Since getting back from hols, spurred on by all the news about gay bishops, I've been reading up on the whole issue of religion and homosexuality.
Any reason? Well. it's symptomatic of a crisis in orthodox religion: the need to change to move in line with a dramatic increase in tolerance to sexual and ethnic diversity in the last 50 years.
Orthodox religions' views on women, homosexuality, and racial integration are going to have to change. If they don't, they will become increasingly irrelevant to the majority of the population.
At the same time, within those religions, their beliefs on these things are seen as so fundamental, that to change them seems tantamount to pulling away one of the fundamental pillars of their faith. And, if they let this go: what next?
Damned if they change. Damned if they don't.
Most of the views from the links below are split between bigotry (it's an abomination) and sophistry (eg: gay love is ok, but intercourse isn't/ semantics of 'homosexuality'/ the precise meaning of Leviticus 18:22 etc).
It's a split between refusing to deal with it and trying to deal with it by re-interpreting the rules rather than breaking them.
Then the Observer carried a piece about Fred Phelps, head of the Primitive Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas, who plans to install a 6ft granite monument to 'celebrate' the death of Mathew Shepherd.
And you realise that as long as faiths fudge the issue, they leave the door open for this sort of bigotry. Now is the time for progressive leadership from within these religions. You have to applaud the Anglican Church for tackling this at the highest level (although yes, there are better things they might be looking at), but the missing bit, as David Aaronovitch pointed out this weekend, was Rowan Williams 'stating his own convictions and arguing for them'.
- Rowan Williams' full statement on Gene Robinson
- Polly Tonynbee on the Pope and mysoginy in religion
- Interview with Gay orthodox rabbi Steven Greenberg
-Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on homosexuality and judaism (mildly progressive)
- Halakhic report on Homosexuality and Judaism (42pp .pdf)
- Christian interpretations of Leviticus 18:22 (the one about 'it's an abomination)
- Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 18:22
- Islamic views on homosexuality
- Islamic Fatwa on homosexuality ('an attrocious or obscene act')
(incidentally, the only links to anything on the chief rabbi's site about homosexuality, were broken)