❮Reading❯ ➳ God vs Gay? ➬ Author Jay Michaelson – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Does the Bible prohibit homosexuality No says Bible scholar and activist Jay Michaelson But not only that Michaelson also shows that the vast majority of our shared religious traditions support the fu Does the Bible prohibit homosexuality No says Bible scholar and activist Jay Michaelson But not only that Michaelson also shows that the vast majority of our shared religious traditions support the full euality
God vs PDF or and dignity of LGBT people In this accessible passionate and provocative book Michaelson argues for euality not despite religion but because of it. An alien anthropologist analyzing our early 21st century society in America based solely on media coverage would probably assume that the issue of gay rights popped instantly into existence sometime in the mid 1980s around the time of the early AIDS epidemic which was originally dubbed the “gay cancer” Homosexuality was simply not something that was talked about in the mainstream media or in good company One would assume and many ignorant people probably have that due to this lack of discussion the issue was a non issue invented and perpetrated by liberals to stir up the status uo which of course is what liberals love to do You know just for shits and gigglesThe truth is homosexuality has been a part of human existence as far back as the prehistoric times That’s an assumption of course based on the fact that throughout all the rest of recorded history homosexuality has been well documented Indeed in many ancient cultures and even some recent ones until a few centuries ago homosexuality was not necessarily considered an “abomination” or a “sin” In fact homosexuality was not really considered an important issue It was oftentimes even accepted with much tolerance than it is todaySo what changed?The simplistic answer is religion Lest I be accused of fomenting anti religious thoughts however I will say that it is probably much complicated than that In truth religion does play a major part in how homosexuals have been mistreated and abused throughout the centuries but author Jay Michaelson makes the point that religion also holds the key to creating a safer and better world for homosexualsMichaelson a leading gay inter faith activist for the LGBT community helps to answer that uestion among many others in his book “God vs Gay The Religious Case for Euality” Using Scripture logic and common sense Michaelson argues that the Biblical support used for anti gay legislation is based on misreading and misinterpretation of Scriptural verses that the Bible clearly states WHY a pro gay mentality is not only favorable but divinely mandated and that accepting homosexuality is ultimately beneficial for the church and societyMichaelson has a personal stake in this issue He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household and he is gay This was something he inherently knew at an early age even if he didn’t understand it Like many gay people growing up in conservative and religious environments he was made to feel ashamed about it and freuently tried to deny that aspect of his life It was only later in life that he began to realize that being gay wasn’t perverted or immoral Today Michaelson has made his peace with his God and himself He is in a loving gay relationship and he spends his time helping others like himself teaching them that homosexuality is normal healthy and nothing to be ashamed aboutMichaelson tackles and pretty much debunks all the conservative led anti gay arguments out there in his book starting with the erroneous argument that homosexuality is “unnatural” It isn’t assuming one is using the word in its proper sense “against nature” Science has pretty much disproven this argument as homosexual relationships have been documented in over a hundred different animal species Homosexuality does apparently serve some kind of purpose in nature although it is difficult to discern what that purpose is Gay opponents may counter by saying that humans are superior to other animal species and that just because monkeys and birds exhibit homosexual tendencies doesn’t mean we should but this denies the very simple truth that humans are merely highly evolved animals and we are neither superior or inferior to other animal species Michaelson argues that since God created the universe the world and everything in it including the Natural World which includes us whether we like it or not and since homosexuality is a part of that Natural World it can not be an abominationGranted it’s difficult to use this argument against those conservatives who like to deny the facts of science Homosexuality to them is an issue of morality Much of that morality is founded on the principles of the Judeo Christian Bible the Old and the New TestamentWe’ve all heard the verses uoted from Genesis and Leviticus Many Jews and Christians are well versed in Scripture able to spout Leviticus or the writings of Paul the Apostle The oft mentioned verses that appear to be about homosexuality or involving homosexual behavior are indeed damning Yet as Michaelson shows much of the anti gay rhetoric based on these Scriptural verses are based on very narrow and in some cases completely erroneous interpretationsTake for example the story in Genesis about Lot inviting two angels in the form of men into his house on the night the angels are preparing for the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah In this story a mob of unruly and horny men surround Lot’s house and demand that Lot send the angels outside because the men want to have sex with the angels Many anti gay conservatives use this story to illustrate first the disgusting behavior of homosexuals and second that clearly God detests homosexuals because the angels in the end smite the men rightfully To conservatives God is clearly punishing the men for the “crime” of homosexuality Michaelson however argues that they are missing the point The real crime that these men are guilty of is rape the men want to forcefully have sex with the unconsenting angels The sexual orientation of the rapists is irrelevantMichaelson is thorough in his examination of the most commonly used and most commonly misinterpreted verses by conservatives The most telling and