A Response to S Gurumurthy’s Article- “Homosexuality is Not a Virtue”

S Gurumurthy had written an article in the Sunday Express stating that though the homosexuality was never approved or celebrated in the Hindu ethics, it was wisely ignored because of its tolerance towards marginal deviant groups. In contrast, the Judeo Christian worldview due to its intolerance towards any deviation punished such marginal groups. Jerry Thomas responds to such comparison.


S Gurumurthy, a Hinduvatta ideologue had written an article titled Homosexuality is not a virtue (Sunday Express, July 5, 2009). We too say amen to the statement that homosexuality is no virtue. He also presented an interesting argument. His argument has been that homosexuality is a deviant behavior of a microscopic marginal group, a vice that should be better ignored than discussed. This article is not a response to this argument though this should be evaluated.

However, in presenting this argument, he used a comparative approach of the Judeo-Christian worldview versus the Hindu worldview. When one reads Gurumurthy’s article, one may conclude that the Judeo-Christian worldview is in fact hostile and intolerant even to the marginal groups of no significance but the Hindu worldview is wise and tolerant and ignores such marginal groups. This article is to correct such erroneous projections and cite the real reason behind the uncompromising stand of Judeo-Christian worldview and mild response of Hindu worldview.

Let me quote the relevant portions from Gurumurthy’s article along with my comment:

Gurumurthy writes:

“This is how the media had headlined the Delhi High Court judgment holding Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which makes homosexual acts offences in law, partly unconstitutional. Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code was not Manu's code. It was Macaulay’s. This colonial law made homo­sexuality punishable. In Judo-Christian tradition, homosexuality was seen an act against the law of God, punishable even with death.”

My Comment:  This is partially correct. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was not based on Manu’s laws. In fact, hardly there has been any law in the Indian Constitution which is based on the Manu’s law as Manu’s laws are contrary to the democratic and egalitarian spirit which Judeo-Christian worldview offers.

Also, though the Old Testament (Judaic) and the New Testament (Christian) Bible condemns homosexuality, it is only in the Old Testament that the death penalty by the nation state has been prescribed for the homosexuality. New Testament is not given for a nation-state but for the spiritual world and has no prescription of capital punishment by the nation state.

Gurumurthy writes:

“In all Abrahamic traditions, the hostility to homosexuality originated in the story associated with a city as Sodom (the etymological source of the world ‘sodomy’) where the sexual sin was first committed according to their texts, though the respective accounts varied. This is the philosophy of the law against homosexuals in Abrahamic societies.”

My comment: Though the statement about the etymological origin of the word sodomy is correct, arguing the origin of the philosophy of this law from that story is definitely wrong. The argument against the homosexuality in the Judeo-Christian worldview is not based on the story of Sodom but on the story of creation.

In the story of creation, the Holy God of the Bible did not create Adam and Steve to be the intimate partners but Adam and Eve.

Let me quote some relevant portions from the Bible:

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;        male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2: 24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (This carries the connotation of the sexual relationship).

Further Jesus Christ Himself said:

Matthew 19: 4-6 “Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

If this creation story is true, then homosexuality is unnatural. That is why Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 1: 26-27 “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

So, it is the creation story and not the story of Sodom which is the origin of opposition to homosexuality.

This point is very important as I would now show that the mild response of the Hindu law giver Manu to homosexuality is not based on any wisdom or tolerance but the Hindu creation story of four castes. As long as the caste system is preserved, Manu in fact had a ‘liberal’ view on sexual ethics.

S Gurumurthy writes:

In the Indian — read Hindu — civilisational ethos, humans had never been seen as belonging to one uniform behavioural class. The Indian civilisation had recognised diversity in behaviour and morals. It therefore never imposed one moral value or rule for all. But it believed in a hierarchy of moral principles. It held out right conduct as ideal for the rest to imbibe and follow, but on their own volition. Even as it had evolved normative moral principles for the mainline society, it had subtly ignored, rather than focus on or punish, the deviants. Those who could not follow an ideal were never held as illustration for others to follow.

