Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONSENSUAL CRIMES
CALL ME DIM-WITTED, thickheaded, or just plain insensitive, but the consensual crime laws that seem the silliest to me are the ones directed against homosexuality. Why should criminal law care about whom other people love, feel affection for, date, live with, marry, or have sex with? I just don't get it.
I also don't understand the astonishing prejudice against gay people. The New York Times reported findings of the (New York) Governor's Task Force on Bias-Related Violence:
In one of the most alarming findings, the report found that while teenagers surveyed were reluctant to advocate open bias against racial and ethnic groups, they were emphatic about disliking homosexual men and women. They are perceived "as legitimate targets that can be openly attacked," the report said. . . . The feelings were as strong among twelve-year-olds as among seventeen-year-olds. Many students added gratuitous vicious comments about homosexuals; that was not the case with other groups.
Gays seem to be at the bottom of the pecking order: no matter how far down the pecking order another group is, its members still feel superior to and have no problem picking on gays.
It also seems that groups that hate each other and disagree on absolutely everything else find one common point of agreement: homosexuality is bad, wrong, evil, wicked, and all the rest. Take, for example, L. Ron Hubbard and Jerry Falwell. One would think these two individuals were about as far apart as possible on every known spectrum. The fact that one is dead and the other is not quite dead is the least of their differences. Falwell dismisses Hubbard's creation, the Church of Scientology, as a "satanic cult." On the subject of homosexuality, however, Falwell and Hubbard seem to find some common ground.
In the chapter, "His Master's Voice?" we'll explore how Falwell feels about "perverts." Here are some excerpts from L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, the "15 million copy bestseller":
The sexual pervert (and by this term Dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation . . . such as homosexuality, lesbianism . . .) is actually quite ill physically. . . . He is also so far from normal and so extremely dangerous to society that the tolerance of perversion is as thoroughly bad for society as punishment for it.
To make a pervert is, rather, something on the order of kicking a baby's head in, running over him with a steamroller, cutting him in half with a rusty knife, boiling him in Lysol, and all the while with crazy people screaming the most horrifying and unprintable things at him.
|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH|
As Dr. Edward W. Bauman, United Methodist pastor who for more than twenty years conducted a Bible class on television in the Washington, D.C., area, observed,
The thing that impressed me most, however, and moved me deeply was the discovery of the incredible amount of suffering experienced by homosexuals. For centuries the church refused to serve them Holy Communion. They were often stripped, castrated, marched through the streets, and executed. In Hitler's Germany they were exterminated by the thousands in the furnaces and gas chambers.
In our own country, gay persons are disowned by their families, ridiculed and rejected by society, made the object of cruel jokes, and forced to laugh at the jokes lest their "secret" be revealed.
They are barred from jobs and housing, often living in loneliness, seeking companionship in sordid places and in devious (and dangerous) ways. They have become the "lepers" of our society. How many young people are there who lie awake at night, terrified by these "feelings," with no one to talk to?
Quite a number it seems, as the suicide rate among teen-aged gays is several times that of heterosexual teens.
What causes such deep and unreasonable hatred?
Prior to the late 1800s, the concept of homosexuality did not exist. The idea that one would exclusively feel romantically and sexually drawn to a member of the same sex was not considered. Yes, there was certainly homosexual activity, but this had always existed. The Hebrews, for example, did not have a word for homosexuality. When they wanted to describe the forbidden activity, they had to say, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable" (Leviticus 18:22). Similarly, the Greeks had no word for homosexual. Paul had to explain: "Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another" (Romans 1:2627). There was no word, then, for a man who went to bed only with men or a woman who went to bed only with women.
To even ask the question would be as unusual as asking today, "Are you a hot dog eater or a hamburger eater?" The idea that one preference would exclude the other made no sense. Even if one has not eaten a hot dog in twenty years, one would never think of defining oneself as a hamburgerist. Likewise, a person who had never had a hamburger in his or her life but adored hot dogs, would not be labeled "a hotdogger."
In societies of ancient Greece and Rome, sexual activity with either gender was perfectly acceptable. To exclusively go to bed with one sex or the other, in fact, was considered a bit oddjust as eating only raw vegetables might be considered a bit unusual today. In the ancient world, the distinction was: "Were you the dominant or the passive partner in the sex act?" In relationships between men, the dominant partner was praised, and the passive partner was condemned. Why? Because to play the passive partner meant a man voluntarily played the part of a woman.
It's the ancient anti-woman prejudice that permeates what we call Western Civilizations. Why would a man want to play the part of a woman? To do so was considered unnatural, self-deprecating, and perverse. If slaves or captives did it with their owners, that was acceptable: they had to. But for a man who had a choice to take the passive role in sex was considered degrading.
