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Glen T. Winstein

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Basics  Page 3


  Page 3

    2. Religion and women
    3. Religion and homosexuality
    4. Religion and slavery
    5. Afterlife and cruelty
            Hell as torment, separation from God, Christian Universalism

  Some topical information may need to be updated since I wrote this, but I
would still recommend my basic outlooks for it.

  2. Religion and women

  For the God concept to be credible, it has to be reconciled with the known
facts of the world, so, as in the next section (on homosexuality), I'd only con-
sider a reform/progresssive stance on the subject credible.

  Orthodox Judaism outlooks vary in prescribing different roles and religious
obligations for women, apologists defending it as complimentarianism.  This is
less true in conservative Judaism, and reform Judaism teaches the equality of

  Christian conservative views prescribe different roles and religious obliga-
tions for women.  This is less true in the complementarian view, and Christian
feminists teach the equality of women and tend to support homosexual rights and
a pro-choice stance on abortion.

  "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must
be quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12)
  "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:

  Sharia (Islamic law) provides for complementarianism--differences between wo-
men's and men's roles, rights, and obligations.  Conservatives of Islam encour-
age complimentarianism and may favor Islamism (that Islam is not just a religion
but a political system).  Liberal Muslims encourage feminism and are more prone
to favor tolerance and secularism.

  "One of the major areas of scholarship and campaigning for Islamic feminists
are aspects of sharia (Islamic law) known as Muslim personal law (MPL) or Muslim
family law.

  "Muslim majority countries that have promulgated some form of MPL include
Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Sudan, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, In-
donesia, and Bangladesh. Muslim minority countries that already have incorpor-
ated MPL into their own law or are considering passing legislation on aspects of
MPL include India, Israel, and South Africa.

  The role of women in Hinduism may favor equal status with men or be restric-

  Sikhism teaches male/female equality although it struggles against unfair so-
cial conventions.

  Treatment of women in Buddhism has varied.  In Buddhist tradition, worldly
power is often considered to be due to spiritual achievements.  Gods live in
higher realms than a humans and have higher spiritual attainment.  Cakravartins
and Buddhas are more spiritually advanced than ordinary people.  But Zen nun
Heng-Ching Shih says women in Buddhism are considered as having five obstacles:
being incapable of becoming a Brahma King, `Sakra,' King `Mara,` Cakravartin or
Buddha because Gautama Buddha in the Bahudhatuka-sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya in
the Pali Canon states that it's impossible for a woman to be "the perfectly
rightfully Enlightened One," "the Universal Monarch," "the King of Gods," "the
King of Death" or "Brahmaa."

  3. Religion and homosexuality

  For the God concept to be credible, it has to be reconciled with the known
facts of the world and create a choice whether or not to have faith in a possi-
ble God beyond them.  According to secular medicine, biology, sociology, psy-
chology, and ethics, a small percentage of animals and people naturally appear
as homosexuals, and it's typically mutual consent, so it's natural and there's
nothing unethical and no crime in it.  So I'd only consider a reform/progres-
sive stance on the subject credible for a God concept whatever the debate about
linguistics or history or old texts.

  People hurting or killing in the name of a possible God for a religious reason
is arbitrary, therefore sadism and murder, without proof of God (alleged for the
Ark of the Covenant, etc., which are matters of faith).
Spreading bigotry about homosexuals for an Abrahamic God concept is a form of
conservative religious bigotry without merit.

  This is an interesting topic regarding the ground rules I use to analyze such
things.  It brings up concerns of misinformation, harm, and killing in one

  - misinformation because those who advocate the bigotry rationalize the harm
of LGBT people various ways and claim they're just continuing tradition as old
as the human race.  But the only real harm on the subject has come from ortho-
dox/conservative Abrahamic religion stances.  While the Tanack/OT is old, it
can only be proven to represent a smaller and smaller percent of the people in
the world the farther back in time you look.

  - harm because spreading bigotry about people is a form of spreading harm even
if one doesn't intend to physically harm them or fine them a penny because it
creates a stigma and discrimination and denial of rights.

  Harm is also shown in that, as of 2012, LGBT people are the most common vic-
tims of hate crimes in the USA.

  - Killing goes back to Lev.18, which may be taken to just refer to a restric-
tion on priests of the time.  The Qur'an describes homosexuality as an abomina-
tion, and secondary sources, the hadiths, prescribe punishment by human hands up
to and including death.  As of 2012, Iran goes by the latter idea and at least
4,000 have been executed there for being homosexuals. 

  This subject makes for a litmus test for the ground rules I use.  Most typi-
cally the misinformation, harm, and killing over it comes from orthodox/conser-
vative Abrahamic religious people defending the perceived integrity of an old
text--"it says so in (text)--I don't need anything else."  What else would they
use?  Nothing else supports it.  It contradicts it.

  The role of epigenetics

    "Epi-marks constitute an extra layer of information attached to our genes'
  backbones that regulates their expression. While genes hold the instructions,
  epi-marks direct how those instructions are carried out--when, where and how
  much a gene is expressed during development. Epi-marks are usually produced
  anew each generation, but recent evidence demonstrates that they sometimes
  carry over between generations and thus can contribute to similarity among
  relatives, resembling the effect of shared genes.
    "Sex-specific epi-marks produced in early fetal development protect each
  sex from the substantial natural variation in testosterone that occurs during
  later fetal development. Sex-specific epi-marks stop girl fetuses from being
  masculinized when they experience atypically high testosterone, and vice ver-
  sa for boy fetuses. Different epi-marks protect different sex-specific traits
  from being masculinized or feminized--some affect the genitals, others sexual
  identity, and yet others affect sexual partner preference. However, when
  these epi-marks are transmitted across generations from fathers to daughters
  or mothers to sons, they may cause reversed effects, such as the feminization
  of some traits in sons, such as sexual preference, and similarly a partial
  masculinization of daughters.
    "The study solves the evolutionary riddle of homosexuality, finding that
  'sexually antagonistic' epi-marks, which normally protect parents from natur-
  al variation in sex hormone levels during fetal development, sometimes carry
  over across generations and cause homosexuality in opposite-sex offspring.
  The mathematical modeling demonstrates that genes coding for these epi-marks
  can easily spread in the population because they always increase the fitness
  of the parent but only rarely escape erasure and reduce fitness in offspring.
    "'Transmission of sexually antagonistic epi-marks between generations is
  the most plausible evolutionary mechanism of the phenomenon of human homosex-
  uality,' said the study's co-author Sergey Gavrilets, NIMBioS' associate di-
  rector for scientific activities and a professor at the University of Tennes-

