What Paul Really Says about Homosexuality

This is taken from a Facebook post, so isn’t as eloquent as my other posts. However, I thought it was relevant to the particular political climate we are in today.

The only verse in the New Testament that seems to explicitly condemn homosexuality is Romans 1:21-27. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus explicitly talk about homosexuality, nor do any of the other books. The Old Testament is generally not accepted as law for Christians. However, if you wish to use the references in Leviticus to condone hating homosexuals I ask you to prove that you are following every other single law put down in Leviticus before you cherry pick the ones you like. Now, let’s take a literary approach to Romans. . .

Romans 1:21-27
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Let’s do some literary analysis here.

The original sin that caused this entire debacle was actually that they knew God but didn’t glorify him or give thanks to them. I won’t analyze the morals here, but the passage obviously states that giving them over to “unnatural desires” was a punishment for what they did. (For it first states the fact that they did not glorify him, which is followed by a “therefore.” The therefore implicitly states that what comes after it was a direct result of these actions. The action here? “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their heart.” This analysis is reinforced by verse 25 and 26: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things. . . Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. . .”) These acts were “shameful” for those people, and they received “/in themselves/ due penalty for their error.”

The penalty came not from without, but rather from within. When one does what one considers to be a shameful act, he becomes shamed and burdened with guilt. By committing these acts, they were saddled with guilt and suffering. God “gave them over to shameful lusts” as punishment for not glorifying him. The end result of this punishment was the guilt, shame, and disgust they received. The penalty was NOT from God for the act but rather “in themselves.” They punished THEMSELVES for what God made them do psychologically and emotionally.

So wait. Let’s think about this a little more. “God gave them over to shameful lusts. . . and [they] received in themselves due penalty for their error.” This is silly. God made you do something, and you were punished for it. Let’s be real here. If I physically forced you to, say, rob a liquor store somehow, do you really deserve to be punished for it, or do I? Sounds like God is not acting justly.

Also. Let’s make a distinction: Even if you disagree with my analysis, Paul is talking about UNNATURAL lusts. The people he is speaking to are obviously naturally heterosexual. They were inflamed by lust BY the Lord himself, and gave into it. The fault is they were acting AGAINST their nature, not that they had homosexual relations. Recent studies and scholarship have revealed that homosexuality is found in nature, thus is entirely natural. Look up Bonobo Monkeys (although, do so at your own risk. the videos are kinda nasty as I accidentally discovered). Also, many other animals have homosexual encounters. Arguing that homosexuality is unnatural in light of recent discoveries is frankly stupid. Behavioral scientists have also discovered that homosexuality is a result of genetics and environment, and thus is natural for the homosexual. They are not giving over to unnatural lusts, because these lusts are entirely natural for them.

Finally, find me ONE verse where Jesus speaks about homosexuals. Paul’s letters were dealing with specific issues in specific churches that he was writing to. They were never intended to be global dictates for the Christian religion. You have to look into context before you make rash generalizations and universalizations of something that was never meant to be universalized.

The Beauty of Atheism

Atheism is “hopeless,” “ugly” . . . These words resound amongst the religious community. This is what they tell their children, their fellow followers of their religion. “How can you live without a God? How do you get up in the morning? WHY do you get up in the morning?” These questions and assertions are rather silly in my mind. I used to wonder these things: they exemplify the fear that entrapped me in deism after my break with Christianity: the fear of nihilism, the fear of hopelessness, of a bleak world and existence. But there is an untold, unrealized beauty in atheism: one that far surpasses any comfort found in religious delusions.

Now, I am not a scientist. I am not an expert on cosmology or abiogenesis or anything I am about to talk about. I do, however have a curious mind and I have some understanding of the universe. If you do notice anything incorrect about what I say, then please correct me.

Our universe is natural. It is not poofed into existence by an eternal supernatural being through magic, but rather it is the result of natural processes. We all were once energy. Energy is, as far as we know, eternal, and everything in our universe is from this energy–energy compressed into a tiny point at the origin of all existence. It is rather silly to talk about what happened “before” the universe, for time came to being with the universe–there literally is no “before” the universe in any way we understand.

