Monday, September 23, 2019

What is homophobia?

Homophobia is what people used to be called if they thought there was anything immoral about homosexuality. That struck a lot of these people as odd because a phobia is a fear, and one need not fear something to be morally opposed to it. So those who were being called homophobic denied being homophobic on the basis that they had no fear of homosexuals.

But then the accusers explained that a phobia need not be a fear. It can merely be an aversion. One example I heard where a phobia is not a fear is the word, "hydrophobic." This word is sometimes used of materials that resist water, like when you wax your car, the surface of your car becomes hydrophobic. And there are clothes that can be treated so that water beads off of them. They become hydrophobic.

It seems to me that if "phobic" or "phobia" is used in that sense when people are called "homophobic," then all straight people are homophobic because they don't want to have relationships with members of the same sex. If that's what homophobia means--an aversion to sexual or romantic relationships with members of the same sex--then it seems to me that if you're straight, you ought to embrace the fact that you're homophobic, and people should stop using it as if it's an insult.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Why did Judas betray Jesus?

This post is entirely speculative, and nobody should take it as an argument for how or why things actually went down. It's just a possibility that I was thinking about this morning.

This speculation is all based on speculation about what Jesus' followers expected of him. From various things in the gospels, it looks like a lot of people didn't know what to make of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, but as things progressed, his followers began to see him in more of a messianic light. Some were frustrated that he just didn't come right out and declare exactly who and what he was explicitly.

Jesus seemed to be more interested in showing people who he was and letting them draw their own conclusions than in making explicit claims about himself. This is less so in the gospel of John. In some cases, Jesus appeared to want to hide his true identity and only reveal it to those who were closest to him.

So I got to thinking about why Judas might've betrayed Jesus, especially after seeing Jesus' miracles. Before I go on, let me remind the reader that this is all entirely speculative. By the last week of Jesus' life, his claim to be a messiah (i.e. a king) had become pretty clear. The fact that he rode into Jerusalem during Passover week on a donkey with crowds shouting, "Hosanna to the son of David!" consciously acting out a messianic prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 made his intentions clear. This incident, along with the scene he made in the Temple, is probably what got Jesus arrested and tried for claiming to be "the king of the Jews."

If Jesus' messianic claim had become clear by this point, what did his followers expect to happen? It's easy to imagine that they expected Jesus to ride into Jerusalem and take the throne. While doing so, he'd surely overthrow the Roman occupation. One interesting fact is that one of Jesus' twelve apostles is identified as being from the Zealot party. This was a political party in the first century that wanted to use force to overthrow the Romans. It's interesting to speculate why a person like that would be following Jesus. What did he expect of Jesus? Did he retain his Zealot views the whole time he was following Jesus?

Well, maybe, if Simon the Zealot was expecting Jesus to initiate an armed revolt, he wasn't the only one. I mean look at the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified. They were clearly disappointed about something. They said, "But we were hoping it was he who would redeem Israel." Since Jesus was crucified, they were disappointed to find that Jesus did not redeem Israel. What would "redeeming Israel" have meant? Perhaps an armed revolt. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples asked him, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" They were still expecting him to take the physical throne of David and establish national sovereignty, which surely would entail overthrowing the Romans.

I read a book earlier this year called Judaisms and Their Messiahs At the Turn of the Christian Era, edited by Jacob Neusner and two others. It's a collection of essays about various Jewish messianic expectations. There was a lot of diversity in beliefs about messiahs in Judaism, but I don't remember there being any where the kingly messiah was going to come peacefully and claim to have a kingdom that is "not of this world." For those who imagined a messiah in the sense of a Davidic king, they thought it would be an actual king on an actual physical throne over Israel. So it stands to reason that's what a lot of Jesus' followers expected, and they were disappointed when he was arrested and crucified.

So here's my speculation. There was a time in John's gospel when the people tried to make Jesus king by force, but Jesus avoided it by withdrawing to the mountains to be alone. Maybe what happened with Judas was that Judas hoped and expected Jesus to assert his authority and place himself on the throne of David. His expectations may have been especially high when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. When it became clear to Judas over the following days that Jesus had no intention of taking the throne by force, Judas felt betrayed. This could have seriously angered him because he gave up everything to follow Jesus. So it could be that he betrayed Jesus out of furious anger, disappointment, and maybe even a little revenge. Maybe he felt like Jesus had misled them all.

I've heard some people speculate that Judas may have "betrayed" Jesus as a way of forcing the issue. If the authorities came to arrest Jesus, then Jesus would have to assert his dominance, and that would get things going. If that were the case, then Judas may have been the opposite of disappointed. He may have had a lot of faith in Jesus. But if he had enough faith in Jesus to pull a stunt like that, it's hard to imagine why he thought the stunt was necessary. Maybe he was just impatient.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Is monogamy natural?

For a few years now, I've heard more and more people say something to the effect that monogamy is not natural. They base this on the fact that people want multiple sex partners even when they are in a relationship. That's why people cheat. So to embrace this more "natural" view, they either reject monogamy, opting for open relationships or pluralistic relationships, or they reject traditional marriage.

This strikes me as a mistaken line of reasoning. First of all, it's an argument that proves too much. If it's sound, then not only would it do away with monogamy, but it would do away with morality altogether. Morality is what adjudicates between which of your desires it's okay to give in to and which you should resist. If it's okay to give into any desire as long as it's natural to have that desire, then morality would have no place in the world. This would erase one of the most important distinctions between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom because then we'd feel free to endulge in our every desire. We would act purely on instinct, giving in to any natural urge that presented itself. It's perfectly natural to want to get revenge, to want to hurt people who wrong us in traffic, to want to tell lies to avoid uncomfortable situations, etc. But that doesn't make these things okay. So even if it's natural to want to have sex with multiple people even when you're in a relationship, that doesn't make it okay either.

Second, this line of reasoning leads to a contradiction. If we adopt the idea that our natural desires and inclinations are an indication of how we should live our lives, then that would both eliminate and justify monogamy. After all, it's just as natural to feel jealous and to not want your spouse to be with other people as it is to desire sexual relationships with other people yourself. If jealousy and a desire for your spouse to be sexually loyal to you alone is a perfectly natural feeling, then wouldn't that suggest, by the same reasoning, that monogamy is natural?

A lot of people try to embrace this open relationship idea or having multiple partners on the basis that monogamy is outdated, and they're getting with the times, but they still end up feeling jealous or having problems with it. They dismiss these problems on the basis that jealousy is immature and they just need to overcome it. But is it any less natural? Why isn't the inclination to embrace every desire indiscriminately considered immature instead? Isn't it children who whine and cry whenever they don't get everything they want? Isn't the mature thing to exercise self-control when it comes to inappropriate desires or desires that hurt people and damage relationships?

I think this idea that monogamy isn't our natural state just because people have desires and inclinations to stray from their partner is a really silly and immature excuse to live like animals.

EDIT: Wow. Just one day after posting this, I was on a discussion forum, and somebody said these exact words to me: "Were [sic] designed to be polygamous by nature and being in a 1 on 1 life partnership contradicts this."

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God and gunfighting

Here's a guy whose YouTube channel I found a couple of weeks ago when I was looking at stuff about guns. As I was browsing through his videos, which are almost solely about guns and military training, I came across these two videos where he talked about religion. I was taken aback by how articulately he defended why he believes in God and is a Christian. It was totally unexpected given everything else that's on his channel. Maybe it's the beard.

Part 1

Part 2