surrogates, I actually quite enjoyed the apocalyptic images this argument conjured.

22. “Gay rights are fashionable right now.”

The Suffragettes famously marched together because they needed an excuse to compare clothing. Civil rights activists looked fabulous with hoses and guns turned on them. Nooses around gay Iranian necks are totally “in” right now. We are all mere lambs of our Queen Gaga.

People actually use this argument.

23. “The only people who want gay marriage are the liberal elites.”

If this was really true, how come hundreds of everyday gay people protest outside anti-gay marriage rallies? How come thousands of people voice their support for gay marriage in polls? I do not imagine there are many people who believe they deserve fewer rights or who desire to be second-class citizens.

24. “Gay people do not even want marriage.”

Yes, Ann Widdecombe, we do. We do not appreciate you mischaracterising what millions of us do and do not want, and squaring reality to fit your Catholic bigotry.

25. “Gay people can already get married – to people of the opposite gender.”

This is Michele Bachmann’s demented logic. Yes, gay people can already get married … to people of the opposite gender. No, they are not allowed to marry the people they actually love. This is not just bigotry, it’s also stupidity.

26. “There will be drastic consequences for society if we accept gay marriage.”

Person A: “Have you been to Canada lately? They have free health care, they play hockey, and they’re very peaceful and polite.”

Person B: “That sounds nice.”

Person A: “They have gay marriage too.”

Person B: “Sounds like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

27. “Gay marriage will cause the disestablishment of the church.”

Or to put it another way: “If you don’t stop all this silly talk, we will be forced to go away and leave you in peace.” Scary!

28. “Gay marriage will lead to polygamy/bestiality/paedophilia/etc.”

The truth is that the legalisation of gay marriage will lead to the legalisation of gay marriage. Dire warnings of slippery slopes are scaremongering. In the countries that have so far legalised same-sex marriage, courts have always rejected calls for the legalisation of polygamy.

29. “Gay marriage caused the end of the Roman Empire/September 11th/etc.”

The Roman Empire disintegrated as barbarians from the north overwhelmed them, forcing the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, to abdicate to the Germanic warlord Odoacer. This had nothing to do with homosexuality.

The attacks on the World Trade Center were orchestrated by Al-Qaeda, an extremist Muslim group that detests America. The gay mafia was not involved.

30. “You are too emotionally involved to make a rational argument.”

Of course I’m angry. Wouldn’t you be if you had to listen to arguments like these? I’m passionate about achieving equality and combating prejudice. But, as everyone should know, passion and reason are complementary.

31. “We are in an economic crisis, so we should not be wasting time on gay marriage.”

Is it too much to wish for politicians who can multi-task? And for leaders who don’t consider equality a luxury add on?

Conclusion

In an attempt to portray his campaign to “preserve traditional marriage” as reasoned and unprejudiced, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has argued that supporters of gay marriage shouldn’t resort to name-calling and accusations of bigotry. But then he is a homophobe and a bigot. There is not a single one of his arguments that does not imply the lesser state of homosexuals, or serve to justify the discrimination.

In fact the recent government proposals are only for the legalisation of civil same-sex marriage, and do not allow for ceremonies to be conducted on religious sites. It is an entirely secular proposal, yet Carey and various churches and church-goers are keen to make the civil rights of homosexuals their business. Given centuries of religious persecution of gay people it is entirely justified to call Lord Carey, the Coalition for Marriage, Christian Concern, and all other proactive opponents of gay marriage “bigots” and their arguments homophobic.

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