This is why I’ve lately grown more inclined to avoid debating same-sex marriage in open discussion forums. I haven’t declared an unbreakable personal moratorium. I’ll happily explain the Christian position to a good-faith questioner over coffee. But I don’t want to act as though the marriage issue is just another open question that we’re all free to consider. I’m not willing to pretend anymore that rational debate has anything to do with what is happening in America today (and indeed, throughout the Western world). Christians are not losing the cultural battle because they’ve lost the argument. Their arguments are as compelling as ever, but in most “decent company” they are no longer permitted to explain them, and are often subject to censure and other penalties if they try.
Rachel Lu, “Why I Avoid Same-Sex Marriage Debates” 8 Jun 2015, Ricochet 16 Aug. 2015 < https://ricochet.com/avoid-sex-marriage-debates/ >
Or, why the gay rights movement in the United States is not the benevolent civil rights movement some of you might believe it to be. Moira Greyland, the daughter of a famous science-fiction writer, reflects on the gay rights movement in light of her own experience as a victim of childhood sexual abuse from her parents:
I was born into a family of famous gay pagan authors in the late Sixties. My mother was Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my father was Walter Breen. Between them, they wrote over 100 books: my mother wrote science fiction and fantasy (Mists of Avalon), and my father wrote books on numismatics: he was a coin expert.
What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrified at my being female. My mother molested me from ages 3-12. The first time I remember my father doing anything especially violent to me I was five. Yes he raped me. I don’t like to think about it. If you want to know about his shenanigans with little girls, and you have a very strong stomach, you can google the Breendoggle, which was the scandal which ALMOST drummed him out of science fiction fandom.
Moira Greyland, “The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)”, 23 Jul 2015, askTheBigot 25 Jul 2015 < http://askthebigot.com/2015/07/23/the-story-of-moira-greyland-guest-post/ >
One part of her story in particular struck me as similar to what we call samskaras (bolding added):
Due to my long experience with the BSDM community (bondage/discipline, Sado-Masochism) it is my belief that homosexuality is a matter of IMPRINTING, in the same way that BDSM fantasies are. To the BDSM’er, continued practice of the fantasy is sexually exciting. To the gay person, naturally, the same. However, from what I have seen, neither one creates healing. My mother became a lesbian because she was raped by her father. My father was molested by a priest–and regarded it as being the only love he had ever experienced. There are a vanishingly few people who are exclusively gay, but far more who have relationships with people of BOTH genders, as my parents and other relatives did.
What sets gay culture apart from straight culture is the belief that early sex is good and beneficial, and the sure knowledge (don’t think for a second that they DON’T know) that the only way to produce another homosexual is to provide a boy with sexual experiences BEFORE he can be “ruined” by attraction to a girl.
If you’re OK with that, and you might not be, it is worth your consideration. If you think I am wrong, that is your privilege, but watch out for the VAST number of stories of sexual abuse AND transgenderism that will come about from these gay “marriages.” Already the statistics for sexual abuse of children of gays are astronomically high compared to that suffered by the children of straights.
. . . because he wants to give it good and hard to ISKCON in the butt.
Let’s be frank here: whenever someone extolls the alleged virtues of same-sex marriage, he is talking about same-sex sex. Yes, the kind of sex in which a man inserts his generative organ in an orifice other than where it is supposed to go (or a woman tries to do something similar). That’s the kind of sex he is talking about. If he were only talking about roommates, friends, which have almost always been “same sex” no matter the culture and without even the presumption of sex, there would be no controversy here. Amara is talking about a relationship in which sexual activity is presumed. That is what it even means to call it marriage, a relationship in which sexal activity is in fact presumed.
When he asks, “Are you ready?”, that’s something to take seriously because, in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, it’s not only a forewarning of impending public opprobrium but legal challenges as well. Even if it’s not him that takes ISKCON to court for not allowing same-sex marriages on its properties, he belongs to a community that approves of such persecution by legal or sometimes extra-legal means.
Does this sound alarmist? Far from it. A recent article in the Federalist makes mention of popular, state-sanctioned animus toward conservative Christians.
In 2012, New Jersey judge Solomon A. Metzger ruled against a Christian retreat house associated with the United Methodist Church that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony on its premises. Just a few months ago, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sacked fire chief Kelvin Cochran, an African-American Baptist church deacon, for expressing his personal religious beliefs on marriage in a Bible study publication.
In Washington DC, religiously affiliated education institutions are now forced to allow gay advocacy groups to use their facilities, and parents have been disallowed from helping their children who feel unwanted sexual attractions in California and New Jersey.
