I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Homosexuality: Theological and Civic Issues

In the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, homosexuality is addressed and not accepted as practices, but instead unnatural sin. Examples of presentation is that homosexuality does not occur in nature, nor is it acceptable to God, despite not being part of the Ten Commandments.
The first mention of homosexuality is in the Book of Genesis 18:16-19:29 that details an encounter of the people of Sodom, specifically in Genesis 19:4-13
Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof." But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. Then the men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it." [wording is EMTV and not original King James version, but source link is directed to the KJV]

Note that Lot was obliged to protect his guests he welcomed into his home, even if it took offering his daughters in substitute for the guests. In Hebrew/Jewish history, guests were always treated with respect, often accepting wayfarers lodging and a meal. It was apparent that the people of Sodom has no respect for such customs and traditions of cordiality. From this ancient reference came the practice of referring to sinners, especially sexual sinners “Sodomites”.
John Boswell, a Yale historian, recorded reasons why Sodom was punished, but later argues that “knowing” does not necessarily have sexual context, mainly because in his research he constantly looked for justification and sanction of homosexuality.
  1. The Sodomites were destroyed for the general wickedness which had prompted the Lord to send angels to the city to investigate;
  2. the city was destroyed because the people of Sodom had tried to rape the angels;
  3. the city was destroyed because the men of Sodom had tried to engage in homosexual intercourse with the angels [apparently a practice amongst themselves];
  4. the city was destroyed for inhospitable treatment of visitors sent from the Lord.
Modern scholars have argued that Lot was violating the custom of Sodom where entertaining guests without the permission of the city's elders was a social travesty, and men of Sodom that visited Lot at his door demanded that the strangers be brought out “that they might know them” meant not in a sexual context, but to know who they were. Yet, in other places in the Old Testament, the term has been used to describe sexual intercourse.
I also want to emphasize a point here, which will be mentioned further in this essay, that while the social rules of Sodom may have differed and conflicted with Lot's family traditions, he was conducting those traditions and social graces within his own dwelling. The Sodomites had interfered with the custom of Lot's family and the sanctity of their dwelling for which they had welcomed strangers (angels) as their guests. Whether the “knowing” was a meaning of sexual or non-sexual nature, it was a violation of Lot's traditions of treating guests with respect and protecting them as, say, clerics are obliged to protect anyone who asks for sanctuary in a church.
Examining the text from the original Hebrew, the word yada means to know and was used in reference to sexual relationships as “to know”. Thus, the accurate presumption would be that the evil Sodomites intended to “gang rape” their guests. Indeed, when Lot responded with: Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly, this furthers the context of doing harm to Lot's guests. Further, if the Sodomites did not have sexual advances in mind, why would Lot offer his daughters instead of the guests, if the Sodomites only wanted to question/converse with the 'strangers'?
Like the US Constitution, controversial interpretations are inserted in order to change the original intent of the text in order to justify interpretations that match the intention of “reading into” text in order to match their opinion. Clearly, modern scholars and historians forget the original language, its meaning and intent in constitutional law just as they do in Mosaic Law. [See Also: Judaism 101]
Another place in the Bible that discusses homosexuality is in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, referring to Mosaic Law; obviously because homosexuality had come up in discussion from circumstances within society and addresses it specifically.
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
As you can see the wording is more clear than in Genesis that homosexuality is an abomination in the context of God and the laws of nature.
John Boswell, despite this clear presentation about homosexuality an additional opinion:
The Hebrew word "toebah," here translated "abomination," does not usually signify something intrinsically evil, like rape or theft..., but something which is ritually unclean for Jews, like eating pork or engaging in intercourse during menstruation, both of which are prohibited in these same chapters.
Epistle to Romans 1: 26-27
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
Here, Apostle Paul wrote that homosexuality is not just vile to God, but it is against the laws of nature.
These discussions concerns theology, which must also be addressed in civic law, specifically the First Amendment of the US Constitution that protects freedom of religion, unless that religion defies other civic laws [murder by sacrificing humans] or transgresses and enforces religious doctrine that transgresses and demands intolerance towards other religions; specifically transgression against the practice of one religion over another.
With new arguments concerning same-sex marriage within the process of federal legislation and the judiciary, the answer is simple, but not heeded. The federal government long ago delegated the authority over marriage to the state governments, thus, there is no federal authority over the issue of marriage. To further dissect the argument, the ultimate authority of the sanctity of marriage lies within the church and the doctrine of a particular religion and no government should interfere with that practice and doctrine of any religion. In effect, this applies to polygamy as well; once a common practice, especially in Biblical times. For example, by decreeing that Mormons and Muslims may not practice polygamy is clearly in defiance of the First Amendment. And so, in the same legal context, Muslims who exercise doctrine of hate and intolerance towards other religions is in violation of rights of those practicing that religion – especially when physical violence is involved. When that happens, civic law kicks in and should be so.