    "Homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orienta-
  tion, along with bisexuality and heterosexuality, within the heterosexual-
  homosexual continuum (with asexuality sometimes considered the fourth).
  Scientific and medical understanding is that sexual orientation is not a
  choice, but rather a complex interplay of biology and environment.  Al-
  though some religious sects hold the view that homosexual activity is
  sinful or dysfunctional behaviour, research and studies show that homo-
  sexuality is a normal and positive variant of human sexuality. Though
  homosexuality is not in itself a source of negative psychological ef-
  fects, prejudice and discrimination against homosexual and bisexual
  people has been shown to cause psychological harm.

    "ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — Although sharply divided, public at-
  titudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater
  acceptance, with younger generations leading the way, research by NORC
  at the University of
  Chicago shows.

    "In addition to a plurality who now approve of same-sex marriage,
  Americans overwhelmingly support basic civil liberties and freedom of
  expression for gays and lesbians, in contrast to sharp division on such
  issues in the 1970s. Taken together, the results show a clear "trend to-
  ward greater tolerance regarding homosexuality," said Tom W. Smith,
  director of the General Social Survey at NORC and author of the NORC
  report, 'Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality.'"

    "Evolution myths: Natural selection cannot explain homosexuality

    "There are numerous evolutionary mechanisms that might explain
  homosexual behaviour, which is common in many species of animals

    "'Simple reasoning shows that evolution cannot explain homosexual-
  ity - how would a homosexuality gene get selected for?" "Why have
  the genetic traits predisposing to homosexuality not been eliminated
  long ago?'

    "Such arguments are surprisingly common - and completely wrong.

    "Homosexual behaviour has been observed in hundreds of species, from
  bison to penguins. It is still not clear to what extent homosexuality
  in humans or other animals is genetic (rather than, say, due to hormonal
  extremes during embryonic development), but there are many mechanisms
  that could explain why gene variants linked to homosexuality are main-
  tained in a population.

    "A common assumption is that homosexuality means not having children,
  but this is not necessarily true, especially in cultures other than our
  own. Until it became acceptable for same-sex couples to live together in
  western countries, many homosexual people had partners of the opposite
  sex. In some traditional societies, various forms of non-exclusive homo-
  sexuality were common.

    "Reasons why

    "Among animals, homosexual behaviour is usually non-exclusive. For in-
  stance, in some populations of Japanese macaques, females prefer female
  sexual partners to male ones but still mate with males - they are bisex-
  ual, in other words.

    "It has also been suggested that homosexuality boosts individuals' re-
  productive success, albeit indirectly. For instance, same-sex partners
  might have a better chance of rising to the top of social hierarchies
  and getting access to the opposite sex. In some gull species, homosexual
  partnerships might be a response to a shortage of males - rather than have
  no offspring at all, some female pairs raise offspring together after
  mating with a male from a normal male-female pair.

    "Another possibility is that homosexuality evolves and persists because
  it benefits groups or relatives, rather than individuals. In bonobos,
  homosexual behaviour might have benefits at a group level by promoting
  social cohesion.  One study in Samoa found gay men devote more time to
  their nieces and nephews, suggesting it might be an example of kin selec-
  tion (promoting your own genes in the bodies of others).

    "For your health

    "Or perhaps homosexuality is neutral, neither reducing nor boosting
  overall fitness. Attempts to find an adaptive explanation for homosexual
  behaviour in macaques have failed, leading to suggestions that they do it
  purely for pleasure.

    "Even if homosexuality does reduce reproductive success, as most people
  assume, there are plenty of possible reasons why it is so common. For in-
  stance, gene variants that cause homosexual behaviour might have other,
  beneficial effects such as boosting fertility in women, as one recent
  study suggests, just as the gene variant for sickle-cell anaemia is main-
  tained because it reduces the severity of malaria. Homosexuality could
  also be a result of females preferring males with certain tendencies -
  sexual selection can favour traits that reduce overall fitness, such as
  the peacock's tail (see Evolution always increases fitness).

    "Given that, until recently, homosexual behaviour in animals was ignored
  or even denied, it's hardly surprising that we cannot yet say for sure
  which of these explanations is correct. It could well turn out that differ-
  ent explanations are true in different species.

  Also see "The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Natural Selection and
Evolution, with a Key to Many Complicating Factors"

  Believers in Orthodox and some of conservative Judaism, Orthodox and some of
conservative Christianity, and Orthodox (the vast majority) and conservative and
most of liberal Islam condemn homosexuality.  Most of the rest, and most other
religions, either don't make it an issue or only have a disagreement among fol-
lowers on other terms--not a standard religious ban.

  Unlike many Orthodox and conservative branches, liberal and reform branches of
Judaism and progressive/reform Christianity don't consider homosexuality a sin.

  "The Reform Judaism movement, the largest branch of Judaism in North America,
has rejected the traditional view of Jewish Law on this issue.  As such, they do
not prohibit ordination of gays and lesbians as rabbis and cantors.  They view
Levitical laws as sometimes seen to be referring to prostitution, making it a
stand against Jews adopting the idolatrous fertility cults and practices of the
neighbouring Canaanite nations rather than a blanket condemnation of same-sex
intercourse or homosexuality.  Reform authorities consider that, in light of
what is seen as current scientific evidence about the nature of homosexuality as
a biological sexual orientation, a new interpretation of the law is required."

