On a commentarial gloss endorsing homophobia

[quote=“sujato, post:7, topic:6011”]
In fact, a recent poll shows that a majority of Australian Christians support marriage reform.
[/quote]As do the majority of American Christians also, statistically speaking (62%).

Interesting. It’s amazing how far and fast this has shifted. In the US, also, Muslims are fairly evenly split on the issue, according to this 2016 poll. The same poll shows Buddhist support in the US at 84%! It is evangelical Christians who hold the hard line.

It’s sad that, while sensible Christians and Muslims are moving on, in many Buddhist-influenced countries—excluding Taiwan, yay!—people adopt the worst of Abrahamic homophobia and think it’s Buddhism.

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I wonder how the change comes about- is it from grass-roots awareness raising or some other means?

with metta

Well it’s interesting, especially the incredible speed of change. A lot of it has to do with the decline of religious authority. We’ve seen patriarchs again and again getting involved with pedophilia and covering it up, then turn around and lecturing people about how they should have sex.

A few years ago I spoke with a young woman in Sydney about this. She went to a catholic school. (I might add, I also went to a Catholic school and while, yes, one of the brothers did diddle with the boys, on the whole it was pretty progressive, or at least not particularly regressive.) Anyway, she was walking across the playground at recess one day, holding hands with her friend. The horror! Someone saw and was outraged. They were summoned to the principal and lectured about the evils of the gayness.

She was so shocked and puzzled that she started looking into it, something she’d never even thought about before. Eventually she became a strong advocate for equality, though she herself is not gay.

Another thing she said was important for her was media: apparently her favorite TV show featured gay people, and she thought that was very influential. Other studies have shown that the single most important influence is knowing gay people.


It’s cultural as well. In Sri Lanka, sitting at the cross-roads of the marine trade, they have been invaded different religious and cultural beliefs grafted on to the local culture, it has become impossible to know what the ‘original’ culture was, or even whether there was an original culture. It seemd like Indian invasions also fashioned (including Buddhism) the culture of Sri Lanka. Polygamy was described in Sri Lanka for example, by the British but is not in existence now. ‘Westernisation’ inclusive of western media is the main influence now.

Quite common in Asian countries too. Its funny how people’s minds think of sex all the time! Dancing with people of the same sex is another thing that seems to be misunderstood!

I think so. This is probably true also for racism. Seeing the other person is very similar to oneself helps dispel misconceptions and prejudices. I have worked with, and lived with gay and trans individuals. In UK I see people migrate from African countries running from persecution and torture in those countries because of their sexual orientation and it is quite sad.

with metta


[quote=“sujato, post:7, topic:6011, full:true”]
In the OP, I mentioned that the main Christian groups in Oz opposed same-sex marriage. However, i neglected to mention that those groups, the bishops and other patriarchs, do not well represent the Christians of Australia. In fact, a recent poll shows that a majority of Australian Christians support marriage reform. In this, as so many things, the supposed leaders of the religion are not merely out of step with their followers, they are dragging behind where they should be leading forward…[/quote]

(So, “Oz”, I gather, refers to Australia? And a feature of Australian English is a tendency to use slang?)

As apparent in an earlier thread (defense of Elaine Pagels against criticism from Fr. Paul Mankowski) The case of Elaine Pagels – academic fraud or just a (perceived) heretic?
“Conservatives” are often compelled to be so assertive (and intolerant) exactly because they sense they are losing ground? The general sociopolitical (or socio-religious) tenor is leaving them in the dust. Same could be said for the American “Tea-party” hard-line evangelical right, aka Donald Trump’s “base”. (Unfortunately, in this case, they appear to be gaining a lot lately.)

But, of course, the counter-argument would be that they are guardians of the “Truth”, lighting the way to enlighten all the lemmings marching off the cliff of faddish pop-culture delusion.

Across cultural history one finds a strange variety of perhaps surprising sexual norms – surprising because our (Western) education doesn’t particularly offer exposure to these aspects.

