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« How important is the homosexuality issue, really? | Main | Luxuriating in Victimhood »

March 28, 2007

Comments

Rollan McCleary

Yes, I would agree the root problem amid the diversity of views to the question of God and homosexuality is the emphasis on the moral over the spiritual. Yet I suppose we have to reckon that society is always going to perceive the gay issue in largely moral terms as that’s what impinges on it and so it affects gay self image in return. Many gays do work on a different value system from straights and this challenges or irritates the status quo as regards what their children should see or learn and much else. Also, the main players in liberation and again in queer theory are eminently secular and often so opposed to many existing values that society can only see moral questions where gays are concerned.

It would help, but it doesn’t happen, if we could look at spiritual and ethical issues more philosophically and together and perhaps define a specific gay ethics so that gays have a few more guidelines and straights feel less threatened by/resentful of a gay difference. However the activist mainstream can be so opposed to “essentialism” that we can’t easily talk about defining action around any (more or less) given nature. It’s a frustration of the broad philosophical approach which seems desirable. It’s certainly a frustration to myself who despite being published on gay spirituality – indeed making the first comprehensive critical survey and analysis of that subject for a university religious studies department and had it published besides – have never in two years been able to launch the debate I would like to see on ethics and to have an essay on the theme published. Indeed I am almost censored, and even and perhaps especially by gays, from speaking about religion/spirituality. Typically it was a gay Catholic on Australia’s ABC Religion Report that shocked not just myself but my publisher by refusing to interview me about my work on gay spirituality “because you haven’t written about religion”. What religion, whose religion? So we have problems here.

Reverting to your own view of religion it just so happens that in the same controversially ignored because groundbreaking study I happened to opine that Christianity was the most “gay” of the world religions. You are quite right there is this “homophilic” element within the faith that has to be confronted and isn’t by straights whose homophobia surely has something to do with precisely this refusal. However if other world faiths have a homophobic streak it is for other reasons because that same homophilic element in the root doctrine is not present. Actually I do believe, among other things, that the passage of all religions through the Age of Aries was culturally and psychologically problematic for everything gay. That is because Aries is the sign that at the personal level seems the most spontaneously masculinist and patriarchal and has most difficulty with accepting homosexuality whether in itself or other people.

If anyone is interested to look at some of my ideas and read a significant feature I will put out next week on Pope Benedict they might like to go to
http://rollanscensoredissuesblog.blogspot.com/

.

Yvonne

Interesting approach, Joe - though I would be wary of categorising the pagan view as only being relevant 10,000 years ago (though perhaps that's not what you meant). Also I am always a bit suspicious of hierarchical progress models of thought.

I'm currently starting a research project on homoerotic images of the divine, and I certainly agree with Rollan that Christianity has a very gay streak indeed (as discussed in the work of Stephen Moore for example).

When dealing with conservatives, I use two simple arguments; I ask them if they have recreational sex (since one of their arguments is often that gay sex is wrong because it does not produce children); and I point out that in their worldview, God made people gay, so he must have meant them to be that way.

With secularists, I point out the vast number of gay animals.

I haven't recently met any homophobic Pagans, but apparently they do exist, sadly.

Did you see Hal Duncan's wonderful "Protocols of the Elders of Sodom"? It was completely fabulous.

joe perez

Thanks, Rollan. You wrote: "I do believe, among other things, that the passage of all religions through the Age of Aries was culturally and psychologically problematic for everything gay."

Indeed, I'm not sure where you draw the boundaries between Aries and Pisces, but my own perspective as well is informed by a realization that all of the major world religions that condemn homosexuality to one degree or another arose in the agrarian age of civilizatiion, an age characterized by mythic-belief systems that replaced more magical systems. It's this evolutionary journey that's the most important element, I believe, in understanding the current state of affairs. The "major world religions" didn't exist 5,000 years ago; they all arose in the same broad economic base of society and reflected its necessities as their own value systems.

P.S.: R, sorry to hear about the censorship you are facing. You are always welcome to contribute your thoughts here on GS&C. Write me if you want to learn more.

Yvonne: I'm also opposed to strictly linear and hierarchical models of development; my own thinking is of development as a series of cyclical spirals. However, in writing about development it's difficult to write about development in anything but a linear fashion ("first, this stage, then the next stage") so it's frustrating. But an even bigger problem is that much of academia is opposed to ANY developmental model of any kind, and sometimes they don't admit it up front and claim falsely that they are only opposed to rigid linear models. Usually when that problem goes away their real opposition--all developmental models are illegitimate--comes out.

Good luck on your research project on homoerotic images of the divine. A good summary of such images is found in Christopher Penczak's Gay Witchcraft. Not familiar with Hal Duncan's work, but it sounds interesting.

sam

I'm not sure about, and may be confused by the passage "Evidence suggests that taboos against same-sex sexual behavior were non-existent in many of the pagan cults. Indeed, same-sex behavior was frequently given a place of honor in many tribes. Persons who would today be called gay were often revered as spiritual leaders. Gay spiritualists say that gays should stay away from homophobic religions that are beyond redemption and instead reclaim a pagan spirituality."