My Comment: If an unsuspecting reader were to read this, he/she would think that Hindu civilization was very tolerant which Gurumurthy explicitly states in the later part of the article. However, let us read Manu to understand the “hierarchy of moral principles” especially in relation to sexual ethics.

Let me begin with the laws on adultery and then the laws on marriage which will in fact reveal the philosophy behind the Hindu sexual laws.

Manu 8: 359 “A man who is not a Brahmana ought to suffer death for adultery (samgrahana); for the wives of all the four castes even must always be carefully guarded.”

Note the exception made for Brahmin.

Manu 8: 374-379 “A Sudra who has intercourse with a woman of a twice-born caste (varna), guarded or unguarded, (shall be punished in the following manner): if she was unguarded, he loses the part (offending) and all his property; if she was guarded, everything (even his life). (For intercourse with a guarded Brahmana a Vaisya shall forfeit all his property after imprisonment for a year; a Kshatriya shall be fined one thousand (panas) and be shaved with the urine (of an ass). If a Vaisya or a Kshat

riya has connexion with an unguarded Brahmana, let him fine the Vaisya five hundred (panas) and the Kshatriya one thousand. But even these two, if they offend with a Brahmani (not only) guarded (but the wife of an eminent man), shall be punished like a Sudra or be burnt in a fire of dry grass. A Brahmana who carnally knows a guarded Brahmani against her will, shall be fined one thousand (panas); but he shall be made to pay five hundred, if he had connexion with a willing one. Tonsure (of the head) is ordained for a Brahmana (instead of) capital punishment; but (men of) other castes shall suffer capital punishment.

Of course, by now one can totally agree with Gurumurthy that Hindu laws never imposed one moral value or rule for all. But it believed in a hierarchy of moral principles. The only question is whether it was any virtue to do so. Let is read more on this ‘diversity’.

There are many other similar laws also prescribed by Manu- the Hindu law giver.

Manu 3: 12-13 “For the first marriage of twice-born men (wives) of equal caste are recommended; but for those who through desire proceed (to marry again) the following females, (chosen) according to the (direct) order (of the castes), are most approved.  It is declared that a Sudra woman alone (can be) the wife of a Sudra, she and one of his own caste (the wives) of a Vaisya, those two and one of his own caste (the wives) of a Kshatriya, those three and one of his own caste (the wives) of a Brahmana.

Manu 3: 17-19 “A Brahmana who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will (after death) sink into hell; if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana. The manes and the gods will not eat the (offerings) of that man who performs the rites in honour of the gods, of the manes, and of guests chiefly with a (Sudra wife's) assistance, and such (a man) will not go to heaven. For him who drinks the moisture of a Sudra's lips, who is tainted by her breath, and who begets a son on her, no expiation is prescribed.”

Whether in adultery or in marriage, one can see that Manu was concerned more about the preservation of the caste system and its hierarchy. This fits well into the creation story mentioned by Manu.

Manu 1: 31-32 “But for the sake of the prosperity of the worlds he caused the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs, and his feet. Dividing his own body, the Lord became half male and half female; with that (female) he produced Virag.”

Laws of the Manu were tuned to preserving this creation story- caste system and its hierarchy. In this, homosexuality posed almost no threat and therefore it was ignored.

Therefore when Gurumurthy writes:

“Tolerance for the deviants from generally accepted human conduct is part of the Ind­ian ethos. Here, the society would wisely ignore the marginal deviants rather than punish them, even discuss them — a more subtle, sensible social management principle. The society felt, even now feels, shy to discuss them. That is why the traditional religious scholars have refused to be drawn into the current debate on the issue. In the Indian tradition, homosexuals, as elsewhere, were thus regarded as deviants. But, here, unlike in the Abrahamic, the right of these deviants to exist without being punished was never denied; and will never be. Yet no one can argue here or elsewhere that homosexuality is a virtue. No law or court of law can declare it as a virtue. That is the crux of the debate; and that is what is being obfuscated.”

