Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ah Prejudice: You're not so cute.

Being what I am, a liberal minded religious person, I am right in the middle of moral debate. One of those debates is homosexuality. I realize I have written about this before, but as the ridiculous prejudices toward homosexuals keep rearing their ugly heads, so must I as a free-thinking religious person.

It seems though, that a vast majority of anti-homosexual sentiment is a result of Biblical hermeneutics, specifically the kind associated with conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.

As a result of that I have gotten a compilation of every Bible verse that can somehow be associated with this anti-homosexuality feeling that pervades the conservative subculture. Here they are:

In the Old Testament, we start out with Genesis 19:1-11 with the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this tale two angels are sent to Sodom and Gomorrah to find a righteous person. They stop at Lot's house. The citizens of the city show up knocking on the door and wanting to commit some act or another that would probably be seen as inappropriate. Generally translated though as the people wanted to have sex with or sodomize the two angels. Lot says no, and offers his daughters instead. The people still want the angels, and soon after God tells the angels to tell Lot to leave and destroys Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins.

Leviticus 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination."

Leviticus 20:13 "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."

Deuteronomy 22:5 "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God." Appears to be a reference to cross-dressing. Some interpret this as gender roles.

Deuteronomy 23:17 "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel."

Judges 19:22 "[Now] as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, [and] beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him."

Judges 19:23 "And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, [nay], I pray you, do not [so] wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly."

Judges 19:24 "Behold, [here is] my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing."

Judges 19:25 "But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go."

The previous verses bear a strong resemblance to the story of Lot as the citizens demanded the man be brought out to be taken advantage of, and the daughter is offered.

Roman 1:26 "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature"

Roman 1:27 "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."

1Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,"

1Corinthians 6:10 "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

1Timothy 1:9 "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,"

1Timothy 1:10 "For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;"

Jude 1:7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Jud 1:4 "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

First off, not a single one of these quotes is from Jesus. He spent all of his time condemning hypocrites, liars, and people who were becoming rich by extorting others. (Which is the most common way to get rich.) He talked about not being angry with people. He talked about loving your neighbor. He never once talked about hating homosexuals. Not a single time. He did talk about making peace, giving to the poor, taking care of the oppressed and loving the sinner because none was good but God. But he never mentioned hating gays for being abnormal. He also said that all sins would be forgiven except for blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I am pretty sure homosexuality is not blasphemy. Jesus also said that to get into the Kingdom of Heaven we would have to do good to the even lowest of people as if they were him. And this is all in red letters. This isn't even getting into the scholarly debates that include one over whether the exact words that Paul wrote can really be translated as something similar to homosexuality or if they mean something else.
Or the deep theological issue of whether or not people are subject to the laws of the Old Testament. (Which if they were, Christians couldn't eat shrimp or wear 50/50 blend polyester and cotton, or touch a menstruating woman or be considered good for church if they happen to ejaculate.)People often make the claim that the Law of the Old Testament no longer applies because of Jesus' sacrifice. If this is the case then homosexuality is no less forgiven than any other thing covered by that Law. It is no more a sin than eating pork. I am simply saying this based on what looks a lot like hypocrisy. And the fact that Jesus seemed to be ambivalent on the matter.

So, I raise the question: If Jesus didn't emphasize it, then why is it a major theological hinge? Why does it matter so much to Christians now? I don't understand how something mentioned so few times in the Bible can really be considered such a major sin.

And to be honest, God may hate it. But I think that even if God does hate homosexuality, I think that pales in comparison to how much He loves. Why? Because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. He sent a sacrifice, not just for the perfect religious people, (which He actually seemed to not find so perfect,) but for the prostitutes and tax collectors also. So maybe the people that are so busy completely hinging their faith on the hatred and oppression of a group of people should look at that. Maybe they should look at themselves in the mirror and try to take that massive plank out of their eye. Maybe they should pay attention to what the Bible actually says, and says a lot. Love.

Amount of times "love" and "hate" appear in the King James Version of the Bible:
Love appears in 281 verses, 124 in the Old Testament.
Hate appears in 85 verses, 69 of them in the Old Testament

Amount of times "love" and "hate" appear in the New International Version:
Hate appears in 73 verses in the Bible, 57 of which are in the Old Testament.
Love appears in 496 verses in the Bible, 298 of which are in the Old Testament.

Maybe we should look at the things that God talks about more.