If by pagan you refer to the Indo-European continent, I have little comment but would direct myself to more research. But a caution flag went up you use the word tribes and the concept of place of honor. This leads me to suspect an incorrect notion that is commonly used by GBLT. If the section is indeed referring to the over 500 nations indigenous to the North American (Turtle Island) continent, then there are 2 points that must be made.

One. All of the people I know from various nations that are following a traditional path after the government sanctioned physical, economic and faith based initiative at cultural genocide emphatically exclaim that they are not pagan. They find this label offensive. This is offered only to inform. I will not be reading or engaging in any definitions of the word pagan. I live between worlds and it would be best for you to have that discussion with them. It would probably require years of understanding each of the 500 nations cosmological and spiritual views.

Two. If you are referring to the 500 nations, then it is good that you used the words "many of", since GBLT and others were killed or banished -- even prior to Indo-European contact. Having said that and speaking in general, no one is automatically given a place of honor. Some differences such as twins, GBLT and others would be viewed as closer or potentially closer (in contact with) the spiritual (other) world. They would be raised, trained and watched to see if they were capable of fulfilling the spiritual role. This would take the better half of a lifetime. The "place of honor" is merely the recognition of their spiritual role/power and the role as servant to the people. Because their duties would interfere with tending to daily survival needs (food, shelter, etc) it would be common for others to help the spiritual person with this and other things -- as they would for other people whose role of service prevented them from daily matters. And in many tribes, if a spiritual person, GBLT or no, failed in their attempts to help, their life could be forfeit. (Notice you didn't mention that one.)

(Note: I have a friend who shared that when a relative living far away finally saw "him" for the first time at age 2 immediately took the mother aside, used the traditional name and gave instructions on how s/he was to be raised. Some will have the "gift" seen, others may have the "gift" put on them by family members because of a need, and some adult heterosexuals will choose to adopt a gender role for a time to complete the work in this world of a relative that left too soon. 500 nations -- sovereign and different.)

Thanks to the sponsor for a space to discuss spirituality.

joe perez

I'm not sure about, and may be confused by the passage "Evidence suggests that taboos against same-sex sexual behavior were non-existent in many of the pagan cults. Indeed, same-sex behavior was frequently given a place of honor in many tribes. Persons who would today be called gay were often revered as spiritual leaders. Gay spiritualists say that gays should stay away from homophobic religions that are beyond redemption and instead reclaim a pagan spirituality."

In this paragraph, I am using "pagan" in precisely the same way that it is used by many "queer spiritual writers" who have been writing books on "gay spirituality" or "queer spirituality" since the late 1970s. That is, I'm using it loosely as a way of distinguishing religious traditiona that preceded the rise of mytho-membership or agrarian-based civilizations and which persists to this day in various forms, primarily Native American, African, and other indnigenous traditions.

The Golem

I think you are being at least a little unfair to those of us who more or less fit your "liberal" classification. I have no idea if G-d approves of homosexuality and I also am not sure the question has meaning for me.

My religious beliefs have more to do with understanding for what my purpose my Creator put me on this Earth and how I can best approach fulfilling that or those purposes.

The question of is gay an act or a state of being is somewhat irrelevant to this question, although I do come down on the side of state of being. If, G-d forbid, I never make love with a man again, I will always, at least in this incarnation, be a gay man.

I choose to follow a somewhat traditional religious path, liberal Judaism in my case, because, for me, it makes my soul grow and connects me to the cosmos and the Divine better than any other I have tried.

But this is a classic case of "Your Mileage May Vary." It's not for me to tell anyone else what path is best for them.

Following a traditional religious path with its weight of past history and understandings of many things, not only what queer is about can be a burden or an opportunity to open the texts in new ways which lead me, I hope, to higher spiritual states. The gay one wasn't even a challange. I know that I am made in the Divine image and therefore my sexuality also must exist in a root from above. Whatever Leviticus means in 18:22 must be referring to something else.

Does G-d approve of homosexuality? Ask G-d. My job here has more to do with meditation and prayer, with fighting racism and global warming, seeking peace and justice. With connecting Heaven and Earth.

The Golem

shiv

Homosexuality exists from stone age. Everybody especially in western culture people want to show they are liberal.Then why they labell homosexuals as a GAY. By labelling this they are throwing them from mainstream.

wkj

I don't want to get too caught up in semantics here, as I really enjoyed the article. However, if the point of the article is indeed to present the identification of one's 'higher self' with the godhead, however that is definined, then I do take issue with the use of the term 'magical' and other views presented in this thread to describe pre-patriarchal-religion spiritual expression and traditions. To start with, patriarchal traditions may or may not have been poly-theistic, it's hard to imagine a more patriarchal religion than the poly-theistic Roman 'Paganism': "Worship Ceasar or you and your entire family die by the sword!" (Torture was also a favorite, and when the Romans under Constantine co-opted Christianity in 300 AD, little changed.)