Even the federal government is not innocent of wrongdoing here. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told state attorneys general they can ignore state laws about marriage (in violation of their oaths of office), and President Obama has decided support for natural marriage is reason to discriminate against religious organizations when handing out federal grants. His administration is also attempting to punish a Navy chaplain for expressing his faith. With the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today, one can only imagine what is coming next, although Canada, Britain, and elsewhere offer disturbing prospects.
(John-Henry Westen, “Same-Sex Marriage Won’t Bring Us Peace”, 26 Jun 2015 The Federalist 28 Jun 2015 <http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/26/same-sex-marriage-wont-bring-us-peace/>)
What does this mean for us who are in ISKCON, North America? It’s not a matter of if but when the persecution begins. It will not be quite like the hostility of American Christians in the 1970s and 80s towards us, or the deprogrammers of that era. But in some important ways it will be worse and more debilitating, because the politics of sexual liberation that is at the heart of American leftist politics is something that many American devotees continue to self-identify with–even if out of sentiment for their time as hippies before joining the movement. That is, the vanguard for enforcing conformity with the sexual mores of mainstream American society are already within ISKCON North America. Amara is but one voice of this vanguard, but one that has been more frank than most.
Moreover, ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada was unequivocal both in his condemnation of the gay lifestyle and his view that women should not have social, political or economic independence. Just his position alone on women has prompted a politically progressive “long march” through ISKCON’s institutions in an attempt to disestablish Srila Prabhupada’s authority, with the objective of jettisoning his stance on issues disfavored by today’s social and political classes but retaining him as a figurehead and spokesman for ideas he was in fact against. It is therefore no accident that ISKCON’s growing tryst with homosexual sexual liberation has followed women’s liberation within ISKCON. In society at large, many mainstream religious institutions have already followed the same trajectory. (Bolding added)
For many Evangelicals, the marriage debate isn’t really about marriage or families or sex—it is about the Bible itself. And that makes many evangelicals all the more uncompromising. The roots of the conflict are deeply theological. Evangelical faith prizes the Bible’s authority, and that has meant a core commitment to biblical inerrancy—the belief that the words of the Bible are without error. Genesis Chapter 1 says God created male and female for one another, and the Apostle Paul calls homosexuality a sin, inerrantists say, and for groups like the Southern Baptist Convention and its 50,000 churches nationwide, that is the biblical trump card. It doesn’t matter if the views are out of step with society or other Christian traditions. “We believe even stranger things than that,” Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, points out. “We believe a previously dead man is going to arrive in the sky on a horse.”
And there is another, just as fundamental, obstacle. So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace the LGBT community without first changing its views about women. The same reasoning that concludes that homosexuality is sin is also behind the traditional evangelical view that husbands are the spiritual leaders of marriages and men are the leaders in church. It is one reason gay men have an easier time as evangelical reformers. Lesbians face the double whammy—an evangelical world where leadership has long revolved around straight men has twice the trouble hearing them because they are both female and gay. “It is not an accident that the women’s-liberation movement preceded the gay-liberation movement,” Robinson says. “Discriminatory attitudes and treatment of LGBT people is rooted in patriarchy, and in order to embrace and affirm gays, evangelicals will have to address their own patriarchy and sexism, not just their condemnation of LGBT people.”
(Dias, Elizabeth. “A Change Of Heart.” Time 185.2 (2015): 4448. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29
In ISKCON we have similar though not identical matters of authority in our own part of the Western culture war. And let us make no mistake about it, we are a part of their culture war whether we want to be or not. We may not be interested in their war, but their war is interested in us.
Nevertheless, more than any other religious tradition in the world, our Vaishnava tradition is most clear on the point that the fundamental principle of illusory (ungodly) life is the attraction between male and female. Pumsah striyah mithuni bhavam etam. Varnasrama principles are warranted on this principle alone. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada himself says,
So these regulative principles are there. So what is, what is the big plan behind these regulative principles? The big plan is: here is the attraction, pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam to cut down this attraction between male and female. This is the big plan. Otherwise there is no need of the varnasrama.
Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.8, Vrindavan Oct 30, 1976.
It is because our theology is so clear on this point that it will be more difficult to subvert than has been Christian theology, whatever kind it is. Any attempt to change our Vaishnava principles more readily exposes itself as bald contempt on the part of the so-called reformers. If corruption of our understanding and religious principles concerning women is defended successfully, we will also be able to defend ourselves from the attempted persecutions from the pro-homosexual lobby.
There is hope after all.
And since we are part of a culture war, we could stand to make some progress against Maya where no other spiritual movement can prevail.
From the Washington Post:
When Eve Tushnet converted to Catholicism in 1998, she thought she might be the world’s first celibate Catholic lesbian.
