Friday, April 22, 2005

This Gay Thing

For the record, I was raised Catholic; which makes me a lapsed Catholic. And that means I get to say whatever I want about Catholics and nobody can accuse me of bigotry. That's just how it works. Fortunately or not, I don't really have any serious problems with the Catholic Church. In fact, as far as religions go, I rate Catholicism as one of the best ones. Easily in the top ten. They drink. They have lots of formal traditions and funky outfits. And you're already born guilty of everything, so they really can't fault you for anything you do. Sounds pretty good to me. Hell, if I thought I needed a religion, going Catholic might just be the thing for me. The services are a tad boring, but the music's great if you can find the right church. I really dig pipe organs.

But there are still a few problems with the religion, and the whole gay thing is one of the biggest. And my big problem isn't that they oppose it. Everyone has a right to their opinions, even bigots. But I want my bigots to at least have some kind of rationale for their bigotry. I honestly don't expect that from all of them, but there are a lot of damn smart Catholics, particularly their priests and bishops. In case you've never talked to a priest or bishop, some of them are really bright guys. Kind of makes you wonder what happened, huh.

Logical Goobily-Gook

And Catholicism has a long history of bright guys doing their thinking for them. Honestly. And you'd have to be smart, if you wanted to try to make any sense out of that goobily-gook. I'm sorry, but logic and belief just cannot mix. Once belief enters the picture, logic has got to go right out the window.

And I don't have a problem with belief, just as long as people understand what that entails...namely, no proof. If you have proof, you are no longer a believer; you're a knower. And anyone can be a knower. That's why God can't just show himself and do a few miracles; ala Oh, God. It just doesn't work like that. It's supposedly a test of some sort, and so God's just trying to make it hard on us. He won't give us hard proof, and you can't even logically deduce it. Otherwise, Heaven would be chock full of bad people who figured out how to screw the system. And God cannot have people screw the system. So we're just on our own with this one, I guess. Which I have no problem with. It all makes perfect sense.

So Catholics have always had all these smart guys who can talk themselves into pretzels trying to explain the unexplainable, and explict the inexplicable. And while I disagree with all of their results, which are utterly doomed to failure; I respect them for trying. They really put a lot of work into that stuff, and you got to admire the effort.

Nighthawks at the Diner

But it all falls apart when it comes to this gay thing. I don't get it. I just don't get it. What is their problem with the gays? Nobody knows. Nobody can explain it. There's just no logic to it at all.

Sure, the bible bans it. But the bible bans everything. Everything fun, anyway; and quite a few of the unfun things. Like eating eagles. You can't eat eagles. Or vultures, or buzzards. Like I wanted to eat a damn buzzard. Or ospreys. What the hell's an osprey?? I wouldn't even know how to find one, let alone how to eat it afterwards. I went to Sunday School for years, and they never warned me about that one. Never.

And there are tons of dietary requirements just like it. Are any of these enforced? Hell no. If you took a screech owl casserole to your local church's potluck supper, and served it up steaming hot; and then told everyone about it afterwards, they'd be pissed, to be sure. But not because you tricked them into violating their religious beliefs. But because you tricked them into eating a god damn screech owl in a casserole. And even the non-religious can understand that.

Or get this. I'm quoting from my "Catholic Living Bible" that I got for my Confirmation, and it even has my name on it, so you know it's got to be good. I quote: "If a man's testicles are crushed or his penis cut off, he shall not enter the sanctuary." What the hell is that all about? Was this really a big problem back then? Did ole Nut Crusher Joe keep interfering with their services, or something? Were they just grossed out by the whole thing? Whatever it was, I'm fairly certain this one's been ignored too. Again, twelve years of Sunday School and they didn't say zip about crushed nuts excluding you from the sanctuary. Nada. It almost makes it worth it, really.