My Comment:

In the light of the reasons stated in this response article, I totally disagree with Gurumurthy’s argument that the reason behind the mild response of Hinduism has anything to do with tolerance or wisdom or the uncompromising stand of the Judeo-Christian worldview has anything to do with intolerance. Since homosexuality does not attack the caste system, Hindus are mild as the entire corpus Hindu sexual ethics stems from and for the preservation of caste and its hierarchy. It takes a propagandist of the stature of Gurumurthy to present the highly discriminative laws of Manu as diversity (“never imposed one moral value or rule for all. But it believed in a hierarchy of moral principles”) and the unintended consequence of this vice caste system as wisdom. It also shows the audacity of a propagandist to present the pure and uncompromising sexual ethics of Judeo-Christian worldview as intolerant and base the entire argument on the ignorance of non Christian general readers. 

Such black propaganda from anyone is no virtue either and it needs to be responded.  Therefore this article.

S Gurumurthy’s article can be read here:

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12 Responses

  1. Homosexuality is such a

    controversial theological

    and social subject. Billy

    Graham, the greatest

    Christian evangelist of our

    time, never spoken a word

    against “homosexuality” . But the

    Bible and other religions

    categorically classify, the

    sin of homosexuality as a

    sin which will bring national calamity upon a

    nation, when people openly

    profess and deliberately

    follow that life style. It is against the divine plan of God, and so the life style

    is a deliberate rebellion

    aginst God’s plan for mankind. If a person has a

    genetic hormone imbalance

    or defect, that has to be

    addressed in a different

    context.

    When the people of Sodom

    deliberately optioned for a

    homosexual life style, the

    outcome was dead sea. During the second world, France and Japan were the leading countries in homosexual life style, and those countries had more

    destruction than any other

    countries. Three major cities of America in higher

    professing homosexuals are

    New York, San Francisco

    and New Orleans; and those

    cities had more natural

    or man-made calamities than

    any other cities. God loves

    a homosexual, but He hates

    the “sin of homosexuality”.

    It is like the tree planted

    at the middle of garden Eden, and God told Adam and

    Eve to eat any kind of fruit, but don’t eat from

    that “particular tree”.

  2. Dear Jerry,

    Your effort as reply to Mr. S Gurumurthy is really good.

    It’s not the problem of Mr. S. Gurumurthy but problem of bias thinkers those will try to prove that everything that comes up in the world had its positive origin in Indian scriptures.

    Indian societal in preview of “Human Rights” has been a very bad example. And what one can do but just laugh a loud when Mr. Gurumurthy try to prove that it had been inclusive for homosexuals.

    Anyways I am happy that people like you take this opportunity to spend the Christian message (truth of Bible) across.

    Best wishes and God bless you.

    Wilson Jacob 🙂

  3. I think billy graham has spoken against all this wicked act.i read somewhere but dont knw where.it doesnt matter who preached against it or not but thank God that Jesus and His apostles have spoken against all this sins.

    May be few christians who never follow the Bible may have some love for these trypes of act coz they dont follow God word but a new theology called ” WHATS WRONG THEOLOGY”

  4. for all those who still doubt that a homosexual has a “a genetic hormone imbalance or defect” which has to be discussed in a “different context”, my friend there is nothing that makes a homosexual born that way. “gay gene” theory was entirely a media fake. http://www.narth.com/docs/istheregene.html

    how does it sound to realize that everyman will be accountable for his own acts without excuse

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  6. I believe wickedness could cause hormonal imbalance just like an unhygienic lifestyle could cause warts.

  7. You’re comparison of Manu’s Brahmana to a present day Brahmin is totally wrong. What Manu talks about is not Caste but Varna. Varna is different from caste. Varna is only 4 in number but there are more than 400 castes in India.

