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Kaligian: A Matter of Moral Credibility

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By now, many readers are aware of this week’s firebombing of DIY, a Yerevan bar frequented by bohemians and LGBT. This heinous act of vandalism, accompanied by the painting of swastikas on the walls of the premises, leave no doubt that the level of intolerance towards minorities remains very high in Armenia today. To add insult to injury, the perpetrators–caught on video–have openly admitted to, even defended, their actions, citing gay-lesbian behavior as a threat to the cultural fabric of Armenian nationhood.

I am confident that the ARF leadership in Armenia will recognize that both acts–the initial bombing and the subsequent bail/justification–are both abhorrent and must be condemned.

This story, shameful as it is, is not uncommon. In many societies–especially “transitional” ones, where social cohesion is very fluid and tenuous–conservative values often mutate into fascism, emphasizing conformity and “purity” as a way of staving off fear of the messy, hybrid realities found all around us. Think of the skinheads in post-unification Germany or the radical nationalists in Russia.

But what is uncommon–and disturbingly so–is this act’s connection to the ARF, a social-democratic party that upholds human rights as a fundamental tenet of its platform and ideology. For not only are the perpetrators connected to the party, but–perhaps more ominously–the individuals who bailed them out, Artsvik Minasyan and Hrayr Karapetyan, are high-profile members of the party leadership in Armenia (both men are MPs, with Karapetyan having served as governor of Aragatsotn province and Minasyan having run as the ARF candidate for the mayor of Yerevan). By associating themselves with this act, these men have condoned the prevailing homophobia that afflicts Armenia today, becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Even worse, their act of bail did not happen quietly; rather, in an effort to justify himself, Minasyan tried to blame the victim in criticizing the owner of the club: “I consider [Oganesova's] types—I don’t want to sound offensive—destructive to Armenian society.”

While Karapetyan may not possess progressive credentials, Minasyan has long been considered one of the more progressive members of the ARF in Armenia. He has done himself and his party a huge disservice and has cast doubt upon the ARF’s credibility as a champion of freedom and civil rights. It would be a cruel irony if a party that prides itself on its membership in the Socialist International, and that has spoken out for dissidents of all kinds–including its own ranks who dared to speak truth to power during the harsh reign of Levon Ter-Petrosyan in the 1990′s–now found itself shutting the door on other minorities, other dissidents, simply because they fall outside the boundaries of what some consider to be proper.

I am confident that the ARF leadership in Armenia will recognize that both acts–the initial bombing and the subsequent bail/justification–are both abhorrent and must be condemned. For unless it distances itself from these acts, the ARF will lose its moral credibility as a force-seeking change on the path of social justice in Armenia. Surely, the party leadership will recognize this, and act accordingly. Armenia’s justice authorities must also act swiftly and decisively, else the Armenian constitution’s guarantee of equal rights proves to be no more than empty words.

Dikran Kaligian is a member of the ARF Eastern U.S. Central Committee and chair of the Armenians and Progressive Politics conference.

76 Comments on Kaligian: A Matter of Moral Credibility

  1. Wonderful article. But, when you write: “For unless it distances itself from these acts, the ARF will lose its moral credibility as a force seeking change on the path of social justice in Armenia,” what do you mean by “distance?” Call for Minasyan’s resignation?

  2. This is such a misleading evaluation of the events, e.g. setting the pub in fire, with regards to which a criminal charge has been made and therefore, labeling it in any way prior to the court’s decision, is merely a grave violation of presumption of innocence. “Such people” means the ultra-liberals who’re equally to be blamed for causing a schism in an already deeply divided society. Did you know that DIY had Ataturk’s portray hanging on their walls? Did you know that as an LGBT minority, the owner of the pub would not have been a famous band’s equally famous lead singer and a downtown pub owner, had there been intolerance in Armenia? Why the need to constantly look for punching bags were there aren’t any? Have you seen the video where she and her overpaid-by-grants colleagues called the entire nation “tget” (illiterate, imbecile) and fascists? How can you join the parade against a nation that has fought against the fascists and has been a victim of horrendous Genocide, the Cause of which the party you represent otherwise holds dear… This is a blind leading the blind situation whereby a case that happens in Armenia in a socially and politically different circumstances, gets analyzed from a perspective of western standards without consideration of many nuances that has driven Armenia’s absolute public majority against ANYONE – be gay or straight – who’ll mingle up with the Turkish side the wrong way. Watch the video and see how the pub advocates distinctly declare that the Turkey is a more open and progressive and tolerant society than Armenia will ever be…. In short, do your research and respect presumption of innocence. When it comes to public values and national interests, everyone is equally accountable before law – whatever one’s religious, social, sexual, racial identity. P.S. I’m not a dashnak, never was, and never will be a part of any political party. I do follow every happening in detail. An informed society can achieve social justice. A public that is disinformed on a constant basis won’t make it to the nearest bus stop.

    • What?!? What does any of what you wrote have to do with two thugs that cannot be presumed innocent of firebombing because they proudly confessed to it, and, an MP who proudly said, “I am convinced that those youth acted the right way…!?” The article’s author laid out concise fact-based highlights of the events and current situation as they happened in reality.

  3. Anathema; you wrote: “A public that is disinformed on a constant basis won’t make it to the nearest bus stop. ‘I think you have missed the bus.

    This is a highly informative article about an exceptionally disturbing event. rdavideo summed it up nicely: “The article’s author laid out concise fact-based highlights of the events and current situation as they happened in reality.”

  4. avatar Apraham Niziblian // May 17, 2012 at 10:22 am // Reply

    Any criminal act intended to silence individuals who are “different” because they are a destructive to Armenian society needs to be swiftly dealt with.