And therein lies the seed of the prejudice. It wasn't that homosexual activity was wrong; it was a man playing the woman's role in homosexual activity that was considered perverted.
Christianity, Social Tolerance,
Alexander the Greatwhose masculinity was never in doubthad as a primary sexual partner a castrated Persian boy. Alexander also had a wife. No one questioned the arrangement. Alexander played the dominant role in both relationships. He was a "man." Both Alexander's wife and the Persian boy were treated with the respect due the ruler's favorites, but with little admiration.
As we shall see, any number of prohibitions in both the Old and New Testaments were abandoned long ago. And yet, the one against homosexuality remained because the bias against women remained. That's the first reason homosexuality has continued to be viewed in a negative light long after the practical reason (it doesn't propagate the species) no longer mattered.
The second reason homosexuality is so feared and despised is that homosexuality is too close to home. It's fairly easy for, say, white people to become tolerant of black people because white people are not black. White people seldom think, "I think I'll have black skin for the next two hours." White people and black people are so fundamentally differentin terms of skin colorthat white people almost never think, "I wonder if I'm really black?"
This sense of security is not found with homosexuality. On a purely biological level, the human animal responds sexually to lubricated friction. It doesn't much matter whether this lubricated friction is being applied by a man, a woman, a machine, or a well-trained dog; human sexual response on the biological level is automatic.
It is also true that human beings can feel affectioneven lovefor members of their own sex. Affection is not a tidy emotion. It tends to lap into mental, emotional, physical, sensual, and even sexual expression.
in a letter to Joan Crawford
When one first realizes that he or she is actually capable of some kind of sexual and/or emotional response with a member of the same sex, panic ensues. Before children are even aware of their sexuality, they know that homosexuality is bad. Very bad. Among boys eight years or older, the most pejorative name they can call each other is "faggot!" Later, when they become aware of their sexuality and findeven for a momentthat it flashes in the direction of the same sex, there's trouble in River City.
At this point, one has the choice to (a) confront one of the greatest and most pervasive taboos in our culture or (b) deny the inner reaction vehemently by supporting the taboo all the more enthusiastically. Invariably, (b) is the choice. It's an old psychological truism: the more you want to taste of the forbidden fruit, the more you condemn it. Shakespeare realized this, and assumed his audience understood the concept so well that he made it a joke: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." (Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2, Line 242.) That line has been met by the laughter of recognition for almost four hundred years.
By soundly condemning homosexuality outwardly, one avoids facing even the possibility that one mightjust maybefeel love for or be capable of responding sexually to a member of one's own sex.
Hating gays seems to be the only fashionable prejudice left. Maybe that's why it's dying so hardsome people just can't stand to be without at least one unjustifiable hatred. Some stores sell t-shirts with sayings such as "Homophobic and Proud of It" and "Club Faggots, Not Seals." Or the bumper sticker sold at the 1995 National Federation of Republican Women Convention: "THE MIRACLE OF AIDS TURNED FRUITS INTO VEGETABLES." What other minority is subjected to such unchallenged, cruel, and violent hatred?
As with most prejudices, the hatred of gays is based on a series of misconceptions. Our culture seems to have more myths about gays than most. Let's see if we can shine a little light on a few of them.
Myth #1: Homosexuality is unnatural. In order to see what is natural, we must look to nature. In nature, every mammal has been observed taking part in same-sex activities, affection, and bonding. In some animals, homosexuality increases during times of overpopulationsort of nature's birth control.
In nature, by the way, what is decidedly not natural is monogamyespecially for life. The only mammals who even sometimes mate for life are foxes, wolves, gibbons, beavers, dik-diks, coyotes, elephant shrews, and geese. Some animals mate for a season; most animals mate and move on.
I stuck to mammals for this example because the lower forms of lifewhile naturalare positively inhuman. You could say, for example, that the praying mantis "mates for life" only because, while the male shudders in orgasm, the female bites his head off. Then she eats him. The male praying mantis is an animal that comes and goes at the same time. Maybe that's why he's always praying. We all know how the black widow spider becomes a widow and why there is no such thing as a black widower (some animals get so hungry after sex).
Here's how Phyllis Lindstrom explained the birds and the beeswell, at least the beeson The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "Did you know the male bee is nothing but the slave of the queen? And once the male bee has, how should I say, serviced the queen, the male dies. All in all, not a bad system."