    If you want to understand Manu’s law, then please read them fully understand with the help of a knowledgeable person. FYR I am quoting the same Manu law which glorifies women (3:55-57) says, “Those who seek great prosperity and happiness should never inflict pain on women. Where women are honored, in that family great men are born, but where they are not honored, all acts are fruitless. Where women pass their days in misery and sorrow because of the misdeeds of their husbands, that family soon entirely perishes, but where they are happy because of the good conduct of their husbands, the family continually prospers.”

  8. Your article explains in a rather round about way why Hinduism “condones” Homo.What if there was a “Homo” relationship between men belonging to different castes? Why did Manu not address it? Manu is not the whole and sole authority of Hindu laws. There are other saints too.

  9. Regardless of a religion homo sexuality is unethic that destroys human relations and human system designed or created by god

  10. you are defaming manu for no mistake of his. quoting just a few lines would not give a whole picture of his writings. you must be aware that manu smriti for a hindu is not what the testaments are for the judeo-christians. shruti(combined knowledge of all four vedas)is the pramana, not smriti. whenever there is a discretion between shruthi and smriti, shruti is considered as the final word. also, smriti is supposed to be changed over time, not shruti.

    brahman as described by manu is not the brahman in the present context.

    i would have been more politically appropriate if i had said Judeo-Christian “worldviews are” the most democratic and egalitarian spirits.

    Jews do not accept Jesus and Christians do not accept Moses.

    “A man who is not a Brahmana ought to suffer death for adultery (samgrahana); for the wives of all the four castes even must always be carefully guarded.”

    there is something wrong in this. varnas do not mean castes. varnas are the hierarchial patterns in the chaturvarnya system. As “rr” has said in his comment, it would be better to have a thorough understanding of manu smriti and other scriptures if you want to quote them.

    Manu was not responsible for whatever happened in the name of caste in medieval times as he doesn’t belong to the medieval times. As for political appropriation I can argue that varnas slowly degenerated into numerous castes, but

    Macaulay’s The Downward Filtration Method for educating the Indians has indeed affected the Indian society adversely. An Indian who is no longer proud about his past was his dream and it has been fulfilled sometime down the last century. Brahmans were given preference in the government and missionary-run schools for almost a century and the other castes who were indulged in indigenous means of production lost their jobs and skill due to the advent of foreign and British goods. The farmers became landless laborers in their own lands due to the land policy of the British. Brahmans turned into landlords and landlords in turn became the comrades of British. And the net result was that Brahmans gradually ceased to be the spiritual spearheads. javascript:ac_smilie(‘:upset’)

  11. Homosexuality is exceptional. It cannot and should not be emulated. A person born blind lives as blind and there are many examples for blind people those who achieved more. The same is the case for homosexuality. A homosexual person need not be viewed for his or her sexual preferences. Rather, the individual for himself, should try to focus on what he can do for the world society.But it is sure that the British used to term any man trying to expose them as homosexuals and any women as witch. Even Veer Savarkar was termed as homosex by Larry Collins and Dominiqe La paier in their well known book “Freedom at Midnight”. what is he proof? I can categorise anybody with this comment in this manner. Many women were burnt alive as “witches” example, Joan of Arc. Whenever somebody challenges British, the British used to divert the challege as the challenge to God and Bibile and ultimately Christianity. Even the present Bible I doubt that may have many misinterpretations or even inclusions made by British, who ruled the entire world. The Neutral Scholars have to do Research. So, to conclude, Homosexuality is trait that has only a minimal representation. This is ofcourse is not a normal physiological condition. Let them live as others who are Physiologically challenged at contribute to society. Don’t label that physiological set back as something anti God or Anti Religion, which Britishers did for political mielage.

  12. a classic case of two blind men arguing over what they believed to be a rope and a snake respectively, when infact it was the tail of an elephant 🙂 …

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