|Gays and Religion|
In the 21st century, amidst the recognition of basic human rights and how we treat people with dignity, it seems that we return to the medieval times with news of the stoning sentence of two young men, Ayub and Mosleh in the Kurdistan City of Piranshahr in northwest Iran. They were implicated by a film showing the two men having sex with a 17 year old boy.
Whilst some as the "Gay Citynews" calls it lethal homophobia by its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sin was not homophobia alone but motivated by the real cause which was religion. After 9/11, we have a tendency to repeat the mantra that religion is about love, and that the terrorist are but only a few extremist. Whilst the part about terrorists are true, the notion that the major religions are about love is not innate. Religions are primarily defined as the rules for getting into heaven, and the penalties to be applied for failing religious laws.
Some religious laws do perpetuate ancient and insidious culturally based homophobia against gays which in this case is sanctioned by the religious state and in essense the religion itself. The recent uproar in Malaysia over the Youtube posting by Azwam, a Gay Muslim man in the "I'm Gay, I'm OK" campaign in Malaysia undermines the notion that religion is necessarily about love.
It is fortunate that unlike other religions, Christianity is by its very foundation, not a prescriptive religion, ie Jesus did not have a week long session at the Mount of Olives asking the scribe to pen down the mandatory Christian laws and definitive teachings. There are but very few Christian absolutes centered on the very obvious core of Christianity, His birth, death, resurrection, and redemption for our sins. Jesus proclaimed a way to God much different from the prevailing religions then and today, and He came not to unify the religions and be a religion of peace but to bring a sword (Mat 10:34,35) as to give clarity of the way to God.
Jesus did not bring new laws for Christians to follow and be condemned if they don't (John 3:17), nor was He going to rubberstamp the old laws given hitherto to the Jews. Jesus came to satisfy the righteousness of God (Mat 5:18), the demand that the price for our sins be paid. If Jesus had done so, and made Christianity a prescriptive religion, there would have been few denominations in Christianity because there would have been no ambiguity. Fortunately, Jesus did not say much, did not demand much, but showed God's grace, love, and mercy. Jesus was not after our following of the laws, but the inward attitude of our heart and our allegience and faith in Him which could not be legislated.
The anti-gay campaign by religions including Christianity will obviously undermine their own religion as to contradict any assertions that these religions are about love. However, being a non prescriptive religion, Christianity is evolving to have a better understanding on God, the heart of God is not for sacrifice and judgement, but of mercy. We don't need to sacrifice gays on the altar of religion to reach heaven.
The anti-gay rethoric by Christians against gays using every conceivable lie and half truths in the name of morality, had done grave harm to the Christian bible where for many the bible is "poisonous" nor doubt seeing how it has impacted the Christians who had thrown the bible at them. However, we have misunderstood that the bible is a storyline for the purpose of revealing Christ and should not be used as presciptive as applying to us of how God dealt in ancient history with people of different race, culture, and religious background. We could never have understood the six clobber verses against gays without understanding that the then prevailing religions incorporated much same sex activities not that they were gays. God was against the religions and their hideous practices and not against homosexuality per say!
Christianity is evolving and changing rapidly to display God's grace and justice, to increasingly reflect an authentic and more biblical Christianity. We have cherry picked the bible to come against gays, but the bible is not against us, but revealed the Messiah, who is for us. The message of basic justice in the bible in how we treat people fairly and not abuse our rights is becoming increasingly obvious.
The recent lost of a court case by Peter and Hazelmary Bull of the Chymorvah Hotel near Penzance is a clear indication of how Christianity is evolving. Here the sincere beliefs of Peter and Hazelmary could in no way override the basic rights of a gay couple of Mr Martin Hall and Mr Steven Preddy from being treated as a married couple as the law treats Civil unions as equal to a straight marriage. It is a case of discrimination as it is a registered public business, and Gays could not get married if they had wanted to. They made a choice to be involved in business and so should abide by its rules! They can't have the best of both worlds!.
Our "Christian" beliefs however misguided could not be used as a cloak for prejudice. Our religious freedom is a personal freedom to practice our religion as we see fit. However, once we open a public business and it involves others, their freedom could not be denied or trampeled on. Our religious freedom even Christian religious freedom is not absolute as to give us liberty to cause harm and deny others the right of existence.
"Whatever may have been the position in past centuries it is no longer the case that our laws must, or should automatically reflect the Judaeo-Christian position." judge Laws
"The general law may of course protect a particular social or moral position which is espoused by Christianity, not because of its religious imprimatur, but on the footing that in reason its merits commend themselves." Lord Justice Laws, in a case of a counsellor dismissed for refusing to offer sex advice to gay couples
As the Church of Jesus Christ could not refrain itself from causing harm and abusing their religious rights to deny the basic rights and equality of others, sooner or later the law of the land will step in. Because God is a fair and just God. The judges in this cases were not pagan humanist. Justice Laws is a devout Anglican, and Judge Rutherford is also associated with COE.
As we move into the next decade in 2011, Christianity is changing and setting themselves apart from other religions to increasingly reflect God's love, mercy, and grace that there might be justice and equality for all peoples irrespective of race or religion or sexual orientation. We have abused our religious rights against gays for two thousand years and it is time to reflect and to ask God for forgiveness, lest our anti-gay aggenda be accounted as a grievious sins against us when gays raised their voices to God for redemption.
As Ayub and Mosleh raised their voices to God for justice in view of certain death, may God hear their prayers and punish those who oppressed the weak using the cloak of religion.