  According to DarioKehl at

  "Homosexuality rules in the OT were for the LEVITES, the priestly class.  They
had a separate set of rules to live by apart from the other tribes.

  "The moral of the Lot story isn't about homosexuality, it's about hospitality,
tending to the needs of guests (by offering up your own daughters for gang rap-
ing instead).

  "The reference about 'men kept for unnatural purposes' is refering to cata-
mites, or the nobilities' use of 'boy lovers.'"

  Leviticus 18 and 20  "These two verses have historically been interpreted by
Jews and Christians as clear overall prohibitions against homosexual acts in
general. More recent interpretations focus on its context as part of the Holi-
ness Code, a code of purity meant to distinguish the behavior of Israelites
from the polytheistic Canaanites."  In other words, history has motivated some
modern people to rewrite history to correct a horrible mistake by Jehovah as if
they were the PR firm for a bad politician.

  Many progressive/reform Christians say Matt.19:12, regarding eunuchs, indi-
cates that Jesus understood that some people are born with a sexual orientation
and others are made that way by people, so God understands and would accept in-
nate homosexuality.

  "A eunuch" "is a person born male who is often castrated, typically early
enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences.  (Less
commonly, in translations of ancient texts, 'eunuch' may refer to a man who is
not castrated but who is impotent, celibate, or or otherwise not inclined to
marry and reproduce.)

  "The reference to 'eunuchs' in Matthew 19:12 the Bible's use of the word 'eu-
nuch' refers strictly to men incapable of sexual intercourse or reproduction,
through either birth defect or castration[citation needed]."  Jesus says some
are made that way (castration) and some are born that way.

  The same progressive/reform view holds that Paul in Rom.1 only counts it a sin
for people to perform homosexuality against their nature for idolatrous ritual--
that Rom.1:26 refers to people appeasing false gods like Aphrodite, Diana, and
other fertility gods with temple prostitution.

  One application of the conservative stance, that homosexuality is unnatural
and a sin, to Rom.1 is that it would be biologically impossible for a hetero-
sexual male, clear in their heterosexual orientation, to perform sexually for an
idol ritual, so the rule must mean all homosexuality is a sin, regardless of
idolatry, because it's a case of a heterosexual, which everyone is innately,
training themself to be deluded to prefer unnatural homosexuality.  There are
several things wrong with that:

  - if homosexuality in all situations was unnatural, that would mean everyone
is heterosexual and the homosexuals do something unnatural about it.  But if it
were biologically impossible for heterosexual males to perform homosexuality for
an idol ritual, then they couldn't perform it anywhere--male homosexuality
couldn't exist and there would be no point in writing about it.  Obviously, that
can't be it.

  On the other hand, if homosexuals just prefer homosexuality as a choice then
so do heterosexuals so heterosexuality isn't innate--God made bisexuality innate
and everyone acts on their preference, so homosexuality isn't unnatural.

  If, as the things of the known world indicate, God made a small percentage of
people and animals homosexual, it's not unnatural generally.  The unnatural use
of homosexuality indicated by context would be idolatrous use of it.

  - Actually, a person of any sexual orientation could perform homosexuality un-
naturally.  A homosexual or bisexual could perform homosexuality that qualifies
as unnatural in that it was just done for an idolatrous ritual, not a natural
relationship.  A heterosexual could be in the company of members of the same and
opposite sex to perform homosexuality for an idolatrous ritual, which would
qualify as unnatural and not a normal relationship.  In all those examples, it
would be performance of homosexuality that was unnatural, done for idolatry, and
qualify as a sin without homosexuality per se being a sin.

  - Again, according to biology, sociology, etc., a small percentage of animals
and people are homosexuals.  Since it's natural and there's nothing wrong with
it, a wisest imaginable being would know that.  Why would God create them that
way and want us to hurt or kill them--target practice?  That's messed up.

  In 1 Cor.6:9 and 1 Tim.1:10, the meaning of the word "arsenokoites," and, also
in 1 Cor.6:9, "malakos," have been interpreted by some conservatives as meaning
"homosexuals, homosexual" and translated that way.

  The conservative stance that "arsenokoites" refers to "homosexuals" claims
that in the Greek Septuagint, "arseno" is "a man" and "koitai" is "lying with,
bedding" so "arsenokoitai" is "a man lying with."  But for the compound word to
indicate male homosexuality another "arseno" would be added to indicate who the
man is lying with.  This compound word doesn't specify that but just indicates a
man is having sex in some way which context indicates is wrongful (having sex

  According to "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," "arsen"
and "arren" mean "male": "is translated 'men' in Rom. 1:27 (three times); 'man
child' in Rev. 12:5 (ver. 13 in some mss.); 'male" in Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6;
Luke 2:23; Gal. 3:28, '(there can be no) male (and female),' RV, i.e., sex dis-
tinction does not obtain in Christ; sex is no barrier either to salvation or the
development of Christian graces. See MAN."¯t0001738

  "koite" means "primarily 'a place for lying down' (connected with keimai, 'to
lie'), denotes a 'bed,' Luke 11:7; the marriage 'bed,' Heb. 13:4; in Rom. 13:13,
it is used of sexual intercourse.  By metonymy, the cause standing for the ef-
fect, it denotes conception, Rom. 9:10."¯t0000241

  According to "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," "arseno-
koites" means "abuse, abusers."¯t0000016

  Also according to "Vine's....," "malakos" means "soft, soft to the touch"
(Lat., mollis, Eng., "mollify," "emollient," etc.), is used (a) of raiment,
Matt. 11:8 (twice); Luke 7:25; (b) metaphorically, in a bad sense, 1 Cor. 6:9,
"effeminate," not simply of a male who practices forms of lewdness, but persons
in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh, voluptuous."¯t0000861

  The word "malakos" can mean "idol slaves or servants," and, taken with Rom.1
and the idea of idol temple sex, the NRSV translates "malokois" as "male prosti-

  The quoted information that follows is taken from the interview with Kathy
Baldock at the next link.

