Alice C. Linsley
The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes Survey found that "people in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to societal acceptance of homosexuality." It should not come as a surprise that societies that value the traditions of their ancestors resist acceptance of homosexuality while societies influenced by the Enlightenment, i.e., Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, accept and even advocate for gay rights.
Blue shades represent areas where homosex is most accepted. There are groups within the blue areas which do not accept homosex. The Micmac (Ainu) of northeast Canada and the Aborigines of Australia are examples.
Wisdom Based on Empirical Observation
When the Bible is referenced in conversation about homosexuality, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is usually cited. Some argue that the destruction of the cities was an act of divine punishment on those who practiced homosex. Others argue that the sin of Sodom was not homosex, but a lack of hospitality. Both sides miss the point. These Canaanite cities represent a religion quite foreign to that of Abraham's Horite people and it is Abraham's people who tell the story.
Their repudiation of homosex proceeds logically from their doctrine of creation. God created humanity in two sexes that the human race might be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. All non-procreative acts are viewed as immoral in this context. This includes onanism, homosex and refusal to fulfill the levirate marriage law (Deut. 25:5-10). Such acts frustrate God's purpose and go against the divine order in creation.
The levir's duty was to produce an heir for his deceased brother by his brother's widow. This practice insured that none of the priestly divisions would cease to exist. This was important to God's purpose since Jesus would be born of these priestly lines. The Virgin Mary's father was a priest who married a daughter of a priest, following the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern.
The spilling of semen (onanism) is still regarded as an unrighteous deed among Afro-Arabians and most tribal peoples. The seed that should fall to the earth is the seed of plants, which spring forth from the earth. The seed of man should fall on his own type (the womb), from which man comes forth. This is the ancient wisdom which observed patterns in nature.
From the earliest days, Christians have upheld the Biblical teaching on non-procreative acts. Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted” (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 A.D. 191).
The most ancient moral codes, such as the Law of Tehut, have many common features. They appeal to the authority of the deity who was recognized by the ruler and they view the ruler as the deity's earthly representative. Another common feature is concern for purity among the priestly caste as they were regarded as the mediators between the deity and the ruler and his people. Often the rulers themselves were priests, but when it came to ritual purity, especially to cleanse from blood guilt, ruler-priests turned to other priests for purification of absolution rituals.
Ancient moral codes have a religious quality because religion and government were never separate in the ancient world. Among ancient peoples religious laws governed every aspect of the community’s life. Taboo is an aspect of ancient law that regularizes a community’s recognition of boundaries and supernatural power. In ancient Egypt none were permitted to touch the ruler except his queen who was usually his half-sister or his cousin. Among the ancient Polynesians, the high chief’s “mana” was such that people even avoided having his shadow fall on them. Taboo extended to objects, persons, words, and even numbers. Those who broke a taboo were punished or shamed by community.
An example of a taboo among the ancient Israelites was boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy. 14:21). This was taboo because it blurred the boundary between life-giving and life-taking. This same boundary applied to blood. The blood shed in hunting, war and animal sacrifice could not be confused with or even physically near the blood shed by women in their monthly cycle or in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary oppositions of life-taking and life-giving. To blur the distinction between them was a serious matter as this boundary was established by the Creator.
Ancient wisdom was empirical in the sense that it based moral decisions upon boundaries observed universally in the order of Nature. Ethics has always been grounded in what is universally observable and in the uniformity of nature. It is the recognition of and honoring of established boundaries in nature. In evolutionary biology this is called "horotely" a referent to Horus who was said to be the fixer of all boundaries: seas, wind, earth, sky, human populations, kinds/essences, east-west, etc. Even strict empiricist recognize that there are boundaries. Consider these statements:
"The proposition that the course of Nature is uniform, is the fundamental principle, or general axiom, of Induction."--John Stuart Mill
"To be is to be the value of a bound variable."--Willard van Orman Quine
There are boundaries everywhere. They are sensed, observed and generally honored. It is a sign of perversion, spiritual rebellion and foolishness to reject and attempt to overthrow those boundaries.
Modernity springs less from profound philosophical conversation than it does from the will to do whatever one wants and to find justification for one's decisions and choices. This is to say that the individual has become the sole judge of what is right and good, apart from concern for the community's welfare.
That being the case, we not that only western societies have made provision for same-sex partnerships, though these are never called "marriages."
Norway has had "registered partnerships" since 1993.
Sweden has called them "registered partnerships" since 1994.
Hungary and Iceland have had "registered partnerships" since 1996.
France has called them “civil solidarity pacts” since 1999.
In Denmark “registered partnerships” were first recognized in 1998 as an alternative to marriage and an option for heterosexual couples. Adoption by homosexual couples was approved in 2000.
The Netherlands, Finland and Germany have had "registered partnerships" since 2001.
In the USA same-sex partnerships are recognized in nine states and the District of Columbia. It has been argued that the Federal government should apply federal "marriage" benefits uniformly, but the states decide what constitutes a civil union or marriage. It is clear that other countries do not uniformly recognize same-sex partnerships either. Argentina has had "partnership registration" since 2003 only in Buenos Aires city and Rio Negro province. Likewise, Australia implemented "cohabitation rights" in 1994 in the Capitol Territory, and in 1999 in New South Wales, and in 2001 in Victoria.
In Spain, despite the Socialist Party push to grant equal status to same-sex partnerships through the "Law of amendment of the Civil Code in the matter of Marriage," homosexual partnerships are not recognized by the Church and are limited to some states. The law is intentionally ambiguous. Zapatero remembers how the Spanish Republic, a coalition of Leftist groups, attempted to impose a new morality on Catholic Spain in 1936 and cast that nation into a bloody civil war.
Switzerland has permitted homosexuals to form "civil partnerships" since 2005.
Liechtenstein has had "registered partnerships" since 2002.
New Zealand passed a "civil union" bill in 2005.
None of these nations has chosen to call homosexual partnerships "marriage." The world consensus appears still to regard marriage is a unique institution between a man and a woman.
In the recent attempt to repeal DOMA, the opposition argued that the human race has "evolved" beyond the binary framework that is universally and empirically observed in the order of Nature. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court did not appear to be convinced by this unsubstantiated claim. Perhaps they recognize that this implies overthrow of the very basis of the empirical method.
Related reading: Genesis on Homosex: Beyond Sodom; Legal Equality or Marriage Redefined?; Is Opposition of Homosexual Activity Irrational?; Today's Savage Mind