    I am one of those “different” people and as such feel that the Armenia I know and love would never accept this type of actions from ANYONE. As an ARF member, I believe that this issue should also be dealt with at the highest level of the party’s Bureau.

    Armenia has enough problems to deal with, we do not need to push the youth and the different further away simply because we do not agree with their ideas, thoughts, or ways of life! This is non negotiable – Period.

  5. Whether or not one is personally comfortable with homosexuality should have no bearing on whether or not we condemn an act of violence against a business establishment or a person. This was an unacceptable act in any civil society. ARF members should not defend this bigotry, but promote tolerance and social justice consistent with the organizations ideals.

    A homosexual life style does not make one a ‘lesser human being’ worthy of a ‘lesser standard of justice.’ The fabric of Armenian society is threatened more by such acts of discrimination than by the existence of homosexuals among them. What ‘unacceptable’ group will be targeted next? Disobedient wives? Tattooed and pierced teens? Dependent elderly?

    Armenia has always been on the crossroads. Our culture has evolved in the presence of ever-changing outside influences for thousands of years. Why should we be afraid of the effect of open homosexuality? If this weakens us, than we are not that strong to begin with. Maybe that’s the real fear.

    The up-side of this incident is that it gives us an opportunity to contemplate and shape our developing democratic society. What does social justice mean for Armenians?

  6. avatar shoushanig // May 18, 2012 at 9:38 am // Reply

    Shame on Khaligian for his article.
    Shame on you editors in the weekly .
    And I will say shame on the ARF leadership if they do not take action against party members like khaligian who harm the ARF’s credibility.
    Ardzevik is a great Armenian, a great Dashnagtsagan.
    Khaligian, instead of publicly criticizing such issues, as a central committee member go and teach your youth about the great positive history of the ARF. Talk about your fedayees, martyrs. Mr. Kahligian, our nation and our motherland are facing serious challenges and we do not have time to deal with you.

    • avatar Robert Davidian // May 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm //

      Wooooaaaa Shushan! You shame everyone for speaking the truth and you don’t shame two thugs for throwing firebombs!?!? I think we can all agree: SHAME ON YOU!

  7. After 122 year of ARF leading Armenians, We come to a new GG leader who talks about GAYs , Shame on you kaligian go home and do somting els like work for Gay orgnazation,to talk about a leader like Arzvig Minasian.

    • avatar Robert Davidian // May 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm //

      Susan, is he talking about gays or, more accurately, human rights for all!? Don’t forget, Minasyan began all this by calling for more violence to show opinions! Open your mind a bit.

  8. avatar Nancy Agabian // May 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm // Reply

    Thank you for this much needed response to the hate crimes in Yerevan. I hope this call to castigate Minasyan will continue to be heard, but I also believe there should be a stronger response from ARF.
    Amnesty International has noticed and commented:
    “ARF leaders have distanced themselves from the bailout, saying that the parliamentarians acted in their personal capacity, but they have fallen short of publicly calling on their colleagues to apologize for supporting the alleged hate crime.”
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/virulent-homophobic-attacks-put-south-caucasus-activists-risk-2012-05-18
    The Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of NY has also made a statement:
    “To date, there has been no official call from Dashnaksutyun or the Armenian government to investigate Minasyan or to take him to task: this is unacceptable. In the meantime, Minasyan is violating Dashnak philosophy and continues to issue egregiously homophobic and harmful statements under their banner. The Armenian Parliament and Dashnaksutyun should reprimand Minasyan, ask him to resign or remove him from office immediately for inflaming conflict and endangering lives.” http://aglany.org/

  9. avatar Peter Megerdumian // May 19, 2012 at 2:07 am // Reply

    There are far more important things to discuss than this.I agree that attacking innocent people is a crime and is morally wrong, I think that sexuality is a private matter that should remain in the closet. Live and let live I say but keep it to yourself. Everyone else does not want to know what you are doing and don’t flaunt it. This word of advise will be good for everyone.

    • avatar Robert Davidian // May 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm //

      More important than human RIGHTS!? Tell it to Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Lincoln, etc…

  10. avatar Apraham Niziblian // May 19, 2012 at 7:40 am // Reply

    to Peter:

    are there any issues that are more important that Human Rights? Really? what are they? Attacking homophobia and other social issues will help Armenian society deal with all of its issues. Just as in Turkey, dealing with the Armenian Genocide taboo will help that society evolve into a more democratic society.

    Also, unless you are living in Iran, would you intervene and stop two teenagers from holding hands in public, from sharing a kiss on a park bench? Of course not, because it is natural for a girl and a boy who are getting to know each other to share this sort of affection. Well, now imagine that this was a same-sex couple? Why should they not be able to share a sweet peck on that same park bench? Because it shocks you? Then look away! Tired of keeping it in the closet! It’s time people enjoy the same freedoms, EVERYONE!

    to Shoushanig and Sasun: As an ARF member myself, I applaud this gesture from Unger Kalighian. It’s time the ARF and Armenian society in general deal with the real social issues at hand. Armenia is not a postcard, it is no longer just a dream. It is reality with all of it’s challenges. We cannot afford to fail ANY Armenian.

  11. to shoushanig:
    your criticism of Kaligian oozes with envy and ignorance. Few have made the contribution to our “fedayees, martyrs, our nation and our motherland” that Unger Kaligian has made. Most certainly you have not. Until you do, “we do not have time to deal with you.”