Having grown up in a liberal, upper Northwest Washington home before moving on to Yale University, the then-19-year-old knew no other gay Catholics who embraced the church’s ban on sex outside heterosexual marriage. Her decision to abstain made her an outlier.
“Everyone I knew totally rejected it,” she said of the church’s teaching on gay sexuality.
Today, Tushnet is a leader in a small but growing movement of celibate gay Christians who find it easier than before to be out of the closet in their traditional churches because they’re celibate. She is busy speaking at conservative Christian conferences with other celibate Catholics and Protestants and is the most well-known of 20 bloggers who post on spiritualfriendship.org, a site for celibate gay and lesbian Christians that draws thousands of visitors each month.
We have a few of these, but they probably don’t come out for fear of hazing by the third-gender wallahs.
In response to the article I wrote about how devotees struggling with homosexual desire can gradually become free of their sex urge, a devotee responded by saying that all that Lord Krishna prescribes up to verse 18.66 (sarva dharman parityajya…) should not be practiced.
Here is his letter, and my response follows.
> Dear XYZ,
> I did not read the entire article because this “issue” is something I am
> less concerned about.
> What I am more concerned about is the misuse of the Bhagavad Gita.
> Krishna Kirti prabhu presents a half truth (i.e. a faulty argument) at the
> beginning of his essay which I would prefer to address.
> Although Krishsna does say not to give up dharma at the beginning of chapter
> 18, by the end of the chapter he does says to give it up. And thsi is
> substantiated by Srila Prabhupada.
> Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall
> deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear. [BG 18.66]
[Author quotes purport in full.]
> The conclusion is that the later instructions trump the earlier
> Moreover, even in a sinful condition, Prabhupada states, one should continue
> in bhakti yoga.
> In Dwaraka, there were prostitutes who were devotees and Krishna smiled at
> them and gave them the same respect as any other resident of Dwaraka.
> If KK wants to present a different opinion than Krishna and Prabhupada, that
> is his choice. But one can’t have a different opinion than the Lord and be a
> representative of the Lord.
> That is my point.
My so-called misinterpretation is not a misinterpretation at all. Different people are at different levels of consciousness, and they require different instructions to help the come to the point of surrendering to Krishna. The Bhagavad Gita is full of different instructions for people at different stages of consciousness.
For example, Gita verse 12:8 first says “Just fix your mind upon me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in me. Thus you will live in me always, without a doubt.”
But then in the next verse, Lord Krishna says if you cannot practice this, then follow the rules of bhakti yoga and try to develop he desire to attain him. In the verse after that, the Lord says that if you can not follow the rules about to yoga, then just try to do some work for him.
So there are people at different levels of consciousness. And they require different directions in order to make spiritual advancement. Not everyone is competent to surrender immediately.
As under discussion, in the purport to Gita verse 18:5, Srila Prabhupada explains that acts of sacrifice charity and penance are not to be given up because such acts are for the advancement of human society. He says,
“Sannyasis should never associate with women, but that does not mean that one who is in the lower stages of life, a young man, should not accept a wife in the marriage ceremony. All prescribed sacrifices are meant for achieving the Supreme Lord. Therefore in the lower stages, they should not be given up.”
So here we see again this distinction between higher and lower qualification in the Gita, and on account of these different levels of consciousness there are different rules for people to follow for their progressive elevation. Devotees who want to surrender to Krishna must therefore begin the process of surrender according to the instructions appropriate for their level of consciousness.
The process of surrender is defined by Srila Sanatana Goswami as follows:
One should accept things favorable for discharging devotional service, reject things unfavorable, believe firmly in the Lord’s protection, feel exclusively dependent on the mercy of the Lord, have no interest separate from the interests of the Lord and always feel oneself meek and humble.
Commenting on this criteria, Srila Prabhupada says, “The Lord commands that one surrender unto Him by following these six guidelines, but the unintelligent so-called scholars of the world misunderstand these demands and urge to general mass of people to reject them.”
So, if someone needs to be married, and on the basis of Gita verse 18:66 we tell that person he should not get married, then are we not rejecting the process of surrender? According to this statement of Srila Prabhupada, we would be rejecting the surrender process. That would be committing violence against other living entities.
The mistake attributed to me turns out not to be a mistake after all. The recommendation to perform sacrifice, charity and pennance are needed by most people, including devotees. Why else would Srila Prabhupada get his disciples married? Because their surrender requies it of them.
Proper use of left hand vs. right is a good example of how svadharma cannot be changed merely because of feeling awkward or unnatural. Even if you are left handed, the rules of cleanliness and proper use of which hands for what purposes do not change. Similarly, because one may be gay does not mean that his prescribed duties are any different from those of anyone else with a male body. His prescribed duties would still be the same because he has the same kind of body.