At genesis, the energy expanded outward at some point being converted to matter–but not just matter. Antimatter was also generated as well. These particles annihilate each other in a burst of energy when they come into contact. Statistically there should be no matter, but through sheer luck or chance matter was produced in a slightly greater proportion than antimatter and after the incendiary warfare between these subsided, all of the matter in our universe remained.

Origin is complex, and theories abound; it is impossible for a layman like myself to explain precisely how all this occurred, but the information is out there if you wish to know. In essence, due to differences in the fabric of the universe, this matter slowed their expansion, coalescing into points and forming atoms: helium and hydrogen to be exact. The building blocks of stars.

Over time unimaginable by our finite limited minds, the stars were born: the progenitors of everything we know to exist. Inside these stars was a nuclear furnace; the great bakers oven of all heavier materials in our universe. Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Iron–everything necessary for the existence of planets and life were baked in these furnaces. But stars, like us are mortal and finite. They too die. And when they die, these elements burst outward, and this stardust gives the material for planets and life. This simple fact: we are all stardust. You and I, the trees, the grass, even the air we breathe is stardust, the remnants of stars who died so we could live. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said, not only are we in the universe, but the universe is in us.

At some point about 4.5 billion years ago, our own “pale blue dot” came to being from these ancient elements. We do not know precisely how life came to be, but our bodies are merely complex chemical processes and hypothetically arose from chemical processes on the primordial earth.

This is what is important: every atom in our bodies is stardust. We were all formed in the furnaces of stars that existed billions of years before there was thought in our universe. For a relatively short period of time, an eye blink in the lifetime of the universe, these atoms have coalesced into a brilliant chemical and biological machine that is capable of becoming self aware, having thoughts, feelings, and ideas. If you desire spirituality, connection with the universe then you have it here, without any God.

I do not believe there is a soul. There is no evidence for it or reason to believe in one. “Soul” is simply the term pre-science cultures used for “consciousness.” The simple fact that I do not have a soul means I do not exist after death; this drives me to leave my mark, to accomplish great things before my short life is over. We all want to live forever, for death is unknown. This is possibly the origin of religion itself and the concept of the eternal “soul.” I cannot be truly immortal, but I can live on after I die. For, our accomplishments, ideas, and thoughts echo down the halls of eternity and carry small pieces of us. our life is finite–but we desire immortality. We are but a brief spark in existence, but the spark that flares brightly shines light into the darkness of our murky future. The spark that fizzles away after a dream of life after death fades away as though it had never flared at all. (I owe Thunderf00t for the language in the past few sentences)

Be a torch. Flare brightly. Live in this life, the only one we have. Savor it. Love it. Take pleasure in the fact that we are the lucky jackpot winners of an ancient cosmic lottery that gave us the chance to live–to truly live, not waste away fantasizing after the nonexistent. Live well. Love ferociously. Leave a legacy. This is the true immortal soul: what we leave behind when all we are has been brought to an end.

Religious Child Abuse

Let us imagine, for a moment, that I have a child.  I don’t, but let’s imagine that I do.  Then let us imagine that my child did something wrong; he broke a plate out of anger, for example.  What if you found out that I informed my child that if he didn’t beg for my forgiveness and swear to never do it again, then I would lock him in a closet for the rest of his life, beat him every day, and ensure that the entirety of his mortal life was filled with the utmost level of suffering I could possibly provide?

Then imagine I repeated this threat on a nearly daily basis.  Again.  And again.  Ensuring the child that I would enact upon him the utmost form of punishment that I can provide.  I believe, and I hope, that regardless of whether or not I followed through on this act most people would perceive the threat itself as an atrocious and abusive act; that the child would suffer some sort of mental trauma and psychological issues as a result of this threat.  I hope that most of you would agree that it is simply not right to threaten my child with a type of punishment that can initiate lifelong trauma.

Tell me then: if it is not okay for me to do, then why is it okay in your religion?  In many religions, we are told that if you do not do X, you are going to suffer for all of eternity in the afterlife.  How is informing your child that if they do not act correctly, they will burn in Hell for eternity different from me telling my child I will beat him for the rest of his life if he does not act correctly?   In actuality, how is this not worse?  In our scenario, I was only threatening my child with his mortal life.  You are threatening your child for eternity.  How can you consider this to be positive and correct child raising?  How can you justify, at a young age, telling your children they will go to Hell if they do not follow the edicts in your Holy book?