  "The King James version (1611), which relied heavily on the Vulgate, trans-
lated malakois to "soft" in Matt and Luke, as it was referring to clothing.  But
in 1 Cor, evidently not being happy with 'idol servants' they translated malakoi
into 'effeminate'.  It seems to many scholars that the Latin translators were
closer in time and culture than the English translators, so they would have a
better idea of meaning.  None-the-less, the KJV translation has, of course,
stuck ever since.

  "1 Cor 6:9 uses arsenokoitay and 1 Tim 1:10 uses arsenokoitais. The words com-
bined to make the first word are arsen (adjective neuter/singular), o (masculine
definite article) and koitay (noun feminine/singular). The second word is the
same, except that koitais is feminine/plural.

  "Now, the first thing is that the Greek language is gender specific. These
words have feminine endings which means they refers to something female.  The
word parts are varied, however.  arsen means “male”.  o is the male definite ar-
ticle (the).  koitey, the root of koitay and koitais, means 'bed' or 'place
where koitus (coitus) occurs' - can we presume 'female's bed', since it is fem-

  "What was being communicated here?  No-one is really sure.  The KJV opted for
'the abusers of themselves with mankind'. The NIV went with 'homosexual offend-
ers'.  The NRSV went with 'sodomites.'

  "But the Vulgate, translated 1000 years earlier, and closer to the original
culture, than the KJV translated to adulteri, which means 'adulterer' but in the
female tense.  You could argue that this doubles up on the earlier use of adult-
erer appearing in the same verse, but that one is male tense."

  The New Jerusalem Bible is at the next link, and some other English transla-
tions are at the link.

  Some different stances on how Christians may regard the OT on homosexuality:

  To take a worst case possibility for the progressive/reform stance regarding
the conservative stance of an OT condemnation of homosexuality, I would recom-
mend following it with the stance on Jesus' statement about Mosaic law  follow-
ers only taken so far by God from their habits.  Beyond divorce, this can also
be seen with a Canaanite belief in a God among gods being phased out in Isaiah's
time, ANE cosmology, many Mosaic laws Christians aren't obliged to (don't eat
shellfish, plant two kinds of seed in one field, wear two kinds of cloth at one
time, etc.), including ones given the death penalty, and other things.

  Regarding sexuality this should include ideas that sperm contained all the
ingredients for birth, with the woman just a recepticle for it, so spilling it
on the ground was a kind of abortion, that everyone is heterosexual so homosex-
uality is unnatural, etc.

  In other words, where the OT goes beyond what Christians consider true or
important, they consider earlier followers as having ideas or rules not eternal-
ly true or important.  Christians would still be under Mosaic Law if all of its
rules were eternally important, so some variation on that idea should be con-

  Here are some notes on the post-NT writings of the first couple of centuries
of Christianity (see the site at the next link) offered as secondary support for
the stance that Christianity condemns homosexuality:

  They seem like personal opinions and propaganda about non-Christians more than
commentary on the NT.  Pederasty comes up a lot, but it isn't the same as homo-
sexuality any more than the Mann Act was established to punish dating generally.

  The Didache
  It condemns pederasty--sex between men and boys.  It's a pastoral manual "that
reveals more about how Jewish-Christians saw themselves and how they adapted
their Judaism for gentiles than any other book in the Christian Scriptures."

  Justin Martyr
  First Apology 27 151 AD
  He intended to portray non-Christian culture as evil.  He claimed that expos-
ing newly born children (to non-Christian culture) nearly always led to prosti-
tution and some becoming hermaphrodites (meaning bisexual?) and mutilation for
sodomy preferred over their mother of the gods.

  Clement of Alexandria
  Exhortation to the Greeks 2 190 AD
  Encouraged honor for a king who shot a subject for becoming effeminate (com-
pare Jesus' quote given previously).
  Called Hercules a scoundrel for debauching young boys.
  The Instructor6  193 AD
  Pederasty is called wicked.
  Claimed the Sodomites were judged against for adultery and insane love for

  Modesty 4 220AD
  Claimed frenzies of lust which exceed the laws of nature, impious toward the
bodies and sexes, are more than sins, they're monstrosities.

  This is the last of his works written when he'd become a Montanist. He had an
emphasis on ethical rigorism and asceticism--abstinence from various sorts of
worldly (as much a JWs leaders "worldly" as a Biblical "worldly") pleasures
often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.

  These included prohibitions against remarriage following divorce or the death
of a spouse. They also emphasized keeping fasts strictly and added new fasts.
These views may have led him to adopt Montanism with its ascetic rigor and its
belief in chiliasm and the continuance of the prophetic gifts.  In his writings
on public amusements, the veiling of virgins, the conduct of women, and the
like, he gives expression to these views.  Tertullian condemned Pope Callixtus
I for allowing fornicators who showed repentance into the church.

  The Jewish Foods 3 250AD
  Claims Mosaic food laws are symbolic--fish scales means approved roughness in
men, seafood without scales means disapproved effeminate nature in men (compare
Jesus' quote about eunuchs made without reference to seafood).  Claims that
hares forbidden as food means a rebuke of men "deformed into women."

  Cyprian of Carthage
  Letters 1:8  253 AD
  He opposed the sitting Pope and made a significantly accepted competing claim
to be the Pope.
  He deplored that non-Christian culture considered a man more pleasurable the
more he was made effeminate (compare Jesus' quote given previously), a prime
authoritarian example being Jupiter who used this to violate boys.  Men imitate
the gods and their crimes become their religion.

  They seem like personal opinions and propaganda about non-Christians more than
commentary on the NT.  Pederasty comees up a lot, but it isn't the same as homo-
sexuality any more than the Mann Act was established to punish dating generally.

  Same sex marraiges in the early church--"WHEN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE WAS A CHRISTIAN
RITE" By ThosPayne:

    St. Sergius and St. Bacchus (late 200's-early 300's AD).

    Basil the First (867-886 AD) and his companion John.