  12. message to Ananoon:
    your poem, “Postcard from Zombieland” is still taped beside my computer. This is an outstanding poem. It has been a very long time since I have read a more descriptive narrative or summation of the effects of genocide. I hope you have continued to write poetry, I hope also that you will publish this again for those who did not have the priviledge of reading it the first time it was published in AW.

  13. It is really sad to see so much negativity and criticism of one another on this topic.

    Let God decide what to do with homosexuality. As long as someone isn’t hurting you or your children, why focus on it? It is a personal and private matter. Teach your children your own values and let others live according to theirs. And remember to look first to our own sins. How purely and perfectly are each of us adhering to our faith? Only God decides whose sin is unforgivable.

    After the hardship our nation has endured, Armenians should cherish their freedoms and Armenia should be a safe haven for all Armenians. Why are we attacking our own, when the wolves are at the door?

  14. God has already decided about homosexuality, Boyajian — It is an abomination which is punishable. If there were no disgusting gay parades, same-sex marriage campaigns, and adoption of children by gay couples, it’d indeed be a personal and private matter. But because of these explicit actions, it has become a societal ill. “Teach your children your own values and let others live according to theirs.” This is an aberration. There are universal values set forth by a power who governs all of His creations.

    • avatar Apraham Niziblian // May 21, 2012 at 10:18 am //

      You are right Ani, God has decided. He created people with all kinds of sexual orientation, including same-sex. So you are right when you say God has decided, but err on the conclusion that gays are excluded from God’s plan.

    • I think it is you who err if you think gays are included in God’s plan, Apraham –- God created people with only one kind of sexual orientation, that is, heterosexual, as between Adam and Eve. Since God condemns homosexuality, it suggests that gays are excluded from His plan.

    • avatar Boyajian // May 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm //

      Ani wrote: “God has already decided about homosexuality, Boyajian — It is an abomination which is punishable.”

      I am not disputing our faith, Ani. I am asking “Punishable by whom?”

    • avatar Robert Davidian // May 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm //

      Ani, remember, God never told you anything about why he created gays. Men, not God, wrote all the bible stories. I’m sure you’ll agree that we are so lucky that God created and is within ALL people!

    • Robert–
      God tells us that he created a man and a woman and blessed the union between them. God tells us that homosexuals, among others, are sinners in His sight. “Men, not God, wrote all the bible stories.” Technically, yes, someone had to write them down. However, there were (and still are) prophets and visionaries who had visions from God that were put down on paper by men.

  15. Newspapers and their writers are well aware that their articles will not always generate unanimous agreement. Open forums such as this one welcome a diversity of opinion. What is not welcome are personal attacks on either the writer or the paper. it is inappropriate to attempt to “shame” into silence either the writer or the paper for issues they choose to report or comment on. That’s what newspaper writing is all about.

  16. To me the homosexual life style doesn’t look like a healthy one, and I think we need to look at it from a healthy life perspective, and approach it accordingly. Do we all like to have a healthy Armenians in motherland ?

    • avatar Apraham Niziblian // May 21, 2012 at 10:15 am //

      Dear Armen,

      You say that the homosexual lifestyle doen not look like a healthy one to you. OK, what do you know about it??? Do you have first hand knowledge or is this some sort of opinion that you have gathered watching tv and listening to some other people?

      I just attended a gay wedding of two Armenians. Both raised by Armenian families, attended Armenian school, church and agoump. The two most normal people…
      They live a VERY healthy lifestyle and are very exemplary people.

      Just as you can be a heterosexual and live a very healthy lifestyle or not, you can also live a healthy homosexual lifestyle or not.

    • A brief research into the topic tells me that despite the media portrayal of homosexual relationships as healthy, with some medical associations parroting somewhat similar message, sexual relationships between members of the same sex expose them to higher risks of STDs, physical injuries, mental disorders, and even a shortened life span. Distinctions between homo and hetero relationships are promiscuity; physical injuries, some of which are unknown in the hetero population; mental health with high rates of depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts; life span, in which homosexuals may lose several years of life expectancy; and monogamy, a long-term sexual fidelity, which is rare in same-sex relationships.

  17. Armen: I would be very surprised if there was anyone who did not agree with you that “we all like to have healthy Armenians in the motherland.” To this end, may I please suggest that we look into supporting the pre-natal clinic in Talin, Armenia where they are trying to ensure that healthy babies are born. The birth death rate was high until the clinic was established. There is also a kindergarten in Talin where little children receive a nourishing meal. I would further suggest SOAR.- Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief. Donations can be sent to either your local chapter or go to http://www.soar-us.org/ These are both organizations that are struggling to make sure our little children who are in need of help grow up healthy and strong, ensuring “healthy Armenians in the motherland.”
    I am dismissive of the rest of your comments. The sexual lifestyle of other people is none of my business.

    • “The sexual lifestyle of other people is none of my business.”

      Perouz –

      Homosexual lifestyle is not limited only to sexual segment, which, of course, is no one’s business, but it gradually affects the whole structure of the traditional human society, as their marriages are being legalized and the adoption of children allowed. This is frightening, not their private sexual lifestyle.

  18. My comment is not an endorsement or condemnation of homosexuality. I merely suggest that there are much bigger problems for ‘good Christian Armenians’ to address in the homeland. We don’t need to scapegoat those who live lifestyles we disagree with when we are surrounded by corruption, unemployment, hunger, poverty, apathy, etc…; all more destructive to the spirit, than whether Hovsep loves Hakop and not Hasmik.

    And here is advice from scripture: Matt. 22:36-40 (New International Version)

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

    In other words, follow God’s laws and do unto others what you would have done unto you. I see this as an instruction to each individual of how to live one’s own life; not about telling others how to live their lives. If you believe, trust God’s advice and get on with doing good in the world…

    • My comment is not about condemnation of homosexuality. It is condemned by God and we, fallible human beings, are not to judge others.