To put it simply, how can you justify psychologically abusing your children because of an obsolete and outdated belief system that has no place in the modern world?  How can you ever justify abusing your child?

A child should never be harmed, and never be hurt; they should be cared for and loved.  Telling this child they are going to hell if they do not act a certain way is simply child abuse.  Doing this is vile, disgusting, improper, and it needs to stop.

I have been asked why I hate religion; this is why.  This is the prime reason why religion is so sick to me.

The Second Coming

This is a short story I wrote, rather different from my other blog posts. I hope someone at least enjoys this.

Today, a man joined the congregation. He was young with dark long hair, a well groomed beard, and olive skin framing bright black eyes. His clothes simple, his manner unimposing yet powerful. A man expecting and requiring no respect but receiving it all the same. Beneath his beard, a small white smile seemed unchangeable and eternal; godlike both in it’s simplicity and perpetuality. By all appearances a man that one would walk by without a second thought; yet no one could see him and not dwell upon his oddness, his difference.

He sat nearly alone next to a little girl on the pew. A young orphan, accompanied by no one, who rode to church with her neighbor in order to fuel her desire to find God. In the other pews sat men and women, mostly elderly, dressed in their best clothes, suits and dresses belying an outward appearance of material manifestations of respect for the weekly event. They sat upon extravagantly carved wooden pews lined with plush cushions giving rise to a sense of comfort. Sunlight streamed through ornate stained glass windows, a natural spotlight upon the focus of the service; the pastor standing on the altar. Impeccably groomed and well dressed, his Armani suit gave hard lines to his rather soft physicality. He was on fire for God, his very appearance exuded vivacity and intensity–the very antithesis of our young visitor. He spoke of the love and salvation of Christ–but tempered this with timely warnings of Hell and Damnation lest some forget the real reason they were there. Every sermon began the same, a rhetorically brilliant reminder of the love of the Savior and the punishment that came with rejecting this love.

As the sermon continued, our young visitor laughed quietly on occasion, becoming an annoyance to those situated close enough to hear. The jitters and fidgeting of the few were contagious. Soon the entire church was filled with an intensely uncomfortable feeling with many unaware of the source of this feeling.

The sermon drifted as the pastor climbed the mountain of his personal soapbox. The political situation of America was driving him mad. The Devil was tempting us all to accept sodomy and sin in the name of tolerance.

“Do not be fooled, my friends! His ways are many, his tongue is silver. He will corrupt us if he can–but we must remain vigilant! Remember Sodom and Gomorrah my brothers: remember their punishment. Sodomy led to the destruction of these cities! The Christian community must remain staunch defenders of our nation; we must not allow vice and unnatural lust to run rampant in our own Christian state. This perversion of nature must not be acceptable to us. We shall remain strong, though others may fall.”

His voice faltered for a moment in passion, and your young intruder was shaking his head gently–still smiling. the pastor continued, softly this time.

“My friend, God has spoken to me. He has made me aware of the evil threatening to grip our nation. He has called upon us to don the armor of faith and fight the war of His will. We are his chosen people, and our time is at hand. I fear for us–I truly do. I’m concerned for us all. Those attacks on our country a decade ago–the felling of our great towers–this was God’s warning. We cannot continue the path that we have chosen. He is disgusted with us. His nation, His new Jerusalem falling prey to sin, vice, unnaturalness and evil. If we do not cease this immediately his true wrath will fall upon us and all will know that He is God–that his wrath is full and his justice hard. The Christian community must make a stand or our nation shall taste the wrath of Yahweh and be no more!”

The shepherds flock cheered at this statement, an “amen!” resounding upon the great halls of this place of worship with only two voices remaining silent.

