16 June 2016

Which religion is more anti-gay, Christianity or Islam?

Yesterday's post was a bit misleading.

Yes, it's true that the Bible is more anti-gay that the Quran, since the Bible commands believers to kill homosexuals while the Quran does not. And yet a majority of U.S. Christians believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, and very few believe that homosexuals should be punished with death. The same cannot be said about modern Muslims.

So if the Bible is more anti-gay than the Quran, why are Muslims more anti-gay than Christians? The answer to that question is simple. His name is Muhammad (PB&J be upon him).

Muslims believe that Muhammad was the perfect and final messenger of God and that his words, thoughts, and actions (as recorded in the sunnah) should be obeyed, followed, and imitated by everyone. Although there is some disagreement among Muslims about which stories (hadith) about Muhammad are authentic, all describe a Muhammad who was vehemently and violently anti-gay.

Here are some examples from the hadith.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done. - Abu Dawud 38:4447

If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death. - Abu Dawud 38:4448

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed the man who dressed like a woman and the woman who dressed like a man. - Abu Dawud 32:4087

And then there's this from Islam Question and Answer:
The Sahaabah were unanimously agreed on the execution of homosexuals, but they differed as to how they were to be executed. Some of them were of the view that they should be burned with fire, which was the view of ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) and also of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him), as we shall see below. And some of them thought that they should be thrown down from a high place then have stones thrown at them. This was the view of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him).
You just can't get more anti-gay that that!

And yet there is hope for reform in Islam. Christians and Jews learned long ago to ignore the cruel command in Leviticus 20:13. Muslims could do the same with similar statements in the hadith. But until the vast majority of Muslims do that, Islam will be more anti-gay than Christianity.

15 June 2016

Which is more anti-gay, the Bible or the Quran?

The Bible and the Quran agree on many things. So you might expect them to agree about homosexuality as well. And they do. Both condemn it. But which is more anti-gay?

There are only eight passages in the Quran that deal with homosexuality, and they all refer to the same story: the story of Sodom, in which the men of the city desired to have sex with Lot's male visitors, whereupon Lot (Allah's "righteous slave") offered them his daughters instead.

  1. And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you? Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk. 7:80-81

  2. And when Our messengers came unto Lot, he was distressed and knew not how to protect them. He said: This is a distressful day. And his people came unto him, running towards him - and before then they used to commit abominations - He said: O my people! Here are my daughters! They are purer for you. Beware of Allah, and degrade me not in (the person of) my guests. Is there not among you any upright man? 11:77-78

  3. And when the messengers came unto the family of Lot ... He said: Lo! they are my guests. Affront me not! ... He said: Here are my daughters, if ye must be doing (so). 15:61-71

  4. We rescued him and Lot (and brought them) to the land which We have blessed for (all) peoples. ... Lot we gave judgment and knowledge, and We delivered him from the community that did abominations. Lo! they were folk of evil, lewd. And We brought him in unto Our mercy. Lo! he was of the righteous. 21:71-75

  5. What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, And leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are froward folk. 26:165-166

  6. And Lot! when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination knowingly? Must ye needs lust after men instead of women? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly. 27:54-55

  7. Lot ... is among the righteous ... (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Lo! ye commit lewdness such as no creature did before you. For come ye not in unto males. 29:26-29

  8. Noah and ... Lot, who were ... two of Our righteous slaves. 66:10

The Bible, of course, includes the same story about Sodom, and it agrees with the Quran about Lot: he was a just and righteous man. (Even though later in the same chapter of Genesis, Lot gets drunk and impregnates his two virgin daughters.)

But the Bible is less clear about the nature of Sodom's sin. Was it homosexuality, inhospitality, pride, wealth, laziness, or ignoring the needs of the poor? The Bible doesn't say.

There are only five passages in the Bible that deal clearly and specifically with homosexuality. Here they are in Biblical order:

  1. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22

  2. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

  3. The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; that they are without excuse. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ... Wherefore … God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another. God gave them over to a reprobate mind … Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful … they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 1:20-32

  4. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God …. neither fornicators ... nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind … shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

  5. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9-10

So the Bible agrees with the Quran that homosexuality is an abomination. But it goes much further than that. The Old Testament commands believers to kill homosexuals (at least sexually active gay men) and the New Testament says that all homosexuals are all "worthy of death."

Maybe that's why some Christian terrorists celebrated the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.

08 June 2016

The National Catholic Reporter: Providing convoluted explanations for inexcusable bible passages

In a recent blog post at the National Catholic Reporter, Thomas L. McDonald claims that the Skeptic's Annotated Bible and other internet scoffers "pile ignorant derision" on "the difficult parts of the Bible." He then provides the correct explanations for "five hard Bible passages."

