One can’t help noticing how, all across the country, tensions are exploding in reaction to the more vocal stance of gay people, demanding equal treatment. Frequently, Christianity is offered as justification for the hateful backlash against gay rights activism, which is ironic, considering that the central promulgator of the faith unambiguously advocated loving one another. Funny how Christians seem the least capable of keeping this central, simple commandment.
Gay people are basically asking to live free of persecution, demonstrating that they can competently serve in government and in positions of authority in business, not just in urban areas, but also increasingly in small town America, which is where acceptance usually, but not always, stops. These rural bastions of traditionalism are the last front of the battle for the nation’s future and proving to be the nastiest. Just as with the civil rights movement, the Bible belt is ground zero and where the media focuses, because traditional bigotry provides ammunition to expose hatred that has no legitimate moral defense.
First I’m going to write a smashing rebuttal of the Christian case against homosexuality based on the Bible… Then, I’m going to pull away the “Emperor’s New Clothes” kimono to reveal the creepy boner Republicans have for gay-bashing. My interest in the topic comes from my heritage as a preacher’s kid. There are a shitload of Pentacostal preachers in my family, and I read the Bible faithfully until I got into philosophy, especially Nietzsche. My main reason for leaving the faith, other than the fact that Jesus was just a enlightened human and not the son of god, was my desire NOT to be affiliated with other Christians, who betray Christ daily.
First, let’s talk scripture.
The scripture is usually offered as a justification for discrimination, because the Bible says that it is sinful for a man to “lie” with another man. This involves the same hypocrisy that Jesus condemned in the Biblical scholars of the time- the Pharisees- who were rigid and arrogant about the “correct” version of the Torah, mirroring the current melodramatic doctrinal disputes which has severed Protestantism into 20,000+ denominations. Christians cherry-pick the sins which are most offensive according to their preferences, ignoring the most basic statements of Jesus. Christians conveniently forget how their prophet singled these behaviors out, saying that all sins are equal in the eyes of god, that final judgment rests with god, and that a person should never point out a speck in his neighbors eyes while ignoring the pole in his own.
One church even decided to ban children from the congregation because they didn’t really mind that their pastor was a pedophile, which may actually be a good example of the kind of acceptance that Jesus was all about, spending his time kicking it with drunkards and prostitutes and not shying away from lepers, who were regarded as untouchable and ostracized into self-contained colonies.
Christians then point to Old Testament scriptures which state that homosexuality is “against nature.” Well, so is circumcision and a lot of other practices in the Old Testament. One need only take a cursory gander in the book of Leviticus or Deuteronomy to find a trove of completely fucking absurd commandments and injunctions largely ignored today. A by-no-means-exhaustive list might include the prohibitions of wearing garments with more than one kind of fabric, growing different crops on the same plot of land, letting different kinds of cattle graze together, or anybody having sex during menstruation, the punishment for which was death for both parties.
Sodom and Gomorrah, two towns destroyed by god with fire and brimstone, are often referred to as evidence that god hates gays, but this argument misconstrues what actually happened in the story. The demonstration of the evil of the residents was demonstrated when a bunch of locals came to the door of this guy Lot, who was housing a traveler, and asked if they could gangrape the visitor. Lot offered his daughters, which seems like a pretty strange, if not ungodly, solution, but they weren’t satisfied. Scholars have debated what was the biggest offense in the situation; some have said it was because they villagers were inhospitable, others that they tried to rape god’s angels. The more the story is analyzed, the murkier it becomes, as is usual with Biblical exegesis, but the bottom line is that Sodom and Gomorrah does not neatly establish the Christian case against gays.
Ultimately, Christians can choose between Jesus and Paul, because they are actually quite different. Jesus’ own words never broached the subject of homosexuality, despite claims made to the contrary conflating fornication and homosexuality, which is a fallacy. The concept of homosexuality did not exist when Jesus walked the Earth, and only took on its current meaning of a sexual orientation rather than a simple perversion among heterosexuals in 1869.Jesus said love thy neighbor as thy self and focused on salvation through grace. Paul based his doctrine on works, or behavior, which makes sense because he was formerly one of the most extreme Pharisees. If I had to choose, Jesus’ words provide the clearest guide to Christian values, but the numerous bloody incursions of the Crusades and the public torture of hundreds of thousands during the Inquisition and basically all of Christian history would seem to suggest that people have frequently not understood Jesus’ message.
That is because the Bible is not a good guide for morality. The ten commandments of the Old Testament leave a lot of grey areas and the New Testament probably should have been restricted to the Gospels, without the extremist evangelism of Paul in Greece. Observe the concise moral guidelines of Jainism: “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.” It’s pretty tough to justify burning or boiling witches or hanging thieves upside down with nails through their hands and feet if you just obey the ethical tenets of the Jains.
Now, let’s talk about the political platform supposedly based on Christianity.
Given the leaky Biblical arguments against homosexuality and the evident conflict that the church’s ostracism has with Jesus most basic advice, even Republicans are coming out against the party’s platform against homosexuality. Alex Holzbach, a Tallahassee-based Republican political consultant who served as president of the Florida State University College Republicans, was quoted in a recent Huffington Post article as saying: “When it comes to issues like gay marriage or marijuana legalization, younger Republicans often find themselves asking, ‘Why is government involved in this at all?’”
Meanwhile, a prominent Republican Evangelical leader, Russell Moore, who supports a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one women, he speaks confidently about the “Christian sexual ethic,” and the “gospel” of Jesus, but when you examine what Jesus actually said, the whole argument evaporates.
The sexual ethic Moore refers to is his church’s traditional stance on homosexuality, which has little to do with anything Jesus taught, but everything to do with what Paul said in his letters to the believers of the early church, grouped together with other teachings that the early Catholics thought were authoritative, which opens up another huge debate about which most Protestants don’t like to think too deeply. They just want to accept the Bible as is without asking questions, even though Catholicism, the evil twin of Protestantism, was responsible for creating it in 300 B.C.,
It comes down to politics, not religion, because the Bible is a poor guide for most everything, but especially when trying to decode political issues, which allows Christians to throw darts at scriptures to support whatever opinion they have, whether against abolishing slavery, women’s right to vote, segregation or the Civil Rights Act, all of which Southern Baptists were against and supported their arguments with scripture.
The Southern Baptist Convention issued an apology for their stances on slavery and segregation in 1995, and they will presumably do so again for their other unjustifiable stances in another century or so, but they are by no means the exception; most other denominations have been on the wrong side of history time and again.
Viewed in this light, the present backlash against gays seems very misguided when people use Christianity to justify their positions. They have most likely not read the Bible themselves or have done so with Medieval interpretations and the contradictory, bullshit political stances of church officials in the forefront of their minds. Homosexuality either grosses them out and inspires their hatred, which is a bit Satanic, or it may just give them a boner they can’t begin to deal with, like those creepy Catholic priests.