And then there's the whole "If a man rapes a girl who is not engaged, and is caught in the act, he must pay a fine (literally, "shall pay her father fifty of silver") to the girl's father and marry her; he may never divorce her." Wowwy-wow! That's a humdinger of a rule. Talk about taking a trip down the crazy train river. Oh, and if the girl is engaged? Then she doesn't have to marry the guy; she just gets stoned to death with him. Unless of course it happens out in the country. Only he gets stoned to death in that case. Thank god for that.

And I could just go on and on. Nobody follows these rules. Nobody. Not even some mountain hermit monk who hasn't spoken in twenty years or bathed in thirty. Not even the Pope takes this stuff literally, and that's his damn job. If you tried to enforce this stuff, they'd lock you up in the looney bin faster than you can say "ecumenical".

Taking the Good Bits

So when it comes to the bible, it's obvious that they take the good bits, and leave the rest behind. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's a sensible policy. It's what everybody does with everything. Nobody knows Freud as well as Freud. And all those Nietzsche-heads out there, reciting Nietzsche on the public street corners? They're doing it too.

Nobody believes everything that any philosophy or religion says. You just can't. You take the parts that you like and you leave the rest behind. That way, you get the parts that are important and meaningful to you, without junking yourself up with stuff that doesn't apply; like remembering to not eat ostriches or not having sex with menstruating woman. And you're doing it whether you know it or not. That's just how people work. We're not damn robots. We're people. And we assimilate information in our own way; making new combinations of old information.

So there's nothing wrong with Christians and Catholics ignoring certain parts of the bible, while trumping up the important parts. That's the main reason Christianity has survived so long; its flexibility. When it comes down to it, you can find justification for just about anything in the Bible. If nothing else, just tell them that God told you to do it, and you're fine. People are allowed to rape women and ravage villages if you're doing it for God. I know. I read it in my Bible.

All, or Nothing At All

But what is wrong are people pretending as if the Bible is forcing them to believe these things and act in these ways. As if they'd be all pro-gay and pro-abortion, and everything, if only the Bible hadn't forbid them from being like that. Hell, one gets the impression that they'd be perfectly happy being gay, if only it wasn't forbidden to them. That's the way they act anyway. Like they perfectly understand the joys of doing it with someone of your own gender, but frown upon people going against God's way. They probably act the same way when they see someone eating a nice juicy steak on a Friday during Lent, I don't know.

And what it comes down to is that they just can't back-up their beliefs with logical arguments. They can't. There's no logical argument against gayness. It's retarded to even try to find one. And so they are forced to rely upon a dead text to help reinforce their argument. And while the Bible might be a good guide on how to live your life (assuming you use it properly); as far as using it as watertight proof, it leaks like a rusty sieve.

You can try to pretend that the Bible is forcing your hand on this one, but then you're stuck marrying your daughter off to your neighborhood rapist and freeing your Hebrew slaves in the sixth year that you one them. And nobody can afford to do that. And that's the problem with their "all or nothing" argument; you have to take all or nothing. You either follow every literal word in the bible, or you don't. And nobody follows every word.

Working Around the Word of God

And can they work around this? Of course. Everyone can rationalize anything when they want to; and people love to rationalize. Oh, God didn't really mean this, he meant that. Or, oh those words are such and such, and that means that it's ok to break those rules. Hogwash. Utter hogwash. It's moral relativity at its finest.

And they're all fine practitioners of it. Everyone can find some reason why they get to break the rules that they want to break. And that's why there are no truly evil people in the world. Everybody means well and has some justification for what they're doing wrong. Even Hitler convinced himself that he was doing the right thing. He didn't wake up and say "I think I'll be evil today". I'm not sure what Hitler said when he woke up, as I haven't taken German in years, but it probably had more to do with breakfast than anything else. But he had his rationalizations, just like everyone else.

And again, I have no problem with this. I'm a forgiving guy, and I understand why people do wrong things. They just can't help it. I don't believe we're sinners from birth, as I find that concept absurd. But everyone sins, and you just deal with it best you can and try not to do it again. And if you keep sinning the same sin, then you obviously don't think it's that big of a problem, or you wouldn't keep doing it.