significant point Michaelson makes is what is NOT said in the Bible about homosexuality Jesus Christ in the New Testament never once raises the issue of homosexuality This is significant for the simple fact that homosexual behavior was uite prevalent in Christ’s time If it was so widespread and if Christ found it abhorrent he would have logically said something about it One of the four authors Matthew Mark Luke and John would have recorded at least some statement from Christ about it It seems logical because Christ makes many proclamations about issues he found abhorrent both verbally and non verbally his actions which often spoke louder than words as was the case with his angry disruption of the vendors using the church as a marketplace spoke volumes about how abhorrent he found money and wealth to be a distraction from God and his silence on the issue of homosexuality is in itself a statementAs Michaelson says “We cannot simply pass over this silence or attribute it as some have done to a tacit acceptance of the Old Testament’s existing rules Jesus wasn’t tacit about the values that mattered most If regulation of homosexual behavior were one of them the Gospels would not be silent On the contrary the silence indicates supercession The Old Testament’s proscriptions on male anal sex are connected to prohibitions on idolatry; they are about ritual purity not ethical law For Christians the distinction is central While the Hebrew Bible remains authoritative for moral teachings it is not binding on Christians for ritual ones if it were Christians would have to avoid shrimp and lobster wear fringed garments and perhaps offer sacrifices instead of hymns p 74”Thankfully Michaelson doesn’t spend the majority of his book talking about Biblical misinterpretations He spends much of his book on Scriptural verses that actually support a pro gay and pro euality argument These chapters which comprise the first part of the book should be inspirational for anyone who believes in tolerance and social justice Regardless of whether one believes in God or not the verses that Michaelson cites are ones that even secularists would agree are ones that support peace love and tolerance There is in other words no way to misinterpret these verses to fit a hateful agendaMy favorite and the one verse that I personally try to live my life by is Matthew 22 37 39 “ Jesus replied ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment And the second is like it ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”Jesus never ualifies that statement by adding “Unless your neighbor is Muslim gay mentally handicapped unemployed Hispanic or has different political views as you”This point brings us to Michaelson’s last part in his book in which he discusses how religious communities are improved by opening their hearts minds and arms to the gay community He simply points to history to validate his pointWhen churches started changing their rigid conservative stands on issues such as slavery woman’s suffarage and civil rights the church only became stronger despite many predictions that doing so would destroy the church Such is the case Michaelson argues with homosexuality and same sex marriageMichaelson claims that “accepting sexual diversity is good for religious communities because it is precisely the flexibility of religious values that enables them to survive and adapt In stretching ourselves to reflect on our values refine our assumptions and in so doing grow as religious individuals and communities p 131”Michaelson’s elouent compassionate and intelligent examination of the issue of homosexuality is a breath of fresh air to those who are disheartened and disgusted by the hateful ignorant rhetoric of those people on the extreme Right people like Rick Santorum who claims to be a Christian but I have yet to hear him say or do anything Christ likeSadly while this book will be preaching to the choir for intelligent readers it will most likely go unread by the majority of the conservative contingent to which Michaelson addresses his arguments So be it Michaelson’s argument is valid and hopefully it will help to change the minds and hearts of some of the intelligent conservatives out there who will lead the pro euality revolution within the church If only I belonged to a faith community willing to read and discuss this book togetherJust a few uotesIt may seem like strength to hold fast to unchanging religious beliefs and there are times where steadfastness is an act of heroism Bt it takes even strength to heed the demands of our faith traditions to introspect discern and reflect on what we thought we knew p 139We learn to stop trusting gut reactions that are based on falsehoods we've been taughtThis is an invitation to be uncomfortable because discomfort is a sign of growth; it's a sign that you've reached your learning edge where assumptions may be challenged and difficult lessons may be learnedAt first and maybe for a while these corrections along the course of moral conscience may not feel right Bt they are the defining marks of our humanity Love demands them pp140 141My most cherished tale of this kind of religious evolution is in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn For me it perfectly epitomizes the kind of shift motivated by conscience and experience that is of so much religious value and that is invited by the uestion of sexual diversityHuck is still troubled by his conscience because he has been taught that if he helps an escaped slave he will go to hell One night racked by guilt and indecision he tries to decide what to do p 142 143Mixing politics and religiion is a two way street If we want religion to dictate political rules then we must be prepared for politics to dictate religious ones p 151Power corrupts and political power corrupts in a particularly insidious way It may seem like victory for a religious sect when its views are imposed on everyone in the country In fact it is a sign of its demise p 153Whatever fears we may have about change or transformation they are but ripples on the ocean of truth Or of love Or of God p 162 A great book about how God really is not against gays About how homosexuals strengthen the Church and how inclusion of homosexuals in organized religion is a great thing Written by a strongly religious Jewish man