Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Stop the Homophobic Insanity

I'm reading the Jamaican Observer. Someone writes a letter to the editor. He's outraged that good people in his country and beyond are concerned with the unchecked violence against perceived gays and lesbians in Jamaica. He says that Jamaica has the right to deny human rights to its gay and lesbian citizens. He says that no one in Jamaica or beyond can "push" homosexuality "down the throats" of average Jamaicans. He suggests that violence against gay Jamaicans is a reasonable response to their hatred of the idea of same gender love and attraction. And finally, he even invokes the bible to justify his hatred. He says that the bible condemns homosexuality and that St. Paul even devotes a whole chapter to slamming gays. His ignorance is eclipsed only by his arrogance. My blood begins to boil with righteous indignation.

"The bible" is not a unified document. Its a collection of books. It has many authors. It covers a period of more than a thousand years. Not a single original copy of any of its texts is in existence today. The bible was written in ancient languages and must be both translated and interpreted for it to make any sense to most people. Not a single biblical author spoke out against slavery and every single one believed the world was flat. Not one person in the bible knew how babies are "made." To blame any prejudice on the bible is absurd.

To make the homophobic editorial even more disturbing, St. Paul did not write an entire chapter condemning homosexuality. I can only assume he is referring to the first chapter of Romans in the New Testament. In that bizarre chapter, Paul says that people who worship "idols" are being punished by being zapped gay by God. In that passage, homosexuality isn't the sin, its the punishment for worshipping improperly. That's Paul's logic. Any sane person today would surely disagree with Paul, but even if one totally agreed with Paul the fact remains - homosexuality isn't the offense, its the punishment for the offense of idolatry!

We've learned a lot since the last half of the first century when Paul was writing. We understand human sexuality differently than he did. We don't think that homosexuality is a disorder nor do we think its the punishment from a jealous god who can't tolerate anyone worshiping other gods. Its just part of the diversity of life. Same-gender love and attraction is normal for a significant percentage of the population. Genuine and mutual love couldn't possibly offend a just god or a rational person. To blame homophobic prejudice on the bible or God is beyond silly. It's unforgivable.

If the bible said on every single page, "Gay is bad," that still wouldn't justify dehumanizing gay people or targeting them for abuse. And, if the bible said on every single page, "Gay is bad," thinking people of conscience and compassion would certainly be free to disagree. To reduce God to an excuse for hating others is to render God totally irrelevant and meaningless. It is to make God into the deity of hatred and ignorance, an idol to intolerance. And that's what St. Paul devoted most of a chapter condemning.

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