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Priest VS Professor: A Student’s Take on a Gay Marriage Debate

October 11 was National Coming Out Day, and on October 23 Talon Talks hosted a debate on the University of Texas at Tyler campus between Professor Lopez and Father Key concerning the issue of gay marriage.

Lopez, my Constitutional Development professor from last semester, went about the argument by separating his Catholicism from his ideas about how to form a civil society.

He recognized that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution ensures equal treatment under the law. It doesn’t matter if the religious recognize their marriage, but the government is required by the text of the Bill of Rights to do so.

Key insisted God condemns homosexuality, and as we are, according to him, a Christian nation we must condemn it in kind. He claimed no society has ever accepted homosexuality (untrue by the way), and that all societies that have accepted it have been destroyed — an interesting contradiction.

Why is this even such a big deal in our culture? You have to go back a few thousand years to the founding of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

I’ll focus on Christian scriptures since Christianity is dominant here in the U.S. The Abrahamic religions are not particularly fond of sex.

Matter of fact, there is quite a lot distaste towards it, as if it were something about which you should be ashamed.

In particular there is animus toward female sexuality and just as much animus toward anything other than heterosexuality.

These ideas are born of an era of ignorance in one of the most illiterate and backward parts of the world.

Women were coveted property; hence the injunctions against their sexuality where a woman was stoned if found not to be a virgin by her husband on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20).

Additionally, there was the law that, if a woman was raped, the father must be paid, and she must marry her rapist who may never divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:29).

Just as well, there was the command supposedly handed down by God that, after you committed mass murder, keep the virgins for yourselves (Numbers 31:18).

The Bible doesn’t expressly say what they did with them, but I think I know what they had in mind. I doubt it was for moral purposes.

I mention all this to give a context. This is where we are supposed to derive our morality concerning sex? That is an obscene suggestion.

Why would we treat a verse condemning homosexuality as a capital crime any more seriously than the rest? I have yet to see a single Christian father stoning his daughter for her “crimes”.

Tea Party candidate from Oklahoma Scott Esk said,”I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.” (We all know these aren’t the principles of the Tea Party. That’s just how he ran.)

It’s obvious that the majority of Christians do not call for the death of homosexuals. Some merely want their rights limited, and others are very accepting.

Those accepting, forward-thinking Christians receive my commendation.

As to the rest who spout hate, fear and guilt, terrifying people, worst of all children, with the thought of Hell (a wicked falsification), you should be thankful that place does not exist for you.

Why would we go to a verse like Leviticus 20:13 to determine what is moral on the subject of homosexuality when we can use our own internal moral sense?

It defies our civil republic to concern ourselves with the private lives of others. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their home that causes no physical or fiscal harm to others ought not be the concern of anyone else.

Take a moment to separate morality from religion. What is moral? A moral action is an action that promotes the well-being of conscious creatures, and an immoral action does the opposite. This can be determined by reading The Republic, the works of Aristotle (quote number two sums it up nicely), and the works of Sam Harris.

How can we lash out at our fellow human beings solely for their nature? Does that maximize well-being? How can we tell them that they can’t be a member of the church because of the “sin” with which they were born?

Homosexuals are not being condemned for what they do but what they are. “We’re all children made in the image of God, and we should all love one another. Well except you.” They are told they are not welcome in church, and they can’t go to heaven.

This hatred disgusts me.

It is after all in their nature.

According to an article in Yale Scientific, homosexual behavior has been observed “…in more than 10% of prevailing species throughout the world.”

The New Mexico Whiptail Lizard is very interesting. It is a species entirely consisting of females. They survive by parthenogenesis. Basically, it’s a lesbian lizard that can reproduce, and you want to tell me that an occasional, naturally occurring abnormal sexual attraction in humans is out of the question?

“Homosexuality is not just a form of sex; it is a form of love, and it deserves our respect for that reason,” said author Christopher Hitchens. Why is it that we can’t look past something truly as trivial as a person’s sexual preference and simply accept them?

In actress Raven Symone’s recent interview with Oprah she expressed that she didn’t want to be labeled gay or much of anything else for that matter. She considers herself human and American.

That is beautiful. Someone willing to say, “I am a human who loves humans…” That is how we all should be, and we should stop looking to our ancient barbarian ancestors and instead look in our hearts and to our reason for what is moral.

You can find Presley on Facebook.

A version of this article first appeared on Patriot Talon.

Throw the First Stone

This is my first blog post; so I imagine I ought to introduce myself.  My name is Presley.  I am a student at the University of Texas, I was previously self-educated for several years, and prior to that I attended both a public and private school.  I’m a country boy, and I fancy myself a “gentleman scholar”.  I chose the blog title “The Lyceum” as that was the name of Aristotle’s school where he would walk about the grounds, gardens, and olive trees providing lectures and debating his colleagues.  As I spend a very large amount of time walking the trails and woods near my home, and I’ve had a life long love affair with olives, I thought it was suitable:). I hold a profound interest in the dialogues and writings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Cicero, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Voltaire, etc. I am bound and determined to eventually read all of their works.  However, down to the point of this post.

Today, I noticed a story in the news about a church that posted this sign.

