Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Homosexuality









For this episode, we were joined by Reed Braden, who writes the blog "Unorthodox Atheism," and is also the co-host of the "Two Smokin' Hot Freethinkers" podcast. Reed has recently come out both as an atheist and as a homosexual, giving him a valuable perspective for this discussion (or, as he phrased it, making him the 'token gay').

Some of the questions in this podcast included:
  1. What can you tell us about the experience of being a homosexual within and without of the Christian worldview?
  2. What is the mainstream Christian approach to homosexuality?
  3. What does the Bible tell us about homosexuality?
  4. How do atheists and nonbelievers approach homosexuality?
  5. How have your views towards homosexuality changed since leaving Christianity?
  6. Is it possible that the Christian regard for homosexuality is changing, and will become a non-issue in the future?
Feel free to continue this discussion in the comments below.

8 Comments:

Blogger Dan Sawyer said...

Great show guys, had a lot of fun.

Last night, as we recorded, there were a couple of core issues we kept dancing around that showed up heavily in the subtext of what each of us were saying that I think we'd all be well-served to bring to the fore with a show (or two) of its own. To whit, each of us has some particular beliefs about sex - what it is, what it's for, what its importance is, and what the various ethical weights we believe belong on the morality scale around sex.

I think that these subtextual issues really deserve to be brought out to the fore and batted around. It's not enough for Kevin to say he's working from a biblical view on sexuality, while I say that I'm a moderate bohemian libertarian, while Zach says he's a conventional mainstream guy, etc. Things like that only elucidate a shorthand description for our conclusions on the topic, they don't speak to the values or reasoning underlying our conclusions (not to mention that "Biblical values" "Bohemian values" "moderation," and "mainstream values" are themselves terms whose relative meanings vary by audience).

So, what would you guys think about tackling this in a big way?

Some of the questions we could hit:

How does one go about forming a personal code of sexual ethics?

What special considerations, if any, does sex require when making ethical decisions over/above other issues?

What, if any, spiritual component is there to sexual activity?

What, if any, is the difference between sexual stupidity and sexual immorality?

What, if any, basis does the Bible provide for forming a code of sexual ethics? (and, follow up to that, how does a Christian go about determining the difference between, say, Paul's [or any biblical author's individual] opinion and God's opinion on any given point in the sexual universe?)

What, if any, bases does a secular humanist person (as the atheists on our show tend to be) have for forming a code of sexual ethics, beyond personal taste?

There are probably a half-dozen to a dozen more good questions that could keep us going for a while.

1/23/08, 9:54 AM  
Blogger Zachary Moore said...

In regards to your second question, I have the feeling that sex should require a special consideration, but I can't come up with any rational reason why that would be.

It's not necessarily an intimate activity, and it's not necessarily loaded emotionally.

I guess a missing question would be: is all sex ethically equivocal?

1/23/08, 10:30 AM  
Blogger Dan Sawyer said...

Can you elucidate that last question a bit? It's tantilizing, but I can't quite put my finger on what you're probing for.
-Dan

1/23/08, 4:44 PM  
Blogger Zachary Moore said...

I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that two different sexual encounters, even with the same person, can take place in vastly different contexts. There's sex which is heavily invested with emotion, such as that which is evoked in Fabio novels. And there's sex which is purely a physical thrill, executed with the same indiscriminate exuberance one might find racing another person across a field.

I guess I'm looking for an ethical difference between casual sex and relationship sex.

1/23/08, 8:41 PM  
Blogger Rev. Reed Braden said...

Lemme take a crack at these:

- How does one go about forming a personal code of sexual ethics?

I wouldn't seperate the formation of sexual ethics from the formation of day-to-day ethics or give it any special consideration. Your sexual ethical code should go along with your normal ethical code. Pretty much, my sexual ethics and regular ethics are all wrapped up into one sentence: follow your heart unless it hurts someone. (The only exception I make for sexual ethics is if the person likes the hurting. And you can pretend I'm kidding if it makes you feel better.)

- What special considerations, if any, does sex require when making ethical decisions over/above other issues?

I usually hate answering questions with a question, but why, other than theology, should sex deserve special considerations?

- What, if any, spiritual component is there to sexual activity?

I'm tempted to be smarmy, but I'll bite my tongue on this one.

- What, if any, is the difference between sexual stupidity and sexual immorality?

If either of those were objective, I'm sure this would be a much more answerable question, but stupidity and immorality are both up to the eye of the beholder. I would say that immoral sex would be limited to bestiality, incest, paedophilia, necrophilia and rape. Some others would include other sexual acts or possibly omit some that I have listed. I could make a few exceptions to my narrow list; i.e., a couple who cannot afford a child and won't abort or give up their child to adoption having unprotected sex or having unprotected sex without telling your partner you have a sexually transmitted disease.

Sexual stupidity is a new one. I haven't heard that phrase in serious discussion until now... I'll try to define what I think sexual stupidity is... and bear with me. Paris Hilton. Now, as long as being Paris Hilton isn't hurting anyone (those who have sex with her know what to expect, so it's not technically immoral or hurting them unknowingly) there's no real immorality I can see in being Paris Hilton and banging everyone. However, I would definitely call it sexually stupid. I'm terribly sorry for lowering the level of discussion so much.

So, after skirting around this question for two paragraphs, I have to say I don't think this question deals with objective enough entities to be properly answered.

- What, if any, basis does the Bible provide for forming a code of sexual ethics? (and, follow up to that, how does a Christian go about determining the difference between, say, Paul's [or any biblical author's individual] opinion and God's opinion on any given point in the sexual universe?)

Well, Biblical sexual ethics encourages (scratch that... mandates) that zoophiliacs should be murdered rather than counseled, that homosexuals should be stoned rather than left to themselves and that we shouldn't have sex with Molech (Lev. 20:5). What does God have against Molech? The Bible also goes into gorey details about when to stone rape victims or when to murder your daughter for not being a virgin on her wedding night. I would say that anyone who takes their sexual ethics from the Bible is either a lunatic or has not read the Bible. And don't tell me that, "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord," is supposed to be metaphorical.

- What, if any, bases [basis?] does a secular humanist person (as the atheists on our show tend to be) have for forming a code of sexual ethics, beyond personal taste?

See question #1.

1/27/08, 10:07 PM  
Blogger Zachary Moore said...

I guess we still need some input from the Christians to keep this topic moving, but...

Reed- does your ethical creed of "as long as it doesn't hurt anyone," take into account emotional pain? I think this it what I was searching for in my distinction between casual sex and relationship sex- since the former is less involved emotionally, is there less risk of unethical behavior?

2/7/08, 11:42 AM  
Blogger Rev. Reed Braden said...

Reed- does your ethical creed of "as long as it doesn't hurt anyone," take into account emotional pain?

Emotional hurt is still hurt. Sometimes it's worse. So, yes, I consider the possibility of emotional harm. I never said I was a big proponent of casual sex (although, I would be a hypocrite if I condemned it), but I think it's perfectly okay between people who are emotionally stable enough to handle it.

2/22/08, 12:09 AM  
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12/18/08, 9:01 PM  

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