This paper is a paper I wrote for a Women Studies Class at Towson University entitled: Christian Sexual Ethics. The class was an interdisciplinary class in which Christianity and its ethical beliefs on sex were explored starting from Paul to the New Evangelical Abstinence Movement. The essay will be broken up into two sections on my blog.
Part 2: LGBTQ+ and Christian America
DISCLAIMER: As I am not a women nor a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I wish not to put a straight male face on the forefront of a movement that does not implicitly belong to me, but I wish only to add to the bulk of work of a pulsing community and critique commonly held Christian beliefs in order for the world to be a better, safer place for all.
The LGBTQ community’s mainstream battle for equality in the Christian community is one of justice. Their battle is one of civil rights, tied the freedom of being capable of expressing themselves as equal beings, socially and sexually. Homosexual love is not to be disdain and reprobated; it is to be accepted for what it truly is – love. But, homosexual love is a love that has received hatred by global, national, and local communities and this form of hatred must also be understood for what it truly is – vile and despicable discrimination. One of the main reasons dissent towards homosexuality is immoral because it is discriminatory. If discrimination towards people of color, low socio-economic status, and gender is deemed unconstitutional or unethical, then the same principle must be given to homosexuals. In a country that prides itself on freedom and equality, discrimination must be obliterated in all ways, shapes, and forms. “I have learned that sexism and heterosexism both arise from the same source as racism,” Audre Lorde says in There is No Hierarchy of Oppressions. The passionate struggle that comes from the fight for equal rights among the color lines and the gender lines is the same fight that must be had across the lines of sexual orientation if there is to be an end to oppression across the board. For discrimination has had adverse effects not only upon the lives of the oppressed, but also upon the lives of the oppressors as Audre warns, “And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you” (There is No Hierarchy of Oppression).
Some of the main arguments for the immorality of homosexuality result from arguments debating that homosexuality is not natural, and that homosexuality goes against what the bible says. Margaret Farley speaks of this when she says, “It [homosexuality] has been variously construed as a crime against nature, a sin against God, inherited physiological degeneration, and psychological illness;” and interesting enough she concludes by saying, “but also – at some point in time, including the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries – as a special gift, or as a simply an alternative orientation of human sexual desire” (Farley, 283). The argument contending that homosexuality is not natural, therefore it is not good, is illogical; for even if it was “not natural”, who is to say that our natural state is any good? Morality and laws exist for the purpose of controlling human nature (natural desires that in its remotest form is pure survival) or for the protection and security of human rights (rights that are not naturally created, but socially created). To naturally desire survival does not equate to an ultimate “good” therefore, it does not equate to a valid argument for the unethical nature of homosexuality. However, the naturalness or unnaturalness of homosexuality does not even matter. What matters is simply the humanity of the individuals who identify themselves as homosexual. It is a moral good to extend the general moral ethic, “Do unto others as you would wish to have done to yourself,” onto homosexuals and the entire LGBTQ community as well regardless of the natural or unnaturalness of the orientation.
Denying rights to homosexuals also comes from Christian rhetoric, “I can love the sinner, but not the sin,” – “If we were supposed to be homosexual, God would have created Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve,” is a couple of the many phrases used by Christians to demean the LGBTQ community along with simply, “God hates Fags,” and bible verses like, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Professor Douglas speaks of the use of the latter method when she says, “By invoking biblical authority they place a sacred canopy, a divine sanction, over their views toward gay and lesbian persons” (Douglas, 90). However, even under the pre-supposition of biblical authority, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is not absolutely supported by the bible and it is still unethical. First reason for this logic is the difference in historical and current understanding of the meaning behind “homosexuality.” “The few texts that appear to refer to homosexuality offer problems of interpretation – whether because of ambiguity in the use of rhetorical devices and specific terms, or disparity between the meaning of same-sex relationships in the historical context of Paul and the meaning we assume for same-sex relationships today,” Farley says (Farley, 274). This ambiguity blurs the “definitiveness” of homosexuality being immoral by calling into question our current understandings of “homosexuality” and historical understandings of “homosexuality.” For if there is a difference in interpretation and the bible does not forbid homosexual practices as we understand them today, then all discrimination would be currently and biblically unjust. For example, generally contemporary Christians would assume that American slavery was unjust and non-biblical. Nevertheless, the bible does justify slavery saying [sticking with the New Testament], “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,” (Ephesians 6:5). However, if you bring up this ironic contradiction between the bible and current understandings, most Christians will say, “Slavery during biblical times was different than slavery in America,” inferring that the past slavery was fine, but the new slavery was not right. The misinterpretation of the biblical meaning of “slavery” like the potential misinterpretation of the biblical meaning of “homosexual” are indicators that interpretive mistakes have been made in the past to justify oppression and can be reconsidered and redefined by the Christian community.
Finally, even if Paul writes that homosexuality is wrong, and Leviticus writes that homosexuality is wrong, Jesus has said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Therefore even if the Christian ideal is that homosexuality is wrong, it is not the job of the Christian people to cast their stones against the “sinner” – it is the job of God and God alone. Thus far, these arguments are all under Christian pre-suppositions, however, there is a separation of church and state and this separation calls and requires that our country is not run by religion, but by the state made up of the people. The people who are Christian, lesbians, gay, bi, queer, and transgender, all of whom deserve their human right to practice consensual sex, marry, and love as they please.
In conclusion, the world of sex has changed. It has become an existential exploration of others, of connection, and of love. It has become an act where consent must be given and diversity must be accepted in order to foster peaceful and non-oppressive standards. Marriage nor love is no longer needed for sex, consent is needed. Heterosexism is no longer justified and permitted, it is abominable and disgusting. The sexual sins of the past has been baptized anew into this new breed of free-thinking and free love where a man can lay with a man like he would with a women without discrimination and hatred and a women can show her body and freedom without fear of being coerced into sex. This is the new sexual ethic – one of consent, love, acceptance, and understanding.