who is now happily married after coming out of the closet He was closeted for 10 years He thinks closeting breeds bad sexual behavior and perpetuates shame and sin Wow This book is everything I have been struggling with as a Catholic who realized I am bisexual I wrestled with the idea that God is okay with differing sexuality simply because that is what my church taught me In Catholic faith acting upon being gay is a mortal sin aka going to hell While I dated a girl I couldn't help but feel guilty Simply because that's what was thrown at me once in the form of a high school religion class that explained why the Catholic church believes gay is wrong It is not procreative and not prounitive the author even addresses this in the bookThis book hit me hard It took me so many months to finish because I wanted to take it all in slowly Finally someone sees it the way I do But he actually supports his thesis with ample evidence reasoning and from the words of the Bible I feel I can finally move on from the internal battle of God Vs Me While I may not be able to support the Catholic Church for its views on the matter I can now re build my relationship with GodI suggest any person who is in the LGBT community and struggling with religious identity should read this book And the families should too It opens a lot for discussion and thought In the debate about gay rights one side invokes scripture while the other side typically dismisses it In God vs Gay Jay Michaelson is unusual because he’s a proponent of gay rights who also takes the Bible seriouslyUnlike his counterparts on the Religious Right however Michaelson concludes that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures do not condemn same sex love and intimacy but actually command an acceptance of them This is a difficult thesis for most evangelicals to accept yet any who read this book will be compelled to reconsider their premises thanks to the author‘s felicitous writing style and his deep respect for faith as an Orthodox Jew“Religious people should support euality inclusion and dignity for sexual minorities” Michaelson writes “because of our religious traditions not despite them” The half dozen verses addressing same sex behavior are “ambiguous limited and widely misunderstood” Meanwhile there are hundreds of other verses that teach us about the importance of love justice and sacred relationshipsUnlike Martin Luther King Jr the LGBT civil rights movement has not responded with the language of Scripture even though they face Scriptural arguments The lesson from Dr King is to engage with religious values because political uestions are ultimately religious ones as well In making the religious case for eual rights this book examines the fundamental values of Christians and Jews and it interprets the handful of verses about same sex relations in light of those valuesThose fundamental Biblical values that support euality are these “It is not good for a person to be alone” Loneliness is the first problem of creation and love comes to solve it “Anyone who fails to love can never have known God because God is love” 1 John 48 “If God love us” Michaelson writes “then God could never want the closet God could not wish for human beings to lie to repress their emotional selves and to distort that aspect of the soul which leads to the highest of human satisfactions into a dark force of evil “The whole of the Law is summarized in a single commandment love your neighbor as yourself” Gal 514 “As yourself” means how you yourself would like to be loved if you were your neighbor Thus we are told to be empathetic to overcome our impulse toward focus on self to imagine what I would want if I were standing in this person’s shoes We are commanded to cultivate compassion As applied to GLBT people this command means rising above our own preferences to see from the perspective of the other “Unless we are willing to be open to the truth of another person’s experience we cannot progress past the childlike opinion that what is right for us is right for everyone” Love demands that we read the half dozen verses about homosexuality narrowly just as we read verses prescribing the death penalty for rebellious children Jesus often chose compassion over the law by healing on the Sabbath by eating with the unwashed by not stoning the adulteress “Leviticus does not shape the boundaries of compassion; compassion shapes the boundaries of LeviticusThe Golden Rule demands reciprocity and compassion and basic euality”We have science today about sexual diversity that our forbears didn’t so we can and should reinterpret old positions in light of the new information Michaelson argues just as happened eventually when science proved the earth was a sphere instead of a pancake We understand today that sexual diversity is part of the fabric of nature Same sex behaviors are found in over 100 species from apes to elephants guppies to macaues “Nature loves diversity including sexual diversity” Conformity is a human invention“Religious life has never meant sticking your head in the ground or pretending that the world is still flatReligion lives when it grows when it is able to maintain its core values while adapting to new facts and understandings”Scripture depics a love story between David and Jonathan It’s non debatable that the two men had an intense emotional love that transcended friendship and had erotic overtones whether or not it blossomed into sexual activity Their love proved essential for David’s survival and for his eventual ascension to the throneThe early Church did not single out homosexuality as a particularly egregious sin worse than the others That’s a recent phenomenon associated with the rise of the Religious Right in the 1980s “Hate the sin love the sinner” doesn’t work when they are one in the same – homosexuality – which is both an identity and an activity Sexuality is not just sex; sexuality is at the essence of who we are as human beings “To hate an essential part of the person is to hate the person”As the reader can tell by now this book is full of compelling insights Michaelson examines the half dozen verses about homosexuality and demonstrates that they are not uite so black and white as religious conservatives may assume Suffice it to say that Christians who believe Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because