Archive for the ‘gays’ tag
P.Z. Myers whiffed on that Atheism Plus foolishness, but nonbelief should be about celebrating our similarities, right? That said, I couldn’t agree more with what P.Z. Myers wrote about Minnesota’s recent vote to OK gay marriage.
Gov. Mark Dayton wrote:
In my heart, I grieve on both sides. Because I know what it’s like to be alone and I know what it is like to have somebody close to you and love you. But I grieve inside because I feel we are opening the doors to Sodom and Gomorra. And in the end, God is going to be the judge,” said Nelson, of Blaine, tears running down her cheeks.
Aww, he grieves on both sides. How compassionate. He apparently doesn’t shed too many tears, however, since priestly exhortations against sodomy by fiat trump any loneliness folks might feel from the lack of a mate, straight or otherwise. In the end an all-loving, peaceful, war-loving God — depending on which part of the Bible you read — with his fire and brimstone, will be the judge.
Myers concludes his remarks about Dayton:
I would bottle your tears and perhaps dot a little on my wrists every morning — Eau de Schadenfreude. Or perhaps I would drink them like a rich bitter wine, and laugh. Those aren’t tears of sorrow, but of nasty cruel bigotry — you didn’t get your way, you weren’t allowed to demean other citizens of this state in the way you wanted, and now you get to weep in frustration, while I have no sympathy.
And to compare the happy men and women who can now aspire to share equally in love and marriage with evil, wicked horrible people from your book of lies, to tell yourself they are damned and will be destroyed…well, I’ll dance an especially happy spiteful dance on your broken dreams of oppression, lady.
Conservatives and religious types just need to swallow this conclusion hook, line and sinker because it’s reality: in regard to equal rights – particularly gay and civil rights – as San Francisco goes, so goes the nation. Resist this trend all you want but believe you me, whatever is now acceptable in California, the Pacific Northwest and New England, will one day be acceptable in the entire nation, the South included, and no matter how long it takes, resistance to this fact is futile.
I continue to chafe at some of the so-called intellectuals on Free Thought Blogs continually referring to atheism as a “movement” and associating it with all these other causes that actual nonbelievers have every right to care about or not. I happen to think that supporting equal rights with no preference given to either gender is a positive thing, and this is why I have a reservations about feminism. I happen to think that a progressive view of politics is the best way to move society forward.
I happen to think that whatever legislation is being passed in California, specifically, the Oakland and San Francisco Bay area, will eventually filter out to the rest of the nation, and we will, kicking and screaming, one day more resemble California than the inverse. I happen to think that civil society has no place for semiautomatic weapons, but have trouble supporting the eradication of guns altogether because of legitimate security concerns and the potential for recreation-only uses. I happen to think that Black History Month is an outdated and somewhat insulting relic that should be dispensed with. I happen to think that stem cell research shows near limitless potential to save lives and improve the health and happiness of chronically ill patients. I happen to support anyone’s right to marry so long as they are paying taxes and are an upstanding member of society.
What I do is express my opinions; what I don’t do is dictate whatever I believe onto the entirety of nonbelievers, understanding full well that some skeptics might be conservatives in other parts of their lives. Some might be in favor of traditional marriage. Some might think Black History Month is a perfectly fitting recognition for our black brethren.
In her most recent “all the things that atheism is not” post, Greta Christina whiffs again, referring to the ludicrous “atheist view of sensuality:”
The atheist view of sensuality, of pure physical pleasure and joy in our bodies, is about eleventy billion times better than any traditional religious view. Our view — or rather, our views — of physical pleasure are more coherent, more ethical, way the hell more appealing and fun. We don’t believe in a supernatural soul that’s finer than our bodies, more important than our bodies, superior to our bodies in every way. We don’t think we have a soul separate from our bodies, period. We sure as heck don’t believe in an immaterial god who thinks that our bodies are icky — even though he, you know, created them — and who makes up endless, arbitrary, unfathomably nitpicky rules about what we may and may not do with them. We understand that the physical world is all there is. We understand that our bodies, and the lives we live in them, are all we have. And as a result, we are entirely free — within the constraints of basic ethics, obviously — to enjoy these bodies, and these mortal, physical lives. As atheists, we’re free to celebrate our bodies, and the pleasures they can bring us, as thoroughly and exuberantly as we can.
