18 August 2007

Guess Who Said It -- Pope vs. Dalai Lama on Sexual Ethics

This video clip comes from John Safran vs. God, the Australian TV series:

5 comments:

LaReinaCobre said...

The Dalai Lama is an interesting guy, but I do wish more people would realize what his stance is on such things as homosexuality. Not good.

Nathan said...

lareinacobre - Actually he condemns homosexuality because of the use of the mouth, hands and rectum in sexual encounters. He also said the same thing when it came to heterosexuals. It's funny so many people read what he said the wrong way. Other than that, he says there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. And if you search online there are many Gay Buddhist Fellowships. So...

Steve Caldwell said...

Nathan,

The dilemma here is that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who experience same-sex attractions are being taught by some Buddhist teachers that any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse is wrong.

There is no rational public health basis for this teaching.

Condemning oral, anal, and mutual masturbation is not a sexuality-positive message either when applied to anyone who is heterosexual or homosexual.

A useful summary of the anti-gay and anti-sexuality teachings promoted by some Buddhists can be found online here:

Buddhism and homosexuality
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_budd.htm

Homosexuality and Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Buddhism

In any case, does it make sense to give a sexuality-negative religion (e.g. conservative Christianity) and uncritically embrace a different sexuality-negative religion? It doesn't seem like much of an improvement from my perspective as a religiously-based sexuality educator.

Transient and Permanent said...

Steve, I responded to this at Transient and Permanent, where you left a comment: Buddhist fundamentalism?

Steve Caldwell said...

Jeff ... did you go beyond the video clip and check out the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance article and the Wikipedia article that I listed on my blog in the earlier reply?

Both address the presence of sexuality-negative and anti-gay attitudes within some schools of Buddhism that is rarely acknowledged in North America.

This difference is apparent when one compares Buddhism as it's practiced in Asia with Buddhism as it's practiced in North America by converts.

The convert demographic is described as follows:

"In contrast to Buddhism in Asia, modern Buddhism in the Western world is typically associated with liberal politics and a concern for social equality — partly as a result of its largely middle-class intellectual membership base, and its philosophical roots in freethought and secular humanism. When applying buddhist philosophy to the question of homosexuality, western Buddhists often emphasize the importance the Buddha placed on tolerance, compassion, and seeking answers within one's self. They stress these over-arching values rather than examining specific passages or texts. As a result, western Buddhism is often relatively gay-friendly, especially since the 1990s."

Of course, this same demographic that we find in North American Buddhism (middle-class, educated, freethought-affirming, liberal) is the same demographic that one finds in UU, UCC, Quaker, and Reform Jewish faith communities. So there is no surprise for me that they have similar attitudes on sexual ethics and use a similar interpretative model for religious writings that we find in UU and UCC communities.

The John Safran video clip is meant to be entertaining and irreverent -- after all, his Australian TV show is called "John Safran vs. God." But he does point out the Western tendency to uncritically objectify non-Western religions like Buddhism. And this tendency is often seen in UU faith communities.