Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Bible debate

Allow me to vent my frustrations for a while.

I don’t mind helping my colleagues with their work when they are not around. But you must give me specific instructions or objectives. I can’t prepare something if are not even sure of what you want. Worse still, I have to find out all the background information and whatever outstanding issues there are within TWO days. I probably wouldn’t complain so much if I have given more time (I would still make a fuss anyway, but not so much) Sometimes, I think my superiors think that I am a mind reader or something, to come out with something which they themselves have no inkling whatsoever.

Back to personal issues. Truth be told, I don’t have any. If you recall, I was writing about Sam in my previous blog. I have no feelings towards him now. How did that changed so fast, in less than a week? I don’t have the answer, but probably it’s due to the Christianity research I have been doing. Sam is a devout Christian and he believes homosexuality is a sin, which he must avoid. He made the conscious decision of not having relationships for the rest of his life; he does not plan to get married either.

When I asked why the thinks as such, he showed this passage from the Bible, Romans 1:26-27 :

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in
their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

I have been looking at both sides of the argument, one side which claims that God made it clear that homosexuality is wrong and the other side claims otherwise. Both sides of the fence made interesting reads. I don’t profess to be unbiased, but I would go for the argument, which says that homosexuality is not a sin.

Before I did any research on this verse, my initial understanding of it is that it applies to the heterosexual population. For them, natural would be men with women and vice versa. So if they were to “leave” the natural use of women, surely it is against their nature for that is not their sexual orientation. Just as it would be “unnatural” for me to engage in sexual intercourse with a woman. Another thing I couldn’t understand is, how could men just lust for men, if they had not earlier? Sexual orientation can’t be changed as easily as changing one’s clothes. Which means that the people referred to weren’t homosexuals in the first place.

I’ll present both sides of the argument. First, the conservative religious view. A person called Jay Adams, said, “One is not a homosexual constitutionally any more than one is an adulterer constitutionally. Homosexuality is not considered to be a condition, but an act. It is viewed as a sinful practice which can become a way of life. The homosexual act, like the act of adultery, is the reason for calling one a homosexual (of course, one may commit homosexual sins of the heart, just as one can commit heterosexual sins of the heart. He may lust after a man in his heart as another may lust after a woman). But precisely because homosexuality, like adultery, is learned behavior into which men with sinful natures are prone to wander, homosexuality can be forgiven in Christ, and the pattern can be abandoned and in its place proper patterns can be reestablished by the Holy Spirit.” Click here for the original text.

Mostly, this side contends that homosexuality is a predisposition, just as people who have predisposition to be alcoholics, violent, etc. All these can be changed if one were to ask for help from society or religion. Obviously, most if not all who argue along this line are heterosexuals. They don’t see homosexuality as a different yet acceptable sexual orientation, just like being right or left handed. But rather, it is seen as a condition which can be changed, or an act which can be abstained or even a desire which should be overcome. Like a bad habit which could be stopped anytime, but homosexuals just don't want to. Probably no one has asked them to changed their heterosexuality and experience for themselves how “easy” it is to change.

Moving on to the other side of the fence, we are asked to look at the whole chapter and not just verse 26-27. Romans was written by Paul as a letter. In the earlier verses, Romans 1:20-25:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The argument goes that Paul was referring to idolatry This is because the people at that time worship other things or creatures as God, instead of the true Creator and their rituals involved homosexual acts. Furthermore, this argument is supported by the phrase “For this reason” in the earlier verse in Romans 26. So, it is because of idolatry that God gave them up vile passions. God gave up and let them do whatever they want. To quote Furnish, “Paul presents “sexual immoralities among those vices to which the pagans have been led by their own idolatry: lustful impurity and the degradations of their bodies (1:24), and ‘dishonorable passions’ as evidenced by homosexual intercourse (1:26-27). In this connection he too can speak of the Gentiles having received ‘the due penalty for their error’ (1:27).” Thus, “homosexual intercourse” is a “dishonorable passion” which is the consequence of idolatry. Second, Paul adopts his culture’s view of homosexuality (as expressed, e.g., in Seneca, Dio Chrysostom, and Philo) as a “freely chosen” behavior, driven by insatiable shameful lust, and against the natural order.”

Furnish concludes that: “We must remember that it was the more degraded and exploitive forms of pederasty that the Apostle and his contemporaries had in view when they condemned homosexual practice.”

Thus, Furnish (and many other commentators, including Brooten) insists: both in 1:26 (about women) and 1:27 (about men) Paul did not speak about what today we call “homosexuality” or “homoeroticism.” He spoke of degrading, violent, abusive relationships. The original text is found here.

There are many more arguments on both sides regarding other verses which referred to homosexuality. My view is that I don’t see how a loving relationship between two people, of whatever sex, is deemed wrong.

I always thought that everyone is born as a white sheet, the tabula rasa school of thought, until I was corrected by Sam. Humans are born, to use a computer jargon, pre-formatted. People have an inherent sense of what is right and wrong. For examples, small children when telling a lie for the very first time, would feel guilty. They knew it deep down inside. A mother will readily attest that her child has a personality right from the moment he or she was born. Ask any gay what it feels like to kiss another, he would answer it felt right and natural, not wrong and sinful.

As such, we can say that we are all racist, sexist, bigots etc right from the very beginning. These characteristics are hard-wired into the brain. True, we know we shouldn’t be like that, and society does not encourage this kind of behaviour. What about homosexuality then? Humans crave for love and for someone to share their lives. So what if the other person is of the same sex? Is it so wrong? It’s human nature to love and be loved. Something so basic, a need so simple, a desire that is so natural, yet society made a big fuss about it and calling it sinful. The hets can do it, why not the homos?

I know, I know, life is unfair. But why make your life more miserable by renouncing an inherent trait and struggling with the consequences of the decision?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

huh... i am in a blur... too deep... hehe...