      “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” –Leviticus 18:22 (King James Version)
      “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. –Leviticus 20:13 (King James Version)

      “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a general commandment that we all should follow. The uneasiness rises when the State legalizes homosexual marriages and the adoption of children by gay couples in clear violation of God’s laws. This, and not whether Hovsep loves Hakop and not Hasmik, is destructive to the spirit.

  19. Ani: I am not in the least “frightened” by men who love. I am frightened by men who are so consumed with hatred that they will attempt to annhilate an entire race of people and then spend 100 years vehemently denying it. I am also frightened by the statictics that say that almost 50% of all hetro marriages end in divorce. I’m frightened by the stats that say that 40% of all children do not live with their own two biological parents. I don’t fear people based on what cranks their engine. It’s none of my business.

    • Hetero marriages are godly acts whether or not they end in divorce, which of course, is a matter of concern. As opposed to homosexual marriages that are ungodly.
      Children are the result of hetero marriages that are godly acts, whether or not they live with their biological parents, which of course, is a matter of concern. As opposed to homosexual adoptions of children that are ungodly.

      I fear ungodly acts being legalized and endorsed by the State.

    • Separation of church and state?

      T(Ani)ban, feel free to move to Iran or Afghanistan.

    • Thank you, hagop. That was very Christian of you. God Bless…

      Separation of church and state doesn’t mean all-permissiveness in a society.

    • Church is an institution and state is an institution only on grand level and in a broader sense of the word. Their separation has nothing to do with the godly codex of behavior assigned to the mankind.

      Feel free to go an uninhabited island somewhere in the Atlantic…

  20. Ani: It is a very interesting coincidence that you have brought up Leviticus. It just happens that there was also a comment about Leviticus in the Globe and Mail newspaper today, May 22, 2012 by someone who signs himself Coco 2112 . He is responding to an article aboout gays. this link will take you to the site.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/gays-should-be-put-in-an-electrified-pen-pastor-tells-congregation/article2439376/comments/?

    Readers might find his comments about Leviticus as informative as I did. Here is what he wrote in the Globe and Mail comments today, May 22, 2012:

    “Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… end of debate.

    I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual unseemliness – Lev. 15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev. 1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev. 24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)”

    • If you’re an unbeliever in God and a doubter in Christ, your readings into the Bible will be naturalistic, materialistic, and unintelligently literal. A believer reads the Bible from a spiritual perspective, while an unbeliever comes at the Scripture in a negative and challenging manner, not in the spirit of trying to understand. The comments of the Canadian guy on Leviticus are the expression of such naturalistic, materialistic, and unintelligently literal understanding. They bear no understanding of the context in which the scriptures were given. They bear no understanding of the times in which the Biblical scribes lived and how their method of writing, which is different from today, helps to determine what is literal and what is not. They bear no understanding of life during the Old Testament times, which would help understand why certain scriptures were written in certain ways and the manner in which they were intended.

      Leviticus was a guidebook for Israelites to worship the one true God. The verses in it gave a clear testimony of what was expected from worshipers in order to experience an uninhibited relationship with God. The four topics discussed there — offerings and sacrifices, priestly duties, uncleanness in worship, and individual holiness — are the areas that provided a standard of conduct for the nation of Israel and the priests who assisted them in worshiping God.

      Leviticus 25:44 –Foreign slaves could be bought, sold, and inherited like other property. This does not mean God approves of slavery. Our definition of ‘slave’ is different than the meaning in the Bible. The Israelites were permitted to purchase slaves from the nations surrounding them, but they were to never treat their fellow Hebrews as slaves. Israelites were once slaves to Egypt and God had delivered them, so the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee were visible expressions of the freedom that Israel had experienced through God’s mercy.

      Exodus 21:7 –In ancient times (ca 1440 or 1290 BC, depending on the date assigned to the Exodus), a family might be reduced to such a desperate state that they would sell a daughter into bondage. If she were not acceptable to her new master, he would let her be redeemed. In no case was she to be sold to a foreign people. If she were purchased as a bride for a man’s son, she was to be treated as one would treat a daughter.

      Leviticus 15:19-24 –This passage provides regulations for a woman’s menstrual period. Her ritual uncleanness lasted seven days. Any person or object she touched became unclean in a ceremonial sense; so defiling was a woman in such circumstances.

      Leviticus 1:9 –Sweet aroma to God. Never, in this image or elsewhere, does Scripture represent God as eating the offerings brought to Him, as the pagan gods were thought to do. Whether a man offers much or little, it matters not, if his heart is but directed to God.

      Exodus 35:2 –The principal teaching the Sabbath is the fourth commandment. In Sabbath the Israelites were to rest from bodily labor, and spend the day in the service of God, and to his honor and glory. At the time, stoning was the punishment of Sabbath breakers.

      Leviticus 11:10 –All those animals in lakes, rivers, or seas, which are of a slow motion, and which, because of the slow motion of their bodies, do not so well digest their food. Fins and scales are “appropriate” for water creatures. Abomination implies not just avoidance, but active, fierce, repulsion.

      Leviticus 21:20 –A blemish in his eye, a protuberance on the eye, observable spots or suffusions, refers to the need for priestly cleanness and healthiness when serving at the altar.

      Leviticus 19:27 –Beards were standard among Israelite men. Shaving one’s hair or beard often was a sign of mourning. One reason of this prohibition was because the idolatrous priests used this custom; but this law did not respect priests only, but the people of Israel in general.