    "In addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian
  church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the 'Office
  of Same-Sex Union' (10th and 11th century), and the 'Order for Uniting Two
  Men' (11th and 12th century).

    "Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic 'Office of the Same Sex Union',
  uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the
  Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands.  After kissing
  the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which
  the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

    "Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such di-
  verse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in
  Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the
  18th century.

    "The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes
  such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books,
  'Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae
  Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

    "While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, homo-
  phobic writings didn’t appear in Western Europe until the late 14th century.
  Even then, church-consecrated same sex unions continued to take place.

    "At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope's parish church) in
  1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high
  Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy, 'taking communion t-
  gether, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate
  together' according to a contemporary report.  Another woman to woman union
  is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century."

  President Obama and Jesse Jackson on the issue:


  In Islam, the Qur'an clearly defines homosexuality as an abomination/crime but
is general about punishment.  Hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) and akhbar (accounts
of his life) prescribe punishment by human hands up to and including the death

  The tension between the orthodox/conservative defense of perceived integrity of
old text writer and the progressive/reform concern to be right about the facts of
the real world God is possible beyond is more pronounced here than in some Abra-
hamic religion differences because of the orthodox/conservative stance that the
one miracle claimed for Islam is the writing of the Qur'an.  Correct it to remove
the sadistic bigotry about homosexuals (a progressive/reform apologist may say
those concerns were later additions to what Muhammad said) and the Muslim ortho-
dox/conservative stance, like a Christian fundamentalist literalist stance, will
complain that you deny the religion.

  Verses in the Qur'an about homosexuality'an,_Hadith_and_Scholars:Homosexuality

  A minority in Islam, while agreeing that homosexuality is a grievous sin in
the Qur'an, dispute the reliability of hadiths regarding capital punishment and
interpret the source material to call for punishment and use corporal punish-
ment, fines, or prison.  Meanwhile, executions of homosexuals have included over
4,000 people in Iran, one of the Muslim majority countries that issues the death
penalty for it, since 1979 as of 2011.

  Unlike the case with Christianity and the NT, I don't know of a translation
dispute about the Qur'an regarding homosexuality, only that some Muslim and non-
Muslim scholars question how it was compiled.

  It's a greater problem in Islam than in Judaism or Christianity to have the
stance that the source book, while of value for faith matters (Bible infallibil-
ity), could contain errors (as opposed to Bible inerrancy).  "The Quran itself
challenges any who disagree with its divine origin to produce a text of a mira-
culous nature.  Scholars of Islam believe that its poetic form is unique and of
a fashion that cannot be written by humans.  They also claim it contains accur-
ate prophecy and that no other book does."  The main claim made for Muhammad to
have been justified by Allah (via Gabriel) to order these killings is that the
writing of the Qur'a was a miracle.  The most extreme penalty for sane outspoken
unrepentant apostasy in Islam (creating mischief for Allah and his Prophet) is

  Quranists have the common form of liberal Islam, use the Qur'an but not the
Hadiths, so believe homosexuality is an abomination but leave punishment to the
afterlife.  The most common form of liberal Islam is like Orthodox/Conservative
Judaism or Orthodox/Conservative Christianity on the subject.  It still creates
a stigma and discrimination in this life.

  A tiny percent of Muslims, such as the Al-Fatiha Foundation. edit the source
material to the extent of having the stance that homosexuality isn't an abomina-
tion   "In 2001, Al-Muhajiroun, an international organization seeking the es-
tablishment of a global Islamic caliphate, issued a fatwa declaring that all
members of Al-Fatiha were murtadd, or apostates, and condemning them to death.
Because of the threat and coming from conservative societies, many members of
the foundation's site still prefer to be anonymous so as to protect their iden-
tity while continuing a tradition of secrecy."

  Since I must be right by the objective facts and see faith as a choice whether
or not to believe in a possible God beyond them, and since there's no dispute
in science that homosexuality is natural for a small percent of animals and peo-
ple, and since it isn't unclear what the Qur'an and Hadiths represent Muhammad
as thinking about homosexuals, my stance has to be that the only wiggle room for
Muhammad about it is somewhere in how some Muslim and non-Muslim scholars ques-
tion how the Qur'an and Hadiths were compiled.  The evidence pretty strongly
favors that the interpretation typically taken was Muhammad's stance, though.

  Marriage and divorce
  Systems universal from Pittsburgh to Japan

  Jewish views on marriage and divorce

  Christian views on marriage and divorce

  Pauline privilege

  (Deuteronomy 24:1) “In case a man takes a woman and does make her his posses-
sion as a wife, it must also occur that if she should find no favor in his eyes
because he has found something indecent on her part, he must also write out a
certificate of divorce for her and put it in her hand and dismiss her from his

 The Lord said this: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for
sexual immorality [i.e., fornication], and marries another, commits adultery”
(Matt. 19:9, ESV).

  Some understand 1 Corinthians 7:15 as another “exception,” allowing remarriage
if an unbelieving spouse divorces a believer. However, the context does not men-
tion remarriage, but only says a believer is not bound to continue a marriage if
an unbelieving spouse wants to leave

  Islamic views on marriage and divorce

  4. Religion and slavery

  For the God concept to be credible, it has to be reconciled with the known
facts of the world and create a choice whether or not to have faith in a possi-
ble God beyond them.  So I'd only consider an abolitionist stance on the subject
credible for the NT.  For the OT, as for ANE cosmology, etc., I'd use the liber-
al "God only took them along so far" etc. stance.

  "Although outlawed in most countries, slavery is nonetheless practiced secret-
ly in many parts of the world.  Enslavement still takes place in the United
States, Europe, and Latin America, as well as parts of Africa, the Middle East,
and South Asia.  There are an estimated 27 million victims of slavery worldwide.
In Mauritania alone, estimates are that up to 600,000 men, women and children,
or 20% of the population, are enslaved. Many of them are used as bonded labour."

  As of 2011, "there are more slaves today than at any point in history, remain-
ing as high as 12 million to 27 million, even though slavery is now outlawed in
all countries."