For instance, in ancient (Hellenic as well as Hellenistic) cultures, the philosophical notions of “beauty” and “Eros” were closely intertwined, in both theory and practice. A young boy was often considered a paragon of beauty, and relationships between older men and boys formed a common thread, even forming significant and lasting relationship, at least as preserved in literature (i.e. poetry). Also “Sappho” and Lesbian (from the island Lesbos) and most probably similar relationships on the feminine side.

On the other edge of the history of civilizations, the role of eunuchs was a major factor in Chinese history. Imperial body-guards and even high-ranking ministerial positions were often given to eunuchs – they could be more trustworthy? One noteworthy example: according to the book “1421 – the Year the Chinese Discovered America” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_Menzies one of those historical-fiction semi-fantasies), the admiral who led a huge fleet that circumnavigated the globe, gathered stuff from everywhere, and left traces, even colonies everywhere, figured-out southern-hemisphere astrological navigation, etc., etc. – that admiral was a eunuch. He was also a Buddhist. When the remnants of that great fleet (a tiny percentage of the 2000 or so ships that initially left) finally returned to China after several years, the political climate had up-ended; the emperor who launched the fleet, in an era of great largess and tolerance, and international trade dominated by Chinese, had fallen into disgrace (a freak accident of nature had burned-down the capitol and hence his “mandate from heaven” revoked), and xenophobic, neo-Confucian Mandarins had taken over (again, as they’d done in the Song dynasty when they attempt to obliterate the strong Buddhist influence of the Tang era), and China withdrew back into its ethnic shell. Anyway, that (eunuch) admiral was nonetheless highly honored – given a lavish retirement on some island where he could spend the rest of his days (practicing samadhi and vipassana, having a pretty good head-start against kayaraga).

(Given that nature of that book, this all may be fiction, but what a great story! The author was supposedly a retired British submarine commander who was used to seeing the world through a periscope – he claimed to thus be able to reconcile the odd earliest maps (from the Chinese) of Western-hemisphere islands that fell into the hands of Christopher Columbus and others; those maps didn’t reflect the view from, say an airplane or satellite, but rather from the low perspective of an approaching ship, across the curvature of the ocean – e.g. the perspective of a periscope. Btw: Those maps came to European navigators via the Italians, who’d also brought back from China things like spaghetti (mien) and ravioli (guotie, jiaozi, wonton, etc.). What on earth did the Italians eat before that? For that matter, what did the Germans or Irish eat before potatoes were brought back from the “New World”?)

I suspect we (with Western education) don’t get exposed much to that side (other sexual norms) of history because of the Sodom & Gomorrah slant in our own tradition.

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I understand that Jesus also made no mention of sexual preference, his principle concern being divorce; at least that’s what I’m told by Christians with some knowledge of the Gospels. This does seem to suggest that deeply conservative Christian groups have interpreted the early Jesus movement according to their own social values. No surprises there! It seems likely that conservative Buddhist groups would likely have done the same over time.

The homosexual position was stated clearly in Judaic law therefore there was probably no explicit need for Jesus to mention it in his preaching in Judah. However, Paul, who Jesus alleged appointed as his representative, which is confirmed by his relations with the other apostles, denounced homosexuality probably because homosexuality was a normal practise in Roman and particularly Greek society where Paul was evangelising. How can a religion be established in the world among non-families? This thread seems to be an example of identitarian thought rather than examining causes & conditions.

The video below is celebrating the ancient Greek cultural practise of sex with boys. It is this kind of culture that probably resulted in those Abrahamic religious views. Personally & frankly, since I have never been gay, I cannot empathize with the video if imagining myself being a boy in such a culture. While I am not particularly fond of marriage, I would personally chose an arranged marriage as a boy in ancient Buddhist culture than being a boy in ancient Greek culture.

Judaism and Homosexuality: A Brief History

The Jewish people have had a far more complicated relationship with homosexuality than the outright ban in Leviticus implies.