In the doctrine [Mosaic Law] of the Hebrews (Jews), Christianity, and Islam, homosexuality is forbidden.
In the amendments of the US Constitution addressing civil rights, homosexuals, in the privacy of their homes, are afforded that freedom; however, it is wrong and unconstitutional to force the practice of homosexuality upon others. This is how such controversy has developed. Homosexuals want their rights, but ignore the rights of others and at the expense of the rights and liberties of others practicing their religion. For example, the military community is a unique one in which members must live in close contact with each other, especially in field and combat conditions. Male and female military members are separated generally for discipline and protection of gender privacy. During the Clinton administration, a compromise was enacted called the “don't ask and don't tell” policy. However, this was not good enough for the extreme minority who identify themselves as “gay”. The policy idea was that homosexuals keep their sexual nature to themselves and private away from the daily military life – thus both parties rights were protected.
Today, the progressive-liberal community demands that a minority's rights be pushed ahead of all others, circumventing liberties and not exercising common sense or the original intent of constitutional law. Thus, homosexuality is forced upon educational institutions, military communities, and religious doctrine. In reality, sexual preferences between two consenting adults in the privacy of their dwelling is no business of anyone in the community. Once again, to a progressive-liberal, no line is drawn and no consideration for rights and liberties of both parties on opposite sides of the issue.
Civic or constitutional law is inserted here in this theological essay because of conflict and issues that violate Mosaic Law or any religious doctrine that a citizen chooses to exercise. And, if no religious doctrine is involved, say for example an atheist, that person has a right to think and enact the attitude that homosexuality is against natural law – that is international.
In the early 20th century, when Freudian principles and other breakthroughs in the science of psychology were developed, homosexuality was looked upon as a mental disorder; but as some have pointed out, once homosexuals entered the field of psychiatric medicine – that medical practice changed.
What has not changed (for the most part) is that homosexuality has clearly, historically, been against natural law and religious doctrine; except in cases where certain churches or religious denominations have declared that homosexuals are accepted. They are protected to believe so under the First Amendment.
But the law and the insertion of progressive-liberal-socialism within our government has rendered injustice and transgression to constitutional law and disregard the rights and liberties of Christians. Indeed, Christians have been persecuted in several degrees and transgression against their First Amendment rights more frequently committed.
The best solution to the issue over “gay” same-sex marriage is that the federal government not get involved, because constitutionally it cannot. Marriage licenses are issued by state and county governments, therefore the issue must be delegated to their authority; and in all fairness, the government should be delegating that authority to the Church.
Too many Americans do not realize that the marriage issue would be moot if the income tax system would be repealed, for that system dictates into the lives of citizens and involves marriage because of the criteria of tax credits.
The Supreme Court should declare that the same-sex marriage issue be delegated to the state government and the legislative body of the federal government repeal the 16th Amendment and replace it with a consumption tax that requires no need to require that government authority get involved with marriage issues, except in the case of divorce due to involvement of property and/or children.
In regards to the theological issues with homosexuality, the biblical texts are clear enough to solve the issue in regards to religious authority.
In theological conclusion, humans are born into a materialistic, "earthly" world and must find the median between civic law, laws of society; yet prepare/maintain their souls for the spiritual world. The latter circumvents all the others in that the earthly presence is far less in regards to time than the spiritual realm and the matter of the soul is personal which requires individual responsibility. This is the gist of what Jesus of Nazareth conveyed while at the same time recognizing Mosaic Law of the ancients. In comparison or review of religious doctrines in general, society that may be the majority is not always in tune with the truth in regards to life.
When the framers of the US Constitution put together the articles it represented civic law and order; however, when creating the amendments, it primarily, as decreed in the document known as the Declaration of Independence, wholly recognized that there was a natural law to be obeyed that correlated with the spiritual law, governing all humanity regardless of beliefs in the doctrine of various religious persuasions.
Citizens have the right to reject and protest against civic laws that does not view equality in the sense of rights and liberties, and while civic law may require all citizens to recognize homosexuality; they should never be required to accept it under the laws of nature, Mosaic Laws, or spiritual laws of those who believe in a Creator.
In that respect, theological doctrine or religious law must prevail and not be transgressed. Scholars may claim that homosexuality was "recognized" even in ancient times, but it can never claim that it was ever accepted or should be accepted as a norm, if that is part of their religious doctrine and spiritual beliefs based upon natural law.

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