Monday, June 28, 2010

Bonobos Are Clearly In League With Satan

Vanessa Woods at Psychology Today wrote an article on bonobos and how she believes their pacifist ways are the key to "[saving] the world." One of her readers, a pastor, took issue with the piece, however, because bonobos are quite promiscuous and not just heterosexually, either, but...homosexually so.

When I read your article about bonobos, I of course, thought of [my son]. He would love them. But, I had to ask the question, "Am I comfortable with him learning about bonobos and their behaviors?" It's a good question for me to ask myself. If I'm honest, I would say my first reaction was to shield him from these animals because of their behavior. This wouldn't be uncharacteristic for us, since there are lots of animal behaviors that are difficult for a four-year old to understand (i.e. mating, violence, etc...). However, what's different about this particular behavior is that in an orthodox biblical position, homosexuality is a sin... but animals don't sin. We don't typically place animals in a moral category. In other words, they don't do righteous acts or unrighteous acts. So...what am I to make of these animals that engage in homosexual activity?

It seems to me that this behavior reveals a sense of brokenness in the natural world. Paul spoke of the unnaturalness of homosexuality, "men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men..."(Rom. 1:27). So, what he says is unnatural, now looks to be natural! But, just as natural disasters aren't normative, neither is homosexual activity within animals. The creation itself is marred with the effects of sin (i.e. death).

You can read the entirety over there, but this is the meat of it. It's nice that this guy didn't condemn the bonobos to the depths of hell, but his email still leads to some troubling conclusions. He says that the bonobos can't really sin because they are animals, but that their homosexual acts are indicative of a broken world. But, why would God allow an animal to be acting in a "wrong" manner because of what a couple of humans did? Yes, I know one can easily ask why we are paying the price for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, but I feel one can make a more likely logical argument for that than for the punishment of animals. And while bonobos are quite close to us genetically and very smart, they don't have the intelligence and reasoning capability of a human.

All of which is to say that I have a hard time ascribing the actions of an animal to human sin.

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