LGBT & Religion

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people have been around for as long as religion. The Greeks and Romans are widely thought to be the first accepting culture of homosexuality; however there is evidence that ancient pagan practices presented homosexuality as part of their God/dess worship. The rise of monotheism and the belief of a “jealous” God let to the eventual outlaw of homosexual sex within the Roman culture for example. In the sixth century AD the Roman Empire outlawed homosexuality.

Abrahamic religions are monotheistic faiths tracing their common origin to Abraham. The three major Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Judaism considers itself the descendants of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham. It has a central book, the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament does specifically address male homosexuality. In Leviticus, specifically Leviticus 18 deals with a number of sexual activities that are considered unclean. The principal concern of this chapter is primarily incest; there are references to bestiality and lying with a man as with a woman. In his paper “Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality", Rabbi Jacob Milgrom states that this verse should not be taken out of the context of the entire chapter. These verses were directed first, a males and secondly at those of the Jewish faith, living in Israel. The question here seems to be how can one be Jewish and also gay? This is a question that The World Congress of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Jews have offered to answer as they set up a place for LGBT Jewish people to meet and to learn acceptance.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teaching of Jesus. It is outlined in the “New Testament”. The basic belief is that Jesus is the son of God in human form, sent to earth by his father by birth through a virgin. Most Christians consider Jesus to be the Messiah of the “Old Testament”. Many believe that the coming of the Messiah made the Law of Moses, the Old Testament, obsolete and life should be lived according to the New Testament. Reviewing the scriptures, there are no direct references to homosexuality by Jesus. Some like to use Matthew 19:4 which says:

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’

Today many Christian churches are accepting of the LGBT Community. United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, and the Metropolitan Community Church are some churches that reach specifically out to the LGBT Community. In Raleigh, NC the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church is submitting to a vote before its congregation this month on withholding all civil marriage ceremonies in light of the new anti LGBT amendment being presented to the voters next year. The church has a long standing history of political activism including opposing segregation and the Vietnam War. Pullen Baptist Church has blessed gay marriages for the past 20 years. Pastor Nancy Petty, herself a Lesbian, stated in an article to the News & Observer, she didn’t want to marry anyone until she could legally wed everyone.

Islam is a monotheistic religion based on the teaching of the Qur’an. Like both Christianity and Judaism, Islam considers its book to be the direct word of God. Religious concepts include following Islamic law, which touches ever aspects of the follower’s life. In the Qur’an like the Old Testament, references are made to male homosexuality. The two are:

"We also sent Lut : He said to his people : "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." Qur'an 7:80-81

"What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are forward folk." Qur'an 26:165

Today, the punishment for being gay in most Muslim countries is whipping, jail and sometimes death. It is possible to come out as Gay while living as a Muslim. Daayiee Abdullah, for example is a Gay Muslim runs a chat room to help support others in his position. His goal is to help other LGBTQ Muslims to know that the Qur’an’s promise is for all human kind.

Paganism is generally used to define religions that are polytheistic, much like Wicca and to some extent, Native American Religions. Both being religions where a spirit force is respected and in some cases worshipped. Spirits of the Earth and Air are honored and Gods like Pan or Baphomet or Goddess like Diana or Hecate are worshipped in Wicca. In Native cultures Gods like Kokopelli or Aholi are worshiped. Sometimes the word “Heathen” is used when referencing Paganism as well. Heathen is from the Old English for “Not Christian or Jewish”.

Since Paganism covers such a wide group of religions its impossible to make a blanket term like “Pagans accept gays” and it be considered true. Generally speaking, in my experience Pagans, do not have issues with the LGBT community. Most are accepting of all people. I can personally address Wicca. Wicca, is typically a duotheistic religion worshipping a goddess and a god. Adherence to the Wiccan Rede, also known as “the eight words” is the general moral code for the Wiccan.

An it harm none do what ye will.

There are many articles, blog posts and discussion topics around Pagans and Homosexuality, one of the most notable sources for information on Paganism and Wicca is Patti Wigington at About.com. Her article “How Do Pagans Feel About Homosexuality?” comes right out and states that we are very accepting of homosexuality.

Again, painting with a broad brush here I’ll reference the Native American Religions very generally. There are numerous tribes and each have their own believe structure. A direct translation of the Ojibwe term “Niizh manidoowag” is “Two Spirits”. This was a word used to recognize bodies that housed both a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit. There are many other indigenous terms for these individuals including Lakota “Winkte” and Navajo “nadleehe”. Held as important members of the tribe some two spirit people were healers, bards and artists; each having something meaningful to give to the tribe.

Today’s LGBT community has the potential to follow the path of their choice. The decision of which path can lead to a bumpy road or to a smooth road. Selecting a religion or choosing not to select a religion is not an easy task.

Around the world there are laws for and against Homosexuality. Marriage, for example, is legal for the LGBT community in many countries and in some states with in the United States. Groups like Equality NC, are leading the charge with news and information for the voter on upcoming elections regarding a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would not only outlaw marriage for gays and lesbians but also put limitations on those marriages from other states being recognized. Facebook group “Vote NO on Amendment ONE” has almost 6,000 likes and is focused on getting the word out to stop the proposed amendment.

Knowing what road to select and how to live by the decision made can be daunting. For me, Wicca gave me the room I needed for growth and allowed me to understand that I am worthy of not only existence but also worthy of the love of myself and others.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will.
So Mote It Be

Namaste & Blessed Be

Renee Olson

Wife, Witch with the Metal Skills of a Dark Elf. I spend my time working with wire, weaving life and magic.

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