The topic of gay marriage has been gathering my attention lately.  I recently had the privilege  of attending a political action conference where I met many people with a variety of opinions.  I had the opportunity to debate a gentleman on this very topic. This issue needs to be addressed from two angles, political and religious.  I believe I will start with the political aspect of this issue.  When I had the pleasure of discussing this topic, the debate went a little something like this (the dialogue has been shortened as the gentleman would ramble before answering).

Gent: Sir, would you like a flier?
Me: Sure, may as well. I see you are discussing gay marriage. What is your stance?
Gent: Well, I am against it, sir! Our nation was founded on Christian principles, and we have to uphold them.  We see that this is the decline of our society.
Me: Interesting. I was just discussing this issue with my friend. Tell me, do you consider yourself a conservative?
Gent: Yes, of course.
Me: So, as a conservative, you hold the belief that the government possesses in no way the authority to command the way you live your life?
Gent: *long pause* Yes, I suppose.
Me: Well then, I should ask, what is the origin of government, or rather what are the origins of governmental power?
Gent: I assume you mean the “social contract”?
Me: Yes, sir. Exactly. We the people have formed a contract or constitution, and we elected representatives to sign this contract that defines how we agree to be governed. Ergo the origin of governmental power is the people.
Gent: True.
Me: So, by extension of what was previously admitted, if the government does not hold the authority to command your life, and government authority comes from the people, no individual or group possess that authority either.
Gent: *long pause and some  pointless chin wagging* Yes, I suppose that is true.
Me: So, under what authority can you, the government, or anyone else tell homosexuals they cannot wed?  That power is not vested in the government, and governmental power comes from you and me.  So I should also ask, where does your authority to control them come from?
Gent: You’re a libertarian aren’t you?
Me: Yes, sir.
Gent: Well, this has been an interesting conversation, and I will certainly do more research on your opinion. That really interests me. Well, I really must be going. *hurries away to speak to other passersby*
My Friend: Dude, that was awesome. You should start a blog.

I think having these discussions is incredibly important. If people who disagree cannot sit and have a meaningful dialogue, nothing can be learned or accomplished.  Right now our political parties fight incessantly over matters such as gun rights, gay marriage, drugs, religious liberty, and separation of church and state. Debates that need to be had.  The issue here is you have two groups of people trying to limit each others rights. One would outlaw gay marriage, drug use, and the ten commandments would be in every courthouse.  The other would ban weapons, offensive speech, and religious practices or speech in public places.   While both of them claim to strive for freedom.  I’m being perhaps a little dramatic here, but I’m trying to illustrate a point.

How often do you hear a political figure say you should be allowed to shoot your gun at the range with your spouse of whatever gender, go home and smoke a joint, and proselytize  the word of the all-mighty flying spaghetti monster.  We as people have a right to take any action that is physically and fiscally harmless to other people.

The only reason, it would seem, that gay marriage is even an issue is that government is involved in the private institution of marriage.  Instead of treating all people equally, married couples have special tax privileges, guardianship of their children, and spousal rights.  Why are these matters determined by a typically religious act like marriage?  Any person who is truly free should be allowed to marry whomever he or she wants.  If you get it on with a toaster, it’s no business of mine.  Then the various legal matters can be cared for in court, and yes there would be competency issues for the toaster:).  Marriage, civil union, partnership, etc are all civil matters outside of government authority.

Secondly, there is the religious motivator.  Many Christians today maintain, per the Bible, that homosexuality is considered a sin. This pastor in the story completely misquotes Jesus.  When asked whether the woman ought to be stoned he replied, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” –John 8:7 NIV. We always hear that our nation was founded on Christian principles. True, but it was also founded on pagan and deist principles.  Whether you consider Jesus divine or not is irrelevant.  He is at least on the same level as the great classical philosophers. “Love one another as your father in heaven loves you…”,”Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”,”If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” Good stuff.  However, these are philosophies anyone can agree with.  They are not religious doctrines, but doctrines of reason.  Our founders esteemed reason, logic, republic, science, and inquiry. These are classical Greek and Roman, or rather, pagan principles.  The idea that people who disagree ought to be able to live among one another practicing their various personal walks with God, or lack thereof, without animosity toward one another is a deistic principle.

So many Christians want to adhere to certain parts of the old law or Old Testament, but at the same time believe that Jesus died for them so they would no longer live under the old law.  Remember the whole shredded curtain in the temple thing? That’s what that was about. Clearly, the peaceful teachings of Christ contradict the old testament, but that is to be expected.  You had one written by ancient men who had various political motivations and a desire to explain their world. Can you really reconcile that a loving God kills entire populations of cities for sin, and then tells Christians not to persecute sinners.  If I were an ancient man seeing an asteroid shoot towards the Earth and explode over Sodom and Gomorrah (archaeological evidence suggests this) with shrapnel friction heating the atmosphere to an excess of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, I would think it was an act of God as well.  It is the same false reasoning you hear so many use when the coast of the United States gets hit by a hurricane, “Why would God let this happen?” My point is, you can expect there would be difference in the teachings of ancient men and a brilliant philosopher.

In short no one has the authority to restrict someone’s rights.  Not everyone can agree, and diversity of opinions is a good thing.  However, the only way humans who disagree with one another can get along in society is to agree to debate, but to never force our opinions on one another.