Latino Sexual Oddysey

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Leviticus' Laws

Open letter to Dr Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal and understand why anyone would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. “In the eyes of God marriage is based between a man and woman.” I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them:

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 1:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Who owns God?

Religion is a very personal experience, yet at the same time it is the foundation upon which the United States was established. The forefathers of present day Americans, after suffering from religious persecution in their countries of origin, created a governmental structure where there would be a separation of church and state, thus assuring the right of every citizen to worship their God (or lack thereof) as freely as possible.

Buddha, Siddhartha, Yahweh, Jehovah, Mohammed, God, Christ, The Holy Spirit - or None; call it what you want, but who owns "God"?

The results of the 2004 presidential election have been used to make a claim that Mr. Bush is the right choice for defending our morals. According to exit polls, 22% of respondents thought morality was the most important issue on this election (over the war in Iraq, health care, and the economy) and 72% of those voted to re-elect the President.

Does the religious right, the Catholic Church, or any other religion for that matter, "own" God? Should we discriminate against homosexuals (or any other group of citizens) because they don't own God? Should we deny them basic civil liberties because the Church perceives them as an abomination? Is that why in the 11 states that gay marriage was placed for a ballot it was overwhelmingly defeated? Is this country’s morality so important that we should deny the rights of marriage to a very large segment of our population - Gay and Lesbian law-abiding citizens?"

In God we trust" - but who owns God?

Who has the right religion? Can a politician own a god - like the current American president thinks he does?

How could a just God expect his creatures to pick the one true religion out of a multitude of false ones? By faith alone? It strikes me as a sloppy way to run an organization, whether a universal or a smaller one. All of us are prisoners of our early indoctrination, for it is hard, nearly impossible to shake off one's earliest training. As a devout agnostic, as I tend to cynically feel these days, I consciously evaluated all religions. From my days at the university where I was fascinated in my comparative religion studies, I am as taken by the early worship of the sun by the Egyptians or the Incas, to the most sober and intellectualized of the major western faiths. Having had a brush with death, I am forced to take them all as equal. I really want to cover my ass (I am more afraid of coming back as a housewife with bad taste than I am of hell). It does not help me that I dislike some religions more than others.If God exists (a belief that I have always leaned toward), and if He desires to be worshipped (something that I find improbable, but conceivably true, explaining why we have so many options to choose from), then stipulating one form of worship over another seems unlikely to be relevant. I always have thought that God omnipotent, which could shape galaxies and create or end life, would not be swayed by this stupid bigotry of the Vatican or the religious right performed in the name of "worship." And what if there are no spirits whatsoever, only fate? When death comes, it would be over - like the weapons of mass destruction that will never be found in Iraq.

Religion is a solace to many people. It has been called the "opium of the masses". It is conceivable that some religion, somewhere, really is the Ultimate Truth. In most cases it is nothing more than a form of conceit and havoc. In parts of Ireland and the Middle East, it is more trouble than it is worth. The Christianization of the native Americans throughout the Americas, The Inquisition, the Crusades, Catholics vs. Protestants, Jews vs. Muslims; deeds done in the name of their faith with which no God would want to be identified. I could never become a prophet, I would settle for the right to be a critic.

It just seems to me that owning the last Cher CD, being able to recite all the words to every show tune Monday night at Sidetrack here in Chicago, being able to dress in style, and having disposable income to splash on yourself is more to God's liking than what these people are doing in their God's name. That is not religion - it is a madhouse.

So lets stay with the principles of our founding fathers: lets separate the state and its politics from the religions and their prophets.

To quote that wonderful prophet, Jesus Christ: "Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's and unto God those that are God's."

As much as I feel this country would be prettier, cleaner, and definitively happier if I were able to impose my morals on the rest of the country, I fully understand our constitution forbids me to do it.

Let Us Wed

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

LET US WEDIt rests on equality, liberty and even society.

Let us wed...That idea remains shocking to many people. So far, only ix countries--Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Great Britain, South Africa, and Spain--have given full legal status to same-sex unions. The sight of homosexual men and women having wedding days just like those enjoyed for centuries by heterosexuals is unsettling, just as, for some people, is the sight of us holding hands or kissing.

The case for allowing gays to marry begins with equality, pure and simple. Why should one set of loving, consenting adults be denied a right that other such adults have and which, if exercised, will do no damage to anyone else?Not just because they have always lacked that right in the past, for sure: until the 1969, in some American states it was illegal for African-American adults to marry white ones, but precious few would defend that ban now on grounds that it was „traditional“.

Another argument is rooted in semantics: marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and so cannot be extended to same-sex couples. They may live together and love one another, but cannot, by this argument, be „married“. But that is to dodge the real question-why not?--and to obscure the real nature of marriage, which is a binding commitment, at once legal, social and personal, between two people to take on special obligations to one another. If homosexuals want to make such marital commitments to one another, and to society, then why should we be prevented from doing so while other adults, equivalent in all other ways, are allowed to do so?

Civil unions are not enough!

The case against same sex marriage, according to the religious right, is that this would damage an important social institution. Yet the reverse is surely true. Gays want to marry precisely because we see marriage as important: we want the symbolism that marriage brings, the extra sense of obligation and commitment, as well as the social recognition. Allowing gays to marry would, if anything, add to social stability, for it would increase the number of couples that take on real, rather than simply passing, commitments. The weakening of marriage has been heterosexuals’ doing, not gays’, for it is their infidelity, divorce rates and single-parent families that have wrought social damage.

But marriage is about children, say some: to which the answer is, often , but not always, (we allow infertile couples to marry) and permitting gay marriage would not alter that. Or it is a religious act, say others: to which the answer is, yes, you may believe that, but if so it is no business of the state to impose a religious status. (Already some religious denominations are performing marriages). Indeed, in America the constitution expressly bans the involvement of the state in religious matters, so it would be especially outrageous if the constitution were now to be used for religious ends. (As some proponents of the constitutional amendment in America banning gay marriage would pretend to do).

The importance of marriage for society’s general health and stability also explains why the commonly mooted alternative to gay marriage-a so-called civil union-is not enough.Yet that civil unions would be both wrong in principle and damaging for society. Marriage, as it is commonly viewed in society, is more than just a legal contract. Moreover, to establish something short of real marriage for some adults would tend to undermine the notion for all. Why shouldn’t everyone, in time, downgrade to civil unions? Now that really would threaten a fundamental institution of civilization.