A Follow Up Post On Gays And Christianity

In reply to this post I wrote about a bishop of the Anglican church’s claims that those Christians who accept homosexuality do not share the same faith as him and that such people are being rolled over by “cultural trends,” came this passionate defense of Christian leaders’ right to discriminate against gays in the comments section:

Why is this so offensive to the homosexual community? If you want to be a part of the religion then you have to accept its doctrines. Or else youre simply not a part of the religion. Even the Devil believes in God, right? I dont get what the homosexual communities issue is. If you aim to change the religion then you’d might as well abandon it or create your own occult practice, because that is just as good as changing the one that is there. Im sorry that you feel unaccepted. But it is what it is. Accept the religion for what it is or dont accept it at all… why the religious intolerance? Is that not hypocritical of you? What are you accomplishing by mutilating a religion and its beliefs just so that you can be accepted into it? Would that help to validate you? Would it help you to feel better and sleep better at night? You might be able to force societies and laws to change, but you cannot force a religion. A religion is by definition spiritual, transcendental. God has spoken, right? The law-setter. No amount of petitioning will change Gods mind. If you dont accept that then you dont believe in the faith. What more is there for you to do?

Thanks for your reply, Cogito.

There are several issues.

1. For one thing to treat someone’s views on homosexuality as the arbiter of whether or not you “share the same faith” as this bishop does is a real stretch. I studied church history, there’s nothing in the Apostle’s Creed or the Council of Nicea about homosexuality. It’s not exactly a historical test of Christian orthodoxy. That opposition to gays is rapidly becoming the litmus test of Christianity says more about contemporary biblical literalism and fundamentalism than the history of the Christian churches.

2. If you take the time to watch this excellent speech by Gene Robinson to which I linked earlier or read this Newsweek article or the three books referred to in this post about the possibility of an outright homophilic reading of the Bible, you will see that interpreting what “God says about homosexuality in the Bible” is a lot harder than fundamentalists simplistically posit.

3. If all that sophisticated historical contextualization sounds too much like rationalization to you and you want to read the Bible in a straight up literalistic way, then you really should take to heart all of what the Bible literally says about what our sexual mores should be. For that, I encourage you to take a look at this biblically literal video, which shows just how obscenely ridiculous and appallingly ethically clueless sexual ethics in the Bible literally are:

4. The point I made in my post was that even if the Bishop were correct biblically or ethically, his flippant dismissal of a serious moral disagreement on the other side shows what contempt he has for everyone who does not share his arbitrary faith or his contestable reading of his religious texts.

As a secularist myself I find the religious arrogance that thinks the only serious ethical thinking happens when one rejects reason and makes authoritarian claims on behalf of God insulting.

5. Demanded by religious teaching or not, it is harmful to well past the point of unethical to demand an entire segment of the population to either be celibate or to try to change their natural pair-bond orientation in order to gain the social, economic, political, religious, and other institutional forms of respect for them and their relationships that everyone else enjoys.

If there is such a God who created people this way in order to force them into a choice between (1) being in a loveless miserable marriage, or (2) being ostracized, or (3) being left to die alone and celibate, then he’s pretty simply a sick bastard not worthy of worship.

But for those of us who actually reason about morality instead of take it on the authoritarian word of others who claim to speak for God, it’s a much more likely moral inference that anyone claiming such a ludicrously unfair arrangement is God’s will is expressing their own homophobia rather than the will of a God.

6. A religion does not need to be interpreted in terms of divine command theory the way you do. There are some who rationalistically assume that an immoral God would not be God or that even if there were such a being his decrees would not be just simply because he declares it so and he is more powerful than us. You call that “spiritual” and “transcendental” but all such an arrangement would be is a tyranny of “might makes right” which makes a mockery of reason and morality.