So why don’t we?
Why isn’t atheist culture more physical? Why isn’t it more focused on sensuality and sensual joy? Why is it so cerebral so much of the time? As atheists, we’ve flatly rejected the idea that there’s a higher, finer world than the physical one. Why does it so often seem as if we’ve bought into it?
She goes on to talk about how atheists — where this logic comes from, I don’t know — tend to be more “cerebral” in their approach to life, and thus, the sexual lives of nonbelievers are not as fulfilling as they could be. First, we can flatly reject the notion that religious people can’t have fulfilling sexual lives. That’s just anecdotal, atheist know-nothing rubbish. Spoiler alert: Christians have written mounds of books about how believers can have titillating sex and stay true to the faith. Or, if you reject the notion that Christians are somehow excluded from fulfilling or even kinky sexual experiences inside the walls of marriage, pick up this page-turner: “Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage.”
While I think it is true that the large majority of nonbelievers try to live in the moment and appreciate that this is the only life they are going to get, it’s also anecdotal to suggest that nonbelievers aren’t living sexually fulfilling lives. If the former is true, that nonbelievers appreciate the brevity of this life and live accordingly, why would they not be making the most of their sexuality? This seems to be a self-defeating argument that she’s making. Does Christina bring any proof to bear that atheists are prudes when it comes to the bedroom, that most of us have this nerdy side that makes us uncomfortable enjoying sex and sensuality? This is apparently the best she could do:
I know for a fact that many atheists, maybe even most of us, don’t live this cerebral way in our private lives. I know that I’m not the only atheist who revels in good food and better hooch; who fucks all afternoon and dances all night; who walks in the sun for miles and pumps iron for the sheer endorphiny pleasure of it; who literally stops and smells roses. But our public life typically doesn’t (sic) reflect this. There are notable exceptions, of course: Skeptics in the Pub and similar events leap to mind. But in large part, our public life as atheists — our events, our writings, our culture — is geared towards political activism, social change, the pursuit of science, and the life of the mind.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a passionate devotee of political activism, social change, the pursuit of science, and the life of the mind. But that’s not all atheist culture has to offer. Not by a long shot. This wacky notion that our selves are not separate from our bodies and therefore this life is all we have… this is one of our greatest strengths. And yet, when it comes to one of the most obvious logical conclusions of this notion — the idea that ethically pursued pleasure not only isn’t sinful, but is an actual positive good — we flinch from it in public. When believers accuse us of being sybaritic hedonists, we hotly deny it… rather than saying, “Hell yes, we’re hedonists — why shouldn’t we be?(“) (italics mine)
For me personally, I think that presenting a public face that tells the world that nonbelievers celebrate the mind, while enjoying life and all the same pleasures as well-adapted, law-abiding human beings is a good message to send. One severe problem with the gay rights discourse in this nation is that Americans by and large only associate gay and lesbian people with sex. They have a preconceived notion that sex is the only thing gay people care about, and essentially, that it defines them. Obviously, this notion is terribly wrong, and I think it would be unfortunate if atheism came to be associated with hypersexuality.
We are simply people who want to experience what life has to offer and as much of it, before the lights go dim. Nothing more, nothing less. To attempt to elevate atheists beyond this, as somehow carrying the ball of humanity going forward, I think, is flirting too closely with arrogance and elitism, and this is the pretentiousness that seems to ooze from every orifice of the so-called Atheism Plus “movement.”
Speaking of pretentiousness, here comes the inevitable Richard Carrier-esque exhortations from Christina:
And sometimes it can be more subtle, an unconscious absorption of less obvious ideas and reflexes. As we see with the acceptance of the preposterous notion that physical experience is less valuable and meaningful than intellectual experience, and that physical pleasure is something to be ashamed of.
So let’s knock it off. Let’s celebrate our bodies as much as we do our minds. In fact, let’s stop seeing our bodies as something totally apart from our minds. Let’s not simply reject Cartesian dualism and the absurd notion that the soul is the real self and the body is just a skanky shell. Let’s reject its mutant offspring, the absurd notion that the intellect is the real self and the senses are just a meaningless indulgence. The atheist view of physical pleasure is more coherent, more ethical, and way the hell more appealing and fun. Let’s put that view front and center.