Let us begin at the very beginning of the Kingdom of Judah, with King David, who many suspect was gay. Or at least bisexual…

The ban only appears in two verses, both in the same section of Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13). Most scholars believe these verses were written either during the Babylonian Exile or during the early Second Temple period, so sometime during the 6th to the 4th century BCE (2600 to 2400 years ago), but when exactly in this period, we do not know…

The all-important book of Jewish Law, the Talmud, contains statements to the effect that anal sex among men causes solar eclipses (Sukkah 29a) and earthquakes (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 13:3), but also distinguishes between two forms of pederasty — anal sex that warrants a penalty of death by stoning, and homosexual sex that doesn’t involve penetration, about which the rabbis were more lenient (Niddah 13b). Oddly, to say the least, Jewish Law does not explicitly ban sex with boys under the age of nine (Talmud,Yevamot 51b, and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Biah 1:14, where he adds that in his opinion, the men should be flogged)…

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.722822

Well, one thing we can say about religious history with some confidence is that, if religious patriarchs say “don’t do it!”, then people were, in fact, doing it!


We can’t go back in time to read Jesus mind about the issue, but the fact of the matter is that he never talks about homosexuality anywhere in any gospel, but he does condemn divorce and suggests that people who divorce and remarry are committing adultery. In the oldest gospel, Mark, there are no exceptions. In later gospels an exception is added, presumably by the editor of the gospel, to soften a very “hard teaching”, where divorce can be granted in cases of gr. “porneia”, which means sexual immorality (the meaning of the term in this context is heavily disputed). It is therefore quite interesting to see Christians being very concerned with condemning homosexuality based on a handful of pauline passages, but ignoring what Jesus and Paul has to say about divorce and remarriage. Apparently you cannot be a good Christian and live with a gay partner, although Jesus says nothing about the issue, but you can be a good Christian pastor or priest (not to mention lay people) even though you have divorced and remarried several times despite Jesus’ condemnation of divorce.

When it comes to Paul, conservative Christians are inconsistent in their adoption of his views. He does condemn homosexuality in texts that the majority of scholars agree are written by him, but he also teaches (in 1 Corinthians 11) that women need to wear a head covering when praying “because of the angels” and that nature itself teaches that it is a disgrace for women to have short hair and for men to have long hair (so much for the popular images of Jesus). Nobody seems to care what he says about this issue.

In 1 Timothy 2, which is probably not written by Paul but claims to be, it is said that women are to be silent in church, that they may not teach or have authority over men, and that they can be saved by having children despite being to blame for the fall of humanity. Most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians believe this letter is written by Paul and inspired by God, and yet I have not heard anyone teach that childless women will go to hell, which the text would imply. Nor are women required to be silent in church, despite what this text says. The nuns of the Catholic and Orthodox churches would be in real trouble if women are saved through childbirth, as would anyone who for one reason or another doesn’t have children.

Finally, Paul himself distinguishes between his own views and the teachings of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 7 (“I and not the Lord [say this]”), and yet his letters are read as the word of God in churches all over the world. Paul himself probably had no idea that this would happen, and as evidenced by this text he didn’t think he spoke for God.


Since these is speculation as to the stance of Jesus regarding homosexuality, I would like to put forward the passage in which Jesus defines “marriage” in its proper context, which is very rarely cited, in my experience, from Matthew. :quote 1. When Jesus had finished talking, He went from the country of Galilee. He came to the part of the country of Judea which is on the other side of the Jordan River.
2. Many people followed Him and He healed them there.
3. The proud religious law-keepers came to Jesus. They tried to trap Him by saying, “Does the Law say a man can divorce his wife for any reason?”
4. He said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman?
5. It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’
6. So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.”
7. The proud religious law-keepers said to Jesus, “Then why did the Law of Moses allow a man to divorce his wife if he put it down in writing and gave it to her?”
8. Jesus said to them, “Because of your hard hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives. It was not like that from the beginning.
9. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sex sins, and marries another, is guilty of sex sins in marriage. Whoever marries her that is divorced is guilty of sex sins in marriage.”
10. His followers said to Him, “If that is the way of a man with his wife, it is better not to be married.”
11. But Jesus said to them, “Not all men are able to do this, but only those to whom it has been given.
12. For there are some men who from birth will never be able to have children. There are some men who have been made so by men. There are some men who have had themselves made that way because of the holy nation of heaven. The one who is able to do this, let him do it.”[/quote]As is usually the case with reference to what might now be called “sex & gender minorities” in history, much like in the case with the term paṇḍaka, it is unclear if eunichs or other forms of sexual “dysfunction” (from a biological perspective) are referred to in the above, in addition to this exception potentially and possibly applying to homosexuals in a contemporary context.