Amputation for Touching a Man’s Genitals (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: 25:12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
This passage seems simple enough: If two men fight and the wife of one grabs the "secrets" of the other, then you must cut off her hand without showing her the slightest pity.

But according to Mr. McDonald it's more complicated that that. It may mean that the woman should be fined whatever her hand is worth; or that her hand should be cut off while she is trying to touch the other man's genitals (not after); or that we should do whatever it takes to stop an attacker (including cut off a hand); or that just one or two fingers should be cut off; or that we should cut off the woman's palm, foot, or hip socket (rather than her hand); or maybe the woman should be cut off from her husband.

What is clear to Mr. McDonald, though, is this: "Certainly, the act of grabbing a man’s genitals in the midst of a fight is immodest." It's just that the Bible got a bit carried away with the punishment.

What Jesus Knows (Mark 13:32)

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Mark 13:32
This one is simple as well. Jesus was God, so he knew everything. But he was also a man who didn't know everything. So whenever he didn't know something, he was a man; and whenever he knew everything, he was God. Since he was always both man and God, he always knew and didn't know everything at the same time and always knew what he didn't know. Or something like that.

Lot Offers His Daughters For Rape (Genesis 19:8)

Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. Genesis 19:8
Mr. McDonald sums this one up this way: "We don’t have to believe that Lot is in the right to understand the point of the story."

But he's wrong about that, if you believe the Bible anyway.

[God] delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.) 2 Peter 2:7-8
Lot was a just and righteous man; the only one in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that was righteous enough for God to save.

That is "the point of the story" (if this nasty story has a point).

Children Eaten By Bears (2 Kings 2:23-24)

As he [Elisha] was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:25-26

Here are Mr. McDonald's simple explanations (select whichever one works for you): The story was made up to encourage children to respect their elders; the story is true, but the "little children" were young men who tried to stone Elisha (not just make fun of his bald head); 42 is a "symbolic number" that means "a lot."; God sent the bears to kill the 42 children as payment for the sacrifice of Balak; the children weren't making fun of Elisha's bald head, but his shaved head.

Genocide (various)

But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them ... as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:3

Mr. McDonald explains this one this way: "Jesus speaks with the same voice as Yahweh." It's just that Jesus flipped Yahweh's approach on its head. Yahweh commanded us to commit genocide; Jesus commands us to love everyone. They speak with the same voice; they just say completely different things.

The point of the exercise

"The point of this exercise is not to come up with convoluted explanations for inexcusable passages." It just happened to work out that way.

05 June 2016

It's Ramadan again! Time to sleep all day and party all night.

(At least it is here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where I observed the thin crescent of the new moon on 5 June 2016 at 7:35 pm.)

For those of you who don't know, it's Ramadan -- the month in which Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to Muhammad (pb&jbuh). 

Here's how it's put in the Quran:
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month.... 2:185
So Muslims fast every day during the month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk. It's one of the five pillars of Islam.

And what does fasting entail? Here's a list of things that invalidate the fast.
1- Intercourse
2- Masturbation
3- Eating and drinking
4- Anything that is regarded as coming under the same heading as eating and drinking
5- Letting blood by means of cupping and the like
6- Vomiting deliberately
7- Menstruation and nifaas
(For a more extensive see here, where such important questions as "Does burping break the fast?" are answered.)

Well, that's clear enough, I guess. No sexual intercourse, masturbating, eating, drinking, bleeding, vomiting, or menstruating. (That's right, ladies, menstruating. Because Allah, like the God of the Bible, is disgusted by menstruating women.)

You have to go without all that stuff all day long. What's a person to do?

There's really only one good answer to that: sleep. Sleep as much as you can as long as you can during the day. Fasting is much easier while you're asleep and sleeping all day doesn't invalidate the fast.

That works great if you're a man (unless you have to work, that is), but not so well if you're a woman. Because a woman must spend all day in the kitchen preparing the huge feast (iftar) that breaks each day's fast, as well as shop for the food, clean up after last night's party, and prepare the morning meal (suhoor) that begins the fast the following day.

(There's a huge a competition among Muslim women to produce the most elaborate and extravagant iftar feast. Much more food is produced each night than can possibly be consumed, with the excess thrown away the next day, since leftovers are discouraged. And this goes on for the entire month of Ramadan.)

But for Muslim men there's only one plan for Ramadan: Sleep all day, party all night.

(I'm not making this Ramadan plan up. It is followed by most Muslim males, in so far as work, school, and other activities permit.)

Here's a song that expresses the idea exactly.