Nonbelievers, you have your barking orders. Follow them or suffer the wrath of Atheism Plus.
A 28-year-old Upper Darby man has been charged with murder after telling police that he stoned a 70-year-old man to death when the man made sexual advances toward him, authorities say.
John Joe Thomas, 28, of Sunshine Road in Upper Darby, spent almost every day with 70-year-old Murray Seidman at Seidman’sLansdowne home, police say. Days before Seidman’s body was found on Jan. 12, Thomas allegedly beat Seidman to death with a sock full of rocks.
Thomas told authorities that he read in the Old Testament that gays should be stoned to death. When Seidman allegedly made sexual advances toward him over a period of time, Thomas said he received a message in his prayers that he must end Seidman’s life, according to court documents.
Read more: Man, 70, Stoned to Death for Being Gay.
“People keep coming out, honking horns, taking pictures,” he said. “There has been no negative response.”
Local artist Wendy Prentice volunteered as the project’s “color connoisseur.”
Jackson reportedly stumbled on the location of Westboro Baptist Church while surfing on Google Earth.
He found a “For Sale” sign sitting on a house across from it and immediately decided to buy the house and paint it with the colors of the pride flag.
I haven’t always been a big fan of the rainbow theme within the gay community or, for that matter, the flamboyancy that sometimes emanates from members of that community because if it’s equality they are after, they shouldn’t expend so much energy focusing on how they are so different than everyone else and just focus on getting the rights they deserve. But as vitriolic as members of Westboro have been against, not only gay people, but members of the military, I hope this gives them a good rub. It will surely spruce up the community from an aesthetics standpoint.
For people who talk so much about morality, the divine and transcendence, believers sure do find a way to make the church and religion look more and more like the man-made, carnal institutions that they are.
Although New York Times op-ed contributor Alan Cowell doesn’t break any new ground with his headline, “A Church Diverted by Issues of Sexuality and Gender,” his article does, once again, highlight just a few of the ways the church as an institution is positively obsessed with sex, sexuality and what happens in bedrooms once the doors are closed. He notes that last month,
the Church of England voted — narrowly and against the judgment of its priests and bishops — to reject the notion of women’s joining the episcopate, even though the titular supreme governor of the church is a woman: Queen Elizabeth II.
In January, the bishops themselves followed up with a potentially epochal ruling admitting openly gay priests in civil partnerships to their ranks, provided that, unlike heterosexual bishops, they remain celibate.
So, in the latter case, in other words, it is perfectly OK to be a gay bishop; you just have to give up sex as a consequence. Of course one has to wonder, as a person in the article pointed out, how does the church intend to police this stipulation? Video cameras in every bishop bedroom? Every bathroom stall? Every confessional?
Cowell also noted that he recently visited a small church in the northern part of London, and sex was not mentioned at all, leading to this conclusion:
That contrast between the congregants’ modesty and the issues of gender and sexuality absorbing church leaders seems to underline a sense that the Anglican elite and the rank-and-file churchgoers have, like the scriptural Magi after visiting with the infant Jesus, left by different routes.
It could be argued that the congregants themselves are in a kind of denial, reciting their prayers by rote in search of redemption and turning away from themes inspired by Britain’s changing society.
He ends by highlighting some stats that he deemed “ominous” about the state of religion in Wales and England from 2011.
While Christianity remained the dominant faith, the percentage of the 56 million population calling itself Christian fell to 59.3 percent from 71.7 percent over a decade, while other religions, particularly Islam, burgeoned. And the proportion of people professing no religious faith at all increased to 25.1 percent from 14.8 percent.
Millions of people, in other words, dropped out of Christianity and embraced atheism or agnosticism — surely a more ominous trend than the gender or sexuality of any of them.