      Leviticus 11:6-8 –Eating unclean animals’ meat or touching their dead carcasses caused an Israelite to be unclean. The contact with unclean food in terms of their consumption makes someone impure.

      Leviticus 19:19 –Holiness means purity, in three important areas: (1)animal husbandry, (2)agriculture, (3)domestic life. This principle also reflects reverence for creation as God made it. ‘Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed’ also may represent the church of God, which is not an open field but a field enclosed by the grace of God, and separated from others by it, well manured and cultivated by the Spirit of God. The seed may signify the word of the Gospel, which should be pure and unmixed. Good and bad men may be signified by the mingled seed. Good men are the good seed, which hear the word and understand it. Bad men are men of bad principles and practices. These are not to be mixed together in a church state.

  21. avatar Apraham Niziblian // May 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm // Reply

    Perouz, This is HILARIOUS!!!
    Thanks for sharing… and oh let’s leave God out of this.

    The God that Ani and others call upon to condemn those who do not share their views and lifestyle doesn’t exist… simply a figment of an active imagination. ’cause God loves everyone equally, regardless of their sexual orientation or political affiliation or colour of hair, etc. PERIOD.

  22. During the time of the genocide, our mothers took their little children and gathered together in churches. Hate-filled barbarians set fire to them with the approval of their leaders. Today, we have had the sorry spectacle of the firebombing of a gathering place in Yerevan. Who amongst us will ever forget why Hrant Dink was silenced? Yet today, we have those who would attempt to shame an Armenian journalist and the editors of this newspaper into silence, because they do not agree with the published view. Our harmless and innocent mothers were marched in exile on remote mountain roads into the swirling sands of empty desert. On this site, we have the suggestion that a group of harmless and innocent people should be sent to a remote island in the swirling waters of an empty ocean. What in God’s name have some of us descended to that we are capable of such vitriol towards a group of people simply because they have another way of loving?

    • Perouz –

      I had a lengthy response to your post. It was based on commentaries of Biblical passages which this Canadian idiot was mocking. I now see that my innocuous comment wasn’t posted by moderators. It was too long to reproduce, and all I can say is that Godless people perceive the Bible in an unintelligently literal way, whereas the faithful understand it in a deeply spiritual way.

      How, do you think, our harmless and innocent mothers would have looked at the sin of some of their modern great-grandchildren, if they lived?

      And again, homosexuality is not “another way of loving”. There is only one way of loving: between a Man and a Woman. All other cases are either a twisted choice or a dysfunctional mental activity or blind pursuit of some “cool” new fashion or a pure sin.

  23. Ani, I understand that a conservative and traditional society like Armenia’s, would take issue with open homosexuality. I know what the bible says about homosexuality. I understand that Christians struggle with how to respond to something the bible calls an ‘abomination’. But to me it is clear: In a democracy we agree to protect the rights of ALL citizens.

    In a democracy, Christians are free to decry homosexuality (I refer to relations between two same-sex adults; pedophilia and molestation are separate issues), to do so loudly, and to teach their children that it is ‘an abomination before the Lord.’ And it doesn’t necessarily mean they are homophobic if they express their disapproval of homosexuality. It is their right. But, those who want to withhold rights from homosexuals for religious reasons, have no leg to stand on. Not in a democracy. And never through violence.

    Armenians are still learning the finer points of what democracy means and the sacrifices we each make to live freely and exercise self-determination. Would you prefer another type of government for Armenia? If so, what?

    We Armenians know the consequences of discrimination better than most. I wish we would use our experience to be tolerant and merciful, and not use religious grounds to discriminate against those who believe, love, and live differently. I’m with Perouz on this.

    • According to some here since “majority rule” is a major part of a democracy, if a majority want to deny those privileges and rights to homosexuals it’s okay. The same people cannot, however, fail to understand that their archaic, uneducated understanding of a democracy applied in that fashion to black rights. Since a majority were racist, it was okay to discriminate, and then apparently the US government was out of line in ending segregation. My basic point drawn from these discussions is that there is no cure for stupid, but according to Ani there may be one for homosexuality. I really do my best to not hate people, I really really do.

    • I said, according to a group of distinguished British scientists there may be a treatment for homosexuals attempting to transform to heterosexuality. I don’t know if there’s a treatment for those who suffer from reading comprehension problems.

    • Boyajian –

      You touched upon the perception of homosexuality in a democracy by various social groups. As a citizen–not as a believer–I can take that. But what about legalization of their marriage? A federal law in this democracy defines marriage as a union between man and woman. State legislatures fail to respect ALL people’s opinions when enacting gay marriage laws. Is this democratic?

    • Ani: “I don’t know if there’s a treatment for those who suffer from reading comprehension problems.”

      Is your name “some?” Arguing with you is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon is going to knock down all the pieces, crap on the chess board and strut around like it’s victorious.

    • avatar Boyajian // May 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm //

      Ani, I am not a constitutional expert. I can only answer based on my limited knowledge. The issue is whether or not every one has the same rights in a democracy or not. The answer is yes! Therefore we can’t have different laws for different groups just because they may deviate from the majority. Democracy doesn’t mean that everyone must agree. Democracy means that everyone has the right to disagree without fear of discrimination under the law for one’s beliefs. You are free to detest gay pride parades, same-sex unions and adoptions within same-sex unions, but you can’t restrict someone’s right to participate in these simply because you think their life style is sinful. That would be forcing your religious beliefs on others.