Faced with the choice to believe in a tyrant God who creates a morality at odds with our actual natures (where in the case of the gays, this means their sexual love-orientation) and a God who affirms the virtues of love wherever they are found (be they in gays or straights, in romantic love or in other kinds), many of those who believe that God by definition must be good find the latter a more rational inference.

While I don’t think we can or should talk at all as though we know any god to exist or to be probable and while I think all talk about the “spiritual which goes beyond our reason” is just  empty words—-nonetheless the view that an ideally good being cannot be a mere tyrant but act in ways that comprehensibly accord with our moral intuitions is at least more coherent a concept than the God which you are speculating exists.

7.  A high proportion of homosexuals are religious believers too,as recently confirmed by the major conservative Christian polling outfit the Barna Group. As gay Catholic Andrew Sullivan has passionately argued, it’s his church too. To assume the church belongs to the homophobes and those cruelly indifferent to the plight of gays is only to beg the question in their favor. That it rightfully belongs to them is not at all clear just because they currently have strangleholds on most of the reins of power.  As I argue in this post, Christianity is an amorphous set of historical traditions, capable of continued reinterpretation.  Christians, including gay ones, are free to redefine Christianity in accord with whatever more sophisticated ethical lens that they want. And, if my apostate’s opinion matters at all, I’d prefer they chose the most humane and ethically progressive interpretation possible if they at all can.

And there is even an entire directory of gay churches trying to do this.  Here’s the atheist transgendered blogger at Haunted Timber on the transformative effect visiting such a church had on her ability to see anything positive in religion:

My friend introduced me to a local LGBT church in Minneapolis. She and I attended the church for several months and got to know some of the people there. It was the first time in my life that I experienced a community of religious people that felt vibrant, healthy, and free of bigotry. The experience changed how I view religion. I spent much of that summer reading about liberal sects of Christianity and their philosophies. I was surprised by what I found and I have grown as a consequence of the experience. I started to let go of the hatred and prejudice that I once felt against Christianity. I now realize that there is much more to religion than the horrors of my childhood, the narrow views of my family, and the scary specter of the Religious Right.

There are plenty of terrible things to focus upon when it comes to most religions. If that is all you focus upon, then surely, that is what you shall see.  I’ve been trying my best to embrace this realization. I accept that organized spirituality doesn’t have to be grounded in hatred and intolerance. It can be so much more… and in many churches and religious organizations, it is.

8. There’s nothing “hypocritical” about what you call my “religious intolerance.” I expect my ideas to be assessed by commonly accessible standards of reason—appeals to logic, experience, a priori intuitions, defensible moral categories, etc. I judge religious opinions no differently. They get no special respect for being “religious,” I criticize them as harshly and under the same rubrics with which I assess any other claims to abstract knowledge or moral wisdom.

There is no special unfairness involved and no special tolerance involved. If a religious group wants to attempt to ostracize, belittle, and demonize a vulnerable segment of society, I have every moral right to criticize that group and root for its loss of power, out of the hope that the sway of its pernicious ideas and harmful practices will be diminished.

There’s nothing unfair about that.  I’m happy to subject all harmful organizations and belief systems to that same standard be they religious or secular institutions.

Be sure to read the excellent comments below this post and then to read my follow up post in reply to one of the commentators: Gays and Christianity 3: If God Exists and Is Good, He Cannot Oppose Gay Love

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • craftlessculture

    This also assumes that the Christian tradition is rigid in both its morality and its reading of Scripture, which is laughable. For the leader of the Anglican communion, a church literally founded on a divorce, to talk about the rigidity of sexual/family morality in religious life is absurd.

    Alteration and discussion, in this response, are depicted as “mutilation” of a religion. This assumes a purity to the original tradition. But what if that purity is an illusion to begin with?

    • Dan Fincke

      “For the leader of the Anglican communion, a church literally founded on a divorce, to talk about the rigidity of sexual/family morality in religious life is absurd.”

      Touche!

    • VorJack

      “For the leader of the Anglican communion, a church literally founded on a divorce, to talk about the rigidity of sexual/family morality in religious life is absurd.”

