Friday, November 27, 2009


As the holiday season approaches, people of different religions and cultures celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Pancha Ganapati or other alternatives. Humanlight is a secular, Humanist version of the late December festivities for non-religious people. Here is more on the holiday:, and and there's an introductory video on youtube on the holiday also:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Biblical Family Values

I'm repulsed by Christians who use the Bible to legitimize homophobia by claiming that the Bible teaches 'family values', which is one of the most absurd, insulting things I've ever heard. The Bible was written by a primitive people who stoned women to death on the streets for adultery and yet allowed men to have multiple wives, and who ordered the stoning to death of disobedient sons.

Jacob had multiple wives (chapter 30 of Genesis depicts how he had sex with his two wives and two slaves - these are the four mothers of the 12 tribal patriarchs of Israel), not to mention kings David and Salomon who had a harem with both women and eunuchs or transgendered women. There are girls getting their dad (Lot) drunk and having sex with him. There are brothers selling their little brother (Joseph) into slavery out of jealousy. Who would have a mind twisted enough to call these attrocities 'family values'? The Torah even gives us the price of a woman (50 silver coins, see Deuteronomy 22), should we decide we want to sell our sisters or daughters.

If by family values we mean 'heterosexual marriage', then we read accusations from Paul, who never met Jesus and did not share his values. He states in his letter to the Romans that the cause of homosexuality is ... idolatry. Like modern religious foes of gay rights, he does not feel that he has to provide evidence of this link that he claims to exist between homosexuality (or any form of sexuality for that matter) and idolatry. Today we know that no such link exists, in fact most gay people who are coming out today were raised in monotheistic traditions, and the 800 million practitioners of Hinduism, a polytheistic tradition, show no higher ratio of homosexuality than the rest of humanity.

Paul was evidently expressing the prejudices of Jews of his own generation, who believed that all gay men were temple prostitutes. However, his lies ended up in the Bible and have been repeated by ignorant and hateful homophobes and his fabrications have become 'Bible truth' by virtue of having been included among the Biblical texts and being mindlessly repeated over and over for centuries.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men.

- Romans 1:22-27

Further study of this text also reveals that Paul believed that it was GOD himself who turned idolaters gay, which would necessarily mean that gayness is not a choice, but a God-given condition, which he nonetheless labels as shameful although he believes it's God's will that gays be gay ...

But Sarah ... said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."

- Genesis 21:10

The events concerning Hagar and Ishmael, the true firstborn of Abraham, are also shocking from the perspective of true family values. The intrigue generated by Hagar having Abraham's child and the jealousy of his first wife Sarah led to the EXILE of Hagar and Ishmael into the desert, where they could have died from hunger, thirst, or even from a serpent or scorpion bite. A single woman and a child with no protection in the desert, in those days, was unthinkable.

The irresponsibility of Abraham, his treachery towards his own son, and his inability to say no to Sarah, do not in any way communicate family values to me. If my father, under the spell of the whispers of one of his wives, had cast me and my mom into the desert with the serpents, it would have taken me many years to forgive him, if I ever did forgive him. Patriarch Abraham was what we today would consider a deadbeat dad.

Regardless of how many times you repeat the mantra 'Biblical family values', that will not turn the Bible into a document that teaches family values. That is simply dishonest, particularly when you ponder the modern meaning of this notion that Christians conceive. The Bible does not even teach monogamy. It does not even teach heterosexuality as the only ideal, but the status of an 'eunuch' is promoted, a status which includes sexual minorities - and this not only in the teachings of Jesus, but even of Isaiah (chapter 56).

That eunuchs were not thought of as celibate is plain when we consider characters from history such as Bagoas, the 'favorite' of King Darius and, later, of Alexander the Great whose effeminate beauty was scandalous and world renouned. Eunuchs often entertained kings and soldiers returning from war with music and performances ... and with sex. The later notion that an eunuch was a celibate person, which became the common Christian conception of the eunuch, originates with none other than Paul.

Jesus himself did not favor marriage, much less heterosexual marriage, as an ideal, nor do we see him in any way putting out his energy protecting the 'nuclear family' like some Christians do today (clearly not in imitation of Christ). Said behavior is therefore, literally, unChristlike. Instead we see him flatly denying his family access to him when they came to see him saying that those who follow him are family to him. If he came to us today and did this, his message would be labeled as pro-gay propaganda by modern conservative Christians

In the book of Matthew he says: 'There are eunuchs who are born such ... it is better for these to not marry ... let him who can accept this, do so.' We see Jesus instead clearly defending the rights of sexual minorities to what in those days represented a non heterosexual lifestyle!

But then, WHAT IF the state had to recognize that monogamous heterosexual marriage is a Christian institution?

WHAT IF we concede that, even if we know it's a fallacy? What then becomes of marriage, being a religious institution, in a SECULAR society with SECULAR laws?

Having established the fallacy of calling our modern institution of marriage by the label "Christian", then that means that we have to deal with the modern conservative Christian insistence, based on openly mystical, supernatural and theological proclamations that are not shared by everyone in the country, that marriage is a religious, and furthermore Christian, institution.

If we concede that it is, then clearly the boundary between religions and the state was crossed when marriage became recognized by the state, and marriage should therefore be either abolished, or a comparable, but secular, separate institution needs to be put in place by the state so that Christian marriage can remain sacred and heterosexual for the Christians while the state is able to recognize only those people who enter either 'civil unions', 'contracts' or whatever the secular version of marriage ends up being named.

This idea has been proposed before and is making more sense to me now, as I realize that in Islam (and early Mormonism) polygamy is practiced, and since Muhammad their prophet practiced it, millions in the Muslim world would never dare transform that tradition. Muslim Marriage is between one man and up to four wives! That's how it was in Muhammad's time and that's how it will always be!

Not only that, but Muhammad's youngest wife was six, and then nine years old when she consummated the marriage with a 60 year old Muhammad. If marriage is to be considered a sacred and religious institution, then the state better respond with a modern alternative that is more rooted in our modern taste and sensibilities than in millenia-old Semitic traditions that are starting to become seriously dangerous to our democratic, secular, modern values as more Muslims bring their traditions with them into the Western world, and as Christians are beginning to feel that secularism is bad and that it is their place to dictate our secular laws and to turn the USA into a land where people fear their God.

By challenging the secular nature of our laws and imposing a religious model of marriage on everyone, religious or non-religious and of every denomination, what they are doing is in fact not only articulating a modern, superstition-based RELIGIOUS marriage but also killing secular marriage and leading us non-religious people to propose a new institution to replace it at the state level, one that is based not on the laws in Deuteronomy that appraise women at 50 silver coins but on the radical contemporary idea of equal relations between all men and women.