OF BOOKS, BIBLES, BOZOS, GAYS AND GOD
Seamus Muldoon, Himself
As if there aren’t sufficient critical issues facing the world and its inhabitants right now, institutions, groups, self appointed authorities, demagogues and opportunists are busy proving that they are utterly irrelevant to anything by latching onto the question whether being gay is a violation of divine injunction derived from certain statements in the Christian and the Jewish bibles. The same mandates may be found in Islam’s Quran. If anyone felt the matter of sufficient weight, I suppose mining the fundamental tracts of other belief systems might result in the discovery of similar views on the subject.
One unresolved question involves the claim by the anti gay folks that these suggestions derive from God Him/Her self. Either it is of divine origin or it is merely the view of homosexuality that was popular when whoever wrote the bible wrote it, and the writers decided to incorporate the then current mores into the text hoping that the imprimatur of biblical source agendas would cause that view to be believed to be “God’s will”.
Many have accepted scientific discovery as not inconsistent with the will of the Almighty. Indeed, the express gifting of nature by God to humanity would suggest that the natural development of enlightenment that springs from experience with nature over millennia would have been contemplated in the giving of that gift. There doesn’t seem to be a mandate to remain ignorant anywhere in the bible. There is also a universally acknowledged empowering of free will that is expressly stated in the bible. Taken together, those fundamental concepts suggest to me that learning and adaptation to learned knowledge are divinely intended. It seems impossible to suggest that we were ordered to ignore all subsequent discovery following some certain date when the writing of the “bible” was finished and the work published.
If it were otherwise intended, we could start with a discussion of which version of the bible is “The Bible”. Jews have their version. Christians have several versions. Muslims have the Quran. The list goes on.
Jews claim to be the elect of God and that all others are somehow other/less than elected. The propaganda behind that is a fiction that God first offered the burdens of compliance with divine mandates to everyone else on earth and that they all declined. Only the Jews accepted the proposal. The consideration for this undertaking is the delivery of the law to Moses at the theophany on Mount Sinai and some real estate, so the story goes. Supposedly, God gave them land theretofore occupied by Canaanites and Philistines – Philistine is an anglicized spelling of Falastines, after whom the name Palastine was derived. From the bible itself, we know that the Israelites were not there first. The Falastinians were there first. The Israelites took the land by conquest and claim that the conquest was divinely mandated because, of course, they accepted the onus of the God given law on Mount Sinai. A reading of the books of Samuel and Judges and Chronicles in the Old Testament leaves the impression that every outrage committed by the Israelites was for the fulfillment of some divine purpose. This includes endless slaughter and sexual assault on a rather significant scale. You can read it for yourself if you think this characterization to be somewhat off the mark.
Catholic doctrine places Catholics who accept the infallibility of the pope and the other mandates of Roman Catholicism as the only elect of God, with all others being on the way to a fiery hell, to burn and suffer unspeakable agony throughout ell eternity unless they become Roman Catholics. All of the above are infidels to the Muslims, and are subject to open season.
As these doctrines are not contemporaries of each other, it would seem that they at least accept the principal that enlightenment is OK with God, when it applies to their latter day self appointments to positions of divine priority. Could it be that the only unapproved enlightenment is enlightenment concerning discoveries they would prefer not to accept. When last I looked, these selective acceptance folks were fine with driving cars and availing themselves of the latest advances of medical science (except when medical science, when availed by others, relates to something they would prefer others not to engage in).
And so, biblical precepts as a moving picture and not a snap shot, if we go by what we can easily see, was intended by God, unless the new knowledge turns out to be something that establishes understandings of nature that certain pseudo religious people wish were not so. Is that a tenable position? Who gets to say which of what God obviously contemplated is evil? The Israelites contend that God contemplated their savagery inflicted upon others, but not the savagery of others that is inflicted upon them. The fundamentalist Christians whose dentists are permitted to use novocaine when giving them root canal surgery certainly don’t see that the latter day discovery of pain killers should be shunned because they are nowhere mentioned in the bible. Indeed, I still can’t even find a biblical reference to root canal procedure. Other sects in Christianity refuse pain medication to women in labor because God supposedly threatened women with eternal agony in childbirth as punishment for introducing Adam to fresh fruit. According to their view of the bible, women are divinely intended to experience pain as the inescapable consequence of their compliance with the divine mandate to be fruitful and multiply. Oh well! I must just be stupid to be seeing something silly in that “thinking”.
One of the issues I take with the women-are-different people is that they take the obvious differences that really do signal role assignment, like becoming pregnant and giving birth, and then decide that if God assigns roles, then God intended that women be assigned roles. Therefore, as the “logic” goes, men, who are created in God’s image, are to assign women additional roles and to assign those roles in ways that circumscribe the ability of women to participate in life. In that way, men remain “superior” forever when issues of authority are to be addressed. Nothing inherent in the natural differences between men and women would ever limit women regarding their participation in anything where intellectual capacity is an issue or a qualification. But, according to men who think themselves to be God’s surrogate on earth, really bright women must obey really stupid men – merit, capacity and competence have no bearing on the question. Wouldn’t God have to be a thoroughgoing imbecile to mandate that the smart obey the stupid if the stupid have testicles and the smart have ovaries? If you believe as I do that God is not an imbecile, there should be a limit on role assignment to correspond to the natural differences between the genders that are themselves assignors of roles. No woman who can do it better should have to be restricted so that a man who has less talent can take over and make a mess. Making a mess is also not consistent with the notion that God is the all intelligent creator of everything in nature. Perhaps God’s true intent may be more reliably discerned by reference to merit and capability.
