Monday, October 28, 2019

The differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality Essay Example for Free

The differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality Essay Homosexuality is a subject, which is forever being raised in todays media and society. It is constantly brought to the attention of many to be somewhat reassessed in terms of ethical and religious view points, whether through the newspapers or the television. While religious view points used to manipulate society in all matters, it now seems to be the media which influences and guides social attitudes towards homosexuality. For many years, it has been seen as intrinsically wrong to everybody, religious and secular. However, it is fast becoming more and more accepted by a larger number of people. Just the mention of homosexuality in a Roman Catholic Church is bound to be frowned upon or combated with a quick fire of biblical references to show you that homosexuality is wrong in the eyes of God. Catholicism has often been blamed for the development of homophobia, particularly in the West. While this may seem a little unfair, it is most certainly true that homophobia is ubiquitous within this Christian denomination. Many Catholics often refer to what few references there are in the Bible to the subject of homosexuality. For example, the story of the town called Sodom (Gen. 19-21) is one of the most famous indications that people often refer to. Here, a man named Lot is greeted by two of Gods divine messengers, who wish to warn Lot that God is displeased with the terrible behavior. He then receives men at his door saying that they wish to commit sexual acts with these divine messengers and in response to this, God burns the town to the ground. Christians believe that this was because of the men wishing to commit homosexual acts. They feel that there is no necessary analysis of this story as the message is quite clear. Jack T. Chick is a publisher of fundamentalist Christian leaflets and comic books. In one of his childrens comic books, entitled Birds and Bees, he wrote, The worst city was Sodom. These Sodomites worshipped Satan, were possessed with devils and they hated God. Their stink reached heaven and God was fed up with them. He planned to destroy them to keep their filthy lifestyle from spreading. As soon as they got Lot and his family out of Sodom, God firebombed the cities and turned them into ashes. Today, those same kinds of people are back, but now theyre called Gays! This opinion is shared by many Christians today and is often the message, which is portrayed through Christian propaganda such as this. From looking at this sort of publication, it is easy to see why Catholics are so frequently blamed for the development of homophobia. However, many Catholics today argue that this was simply a misinterpretation of the biblical reference itself. John Macquarrie and James Childress wrote in the New Dictionary of Christian Ethics To the extent that the Sodom story focuses on homosexual acts, the judgment is on the homosexual rape of divine messengers, and its larger judgment appears to be against social injustice and inhospitality to strangers (see Ezek. 16:49-50). They clearly state that the passage in the bible is not about the homosexual acts themselves, but the wish to do it without consent, implying that homosexual acts are perfectly okay as long as they are with two compliant adults. Not only this, but God was displeased with how the men acted towards guests when they should have been hospitable in a more Christian and loving way. There are many other examples of homosexual references in the bible, such as the Levitical Holiness Code (Lev. 18:22; 20:13), which prescribes the death penalty for homosexual acts. The NT (New Testament) calls homosexual acts idolatry (Rom. 1:26-27) and suggests that certain homosexual activity will deny you entry into Gods Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:9-10) But yet again, Macquarrie and Childress argue the same thing. They wrote, The references in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy quite clearly take the sordid and dehumanizing dimensions of Greco-Roman pederasty as their image of homosexual relations. Macquarrie and Childress argue that the reference in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy are in reference to relations between men and boys and not in fact between two grown men. This changes the meaning entirely of the supposed reference to homosexuality, as we know very well that relations between men and boys is still found highly unacceptable and illegal even in todays society, not just in the religious circles. This is a highly different interpretation to what most Catholics would agree with, however, as times change many Catholics are actually considering these alternative interpretations to meet with the ever changing ethical views of society. There were many others to follow Macquarrie and Childress in re-interpreting the Bible and its rules on homosexuality. Many criticized Catholics for ignoring other rules that suited them but sticking to the rules about homosexuality because they didnt like the idea. In his book, Ethical Studies, David Bowie wrote The bible condemns hypocrisy and greed, but no one died at the stake in medieval times for these offences, while homosexuals perished. This view was shared by the likes of John Boswell (1982) and Gareth Moore (1992). Moore wrote, in his book The Body in Context: Sex and Catholicism (1992), that Christians dont follow the rule in Leviticus 19:19 that states that wearing garments that are made of two types