      Back when I was an Episcopalian, my vicar had a poster on her wall with the classic picture of Henry VIII. The caption read, “In a church started by a man with eight wives, forgiveness goes without saying.” I thought that was fun.

      It goes a bit farther, though. The figurehead of the Anglican church has always been the ruling monarch. The royal family has generally not be known for their marital fidelity, yet the church usually maintains a nod-n-wink acceptance of the fact.

      Then there’s the sticky problem of polygamists in Africa wanting to join the church and bring their multiple wives with them. The church has been amazingly flexible in allowing these people in the door.

    • http://www.collings-bakker.com John Collings
    • Charles G. Parker 3r

      ELI’AS THE REDEEMER LAW’S OF GOD, THE CREATOR OF ALL CREATION. MURDER, CURSE, ADULTRY, LUST, SWEAR, EQUAL SINS. JUDGE NO MAN, LAW OF OATH. FORGIVENESS, LAW OF NONRESISTANCE TO HELP OTHERS. LAW OF LOVE, BEING PERFECT. LAW OF ALMS, FOR NO REASON. LAW OF PRAYER, TO BE PRIVATE. GOD’S PRAYER, MATHEW 6:9-13. LAW OF FASTING, WASHING HEAD AND FACE. LAW OF MONEY OR MAMMAM, NOT TREASURE OF THE HEART. LAW OF PUDENCE, SHOWING BITTERNESS. RELATIONSHIPS TO OTHERS, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. LAW OF PROPHETS, SAY AND DO, GREAT WORKS. LIKE WISE MEN, OF JESUS’S BIRTH. PROOF OF FAITH, BELIEVE OR WITHOUT QUESTION. LAW OF PARDON, UNCONDITIONAL FORGIVENESS.
      ——————————————————————————–

      ——————————————————————————–
      BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST AND MUHAMMAD. FROM THE CREATOR, HIS MOTHER MARY.ESPOUSED TO JOSEPH, BEFORE THEY CAME. BOTH WERE SON OF GOD, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. MARY BRINGS,THE SON OF GOD. JESUS IS TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM THIER SINS. A VIRGIN WITH CHILD, TO BRING A SON. EMMAN’UEL MEANS, GOD WITH US. BAPTISED WITH WATER, FOR REPENTANCE. MIGHTY IS GOD,HE COMES AFTER US. MIGHTER IS HE, THE SHOES I AM NOT WORTHY TO BEAR. GOD WILL BAPTIST YOU, WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE FIRE. SUFFER NOW, HE COMES TO FULLFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS, IT IS WRITTEN. MAN SHALL NOT LIVE, BY BREAD ALONE. EVERY WORD, IS THE MOUTH OF GOD. JESUS SAID, IT IS WRITTEN. THE DICEIVER WILL TEMPT, THE ANOINTED PROPETS OF GOD. JESUS TOLD OF THE DECEIVER, WRITTEN BEFORE. WORSHIP GOD, WILL YOU SERVE HIM? THE CREATOR OF ALL CREATION. JESUS PREACHED, REPENTANCE.THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND, FOLLOW HIM. YOU WILL BE ANOINTED, PROPHETS. JESUS WENT AROUND TEACHING, IN THE SINAGOGUES. PREACHING THE GOSPEL,OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. HEALED ALL MANNER, SIN. HE WALKED THE EARTH, TO FORGIVE. HE THAT FOLLOWED HIM, THE DECIPLES ARE THE ANOINTED PROPHETS. BLESSED ARE THE BELIEVERS. THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MORN,THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED. BLESSED ARE THE CHILDREN, THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH. BLESSED ARE THE HUNGERY AND THIRSTY, RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL BE FULFILLED. BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL,THEY WILL OBTAIN MERCY. BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART,THEY SHALL SEE GOD. BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS,THE CHILDREN OF GOD. BLESSED ARE THE PERSACUTED, RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE REWARDED IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE THE PERSACUTED, SHALL FORGIVE. FORGIVE WHO FALSELY ACUSE THEM, IN THE NAME OF GOD. REJOICE AND BE HAPPY, YOUR REWARD IS HEAVEN. PERSACUTED, THE PROPHET WHICH ARE YOU. MAN IS THE SALT, OF THE EARTH. NON BELIEVERS, GOOD FOR NOTHING. GOD WILL, TRODEN UNDER HIS FEET. BELIEVERS, ARE THE HEART OF THE WORLD. ANOINTED PROPHETS OF GOD, SHALL NOT BE HID. BELIEVERS THE CANDLES, NOT TO BE HIDDEN. PROPHETS, GIVE LIFE TO THE WORLD, THEY ARE CHILDREN OF GOD. TO SHINE BEFORE MAN, DOING GREAT WORKS AND TO GORIFY OUR GOD. NOT TO DESTROY LAW, OR THE PROPHETS. UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS. LAW OF THE COMMANDMENTS, NO MAN SHALL DISOBEY. HIM WHO BREAKS THESE LAWS, WILL BE LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. HE WHO DOES AND TEACHES, WILL BE THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM, TO HE WHO EXCEED. HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES. IN THIS CASE, SHALL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
      ——————————————————————————–
      REFERANCE IS THIS IN MATHEW, NEW TESTAMENT…
      ——————————————————————————–

