A Buddhist’s Perspective on Homosexuality
As a complete outsider to Christian traditions, it always puzzled me that Gay Marriage was such a hot-button issue. I have, since first encountering hatred towards gays, (can I also call them happys?) made a study of the objections surrounding gay marriage, and homosexuality in general. I was originally going to reply to "On The Sanctity of Gay Marriage," by James Ray in the comment segment of his hubpage, but I realized I had more to say, and it wasn't all in reply.
The Gay Problem
Essentially, those who oppose homosexuality do so for one of two reasons. Very few people hate gays because their mother was killed by a lesbian, or because gays compete for jobs in a certain social bracket-so in that sense, gays are actually segregated from other minorities. People who see homosexuality as a problem often also see it as something a person can choose not to do, so some of the bigotry facing homosexuals takes a more gentle tone than the bigotry that a black person might endure from a white supremacist.
The first, and I suspect the most wide-spread reason for anti-gay sentiment is that differences disgust people. The knee-jerk type of hatred towards gays is the same type of reaction that a person might have to seeing a spider. The hatred has very little thought behind it: "Oh, it has eight legs and lots of eyes, it must want to bite me." So the poor spider is crushed, and the person who swatted it gives very little thought to the beauty of a web, nor to how many harmful insects a spider eats in a week.
In the same exact way, some people who hate gays give their hatred very little thought. They are not attracted to their own sex, so how could someone else possibly be? Clearly a man who desires another man must be dangerous. In fact, the knee-jerk hatred is often accompanied by false information that is created specifically to paint gay people as a threat. They will paint AIDS as a gay-only disease, or they will make obscure, yet threatening sounding statements about "The Gay Agenda."
This fear-inspired hatred is, to my knowledge, incurable. I like spiders and have always liked them; my mother hates them and smashes them on sight. I cannot cure her fear-hate of spiders by introducing her to a spider, or educating her about spiders, or anything else. Likewise, someone who hates gays out of fear is immune to any sort of reasoning. Without being shown somehow that Gays are people too, someone with this sort of hatred will likely never overcome it.
The second reason for anti-gay sentiment is somewhat less clear, mostly because it can often be mixed with the first reason. It is religion. There are passages in the Christian Bible that condemn homosexuality as Sin. This is one of those facts about Christian doctrine that surprised me when I first heard it. There is no such concept in Buddhism; I had nothing to compare it to. So I read the bible, beginning to end.
The Bible very clearly states that homosexuality is sin. From my understanding of Christian doctrine, it is God's task to hate sin, not the average man's. The average man following the precepts of Jesus of Nazareth must love sinners and try to win them over. The Christians who understand this often attempt to talk gays out of their sexual preference. I have seen this happen and it very rarely results in the elimination of homosexual tendencies. There is a flaw, however, in thinking "Homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so." There are many, many laws in the bible, and Christians do not uphold all of them. For instance, in Leviticus, we find the passage "Do not lay with a man as with a woman, it is abomination." In the very next chapter, we find, "Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed," "Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material," and "Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it."
If a man hates homosexuality because the Bible says it is wrong, should he not also campaign rigorously against gardeners who grow radishes and lettuce together? Against clothing designers who sell, say, a leather jacket with wool lining? Against restaurants that allow people to order medium rare steak? Christians tend to cherry-pick the laws of the bible they wish to enforce.
If a Christian can be convinced that the rule against homosexuality is as valuable as the rule against mixing types of material, I believe that there can be more meaningful dialog between Gays and Christians. There is a common Christian prayer, one which I admire greatly: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
The Bible marks even the desire to partake in homosexual relations as repulsive. One might be able to force a gay into hiding, but one could never change a gay's most basic desires. I implore Christians to accept gays for who they are and let God worry about what he hates.
Gay Marriage in the United States
The answer to Gay Marriage, to me, seems very clear. In the US constitution, it states in very plain English, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The Bible declares that Marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. If the US does not allow two men or two women to wed, it must provide a very good reason, as it otherwise appears that the country has passed laws respecting an establishment of religion. It is exactly this simple.
Some-possibly non-Christians--argue that Gay Marriage will lead to the destruction of marriage as an institution. There is also the argument that allowing gays to marry would lead to a sharp increase in polygamy, that divorce will go on the rise, an all sorts of other horrible predictions.
Any person who has educated himself about logic has no doubt heard of the Slippery Slope Fallacy. "X will occur, therefore W will happen inevitably." There is zero scientific data that suggests gays will not respect their marriages the same way straights do, nor is there any data to suggest that Gay Marriage will have any sort of negative effect on our culture.
If anything, Gay Marriage would present the United States with a very valuable asset. As gays cannot, except in special cases, produce their own children, gay couples could, potentially, provide homes for orphans and children who have been rescued from abusive parents.
Many states still harbor laws that make homosexual relations impossible. While it is true that these laws are difficult to enforce, they are not laws that have fallen, forgotten, from use. I challenge every state with such laws to put forth a reason for the laws' existence that cannot be traced back to the Bible. Without a reason to exist aside from Christian preference, these laws are unconstitutional. Just as Hindus and Buddhists are protected from biblical law with the first amendment, so too should gays be protected.