Thursday, June 19, 2014

Conservative Christians versus Homosexuals

It is primary election season once again.  Time for the Republican (aka Conservative Christian) candidates to to try to surpass each other with the usual anti-gay vitriol.  This time around, the bar has been set quite high by Oklahoma's Scott Esk, who, in a Facebook conversation during 2013, had called for homosexuals to be executed.  He quoted the usual scriptures from Romans 1 and Leviticus 20, and wrote:
Adam asked about the fitness to judge others.  That right was given in verses like Leviticus 20:13.  Men were commanded to put to guilty parties to death who were guilty of certain acts, like homosexuality.  Laws to put people to death who were guilty of such practices have been in existence in various countries in Jesus' time and afterwards, too.  If men wink at such perversions, God may have no choice than to judge such nations with calamities.   

Mr. Esk remarked further:

I would hope that libertarians who don’t think perversion should be punished in any way between consenting adults would be open-minded and look at the different results between a state that ignores it and one that punishes it severely. And within a state, cities and communities may well have different policies, and I cheer that. That way, people can decide for themselves whether they want to live in a particular community based in part on how things like this are dealt with.

Well, that does sound like good Libertarian fun.  In a recent follow-up interview about these comments, Mr. Esk stated:
What I will tell you right now is that that was done in the Old Testament, under a law that came directly from God.  And in that time, it was totally just.  It came directly from God.  I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law.  I do have some huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.  I think that those kinds of sins will not do our country any good, and certainly doesn't do anything to preserve the family.  
 Mr. Esk seems actually to have outshone the Texas Republican Platform on homosexuality:
Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples.  We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.  Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.  We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.  No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
While the Texans don't specifically call for state executions of homosexuals, they do "oppose criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values."  Presumably, if a mob of Texans, who opposed homosexuality out of faith, decided to murder a practitioner of homosexuality, then the Texas Republicans would oppose any criminal or civil penalties against any member of the mob.  Particularly if it were a faith-filled church mob, that sang sacred hymns and recited holy prayers during the lynching.

The Republican obsession with homosexuality is an obvious form of sexual objectification.  And, not the good kind of sexual objectification, where women doll themselves up, or sculpt their bikini bodies, to elicit the Patriarchal gaze.

For the Republicans, the homosexual fixation represents a form of sexual objectification that is much more dark and sinister.  The Republicans are projecting their own repressed homosexual urges outward, and directly onto relatively defenseless people.  Quite a LOT of Republican politicians, who built their careers around vociferously attacking homosexuals, have turned out to be flaming queers themselves.

If you look at Mr. Esk's photo above, he pretty much has G-A-Y written all over his face.  From his voice and mannerisms, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he kept some of his ex-wife's underwear to wear around the the house.  By vilifying open homosexuals, people are, of course, seeking to come out of the experience feeling redeemed, and better about themselves.  For the Conservative Christians, open homosexuals serve the role of the scapegoat described in Leviticus 16:
When Aaron has finished performing the ritual to purify the Most Holy Place, the rest of the Tent of the Lord's presence, and the altar, he shall present to the Lord the live goat chosen for Azazel.  He shall put both of his hands on the goat's head and confess over it all the evils, sins, and rebellions of the people of Israel, and so transfer them to the goat's head. Then the goat is to be driven off into the desert by someone appointed to do it. The goat will carry all their sins away with him into some uninhabited land.
The Christians who subscribe to this mentality, however, are missing the point of their religion, as described in Romans 3:
God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence. But by the free gift of God's grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in him.
In principle, a Christian possesses no need to project his own shortcomings onto anyone but Jesus, who suffered and died for him already.  There is no more need to cause anyone else to suffer, or even for an animal to be sacrificed.  Jesus took care of it.  John states in the second chapter of his first letter: "Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but the sins of everyone."  Moreover, consider Luke 18:

Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, "I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income."  But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, "God, have pity on me, a sinner!"  I tell you,the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.
Christians who declare themselves to be in any way superior to--or holier than--anyone else (including tax collectors and open homosexuals) are in desperate need of humbling, provided they possess the least interest in being "in the right with God."

