Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Sacred Texts
Jackie (Login BlueJudah) Sufi Posted Feb 7, 2010 2:44 PM
Did you know?
* Of 32,000 verses in the Bible, only five directly mention homosexuality.
* The Qur'an only directly mentions homosexuality once.
* Leviticus, the book of the Bible which stipulates death for homosexuality, requires the same punishment for adultery, pre-marital sex, disobedient children and blasphemy.
* The Biblical Jesus does not condemn homosexuality.
* The destruction of the Biblical city of Sodom was due to their mistreatment of strangers.
* The Bible never condemns same sex marriage.
* The Biblical David and Jonathan had a formal same-sex union.
* 'Traditional marriage' in the Bible includes polygamy.
* No known sacred text forbids same sex marriage.
* Very few sacred texts even mention homosexuality.
* Hindu and other far eastern sacred texts do not condemn homosexuality.
* Homosexuality is not unnatural, it is practised by hundreds of species of animals.
This page indexes resources about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues at sacred-texts. This page deals specifically with the subject of LGBT people in sacred texts. For an overview of the positions of various religions on this topic, including historical and current beliefs, refer to this page at the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance site [external site].
References to the scriptures are being used as the backbone of much of the heated discussion about gay people in a way that has not been seen since the Scopes evolution trial. It is thus crucial to examine the actual texts, and the context in which they were written. This page, which has taken months of research to write, provides all available scriptural quotes on this subject, with links into the full texts, also available at this site. Also included are the complete text of several books on the subject, scanned specially to provide background information for this page.
The Bible, the Qur'an, and Baha'i and Zoroastrian scriptures have a few passages which condemn homosexuality. An out of context interpretation of these passages has been used as justification for persecution of homosexuals, ranging from ridicule, exclusion, and attempts to alter behavior, to imprisonment and even execution. Typically these quotes are employed not because the entire range of scriptural injunctions are being applied consistently, but because the power structure needs cherry-picked scriptural justification for their actions.
Colonialism subsequently imposed this prejudice on a number of non-western societies which did not previously have this sort of persecution. Other major world religions, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto, don't condemn homosexuals in their sacred texts, let alone mention the subject except in passing. This doesn't mean that societies where these religions are dominant or practiced are (or are not) tolerant of LGBT people; simply that whatever discrimination or persecution may be present is not based on religious grounds.
Modern studies of the nature of gender have found that human sexual preference is innate; homosexuality occurs in hundreds of species; and gender and sexual behavior is a continuum rather than two compartmentalized poles. Psychologists no longer consider homosexuality a personality defect or mental illness.
There will always be some that prefer not to accept the findings of science. For instance, there are a handful of Christians who believe that the Earth is flat because the Bible refers to the 'four corners of the Earth'. Some literalist Christians reject the Copernican solar system for similar scriptural reasons. However, many religions, even the most conservative, have shown a capability to incorporate advances in knowledge-- for instance, astronomy, geology and biology--that were previously contradicted by, or simply unknown to, scripture and religious tradition. For instance, modern Roman Catholic doctrine states that scientific theories of cosmology, including the 'Big Bang', are not incompatible with the concept of a creation by the deity-- this from the church that only recently lifted its pro forma censorship of the works of Galileo.
Values of tolerance and acceptance for others can be found at the core of all world religions. Many religious groups have not found it difficult to extend tolerance to LGBT people, even if this does not lead to acceptance within their religion, or sanctioning of same-sex unions or homosexual clergy. And most religious groups and people, across the spectrum, are opposed to violence against gays and other violations of their human and civil rights, regardless of their other beliefs on the subject.
We invite readers to review this material with an open mind.