Actually what appears “ominous” to me is the church’s approach to sex in the first place. The reason, I would wager, that more and more people are leaving faith is that, for one reason, Christianity’s leaders, especially at the Vatican, appear as if they are just making up religious doctrine and law as they go along, the new and ridiculous rules I just mentioned not the least among them. I mean, seriously, the church just can’t make up its mind whether God really loves everyone — like you know, literally, and not in some kind of weird symbolic way — and hence the church should except gay people for who they are, or whether we should “hate the sin but not the sinner” or whether God really does want all gays stoned to death as per the Bible.
Take the case of the Pope‘s esteemed decision to change policy on unbaptized children. For hundreds of years, these unfortunate little ones were exiled to purgatory or limbo or … whatever. Well — hey presto! — forward to the year 2007, and Joseph Ratzinger decides out of the blue that these infants may actually be able to go to heaven after all. I say “out of the blue” because Vatican officials backed this decision based on “extensive theological research” apparently unavailable to every other God-inspired Pope through the Vatican’s long history. This is the kind of gobbledygook that begins to weigh on people after awhile. I mean, people can be compelled to believe all kinds of fairy tales if their eternal soul is on the line, but the constant bickering and infighting among folks of the same religion and endless rerouting of policies and agendas does not bode well for a religion that takes its answers from an all-knowing, awe-inspiring god. If only God would give the faithful a new revelation to clear up some of these policy matters and make it abundantly clear where the almighty stands on gay marriage, purgatory, abortion, stem cell research, condoms in Africa, burning witches, enslaving humans and religious crusading.
Only if …
If there were still any doubts about why Boston is one of the best places to live in the U.S. for all people, the Mayor Thomas M. Menino dispels them in the following letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy:
Daniel A. Helminiak, author of “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality,” argued last month in a column for CNN that the Bible only condemns homosexuality in cases where “injustice and abuse” are involved and that
Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.
Helminiak goes on:
In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.
Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.
One of his main points comes from Genesis 19, which retells a story about two angels coming into town and rooming with Lot for the night. The men of Sodom told Lot to release the angels (obviously in the form of men) so that the men could have sex with them. As Helminiak interprets the story:
The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).
But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom.
Perhaps not explicitly, but Lot was so much against the men’s proposition that he offered his two virgin daughters instead and pleaded with the men:
I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
In any case, he goes on to the New Testament in which Helminiak interprets Paul to have thought about male to male sex as ”dishonorable” or “unseemly” but not outright immoral. Further, he said that
Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.
While he may be right about Paul’s thoughts on homosexuality — it wasn’t exactly uncommon in those times either — Helminiak is categorically wrong when he says that “nowhere does the Bible oppose homosexuality.” He even referenced one of the passages that unequivocally opposes gay sex. Leviticus 18:22 reads:
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (KJV)
The very next verse condemns anyone who sleeps with animals, and verses all through the chapter talk about how it’s wrong to sleep with various members of one’s family.
Further, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the execution of anyone who commits homosexual acts:
13 If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
And once again, this verse is surrounded by others that command the people of Israel not to have sex with their family members, etc., as if it weren’t so obviously wrong that it had to be spelled out.
Later in the same chapter, the writer of Leviticus outlines the nasty consequences that will follow if these actions take place:
22 Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.
So, if the people commit acts such as sleeping with their relatives or with people of the same sex, the earth will regurgitate them. In what “historical contexts” are we supposed to read these passages? I can maybe grant his point about Sodom — those guys were clearly out of line wanting to have sex with the angel-men! — but his blanket statement about homosexuality in the Bible is patently false. The passages above sound like pretty firm prohibitions to me, and not just of the acts themselves, but of the ideas of homosexuality, bestiality and incest, all of which are lumped together in two separate chapters.
I don’t know how raising money is supposed to impact votes at the ballot box unless they plan to buy off people to get them to vote against same-sex marriage. In any case:
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father’s Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November’s ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex marriages.
Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.
This sounds like an egregious waste of resources to me. The money raised could be used by churches to, oh, I don’t know, feed the homeless, give clothes and shelter to needy families or generally make someone else’s life better. But no, churches and conservatives PAC’s think it’s a better use of their time and money to fight against equality. We see how well that worked out for them in 1964, don’t we?
I think this cartoon best paints the skewed picture of same-sex marriage from the biblical worldview:
Thanks to http://www.theatheistpig.com for the graphic.