      Personally, I support ‘civil unions’ for same-sex couples. This way they could have the same legal rights as married couples, and we avoid the conflict over the perceived degradation of marriage. Some may disagree with me and say this is still unfair…

      As a Christian, you must view this as a ‘fallen world’. Jesus came and lived among the ‘fallen’ in this world. He, the perfect one, demonstrated compassion to those shunned by others; those who most people considered terrible sinners. And He died to offer forgiveness to ALL because none of us is perfect. I hope you get my meaning.

      Democracy may be imperfect, but it is the best form of government humans have devised; I would not want Armenia to have another kind. But our rights are only guaranteed by our mutual agreement to be tolerant of each other’s differences.

  24. But, Boyajian, aren’t their rights protected under the Constitution and laws just as those of any other citizen? Precisely what right or privilege of homosexuals is trampled upon?

  25. Ani: “But, Boyajian, aren’t their rights protected under the Constitution and laws just as those of any other citizen? Precisely what right or privilege of homosexuals is trampled upon?”

    Ani, are you and I reading and commenting on the same article? When MPs make statements that express tolerance for violence against homosexuals and their property it makes one wonder how ‘protected’ this minority is in Armenia, no? Homosexuality may not be popular, but it should be protected by a democratic constitution—the same constitution which allows you to live by your beliefs.

    Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality personally, you must condemn violence against homosexuals, both on religious and democratic grounds.
    I read the same scripture as you, but I find homosexuality, same-sex unions, or adoption within same-sex unions far less repugnant than bigotry that leads to violence. When you or I tolerate abuse of any minority within the group, than we endanger the entire group. That’s a basic tenet of democracy.

    And free will is a basic tenet of Christianity. We cannot force others to live by our standards:

    “Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him.” (Bonhoeffer)

    Christianity is just a set of rules unless we understand the heart of mercy which is its foundation.

    • I condemn the violence against any member of the society regardless of her or his religious, political, ethnic, or sexual orientation.

      From your response I understand that, formally, there exists no right or privilege under Armenian laws that gays are excluded from. The question is how they are protected. But, then, Boyajian, in the Armenian society this question pertains to virtually any social, political, ethnic or religious minority group. I haven’t seen posters defending the rights of the evacuees that were subjected to brutal police force in the downtown Yerevan several years ago. I haven’t seen many Diasporans defending the right of peaceful assembly of those who flooded the streets of Yerevan in March 2008. I haven’t seen anyone defending Jehovah Witnesses’ rights as ardently as they defend gay rights. I haven’t seen anyone defending the rights of Armenian environmentalists and greens. These groups should also be protected by a democratic constitution. Or they shouldn’t?

    • avatar Boyajian // May 26, 2012 at 12:06 am //

      Of course they should.

  26. Ani: Do you really not know how the rights of gays are being “trampled upon”? Have you never opened a newspaper and read of the latest murder of someone simply because they were gay? Never heard of young people being bullied until they were driven to self destruction? Never heard of a child being shunned in the playground for being “a fairy?’ You didn’t read about what happened in Yerevan? You don’t consider these acts a violation of basic human rights? Why should anyone spend their life dodging the open contempt of “God fearing” vigilantes walking around with Bible in hand, judging them? Boyadjian has asked a valid question: “who is going to punish them?” I also ask you; how are they going to be “punished?”
    Now about that “gay parade” that you so vehemently deplore – you’ve got it listed right up there with gay marriage and gay adoption. Have you ever considered that there are many people who equally deplore the Santa Claus parade? There are a lot of folk who think it symbolizes commercial greed; that it instills false values into children by making them think that they are going to get the latest advertised gizmo without working for it. And there are those who tch tch when Mardi Gras comes to town – way to much nudity, too many cheeky bums on parade. And some hate the St. Pat’s parade. They are positive that those guys are heading for the nearest bar, and they can just imagine the debauchery that will surely follow after a couple of green crème de menthes. And what about those Shriners? I mean they’re wearing party hats – do you know what that can lead to after the parade? And those Mexicans are parading every year now. Hot Salsa! And just look at those disgusting women screaming and shoving their way to the front when the guys in the winning team strut their stuff down Main St.
    Now here’s the good news, Ani. All this open parading of sin can be avoided by the virtuous and the pious. Stay home. Or, take an alternate route downtown.

    • Perouz –

      Please read my comment to Boyajian. Your comparisons with Santa Claus and other parades or innocuous social habits are preposterous.

      As for who is going to punish (all) the sinners and how, all I can say is that it shouldn’t be other fallible human beings. May the Highest make His judgment.

    • Ani: “As for who is going to punish (all) the sinners and how, all I can say is that it shouldn’t be other fallible human beings. May the Highest make His judgment.”

      Calling gay people sick and twisted individuals who are harming the fabric of society IS, in fact, judging them.

    • Reiterating that God has created a man and a woman and blessed the union between them is not judging. Since the marriage between a man and a woman is the only godly union and since God has defined homosexuality as abomination, it is assumed that any other marriage is harmful in the sight of God. Homosexuals may have mental deviations or their brain may function differently from that of most of the people, I don’t know, but if this is the case, then these individuals ought to be offered professional and spiritual help.

    • RVDV, reaffirming God’s judgment of sinners (of all sorts and kinds, including the homosexuals) doesn’t mean we judge them.

