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Homophobia Is Not Vaishnavism
By Robert Newman

Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita that the greatest enemy of the conditioned soul is lust. The sastra and our acaryas also clearly state that the primary form of lust is sexual desire between man and woman. To regulate and control this desire is a cornerstone of sadhana for all transcendentalists, including Vaishnavas. Hence the emphasis, in our tradition, on celibacy, restricting sexuality to procreation, etc.

Those who condemn homosexuals out of hand generally use the argument that it is "unnatural" and therefore give it some special demonic status. But the demonic mentality is simply that of unrestricted sense gratification. Unrestricted homosexual activity is no more demonic than unrestricted heterosexual activity. "Natural" or "unnatural" by social convention has no spiritual relevance; the simple fact is that ALL lust is unnatural from the point of view of the pure soul.

The degree to which a person regulates his sexual desire and activity is the primary criterion for evaluating his spiritual standing on that basis, not the details of his particular desires and activities. The opposite viewpoint, besides being unsupportable sastrically and logically, tends to absurd consequences besides. After all, there is a wide variety of heterosexual desires and activities. Which are acceptable or "spiritual" and which are not? I'm sure many devotees have considered this angle as well. Uselessly, I believe.

I would like to conclude by offering my answer to Mark Miles' question: ". . . if two men, or two women, are living together in a healthy loving relationship, strictly adhering to regulative principles (i. e. no sexual conduct), do we have the right to reject them on the basis of what we think they are up to?" My answer is an unqualified "No!". Homophobia is not Vaishnavism, it is an obstacle to Vaishnavism as much as racism is.

In case anybody is curious, I am a lifelong heterosexual.

Hare Krishna,

Robert Newman

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