“Our God is just! And so must we be. Our righteous judgment must fall upon this nation. Speak out my friends! Do not let them destroy our land from the inside out. Stay strong. Stay steady. Do not retreat, do not surrender. Stay firm. Be a rock of faith–be God’s anchor in America. . . Let us pray. But in our own measure, and our own ways in our own head. Pray for justice and God’s law to return to this nation. Pray that we all hold our own against the turbulent temptation the Devil is bringing. Let us pray. . .”

At this, our pastor adjusted his tie and ran his fingers through his hair, assuring that his passion had not destroyed or altered his very carefully polished appearance. The church fell silent as every head bowed. For moments, not a sound could be heard. Then, suddenly, a voice broke out in the silence: A strong voice, passionate and loud but calm, reserved, and thoughtful. A voice filled with compassion and love.

“MY father, the Lord of all that is, was, and ever will be, I pray to You. The Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, your only Son calls for you. The creator of all things, the judge of old, the ancient and the timeless. I call for you. My father, I thank you for these people, for their passion, for their love.

At this, our young intruder stood and lifted his eyes to the ceiling.

“They have been misled, my father. Forgive them for they know not what they do. Their hearts may be misled but their intentions are true. I call for you, to enter their hearts and reveal to them the Truth of my teachings. I Jeshu bin Joseph, your only son, thank you for this chance to reveal to them Your will. Make them receptive, and let them see your will through me. For this, I pray to you. May your will be done–Amen.”

The congregation was silent with shock as the young intruder, the Jesus of old made his way to the altar. The pastor bowed up to stop him, but a single look cast him down in his seat. Jeshu bin Joseph looked at the crowd.

“My children. . . Where have my teachings gone? Did you forget to love your neighbor? Have you lost your compassion? You speak of love, but your lessons are of hate. I am reminded far too strongly of the Pharisees of old. My teachings have been used as the basis of bigotry and prejudice–my love for all has become hatred for some. You blame my Father–YOUR Father–for the evil commited against this nation. You read the Jewish myths of old–the myths I came to supplant–and justify your own personal hatred for others. Wherefore comes this? Not from my teachings to be sure. I spoke to men and women, free and slave as equals–yet this church, and other churches have used me to justify slavery and misogyny. Rather than study my words–the teachings of the only savior, you study the letters of Paul–letters written to deal with certain issues in certain churches by a man who never even knew me.”

He closed his eyes for a moment and continued.

“Your bible was written by men, but my teachings are from God. My teachings are there but you all added to them. You have let religion come before me and so your religion has destroyed my words. I taught you to love your neighbor–not just your Christians. You preach against homosexuals and justify your hate with Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you not understand the story? Their sexuality was irrelevant–their desire to rape was their crime. How many of you have read my book and sought to understand me? How many of you pick and choose from it to justify your own traditions and hate? Look around you, my friends. I taught from a tent. From a mountainside. Anywhere. You teach from a gaudy misrepresentation of your “faith” filled with graven images of me! My friends, I ask you only to be a force of love and compassion in the world, to “take up your cross and follow me.” Instead, you have become a force of hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. You take “faith” to be a rational acceptance of something, but if you believe in me you must follow me! Your intentions are good, but you have forgotten how to love. I come to you today, for the second time in history, to give you my edict–to love and to go forth and share my words. That is all. There are no rituals, no necessity for church laws. Let us all just love for love’s sake. That is all.”

The intruder stood before them for a moment, his tiny smile never having left his face. He stepped down from the altar, walking gracefully towards the exit. As the Christ slowly made his way out, the pastor gathered his wits and sprang up to the microphone.

“Blashphemer!” His words echoed through the halls and Christ turned slowly towards him. “This man claims to be God, accuses us of evils for doing God’s work! He is a servant of Lucifer! Take him my brothers! Do not let him leave!”

The Christ nodded in acquiescence and understanding, accepting this judgment and their failure to see. A man grasped the back of Christ’s shirt and slung him to the ground as bloodlust filled this house of God. The flock rose as one and gathered around. Their cries of “blasphemer!” “heretic!” and “satan!” filled the halls as their kicks fell upon the passive Lord. His cries rang out quietly among the screams of rage and hate as blow upon blow landed upon his human body.

A small pool of blood slowly pooled underneath his head. His movements and cries slowly stopped as blows rained down upon his now lifeless body. One by one the crowd stepped away to look at their work.