That being said, there seems to be a lot of talk about Jesus on an EBT forum, he said jokingly.

Incidentally, homosexuality and Buddhist monasticism have something in common from this aforementioned “biological perspective”: they are both forms of sexual dysfunction. Maybe something is wrong with the perspective…? Maybe some perspectives can be/are frequently misapplied to a given situation?[quote=“Vidar”]
In later gospels an exception is added
[/quote]AFAIK, most of these gospels date from around the same time, regardless of which was first. They are all from within ~100 years of each other I mean to say, and constitute the second layer of attestation of a historical Jesus (a generally more removed layer, contemporaneous with numerous other Christian movements, including Gnosticism, as discussed on the various thread relating to Elaine Pagels, etc), after the Pauline Epistles, which predate all of them. The only gospel that is demonstrably later significantly is John.

Jesus generally talked about those aspects of the Judaic Law he sought to reform. He did say he came not to abolish the Law but to complete it. It can only be assumed he supported the Judaic view on homosexuality even though, based on the reported teachings, he would not have condemned homosexuals who lived together with fidelity. However, I doubt this would have concerned him.

For example, when Jesus protects the adulteress from stoning, he still condemns adultery but is against stoning.

My reading is he condemned men who divorce their wives when the wife has shown no fault thus forcing the woman to essentially remarry against her will thus forcing her to commit adultery in her heart since most women struggle to live alone. Further, the new husband gets a wife whose heart is stuck on her 1st love, which can be problematic. To me this teaching is based on compassion for women.

I personally like this teaching because I have known older men who divorce their wives for a younger woman after the sexual drive of the wife wanes & the children have grown up. This is very hurtful to the wife whose self-identity is based in the marriage & family. Its terrible. Then they, in their loneliness, reluctantly look for another man. Its terrible.

I disagree here. If the woman is immoral it is OK to divorce or expel her, as also taught in the EBTs.

I provided my personal speculation on this, namely, Paul was building a new religion in Greece & Rome, where homosexuality was more accepted as a norm & chose to not align his new religion with homosexuality.

In the West today, my impression is Buddhism largely focuses on recruiting fringe minority groups, feminists & cultural Marxists, which is indicative of its failure to penetrate mainstream Western society due to its image of not supporting family values.

This is relevant to modern Western people but as I suggested was probably not relevant to Paul and the early Christians who were concerned with converting the many Jews living throughout the Roman Empire and the Gentiles.

Western Buddhism has chosen to market itself to gay people thus these matters become relevant, today. I personally struggle to understand why gay people still fight for acceptance in the Christian churches.

Correct. Women should not have authority in the Church but can have authority in the home, the same as in Buddhism. If women have authority in the Church, they will teaching worldly things such as metta rather than transcendent things such as anatta & sunnata.

As for being saved by childbirth, this is obviously for the non-celibates. Paul said clearly he would prefer both men & women to be celibate like him, if they are able. But for women who cannot be celibate, yes, they find purpose, meaning & maturity in having children, as most women do today.

Why do you think modern women today are desperately having children in their 30s after realising following feminist materialistic ideals for their previous 20 years ended up as an emotional dead end? Generally most women (but not those that hang out on Buddhist chatsites) really want to & love having children. At least for me, if I did not realise this when I was young, I would have probably never become a Buddhist & easily dropped the hindrance of sexual desire (since I don’t warm to the idea of having children).

Personally, I think this is not relevant. Unlike Western Buddhists, my impression is Christianity had little interest in marketing itself to homosexuals because this would not advance the growth & future of their new religion. Where as as Western Buddhists, most of us are fringe dwellers of society. Western Buddhism is for us misfits, including myself. :innocent:

Its all about marketing really. I have a university degree in marketing I never used! :slightly_smiling_face:

Lol. I better defend the honor of Buddhist monasticism from this offense. The EBTs describe the household life as “confining & dusty”, particularly when there are children to work & slave for. It seems more a matter of discernment (panna) than dysfunction.

