Is Sex Morally Permissible? Religious Views
It has been said that the two most powerful drives in a human, besides the practical need for food and shelter, are sex and religion. The sexual urge is strong in nearly everyone, as advertisers of everything from chocolates to cars can tell you, and the urge to worship the divine (by whatever name) is also strongly present in many.
In early religions and Neo-Paganism, sex was celebrated as an affirmation of life. It was felt to be a foundational part of the order of the world and of human nature. Therefore, separating it from religion was unthinkable and a kind of contradiction in terms. Many who followed the teachings of Jesus were converts from Pagan religions that used heterosexual and homosexual activities as a means of worship. Religious Fundamentalists argue that sexual acts outside a marriage are immoral-even then sex is only to be used as a means for procreation and is not meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. Homosexuality, according to them, is an abomination that has always been condemned in the Bible. Fundamentalists are so devout in their religions they become blinded to any other interpretation of the Bible other than the literal views they believe. If this were not so, they might be more open to the fact that the words “homosexual” and “homosexuality” were not part of the Hebrew or Greek languages, because they were not coined until the 19th century. Therefore, it is impossible that the original scriptures contained words pertaining to something that did not exist. Such narrow-minded and hypocritical convictions cause the Fundamentalists to show a hardness of heart to love, compassion and service towards others—aspects that other religions embrace as their highest priorities. Reverend Peter Gomes strives to teach groups like Fundamentalists not to interpret the Bible literally—especially when abusing passages to condemn issues such as homosexuality. He asks of people, when reading the Bible, to ask not only what it says, but, “what did this mean when it was written,” and “what does it mean now?” because not many people realize that the Bible was written by hundreds of people at different time periods in languages that may no longer be used.
It’s groups such as the Fundamentalists who are quick to condemn homosexuals as sinners. Because they take passages so literally, it’s easy for them to discriminate against, and persecute gays and lesbians. Careful study will show that while the Bible does condemn homosexual and heterosexual prostitution, it says nothing about loving, committed homosexual relationships. Jesus himself never commented on homosexuality, which makes one wonder whose concern it really was.
Unfortunately, many bible passages are taken out of context, or interpreted without consideration for the cultural aspects associated with the time period in which they were written. Also, there are many versions of the Bible that reflect limited scientific knowledge, personal beliefs of the interpreters and social beliefs of the times they were written. Personal biases and societies prejudices have most certainly distorted the Bible’s many translations. For example: People use the passage about Sodom to condemn homosexuality as a sin because the townsmen wanted to rape two angels visiting Lot. By looking closer, one can see the men were not punished for homosexuality, but indeed for the sins of pride, greed, and idolatry of Babylonian and Canaanite gods. Nothing about homosexuality is mentioned—in fact, Lot offered the men his own two daughters—indicating that the men were heterosexuals wanting to inflict punishment in the form of rape upon the angels. In fact, homosexual rape was a common form of punishment when men wanted to prove their dominance or influence in any given situation. Also, passages from Leviticus are commonly used to denounce homosexuals even though the word homosexual doesn’t appear anywhere. This was actually a code of Holiness used as a ritual manual for Islamic priests. Christians are not bound by these rules and rituals, and if they insist on using these passages to attack homosexuals they are also bound by the other rules and rituals therein described. It forbids:
-Sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual cycle
-Wearing clothing made of more than one cotton blend
-Men cutting their hair or shaving their beards
This code also endorses polygamy and requires Saturday to be the holy day. Obviously it is unfair to condemn homosexuality, while ignoring the fact that most Christians do not follow the rest of the rules outlined in the Holiness Code of Leviticus.
Although there’s a lot of negative feedback because of negative images of sex in the Bible, Episcopalians have been ordaining gay and lesbian priests since the 1970s, Presbyterians and Catholics are now adopting moderate views on homosexuality and many other mainstream religions are becoming aware of changes needed in their preaching due to the continuous sexual revolution. I’m aware that some may think that all homosexuals are bound for Hell, but I’m hoping some day people will be able to live their lives without being judged for their actions of love.
The Bible. Sects, Cults, & Alternative Religions-David V. Barrett. Sex and Morality in the U.S.- aLBERT d. kLASSEN, Colin J. Williams, and Eugene E. Lewis.