Homosexuality and Hinduism in Sunday School Today

Today in my Sunday school class we began our discussion of homosexuality. It immediately took an interesting turn, with one person suggesting that “gay activists” are trying to expose children at a young age to the idea of homosexuality, so that they will treat it as normal. An individual involved in education replied by pointing out that the aim is to have children treat other children in their class who may have gay or lesbian parents as normal rather than with ridicule.

This helpfully led us away from trying to immediately tackle Bible passages that may be related to homosexuality, whether any of them still deserve to be applied, and if so why, and the subject (on which I already know people in the class disagree) about whether homosexuality is a sin. It got the discussion to focus instead on how even Christians who think homosexuality is a sin should view, treat and interact with homosexuals.

I sought to stimulate discussion about this by offering as a parallel the way people in the class might view local Hindus (there is a significant Hindu population in Indianapolis). Hindus break one if not indeed both of the first two of the ten commandments, whereas homosexuality doesn’t even get a mention in that famous list. Yet I was confident that people in that class would not object to their children being taught by a Hindu (unless they were teaching them religion, perhaps), and would most likely be able to establish friendships with them and talk on occasion about topics other than making images of God or monotheism vs. polytheism. And so the challenge was to not be inconsistent by being more tolerant of something that the Bible is less tolerant of, while being less tolerant of something about which the Bible says far less and about which it speaks far less clearly.

We’re going to tackle Leviticus next time. In particular if there are readers whose expertise is in the Hebrew Bible and who have the time (or want a break from grading), I’d welcome input about key terms like to’evah as well as other aspects of the subject.

I’ll just conclude by saying that I continue to be impressed with the capacity of the people in my church to state and discuss their convictions in a way that genuinely listens to what others have to say, and to explore disagreements in a way that facilitates learning rather than simply sparking heated arguments.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03089281236217906531 Scott F

    I agree with most of what the first commenter said. Our class is studying I Corinthians and hit the "don't eat with sinners in your congregation" verse. Of course the conversation turned to homosexuality. Every one loves the sins they are safe from. Fortunately the tacit assumption was that you don't drive them out of your church (we're Methodists) but that Paul's call to turn them over to Satan might require at least preventing homosexuals from teaching Sunday school or serving on the Board of Trustees.Like I said, this was all safe to discuss as I don't believe anyone in our class is gay. I hope to see some squirming next week as we move into verses on divorce and we are forced to discuss our allowing remarried people full rights within the church. Unfortunately I don't expect to make much progress in convincing people to face their inconsistent views – not in one or two classes – but it's a start. I have ordered the Blue Parakeet from our local library system. I am very much interested in what it has to say.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    It sounds like your class is a group that might really get a lot out of The Blue Parakeet. Let me know what you think of it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12300714202584895563 Matt

    A couple quick comments from a quick search for to'evah & Lev 18:22/20:13.First: As your linked articles suggest, it does seem to be a matter of uncleanness/taboo more than sin/evil. That said, it also show up in Deut 7:26 with a command to not bring any to'evah into your house, lest you become the object of divine wrath. (Of course, it then commands you to to t'b it, that is it uses the word in the verbal form to describe what you should feel toward it.)Unfortunately, I'm moving soon and my lexicons are all packed away so I don't currently have access to them to do a thorough searching of the root t'b/t'v.Hope that helps.(Oh, I'm an MA student in Hebrew Bible, just found this blog. Thought I'd add my 2 cents in.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Hi Matt! Glad you found your way here! Thanks for your comment, and please do visit again!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14247799389009268470 James Pate

    I think to-evah means something disgusting. It can be ritual, but there are also cases when it is moral (Proverbs 6:16).