J. GADPAILLE, M.D.
Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry
Earthworms have male sexual organs on one end and female sexual organs on the other. They cannot, however, fertilize themselves. To mate, earthworms lie next to each otherhow can I say this without becoming numerical?head-to-toe and simultaneously play both male and female. Amoebas seem to have the best ideathe simplest, anyway: when they've had enough of themselves, they just divide. When one discusses what's natural, then, one has quite a range of behaviors to choose from.
From a purely human point of view, homosexual behavior has been recorded in every culture that kept detailed enough records. Sociologists and anthropologists have documented homosexual behavior in every country on earthincluding in tribes that had no contact with outside human beings until the arrival of the anthropologists. Any behavior observed among all races, all peoples, all cultures, and in all countries throughout all recorded time must certainly be considered natural for humans.
Myth #2: People are either homosexual or heterosexual. Not true. People do tend to specializepartially because people are conditioned to think they should specialize. (We are addicted to "either/or" in our culture.) Sexual behavior is a continuum with exclusive heterosexuality on one end and exclusive homosexuality on the other. People, however, can be found at any point along that spectrum. A corollary to Myth #2 is:
Myth #3: Homosexuality is contagious. The myth goes something like this: If you try a homosexual experience and find it even marginally enjoyable, a seed (more like a virus) has been planted, and, eventually, you will wind up a full-fledged, card-carrying, flag-waving homosexual. This is simply not the case. You can't "catch" homosexuality any more than you can "catch" heterosexuality (although the latter myth is supported by the concept that "the love of a good woman" will "cure" a gay man). In either case, even a successful liaison with the gender one is not normally drawn to will have little, if any, lasting effect.
I'm amazed at the power those who propound the you-can-catch- homosexuality theory give to homosexualitywith only a small dose, it suddenly takes over an otherwise robust heterosexual? This myth probably springs from observing some individuals who severely suppressed their homosexuality, but once they got one foot out the closet door there was no stopping them. ("I am not just out of the closet," a greeting card reads, "I am sitting in the living room with my feet propped up watching television.") We pretty much are what we are, and neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality can be "caught." The next myth seems to contradict this myth but, like different aspects of a used-car salesman's pitch, myths don't have to support each other for people to believe them. "The American public," said Pat Robertson, "has a very short memory." And this is a man who knows.
Myth #4: Homosexuality is a choice. It has been established for some time that one's sexual orientation is part of the basic personality structure and formed before the age of two. The most recent studies, however, both behavioral and biological, indicate one's sexual orientation is geneticsomething determined at conception. Whether it happens before birth or it happens by age two, the determination of sexual orientation can hardly be considered a choice. One can, of course, choose not to follow one's natural orientation, but this is not the sort of choice the proponents of this myth mean. They mean that gay people choose to be gay in the same way that they might sit down and choose which program to watch on television, which team to bet on in the Super Bowl, or whether or not they want pepperoni on their pizza.
We need laws that protect everyone. Men and women, straights and gays, regardless of sexual perversion . . . ah, persuasion.
The idea behind this myth is: a perfectly normal, well-adjusted heterosexual is sitting around one day and just decides to go gay, as one might decide to move to Antarctica or try to flush hockey pucks down the toilet. It is truly aberrant behavior, but it is his or her choice. Implied in this choice, of course, is a certain hostility to God, parents, society, and the American way. It's as though being gay is a pathological act of rebellion.
Gays don't choose to be gay; they discover they're gay. Like heterosexuals, they find themselves increasingly attracted (romantically as well as sexually) to a particular gender. The bisexuals find themselves attracted to both. (Even though, as Woody Allen says, "Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night," discovering one's bisexuality must be more confusing than discovering one is primarily gay or straight.)
Like being left- or right-handed, there is no "choice" to one's sexual orientation. Allow me to give you an example. Clasp your hands together by interlocking your fingers. Is your right thumb on top or your left? Now switch your clasp, so that the other thumb is on top. Feel unnatural? Well, for half the population, this way is naturalit's the way they formed their clasp when first asked. Although one feels "normal" to you and one does not, when did you choose which was which? At what age? Who offered you the choice? The answer to these questions is also the answer to the question, "When do gays choose to be gay?"
Considering the many cultural prejudices, to discover one is (or might be) gay can be traumatic; one can be in denial for some time. With society screaming, "Stay in the closet!" and nature pleading, "Get out! Get out!" one does have the choice of which voice one listens to. Does one choose to use the courage to be oneself? In this wayand in this way onlyis homosexuality a choice.
As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.
