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An essay donated by a visitor to this website

Jehovah's Witnesses, same-sex
marriage, and homosexuality


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I come from a conservative religious organization, the Jehovah's Witnesses. I've also been struggling with the reality of same-sex attraction for years. I have to say that overall, and based on my research, the Watchtower Society has been stellar at examining the original language texts, approaching them without the fog of centuries-old tradition, and coming to reasonable conclusions about matters. Yes, they've made mistakes, but unlike other organizations that cling to dogma, the Governing Body of the Witnesses are willing to change their views, and have done so numerous times over the years. I think their stance on the basics of the Bible and how God wants to be worshipped are correct: they've discarded unscriptural views on immortality of the soul, idolatry, the trinity, hellfire (though one of your writers seems to not know this), the clergy/laity division, separation of Church and State (they shun politics and don't try to push their views through legislation), abstaining from all forms of violence and warfare, etc., and in the process have won numerous court cases for freedom of speech. That they also take their time to speak to their neighbors about the hope in the Bible is admirable.
 
One area that I now see they may have missed the boat on is same-sex unions. Their view is that celibacy is the only option for men and women who suffer from same-sex attraction, just as abstinence is the only option for alcoholics.  Your website presents some excellent alternate views of scripture and even translation (in regards to Paul's use of arsenokotai), including new understandings of those so-called "clobber" scriptures which appear at first glance to unequivocally condemn homosexuality. And you've presented these within the context of the Bible (allowing it to translate itself) without the typical broad condemnation of the Bible as the sole work of men and inapplicable to today.  I wish these alternate views were more readily known because I think they make a lot of sense, and have convinced me that within the context of marriage, consensual and loving same-sex unions may not, in fact, be condemned by God.
 
This was a huge revelation and took me some time to process.  Unfortunately, due to the climate of conservatism on this issue in my congregation and in the country as a whole, it's not something I'll be broadcasting to the whole world, and that is unfortunate because I think more people should be made of abreast of this. But it's great to know it's out there, and a valid way of looking at these scriptures. The reasonings you postulate for each 'clobber' verse aren't a stretch, and in fact, are very similar to the type of reasoning the Watchtower Society uses to discuss fundamental Bible truths that the rest of Christendom doesn't seem to get because they're stuck in traditional viewpoints (e.g., that man "is" a soul, and doesn't have a soul, as shown in Genesis. That death is akin to sleep without dreams, as shown in the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes. That "hell" is a translation of 'sheol' the common grave of mankind which everyone goes to.)
 
I questioned why, if in fact God doesn't condemn consensual same-sex marriage, does he allow the continuation of this error.  The answer that occurred to me is that it's been left ambiguous intentionally. And human nature may be the root cause of it.  Overall, we need guidelines. When the family unit dissolves, society begins to break down and decay.  We see the evidence of this throughout history. Speaking primarily within the context of opposite-sex relationships, under tremendous stresses, men and women, despite being married or in committed relationships, are under sometimes daily temptation to cheat.  The reality is that, depending on the availability, many succumb, and to disastrous consequences.  Humans are sexual beings by nature, and I've always held that on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being straight and 10 being gay, only some are at either end of the spectrum entirely.  Now wipe away the stigma of same-sex coupling, and after some years, the playing field has broadened to include the possibility of same-sex coupling. How much quicker does society break down when both sexes are of potential sexual interest to those individuals within the 3 to 8 range?
 
In other words, perhaps the concealment of God's stance on same-sex relationships has been permitted -- despite the harm it's done to some individuals -- to protect society as a whole from a greater evil.  It's in no one's best interest to live in a world in which anything goes and there are no moral standards because society has fallen into dissipated, self-centered hedonism.
 
I intend to live my personal life discreetly, but happily, feeling that God at least does not condemn me for it. But nor is it my place to shock or flaunt my personal decisions in the faces of people who cannot or haven't yet come to the same realization.  But if and when I meet others struggling with the same issues, I'll direct them to your website and tell them that it's up to their consciences what to accept on this matter. And at least, they'll see that there is a legitimate alternative viewpoint that doesn't eschew belief in God or the Bible.
 
Thanks again for posting this information, and in such a balanced way!  Perhaps you're playing a role in disseminating a concealed truth about God's word, and I'm certainly grateful for it.

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Originally posted: 2008-SEP-28
Latest update: 2008-SEP-28
Author: The author has asked to remain anonymous, presumably to avoid being disfellowshipped.

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