  27. Ani: “I haven’t seen anyone defending Jehovah Witnesses’ rights as ardently as they defend gay rights.”
    I wish there was a better law to protect me from having Jehovah Witnesses parading uninvited on my doorstep, attempting to convert an Orthodox Christian household to their own peculiar brand of numerology. But they have the legally defended right to ring my door bell and clutter my front porch, until I again tell them to leave. I’ve never had a Gay tell me I wouldn’t be one of their number who are chosen for Paradise, because, alas, I am unrepentantly straight. Gays generally tend to mind their own business in their own clubs. That is, until the virtuous attempt to burn the building down. And then attempt to silence the writers exposing them.
    You wrote: “A federal law in this democracy defines marriage as a union between man and woman.” Countries are slowly coming to the Canadian definition of marriage. The 2005 Civil Marriage Act defined marriage throughout Canada as being “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”
    Sounds fair to me.
    You wrote: “…according to a group of distinguished British scientists there may be a treatment for homosexuals attempting to transform to heterosexuality.” Be very careful which “ distinguished scientists” you buy into, Ani. There are Turkish ones who have repeatedly declared the Armenian Genocide to be a hoax. There are also fields of butchered Armenian bodies that turk “scientists” have declared are those of murdered Turks, based on their “scientific” claim that Armenians have a smaller brain size than Turks do.
    Please read Boyajian’s sage comment again: “Christianity is just a set of rules unless we understand the heart of mercy which is its foundation.” Hopefully, you will come to understand that Gays are not doing anything illegal or immoral in having parades or weddings or babies. They are just living out their own lives in a totally ordinary, harmless fashion. Lighten up a little, Ani. Enjoy the diversity in people. And quit messing up RVDV’s chess board.

    • “And quit messing up RVDV’s chess board.”

      ‘Preciate the support for my chess board Perouz :)

  28. “Christianity is just a set of rules unless we understand the heart of mercy which is its foundation.” — Personally, I can have mercy for homosexuals, but it won’t change the fact that they are sinners before God and whether or not God will have mercy for them is in His disposition. But we know that God has condemned homosexuality as abomination. Whether or not some unidentified countries are “slowly coming” to a different definition of marriage is their own domestic affair. In the US marriage on federal level is defined as a union between one Man and one Woman. Try to understand that diversity in people must not lead to all-permissiveness and amorality.

    • 3 days and that’s the best you come up with?

      ” Personally, I can have mercy for homosexuals”

      Yay? Do you want a fruit basket from the gay community thanking you for basic humanity 101?

    • I was responding to Boyajian’s comment. Flattered to know that you were counting days since my last post. Were you cleaning your chess board in the meantime or you were learning to count?

    • That was just sad.

    • Ani,

      You say homosexuals are sinners according to bible? Yes, they are, but so am I, and so are you for many different reasons.

      According to bible people should not have premarital sex , or divorce their spouses unless they were not faithful, have sexual relationship with people other than their spouse etc.

      I wonder if you know how many Christians would qualify to be non sinners based on their sexual conduct alone?

      I wonder what you would do if your son was gay, and let’s say a psychologist and priest could not help him to change his orientation? Are you going to ”force” him to marry a woman?

    • You know what Ani,

      You are offensive and arrogant! I have had enough of your hate and your judgements!!!

      YOU ARE THE ONE WHO NEEDS PROFESSIONAL HELP. And guess what YOU ARE THE EXACT REASON WHY ARMENIANS LIKE ME LEFT THE CHURCH AND DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK…

      All you do is judge people if they do not fit your cookie-cutter. Enough, I know who I am, I know what I am and I could use less of your useless – to say the least – comments.

      If my 10 year committed relationship with my partner is an abomination, so be it, because every day, I am happy to be alive and NO BOOK is going to take that away from me.

    • Sella –
      In short, yes, we are all sinners. The difference between us and homosexual sinners being that we have the ability to CONFESS our sins one way or the other, before God or to one another or to oneself, sooner or later, in a repentant or regretful way, under heavy circumstances or voluntarily. Homosexual sin, on the other hand, is being made public, legally endorsed, and allowed to run even uglier (adoption of children). I came to know several people, friends, originally unbelievers or Christians, who at one time have voluntarily confessed their sins and said they were either sorry or repentant. How many gays do you know who are willing to confess their sin? They don’t even acknowledge their behavior as a sin. For my son, I will try to have a cozy family environment, proper education, no-stress situations, cordial childhood, and church affinity to insure his development as a physically- and mentally healthy individual.

    • On the contrary, Abe –
      I stated several times, and this is what I really feel: I can have mercy and compassion for homosexuals, as Christ would want all of us to behave towards out neighbors, but it doesn’t alter God’s judgment about homosexuality. Note: God’s judgment, not mine. I don’t wish this to anyone, truly, but if some day we go through suffering, let us remember that it is associated with the punishment of our sin.

      P.S. Going or not going to the church has nothing to do with faith and intimate relationship with God. I’m not a frequent church-goer myself, preferring direct relationship with God, as Christ instructed.

    • Ani,

      My question was ” what you would do if your son was gay, and let’s say a psychologist and priest could not help him to change his orientation? Are you going to ”force” him to marry a woman? ”

      I did not ask how you were going to raise your son. I am pretty sure you would raise him well like many Armenian families do. And, if you ask Apraham how he was raised, I am pretty sure that he would tell you that he was raised well by his parents, and had “a cozy family environment, with proper education”, no-stress situations, cordial childhood, and church affinity”-just like you would like to raise your son.

      As to bible, God also told us not to judge others. Why are you not following his words?

  29. Ani, if the bible is to be our reference point, we can’t cherry pick what we like or what supports our own views, and ignore what we don’t like. You must embrace it as a whole and glean its main message of salvation through mercy. From a Christian perspective, God sought his creatures when they strayed in the garden, he sought them in the deserts of Egypt and he seeks them today. The over-arching message of the old and new testaments is that God seeks to maintain relationship with his creation and He made the ultimate sacrifice in order to provide even the most sinful among us a way to reconnect with him. Who are we to decide who is and is not worthy, who is and is not redeemable, who is and is not loved by God? We are not the judges, but are all ‘manifold sinners’ according to our Armenian tradition. We all fall short.

