Friday, July 23, 2004


Last night (July 16, 2004) on Bill Moyer’s “Now”, Cal Thomas (Old Testament Bible literalist) and Moyer (Christian) debated the “gay marriage” issue. What they had to say about that issue was not as important to me as when they began to frame the question of where final authority lies when it comes to human behavior. To Bill (a true American and Constitutionalist), it’s up to humans, guided by reason and experience and their personal morality, to make the laws which establish ethical limits. To Cal (who puts the Bible above the Constitution), a hypothetical superbeing is where final authority lies. He implied that without a god to make a final limit to human behavior, humanity will go mad and anything will be allowed in human behavior.

Cal’s argument is so historically false, I’m surprised any intelligent human could still believe in it, whereas Moyer’s observation most clearly describes what history shows us to have happened. The earliest humans everywhere, in every culture, in all times, have established codes of behavior (or taboos) for themselves whether their gods were river spirits, multiple gods or one, or no god at all. Moral codes arise out of the daily disputes which occur between humans and the ways in which they mutually decide to settle them and from the human interaction with the natural forces in their environments. Humans don’t need gods to set limits for humans. They do very well at setting their own limits and always have. In fact, it’s humans who have set the laws for god rather than the other way around. How else do we explain the almost universal abhorrence with incest if not by understanding that the abhorence arose naturally in human cultures without any one particular hypothetical god’s help?

The idea of god, far from being a creature above us handing down laws, arose out of daily, human experience during times full of superstition. To earliest tribal peoples so much was beyond their ken they had to believe in powers greater than themselves which ruled nature and their lives. They had no other explanation for what happened to them. Imagine what you would make of lightening if you had never seen or heard such a thing before? You’d naturally think it was a bolt thrown at you from out of heaven. Thus came into existence Zeus, tosser of lightening bolts and looser of thunder. By similar processes came into existence supernatural beings like Yahweh, Buddha, all the many Hindu gods, Thor, and Isis and Osiris, followed by the consequent moral codes (i.e. superstitions) by which humans could control and please their imagined gods and regulate social intercourse in a way pleasing to the gods.

It’s very clear in Bible codes that the way people treated one another was considered pleasing or unpleasant and as important to Yahweh as the way they treated Yahweh himself. People misbehaving toward one another were told that god disapproved and would punish sinful behavior. In that way social, legal codes also took on the power of moral or god-given codes. These last observations round us back to gay marriages. They show why being gay has nothing to do with god but only with how different cultures have treated homosexuality. In early Greek cultures, homosexuality was considered a part of life and adult male love for young boys was pretty common so you don’t have any Greek gods bothering to make homosexuality evil. In fact, homosexual behavior and bestiality are part of godly behavior on Mount Olympus.

So, then, how did homosexual behavior become taboo in Christian culture? It could be as simple as imagining that some young Christian who would later gain power in the earliest Christian culture suffered at the hands of a pagan pederast and, then, spilled his anger and hurt into the earliest Christian culture. But the common belief, I think, is that Christian culture had to displace what they considered pagan culture, and pagan cultures and religions were full of dangerous sexual practices that could subvert Christian piety. Thus many sexual practices were condemned, not because of inherent moral principles, but in the name of spreading Christian practice among the infidels.


"Man is a god in ruins." —Ralph Waldo Emerson (Yeah, boy, if you only knew how right you were—almost.)

1 comment:

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Have a Blessed Day,

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