of material is forbidden. He goes further to say that we ignore the laws, which are convenient to us while pursuing those that attack minorities that we dont like (pp. 184-186). He too agrees with the interpretation of the Sodom story, which states that God was troubled by the failure to meet the responsibility of hospitality, as oppose to disapproving homosexuality (p. 191). St. Paul wrote that homosexuality often comes from godless people who lead a precarious lifestyle. In 1 Corinthians he lists all kinds of unrighteous people including male prostitutes and sodomites. He says that people engaging in same sex actions are dishonoring their bodies. He also writes about men committing shameless acts with men. Moore also criticizes this idea from St. Paul. Moore argues that, whilst this may have been true in St. Pauls lifetime, it certainly isnt true now; with the fact there are many holy, Christian homosexuals around today who just want to be accepted. This doesnt fit into St. Pauls argument of godless homosexuals. While biblical references are very powerful to Catholics as Gods spoken word, there are also many modern day references that are used by Catholics such as the Declaration on Sexual Ethics (1975) which states In Sacred Scripture homosexual acts are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as a sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of scripture does not, of course, permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and cannot be approved of. This seems to express the general view of conservative Catholics and provides another reason for practicing Catholics to be against homosexuality even if it is not entirely what they think. If it is written in something as serious as the Declaration on Sexual Ethics, people feel that they must follow it no matter what simply because they dont want to go against their religion. Disagreeing with this documentation would be opposing what the modern day Catholicism is requiring them to do and therefore many Catholics see it as intrinsically wrong to be homosexual, no matter what the reasons or circumstances. As well as actual textual references that say homosexuality is wrong, there are many other arguments that are always put forward by Catholics. Perhaps the most famous was that developed by Thomas Aquinas, called The Natural Law. This is the idea that sex is only for pro-creation, that is having children. He argues that this is why God gave us the sexual organs and using them for anything other than reproduction would be to misuse our bodies. Of course, this includes any form of homosexual activity and many Christians stick to this rule explicitly. This means, however, that some Christians find it perfectly acceptable to be homosexual but remain celibate throughout their entire lifetime. There are several Christian denominations that do find forms of homosexuality acceptable. Quakers say that homosexuality is no more deplorable than left-handedness and that it is the nature and quality of the relationship that matters. This means that as long as the relationship is a loving and caring relationship then it is perfectly acceptable no matter who is involved. This view is shared by the Methodist denomination of Christianity, which states that For homosexual men and women, permanent relationships characterized by love can be an appropriate and Christian way of expressing their sexuality. Many Christians believe that the most important teaching of Jesus was that you must love each other and treat each other how you would like to be treated. In this case, we must treat homosexuals with respect and not judge them for their way of living. We must show compassion for every human being, no matter what his or her race, creed or sexuality. While these religious views are still seen as highly acceptable, it is fast becoming the ethical views that are dominating the societys opinion of homosexuality. Due to the investigation into the cause of homosexuality, many people now believe that being a homosexual is something that you do not choose to be, something that you cannot change about yourself. The causes of homosexuality can often be split up into different categories; biological, psychoanalytical and social learning theories. And of course many doctors and psychologists seem to go for a combination of all three. However, despite the general consensus that we do not know the cause of homosexuality, there have been certain aspects of it that people agree on. For example, we know that it seems to become fixed in early childhood, usually by the age of seven. This is said to be not of the individuals own choice. Another agreement is that while efforts to change ones sexual practices may be successful, it will not change the sexual orientation of the individual and things such as feelings and desires. And finally, people agree upon the fact that most people are neither exclusively heterosexual nor homosexual but that they have leading predispositions towards either orientation. With these ethical considerations in mind, many people take these into deliberation when making judgments or decisions about homosexuality. People often question whether homosexuality actually is a moral issue. Not all Christians would find these biblical references useful or even relevant to the modern day debate as to whether homosexuality is right or wrong. We also have to consider the views of those who dont follow the Christian tradition at all. At which point does homosexuality become a moral problem for people in society? Surely sexual acts that occur between two consenting adults, homosexual or heterosexual, are perfectly okay in the privacy of their own homes. True, people shouldnt be exposed to things that they may find offensive in their opinion but it doesnt mean that they can stop other people from doing so. Of course there has been the issue of homosexuality in the law. What is legal is not necessarily the same as what is moral. Up until 1967, it was illegal to perform sexual acts at any time in any place. However, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act legalized homosexuality but many people still think it should be against the law. J.S. Mill claimed The only purpose for which power can be rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. This opinion was shared by John Rawls who stated every person has a right to the maximum amount of liberty compatible with allowing liberty for all.