Myth #5: Homosexuals recruit others. This is a myth that grew out of the evangelical camp where proselytizing, testifying, missionaryizing, and converting are basic tenets of the faith. Evangelicals somehow feel that gays have the same zeal to spread a gay-spell that they have to spread a God-spell. It's a simple matter of evangelicals projecting their recruitment tactics on gays. As with most projections, the image is distortedand very wrong.
Gays have no desire to "recruit" heterosexuals into becoming homosexual. A gay person may, individually, want to have sex with a heterosexual of the same sex whom he or she finds attractive; the gay person may even make a pass. The gay person is making a personal statement of desire, not fulfilling a recruitment quota. ("If you recruit ten heterosexuals this month, you get this beautiful 26-piece set of Tupperware!") Additionally, gays who are out of the closet may offer support and encouragement to gays who are miserably in the closet, but that's about as far as it goes. Besides, the whole idea of recruitment rests on the concept that homosexuality is a choice, and every homosexual knows that just ain't so.
Myth #6: You can spot a gay a mile away. In 1985, when Rock Hudson publicly admitted his homosexuality, I was visiting two gay friends in Maine. Both men were in their eighties and had been lovers in 1925. In this rather remote region of Maine (is there any other kind of region in Maine?) the people did not have what you would call a cosmopolitan view of life. They had somehow heard about Rock Hudson's sexual proclivities (an issue of People must have washed ashore in a bottle). They were stunned, numb. Not since the news of Kennedy's assassination (which they found out about in 1971) had the people of this town been so bereft. "Rock Hudson?" "No." "He couldn't be." "He doesn't look . . ." "Rock Hudson was such a man." My two friends and I were visiting the general store (yes, it was called the general store); it was all anyone could talk about. I wondered what this group of shoppers would say if I told them that the dear, sweet, elderly men to whom they were expressing their astonishment had been lovers sixty years earlier. But I figured, no, one Rock crumbling that week was enough.
VICTIM'S GRIEVING WIDOW: Do you know what it's like to be married to a wonderful man for fourteen years? DETECTIVE DREBIN: No, I can't say that I do. I did . . . uh . . . live with a guy once, though, but that was just for a couple of years. The usual slurs, rumors, innuendoes people didn't understand.
Some gay men are effeminate; most are not. Some straight men are effeminate; most are not. Some lesbians are masculine; most are not. Some heterosexual women are masculine; most are not. According to the organization that considers itself an expert on homosexuality, the Pentagon, "feminized males make up only a small proportion of homosexuals, perhaps 10 percent. Thus 90 percent . . . display no overt behavioral stigmata." Regarding effeminacy in men, remember the most notorious ladies' man in history, Casanova, could probably not walk into a pool hall today and order a creme de menthe without being beaten silly with pool cues. Casanova waslike many men of his erafoppish. It was something men strived for. It indicated refinement, discernment, taste. All those King Louises of France wore wigs that even Dolly Parton would find too elaborate. And let's not forget our own founding fathers: satin pants, powdered wigs, make-up and all.
Humor is a prelude to faith and Laughter is the beginning of prayer.
Linking effeminacy with homosexuality is primarily an American assumption. In the 1880s, Oscar Wilde toured America and lectured widely on aesthetics. He carried a lily on stage and was as much an aesthete as an Irishman could possibly be. The press ridiculed him, he ridiculed America, his lectures sold out, and everybody loved it. "A man in Leadville, Colorado," Wilde would say, "sued the railroad company because the reproduction of the Venus deMilo he ordered arrived without arms." Wilde would pause for dramatic effect while breathing in the fragrance of his lily. "The man collected on his claim." At the time he was touring the United States, Wilde was a married man with two children. No one linked his studied effeminacy with sexual orientation any more than they linked it to Ireland, lecturers, or playwrights. In 1895, however, when Wilde was found guilty of being a "sodomite" and, in 1897, when Havelock Ellis coined the word homosexuality in his Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Americans linked the two: "There are homosexuals; Oscar Wilde is a homosexual; so that's what they're like." Ironically, had America used as a stereotype one of its homegrown homosexuals of that erasuch as the rough and rugged Walt Whitmanwe might all have a very different view of how to "spot" homosexuals. (Could Gabby Hayes have lived down the stigma?) The stereotype would be just as inaccurate, but different.
The grounds for this membership revocation are the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America, which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals.
August 10, 1991
- Myth #7: There aren't enough gays to really worry about. The percentage of primarily homosexual people in this country is estimated at from one to ten percent. One percent seems lowif it were one percent, that would mean roughly half the nation's gay population traveled to the capital for the 1993 March on Washington. This is unlikely. But the number of gays is unimportant. As the Los Angeles Times editorialized on April 25, 1993,
What does all this mean in regard to current debates about the place of homosexuals in American society? It means exactly nothing.
