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Nov 15 2012

The church always gets it wrong at first

It is clear that the issue of homosexuality is going to doom religions unless they learn to accept it. Some have re-interpreted their texts to accommodate the changes but this is not going to be easy for others (evangelicals, the Catholic church, and Muslims) to do because they have gone to the mat on this issue, to argue that it violates the very core of their religious beliefs.

Telling them that they wrongly interpreted their religious texts all these years is going to create some angst. C. S. Pearce describes how one young evangelical posed the issue to him: “If this ‘new’ interpretation of the Bible is true, how could Christians have had it wrong all these years?”

Pearce points out that this is hardly unprecedented:

For many centuries, “good” Christians used the Bible as a basis to deny women basic human and civil rights, to imply that handicapped people must have sinned to deserve their disability, and to justify anti-Semitism.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that Christians began to seriously question the morality of slavery. When the U.S. finally abolished slavery in 1865, many sincere Christians still believed it was a valid state for black people, and found biblical “justifications” to back it up. As a result, some Christian colleges in the South continued to bar people of color from attending through the 1960s and 1970s.

Interracial dating, too, was considered taboo for many years because of certain Bible passages. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court finally struck down the last of the state laws banning interracial marriage, but it wasn’t until March 2000 that the “biblically faithful” Bob Jones University lifted its ban against interracial dating.

History has shown that harmful beliefs will continue until people begin to question them, even in the church. And the questioning is always controversial at first.

The question is not if religions will change their stance on homosexuality, but when.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    People will eventually get it right — once they have tried all of the other options.

  2. 2
    Steve R

    What it will take to change Catholic policy is for the old men in the Vatican to notice that they are beginning to lose the women. It’s mothers who inject that malignant memeplex at an age when a kid has no defenses at all, and that’s what it takes to make sure the infection is lifelong. If a child gets to the “age of reason”, traditionally considered to be seven years, without already being indoctrinated, he will regard all of that Church bullshit as “stuff they want me to believe that isn’t really so.” Like the Easter Bunny. If Mommy does a good job of mental circumcision before that, he will never really be free of superstition. These are the people who are atheists in college, then relapse. It’s not a function of intelligence. There are brilliant godbots (who can spin lovely baroque rationalizations) and stupid atheists.

  3. 3
    Abdul Alhazred

    It is clear that the issue of homosexuality is going to doom religions unless they learn to accept it.

    I’m a gay atheist myself, but I strongly disagree with that excessively overconfident statement.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and there is no clock that cannot be turned back. As with organic evolution there is also no “preferred direction” of social evolution.

    The tendencies of the past few centuries of Western Civilization are not universal laws of nature. And even at that there have been some regressive movements that didn’t just die out and had to be suppressed violently.

    Are you counting on Muslims getting liberal?

  4. 4
    Mano Singham

    Yes, or it will die. I think that Islam, like every other religion, will have to deal with modernity. In the age of the internet, there is a limit to how much and for how long you can protect your people from modern ideas.

  5. 5
    Abdul Alhazred

    Such touching faith.

  6. 6
    stonyground

    A common format on the UK talk radio station BBC Radio Four, is the adversarial discussion between two guests with opposing views, with the presenter as a kind of referee. When there are issues such as gay rights or assisted dying, invariably the anti side is taken up by a CofE* bishop. I am always dissappointed that the sane guy doesn’t bring up the Church’s 100% track record of being wrong on moral issues. Followed by the killer blow that, every single time, after having fought tooth and nail and then lost the argument anyway, the Church then waited until everyone had lost interest, and then quietly changed sides and claimed that they were with the good guys all along.

    *CofE = Church of England. Having an established church means that bishops tend to have influence with no democratic mandate. It also means that the vast majority of the electorate regard religion with derision and contempt but, for some reason, still put Christian on their census forms.

  7. 7
    mnb0

    @Abdul: It’s already happening in Suriname, where I live, a country as religious as the USA. Gays etc. have come out of the closet a few years ago. There hardly is a fuzz, not by muslims either. I can know, my female counterpart is muslima. She knew right from the beginning that my late father was gay. Never a problem.

  8. 8
    sailor1031

    it’s okay, we understand that. here in the USA Bishops also have influence with no democratic mandate. Lots of influence.

  9. 9
    JoeFred

    I guess I’ve seen too many of my friends die young and tortured in their homosexual lifestyle. I also saw a march a while back where a bunch of old men paraded through town nude and wearing high heels. I wonder if this is how they envisioned they would grow up? I wonder if this was really their dream. I wonder if even now it really feels like living. No, I don’t know how anyone with a heart can confirm people in a lifestyle that so often ends in such utter futility.

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