Anāgāika Michael, do you know anything about how this Sri Lankan commentary may be viewed in Thailand? I have been puzzled by the fact that in a country where gays are generally accepted the Mae Chee handbook says that lesbians may not take Mae Chee ordination. (It also says that we may not go pindapat or smile when with our families - I do both)

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[quote=“Deeele, post:25, topic:6011”]
In the West today, my impression is Buddhism largely focuses on recruiting fringe minority groups, feminists & cultural Marxists
[/quote]Like Christianity, once famously referred to as “the religion of women and slaves”?

That being said, I do not see the above as a bad thing, per se, but acknowledge the difficulty that such converts will face when faced with the cold hard facts that “Buddhism” is every bit as much the cold conservative establishment-supporting institution as the one they turned away from in the territory in which it is a native faith.

[quote=“Deeele, post:25, topic:6011”]
Correct. Women should not have authority in the Church but can have authority in the home, the same as in Buddhism. If women have authority in the Church, they will teaching worldly things such as metta rather than transcendent things such as anatta & sunnata.
[/quote]This thought strikes me as disingenuous. I know many women smarter than what you imply, who would not lead a sermon on metta (or, if they did, I would recommend we all attend) if given the chance.

Harsh judgment.

Namely? Thanks :innocent:

Dear @Varada , I am unsure how the Sri Lankan views would be perceived in Thailand. I haven’t had a chance to read the Mae Chee Handbook, but found this posting which was helpful: “Thailand has a national mae chee organisation sanctioned by the Dept of Religious Affairs. They used to publish a short handbook in Thai and English, which I saw once at the bookstore opposite Wat Bowon. According to that manual mae chee in Thailand follow 10 precepts, which as I recall are the same 10 precepts samanera (novice monks) follow.”

If the handbook states that lesbians may not ordain, this seems to be contraindicated by practice in Thailand, where gay men have ordained and are generally welcomed to do so, so long as they meet all other requirements of preparation and practice for ordination. As a celibate ordination it is not one’s sexuality at issue, but whether one practices restraint of sexual activitiy that is important to practice, IMO.

I am glad that you go on pindabaht, and I feel it is completely perfect to smile when with one’s family. It sounds to me like the handbook may be a bit archaic, and that in practice in Thailand, being gay, being happy and going on almsround (one of the great experiences of being in robes, IMO) are all accepted.

It’s nice that you asked me this question, but Bhante @Sujato will likely know much more about this subject than I. Also, for example, Sujato’s Blog ( https://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/the-1928-bhikkhuni-ban/ ) has a number of great essays and comments regarding Bhikkhunis, Mae Chee, and other issues that might be relevant to your most interesting question.

I am glad that you smile…it’s such a great expression of Metta, and gift to those around you.

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Most scholars would place mark at around 70, Luke and Matthew use Mark as a source and are hence later. Both Mark and Paul who says he got his teaching from “the Lord” grants no exceptions when it comes to divorce. Matthew uses stronger anti-Jewish rhetoric, presumably because it is written in 88 or later when the Christians had been kicked out of the Jewish synagogue by traditionalists who wanted a pure Judaism after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (before that time they were practicing Jews). You can also see significant development in the crucifixion and resurrection accounts, etc. There are good reasons for the dating of the gospels and I don’t think the evidence for a late John is better than the evidence for a relatively early Mark. I do agree that John is late, though. All the canonical gospels are written by third generation, greek speaking Christians living in a geographic region far removed from Galilee, but the gospel of John is the least historical of them.

Thank you for reminding me of the eunuch passage. It is very interesting.

Thanks Michael
I don’t take the manual seriously. I was having it translated into English to make a bilingual handbook for use here. I had asked a friend to read through it and see if it was suitable. She told me of these three things she (rightly) believed l’d disagree with and so I discarded the book. This discussion on homophobia in Buddhism made me wonder how the Mae Chee’s Foundation came to reject lesbians. I don’t know if any of my MC sisters are gay and I don’t care - they’re celibate anyway :slight_smile:

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