Regarding the death penalty for male homosexuality: the Bible contains no record of anyone ever being executed for this crime.  The Torah says nothing against female homosexuality, so Lesbians must have a pass.  The Bible does, however, contain a record of a man who was executed for having picked up sticks during the Sabbath.  Numbers 15:
Once, while the Israelites were still in the wilderness, a man was found gathering firewood on the Sabbath.  He was taken to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community, and was put under guard, because it was not clear what should be done with him.  Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must be put to death; the whole community is to stone him to death outside the camp.”  So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord had commanded.    
Clearly, the ancient Israelites were just as badass as the Islamic Jihadists and Conservative Christians are today.  Judaism, though, particularly since the Roman era, has evolved into a much more peaceful, civilized religion.  Israel has executed no-one since Adolf Eichmann in 1962, and only executed one other poor chap, Meir Tobianski, in 1948.    Still, if Conservative Christians are truly concerned with a conservative view of Biblical morality, then why aren't they as concerned with Sabbath desecration as they are with homosexuality?  Making it into what is popularly called the Decalogue is the following:
Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work—neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
You see people publicly desecrating the Sabbath all over the place, but I doubt if anyone in the Republican Party even gives a hoot.  All that they ever want to think about all day is homosexuality.  As if buggery were the central theme of the religion.  Homosexuality isn't even mentioned in the Ten Commandments.  After the Torah, the topic doesn't come up again until David and Jonathan.  David not only had a fairly large number of wives and concubines, but was a notorious adulterer.  He was very fond of women.  But, just what did David mean when, in speaking of Jonathan (2 Samuel 1), he said "How wonderful was you love for me, better even than the love of women?"  Observe 1 Samuel 20:
And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, "Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot." And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.

And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, "Is not the arrow beyond thee?"  And Jonathan cried after the lad, "Make speed, haste, stay not." And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.  But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.  And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, "Go, carry them to the city."

And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

And Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.'"
 Other than the Song of Solomon, the Bible doesn't get a whole lot sexier than that.  Heck, David was known to cut loose and dance with all his might, while wearing nothing but a linen loin cloth.

When we come to the Gospels, here is what Jesus thinks about the Sabbath laws (Matthew 12):
Not long afterward Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick heads of wheat and eat the grain. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!”
 Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he and his men were hungry?  He went into the house of God, and he and his men ate the bread offered to God, even though it was against the Law for them to eat it—only the priests were allowed to eat that bread.  Or have you not read in the Law of Moses that every Sabbath the priests in the Temple actually break the Sabbath law, yet they are not guilty? I tell you that there is something here greater than the Temple. The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Jesus left that place and went to a synagogue, where there was a man who had a paralyzed hand. Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong, so they asked him, “Is it against our Law to heal on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered, “What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will you not take hold of it and lift it out? And a human being is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out, and it became well again, just like the other one. Then the Pharisees left and made plans to kill Jesus.
Note the logic: David did it, so it was okay.  Moreover, keeping the Sabbath holy was a Commandment.  Not engaging in homosexuality was never a Commandment.  Heuristically, if David and Jonathan could play kissy-face until David exceeded, and swore that the Lord would be between their seed forever, then whatever it is that modern Sodomites do to each other should be okay.  Moreover, consider what Jesus says in Mark 7:  “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. There is nothing that goes into you from the outside which can make you ritually unclean. Rather, it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean.”  Jesus did say nothing: which would presumably include another man's ejaculant.

The Conservative Christians are always talking about executing (or otherwise chastising) homosexuals, but never seem to get bent out of shape about adulterers.  Perhaps more of them are tempted by adultery than by homosexuality.  Adultery (i.e., a man participating in sexual relations with a woman who was married or engaged to another man) was prohibited by both Law and Commandment.  Deuteronomy 22:
Suppose a man marries a young woman and later he decides he doesn't want her. So he makes up false charges against her, accusing her of not being a virgin when they got married.
If this happens, the young woman's parents are to take the blood-stained wedding sheet that proves she was a virgin, and they are to show it in court to the town leaders. Her father will say to them, "I gave my daughter to this man in marriage, and now he doesn't want her. He has made false charges against her, saying that she was not a virgin when he married her. But here is the proof that my daughter was a virgin; look at the bloodstains on the wedding sheet!"  Then the town leaders are to take the husband and beat him.  They are also to fine him a hundred pieces of silver and give the money to the young woman's father, because the man has brought disgrace on an Israelite woman. Moreover, she will continue to be his wife, and he can never divorce her as long as he lives.