      MAT. 9:10 REFERS TO, POLITICIANS AND SOCIETY. FASTING, MORNING LOST ONES OR CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS. MAT. 9:16 POISON MIXED WITH WINE, STILL POISON. POWER OVER DEATH,THE FRUITS OF FAITH TO GROW SPREAD AND GROW. FAITH TO BELIEVE OR NOT DOUPT, IS A MIRRACLE. PREACHERS OR PROPHETS, DO WORK FOR OUR GOD. MAT.10:1 DISCIPLES TEACH, SIN AND POINT RIGHTEOUS WAY OF LIFE. MAT.10:3 MATHEW, A POLITICIAN. MAT. 10:10-15 REFERS TO, GAY SOCIETY. MAT. 10:25 WAY TO LIVE LIFE, MASTER TO SLAVE ARE EQUAL. TO LOVE ALL MAN. MAT. 10:34 TO SHOW, RIGHT FROM WRONG. A STONE TO TRIP AND FALL,TO OPEN EYES AND HEARTS. MAT.10:38-39 LOVE OVER GOD, MEANING ANYTHING. MAT. 10:40-42 BELIEF, IS SAFE MAT. 11:2-6 BELIEVERS, ARE LUKE WARM. MAT. 11:8 ONE WHO, HAS TO MUCH PRIDE. MAT. 11:11 RESULTS OF, TO MUCH PRIDE. MAT. 11:14 ELI’AS, TRUE AND FAITHFUL, BEFORE OUR GENERATION. MAT. 11:18 MAN OF GREAT WEALTH, WHO GAVE AND NOT TAKEN. MAT. 11:21 TRUE FAITH BEFORE LOST, TO THE DECEIVER. A BELIEVER, FACES JUDGEMENT ON THE DAY. 12/21/2012. MAT. 11:23 THE RICHEST AND MOST POWERFUL, BEFORE CHRIST. MAT. 11:24 SODOM THE CITY OF SIN, WORSE, FOR WE KNOW. MAT. 11:27 SIN PAST DOWN TO SOCIETY, GENERATIONS. MAT.11:28-30 TO SURRENDER TO GOD, BY FAITH, KNOW HIM PERSONALLY OR NO QUESTION. MAT. 12:1 THEY COULD BUT, NOT EQUALY. SELFISH AND GREED HELD HIGHER, EVEN OF RELIGION. 12:8 GOD’S DAY, TO DO AS HE WANT. NOT BY BELIEF, FOR REST. MAT. 12:11-12 SABBATH DAY, TO GOOD NO MATTER THE DAY. MAT. 12:17-18 LOVE GIVEN, TO HIS SERVANT. MAT. 12:19-20 NOT MADE TO WORK THIS DAY. MAT. 12:22 THE DECEIVER, MADE THEM WORK. SO THEY COULD HAVE THINGS. MAT. 12:23-24 TWISTING OF WORDS,TO MAKE RIGHT INTO WRONG. MAT. 12:25 SEPERATED CHURCHES, AGAINST ANOTHER. MAT. 12:26 EXAMPLE: OF TRUTH, BUT OPPOSITE. MAT. 12:27 JUDGE NO ONE, THEY WILL JUDGE YOU. MAT. 12:29 TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, EASIER WITHOUT SIN ON JUDGEMENT DAY. MAT. 12:30 NONBELIEVERS, TO BE SCATTER IN HELL. MAT. 12:36 BELIEVERS WILL PAY, DAY OF JUDGEMENT. MAT. 12:40 JEWS PROCLAIMED BARIAL, NOT ON THAT DAY. MADE THEM WAIT THREE DAYS. MAT. 12:42 TO PROVE MORE POWERFUL, THAN SOLOMON. MAT. 12:43 MAN WITH FAITH, A BELIEVER. DOES NOT KNOW HIM,TALKING TO HIM. MAT. 12:45 CORRUPTS MANY, THUS SO FORTH. MAT. 12:46-48 DOES AS WANTS TO, DISHONORING WISDOM. MAT. 12:49 IGNORING ELDERS. MAT.12:50 SHOULD OBEY,IS