its men were gay does not have an accurate understanding of scripture Opponents of marriage euality are genuinely concerned about undermining marriage Like Britain’s Conservative Party which supports gay marriage Michaelson contends that same sex marriage encourages conservative family values The record shows that where same sex marriage has been legalized there has been a decrease in promiscuity among gays and there has been no upsurge in divorce It’s fair to say that gays are not the source of instability in modern marriage they aren’t responsible for heterosexual rates of cohabitation divorce and out of wedlock pregnancyLess than a century ago religious conservatives opposed women’s suffrage Half a century ago conservatives resisted civil rights for African Americans Today they resist civil rights for gays Some day they will support gay rights just as they now support euality for blacks and women### Though organized religion holds no appeal for me and hasn't for than 30 years this was the October book for the campus LGBT book club I felt it was compelling Perhaps because his main argument is that if you truly believe in God and God's love then you cannot exclude any group of people or individuals from same If you believe you are to emulate God's love then you cannot discriminate but hold each person in the same regard of unconditional acceptance and hopefully appreciation I skipped the section where he dissects each of the seven Bible verses commonly used to exclude or even deny the existence of homosexuals or gender diverse people This has no meaning for me since I do not believe in the Bible or religion I think this would prove to be an eye opening or at least thought provoking read for Christians Jews etc 475 ⭐️sEverything I have grown up hearing and life events I have experienced have led me to this place of rejecting the church and its teachings After reading this book and really hearing and understanding the words I have gained a whole new perspective Thank you Jay Michaelson for this wonderful glimpse into your life experiences and lessons learned You have really opened my eyes to a greater truth and understanding of the Bible and what it has to offer We all have a lot to learn about acceptance of ourselves and each otherIf it weren’t for the large amount of name dropping and lists of other sources stuffed into the second to last chapter it would have been 5 ⭐️s from me While it presents an uncompromising position this is a fairly gentle book that could be used to start a discussion with someone who was merely open to its message The intended audience seems to be those who have ualms about sexual diversity and who may be repressing their own feelings When Michaelson writes The love a straight woman feels for her husband I feel for mine It may be hard to believe or understand without knowing me and my partner but it is the case he probably isn't speaking to other self accepting gay people for whom this is an underwhelming revelation There are however people who want and need to hear such basic truths For people who are just permitting themselves to hear this message of love and acceptance for the first time Michaelson's book might be the first that helps them shift into a new paradigm His analysis of Jewish and Christian religious texts and history accompanied by the names of a slew of gay friendly theologians makes a clear and convincing argument that one can be genuinely religious and openly gay He neatly disposes of ex gay dissenters and hypocritical politicians without allowing them to dictate the terms of debateSome of the aforementioned self accepting gay people might feel that Michaelson's arguments are not radical enough He is certainly capable of intra gay critiue as when he writes that the very notion that 'homosexuality' can mean both an orientation toward romantic connection and a physical sex act is part of the problem It reduces love to sex and reduces gay people to what we do with our genitals Disappointingly despite this acknowledgment of the limitations of concepts like homosexual and heterosexual he nevertheless uses these terms throughout the book He is also uick to endorse the socially conservative idea promoted by Andrew Sullivan that same sex marriage is a social boon because it will tame gay people This of course may imply that gay sexuality itself endangers the individual or society without proper social containmentThe book will have achieved its mission if it helps some religious communities to justify their acceptance of gay people and if it helps some gay people out of feeling suicidal Today there are unfortunately still many suffering people who need to hear this message One may also hope that some of these friendly even handed approaches to Biblical interpretation will become integrated in mainstream religious sermonizing It took me a few 4 days amidst fatigue and grief to get through this book I love language I love undertones I love when words and the tone in which it is conveyed can tell me clearly what the writer was feeling at the time it was written This tone of this book was not as graceful as the other three that I have read on the same topic Nevertheless the tone was very much needed It was clear It was direct It was assertive I particularly loved how Jay drew from both secular religious ancient modern and academic texts alike to form well rounded and intellectual arguments Unlike the other books I have read which the rebuttals for them were something along the lines of “I cannot be swayed by your emotions” it feels dishonest for me to believe that this book will get the same rebuttal because it simply doesn’t care to garner sympathy nor emotions in the first place Compassion or not audience or not Jay Michaelson had a message and he was hell bent on sending that message across A compelling insightful engaging read Though I felt the writing was a bit repetitive and seemed somewhat desperate in places his passion for his subject did come through I've heard most of these arguments in bits and pieces before but never uite all laid out like this It's a fascinating subject and I think it would do well if evangelical Christians were to approach with an open mind towards loving others
- 232 pages
- God vs Gay?
- Jay Michaelson
- 01 December 2016 Jay Michaelson