The Relationship between Homosexuality and Religion
The relationship between religion and homosexuality has varied across different points in and time and locations. Homosexuality is defined as the quality of characteristic of being sexually attracted to people of their own sex. Homosexuality is usually viewed negatively and the people who engage in these acts are normally poorly judged and demoralized. Even though the world is becoming more understanding of the LGBTQ community, there is still plenty of hate that is directed towards homosexuality. On June 12, 2016, a Muslim man by the name of Omar Mateen opened fire on a group of individuals attending a gay club in Orlando, FL. He killed 49 people and injured 53 others. This incident is known as the biggest mass shooting to ever happen in the nation. This attack was full of hatred and targeted toward the LGBTQ community. Omar’s motives were clear as glass. He was participating in the evil act eradicating homosexuals.
Even with the negative outlook on homosexuality, it still inevitably exists in all religions and all religions react differently to participants of their religion engaging in these acts. Regardless of a person’s outlook on homosexuality, many people of faith look into sacred texts and traditions for guidance on this issue. In this essay I will compare and contrast the relationship of homosexuality and religion within the 5 major world religions.
The first major religion I’m going to talk about is Christianity. Christian denominations hold different views on the idea of homosexuality. These views range from complete acceptance to outright condemnation. Most Christian denominations welcome homosexuals into their church but teach that homosexuality is wrong and sinful. Liberal Christians are far more supportive of homosexuality. They believe that as long as the relationship is honest and monogamous, that it doesn’t matter if it is a same sex relationship. The Metropolitan Community Church is an international protestant Christian denomination link of churches that houses over 40,000 members. This church was founded specifically to serve the Christian LGBTQ community and is devoted to being open and accepting members of the LGBTQ community into their church. While Christian liberals are open to the idea of homosexuality, conservative Christian denominations generally oppose same sex relationships. Conservative Christians follow and rely on the Old Testament as well the New Testament. Both of these texts describe human sexual relations as strictly heterosexual by God’s design (Wikipedia). Since homosexuality contradicts God’s design, homosexual acts are deemed to be sinful to conservative Christians.
The second major world religion I’m going to discuss is Judaism. Jewish people also have various views on homosexuality. The Torah, which is one of the five books of the Hebrew bible states that “A man shall not lie with another man as he would with a woman”. The Torah describes homosexuality as an abomination. Although no longer implemented as Jewish law, being homosexual was actually punishable by death to the Jewish in earlier times. Similar to Christians, Jews are split up into two groups. One group is open and accepting to homosexuality while the other views homosexuality as sinful or an abomination. Orthodox Judaism views act of homosexuality as sinful. In recent years there has been an approach on new views of homosexuality in the Jewish community. The approach is that only anal sex is considered an abomination by the Torah. Conservative Judaism has been studying homosexuality for years and are finally moving into the position of welcoming homosexuals into their synagogues, while also upholding a ban that will ban anal sex all together as a religious requirement. Liberal and reform Judaism in the UK on the other hand believe homosexuality to be just as accepted as heterosexuality. Recently, Jewish authorities are progressing and believe that the traditional laws against homosexuality are subject to change because the world and society is changing. These progressive Jewish authorities believes these laws are no longer binding to Jewish culture.
The third major religion that I will be discussing is Islam. Unlike the previous religions I’ve discussed, all major school places and places of worship completely disapprove of homosexuality. Islamic people view same sex desires as an unnatural temptation. The discourse on homosexuality in Islam is primarily associated with the sexual acts between men. Lesbianism doesn’t seem to be much of a problem in Islamic culture. Unlike homosexual activity between men, lesbianism isn’t punishable because it not determined to be “zina”. Zina is an Islamic legal term referring to unlawful sexual intercourse. There is zero tolerance for homosexuality in most Islamic countries. Some Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan actually still retain the capital punishment as a penalty for homosexual behavior.
The fourth major religion on this list for comparison and contrast is Hinduism. Hinduism is another religion that takes various positions on homosexuality. Some Hindus are either positive, neutral or antagonistic when it comes to views on homosexuality. One of the sacred texts of Hinduism states that, “perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, what seems unnatural is also natural”. Meaning that even though homosexuality is deemed unnatural, it is actually natural in means of diversity. There has actually even been talks of a third gender that has been acknowledged within Hinduism. It is said that some people are born with mixed female and male natures. However, there are Hindu texts that treat homosexuality as a sin that is punishable legally. Like other religions, each Hindu denomination have different views and have developed distinct rules regarding sexuality.
Lastly, the fifth major religion up for discussion is Buddhism. According to the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path, “one should neither be attached to nor crave sensual pleasure”. The third of the five precepts is “to refrain from committing sexual misconduct”. The term ‘sexual misconduct’ is very broad and doesn’t determine whether same gender relations is accepted. Most Buddhist don’t believe that it matters either way. According to some early Buddhist scriptures, there isn’t anything that said same sex relations have anything to do with misconduct. While there are monks that express that same gender relations do not violate the rules of sexual misconduct, The Dalai Lama interprets all sexual activity as sexual misconduct unless it is strictly for means of procreating or reproducing life.
In conclusion, religion and sexual orientation have always historically clashed. All five major world religions have different viewpoints and regulations when dealing with homosexuality. Some religions are open and accepting while others condemn the idea of homosexuality all together. In the United States and many other nations, people of different religions are becoming more accepting of same sex relationships. Even the conservative denominations with strict stances on homosexuality are liberalizing.”