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Religious Homosexual Oppression

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Oppression based on race, sex and sexual orientation:

Over the past 150 years, there have been many groups who have sought the North American dream of "liberty and justice for all." Examples are:

* Americans African seeking an end to slavery.

* Women campaigning to get universal suffrage.

* And now, gays and lesbians are seeking the same equal rights and protections enjoyed by other groups, including the right to marry.

This final conflict over homosexuality is a little different from the two conflicts based on race and gender. Being an African-American or a woman was never considered a crime. But being a sexually active person with a homosexual orientation was, theoretically, a crime in 13 states until the middle of 2003. Being Black or female was never considered an unacceptable -- i.e. immoral -- state. But same-sex sexual behavior was considered "not acceptable" by most American adults until about 1998. It is obvious whether a person is Black or female. It is not obvious whether a person has a homosexual orientation. A gay or lesbian could stay in "the closet" and avoid discrimination. African-Americans and women could generally avoid hatred by restricting their behavior; gays and lesbians are often hated and oppressed because of their sexual orientation.

The "warfare" among science & religions:

Normally, there are minimal conflicts between scientists and theologians. They usually work in different areas of interest. Theologians are rarely interested in the tensile strength of steel. Scientists -- at work, at least -- are rarely interested in the soul, salvation, Heaven or Hell. But there are shared areas where both scientists and theologians promote their own beliefs. Often, these beliefs are in conflict.

As of 2003, the main areas of religious conflict are the origins of the universe, discipline of children through corporal punishment, and various human sexuality topics. Homosexuality is measurable and thus is a legitimate area for human sexuality researchers to study. They have generally concluded that adult human sexuality comes in three natural, normal, unchosen, and unchangeable orientations:

* Heterosexuality: Most are sexually attracted to members of the opposite gender.

* Homosexuality: A small minority of adults are attracted to members of the same gender.

* Bisexuality: A smaller minority are attracted to both men and women, but not necessarily to the same degree.

Homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible, in the Qur'an, in writings of the Baha'i Prophet Baha'u'llah, and in other texts considered sacred in various world religions. Thus, homosexuality is a legitimate area for theologians to study. "It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain." Francis Maude

Religious conservatives believe in the freedom of error -- the inerrancy -- of the Bible. They base their beliefs about homosexual behavior on their interpretation of biblical passages. They generally conclude that it is sinful, unnatural, abnormal, chosen and changeable behavior. "[Homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven." Jerry Falwell, a well known Fundamentalist Christian teleminister.

Religious liberals generally approach the Bible as a historical document rather than as the inerrant Word of God. They base their beliefs about homosexual orientation on their interpretation of the same biblical passages, and on general biblical themes of justice, love and acceptance. They also consider the findings of human sexuality researchers. They generally agree with scientists that homosexuality is a morally neutral, natural, normal, unchosen, and unchangeable orientation, just like heterosexuality. "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Anne Lamott

The Southern Baptist Convention, (along with other denominations within the conservative wing of Protestantism) and the United Church of Christ, (along with other liberal faith groups), all consider themselves to be Christians. They all use the contents of the Bible as a main foundation for their beliefs. Why have they reached such different conclusions concerning:

The morality or immorality of same-sex behavior; Whether sexually active homosexuals should be allowed as members or clergy; Whether loving same-sex committed couples should have their relationships recognized by a church ritual similar to a marriage ceremony. Whether same-sex committed couples should be allowed to marry in the church where it is legal to do so.

Understanding the different beliefs:

One approach to understanding this difference of opinion is to consider how each wing of Protestantism develops their religious beliefs. Whether expressed by Christian individuals or denominations, their convictions are mostly based on a blend of four factors. In the case of homosexuality, this involves. What the Bible actually says about homosexual behavior; the historical position of the denomination on homosexuality;

Personal observation and experience from one's involvement with homosexuals; and

Rational study -- the findings of researchers working in genetics, child psychology, human sexuality, etc.

It is important to realize that conservative and liberal Christians place different emphasis on the four factors. Generally speaking:

Conservatives rely mostly on the content of the Bible, as they interpret it to mean. "Sola Scriptura" ("Scripture alone") was one of the rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation. "Quod non est. biblicum, non est theologicum" ("What is not biblical is not theological") was one of its slogans. 1 They give far less emphasis to the findings of researchers. In this case, the findings of researchers are generally rejected because they conflict with their interpretation of the Bible. Relying on their interpretation of the Bible can be disastrous. Consider the debate over slavery in the mid 19th century. In those days, some denominations enthusiastically quoted biblical passages to support the owning of human slaves as pieces of property.

Liberals give far greater weight to the findings of scientific research, and are willing



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