Chimps Make a Monkey out of Pastor

by VorJack

Venessa Woods is a Research Scientist in Evolutionary Anthropology who blogs at Your Inner Bonobo, hosted by Psychology Today. Recently, one of her posts on Bonobos caught the attention of a Pastor.

Bonobo’s are probably best known for their sex lives. Sex acts as a sort of social lubricant in Bonobo society, and the apes use it as a bartering chip, a form of apology and numerous other functions. Given that it serves purposes other than reproduction, it’s not surprising that Bonobos engage in many kinds of sex, including homosexual.

This is what caught the pastor’s attention and caused him distress:

However, what’s different about this particular behavior is that in an orthodox biblical position, homosexuality is a sin… but animals don’t sin. We don’t typically place animals in a moral category. In other words, they don’t do righteous acts or unrighteous acts. So…what am I to make of these animals that engage in homosexual activity?

It seems to me that this behavior reveals a sense of brokenness in the natural world. Paul spoke of the unnaturalness of homosexuality, “men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men…”(Rom. 1:27). So, what he says is unnatural, now looks to be natural! But, just as natural disasters aren’t normative, neither is homosexual activity within animals. The creation itself is marred with the effects of sin (i.e. death).

The good pastor seems fuddled. As he says, animal behavior is not usually cast in a moral light. Animals may commit infanticide, cannibalism and incest, but we don’t attempt to draw any moral conclusions from it. But homosexuality seems to be something he cannot ignore, and he must seek solace from Biblical quotations in order to face it.

Anyway, I think there’s an opportunity here. If we can convince conservative evangelicals that they need to visit the Bonobos and preach to them, we might have a win-win situation.

Its been my observation that some evangelicals can funnel a lot of money into missionary trips. If the missionaries can be persuaded to put that money towards protected the shrinking habitat of the Bonobos, we might just be able to preserve the apes. And watching the missionaries try to translate the bible into the Bonobo’s native language is going to be a hoot. Let’s see just how far “dynamic equivalents” will stretch.

  • beyonddeities

    On homosexuality present within other species, I recommend looking at: http://www.adherents.com/misc/paradoxEvolution.html or http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/06/evolution_and_homosexuality.php …just in case you’re not sure of its function biologically, I guess >.< Though I don't think there's anything super-concrete, there's TONS of studies out there, but people seem more than happy to turn the other cheek.

    A pastor with an ignorant outlook on sexuality, my my my. A pastor with a high degree of authority, my my my.

  • nazani14

    Instead of trying to redeem “sinful” animals, I find it more likely that Christians would exterminate them, just as animals who injured humans were once tried and executed. Of course he thinks “creation is marred” – he views our planet as some kind of nasty holding tank the inmates have to endure until judgment day. Anyone who says “natural disasters aren’t normative” is just plain ignorant.

    • wintermute

      No, I’d agree with him that natural disasters shouldn’t be advocated as an ideal standard.

      • nazani14

        Nature doesn’t care what humans advocate; our planet is subject to a endless parade of non-androgenic blights, red tides, earthquakes, droughts, torrential rains, avalanches, forest fires, etc., etc., any of which may be considered a disaster by somebody, somewhere. Not ideal for us, but unfortunately, SOP for Earth.
        I suspect this pastor thinks like a typical American: The 987 tragedies that struck places without video coverage last month don’t count. 3.0 earthquake in Wyoming? Sign of End Times!

        • wintermute

          Nature doesn’t care what humans advocate

          True, but you’re the one suggesting that natural disasters are normative; that is, that they’re being advocated as an ideal standard.

          Perhaps you’re simply ignorant of the difference between “normative” and “normal”?

  • Miss Poppy Dixon

    Please don’t let Ted Haggard find out about this.

  • tea

    They might try to eat their face.

  • trj

    Normally the fundies argue that homosexuality (or whatever else they dislike, take your pick) is against “the natural order of things”. But when nature then demonstrates how it is in fact rather common, nature is broken and unreliable.