LOVE. THEN YOU WILL, TALK TO GOD AND TRUST HIM. MAT. 13:3-8 SEEDS IN STONE DIE, FORGET GOD. TO BE CHOKED OR CORRUPTED, WITH BAD SEED. PRODUCES BAD SEEDS. MAT. 13:11 DISCOUNTS, WISE, DISMISS AS DUMB. MAT.13:12 BELIEVER GIVES AND SHARES, COMES BACK. HE WHO TAKES LOSSES MEANING, IS USELESS TO GOD. MAT. 13:13-14 A BELIEVER, BLIND AND CAN SEE. NOT UNDERSTANDING MISSES, WHAT ONE CAN HAVE. MAT.13:15 STUBBORN IS RIGHT, NO MATTER IF WRONG. MAT. 13:16 ANOINTED ONE, KNOWS GOD. MAT. 13:19 LOSS OF SIGHT, BLIND. MAT. 13:20 BOTHERED AND GROWS, ANYWAY. MAT. 13:21 BELIEVERS FACE JUDGEMENT,UPON HIS COMMING. MAT. 13:23 WHO, KNOWS AND TALKS TO GOD, NO MORE A BELIEVER. MAT. 13:24-30 TO POINT BLAME, JUDGEMENTS. MAT. 13:31-32 GROWS AND PRODUCE FRUITS,TREE OF LIFE. MAT. 13:33 MOTHER NOT GIVING GOOD FOUNDATION, IT STILL GROWS. MAT. 13:34-35 PARABLE, HIDES FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, FOR MAN. REASON, REDEPTION OF THE WORLD. MAT. 13:37 JESUS, SOWS GOOD SEED. BELIEVERS, SEED LOOSE MEANING.ALLOWS IN, THE DECEIVER. MAT. 13:40-43 RESULT OF JUDGEMENT DAY. MAT. 13:44 EXAMPLE: GARDEN OF EDEN,BLIND TO SIGHT. MAT. 13:45-46 PUTS GREATER SIN, OVER LESSER SIN. EXAMPLE: GAY MARRIAGE. MAT. 13:51-52 BELIEVERS BRING FRUITS, EQUAL OR LESSER THAN. UNLIKE JESUS AND MUHAMMAD. MAT. 13:53-56 OFFENDED FOR, THEY BELIEVED. FELT THEY WERE WISER AND SMARTER,JEALOUS. A PROPHET KNOWS TRUTH. FAITH NOT HELD IN CONTEMPT, ACCEPTS AND MOVES ON. MAT.13:57 KNOWS LOVE, TRUTH. MAT. 13:58 TRUE LOVE, GIVES CHOICE OF BELIEF. MAT.14:2-5 HELD NO GRUDGE, IS RIGHT NO MATTER. MAT. 15:1-3 FOLLOWS TRADITION, IGNORING LAWS OF MOSES. THE PROPHET, OF THE COMMANDMENTS MAT. 15:4-6 KNEW PARENTS WERE WRONG, TO JUSTIFY. BOTH ARE WRONG. MAT. 15:7-8 HOLDS SOCIAL VALUE, ABOVE GOD. JUSTIFYING BELIEFS, HELD ABOVE GOD. MAT. 15:11-14 DEFILE MAN THEN DEFILES GOD, MAKES IT WORSE. MAT. 15:21-22 NONBELIEVER ONLY KNOWS MAN, NOT GOD. MAT. 15:24 SHOWS, TRUE LOVE. MAT. RESULT OF, TRUE LOVE. MAT. 15:26 OPPOSITE OF LOVE THROWS THEM AWAY,THIS IS SIN. MAT. 15:32 SORRY, CHOICE TO HELP THEMSELVES. DISMISS THEM,THEY ARE LOST. MAT. 15:33-38 ONLY HAD FAITH, DOUPTED GOD. SHOWS BELIEF, NOT KNOW GOD. EXAMPLE: BLIND BUT SEE. MAT. 16:1-3 JUDGE WEATHER,BLIND TO TRUTH. MAT. 16:4 EXAMPLE: BLIND BUT SEE. MAT. 16:6 WARNING, THINGS TO COME. MAT. 16:7-10 SAW MIRRACLES,DOUPTED FOR BELIEF ONLY. MAT. 16:11 LOST MEANING, BEHIND TRUTH.