  Some, including some from Abrahamic religions (such as the Babylonian Talmud,
Sanhedrin 108b, and Origen), have used a spurious interpretation of the curse of
Ham (Gen.9:20-27) to rationalize the use of Africans for slavery.  See the arti-
cle at the third link below.  (Additionally, "In theory, slavery in Islamic law
does not have a racial or color component, although this has not always been the
case in practice.")

  The main source of non-Jewish slaves (Lev 25:45-46) were Canaanite prisoners
of war.  Jewish slaves (Lev 25:39-43) became slaves due to extreme poverty (they
could sell themselves to a Jewish owner) or inability to pay a debt.

  Jeremiah 34:8-22: God punished the Israelites for not properly following the
laws on slavery, qwhich suggests that the laws were not followed very strictly.

  The Talmud (circa 200-500 CE) contains an extensive set of laws governing
slavery, which is more detailed, and different than the original laws found in
the Jewish Bible.  The major change found in the Talmud's slavery laws is that a
single set of rules - with a few exceptions - governs both Jewish slaves and
non-Jewish slaves.  Another change was that the automatic release of Jewish
slaves after 7 years is replaced by indefinite slavery, in conjunction with a
process whereby the owner could - under certain situations - release the slave
by a written document (a manumission).  However, historian Josephus wrote that
the seven year automatic release was still in effect if the slavery was a pun-
ishment for a crime the slave committed (as opposed to voluntary slavery due to
poverty). In addition, the notion of Canaanite slaves from the Jewish Bible is
expanded to all non-Jewish slaves.

  One of the few rules that distinguished between Jewish and non-Jewish slaves
regarded found property: items found by Jewish slaves were owned by the slave,
but items found by a non-Jewish slave belonged to the slave owner.  Another
change was that the Talmud explicitly prohibits the freeing of a non-Jewish
slave, which was stricter that the biblical law which was silent on the issue,
and simply permitted slaves to be owned indefinitely.  However, non-Jewish
slaves could be converted to Judaism and then freed, in some circumstances.

  Jews continued to own slaves during the 16th through 18th centuries, and own-
ership practices were still governed by Biblical and Talmudic laws.

  Jesus and Paul didn't call for faith to be law of the land.  They lived under
the Roman law of the land.  Paul was pragmatic about slavery as an unforunate
part of Roman debt payment--to not be discriminatory about how you treat someone
if you're involved in it, but to try not to get involved.

  The NT drops a lot of the OT rules which wouldn't be the case if they were
ethical basics like don't lie, steal, or murder.  Christians don't have them as
rules for Christians, just old history.  One explanation the NT gives is that
God worked with people whose hearts were hardened, were set in their ways, so
only tried to change them so much while trying to work with them.

  Jesus says something about that regarding Mosaic law on divorce at Matt.19:8.
Likewise, the Canaanite belief in other gods only seems to have been stopped in
the time of Isaiah, etc.

  Paul, living in the Roman Empire in which slavery was also the law of the
land, taught to temper the understanding of it with an understanding of treating
others as you'd want to be treated yourself, be kind, etc.

  Slave owners were told to not threaten slaves because both were equally under
God. (Eph.6:9)



  Paul sent a slave, now converted to Christianity, back to the slave owner
Philemon with a note.  It's not known beyond that if Philemon reacted by setting
the slave free although the tradition is he was.  Paul wanted the slave set free
because slavery was debt repayment and Paul wrote to Philemon that Philemon owed
his life to Paul (I think that means Paul converted Philemon) and told Philemon
to charge anything he owed him to Paul's account.

  "If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.  But if he has
wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul,
am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it not to mention to you that you
owe to me even your own self as well)." (Philemon 1:17-19, NASB)

  The Wikipedia article mentions that the issue has been debated but doesn't
point out that some NT verses indicate the followers were pragmatic about
slavery being Roman law but weren't ambivalent about it.  A few verses that de-
nounce slavery:

  "Were you called while a slave?  Do not worry about it; but if you are able
also to become free, rather do that." (1 Cor.7:21, NASB)

  "For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman;
likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a
price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Cor.7:22,23)

  1 Timothy 1:8-11: slave traders are listed among law breakers.

  The JWs leaders were delinquent in regard to Paul's advice to rather try to be
free which found greater possibilities in the legal situation in the U.S. of the
1950's in a country with a non-violent civil rights movement.  The problem came
from 'centric ethnic outlooks which caused harsh disparity in education between
races and less potential for black people to make what they wanted with their
lives.  There was scriptural guidance for a moral imperative to change for the
better beyond just realizing that people of different races could find salvation
from faith in God (Num.12; Luke 6:31; 10:27, others).

  Some NT verses against racism and the spirit of slavery:

  "and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of
the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their
habitation." (Acts 17:26, NASB)

  "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." (Luke 6:31, NASB)

  "And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your
neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27, NASB)

  Islamic views on slavery

  On one hand, Muhammad was known to like to set slaves free.  Unfortunately, on
the other hand, according to the Qur'an, he optimized the opportunity to do this
by not only ruling that slavery was acceptable but encouraging it by ruling that
male slave owners could have sex with willing slave women (who might be more
likely to relent to be set free or at least be treated more favorably):

  Sura 23:5-6: "[Most certainly true believers]...guard their private parts
scrupulously, except with regard to their wives and those who are legally in
their possession, for in that case they shall not be blameworthy." (Also Sura
70:29-30)  This is an early verse from Muhammad's life in Mecca: men can have
sex with their wives or slave women.

  Sura 4:24, from Muhammad's later period of aggressive warfare, adds that the
above holds true for women taken as prisoners of war: "And forbidden to you are
wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as
prisoners of war)." (Also see Suras 4:3 and 33:50.)

  "Slave women were required mainly as concubines and menials. A Muslim slave-
holder was entitled by law to the sexual enjoyment of his slave women. While
free women might own male slaves, they had no such right. The purchase of female
slaves for sex was lawful from the perspective of Islamic law, and this was the
most common motive for the purchase of slaves throughout Islamic history."

