Friday, 19 October 2012

"Are you Christian?"

Here's "today's" video:

Ah, didn't expect it to do that.  If you're seeing roughly what i'm seeing now, the preview is in a weird place.  Anyway...

In this video, i argue that believing both in a loving God and the idea that mutually consenting homosexual sex between two adults is sinful in circumstances where the same sexual acts between people of different genders is not is a logical contradiction.  In a sense, it almost doesn't matter what the Bible says and when there seem to be contradictions in Scripture, most Christians attempt to reconcile them or consider them insignificant.  Two examples are the idea that pi is three, which seems to be mentioned in 1 Kings 7:23, and the idea that all Cretans are always liars and that Epimenides, a Cretan said that so it must be true, mentioned by Paul in Titus 1:12,13.

It would of course be silly to get hung up on both of those in one way, although in another they are quite interesting.  The reason the Bible gives an integer value of pi is probably that irrational numbers could not be expressed or understood by the people of that time and place.  Christians generally take two approaches to this.  They either say it wasn't perfectly round or take the sensible route that i just took.  A similar approach can be taken to the liar paradox apparently expressed in the letter to Titus - Paul doesn't literally mean "always" and therefore there is no problem, and on the whole readers pass over this without a hiccough, and rightly so.  One part of my argument here is that the only difference between those easily explained away "contradictions" and the idea that a loving God condemns homosexual behaviour is that the proposition that God is love and the proposition that homosexual acts are sinful is that more text separates the two, and that they occur in different documents which happen to be bound together in the same codex.

Furthermore, and this is an important point, Biblical literalism leads one to a most repugnant conclusion in this case.  Paul is often seen as referring to pederasty, in other words a relationship where mature men have sex with adolescent boys.  In our culture, this is child sexual abuse.  Since he also uses the word "malakoi" - soft, "effeminate", as the KJV would have it - he is referring to what we would think of as the victims of child sexual abuse, not the perpetrators.  He is saying that, just as the law of the Old Testament barred certain people from the temple because of defilement, such as menstruating women and castrated men, because they are in a sense that horrible concept of "damaged goods", so are the victims of child sexual abuse be barred from the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is where a literal interpretation of these verses takes us.  Now, i feel absolutely confident that few or no Christians, fundamentalist or otherwise, would accept this conclusion, and that's to their credit, but it needs to be recognised that when they reject this conclusion, they are choosing to moderate their reading of Scripture in a way which is not literal.  If they're prepared to do that, there seems to be no ethical or hermeneutic reason not to reject homophobia too.

So, that's a grim, depressing paragraph.  On a lighter note, this blog entry owes its name to this Rowan Atkinson sketch from 'Not The Nine O'Clock News':