The people looked self satisfied at one another. All except for one, poor, lonely little girl who remained in her pew, crying, shaking, and rocking. Her quiet whispers slowly filled the church as the others fell silent. Her broken voice repeated just four simple words over and over again.

“What have we done?”

The Paradox of Religious “Morality”

“But… how is it possible to have morality without religion?”

This is an argument I have heard many times.  How can one act morally without religious beliefs?  The premise here is that religion supplies the rules and initiative to act as a moral human being.  However, this is a premise that appears to be entirely unexamined by many religious people.  So, I have taken it upon myself to address this argument.

Religion generally supplies some sort of reward and punishment after you die for your actions while you’re alive.  For Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, it’s Heaven and Hell.  For Hinduism and some sects of Buddhism, it’s Karma and the incarnation you take after you die.  Essentially, there is a divine moral law and a punishment/reward system as incentive for following this moral law.

It follows then, that religious moral actions are based upon the punishment/reward system.  In short, “I must be a good person to go to Heaven and if not I go to Hell (or get reincarnated as a grasshopper).”

However, we must examine the premise of morality and what defines moral actions.  Here, I am arguing that selfish desires are either immoral or amoral, while acting on the behalf of others for others’ well being with no ulterior motive defines morality.  While I do not wish to bore you with a reasoning of these definitions, as I do not think anyone reading this wishes me to create an elaborate treatise on morality, I will leave the comment sections open for any objections to these definitions and I will address them as they arise.  I do hope, however, that these definitions will be generally accepted.

Religious morality essentially is based upon a desire to gain the reward that is defined within their religion (except for certain paths in Buddhism which refuse to receive enlightenment until “every blade of grass is enlightened”) .  We can elaborate upon this with a short logical progression (I’m going to use heaven for short as the positive reward of all religions):

1.  God rules everything.
2.  I’m part of everything,
3.  Therefore God rules me.
4.  God decides who gets into heaven or hell.
5.  God rules me (per proposition 2)
6.  Therefore God decides if I go to heaven or hell.
7.  God has defined laws for those, like myself, whom he rules.
8.  If I follow these laws I go to heaven.
9.  Therefore, if I don’t follow these laws I go to hell.
10.  I want to go to heaven.
11.  Therefore, I must follow God’s laws.

The logic here seems fairly sound, except it assumes that God exists.  However, if one accepts that assumption it follows that one wants to go to Heaven and not Hell.  Therefore, following God’s laws makes sense, and many religious people call this morality.

However, I wish to analyze proposition 10.  Essentially, this is the desire to go to Heaven.  This desire is not influenced by any desire to benefit others, yet religious people tend to assume that the following of God’s law that results from this is morality.  It is apparent that this desire is a selfish desire.  But, I suppose I should define selfish desires.  A selfish desire is a desire that is entirely constituted around one’s own well being without concern for anyone else.  You going to Heaven does not benefit or concern anyone else in the entire world.  I personally, assuming Heaven exists, do not give a damn whether you go to Heaven or not–it does not concern me and it does not benefit me.

It is apparent then that the desire for eternity in Heaven is a selfish desire.  Therefore, anything that follows from this is either amoral or immoral.  Now at times, following “God’s Law” can be considered immoral, such as honor killings, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.  However, many times this is merely amoral. Thus, doing good things as a wish to follow God’s law in order to go to Heaven is simply an amoral act and any beneficial consequences that result from this are necessarily amoral.  This is the paradox of morality:  so called “moral acts” committed as a way to assure your ascendance to Heaven are amoral.

From whence then, does morality come from?  The atheist has a much stronger claim to morality than religious people for his actions are not based upon any kind of reward/punishment system such as religion provides.  His moral actions are done simply out of concern for other human beings.  Morality is and should be based on the humanistic desire for the betterment of others.

Does this mean that a religious person cannot commit moral acts?  No.  But these acts must be influenced not by religious rules but rather by an innate desire to assist others and better mankind.

The Imperfect God

I’m beginning to use Youtube as a secondary way to present some of my opinions. Sometimes speaking can express things words simply cannot convey. I will be posting all of my Youtube videos on my blog