For lack of a better words, people's prior to the agrarian/city-state religions were 'shamanic' and 'animistic,' experiencing Creator as present in and sustaining all things, including humanity. While certain magico-processes may have been employed, these where a small part of the overall worldview and spiritual operations which focus(ed) foundationally on the interconnection of the pysche and godhead within the 'Dreamtime.' There was/is a recognition of myriad 'non-physical' beings besides ourselves that share the universe with us, which may or may not be worshiped as 'gods,' but are/were generally not conflated with the 'Creator' or 'Great Mystery'. It is also fair to say that they did not view humans at the 'top' and rocks and dirt at the 'bottom' of reality, with animals, trees, etc. somewhere in between. all things in existence where/are seen as having equal importance in maintaining the balance of the creation and treated with respect, even reverence. Humans commited the hubris of self-importance at their own peril.

It also defies archeological evidence and common sense to say that spirituality and homosexuality entered human conciousness a mere 10,000 years ago, whatever the (often prejudiced and eurocentric) archeological evidence may be. Homo Sapiens alone has been around well over 100,000 years, and evidence from Africa, such as Blombos Cave, reveals spiritual use of the concrete symbolic going back at least 90,000 years there. The use of fire, stones and stone circles, foundational elements of shamanism, goes back several human species to Homo Habilis, pointing to 500,000 years of spiritual conciousness in humanity, long before our current species. As an example of 'undisovered' spiritual use of symbolism - many peoples have, and still do, simply draw in the soil of mother earth, or form images with sand, leaving no trace to be found by the more pointy-headed and culturally circumscribed researchers.

In this context even 'pagan' religions of 10,000 to 2,500 years ago seem little more than a passing fad over a hair's breadth of time, and hardly worth the attention given to them in light of what's actually possible and practiced by humanity, both homosexual and heterosexual.

If homosexuality exists as an inate trait in other 'animals,' it only makes sense to expect that it was found among our human forebearers, however it may have been understood socially, whether or not there is surviving archeological evidence graphically or explicitly portraying it is besides the point.

very best,

will johnston

wkj

the above article was posted before editing. my appologies.

Paul

being gay is wrong period and no one was ever born gay. The bible say they be cursed and even Paul in Romans talk about it. And think about it if gay marriage was right then why didn't God just create Adam and Steve and why eve? IT that simple and really the devil is always encouraging those who are falling under sin

pennyjane

hi paul. thank you for reminding me what a wonderful blessing is that God's creativity is not limited by the imagination of man.

pennyjane

if one wants to she can take a purely legalistic approach to reading scripture. just take it as it is without examination or context. but for those who choose to view scripture in the same way our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did, then discernment becomes necessary. Jesus consistently approached scripture from the perspective of common sense and compassion.

in romans one, paul is clearly speaking of idolatry and prostitution. when placing this letter in context, temple prostitution was out of control in rome and paul was issuing a stern admonition against these practices. it's a big stretch to assume this passage has any relationship at all to a loving and committed relationship between two people of any gender mix.

when you say that no one is born gay i would have to beg to differ. Jesus Christ Himself disputes your statement in matthew, 19:11-12 "not everyone can accept this teaching, but only to those is is given. for there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. let anyone accept this who can."

Jesus is clearly advising us to be less legalistic and more spiritual...(loving and compassionate)..in our approach to scripture. Jesus, in life, always asked His deciples to question the scriptures, to make sure they held up to spiritual examination. to question current intrepretation and to accept that which honors Him above the law: to use the gift of the Holy Spirit to discern meaning from scripture. as a christian, a follower of Christ i will always attempt to take His advice. Christ the Lord is not dead and He is not finished teaching we who care to learn.

Bible Study

Salvation is by grace through faith, not works. I do not judge Gay people who say they are Christian if they have the fruit of the spirit in their life. I am straight and don't agree with the lifestyle myself, but I can't say someone is not saved, even if they are Gay, if they are living by faith in Jesus.

vanquishedangel

I loved the article! I may not completely agree with it but whomever wrote is clearly blessed with intelligence.

I am a gay man and let me tell you, I did not choose this. It may make your world a little better to think I did, but in fact, I didn't. This reached well into childhood before a "decision" could be made about a subject I never even knew about. My view on the christian gay subject is this, "they need their witch hunt". Basically anything that is not in agreement with them is evil, so all but them are wrong.

Truth is, the bible was in latin for hundreds of years so common folk could not read it, makes a person wonder why. At this time anyone in the gover-oops, church, could say/ write what they pleased. and none would be the wiser.

vanquishedangel

I forgot to post that I think the "witch hunt" also is common in many cultures as well, it seems that almost all cultures need to focus energies on a group of people for some reason. gay, witch, whatever, I am not sure why but it may stem from an inherent need for a group of people to find a "dross" that needs to be eliminated. It is visible to me that humans carry some instinctual need to alienate, like in playground children, they tend to pick on certain ones.

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