    • Boyajian –
      We certainly mustn’t cherry pick what supports our own views in the Bible and ignore what doesn’t. However, God is unequivocally clear about homosexuality regardless of our preferences. We mustn’t advocate who is and is not worthy and who is and is not redeemable. It’s God’s prerogative. We are not the judges, but we know that God has determined homosexuality as abomination. Stating or reminding this doesn’t make us judges. We are all fallible. The difference being whether or not we realize that our suffering is associated with the punishment of sin and whether or not we seek salvation as liberation from sin. Having mercy is a part of Christ-like life, but hardly is it the main message of salvation which is God’s way of providing His people deliverance from sin and spiritual death through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Again, we can have mercy and compassion for homosexuals as human beings, but hardly can we endorse or support homosexuality or its legalization knowing too well that it’s a sin before God.

    • avatar Boyajian // June 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm //

      Ani, this is a very tough issue for those who take the word of God literally and who find themselves in a world that increasingly condones what the bible calls an abomination. I understand the dilemma.

      But did you know there are many ‘abominations’ listed in the bible? Proverbs 6: 16 – 19: lists these:

      ‘These six things doth the LORD hate:
      yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
      A proud look, a lying tongue,
      and hands that shed innocent blood,
      An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
      feet that be swift in running to mischief,
      A false witness that speaketh lies,
      and he that soweth discord among brethren.’

      I don’t know about you, but I think that judging from this list, I have been an abomination before the Lord.

      Follow this link http://glow.cc/isa/abomination.htm to read an article about many other ‘abominations’ listed in the bible.

      I am not comfortable with your suggestion that homosexuals are ‘mental deviants.’ You are entitled to your opinion, but you have to admit this is judgement. It is condemning. And I’d be careful because this too might be an abomination:

      “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matt. 5:22).

      What do you think Christ meant by this?

    • Yes, I know there are other abominations listed in the Bible: arrogant pride, lying, murder, wickedness, evil, false witness, and sowing discord. What’s your point? You admit that judging from this list you have been an abomination before the Lord. I might have been as well. But if, in addition to our admission, we confessed and repented, then this makes us purer in the sight of God. Nowhere have I suggested that homosexuals were “mental deviants.” I said: “Homosexuals MAY have mental deviations or their brain may function differently from that of most of the people, I DON’T KNOW, but IF this is the case, then these individuals ought to be offered professional and spiritual help.” Does this look as anything suggestive of judgment or condemnation? Boyajian, for some reason I suspect that if I used a similar expression for the state murderers in March 2008 events, you wouldn’t respond that ardently. Am I correct? But murder is an abomination, too, isn’t it?

    • Boyajian,

      The hub of the issue is that there shouldn’t be a dichotomy between the word of God and the world that condones whatever He calls an abomination. “Thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven,” remember? Some groups of earthlings act as if our world is separate from the rest of God’s universe. It isn’t.

  30. Dear Ani you are very convincing to me and hopefully to others also , how com our church is not doing something about it so far, aren’t they should be doing something about it , we call for help of God in our hard times and difficulties, but then tend to not be the follower of our Savior teachings, it is very sad to me to see our Armenian character is changing by some people. After all I’m sure that homosexuality will cause health problems and I don’t need to try it to have a prove, see this link if you have time, ( http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/s2c/anal.pdf ) and you can find more problems for sure if you keep Goggling it, thank you for the effort defending the Christian faith.

  31. Abe: Congratulations on having the pleasures of a happy 10 year committed relationship. Many people will envy you and your spouse such ongoing joy. Please do not let anyone drive you away from the underlying comfort and community of our church. The notion of having to “confess” as sin that you are in a loving relationship that includes sexual expression is simply ridiculous.

  32. Ani, I am not sure what you are trying to say regarding state murderers, but of course I would never support murder or suggest that such actions be tolerated.

    Regarding homosexuality I think I do understand you: You take your faith very seriously and believe the bible is crystal-clear regarding homosexuality being unacceptable. I can respect this and I understand why the notion of legalizing marriage and adoption in same-sex couples would trouble you. The stridency of the objection and the hateful, un-Christian actions taken by some who profess to be adherents of the faith, troubles me.

    I guess its a question of whether Christians have an obligation to impose their beliefs on those who believe differently. Doesn’t the bible tell us that “those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their lives in this world will have eternal life.” Doesn’t this suggest that to be Christian is to be at odds with the world? I am not suggesting that Christians isolate themselves and withdraw from public life and social discourse. On the contrary. They shouldn’t hide their ‘light.’ But I am suggesting that it is unrealistic for Christians to expect this world to be a perfect reflection of their beliefs.

    Ani and Karo, what do you make of this?
    Jesus said: “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

    As for professional and spiritual help: we can all use this from time to time.

  33. Christians have an obligation to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation”, not to impose their beliefs. God extended His general blessings to everyone; therefore, freedom for all is a Christian value. However, Christians do see the importance of having an authority higher than ourselves. People who attempt to produce moral or behavioral codes based solely on human rationale are misled by the Satan or are manipulated by whoever has the most votes, the most media outlets, or the most weapons in a secular society. To me, to be Christian is, in a way, to be at odds with the fallen world. “My kingship is not of this world…” Christ affirms his spiritual kingdom that will not fail when this world does. Therefore, everything that is carnal, sensual, and worldly must be removed from our conceptions of Christ’s kingdom, here or hereafter. This is what I make of this.

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