  • Ryan McGivern

    Thank you for your well thought out reply and posts, Dan!
    Cogito’s statement: “A religion is by definition spiritual, transcendental” neglects also that religion is a cultural phenomenon. As cultures change, so do their religions. I feel that the LGBTQ communities in America are playing a vital part of keeping Christianity in the US relevant.
    Our nation has always been turning corners of greater justice and understanding-women, non-European peoples, folks with psychiatric disorders, etc. have faced ire and mistreatment at the hands of some Christians.
    However, through the hard and persistant work of secularists, various faith communities and traditions, and ‘liberal’ Christians mainstream Christianity has changed (arguably) for the better.
    I thank you for your thoughtful posting. It is the no-brainer issues like justice, kindness, medical science etc that can easily be swept into yelling matches because of how silly it can seem. Whether or not some Christians like it, full inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ communities (and non-traditional relationships including polyamory) will be mainstream in US Christian life.
    So in response to Cogito’s accusation that supporters of same gender loving couples are being religiously intolerant…one way of looking at it might be that we are acting prophetically. The prophets of many religions are those who call the faith’s adherents to higher integrity, justice, compassion. In “Christian Speak”, Gay Christians and their allies may be seen as rejecting the ‘doctrines of humanity’ in favor of the Law of Christ. The doctrines and teachings of humanity might even include the arbitrary constructs of sex and gender. Speaking of sex and gender constructs-binaries suck. And so does ‘us/them’ thinking. I have found that the more I can relate to and feel compassion for folks like Cogito, the more momentum towards peace and justice I feel around me.
    Thanks again, Dan. Well done!
    Ryan McGivern
    http://www.mindflowers.net

    • Dan Fincke

      No problem, Ryan, thanks for stopping by and for offering such a poignant comment. I think you’re onto something—as I read your remarks I was struck with the thought that those brave, patient, and resilient gay Christians trying to reform the church from within are really Christianity’s best hope for a morally relevant future.