Whether homosexuals are 1% of the population or 10% or some figure in between, they are beyond any argument or cavil 100% entitled to the same protection under the law and the enjoyment of the same rights that everyone else is guaranteed. That specifically includes the right to be free from discrimination and intimidation in employment, housing and schooling. It means the right to be protected from hate-inspired physical assaults. It means the right to privacy as that right applies to everyone else.
Both read the Bible day and night, But thou read'st black while I read white.
Gays have beenand continue to behidden from view in the media, except in the form of (a) psychotic killers, or (b) effeminate jokes. The first time the word homosexual was uttered in a film was 1961. When plays and novels featuring gay characters were made into movies, those characters turned into heterosexuals who were simply "sensitive." Film biographies completely expunged any mention of a gay hero's true sexual preference. For example, when the story of Lorenz Hart's life was filmed, the movie had him overcoming people's prejudice against him for "being too short." The oddest example was probably Night and Day, in which Cary Grant, a bisexual, played Cole Porter, a homosexual, as a heterosexual. Even today, "sophisticated" films tend to avoid homosexuality. Peter Biskind reported in Premiere that in the novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Caf, "the two main characters engage in a robust lesbian relationship. Where was the lesbianism when the novel was adapted for the screen?"
Myth #8: God is opposed to homosexuality. There are basically two Biblical prohibitions cited repeatedly and forcefully by those claiming homosexuality is condemned by God, hence should remain illegal. These two are Leviticus, chapter 20, verse 13 and Romans chapter 1, verses 26 and 27. Let's take a look at each.
Taken out of context, Leviticus 20:13 would certainly seem to prohibit homosexuality:
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
A quick look at the violations punishable by death in the same chapter of Leviticus, however, tells a very different story:
If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:9)
I wouldn't even have a chance to get to verse 13; I'd be dead by verse 9.
If a man commits adultery with another man's wifewith the wife of his neighborboth the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
Bye bye Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.
If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:11)
If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:12)
If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. (Leviticus 20:15)
If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. (Leviticus 20:16)
Note the man has to do it, but the woman need only approach.
A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:27)
O, the carnage at the Psychic Hotline!
After a couple was seen simulating sex inside a helicopter hovering outside the windows of the Club Hotel in Tiberias, Israel, the city's chief rabbi revoked the hotel's kosher license.
It's easy to see that, in context, the always-quoted-out-of-context admonition against homosexuality is hardly God singling out gays for special punishment.
It was, in fact, one of the laws of Leviticus that was responsible for the death of Jesus:
[A]nyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. (Leviticus 24:16)
Jesus was tried by Sanhedren, the ruling religious body of Jerusalem, and found guilty of blasphemy. According to the religious powers that were, to claim he was the son of God was blasphemous. The charge of sedition was added so the Romans would approve of and carry out the death sentence.
Speaking of Romans, let's move on to the New Testament. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 1, verses 2627, describes the fate of Christians who reverted to paganism:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things . . . . Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
|The New Testament takes no demonstrable position on homosexuality. To suggest that Paul's references to excesses of sexual indulgence involving homosexual behavior are indicative of a general position in opposition to same-sex eroticism is as unfounded as arguing that his condemnation of drunkenness implies opposition to the drinking of wine.|
This seems to condemn homosexuality. But it wasn't just a loss of proper gender infatuation that these non-truthsayers wrought . . .
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:2832)
Glancing at the list reminds me of some of the characteristics of certain "Christian" leaders when they discuss homosexuality: deceit (quoting the Bible out of context), malice, slander, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, heartlessness, ruthlessness. Paul's clear message to these people, echoing Jesus most accurately:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1)
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath."
|JOHN 9:1314, 16|
If we look more carefully into Paul's comments concerning homosexual behavior, however, he does not condemn homosexual behavior itself but "unnatural relations." As an example, he mentions heterosexuals taking part in homosexual behavior. As a regular practice, this would be unnatural. (Curiosity and experimentation, however, are perfectly natural.)
In this light, people who are naturally homosexual would have "abandoned natural relations" if they committed firmly to a life of other-gender joys. This is precisely what many Christian "ministries," such as Exodus, tell gays to do. (By the way, the two men who started Exodus fell in love with each other, were instantly exiled by their brethren, and later married.)
