The Raving Theist

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God and the Lesbians

April 25, 2003 | 15 Comments

Professor Eugene Volokh addresses once more the morality of gaiety, concluding that the arguments against lesbianism are even weaker than those against male homosexuality. In particular, he notes that lesbians are less promiscuous and their sex less disease-ridden. So far, so good.

But the pitfalls of his evangelical agnosticism (see here) quickly manifest themselves when the discussion drifts into theological waters. He first notes that the Bible proscribes only male homosexuality, a position from which he retreats once a reader points out some anti-lesbian language from the New Testament. So he then instead concludes:

[P]erhaps this is enough of a theological argument against lesbianism, though note that the condemnation is considerably less than the “abomination” language [regarding male homosexuality] in Leviticus. (It also makes it harder to speak of “Judeo-Christian” morality here, since while the prohibition against male homosexuality is Judeo-Christian, the condemnation of lesbianism seems to be purely Christian, unless I’ve missed still other verses, which is quite possible.) But in any event, I’m still looking for the logical arguments.

The underlined sentence implies that theological arguments are not really logical arguments, a position an agnostic is hardly in a position to embrace. God is morally perfect, God wrote the Bible, the Bible condemns all gay sex, all gay sex is wrong — where’s the logical flaw in that syllogism? Now, certainly, an atheist can attack the first two premises regarding God as illogical (see my disproofs), but an agnostic must either accept the argument as a whole or prove himself an atheist by refuting the offending parts of it. The agnostic must also conclude, if he is true to his indifference, that God likes Jewish lesbians but not Christian ones. He cannot, though, as Professor Volokh does, simply dismiss these conclusions at the end as “illogical” merely because they are also theological, unless he explains why theology itself is absurd. Nor can he dismiss mere “faith” as the basis for a moral position, unless he is prepared to demonstrate why reason is a superior form of cognition.

I suspect, however, that the problem here lies more with the Professor’s “tolerance” than with his agnosticism. In public bathroom stalls one frequently sees graphic graffiti depicting sex among gay men captioned with “fags must die” rhetoric right alongside erotically-presented depictions of lesbians — but Volokh would not for a moment consider introducing these scrawlings, for any purpose, into a discussion over the moral status of homosexuality. And if someone else did, he’d quickly condemn the source, without attempting to first interpret the graffiti or check the other stalls for alternative illustrations.

Yet not once in his whole discussion of the Bible are these same threshold objections to its authority or authenticity raised (or, for that matter, is mention made of its endorsement of stoning, burning, mutilation, blinding, whipping, cannibalism, genocide and infanticide). Instead, the Professor’s argument is all “this-verse-and-that-verse and let’s see if we can reconcile the two.” Does the Professor really believe that there’s a credible difference between some old, gray-bearded fart ruminating over a piece of papyrus and a shitting homophobic punk squatting over a toilet with a magic marker?

The problem, is, again, that “mockery of religious faith is inexcusable” and that even the looniest arguments must be treated with respect (and argued on their own insane terms) if they are framed in God-talk. When I originally blogged about this issue, the Professor objected to my suggestions that he “vastly overestimate[d] the intelligence of religious people” and that “[p]”eople who believe something merely because it is in a book tend to cut philosophical corners.” In response, he stated that he’d “certainly seen plenty of irreligious people cutting philosophical corners, and [he’d] seen no evidence that corner-cutting is any more common among the religious than among the irreligious.” But virtually every religious argument he offers in his latest post caters to the corner-cutting book-citing crowd, whereas the secular ones invoke evidence and logic. And while he couches some of the scriptural arguments in terms resembling logic, none of them depart from the basic Bible-as-Truth premise. For example, he writes:


What about the objection that the Bible favors heterosexual marriage, and that heterosexual marriage, with its possibility of children, is the norm to which people in society should generally aspire? This too seems to me a slim justification for punishing or discriminating against people who aren’t interested in heterosexual marriage — but if this is really the reason, then why aren’t we imprisoning would-be priests and nuns, who are taking themselves away from heterosexual marriage as much as lesbians are?

