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.