Education and Religion

Thanks to Ken for sending me a link to this article, which in turn led me to search out and find the source document, published by the state university in town.

I find it fascinating that a secular document purports to tell students what religions teach on sexuality, and to go beyond this rather impressive goal to assure students that they are free to do whatever they like while still remaining religious.  Equally fascinating is that the document has no credited author, nobody to be held accountable for the assertions made.

The tone of the document is set out in the first sentence.  Religion and sexual identity are two aspects of our culture that have historically appeared to clash.  Interesting assertion.  How is this defined?  No definition of key terms like religion or sexual identity or our culture or historically or clash.  The document then jumps to the issue of equal rights.  What is this supposed to mean?  How does this relate to the clash mentioned in the opening sentence?  I’m assuming that equal rights refers specifically to marital rights, or to the full acceptance of homosexuality and other sexual choices beyond heterosexuality monogamy, but that isn’t made clear.  The document then specifies examples of Christian groups or leaders that fully endorse homosexuality before concluding with the obvious observation that homosexual minorities can be found in almost any religion.

The author criticizes legal means of regulating sexuality before claiming that such regulations are based on documents written centuries ago when mankind lacked a full understanding of the wide spectrum of sexuality.  First off, if the author has Christianity in mind – which the content up until this point would certainly point to – then the documents were written 2000 years ago and more, not just centuries ago.  The fact that the Biblical documents reference both male and female homosexuality make it clear that the authors did indeed have a pretty broad understanding of the spectrum of sexuality.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know about homosexuality, it is that they knew about it and rejected it as an appropriate form of sexual expression.  More specifically, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures claim to be not merely the writings of particular human beings, but rather to be the divinely inspired communications of God himself.  God would certainly not be ignorant of the possible ways people might prefer to express themselves sexually, and God would certainly be in a position to dictate what forms of sexual expression are or are not appropriate and healthy.

The document asserts that all forms of sexual orientation, gender identity, and relationships are natural and should be treated equally under the law.  I presume this would include pedophilia?  Bestiality?  The document elsewhere makes it pretty clear that multiple sex partners – even in marriage – is not a problem although that currently is not the law of our land anywhere.  The document doesn’t simply describe how things are now, but paints a picture of how things ought to be, presumably with the idea that things ultimately will be that way.  Religion is not permitted to comment on sexuality, but the anonymous author of this document is permitted to prophesy and to lay claim to what ought to be.

On what grounds?  How is it that religious understandings of sexuality that have endured for millenia are to be discarded, while a faceless author feels it their right and duty to proclaim how their position is right and correct?  What makes their position right and correct and other positions wrong?  Is it simply the fervor of the moment, the swing of the cultural pendulum?  Is it a matter of majority rules?  If that’s the case, the majority seems pretty clearly opposed to things like pedophilia, yet the author insists that any and all forms of sexual expression are valid.  Where does their authority lie?  And will they come to the defense of the student who is accused of statutory rape for having sex with an underaged partner?  Will this document’s profession that all forms of sexual expression are valid and natural and deserving of respect under the law help that young person?  I highly doubt it.  Let’s not even broach the idea of a sexual orientation that includes taking advantage of people weaker or unable to resist or defend themselves because of inebriation.  Our state is famously attempting to legislate sexual assent – I highly doubt that such a sexual orientation would be acknowledged as legitimate by the author of this document, despite their ill-defined and poorly thought out expression.

The document acknowledges that religious teachings on sexuality can conflict with how we as individuals might feel led to act.  Since religions are a means of guiding actions and thinking, this is to be expected.  The document – and therefore the university – is attempting to do exactly the same thing.  The university is giving permission for full sexual expression where religion has acknowledged a need for restraint.  The end result is the same – individual actions are guided by a larger body of people adhering to a particular ideology or theology.  The individual is not liberated in any sense, but rather has traded one guide for another.  The assumption is that because the new guide is telling the individual what they want to hear, the new guide is the better guide.  Interesting assumption – and convenient.

This is not enough – the new guide insists that you can express yourself however you like sexually (particularly in respect to homosexuality) without giving up your religious inclinations.  Wow – in a single sentence the University seeks to obliterate the tension that has existed for millenia between sexual inclinations and a larger picture of what is best for the individual as well as the larger society.  It is 100% possible to be devout and sexually active.  This is true to a point, but it completely disregards the seriousness with which Christianity (since that has been the only religion mentioned thus far) treats sexual expression and the effects it can have on the individual and the community.  It is most definitely possible to love Jesus and be attracted to others of the same sex, just as it is possible to love Jesus and to violate Scripture’s teachings on sexuality.