The "indecent acts with other men" most likely were pagan acts that were indecent: human sacrifice springs to mind. Paul was giving the Christians in Rome a laundry list, which included the various examples of unnatural behavior. His message was "Once you know God and you turn from God, woe unto you"not "Homosexuality is bad." No doubt Paul could have been more clear. Even Peter, who contributed precious few words to the New Testament, had to defend Paul:
[Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)
My lesbianism is an act of Christian charity. All those women out there are praying for a man, and I'm giving them my share.
|RITA MAE BROWN|
If I wanted to join the Let's-Misinterpret-the-Bible Club (hardly an exclusive membership), I could quote this from Paul:
Are you unmarried? Then do not look for a wife . . . From now on, those who have wives should live as if they have none. (1 Corinthians 7:27, 29)
Couldn't that be twisted into an admonition to have only gay relations? Sure. A literal interpretation would cause an end to all Christian marriage. Paul was, in fact, encouraging a focus on spiritual matters rather than worldly ones, such as marriage and family.
Let's move on to the preachers who don't even quote the Bible but prefer Bible stories. They like to go on and on about "the sin of Sodom and Gomorra," which they incorrectly conclude was sodomy. Hence the sodomites of the world, incorrectly viewed as only homosexuals, must have caused God's wrath to fall upon the city. Let's go to the Bible for the real story.
Sodomy, in fact, is a grab-bag legal term that encompasses anything the legislative moral fathers of a given state find personally disgusting. It can include anal sex between men or between men and women (including married couples); oral sex between men, between women, men and women (including married couples); and sex between humans and animals.
In August 1982, a Mr. Hardwick was in his bedroom engaging in an act of sodomy with another consenting adult male. Sodomy is defined in Georgia (the state where this took place) as when one "performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another." In this case, it was Mr. Hardwick's mouth and the other man's sex organ. A police officer came in and, without a warrant, arrested them both. Mr. Hardwick took the case as far as the Supreme Court. What did the Supreme Court have to say? "The Constitution does not confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy."
When Pat Buchanan thundered, and I quote, "We stand with George Bush against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women," I wondered: Who is Pat Buchanan to pronounce anybody's love invalid?
One wants to play the Supremes to the Supremes: "Stop! In the Name of Love."
But, Biblically speaking, what is the sin of sodomy? (And what ever happened to Gomorrahy?)
Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:13)
We gather they must have been doing something not very nice. But what was it? Five chapters later we find:
Then the Lord said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." (Genesis 18:2021)
But what is the sin? We still have not been told. In the next chapter, we finally get to the meat of the story:
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning."
"No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square." But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodomboth young and oldsurrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them." (Genesis 19:15)
The Bible is clear about hate: Hate is wrong.
Obviously, the sin here about to be attempted is rape, not consensual sex. Further, the sin is inhospitality. In desert regions, not being hospitablethat is, denying a traveler food and water; or, worse, taking advantage of a traveler in a violent waywas a sin second only to murder. Certainly, if travelers come out of the desert looking for water and get raped instead, that's pretty sinfulwhether the travelers are men, women, or, in this case, angels. We'll get to other comments made about what the sin of Sodom was in a moment, but let's continue with our story. These are the parts the televangelists never get around to reading on television:
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof." (Genesis 19:68)
I don't want to sound like a prude, but isn't Lot supposed to be the hero of this piece? Here he is offering this rowdy crowd his two virgin daughters so that the crowd might "do what you like with them." If Lot had offered himself, that might have been noble. "Take me, but leave my guests and daughters alone." Frankly, in comparing the sins of raping two strangers and offering your two virgin daughters to an unruly mob, I think the latter is worse. Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned for the Old Testament.
When the assembled throng continue to demand divine flesh, the angels blind the nasty mob, pull Lot into the house, send Lot and his family on their way, and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. After Lot's wife disobeys the angels' instructions and turns to look back at the city and becomes a pillar of salt, the story gets exciting again: Lot's daughters show that kinkiness runs in the family:
He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father."
That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. (Genesis 19:3033)
That must have been some wine.
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I lay with my father. Let's get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father. (Genesis 19:3436)
As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.
Okay, enough peeking into the caves of the morally upright. Let's return to defining the sin of Sodom. Nowhere in the remainder of the BibleOld or New Testamentis the sin of Sodom defined as sex between consenting male adults. Here are the sins of Sodom (this is God speaking, by the way):
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She was once full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in herbut now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them. (Isaiah 1:10, 17, 2123)
I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
|FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT|
This sounds more like Washington, D.C., than West Hollywood to me.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (Ezekiel 16:4950)
"Arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty. . . ." Sounds more like some televangelists I could name. Note, there is still no specific mention of same-sex activities.
Each time Jesus mentions Sodom and Gomorrah he does so in connection with inhospitality:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. (Matthew 10:1415)
We must be on guard against giving interpretations of scripture that are far-fetched or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.
