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Re: “Seeking gay acceptance at Bible colleges

Three modern hot button points that even the most strict/conservative religious institutions will not be able to sidestep very effectively?

One, every single one of the six or seven negative verses in the Bible, translated into some varied lexicon of period English that sounds as if it related categorically to "homosexuality" in a banning/judging way crucially depends on the unwritten assumption that the patterns of same sex activity being referenced are: A) conquering soldiers in war celebrating their victory by freely sexually assaulting the conquered peoples (including men, women, children ... often as standard prelude to making the subjegated into slaves?); B) widespread same sex rituals in ancient near eastern religions ... with sex standing in as ritual references/re-enactments of fertility gods and goddesses; and C) a dominant ancient near eastern cultural/social pattern in which sex is mostly about the privileged/powerful citizens having leeway to approach anybody of lesser privilege/power in whatever sexual way appeals to the powerful at the moment.

Once you grant this ancient near eastern set of cultural assumptions, it becomes a devious travesty to keep applying the six or seven clobber verses to modern day queer folks, generally, especially to queer folks in committed relationships.

Two, decades of empirical research since about WWII clearly support the modern notion that being gay is no more automatically immoral than being straight. In anything but cult ethics, sexual orientation is ethically neutral, so that what matters ethically is how ethical your own sexual behavior and relationships are. Pretty much the same things that are unethical for straight folks, in a modern non-cult moral system, are unethical for queer folks.

Legacy views and condemnations regularly avoid and sidestep these clear ethical standards, in favor of the received view that a set of sexual behaviors is just fine, so long as straight people are doing sex, but categorically creepy and nasty if queer folks happen to be doing sex. The corollary of this legacy model is that queer folks are innately disturbed or disordered; if only those queer folks were straight, all would be redeemed.

Three, a shift has been taking place that no longer allows even religious institutions to mistreat queer folks, especially in modern democracies. Severe death penalty sanctions are no longer respected, by and large, in democracies. To shifting degrees, other negative social sanctions like excluding queer folks from medical care, education, workplaces, community life, and neighborhoods are pretty clearly based on legacy prejudices and unfairness towards modern, decent queer folks. If it would be wrong to so mistreat a straight citizen, it is very likely wrong to so mistreat a gay citizen.

Should any of us, then, be all that surprised when believing nasty things about queer folks in general and in particular, each and all being a justification for mistreatment of this or that sort, does not pass careful scrutiny as a special, valorized form of holiness or religious sanctity?

The lagging domains of this sea change mostly involve legacy religious communities. The USA constitution establishes separation of church and state. But even so, religious communities no longer have legacy powers which were once very widespread ... the unquestioned power to own and deploy slaves was utterly taken for granted in certain past centuries, yet today cannot be practiced no matter how sincere the religious community's legacy reading. A small book of the New Testament even discusses proper Christian life for a slave, though nobody adheres to its teachings. We have dramatically changed in regard to a whole letter/book of the New Testament in this regard. What makes taking a careful, new look at six or seven clobber verses so definitively out of believer bounds?

Similarly, no religion today preaches that God made the earth flat, with the sun revolving around the earth as center of our cosmos. The language that once plainly taught that cosmology in the Old and New Testaments is never used to justify constraining everybody to Ptolemy's Cosmos. Women formerly barred from domains of public life, including education, for what were preached to be holy, scriptural plain reasons cannot now be banned or barred without a second, deep thought for the fairness of admissions.

PS, believers have a hard time in our society, pretty much to the extent that their religion mandates flat earth-negative thinking about queer folks, and likely a whole lot of other change topics, along with the real, live people connected with those condemnations. A religion or theology which sincerely cannot tell the empirical and ethical differences between, say, a serial sexual sadist murderer who leaves a trail of 10 or 12 dead bodies in (his) wake, and an average queer person trying to learn, love, and work as a fair-minded neighbor is just asking us turn off our minds and hearts.


0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by drdanfee on 04/19/2011 at 7:41 PM

