Thursday, July 08, 2004

Is Being Gay So Wrong?

Last night my pastor came over to talk with Kristin and myself about religion. You see, I'm Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and she's Catholic. This has often lead to some interesting debates and since we both have many questions about the other's religion, we've often tried to experience each style of church. Talking with my pastor only seemed a natural extension of this. I was also very curious to talk with my pastor about some topics that are heavy on my mind as well, or that might need some clarifying.

Kristin and I do agree on a lot religiously, but it's usually the small details that we argue over. We both are Christians. We both believe in consubstantiation. We believe in the message of tolerance, love, peace, and forgiveness that Jesus taught. We believe that Jesus was God. None of these "big" details are ever in question. It's all the "little" details that do cause trouble, though.

Traditionally Catholics and Protestants both oppose homosexuality and the practice of having women priests/pastors and women as deacons/elders. While being brought up in the strongly conservative environment of the Missouri Synod church I also, of course, came to believe these things as true. As I've grown, experienced the world, examined more of the human experience, and learned I come to see that maybe I don't wholeheartedly believe in these things anymore. Last night helped to rekindle many of the lines of reasoning that I had let fall by the wayside since I graduated college. I am now in an environment where I am not expected to question everything all the time like I was in college in our philosophy program. I am somewhat ashamed for letting my mental stimulation lag, but I hope last night is a stepping stone to reawakening a lazy part of my mind.

The main topic that was focused on last night, after talking about the general church things, was homosexuality. This has become a very tender area of discussion for Kristin and myself. She is a strong advocate for the homosexual/bisexual community and does not see their practices as being something wrong. I, on the other hand, have always thought that homosexuality is something wrong--something that shouldn't be practiced. Growing up I never questioned why I believed that, but because of Kristin and the college environment I have been forced to, and I am thankful that I was.

I was always taught that the Bible said homosexuality was wrong so there was no question, it should never be practiced. Now, after doing some research, it seems like the Bible isn't so clear cut about what it says. Sure, there's a few passages that appear to directly address homosexuality, but each of the verses have been translated in many different ways, how are we to know what is the correct translation. Over the years in the passing down of the Bible, who's to say exactly which translation is the definitive version. In some cases there is no way to directly translate a word in one language to an equivalent word in another language. A word that's close, but not exactly meaning the same thing, has to be used. I often think of the example of the Eskimos who have a myriad of words for snow and we have one. It would be very hard, if not impossible, to translate each word for snow into a different conceptual word in our language.

There has also been the argument that homosexuality isn't natural. It's an aberration. If it's such an aberration, then why does is proliferate in some species of animals as well? If it goes against what is "natural" then why does nature practice it? In my studies of sociobiology at college, which I could talk on end about but won't, there were many examples enumerated for the subsistence of homosexuality in nature ranging from genetics to providing a positive benefit for evolution through group selection. So is homosexuality really all that unnatural?

I've also been told that homosexuality is wrong because no life can be created from a homosexual union. I've always found this the weakest argument against homosexuality simply because then marriages or unions between infertile people or with a woman past menopause are wrong because no life can come from it.

In looking at the topic right now, I'm not completely sure exactly how I stand. I still have a hard time seeing homosexuality as something that is perfectly acceptable, but I also can't seem to find a concrete reason to think it's wrong. I by no means am trying to say that I dislike or will disassociate myself from homosexual people, but at the moment I am not sure I can actively condone what they are doing either. It's confusing. My feelings have definitely been quite conflicting as of late, especially when reading the thoughts of someone who is openly gay (I hope none of this offended you Lily) and seeing things through the eyes of someone living the lifestyle I've always been taught to disregard as simply being wrong. I've been taught to see it as wrong no matter what, but now I have a hard time justifying that notion. I really can't find a truly justifiable reason to say that homosexuality is wrong. This is a tough spot to be at mentally because, for once, I don't have a strong opinion in one direction on something. It's also tough religiously because it kind of, well, really conflicts with what my church believes.

On a completely different note, I finished reading Kafka's Metamorphosis the other day. I'm now trying to figure out what exactly was the point of the whole story. Is he trying to tell us that if you ever wake up as a bug, kill yourself quick so that your family can move on? Is it somehow metaphorical for saying that we are sometimes burdens to others and don't realize it? What was the reason for the transformation? Why did it happen? Obviously Kafka didn't think that the answers to these last two questions were essential at all. I just didn't take much away from this story. Enlighten me if I'm completely missing something here.

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