Or, perhaps, when he encountered ingratitude (or just plain stupidity):
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you. (Matthew 11:2324)
The only biblical passage that even mentions sexual behavior that might apply to homosexuality is this from Jude:
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. (Jude 78)
"Sexual immorality" and "perversion" refer to violent pagan practices of idolatryincluding human sacrificeand not what goes on between consenting adults in their own bedrooms.
According to Methodist pastor Dr. Edward Bauman,
The real irony is that homosexuals have been the victim of inhospitality for thousands of years in the Christian nations of the world. Condemned by the church and the state, they have been ridiculed, rejected, persecuted, and even executed. In the name of an erroneous interpretation of the crime of Sodom, the true crime of Sodom has been continuously perpetrated to our own day.
We have read the Navy report on Tailhook yet we have concluded that it would be wrong fundamentally wrong to ban heterosexuals from serving in the military.
|REPRESENTATIVE GERRY STUDDS|
In his book, Can Homophobia Be Cured?, Bruce Hilton presents an amusing reversal on the role of gays in the church:
WHY HETEROSEXUAL MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED
1. According to divorce statistics, fewer than half of them are able to maintain a long-term relationship.
2. The literature is full of tales of clergymen becoming sexually involved with women of the congregation.
3. Three out of four straight males in the United States admit to being unfaithful to their long-term partners.
4. Thousands of straight men are in jail for molesting little girls. A shocking percentage of these victims were their own daughters.
5. Straight males are the driving force behind the declar-ation of warsthe only other activity described in the Social Principles as "incompatible with Christian teaching."
6. Jesus saved his harshest words for the self-righteousness of groups like the Pharisees and Sadduceeswhich, if they lived according to the code they promoted, were made up of straight males.
Among the ancient Chinese the most popular literary expression for gay love was "the love of the cut sleeve," referring to the selfless devotion of the last emperor of the Han dynasty, Ai-Ti, who cut off his sleeve when called to an audience rather than wake his lover, Tung Hsien, who had fallen asleep across it.
On the other hand, the Bible does give some positive images of male affection. These from the Old Testament:
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:14)
After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept togetherbut David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, `The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'" (1 Samuel 20:4142)
"Saul and Jonathanin life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions." (2 Samuel 1:23)
"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women." (2 Samuel 1:26)
As to Jesus' relationship with those who vary from today's sexual norms, the incident of Jesus and the centurion is telling:
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help, "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."
Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." (Matthew 8:57)
Matthew uses the Greek word pais, which means "boy," and Luke (7:110) uses Doulas, or "slave." That a Roman officer would seek out a Jewish healer for his servant shows a deeper relationship than simply master-servant. We also know the depth of the relationship was not based on the amount of time the servant had spent with him: being a "boy," he would not be, say, the slave who raised the centurion from birth.
One of Stephen's favorite theories was that lesbians and gay men were survivors of an alien spaceship, and that someday our kind would find us and get us the hell out of here.
The boy-slave was what was often referred to as a body slave, a young man who would wash, groom, and take care of the personal needs of his masterincluding sexual ones. Body slaves were common among Roman officersespecially while on a campaign or stationed outside Rome. Only the highest officers were allowed to bring their wife (or wives), and, even then, many found a male body slave a more practical traveling companion. Bisexuality was commonplace in Rome, as it had been in Greece. Even Julius Caesar was said to be "every man's wife and every women's husband" by Curio the Elder. He was not being pejorative, but merely mentioning one of Caesar's many accomplishments.
When the centurion arrived (or, in Luke's account, sent emissaries) and expressed concern over the slave-boy, the centurion's relationship with the boy was obvious. It made no difference to Jesus. He agreed to heal the boy. This was remarkable in that Jesus was addressing his teachings to the Jews, not the Gentiles, and the centurion and the boy would clearly be of the Gentile/pagan category. According to Luke, the centurion had helped build a synagogue and was a friend of the Jewish people, but it's doubtful that would have influenced Jesus very much. Jesus was a pushover for faith.
The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go' and he goes; and that one, `Come', and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,' and he does it."
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour. (Matthew 8:810, 13)
Plato argued that pairs of homosexual lovers would make the best soldiers and the Thebans actually formed an army of such pairs in what turned out to be an extraordinarily successful experiment.
Similarly, Jesus had no condemnation for effeminate men or eunuchs. After all, he described himself metaphorically as a eunuch when referring to his own sexuality. Within the Jewish culture, however, eunuchs and effeminate men were outcasts.
