Pope's Comments On Homosexuality Demonstrate Ignorance Of Individual Rights
The funny thing is that Pope Benedict thinks it's gay marriage that threatens to undermine “the future of humanity itself.” His comments on the issue last Monday were very clear: gay marriage is bad, a manifestation of sin and a menace to both society and the very dignity of our species. The painfully obvious point he seems to be missing, however, is that the real menace, the real root cause of so many terrible problems facing humanity today, is just this sort of gross abuse of others on the grounds of natural differences.
So where does it come from—the Pope's understanding that such abuse is OK? How can he justify treating gays as inhuman, undeserving of the fundamental right to pursuit of happiness?
The answer is a combination of three factors: the teachings of the Bible, the traditional dogma of the Catholic faith passed down through centuries, and a persistent close-mindedness unfortunately afflicting the vast majority of a religion supposedly grounded in loving one's neighbor.
There's nothing too terrible about the first two components—in theory—however it is their misapplication that seems to contribute most profoundly to the problematic third.
It is an accepted reality within the Church that the Bible, while still the word of God, is both metaphorical and subject to the cultural and temporal limitations of the men who wrote it. That is why Catholics do not try and use Jesus Christ's family history, laid down in the Bible and traced back to Creation, as evidence for claiming the world is 5000 years old. Or insist that being swallowed by a whale and living to tell about it scientifically plausible.
It is also why the Bible, even as a sacred text, gets away with its acceptance of social atrocities like sexism, racism, and slavery.
And why shouldn't it get away with it? We don't dismiss great literature or art because of these influences. Humanity was younger then. Now, however, we are supposed to have learned.
Unfortunately, the Catholic interpretation of the Bible's view on homosexuality does not seem to demonstrate such advancement. While no biblical passage explicitly forbids homosexuality, several passages do forbid practices that the Church takes as synonymous with being gay. For the most part, however, this is just a bad case of circular logic. Catholics, for instance, include homosexuality in their definition of sodomy, which is explicitly condemned in the Bible, but that inclusion comes from their preexisting bias, not from something concrete.
And, honestly, so what if the Bible did come out and state gay marriage was wrong? Again, the Bible, according to the Church, is the word of God, but it is still a human document. Maybe somebody messed up trying to tune in to God's will, understand it, and recreate it on paper—it certainly wouldn't be the first time a prophet had disobeyed God (Jonah anyone?).
The problem is that Catholics continue to be so close-minded about the subject that they won't even consider the interpretation of years ago might just be flawed. They refuse to recognize the nature of their actions as bigoted and fundamentally opposed to people's personal freedoms. They continue to follow a Pope whose words, while upsetting, are hardly surprising given the intolerant track record the Church already has.
It's a real shame a religion that champions positivity—love, grace, charity, forgiveness—has to be characterized by such a record. But people won't come around and drop that label until the Church realizes its error and comes around itself.
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