Where do these notions of arbitrary rules come from? What kind of mind set makes rules of convenience for himself and then claims that, no matter how ridiculous the rules may be, they come from God? One need look no farther than the so-called culture of the place and time of biblical events. Those people still inhabit that place, and their arbitrary, self serving notions persist to this day. What kind of man must suppress as many aspects of womanhood as can be identified other than those which may be of direct service to men? Only a man who is insecure and full of self loathing can treat women with cruelty as a means to secure his position of preference. Indeed, low self esteem, fear of being shown that he is not who he claims he is, would seem a rational explanation of most or all of the male dominance posturing of the religious conservative. That flat earth mentality that calls upon everyone to ignore all learning except that which is convenient to men imposes tyranny upon women and upon other men who are not similarly oriented.
An example of the flat earth mind set is their attitude toward the gay population. When the injunction against homosexuality was written into the bible, it was then believed that homosexuality was a volitional perversion, a willful decision to be homosexual by a man who was embracing sin. Now that we know that being gay is a factor of genetics and not of perversion, that we are all as God made us, gay and otherwise, what excuse but self loathing and lack of self esteem can explain the religious right’s insistence that the information we now have must be ignored in order to serve God? God gave us the ability to understand and to learn so that we would understand and learn. We have to have that capability in order to appreciate all the wondrous things that we are discovering year in and year out. Turning off one’s intellect simply cannot be advocated as a way to honor the Lord.
Just to listen to the arguments advanced by the religious right for opposing homosexuality and circumscribing the life options of homosexual people is to appreciate their absurdity. How on earth could the marriage of one man to another adversely affect the institutions within which men marry women? Men who love each other will absolutely not be taking the women away from men who love women. Men who marry women stay together with their spouse only about fifty percent of the time, usually leaving spouse and children because they want some other woman, despite a holy vow not to do that. When the religious get hot pants, they forget about God and follow their crotch. Religious women do the same thing in many instances. The willingness of religious men and women to run off with others despite their marriage vows certainly cannot be affected in either direction by the fact that other men prefer men or that other women prefer women. No gay man is out there taking women who might otherwise be available to marry a man. Gay men prefer other men, not the women who other men wish to marry. I defy anyone to identify any “straight” man who lost his woman to a gay man? It is so improbable that no weight could be assigned to such an event as a likely contributor to the breakdown of the institution of Christian marriage. Does it ever happen? Sometimes – rarely – a man will leave marriage to a woman for another man, and the same can be said of lesbian women. I suggest, however, that that is probably the least frequent motivation for divorce. I also suggest that the more we learn about the phenomenon of being gay, the more gay men and lesbian women can escape the need to suppress who they really are and openly address their inclinations. The inescapable result of open acceptance of who we are in this context would, if anything, lessen the instances in which gays and lesbians find themselves in marriages that are inconsistent with their true nature. In that vein, it is obvious that open acceptance of them would enhance, and not detract from the probable success of heterosexual marriage. Inasmuch as gay men cannot impregnate each other, gay marriage will not produce crops of gay children. The contention that gay and lesbian marriage will negatively impact heterosexual marriage does not hold water. It is simply a flat earth argument.
Where does that leave us at this juncture in America? We surely have extremely important other issues calling for our attention. We are in a war that will continue for another twenty years in all likelihood. That alone ought to cause anyone with good sense to defer social issue struggles until the critical issues are dealt with. It is not as though gay and lesbian marriage has any potential to corrupt America. If anything, there is so much corruption in government and in business today that the influence of the religious conservatives cannot be said to contribute to any cleaning up of the moral fields of endeavor that propel our society politically and economically. There are many opportunities to push ethical rectitude that the religious right are not beating the bushes to improve. If they need a worthy mission, there are many out there begging for their attention.
I believe that we Americans can honorably serve our best interests by aggressive resistance to the message of the flat earth mentality of the religious conservatives in our midst. I believe that we can all find God if we want to, and that what others choose to do about their sexuality is no impediment to our own seeking of what is right for us. God just may not have put us here to boss others around. The flat earth folks choose to ignore that God very definitely gave us free will as they cherry pick the bible. I applaud people being willing to inform others about rectitude and to help seekers find what they seek. That stops at bossing other people around when the bossing is not welcomed. It’s fine to be a firm believer in the precepts of the Lord. It’s not fine to insist that what is obviously not so is a precept of the Lord. That false teaching is a sin of very high magnitude. Ignoring the knowledge that God placed here for us to discover is the very essence of sin. Enforced ignorance is not Godly! We now look back with scorn on those who burned women at the stake because they believed them to be witches. We need to look with scorn upon those who insist upon the continuation of imposed social and political disability based upon an assumption of perversion where that assumption is known to be false. Ignorance is incapable of furthering any worthy and positive agenda.
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