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him." (Mark 14:13)
Carrying water in Israel was "woman's work." Telling his disciples to look for "a man carrying a jar of water" would be the same as saying today, "Look for a man in a dress, high heels, and a bouffant hairdo." That Jesus would have either a eunuch or an effeminate male lead his disciples to the upper room where the Last Supper would be held is one of Jesus' many statements of acceptance, inclusion, and compassion.
Myth #9: God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Yes, God did make Adam and Steve, as well as Adam and Eve, and Eve and Genevievesome people just don't like it that way.
Myth #10: Homosexuals are promiscuous. Some are; most are not. The same can be said of heterosexuals. In fact, almost anythinggood or badthat can be said about homosexuals can also be said of heterosexuals. Homosexuals are indistinguishable from heterosexuals except in whom they love and with whom they go to bed.
Viscount Waldorf Astor owned Britain's two most influential newspapers, The Times and the Observer, but his American wife, Nancy, had a wider circulation than both papers put together.
Myth #11: Homosexuals can't control their sex drives. When you consider how well most homosexuals have controlled not just their sex drives but their conversations, their innuendoes, and even their inferences for so many years, it seems as though homosexuals have remarkable control. If closeted gays have been able to keep their homosexuality secret from friends and co-workers, obviously, should they happen to stumble out of the closet, they can keep their sexual urges under control.
Myth #12: Gays are not fit for military service. All the reasons why gays shouldn't serve in the military boil down to one: the excessive prejudice of the heterosexuals against homosexuality would make the heterosexuals unfit for combat. The pro-prejudice group argues, "Wouldn't you be uncomfortable if some gay guy kept trying to hit on you?"
What the heterosexuals in the military are afraid of is that the gays in the militaryshould they be allowed to come outwould start hitting on the heterosexuals with the same levels of determination and deception that the heterosexual men hit on women. The heterosexual men, then, are afraid to be treated the way they treat women. Well, who can blame them? That gay men will behave as disreputably as straight men is an unfair projection on the part of straight men. Give the gays a chance. If some gays treat the straights the way the straights treat women, one can only quote: "What goes around, comes around."
As to gay women in the military, here's this herstorical tidbit from the June 21, 1993, issue of Newsweek:
General Dwight D. Eisenhower received some unsettling news while he was in occupied Germany after World War II. There were, he was told, a significant number of lesbians in his Women's Army Corps (WAC) command. He called in Sgt. Johnnie Phelps and ordered her to get a list of all the lesbians in the battalion. "We've got to get rid of them," he barked. Phelps said she'd check into it. But, she told the general, "when you get the list back, my name's going to be first." Eisenhower's secretary then interrupted. "Sir, if the general pleases, Sergeant Phelps will have to be second on the list, because mine will be first." Dumbfounded, Ike realized he'd lose many of his key personnel if he persisted. "Forget that order," he told Phelps.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Myth #13: Homosexuals spread AIDS. AIDS is a disease spread by unsafe sexual contact (primarily to the passive partner in intercourse), dirty hypodermic needles, contaminated blood transfusions, and from mother to child before birth. Gays have taken great care to educate their community, practice safe sex, and minister (in the true sense of the word) to those unfortunate enough to have caught the disease. Because most gays have changed their sexual activities and are now practicing safe sex, new infections in the gay community have leveled off. Meanwhile, infections are on the rise in the heterosexual community. The myth, "If you don't go to bed with someone gay you won't get AIDS," is hurting the heterosexual community more severely than it's hurting the homosexual community.
Worldwide, AIDS is primarily a heterosexual, not homosexual, disease. It is a sexually transmitted disease thatfor whatever reasonentered the gay community in the United States and stayed fairly contained there for a number of years. It is now spreading through the heterosexual community, and will continue to do so until heterosexuals realize that AIDS is not a "gay disease." Any sexually active personmale, female, gay, straightcan get it. If you have intercourse, use a condom. There's hardly a gay person in the country who does not know this rule of safe sex. Can the same be said of heterosexuals?
Leaving behind books is even more beautiful there are far too many children.
Further, 25 percent of the AIDS casesincluding almost all cases involving heterosexuals and childrenwere spread by or directly connected to dirty needles. If heroin or morphine were inexpensive, readily available, and sold in use-once syringes, do you think these 25 percent of AIDS cases would be suffering today?
Myth #14: AIDS is God's curse upon homosexuals. Crises bring out the best in peopleand the worst. They also bring out the best peopleand the worst. What can one say about ignorant, arrogant, politically active people who say things like, "AIDS is God's curse upon homosexuals"? I can remember the words of Jesus: "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do," but then I remember Jesus said that moments after he was nailed to the cross.
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