Saturday, October 26, 2013

Homophobia, And Opposition To Homophobia, In Religion

There seems to be a lot of debate within religious institutions these days about non-heterosexuality. Or LGBT, as some people call it, which stands for: Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. Some people have added a fifth letter to the acronym LBGT, and in some cases, I think, maybe even a sixth or more. Which I find annoying. What we're talking about here is human rights for people who mate in ways other than the traditional hetero way. I'd rather just say "gay" and have it refer to all the LGBT etc etc, but alphabet soup seems to be the way the wind is blowing in this case. And acronyms aren't the main issue, the main issue, again, is human rights. Traditionally, Christians, Jews and Muslims have denied full status to LGBT's, sometimes have punished them severely for being who they are, and now that's changing in many institutions, and it's controversial.

I want LGBT's to have full rights. I want them to be allowed to marry like heteros if they want to, I don't want their career opportunities to be limited because of their sexuality, I don't want them to have to live in fear of violence from their fellow humans, or, worse, from the law enforcement organizations who are supposed to protect us all.

And so if a church or synagogue or mosque declares itself to be LGBT friendly, that's good, because, unfortunately, it's not as if our society is overflowing with institutions which welcome LGBT's unconditionally just yet. And this is where I part company with some of my fellow atheists, who simply refuse to see anything good in any religion. Well, it's part of the parting of company, because there are many other good things I see in religious institutions, from stained glass to charity work.

But in common with those other atheists, I still am critical of religion. Sorry. Even though I completely reject black-and-white, right-and-wrong worldviews which are blind to all the shades of grey everywhere, and those black-and-white attitudes most certainly include a lot of atheists who can't seem to come up with a more sophisticated approach to reality than religion-bad, atheism-good, I'm still an atheist. I still think it's ridiculous to base your life around one book, whether it's the Torah or the Christian Bible or the Quran, or even something really good like JR.

And I think it's perfectly plain that if you're a Christian, Jew or Muslim, you are basing your life around one book, even if you are determined to portray yourself as a sophisticated person who does no such thing. It may well be that you actually are a sophisticated person who claims to be religious but actually is way more sophisticated than that, and is not religious at all. That has been known to happen.

And I still think it's perfectly obvious that Christianity, Judaism and Islam have been emphatically and unanimously homophobic until recently, when they have undergone a great transformation and become partially emphatically homophobic. I think that it's as plain as can be that most of the stories of past ages of gay-friendly Abrahamic religions are pure myth, and that the few authentic exceptions, such as the partial lessening of strictness of sexual mores in Europe during the 12th century when very many of the most pious types were off in the Middle East fighting the Crusades and giving a great deal of the grief they traditionally give to their fellow Christians to Muslims and Jews and Eastern Christians instead -- I think it's as plain as can be that such episodes of partly-lessened intolerance in Christianity represent a lessening of the observance of Christianity, that they were anti-Christian. Which is exactly what some of those bawdy 12th-century troubadours said about it.

When these religious people these days welcome LGBT's and give them a place to belong, a place to be nurtured, to be unafraid to be themselves, that is thoroughly wonderful. When they claim that their welcoming of LGBT's is true Christianity, it's thoroughly ridiculous. If a Christian theologian who has studied Christian theology and history of all eras says it, then it involves denial of what he or she knows about that history on a scale which boggles my mind. Acceptance of LGBT's is at odds with all of Christian practice and doctrine until the past few decades, that is as clear as anything has ever been.

Once again we see how nothing at all can be clear enough for a religious believer who is determined not to see it, to see it. And so I have profoundly mixed feelings about the recent LGBT-friendly trend in the Abrahamic religions. Acceptance and love are good. Period. But illogic and doublethink are bad, period, and resistance to logic in one thing can and often does lead to resistance to logic in all things. And so if you welcome gays into your congregation I will support you, unconditionally. But if you try to tell me that this welcoming is in the true spirit of your religion and always has been, I will tell you that you are completely full of shit. That's how I roll.

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