Homosexuality: a Comparison of Western and Eastern Viewpoints

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The purpose of this paper is to shed a positive light on homosexuality. The paper will also look at how religion has shaped the views that people have regarding homosexuality. It will be seen that, for the most part, Christianity in the West has encouraged people to take a negative attitude on the subject. By contrast, the Eastern religion of Buddhism has taught people to have a more tolerant attitude toward homosexuality. It will be argued that the negative view of homosexuality which is frequently encountered in the West is actually based more on political reasons than on moral reasons. It will also be argued that once the political reasons for opposing homosexuality are removed, it becomes possible to view the subject in a more positive light. The beliefs of the Christian religion make homosexuals feel that they will be condemned to hell for all eternity if they do not change their sexual orientation. Although both Catholics and Protestants are opposed to homosexuality, the Catholic religion is a bit stricter on the subject. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a book that explains Catholic beliefs), homosexual activities are seen as "acts of grave depravity," and "under no circumstances can they be approved."[1] The reason that Catholics and other Christians believe this is because of certain passages in the Bible which condemn homosexual behavior. In her book Different Drummer: Homosexuality in America, Elaine Landau points out that "there are direct and explicit condemnations of homosexuality in the Bible."[2] Some of the passages that condemn homosexuality are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. For example, in Leviticus 20:13, it says: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."[3] Another Old Testament passage concerning homosexuality is found in the Book of Genesis, with the story of the town of Sodom. In that passage, it is said that a group of homosexual men were punished by being struck blind. Later, the entire town of Sodom was destroyed by God because of its immorality. It is interesting that the name of the town, Sodom, has survived to the present day as the root of the word "sodomy." Sodomy may be defined as anal sex, an activity that is mainly associated with homosexual behavior. There are other passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, including some which are contained in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 6:6-10, for example, Saint Paul says that "male prostitutes" and "sodomites" are among those who will never be able to inherit the Kingdom of God.[4] Saint Paul also condemns homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27. In that passage, he not only condemns male homosexuality but also condemns female homosexuality (or lesbianism), as well. Yet another New Testament passage that claims homosexuality to be evil can be found in 1 Timothy 1:10. Although homosexuality is condemned in the Bible, the view of many Christians is that homosexuals, like all sinners, are to be accepted as members of the church. Of course, some branches of the Christianity are more accepting and tolerant than others. However, even the Catholic Church, which is very strict in its moral rules, realizes that there is a need to accept homosexuals. The official Catholic view, as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is that homosexuals "do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial." Because of this point of view, the Catechism also says: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."[5] This point of view does not change the fact that homosexuality is seen as a sin by the Catholics. It is simply hoped that, by being included in the church, homosexuals will eventually overcome their condition and become good Christians. In fact, as in the case of...
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