Playing Telephone With God

But all this completely undermines their argument against homosexuality. They say it's "unnatural" or "freaky" or whatever. And they insist God is firmly against it, but how in the hell would they know? Because somebody told them He was. And how did that somebody know that? Because somebody told him. And how do we know that the first somebody wasn't just making it all up? Because that first somebody said he wasn't, and told everyone else to pass it on. And is that some rational basis for opposing homosexuality? Of course not. That's an utterly absurd basis for opposing anything. Especially coming from bright guys, like our priests and bishops. I wouldn't oppose hangnails for that reason, and I hate hangnails. Very irksome, they are.

And so what all this boils down to: they have an opinion, just like everyone else, and they're looking desperately for some rationale for them to hoist it off on the rest of us. And they're playing their Bible like it's some kind of trump card, when really they're just holding the rusty sieve.

And that's the thing. I don't mind somebody being anti-gay. That's fine I guess. Nobody has to be gay if they don't want to be gay. And if I ever run for political office, that will certainly be a part of my platform. Vote Biobrain: He's Gay Optional, the banners will say. Or maybe not. But in any case, I don't have a problem with someone not wanting to be gay. And if they say they're not gay only because their religion requires them to be straight, well more power to them. You can believe anything you want, as far as I'm concerned. That's what makes life so great.

Government Religion

But where I draw the line is them trying to force this crap on the rest of us. There's no part of their religion that says the laws have to obey their religion. I know, I've checked. There's nothing in their religion that says we need to get the government involved to stop people who aren't a part of that religion, from doing the things that violate that religion. Hell, there's nothing in the Bible that says the government should get involved to force someone's own religion on themselves! If you want to violate your own religion, the government's hands are tied.

You can read the Bible from cover to cover and back again, and you won't see that requirement. Religious rules are to be imposed on oneself. The religion is certainly allowed to kick you out, or punish you for violating the tenets of that religion. But that's no different than the KKK, and nobody's suggesting that we make their rules law...or nobody I'd like to meet anyway.

And we saw this same thing in the past election; people attacking John Kerry because he was a Catholic who voted against anti-abortion laws. But what the hell are they attacking him for? Does the Bible say that he's supposed to enforce his beliefs on his country? No. Even IF you think the Bible bans abortion (and it takes a lot of flexible interpretation to get that message), it only means that John Kerry shouldn't have an abortion. Or maybe he shouldn't personally encourage someone to have one. But it certainly doesn't suggest that he has to pass laws about it, to be enforced on Catholics and Non-Catholics alike. That's stupid.

If Catholics don't like abortions, fine. That's their problem. Let the Pope pass all the anti-abortion legislation he wants. He can also work on this gay stuff, too. It's his religion, he can do what he wants. He's the infallible one, not me. But those rules apply to Catholics, and if they choose to violate those rules, that's between them and their religion. Not the government.

But their religion does not say that they should enforce their religious rules on other religions. They like to pretend that it does, but it doesn't. Again, I've checked. It ain't there. Even in the Bible, we see incident after incident of the Israelites and Jews going against their religion; their kings included. So even the Bible doesn't have the perfect religious government running throughout. There are good kings and there are bad kings, and the Bible writers define which was which depending on how faithful they were to the religion. And even then, they often misled readers about the fate of some of the bad kings; making long-lived, successful rulers sound short-lived and miserable. Or they insist that the king must have done something wrong for God to have punished him. Some things never change.

And that was Israel and Judah we're talking about. These people were of the same religion by definition. And even they weren't in solid agreement as to whether religious law should be enforced by the government. And that's the basis that we're using for this stuff. So if people of the same damn faith can't even agree with what to do, why should America, which is chock full of all kinds of beliefs; sane and insane. Why should we use certain religious standards over all?