      Best wishes and I hope to see you around again!

  • Seanachain

    While I agree with the direction of your argument, there is a point you make which beg analysis. The first, from Five:

    “If there is such a God who created people this way in order to force them into a choice between (1) being in a loveless miserable marriage, or (2) being ostracized, or (3) being left to die alone and celibate, then he’s pretty simply a sick bastard not worthy of worship.”

    If we remove the sexual context of this postulation, we are left with the typical “Why would God create hardship?” Dismissing God as a “sick bastard” because he theoretically established a universe in which such difficulties exist is nothing more than a judgment based off an aversion to existential pain. This is not sufficient enough a reason to posit that God is either a) bad and not worthy of worship, or b) good and misrepresented. In fact, it appears to be an oversimplification of God—a mistake similar if not identical to that of your commenter.

    On the subject of pain, I would argue that the presence of “evil” and “bad” in the world has a definite function in that it gives meaning to the concept of the good, which would make it a welcome however incorrectly interpreted influence. This is an assertion certain religions do claim: Manichaeism and, to some extent, Taoism come to mind.

  • Dan Fincke

    Thanks for reading and for the comment seanachain. Bracketing the larger problem of evil for the time being (though I think it does satisfactorily refute the idea of a morally good, omnipotent God—for example that good cannot be defined without evil you show a limitation in God’s ability to create), let me just assume for argument’s sake that hardship itself does not indicate a “sick bastard of a God.”

    The question is whether or not we can simply switch out someone’s natural pair-bond love orientation and switch in the word “hardship” with no change.

    The reason I think this is problematic is that someone’s basic sexual/romantic love orientation is a deep part of their basic psychological and biological needs. If God creates a nature that is rampant with homosexual creatures throughout the animal kingdom (as He supposedly has, since this tendency has been found in members of species upon species now) and he specifically creates human beings who are fundamentally oriented towards members of their own sex for their fundamental love needs, and THEN he has specifically laid down a law against the fulfillment of those love needs, then he has not simply allowed them to suffer a hardship, he has burdened them with an unjust law.

    If God is in any meaningful way to be said to be “good” or praised in the manner in which we praise morally good people, then he cannot set up a law which demands people suffer according to their fundamental biological and psychological needs. It is one thing to give a law for their moderation. You can argue that God wants us to restrain our sexual impulses away from rape and child molestation, etc. But if you acknowledge his responsibility for our basic physiology and psychology and you acknowledge that homosexuality exists as a real physio-psychological orientation, and you are saying God forbids homosexual behavior, then you are saying he gave them a desire that he not only wants channeled into moral outlets but which he wants to be perpetually frustrated.

    This is the equivalent of creating a hunger in a being and then ordering that being to starve. That’s not hardship, it’s torture. While there are some of us who willfully can abstain from all pair-bond love relationships and/or remain celibate out of a self-imposed asceticism, it would be unfair for a God to create an entire subset of human beings who were required to remain emotionally out of love and sexless as the MINIMUM necessary to avoid being sinners.

    This goes well beyond hardship, it goes to the point of a cruel and impossible standard, by which it would be completely unfair to judge anyone. Every natural propensity we have must have an outlet through which we can express it healthily, even if we have ethical limitations and guidelines for its exercise. If there is a God and He created gays, then He must either approve of their love relationships (including the sexual component) or he must want them to be forced to starve their need for love, or he wants them to marry members of the opposite sex towards whom they are not most fulfillingly inclined, or he wants them damned to hell should they decide to live in accord with the desires he gave them.

    If God exists and he wants people in loveless marriages, starved of fundamental pair-bond relationships as a matter of principle, or damned to hell for following the basic psychology with which he equipped them, then the only inference possible is that he is malicious. Or at least malicious towards those he has treated thus.


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