So what the Professor finds to be a “slim justification” isn’t that the source of the proposition is some crazy screed, but merely that the principle itself should be more narrowly or consistently applied. But once you accept the authority of Bible, you must also accept God’s clearly expressed wishes as to the interpretation and scope of his rules. God has clearly spoken out against homosexuality, and any fallible human argument that gayness is consistent with the purpose of heterosexual marriage must fail in view of His express laws on the subject. Yes, perhaps priests and nuns should too be punished, but that argument again will rise or fall not upon some abstract notion of consistency, but upon whether or not there is a Biblical approval for their celibacy.

Volokh does briefly posit a couple of non-scriptural theological arguments, noting that the lower incidence of AIDS among lesbians and the amenability of women’s bodies to oral sex could be viewed as evidence of God’s approval of female homosexuality. These are offered primarily as reductio ad absurdum arguments. But as such, they are perfectly valid, and if one accepts their God-premise in the first place one would simply restrict executions to male gays. While the Professor cautions that he “doesn’t buy” the notion that the way in which our bodies operate (and presumably, how AIDS operates) is evidence of God’s plan, he offers no guidance, from his agnostic perspective, of why it is not God’s plan, or what God’s plan is.

And even if he did, I suspect he’d be unable to explain why his proposed plan would be any more logical than the lesbian-favoring one. What he’d really like to say, I suspect, is that there’s no God and that people who think some supernatural being is monitoring the activity of our cocks and cunts are homophobic misogynistic creationist monkeys who should be locked up in cages. But he’s too tolerant for that.

Comments

15 Responses to “God and the Lesbians”

  1. Delilah
    April 25th, 2003 @ 3:36 pm

    “In public bathroom stalls one frequently sees graphic graffiti depicting sex among gay men captioned with

  2. The Raving Atheist
    April 25th, 2003 @ 3:38 pm

    Actually, that’s what’s on the stalls after I leave.

  3. AL
    April 26th, 2003 @ 1:12 am

    Hey Delilah, you’re a girl, so you wouldn’t know what kinds of scrawlings show up in the men’s bathroom. =P

  4. Andrew Dalton
    April 26th, 2003 @ 11:05 pm

    “The problem, is, again, that ‘mockery of religious faith is inexcusable’ and that even the looniest arguments must be treated with respect (and argued on their own insane terms) if they are framed in God-talk.”

    This is exactly what drives me nuts regarding most agnostics. Somehow, every argument involving religion gets the free pass of nonjudgmentalism, even if other equally goofy arguments do not. In other words, the agnostic buys into theism in the sense that he believes that matters of “God talk” are special, and that we must remain reverently uncertain about these matters alone.

  5. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  6. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  7. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  8. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  9. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  10. Kafkaesqu
    April 28th, 2003 @ 4:27 pm

    There’s a perfectly good explanation why God is not all that critical towards lesbianism. God is a guy. Guys like lesbians. In fact, most of us can’t get enough of them.

    It’s all pretty damn obvious if you ask me.

  11. The Raving Atheist
    April 29th, 2003 @ 4:30 pm

    KAFKAESQUI: Yes, like most of us, He fantasizes about k.d. lang and Ellen Degeneres in a bubble bath.

  12. Angelgirl
    May 1st, 2003 @ 5:43 pm

    Ewww. Why not Katie Holmes and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a bubble bath instead…

  13. KennyLingus
    May 1st, 2003 @ 6:22 pm

    “but an agnostic must either accept the argument as a whole or prove himself an atheist by refuting the offending parts of it”

    Ahh care to rethink that one….. Or be a little more succint in your explanation.

  14. Valerie
    March 10th, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

    Raving Atheist wrote:
    “God wrote the Bible, the Bible condemns all gay sex, all gay sex is wrong — where

  15. Zack
    March 12th, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

    I think “man shall not lie with man as he lies with woman” just points out that the regular sexual positions used in hetero sex won’t work so well in sex between 2 men. You have to choose a different position than you would when you lie with women.

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