  That reminds me of...what it reminds you of, except you can keep her for that
and some house and yard work.  I've heard of TV preachers whose credibility was
undermined when it was learned they'd bought sex, but they didn't buy the women.
Did Muhammad have a tricked-out camel?  Did it have hydraulic humps?

  "The Arab slave trade was most active in West Asia, North Africa and East Af-
rica. By the end of the 19th century, such activity had reached a low ebb. In
the early 20th century (post World War I) slavery was gradually outlawed and
suppressed in Muslim lands, largely due to pressure exerted by Western nations
such as Britain and France. However, slavery claiming the sanction of Islam is
documented presently in the African republics of Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali,
and Sudan."

  "Chad--IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) of the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports children being sold to Arab
herdsmen in Chad.  As part of a new identity imposed on them the herdsmen
'...change their name, forbid them to speak in their native dialect, ban them
from conversing with people from their own ethnic group and make them adopt Is-
lam as their religion.'"

  "Mauritania--A system exists now by which Arab Muslims--the bidanes—own black
slaves, the haratines.  An estimated 90,000 Mauritanians remain essentially en-
slaved.  The ruling bidanes (the name means literally white-skinned people) are
descendants of the Sanhaja Berbers and Beni Hassan Arab tribes who emigrated to
northwest Africa and present-day Western Sahara and Mauritania during the Middle
Ages.  According to some estimates, up to 600,000 Mauritanians, or 20% of the
population, are still enslaved, many of them used as bonded labour.  Slavery in
Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007.  Malouma Messoud, a former Muslim
slave has explained her enslavement to a religious leader:

  "'We didn't learn this history in school; we simply grew up within this social
hierarchy and lived it.  Slaves believe that if they do not obey their masters,
they will not go to paradise.  They are raised in a social and religious system
that everyday reinforces this idea.'

  "In Mauritania, despite slave ownership having been banned by law in 1981,
hereditary slavery continues.  Moreover, according to Amnesty International:

  "'Not only has the government denied the existence of slavery and failed to
respond to cases brought to its attention, it has hampered the activities of or-
ganisations which are working on the issue, including by refusing to grant them
official recognition.'

  "Imam El Hassan Ould Benyamin of Tayarat in 1997 expressed his views about
earlier proclamations ending slavery in his country as follows:

  "'[it] is contrary to the teachings of the fundamental text of Islamic law,
the Quran ... [and] amounts to the expropriation from Muslims of their goods;
goods that were acquired legally. The state, if it is Islamic, does not have the
right to seize my house, my wife or my slave.'"

  Niger--"While institutional slavery has been banned worldwide, there are nu-
merous reports of female sex slaves in areas without an effective government
control, such as Sudan, South Africa and Liberia, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda,
Congo, Niger, and Mauritania."

  "Mali--The Malian government denies that slavery exists, but some say slavery
still continues as a reflection of the poverty in Mali."

  "Sudan--Sudan has seen a resurgence of slavery since 1983, associated with the
Second Sudanese Civil War.

  "In the Sudan, Christian and animist captives in the civil war are often en-
slaved, and female prisoners are often used sexually, with their Muslim captors
claiming that Islamic law grants them permission.  According to CBS news, slaves
have been sold for $50 apiece.  In 2001, CNN reported that the Bush administra-
tion was under pressure from Congress, including conservative Christians con-
cerned about religious oppression and slavery, to address issues involved in the
Sudanese conflict.  CNN has also quoted the U.S. State Department's allegations:
'The [Sudanese] government's support of slavery and its continued military ac-
tion which has resulted in numerous deaths are due in part to the victims' reli-
gious beliefs.'

  "Jok Madut Jok, professor of History at Loyola Marymount University, states
that the abduction of women and children of the south by north is slavery by any
definition.  The government of Sudan insists that the whole matter is no more
than the traditional tribal feuding over resources.

  "It is estimated that as many as 200,000 people had been taken into slavery
during the Second Sudanese Civil War."

  Hinduism and slavery

  "The Caste system in India has often been compared to slavery or slave-like
practices.  In ancient and medieval times, lower caste Hindus (dubbed "Untouch-
ables" or, more recently Dalits) have had reduced social statuses similar to
slaves.  Lower Caste Hindus' lives incorporated rigid segregation and bonded
labor practices.  Justification for such acts was often provided through the use
of careful selection of scripture from the vast plethora of Hindu religious lit-
erature.  However, mainstream Hinduism never condoned or accepted outright slav-


  5. Afterlife and cruelty
         Hell as torment, separation from God, Christian Universalism

  Regarding a belief in heaven and the question of who goes, I recommend saying,
"Me."  It would be stupid to have a hope for that and not include yourself.  Re-
garding other interpretation choices--exclusive this way, exclusive that way,
inclusive, "Judgment is mine sayeth the Lord" is an actual scripture and good
for avoiding fistfights.

  I don't know proof of the basic God concept.  If you add names, interventions,
etc., it's definitely a matter of faith.  By God's prerogative an invitation
list could be big, small, everyone, or nobody.

  The problem with deciding by invitation list that requires Him to invite
everybody is it banks on an all-benificent stipulation as though required by
same quality being ethics.  But that isn't the concept, and by that we'd all
live in heavenly circumstances forever already and we don't.

  Dropping that, you have a choice of faith or not in a God that loves less than
everything all the time regarding lesser beings, and the invitation list possi-
bilities are more varied and flexible.

  Statements about cruel conceptions of afterlife for those out of God's favor
raise various questions.  Does the criticism incorporate an understanding of
God's prerogative (see above)?  Does it consider that there are various after-
life interpretations?  The unconverted in Christianity may be believed as going
to physical torment, mere apartness from God, or, by the belief of Christian
Universalism, even become converted and go to heaven.

