COMPARATIVE STUDY ON HOMOSEXUALITY: RELIGION FOR OR AGAINST PSYCHOLOGY?Somewhere between the years 2900 to 2600 BC, which falls in the Early Dynastic I and II periods, lived a man named Abraham. Abraham and his family believed in the God of Israel. During the course of their journey, between Bethel and Ai, Abraham and his nephew were forced to split ways because of the quarrels between their workers over the concern of land- for their possessions were great. Saying thus, Lot went on his way toward the East, to inhabit the lands of Jordan, toward Zoar and pitched his tent in Sodom, while Abraham chose to stay in Canaan.
The Bible speaks of Sodom as a place inhabited by evil men, as seen in Genesis 18. When Lot was visited by three men (who, it is believed, were angels), the men of Sodom asked for them to be handed over so that they (as in, the men) could rape these men who were visiting. It is mentioned earlier on, that there was not so much, as ten men that could be considered “righteous” in the land. This could also be understood as the women and children of the land were not given rights as the men were.
And since no opposition is heard to their request to homosexually rape the men that had come, it can be assumed that this was a norm in this place. In light of the Bible, by whose standards, homosexuality is sin, it was accepted then, that homosexuality was evil. But was it, or is homosexuality, a sin? Perhaps, Sodom could be charged evil for their desire to rape defenseless men but could it be considered evil for their desire for the same sex?The remainder of this paper will explore these thoughts. It will address the history of homosexuality, the psychology of the people who engaged in these behaviors, and when in the Bible it was talked about first. It will also seek to explain the various viewpoints of the general, biological and social psychology, the Bible and the opposition to these views. Finally, it will also talk of whether these are natural or “curable” and what religion and psychology have to say about its implications.HISTORY OF HOMOSEXUALITYSexual Orientation is a person’s sexual identity relative to the sex that they are attracted to.
The American Psychological Association (APA) explains sexual orientation in this manner, “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.”In this understanding, there are three broadly accepted categories, these being, heterosexuality (attraction toward members of the opposite sex), homosexuality (attraction toward members of the same sex) and bisexuality (attraction toward members of both sexes). The term ‘homosexuality’ was coined by Karl-Maria Kertbeny, a German journalist. In an 1869 pamphlet he reasoned for the annulling of Prussian sodomy laws. He hoped that by contrasting homosexuality and heterosexuality, they would be accepted on equal terms, instead of seen as being seen as a sexual deviation. In the twentieth century, it was seen by many as a psychiatric disorder. “Homosexual” as a term was used to address and diagnose same- gender sexual behavior in medical and psychiatric field.
It was treated as a disease. Until the nineteenth century, same sex sexual activity was referred to as ‘unnatural acts’, ‘crimes against nature’, ‘sodomy’ or ‘buggary’. However, it has moved far beyond these views, today.In the mid twentieth century, gay bars became a common sighting in many American cities. It became a sort of haven for people that were not able to fit in with the general community and were frowned upon, to spend time with likeminded people, apart from their daily lives. Of course, eventually, these people were seen as a threat and a risk to others. However, they also became victims of sympathy and many organizations like the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis, stepped forward to create for these people, non-bar venues that were “legal and societal”, so they could mingle freely. Yet, many did not share this view, and same sex marriage was not legally accepted.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) pressed that marriage was strictly to be between a man and a woman. In reference to the Biblical view, the first reference to such behavior has to do with the story of Lot and the three men that visited him (refer above). Further, in Leviticus, it says “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them”. (NKJV, Leviticus 20:13)The Old Testament punishment for most sins was death, as was accepted as law in those times. PSYCHOLOGY OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED (subject to change)’Coming out’ is a term used by people to acknowledge publicly that they are gay, accepting this in front of friends, family, or some other acquaintance. In our heterosexual world, this proves to be rather challenging, and history gives its testament of the pain that many have had to endure in their journey coming out.
To many, it is empowering. But it can also be painful and may even result in severed ties and reconsidered bonds. The struggle faced by many such people, is difficult to be understood by most heterosexuals. During the 1940s, a work on male sexuality was published by Alfred Kinsey and his associates. His research went against and even questioned sexuality as a one dimensional construct. Eventually, he designed his own scale, called the Kinsey Scale, to indicate how heterosexual or homosexual a man’s sexual leanings were. His findings on homosexuality from a scientific viewpoint included the following:1: Homosexual behaviors were more common than people thought it to be and 1/3rd of his male subjects reported a homosexual experience.2: Infidelity in marriage was strongly prevalent.
3: Masturbation was prevalent among men all over the world.4: People engaged in intercourse before marriage despite cultural taboos.A lot of predispositions toward homosexuality and marriage were disproved by Kinsey’s research.
His works did not classify heterosexuality and homosexuality as completely separate entities; based on research, he allowed for the possibility that most people are likely to have both sides of the orientation. Havelock Ellis (1901) argued that homosexuality was inborn and therefore not immoral, that it was not a disease, and that many homosexuals made outstanding contributions to society. Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, believed that all men were innately bisexual, and that they become either homosexual or heterosexual based on experiences with family and environment.
The contradiction to this practice comes from the Bible. The Bible condemns homosexuality. The Bible says that when man began to practice unrighteousness, God gave them over to their sinful lusts, thereby receiving for themselves the punishment that awaits them after death- eternal damnation.Romans 1: 26-27For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions.
For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of women, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.Perhaps, this is where the term “crimes against nature”, alluding to homosexuality sprung from. The Bible continues to say, that not only are those who practice them deserving of death; even those who encourage them, in spite of knowing the commandments of God, are equally guilty.Romans 1:32Who, knowing the righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.Many, of course, say that Jesus also said that a Christian should not judge, nor condemn, anyone for God has made us all equal. In fact, in support of this is the story of the woman who had sinned, and was brought to Jesus to condemn by the Pharisees.