But if the charge is true and there is no proof that she was a virgin, then they are to take her out to the entrance of her father's house, where the men of her city are to stone her to death. She has done a shameful thing among our people by having intercourse before she was married, while she was still living in her father's house. In this way you will get rid of this evil.

If a man is caught having intercourse with another man's wife, both of them are to be put to death. In this way you will get rid of this evil.

Suppose a man is caught in a town having intercourse with a young woman who is engaged to someone else. You are to take them outside the town and stone them to death. She is to die because she did not cry out for help, although she was in a town, where she could have been heard. And the man is to die because he had intercourse with someone who was engaged. In this way you will get rid of this evil.

Suppose a man out in the countryside rapes a young woman who is engaged to someone else. Then only the man is to be put to death;  nothing is to be done to the woman, because she has not committed a sin worthy of death. This case is the same as when one man attacks another man and murders him.  The man raped the engaged woman in the countryside, and although she cried for help, there was no one to help her.

Suppose a man is caught raping a young woman who is not engaged.  He is to pay her father the bride price of fifty pieces of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he forced her to have intercourse with him. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

No man is to disgrace his father by having intercourse with any of his father's wives.
 Rape and adultery were essentially property crimes.  But, how did Jesus react when a woman was caught in adultery?  John 8:
Early the next morning he went back to the Temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and began to teach them.  The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?”  They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger.  As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.”  Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground.  When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there.  He straightened up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”

“No one, sir,” she answered.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either."
 If Jesus was cool with a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, then how unreasonable could he be with homosexuals?  Mr. Esk also cited the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans:
God's anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known. God punishes them, because what can be known about God is plain to them, for God himself made it plain. Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all!  They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. They say they are wise, but they are fools; instead of worshiping the immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortals or birds or animals or reptiles.
And so God has given those people over to do the filthy things their hearts desire, and they do shameful things with each other. They exchange the truth about God for a lie; they worship and serve what God has created instead of the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever! Amen.

Because they do this, God has given them over to shameful passions. Even the women pervert the natural use of their sex by unnatural acts. In the same way the men give up natural sexual relations with women and burn with passion for each other. Men do shameful things with each other, and as a result they bring upon themselves the punishment they deserve for their wrongdoing.

Because those people refuse to keep in mind the true knowledge about God, he has given them over to corrupted minds, so that they do the things that they should not do. They are filled with all kinds of wickedness, evil, greed, and vice; they are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deceit, and malice. They gossip and speak evil of one another; they are hateful to God, insolent, proud, and boastful; they think of more ways to do evil; they disobey their parents; they have no conscience; they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or pity for others.  They know that God's law says that people who live in this way deserve death. Yet, not only do they continue to do these very things, but they even approve of others who do them.
I've bolded the part that Mr. Esk quoted.  Shame on Mr. Esk.  He removed a chunk of Paul's words, to make it seem that Paul was calling for homosexuals to be executed, and ignored the bit about wickedness, evil, greed, jealously, murder, fighting, deceit, malice, gossiping, speaking evil of one another, being hateful to God, insolence, pride, boastfulness, thinking of more ways to do evil, disobeying one's parents, having no conscience, not keeping promises, and showing no kindness or pity for others.  According to Paul, people who commit any of these things deserve death: not just homosexuals.  A bit of wickedness, deceit and malice on Mr. Esk's part, there.  As Mr. Esk shows no kindness or pity for homosexuals, Mr. Esk also deserves death.