Basis for Laws

We shouldn't. We shouldn't base our laws on the whimsy of what other men tell us are the important bits of their religion. We should base it on logic, and on what's right for society and right for mankind. Not some artibrary decision to follow Deuteronomy 23:17 and Leviticus 18:22, while ignoring Deuteronomy 19:15 and Leviticus 20:18. But on an enduring idea of what laws are necessary to best facilitate life for everyone. Not on moral relativism, but on moral necessity.

To do otherwise is surely against our best interests; as the last thing anyone wants is jack-booted thugs kicking down their door to stop their annual Stork barbecue. Laws are important, but I gots to gets my barbecued Stork legs; and these strict religious adherents aim to stop me. Don't let them deprive me of my Stork, and I'll let you be as gay as you want to be. That's a promise.


Anonymous said...


laughingman said...

You know, it's hard to take someone's argument seriously when they can't even find the caps lock key or spell "you're" correctly.

Bobby said...

You make a lot of good points (as well as doing so in a very palatable and humorous way). But I think you skirt around the Catholic-gay issue in some ways...

As I understand it, Catholicism is one of the Christian flavors that relies far less on literal interpretation of the Bible than some of the others. They're as much against homosexuality as they are against any extra-marital sex, purely for the reason that it goes against the Sacrament of Marriage thing...

On the whole, though, I definitely agree with you and think you raised some good points. Just where should we allow the line to be drawn in allowing freedom of moral expression as a consequence of freedom of religion? If something (being gay) isn't hazardous to health (and let's face it, more people die from shark attacks every year than from homosexuality), than who are we to try to prevent people from it?

Anonymous said...

When it comes to drawing the line between religion and government, was not the clearest expression when the Bible records Jesus as saying - Render under Ceasar that which is Ceasar's (earthly) and unto God that which is God's (Spiritual)? But I guess I would be guilty of selective choosing.

Brett said...

No anonymous, you'd be guilty of being a conservative, brain-washed, bible-thumpber. I laugh at people whose beliefs trump what they can see with their own eyes. The bible (uncapitalized on purpose - it's not important enough to capitalize) is, like all books, merely someone's opinion. All books are written by humans, this cannot be argued. Trying to argue that fact will make you look dumb. So, since books are written by humans, their is also human bias involved. This too cannot be argued. And when there are biases involved, some things are left out and other things are embellished. If there ever was a Jesus, and if he said the things he is credited with, he was a great man, no question. The main problem with Christianity is the whole fear thing. I refuse to live my life in fear, of terrorists, of a wrathful god, of the punks who live down the street, or of anyone else. And Christianity is a religion that rules by fear. "If you do blah, blah, you'll go to hell", etc., etc. ad infinitum. Screw that! I'll never believe in that. I believe instead in the beauty that my eyes behold, and my spirituality is in healing the earth from the damages and depradations of my fellow humans. Thanks anonymous, but your writing is exactly why I don't trust most Christians. You're just a virus with shoes, dude.

Homage said...

I had a lengthy reply to this brett (uncapitalized on purpose - he seems to like it that way) character, because he seems to be dangerously hypocritical and also laboring under the delusion that he is the only person in the world who has heard of Bill Hicks; suffice to say, Anonymous (the one with the capslock key) actually did nothing except quote a passage from scripture to clarify a statement Biobrain had made about such a passage not existing.
That doesn't actually necessarily make him anything of anything. I know people who can quote scripture back to front and consider themselves huge non-religious pagan types. And if Anonymous DID happen to quote a passage from the Bible* owing to he places some stock in it, well, you're not gonna get too much Healing The Earth From The Depradations Of Your Fellow Humans done if you can't (a) accept that not everyone is as clever as you and so sometimes they're going to believe things that you don't; and (2) spell depredations, are you now?
Or maybe the guy is a conservative brainwashed bible-thumper. I don't know him. I mean, I have only read two sentences of his writing, one of which was mainly quotation anyway.

*Of course, that capital B is the cue right there that nothing I say will be worth a damn.