There is an ongoing national conversation on the topic of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issues. In fact, this is a hot topic around the world right now as many countries adjust their laws to allow people to be the gender they feel they truly are regardless of what various religious texts say on the topic.
I have always taken issue with the idea of assuming others should follow my chosen set of religious beliefs – even when I was a practising Christian. What right do I – or anyone else – have to expect others to live by the spiritual code I have selected for myself? None whatsoever.
I cannot speak much on what other religious belief systems have to say about LGBT issues, but since I grew up as a Christian, was a Christian missionary to Central America and my husband and I pastored a Christian church, I am more than able to speak on what the Christian bible has to say on this issue.
Suffice it to say, Christian scriptures, like most (all?) other patriarchal religions in the world, does in fact condemn LGBT “lifestyles”. Sexual orientation continues to be at the forefront of stern religious judgement simply because there are so few who wish to accept the fact that a person’s sexual orientation is as ingrained as a person’s race.
However, even if – for the sake of religious argument – homosexuals choose to have same sex relationships, society has no right to stand in their way. If society affords a person the right to choose what house to buy, what car to drive and what clothes to wear, then surely people should also have the right to choose the gender with which they most identify. Moreover, we all know very well that a heterosexual person can choose the person with whom they wish to have sex. A heterosexual can choose to have sex with several different individuals in one day if she/he so chooses and society will have nary a word to say in resistance, so long as that person is being responsible by practising safe and consensual sex.
So why must those who practice safe and consensual homosexual sex be constantly chided by society for their choice of sexual partners? They should have the same right to have sex with whomever they want just like the heterosexual. Only religious scripture stands in their way, but there is a glaring hypocrisy in applying such scriptures.
For example, the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as with a woman. If a Christian wants to accept this as law, so be it, but give some thought to this. A few verses later Leviticus 19:19, the Bible also says “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” I need not say how many people wear clothes of varying material nowadays.
Likewise, in Exodus 35:2, the Bible says, “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.”
Why do I not see the letter pages of the newspapers marking a movement against working on the Sabbath? Obviously, this is so offensive to God that death is mandated for anyone who does not observe the Sabbath.
In Deuteronomy 22:9, we are informed that a crop will be defiled if two different kinds of seeds are planted in the same field. Defiled? Should we be eating defiled food?
I am not attempting to malign these Scriptures in any way; it is simply my desire to point out that many of these ancient customs are no longer practised.
However, let’s say a Christian theologian wanted to insist that the New Testament is the guideline for contemporary living; in those scriptures we find further luminosity of the hypocrisy used when singling out homosexuality.
For example, the scripture used by Christians to judge homosexuals so harshly in the 21st century is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. It says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
It seems to me that if Christians are going to be so publicly adamant about the homosexual lifestyle being wrong, there should also be a public outcry against all who are sexually immoral (having sex outside of marriage), adulterers (uh oh), male prostitution (I guess female prostitution is okay), thieves, the greedy, drunkards (no rum?), slanderers and swindlers.
I guess that just about covers us all.
The religious community allows the adulterers, drunks, greedy and swindlers live their lives without direct interference. According to these scriptures, homosexuality is no worse a “sin” than adultery or stealing, so why the hostility against this segment of the population?
I have a great idea. Why don’t we focus on the adulterers for a while since adultery has a direct impact on families? Or focus on the greedy as there are many being impacted by greedy politicians nowadays?
Humans can be slow to accept change. This is especially true when it involves our religious beliefs. However, the question of morality concerning LGBT issues is not even the point when it comes to the law. Rather, this is a question of whether civil rights apply to all Guyanese or just the ones who comply with traditional, conservative religious values.
Perhaps it’s time to step out of the dark ages and recognise that all forms of diversity make us beautiful – not evil. When we stop insisting that everyone one must look and act like one certain group, we will finally be able to enjoy the beauty of our diversity instead of feeling like we are being forced into a mould made for someone else.
This ongoing debate concerning the morality of LGBT issues carries the weight of validation for an entire segment of people. It is not as if they require the validation of society to exist, for they will exist regardless. However, if and when society finally accepts them, those who are homosexuals will finally be able to live their lives to the fullest without fear of reprisal for being who they are.