Monday, 15 August 2011

Homosexuality... the Bible's problem with it.

This verse in Leviticus is the source of the religious condemnation of homosexuality:

Lev 18:22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Interestingly enough, this instruction is presented only to humans, all other animals are free to love any other animal no matter whether they are male or female.

I've been told, over my lifetime that "homosexuality is a human aberration, and that no other animals indulge in homosexual encounters." This is not true: Wikipedia gives a comprehensive list of animals known to display homosexual behaviour.

This is interesting to me, because on Saturday afternoon I witnessed some of this behaviour in the monkeys outside my kitchen window.

 And in particular, this chap, he is the leader of the clan:

I watched him interact with another male. He was very obviously sexually aroused, so his interest was not merely friendliness or a request for grooming. He approached the other male with an act which surprised me: he kissed him on the mouth. The other male backed off, without returning the kiss or encouraging a further approach.

The aggressive male tried again, and then again, but then realising the other male wasn't interested, or perhaps realising his mistake (I'm prepared to admit it might have been that he merely realised the other monkey was male), he backed off and went on to approach one of the females.

Now, while I'm prepared to concede that the monkey could have been mistaken in approaching what he thought was a female, I also can't believe that because surely, as the leader of the troop, he would know all the members, and their gender. So I'm prepared to accept that he was happy to engage in homosexual sex. But also, another thing I found interesting was that he accepted the rebuff, without pressing his advance. It seems that monkeys don't rape each other. Well not in this family anyway.

As for the kissing... that fascinated me because I truly believed that kissing was a cultural thing exclusive to humans.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Riots in England and Religion

I've heard a few people say that one of the major causes of the dissatisfaction and unruliness of the young people who rioted and looted in English cities this week, is due to their lack of religion.

They go on to say that teaching children old-fashioned "honour thy father" rules and respect for authority and making them attend church would help to give them direction.

Is there any validity in this?

This is what Exodus 20 says:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
I have a few problems with this. The first one is that if your parents are criminals, or if your father is the person who comes into your room at night to rape you, should you still "honour your father?"

Then, do Old Testament values, the same ones that instruct that Children of Israel smite all unbelievers and worshippers of "false gods" the ones we want our children to follow?

What evidence is there that church attendance and obedience to the rules of the Bible actually do make people behave more morally? And yes, this behaviour does bring us back to what is "moral."

This is how my dictionary defines morality:
Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
Behavior as it is affected by the observation of these principles; a particular system of values and principles of conduct, esp. one held by a specified person or society;  the extent to which an action is right or wrong; behavior or qualities judged to be good.
Do these people, the ones who broke into and looted their neighbours' shops understand the difference between right and wrong? I'm sure they do. It certainly sounds like it from what I heard in interviews with them. They observe the behaviour of people who work long hours to keep their businesses going and they understand the principles of acceptable conduct within their society, otherwise why else would they cover up their faces? So they do understand what is moral and correct, yet they choose to ignore it.

So it's not that they don't understand what constitutes moral behaviour, they simply choose to not adhere to the moral rules of their society. I can't see how going to church, and making them suffer feelings of guilt is going to change the fact that they are living in a society that doesn't really care about what happens to them. These young people grow up in the inner cities in circumstances that have to be experienced to be understood. A lot of them are the children of people who gave birth to them when they were children themselves and many of them, even in their early teens, have children who they have to raise before they've finished growing up themselves. They are told that their education is free, but not encouraged to take the opportunities offered to them. And when they do manage to get some education, there are no jobs for them. And then the social welfare system, rather than make actual efforts to help them help themselves, merely hands out money, as if throwing money at a problem is the way to fix it.

Surely the answer is not to change the way that the victims of the "broken society" see their society, but to change the way the society sees and treats them. The question then becomes, if religion is the answer to fixing England's broken society, where were the leaders of the English Church when all the rioting was happening?