(Ethics: Homosexuality by Reg Luhman p.20) This means that every individual, homosexual or heterosexual has the right to do whatever he or she want as long as it doesnt harm other people. He questions why people think they have the right to deny some human beings of their right to be homosexual and happy at the same time. However, Lord Devlin challenged this. He stated in his lecture on the reinforcement of morals, that homosexuality could damage our societys status and that allowing homosexuality to exist legally could jeopardize this. He believes that a society must do what it takes to preserve its own existence even if this means illegalizing homosexual acts in private between consenting adults. H.L.A. Hart criticized Devlin for this, drawing divisions between what is immoral and what is an upset to public civility. It brings attention to the fact that sexual acts between husband and wife would be seen as perfectly okay as long as it was in private but if it public then it would be considered immoral. However, sexual acts between two homosexuals would be considered immoral whether it was private or in public. He says The idea that we may punish offenders against a moral code, not to prevent harm or suffering or even repetition of the offence but simply as a means of venting or emphatically expressing moral condemnation, is uncomfortably close to human sacrifice as an expression of religious worship. The fact that humans can punish other humans for doing nothing but expressing their sexuality seems morally wrong in itself. To punish someone for something which they cannot help and did not choose is a far greater and unchristian way of dealing with the issue than allowing them to be homosexual in the privacy of their own homes etc. Joseph Fletcher argued that any of the 10 commandments or moral values could be broken if the circumstances required people to do so. He proposed the idea of situation ethics, which suggested that acts should be committed depending on what would be the most loving thing to do. The obvious problem with this is that we cannot know the outcome of any action and so we cannot determine what the most loving thing to do would be. But in the situation where two people love each other very much and feel that they must find a way to express their love, Fletcher would argue that they should be allowed to express it simply because they are acting out of love for each other and not causing any harm to anybody. With these considerations in mind, people still find homosexuality immorally wrong, whether theyre religious or not. Many people call it unnatural and against what man was made to do, so to speak. Natural would be to preserve the human race and of course, homosexual relationship do not do this. Charles Darwin proposed the idea of Naturalistic Humes Law which said that just because things are natural does not mean they are good and just because things are artificial or unnatural does not mean they are evil or bad. If we put this into modern day perspective we can see that, while homosexuality may be considered unnatural (which it may or may not be depending on ones opinion), it does not mean it is necessarily wrong. This seems to suggest that the question of whether homosexuality is natural or unnatural is irrelevant because that factor doesnt contribute to whether it is right or wrong, moral or immoral. In conclusion, it seems that there will probably always be an issue with homosexuality and religious groups until religious leaders are willing to see alternative interpretations of their sacred texts. However, it does seem that many people are beginning to accept homosexuality into society without the consideration of religion. The media has heavily influenced the acceptance of homosexuality as well as the legalizing of it in 1967. In a few years times, homophobia should be almost non-existent, excluding the religious groups who arent willing to change their views with the modern day times. We could argue forever which view is more right in terms or morals and religious aspects but in the end it depends entirely upon personal opinion and we cannot force people to be okay with something as controversial as this. Homophobia should be something, which will diminish given time. Bibliography Ethical Studies David Bowie (2001) Groundwork of Christian Ethics Richard G. Jones (1984) A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics Edited by John Macquarrie and James Childress (1986) Religious Studies Sarah K. Tyler and Gordon Reid (2002) On Liberty J.S. Mill (1859) The Body In Context: Sex and Catholicism- Gareth Moore (1992) Rediscovering Gay History: Archetypes of Gay Love in Christian History John Boswell (1982) Ethics: Homosexuality Reg Luhman (1999)

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