Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why do the religious right think homosexuality is bad?

I have often been puzzled by the notion held by the religious right wing that homosexual sex is evil.  I understand that somewhere in the bible it says homosexuality is a sin, but the bible also says that if a bride is not a virgin then she is to be taken to the village square and stoned to death by the men of the village (a pretty Freudian punishment isn’t it?).  Even though they still seem to do that in some Islamist countries, no one in the religious right in the West is pushing to stone non-virgin brides, so why are they so dedicated to punishing homosexuality?

I think underneath it are old Puritanical sensibilities about sex that sees "dirty" sex as so abominable.  Why the Puritans, and Islamists for that matter, think that sex in inherently sinful except in the context of making babies is an underlying question.  

I think it has to do with the conflating willpower and virtue, and seeing sex outside of the purpose of procreation as a weak giving in to pleasure, i.e. the Sins of the Flesh, as sinful and against God's purpose for sex, and demonstrating a lack of virtuous willpower.  I think the underlying belief and attitude in Puritanism and Islmamism is that sex is for procreation, not for pleasure, and that seeking sex for pleasure is the devil's road to debauchery and erosion of the holy masculine virtue of willpower.

I think that the masculine virtue of willpower is a wonderful virtue.  But it’s not the only virtue. 

In the Catholic Church, it was considered (back many decades ago when I was still a Catholic) that birth control using the virtuous masculine energy of willpower was good.  It was called the Rhythm method.  Only have sex with your wife when she was less likely to be fertile.  Didn’t work too well.  But to use another wonderful gift from God, intelligence, to develop contraception and abortion as a means of controlling a woman’s reproductive life was considered a sin.  Why is willpower more virtuous than intelligence?  I don’t think it is. 

And, of course, I believe there is a wonderful positive time to use willpower to avoid sex and that is not to commit adultery.  Cheating on a spouse is just a dumb thing to do.  It erodes the love in the marriage.  It’s not that exercising willpower is in itself such a virtuous act, although it counts, but the consequences of cheating harms your own marriage and the marriage of the partner.  Its consequences are destructive.  I think that is the reason it is one of the Ten Commandments, it’s dumb and harmful, not that it’s a virtuous exercise of willpower.

I think God’s purposes for sex are pretty easy to understand.  They are the functions of sex.  I think sex is for reproduction, for love, and for pleasure.  All of these are part of nature and thus part of God’s intentions.  Or so it seems to me.

So, to me, homosexual sex is perfectly in keeping with God’s intentions.  It is a means of pleasure and of love.  Just like hetrosexual sex.  The fact that it doesn’t lead to procreation is incidental.

I am very glad to see our country move more in the direction of dropping its shunning of homosexual men and women.  More to go, and more to come, I am sure.