Re: “Harding paper covers HU Queer Press

Just one little catch among an impressive many: No ancient near eastern language had any sort of term that is accurately translated as the modern sense of homosexual or homosexuality. Most ancient languages referred to three types of dominant sex, usually man against man, so well known in the ancient near east as to be taken for granted. The three sex patterns dominant were, One - winning soldiers raping men, women, and children from the peoples they have just conquered - the more brutally the better, so far as ancient habits go; Two - sex rituals in temples or other designated pagan holy places - a stark manner that raised money for the maintenance of the pagan sacred site and its staffing; Three - any sex use that a strong-privileged person wanted to make of any and all weaker-less statused humans - no questions asked, as the lesser status human in the ancient near eastern society was defined/viewed as property, plain and simple. The first references to homosexual and homosexuality are discovered, written in the nineteenth century. The empirical modern sense of sexual orientation terms slowly coalesced, based on several decades of empirical research, most strongly starting with Kinsey in the USA in the 1950s publications, then continuing with many empirical studies right up to the present day, 2011. World War II psychiatrists and doctors were surprised to begin their discovery that many soldiers whom they eventually discovered to be gay or lesbian made positive, if not exemplary, contributions to the Allied Forces war effort. Ethically, theologically? Well the whole literalistic and negative antigay readings of the scriptures posit presuppositions which are difficult to sustain on careful scholarship and critical scrutiny: We went through all this as believers, starting with the keeping of the Mosaic Law for gentile Christians, progressed to the silliness that lasted centuries concerning a flat earth and Ptolemaic Cosmology (Galileo, Bruno, Copernicus - all banned by the church), and the sad lesson goes on. Alas, Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee on 03/06/2011 at 3:00 PM

Re: “Harding responds on blocking gay website

I see that the flat earth readings which proclaim that the Christian holy scriptures - incidentally Reverend Peter Gomes at Harvard died this week, and addressed such reading strategies in his famous book - are rather alive and well at Harding U. As an undergrad at Oral Robert U. for three years, I think I know a bit about how these views function?

The most telling basic point is probably that nobody writing in any sort of ancient near eastern context - pointedly including OT and NT authors - presumed any idea that ever comes close to a modern empirical view of sexual orientation as a biological, social, psychological part of human nature.

What most OT and NT authors knew about same sex activities was mainly: A)rape of men, women, children conquered in war, by the soldiers of the winning side - see Gray Temple's discussion of strong/weak in his book; B) many sorts of sacred sex rituals and activities, entirely common to ancient near eastern pagan religions; C) other sex activities, mainly involving strong-privileged (mostly) men and (some) women, using any and all weaker-unprivileged humans for their sole sexual pleasures. That all of these dominant ancient patterns of sex should be understood to be out of bounds to OT and NT authors is so unremarkable in today's contexts, that we can nearly all agree on this much at least. Truly, modern gay life is hardly about any of these dominant sex habits of so many ancient near eastern cultures and religions? I haven't heard of any church or faith group which intends to raise money for its facilities and events by having dedicated believers or followers exchange sex for contributions. Maybe I'm just out of those loops? Forcible rape is still more common than anybody of nearly any faith would like - but modern gay life is hardly premised on rape? In fact, the clear modern trend at least since the Enlightenment Era has been towards a sense of equality which undoes the very old, very powerful precedents which told strong people they could use weaker people of any age for their exclusive sexual satisfactions?

What is, indeed, entirely remarkable now is that so many believers who so dearly love to tell everybody how biblical their views are, make a flat earth, loud, and categorical leap from these three dominant, widespread ancient near eastern sex practices, to today's honestly and ethically committed same sex relationships. Even the technical terms, homosexuality and homosexual, were completely unknown in any ancient near eastern language for which we have any reliable record. Such modern terms were first published, only in the 1800s, and continuing more or less to the present. Despite this consideration, many translators, preachers, and expounders of allegedly biblical views continue to blithely read these terms, back into OT and NT literatures.

All in all, this manner of reading the OT and NT is simply a curious and vigorous repeat of how we believers once read a literal flat earth and Ptolemaic Cosmology from exactly the same OT and NT scriptures, early on, centuries back. Similar reading strategies backed up the holy inferiority of non-white folks, including slavery; as well as banning women from schools, professions, and public life or leadership.

If you are going to argue ethically and theologically against any and all same sex life, negatively valuing (say) forcible rape in prisons (bullying, anyone?), right along with ethically pledged lifelong pairbonds - you must be willing to be responsible for your reading strategies. Even very conservative believers have nowadays backed off the clear, plain death penalty in Leviticus for any sex behavior among men (women are not mentioned? so women get a free lesbian pass?). I have yet to hear or read a detailed, logical explanation that really does its homework for how the Leviticus death penalty can change or be backgrounded, while self-righteously preserving the rest.

The paths this reading strategy takes are confounded, convoluted in a prior assumptions, more irrational than not; and bursting with fake presuppositions and beliefs about queer folks, all needed to support a simplistic prejudice on its face. An ethics and theology which categorically and presuppositionally prides itself on not being able to distinguish forcible rape from pairbonding hardly commends itself to us, as modern believers or otherwise.

WWJD? Well, for starters, I think Jesus would tell his disciples to take a break and do some homework.

Posted by drdanfee on 03/03/2011 at 12:21 PM
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