  Judaism and heaven

  Judaism isn't precise about an afterlife.  The Mishnah, oral tradition re-
dacted in 220 AD, has many sayings about it: "Rabbi Yaakov said: This world is
like a lobby before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you
may enter the banquet hall."  It's generally believed that those who go there
include ger toshav, righteous gentiles, who abide by the seven laws of Noah--to
not commit idolatry, murder, theft, sexual immorality, blasphemy, to not eat the
flesh taken from an animal while it's alive, and to set up courts of law that
uphold those rules.

    According to Larry Hurtado, Calvin R. Schoonhoven, in "The Wrath of Heaven"
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966), argues that "in the NT references 'heaven,' in-
cluding the realm to which the righteous dead aspire and which is the seat of
divine authority, is pictured as participating in the incompleteness and con-
flict that characterizes 'this age,' and that 'heaven' as well as the visible
creation await the consummation of salvation that is emphatically linked to
Christ and his triumphant 'parousia.'

    "The core of Schoonhoven's case is that the NT view of salvation is thor-
oughly eschatological, linear, not a vertical flight to transcendence, but a
forward move into 'the age to come.'  So, e.g., resurrection (not eternal life
in 'heaven'), redemption of the world (not flight from it), and a radical view
of salvation in which Christ is central (not a lightly baptized pagan notion of
the Elysian fields of bliss).  That the NT reflects a thoroughly eschatological
outlook (not a Platonic one), and that 'heaven' awaits redemption as does
earth.  So, in the NT one finds references to the elect dead in some kind of
'heaven.'  E.g., 2 Cor 5:1-10, and also the curious text in Rev 6:9-11, where
the martyred dead cry out 'how long, O Lord,' appearing to reflect the idea of
an incompletness until the final resurrection.  So, a rejection of a Platonic
idea of a timeless ideal heaven vs. a timebound earth."

  Christian Universalism may currently be the least well known choice, but it
was better known in the first 600 years or so of Christianity.

  By that view, the converted go to heaven and the others are converted then go
to heaven--God only destroys the human systems of government, etc.
  Jesus said he will "draw all men" to himself (John 12:32)
  Paul taught that "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not
counting men's sins against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19)

  According to Wikipedia:

  "In the first five or six centuries of Christian history, the majority of
theological schools in the East taught Universalism.  The most important such
school was the Didascalium in Alexandria, Egypt, which was founded by Saint Pan-
taenus ca. 190 C.E.  Alexandria was the center of learning and intellectual dis-
course in the ancient Mediterranean world, and was the theological center of
gravity of Christianity prior to the rise of the imperial Roman Church.  Alexan-
drian Christianity emphasized apocatastasis and theosis as its main teachings.

  "Saint Clement of Alexandria succeeded Pantaenus as the second head of the Di-
dascalium in the late 2nd century. He was a prolific writer who combined Bible
scholarship with Greek philosophy to present a systematic theology based on
Christian Universalist beliefs.

  "Origen was the student and successor of Clement of Alexandria. This 3rd cen-
tury theologian is generally regarded as the most significant of all the ancient
teachers of Christian Universalism. He wrote over 6,000 works including commen-
taries on almost every book of the Bible, sermons, treatises, letters, apolo-
gies, and the Hexapla, a scholarly translation of the Old Testament.

  "Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Macrina the Younger, who were brother and
sister, were both prominent Christian Universalists of the 4th century in the
Alexandrian tradition of Clement and Origen.  Gregory of Nyssa was a bishop and
theologian. Macrina the Younger was the leader of a convent of nuns.

  "Another branch of Christian Universalism in the ancient church, separate from
the Alexandria school, was the Nestorian movement which later became the Assyr-
ian Church of the East. Nestorianism originated in the 5th century in Constan-
tinople and Antioch. Theodore of Mopsuestia was an influential bishop who intro-
duced universal reconciliation into the liturgy of the Nestorians, and who is
still honored in the Nestorian tradition as the 'Interpreter' of the faith."

  At the end of the movie "Religulous," 2008, Bill Maher makes practically pro-
poses an atheist's Armageddon (his variation on a conservative literalist-type is
mainly about humans warring between themselves instead of an end to that and
swords turned to plowshares)--basically, that the world would be nice if we
eliminated everybody different than me.  He doesn't seem to realize how ironic
he's being.  He sounds like an atheist Judge Rutherford, propagandizing damnation
against whoever is different than him--even moderate believers whom he alleges
encourage the fanatics.  The thing I'd join him in criticizing is if anyone is
hurt or killed when believers or non-believers (or those 'centric about race,
etc.) get too 'centric, but I can't because he's being 'centric himself.

  Against the Universalist interpretation

  Islam and heaven
  "According to the Qur'an, the basic criteria for salvation in afterlife is the
belief in one God (Taw?id), Last Judgment, good deeds, and in all the messengers
of God, as well as believing that Muhammad is the final prophet of God.

  "The Qu'ran asserts that after Itmam al-hujjah" (religious truth has been com-
pletely clarified by a Messenger of Allah and made available to a people, who
are considered to have no excuse to deny it) "has been attained, those rejecting
the religious truth have no excuse and are punished by Allah.  This punishment
is considered to occur both in this world and the next world.

  "Punishment comes through human hands, if the Messenger has migrated from his
people to another place, where he has achieved political sovereignty and a con-
siderable number of followers.  The Messenger consolidates his power and trains
his followers and prepares them for battle, so that he is able to root out the
disbelievers and establish the supremacy of his religion."

  Buddhism and heaven
  "In Buddhism there are several heavens, all of which are still part of samsara
(illusionary reality).  Those who accumulate good karma may be reborn in one of
them.  However, their stay in the heaven is not eternal-—eventually they will
use up their good karma and will undergo a different rebirth into another realm,
as humans, animals or other beings.  Because heaven is temporary and part of
samsara, Buddhists focus more on escaping the cycle of rebirth and reaching en-
lightenment (Nirvana)."

  "In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha.
The word literally means 'blowing out'-—referring in the Buddhist context, to
the blowing out of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion."

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