Awake #4/2016: Homosexuality

by Designer Stubble 174 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • steve2

    I was gay and an active JW up until the early 1980s. The elders knew. I was never sanctioned or warned.

    The elders were not unduly nosey about my circumstances (I was celibate, anyway).

    I was never told it was wrong to be homosexual, but I knew from the literature, it was wrong to engage in homosexuality.

    Yes, there were times when other Witnesses (unknowingly) verbalized homophobic sentiments in my company - but it was never directed at me personally.

    Sure, as a then young man, I absorbed those sentiments and felt really bad about myself and so wanted to change so I could be "normal".

    Perhaps New Zealand is a lot more progressive than many other countries, given that it was one of the first countries in the western world to legalize civil unions and then marriage for gays and lesbians.

    But I am astonished when I read other posts that describe how even being a celibate homosexual is still enough to be treated badly by local congregations. I cannot imagine what that is like.

  • scotsman

    I'm a self identified gay man and I'd describe the Bible, the JWs and their literature as homophobic.

  • cofty
    The problem is with the bible AND the problem is with the WBTS. How can you excuse this? You are basically acting as an apologist for the WBTS. - MASH

    I am not excusing anything.

    The bible prohibits homosexuality. I have almost 18,000 posts setting out my negative opinions about the bible.

    The theology of the Watchtower is predicated on a belief that the bible is inspired of god.

    Starting from that position what it the most lenient position the Watchtower could take towards homosexuality and how does it differ from their current stance?

  • slimboyfat

    Watchtower writers are practised in the art of arguing that black is white. If they were inclined to do so they could certainly make an argument for allowing homosexual marriage. Protestant believers have led the way in this, many of whom now argue that Saint Paul was not opposed to homosexuality as such, but against the casual sorts of relationships common in society at his time. If homosexuals form stable marriages then that could be portrayed as a tolerable situation. Watchtower writers could even claim that JWs and the Bible didn't change, but homosexuals changed and now meet Bible standards. I know that's ridiculous. I'm not saying it's a good argument. But when did that matter in Watchtower land? Or Bible believers generally.

    Until just a few years ago the Watchtower claimed the Bible was right when it says "spare not the rod". Now they completely repudiate physical punishment of children and they explain away the meaning of Bible verses that say the opposite. They can clearly do the same again on other issues.

    People who argue that the new video and magazine on homosexuality are "nothing new", the Watchtower has always been saying these things and, "how could they have been milder in stating their Bible view?" are missing the point. It's perfectly true that they are just restating their old position that is based on Bible texts. The point is that society has changed and such views are no longer acceptable.

    Racism was acceptable and commonplace, until it wasn't. Churches had to adapt or die. Physical punishment of children was acceptable until it wasn't and people had to adapt. Homophobia was acceptable and increasingly it is not. Churches will again need to adapt or die. The change in public opinion in the US on gay marriage is one of the biggest societal changes in attitude ever recorded. Unless there is a dramatic reversal of that trend churches will simply need to adapt to the new situation. Whining that they are only being as homophobic as they've always been will simply not cut it.

    What I find fascinating is that JWs are the most homophobic religion in the US according to Pew. This combined with their authoritarian and remote power structure makes them uniquely disadvantaged to be able adapt to the new situation where homophobia is increasingly unacceptable.

    What they choose to do over the next 10 years or so will be interesting.

  • cofty
    If they were inclined to do so they could certainly make an argument for allowing homosexual marriage

    It would be so obviously contrary to the clear message of the bible it would lead directly to tens of thousands leaving the cult.

    Now they completely repudiate physical punishment of children

    Since when?

    Homophobia was acceptable and increasingly it is not. Churches will again need to adapt or die.

    100,000,000 American evangelicals and 1.6 billion muslims say otherwise.

  • rebelfighter


    There has been gay marriages peformed in churches in Washington DC for well over 30 years. There were main stream churches for the gay community. But this is a city that has had a very open gay population for well over 50 years. The reason I know is I turn 65 this week and grew up in the gay community in Washington

  • slimboyfat

    According to the pew survey Evangelicals in the US declined as a share of the population between 2007 and 2014 from 26.3% to 25.4.%. Over that same period the percentage of Evangelicals who approve gay marriage increased from 26% to 36%.

    So Evangelicals are declining in share of population and those who remain are increasingly tolerant of gay marriage.

    Mainstream protestants in the US already approve gay marriage at a whopping 66%, up from 56% in 2007. Among Catholics 70% approve.

    The tide is shifting quickly and dramatically. The question is how will JWs respond. They are the most homophobic group in the US as it stands and they are ill equipped to adapt.

    It will be difficult. But in a situation where homophobia is as unacceptable as racism and where other churches are adapting to the new cultural climate what will the Watchtower do? Fascinating.

  • slimboyfat

    Sorry those figures I gave above were actually for "should homosexuality be accepted" but the figures on gay marriage are similar and the trend is overwhelmingly toward acceptance among all groups.

    Explore the figures here.

  • konceptual99

    There are two aspects to the problem I can see.

    The first is how one interprets homophobia. For some, simply disagreeing with homosexuality (as the Bible does) constitutes homophobia whereas for others the margins are broader. Does disagreeing with Islam make one an Islamaphobe? Does disagreeing with Christianity make one a Chrisianphobe (does that word even exist???)?

    You might argue that an individual's sexuality cannot be treated in the same way as something like religion or a political view but then you have to ask what about the view of hetrosexual adultery or fornication. Witnesses disagree with this as well - does their public condemnation of this in itself constitute some kind of phobia or hate speech?

    The second aspect is tolerance. It's quite possible to disagree with a religious or political view yet tolerate, respect or even be friends with someone who holds a view different to yours.

    Witnesses would argue that they tolerate gay people just as much as they tolerate anyone else outside of their organisation. They would claim that a gay person can become a Witness. They would use that as an argument to suggest they are not homophobic.

    The problem is that the club rules do not permit a gay person to lead a fulfilled and open life and be a member of the club. Is this homophobia or yet another case of the balancing act that humanity has to undergo to try and square the circle of free speech, free thought, tolerance, acceptance, equal rights and so on?

  • sir82

    What I find fascinating is that JWs are the most homophobic religion in the US according to Pew.

    More so than Westboro Baptists? Wow.

    Unless the WBC was too small to be included.

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