The Boy Scouts of America are debating opening their clubs to the gay community. Obviously this has led to controversy. A suggestion has been made that religious and civic organizations that sponsor separate Scout units decide how to address the issue. Perhaps that is a good beginning.
When a religion imposes its view on those who do not believe, or follow a different path, there is discontent. When those who call themselves atheists or agnostics impose their views on those who follow a religion, there is the same discontent. There are plenty of Scout groups. Everyone should have the opportunity to join. President Obama called the Scouts "a great institution that promotes young people" and said "no one should be barred from that."
Texas Governor Rick Perry has a different view. It was reported in the Huffington Post that he said: "Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make Scouting this very important and impactful organization." If the Boy Scouts of America open their doors to gay boys, how does that affect the belief in God of the other boys?
The Governor made it clear he's against changing the controversial policy. "Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons, Perry said."Sexuality is not one of them. Never has been and doesn't need to be."(NBCDFW.com) I don't understand his concern. Why do Scouts need to talk about sex?
Homosexuality has become a constant theme in the media. I remember when mothers were accused of being the cause of homosexuality in their sons. We have thankfully moved on. Whether it is nature or nurture or both, as someone who believes in God and loves the study of religion, I am tired of those who quote God as the excuse for their mean-spirited behaviour.
Where does it say in the Bible that someone who is gay cannot believe in God? And where does it say in the Bible that God will not love someone who is gay? Please feel free to send me the passages.
Bible aficionados know that there is no mention of lesbianism in the Bible. Not a word. Why does God not say that two women together is an abomination? Do we then assume that female homosexuality is condoned by God while he condemns male homosexuality? That doesn't make sense.
The Bible teaches to "be fruitful and multiply" and "Choose life for you and your seed." These teachings are thousands of years old and were written at a time when a new religion, culture and nation were forming. It was an imperative to have children so that the new group could grow. "Spilling one's seed," wasting one's seed, could be seen as a sin at that time. That would explain the anger toward the two men.
The story of Tamar talks about the "spilling of one's seed." Judah's son, Onan, did not want to marry his sister-in-law, Tamar, and have children with her because the Levirate laws would designate the first son as the child of his elder deceased brother Er. By "spilling his seed," he would prevent her from having a child. It was certainly an act of rebellion against the laws. He, too, met an untimely death.
Later in the Bible there is an admonition against men lying together, but remember there is no such admonition against women. Why would God be so against men lying together, but not women? Perhaps because men, spilling their seed, would have no chance of begetting life -- a great sin at that time. And women, of course, could not conceive without the seed. Is it possible that the anger of God is not so much with the men lying together, but at the waste of potential life?
There are 7 billion people on the planet. There are approximately 1 billion Catholics and 750 million Protestants. God expects us to care for the whole the earth. From the moment he created Adam and asked him to name the animals, thus becoming attached to them, Adam took on the responsibility for the garden.
Then he and Eve took full responsibility for care of the earth when escorted from Paradise, working the land, and caring for all the animals. Our job in the 21st century is to continue in their footsteps. Caring for the earth at this point can include contraception -- "spilling one's seed." The admonition against men lying together doesn't have the same import, now.
Our understanding of human behaviour is constantly evolving from new research in medical science and the psycho-social sciences. Our reading of the Bible requires that we take that knowledge and apply it to the stories, re-interpreting when possible.
We can re-interpret our understanding of "spilling the seed." We just need to remind ourselves that the most important lessons given to us were care for the stranger, the other, the weak and the sick, and that yes, we are our brother's keeper. Let's move on.