    You can’t win with those people.

  • LRA

    “And watching the missionaries try to translate the bible into the Bonobo’s native language is going to be a hoot.”

    Well, I suppose speaking in tongues is in order…

    • DarkMatter

      Pretty good idea.

  • DarkMatter

    “…”(Rom. 1:27). So, what he says is unnatural, now looks to be natural!”
    I think what he is trying to say is that god turned these monkeys into homosexuals.

    They are not at fault, but god’s choosing, just like he did to men and women who acknowledeged his existence but refused to follow him, to deny them the pleasure of hetrosexual sex as a punishment.

  • Roger

    Pardon my french, but why the fuck would the universal superintelligence screw up the allegedly perfect natural world just because two idiots that the universal superintelligence created ate the magic no-no fruit?

    • trj

      For the lulz.

  • Revyloution

    The religious boggle me. They can find evidence that directly refutes their claim (such as, homosexuality isn’t natural) then twist that evidence to prove the original point. It’s like they are evidence immune.

    I couldn’t even begin to count up the number of times where I changed my position on something because there was sufficient evidence to show my prior position was wrong.

    • VidLord

      yeah reminds me of the question i asked awhile back – if this is a young earth, then why do we not see modern day animals, such as lions, tigers, and bears amongst the dinosaur fossils? This IS irrefutable evidence. If you doubt it, go become a geologist!

      The problem here is that we, as arrogant humans, find it EXTREMELY and AMAZINGLY impossible to think we are here for absolutely NOTHING.

      Thus we conjure up a point for our existence and make up gods to reinforce that point. We are here so “God” can know himself…..how lovely!

      The fact is we make the “point” – the universe cares not for “points” and will randomly destroy worlds with a single supernova. The universe cares not, there is no point, and yes, our existence is meaningless – we will come and go just as the dinosaurs before us did. When we see our destruction is imminent, there will be those whose proclaim it is punishment from the “gods”.

  • VidLord

    I am personally offended by all strident, shrill and and polemical denials that the earth is not flat.

    I derive deep personal comfort that the earth is flat.

    therefore you must believe what I believe. If you counter this belief – you shall be condemned and possibly murdered. Enjoy….

    • Michael

      Ah the joys of Richard Dawkins. You did misquote him slightly though, as your grammar is a little off.

  • Jerdog

    1990 was my first semester of college and my first real realization that homosexuality existed. I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole idea. Just because is wasn’t for me, should I be against other people doing it? Then I read an article in Discover or some such pointing out that homosexuality exists in nature. I’ve never questioned since.

  • Michael

    I am a bit confused at the pastor’s confusion. He says that bonobos engage in homosexual activity, but that this cannot be a sin because animals don’t sin. Well, of course. He asks, “What are we to make of this,” but I don’t understand why this situation is any different from any other sin. We don’t claim that animals that kill each other are sinning, and so it is with all other sins.

    Of all the things to shake up this pastor’s bigotry, this one seems odd.

    That said, I do understand why he is surprised that gay sex is natural considering he has been told that it is unnatural, and the scripture is never wrong.

  • http://susanthegreat.com PuntyBunny

    I love how this means now his kid can’t study monkeys. You know how little kids go thru this developmental stage during which they think if they hide under a blanket & can’t see you, you can’t see them either? So this adult is stuck in this stage? “Ok, I’ll just have my kid ignore that troubling part of science & then it’s no trouble AT ALL!”

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

      That’s… a damn good analogy, there.

  • Rcreative1

    The pastor’s last line explains the disconnect: “The creation itself is marred with the effects of sin (i.e. death).” In other words, natural disasters happen and animals do bad things because humans sin. How could someone who sees the universe through anthropomorphic glasses, and who begins all questions with the assumption that the Bible is inerrant, possibly have anything worthwhile to offer a reality-based discussion?

    • DarkMatter

      Reminds me of the legitimacy of palestinians losing their homeland due to blibical accounts.


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