Paul's letter to the Romans seems to be the first Biblical mention of Lesbianism (although the story of Ruth and Naomi has continued to elicit a certain amount of speculation and gossip).  King Solomon had a personal copulation cabinet consisting of no fewer than 700 wives and 300 concubines.  While the King may have taken great pleasure in trying to service all of them on his own, a typical harem member might have gone years, or even decades, between royal refreshments.  Even in modern harems, women are secluded in the seraglio, and contact with men outside of the family is largely prevented.  Would King Solomon have had a problem with any of his wives or concubines engaging in a bit of tribadism or cunnilingus?  Since no penis would have been involved, there would have been no adultery.  Lady bonobos commit tribadism with each other about every two hours.  The act itself is perfectly natural.  At least in America, women are much more likely than men to report interest and participation in homosexual and bisexual activities.

I'll bet that even Mr. Esk enjoys watching Lesbian pornography.  As for the men burning with passion for each other: well, this was ancient Rome.

Paul was generally known to be something of a killjoy.  He was an asexual (who regarded his asexuality as a gift from God), and preferred that others also remain celibate.  It was with some degree of resignation that he concluded that it was "better to marry than to burn."  1 Corinthians 7:
A man does well not to marry.  But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is.  Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control.

I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a permission.  Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift.

Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do.  But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry—it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband;  but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.
Note that Paul presents his statements concerning marriage as merely his own opinions on the subject: not as commands attributable to God.  The Lord (Jesus) only commands that a wife must not leave her husband, and that a husband must not divorce his wife.  As mentioned in a previous post, socially-imposed monogamy had been established in Greek and Roman culture centuries before the advent of Christianity.  Some Jews who continue to live in Islamic countries still practice polygyny.  Paul was obviously tailoring this particular message to a Gentile audience. 

Regarding Mr. Esk's statement that "if men wink at such perversions, God may have no choice than to judge such nations with calamities": that's just plain silly and superstitious.  Executing homosexuals is not going to prevent an earthquake, hurricane, or other natural disaster.  Most people no longer practice human sacrifice.  As already mentioned, for the Christians, Jesus' stint on the cross already took care of everyone's need for atonement.  No-one is going to gain anything, or stop any natural disaster from occurring, by crucifying anyone else.

Concerning Mr. Esk's "hope that libertarians who don’t think perversion should be punished in any way between consenting adults would be open-minded and look at the different results between a state that ignores it and one that punishes it severely": well, the Nazis punished homosexuals quite severely.  Maybe that is the sort of society that Mr. Esk aspires to build, but I certainly wouldn't want any part of it.  Iran publicly hangs homosexuals (and other people) on a regular basis.   Just how "open minded" does Mr. Esk want his libertarian friends to be?

With regard to the Texas Republican statement: "We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle": the Nazis developed a system for reparative therapy, of which some of the Republicans might approve:
Because some Nazis believed homosexuality was a sickness that could be cured, they designed policies to "cure" homosexuals of their "disease" through humiliation and hard work. Guards ridiculed and beat homosexual prisoners upon arrival, often separating them from other inmates. Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, wrote in his memoirs that homosexuals were segregated in order to prevent homosexuality from spreading to other inmates and guards. Personnel in charge of work details in the Dora-Mittelbau underground rocket factory or in the stone quarries at Flossenb├╝rg and Buchenwald often gave deadly assignments to homosexuals.
If some people want to change their sexual orientation, from gay to straight of from straight to gay, then fine.  Humiliation and hard work might do the trick. But, the government (including the Republican Party) seems much more bent on turning straight people gay, than the other way around, through the federal and state prison systems.  The USA has the world's highest incarceration rate, with millions of people confined together in single-gender, over-crowded prisons.  Of course homosexuality is rampant. It is quite hypocritical to be, on the one hand, so critical of homosexuality, while, on the other, forcing millions of people into a homosexual lifestyle.

I think that what Mr. Esk and the Republican Party need to do is to get on their hands and knees, humble themselves, and pray to God for the forgiveness of their own sins.  Let God take care of judging the supposed sins of others.  They wouldn't stop any earthquakes, but they might make America a more tolerable place to live.