The problem is that by doing so, one runs the very real risk of giving up the one Lord for another lord.  Assuring someone that they can do what they want and still be considered a Christian simply amplifies the eventual guilt and angst that person is going to feel when they attempt to take the life of faith seriously.  Are they struggling against sin in their life?  Why is it that they should struggle against the impulse to murder but not the impulse to have sex whenever and with whomever they want?  How is this distinction made?  If a majority of people decided murder really was a legitimate form of self-expression, would it cease to be wrong?  It sounds laughable, but less than a century ago it was laughable that homosexuality would be considered a legitimate form of self-expression.

The University wants to discard religious authority, but in doing so, offers no alternative authority other than the individual’s desires.  The document insists that respect and love are the foundations of all religions, but respect and love for what?  For myself and what I feel like doing?

Will the University stand by the young man who contracts an STD because of following their assurances that any and all sexual activity is legitimate?  Will the University stand by the young woman who gets pregnant because of following their advice?  Will it provide her with lifelong care and support as she deals with the guilt of the abortion she was encouraged to seek?  Will it provide financial assistance to the young woman who doesn’t get an abortion but instead drops out of school to care for her child?  Will it work to pursue the man responsible and force him to provide child support?

The University seeks to wipe out religious authority founded on some extremely practical considerations in favor of a naive and frankly callous insistence that each of us should just do what we feel like.  No moment is given to consider the impacts of unfettered sexual indulgence and expression.  It’s only the rainbows and puppies of having a good time that are presented here, contrasted with the outdated and unreasonable teachings of the Church.

Christianity is treated merely as an authoritative and repressive voice on sexuality.  No thought is given to the Church’s very progressive teachings on the value of women.  Clearly the author is ignorant of this, and of Christianity and the Bible in general.  They quote a letter “from” the Corinthians (when it is, in fact, a letter *to* the Corinthians) as representative of the Biblical teaching on marriage.  They quote out of context, instead of quoting from Genesis 2 or any number of other texts that would demonstrate the beauty that is promoted in marriage and sexual restraint.  I have no doubt they chose this particular passage because it sounds offensive out of context, as though marriage is simply for sexual release.

The author’s treatment of ancient Greek attitudes to sexuality openly endorses pedophilia.  There is no condemnation for this, nor also any hint of the need for consent – referencing kidnapping as a prelude to homosexual activity.  How ironic, given the heavy emphasis against sex without consent and sex involving minors!  The University is openly advocating illegal activity!

Judaism’s attitude towards sexuality and marriage is described as purely reactionary, once again disregarding completely Genesis 2.  The Ten Commandments at Sinai (Exodus 20) pre-date the Israelite entrance into Canaan and subsequent neighborly relations with other religions and cultures.

The depiction of Islam is fascinating.  It is lauded as a sex-positive religion that lacks any central authority.  I’m pretty sure that every Muslim would claim, in one way or another, that the Qu’ran is their central authority, just as the Bible is the central authority for most Christians.  The document claims that there are diverse opinions on homosexuality within Islam, but I’m not aware of any such thing (references, please?).  My understanding from the Qu’ran is that homosexuality is not permitted.  Islam is sex-positive for men but hardly sex-positive for women!  The document claims that Muslims do not follow celibacy, but a quick examination of news reports from Muslim countries would indicate that this is an outright lie – at least for women!  A young woman can be executed for pre-marital sex, and that execution can, under some Muslim laws, come from her own family!

This document is laughable in its errors and dismissiveness towards systems of belief that encompass the vast majority, by far, of all humans on earth.  Only one primary source is quoted (1 Corinthians 7:2) to support any of the allegations made by the anonymous author.  The document promotes practices that are explicitly against the law (pederasty/pedophilia, non-consensual sex).  It sets up the students that it intends to inform for questionable choices in the defense of sexual liberty.  It lies to them about the ease with which they can balance their own preferences and desires with the dictates of their religious beliefs.

I will assume that similar documents exist for most major public universities.  In an age where we are allegedly outraged by sexual violence on campus, the University itself is pushing for greater sexual liberty rather than sexual restraint.  What a wonderful use of our tax dollars.  Set our children up for disaster and failure through our tax dollars spent on education.  Then our kids can be sent for medical care, abortions, vaccinations and treatments, all funded by our tax dollars.  Those students who take this document literally and are convicted of statutory rape can then go through our criminal system, defended by lawyers, sentenced by judges, convicted by juries, sent to jails and prisons – all funded by our tax dollars.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that such brilliance comes from our higher educational institutions.

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