And Jesus replied saying, “If any among you has no sin, let him be first to cast the stone”. As they were all guilty of sin themselves, none of them cast their stone. Yet, as Christians, a judgement is not being passed of their own discretion. The judgement is made and passed by the God of the Bible. However, while the God of the Christians does not allow for Christians to engage in such acts, He tells them that they still have to love and respect all people, regardless. An interview was conducted to find out what Christians who believed that the Bible is the full authority of God thought regarding homosexuals.
The questions asked included:1) What do you think about homosexuality?2) If someone who identified themselves as gay came to your church, how would you (as a church) treat them?3) Is it okay for Christians to explore other sexual orientations apart from what the Bible calls natural? To these questions, Christians responded in a fairly similar manner. They agreed that the sexual act of homosexuality is wrong and is not confined to the natural order. Any sexual orientation outside the natural order of a man-woman marriage is biologically wrong, morally wrong and even, wrong by Biblical standards. However, it is highly prevalent in today’s world and that is a product of the perverse and sinful desires of the carnal being.
The feelings that the person succumbs to drives them to an act which makes it unnatural.When asked about gay people, the response was slightly different. They all mutually agreed that they are open to, just as the Church and the Gospel are open to all people, regardless.
They mention that Jesus did not exempt anyone when he commanded us to love one another. That being said, they also believe that they are called to be a Pillar of Truth. While showing grace to them, the truth is that they do not accept the act of homosexuality but are welcoming of them as a person, and will continue to love them. However, when it comes to Christians exploring their sexual orientation, their answers were directly aligned. No. They believe that when they start exploring, they open a door in their soul that could cause them to fall. It is as putting your hand in fire and expecting to not get burned. While God is loving and good, He is also Holy and righteous, and they believe that they need to accept that while walking in their faith.
As opposed to the beliefs of Christians, today’s general public has become far more accepting of such practices. The LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community has a wide reaching impact. There are many instances of acceptance in the past one year, even in countries like India that are culture centered and comparatively conservative. Pride marches have taken place, which was supported by people of the community and outside, transsexuals are finding more acceptance slowly, even finding jobs in some places like Kerala, and in recent news, a Gujarat gay royal is converting his palace into an LGBTQ centre.What is the reason for this? What has caused a change in the outlook of the present generation towards this community as opposed to the views of earlier generations? Why are there more people today identifying as LGBTQ?Perhaps a large contribution to this dramatic change is that kids today are growing up with such concepts in their everyday world. It has certainly become far more widespread and if ever these were held as taboo, the widespread coming out by this community has created more acceptance among the masses.Consider the case of Little Peter.
American Developmental Psychologist Mary Cover Jones was interested in studying children who cried and trembled when shown an animal. She chose to study three year old Peter who lived in a charitable institution. Peter had an extreme fear of rabbits, rats, feathers, frogs, etc but was well adjusted in other respect. Jones (supervised by John B. Watson) put a rabbit in a wire cage in front of the child while he ate his lunch. In a series of 17 steps the rabbit, still in the cage, was brought closer slowly, until eventually it was nibbling on his fingers and sitting on his lap while he ate his lunch.
Over time, his fear was subsiding and he was able to touch the rabbit without crying. Her experiment was the basis of desensitization. Just like Little Peter, it could be that today’s kids are desensitized to concepts such as homosexuality and sex change, and are more accepting toward such practices. However, just because something is widely accepted, and unopposed, does not always make it right.
Traditional notions such as those set by religion are beginning to be seen as invalid and maybe, it could even be said that our generation has lost its attachment to morals.Articles on the background of transsexuals write that in times prior to ours, males began to dress as females because they derived sexual pleasure out of doing so. They tried to completely effeminate themselves, which also included extensive surgeries to alter their internal organs to match that of a woman. In doing so, other men took interest in them and transsexuals were further pleasured by the attention they received. Consider even the case of “drag queens”. Drag queens are men who dress up as women but they have no desire to change any part of themselves; they wish to retain their masculinity. When all these practices began to set sail, it did not start as people finding themselves. It was maybe out of admiration for the opposite sex, or maybe even just pleasure.
It could, perhaps, even by considered as a kink.However, as time went on, people began to observe and adapt such practices for themselves. A famous example is of the parents that changed genders themselves and as their kids grew up, learning from their parents’ example, chose to change their genders too. Environment, family and other external factors play a role in such behaviors.
Raising children to accept such practices as normal has created openness among it. FINAL THOUGHTSPerhaps, this leads us to question is homosexuality right or wrong? Perhaps, some of us don’t care whether it is because we feel we are truly in love. I am highly conscious that your religious beliefs and prior biases will heavily influence your conviction through this paper. Regardless, let’s go on to conclusively understand this from the perspective of the Bible and Psychology.Within psychology, psychoanalysts hold the view that homosexuality is a perversion from normal sexual instinct, as normality is that a person should have a mature relationship with a person of the opposite sex, including children. Opposing this is the view of homophile organizations, that homosexuality is a normal sexual variant.
Sociologists hold an in-between view point that it is neither a perversion nor a normal sexual variant, but rather, could be considered a sexual deviance. While psychology does not take a firm stance, the Bible adopts a more radical stance. This can be seen in many references in the Bible such as 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 and Romans 1: 26-27. The Bible mandates that if a man wishes to engage in sexual activities, let him take for himself a wife, and a woman a husband, and share each other’s company. The God of the Bible, believed as the God of all creation, did not intend for His creation to take into same sex marriages.
It says that when you allow yourself to linger in sin, you are most likely to fall, and as you eventually get desensitized to it, you become more accepting, and morals or conscience are ignored. From this perspective, it can be argued that homosexuality is wrong.