There are those who believe that there are Biblical admonitions against miscegenation. Should we put it up to a vote to see if African-Americans and Caucasians can marry?
There are those who think that the Bible says that wives should be obedient to their husbands. Should we put it up to a vote to require that principle is included in all wedding vows?
There are those who think that there are Biblical directives about women staying at home to raise children and prepare a home for their husbands. Should we put it up to a vote to eliminate anti-sexual discrimination rules in the workplace as encouragement for women to stay home?
There are those who use Bible verses to oppose workplace rules and to affirmative action programs for African-Americans. Should we put it up to a vote making it illegal for employers to have such programs?
So, exactly why do people who employ the Bible to limit the equality of homosexuals get to apply their version of Christianity to public policy?
As for us, we’re ready to have a statewide referendum that bans all religiously-based referenda.
Bible as Weapon
Equality is like pregnancy. You either are or you’re not. As American and world history shows us, equality is about protecting the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority, and once again, the impulses that gave us everything from the Crusades to the Inquisition to Southern segregation are at play again, and once again, the Bible has been pulled out to justify the worst tendencies of humanity – to attack and demonize those who are different from us.
There is nothing more disturbing than the way some people use the Bible as a weapon to attack other people. The targets these days are gays and lesbians despite the fact that Christ never said anything about homosexuality and all that’s being requested is the dignity to be like everyone else when it comes to their loving relationships.
If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, the ultimate poseur is the patriot wielding a Bible to beat up other Americans. The Family Research Council types acknowledge that they are on the wrong side of history and public opinion with the shifting sands of their rhetoric opposing same-sex marriage.
These days, the anti-acolytes claim that gay marriage is not about civil rights, because civil rights are based on natural law and it was natural law that was ensconced in the Declaration of Independence. Of course, they ignore the natural law that treated women as second-class citizens and African-Americans as slaves. Then again, there are even arguments about what the natural law really is. As Bertrand Russell pointed out, many things that are pointed to as natural law are in fact human conventions.
Where is the natural law in 50 percent of heterosexual marriages in divorce? We’ve all heard ad nauseum that marriage is a sacred relationship between one man and one woman. The fact that 50 percent of Americans are today defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman…and then another woman…apparently are no cause for concern for the people virulently opposed to gay marriage. Rather, it’s the marriage of two people of the same sex that somehow threatens the institution of marriage.
Then again, the damage to marriage by heterosexuals hardly matches up to the damage done by Christians to the Bible through the cherry-picking of verses to validate biases already held by the faithful. It’s all so reminiscent of the way the Bible was used in the 1960s in the South as justification for segregation.
More than anything, we are exhausted by people, reporters, and commentators who refer to Christianity as if it is only about fundamentalism. Recently, a commentator in a local newspaper said we needed more Christian candidates to fight gays, the liberal agenda, and diversity. And yet, many Christian would find this attitude and beliefs as anti-American and anti-Christlike.
After all, it is a Bible verse in 1 John that says: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
We are inspired by the always wise words of Rev. Steve Montgomery, senior minister at Idlewild Presbyterian Church and Micah Greenstein, senior rabbi at Temple Israel.
Rev. Montgomery said: “And so we turn to scripture for guidance. That sounds easy, doesn’t it? And for some it is easy. Take the five or six verses in a cursory reading of the entire Bible that seem to speak to homosexuality and one could conclude that it condemns homosexuality unequivocally. End of discussion. But it is a mistake to look to the Bible to close a discussion; the Bible seeks to open one.
“You see, the Bible is violated whenever it is used as a catalogue of proof texts to support my own prejudice. Everybody knows, I assume, that there are passages of scripture which can be, and often have been, used in support of slavery, of brutal war, of women keeping their heads covered and their mouths shut in church. Now, it is no more legitimate to pick and choose those passages of scripture which seem to point to an anti-homosexual bias than it is to pick and choose those passages which seem to support an anti-woman or pro-slavery bias.”
Rabbi Greenstein said: “After all, isn’t this what the faith of Jesus and all good religions teach? Isn’t this the meaning of the prophet’s plea: ‘Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why then do some deal treacherously every man against his brother?’ Whether gay or straight, black or white, Jew or Gentile, all are children of God, created in the divine image. That is why I subscribe to Jesus the Jew’s central idea – not Jesus the Baptist – but Jesus the Jew’s central idea to love one another, especially those different than me.
“The shameful demonization of people who happen to be gay or lesbian underscores what must happen now. We must all take a stand for non-discrimination and basic human dignity in the public square or be labeled a pious fraud. People of all faiths need to remember that we forfeit the right to worship God whenever we denigrate the image of God in other human beings. I pray that any person infuriated by, obsessed with, or tired of dealing with discrimination against gay people will turn to the Bible and follow the words of Psalm 118, which reads, ‘I called out to God from my narrowness, and God answered me with a great expanse.’”
The fact that the most religious country on the face of the earth – United States – now has a majority that support gay marriage tells us that it’s the gospel of discrimination and hatred that’s being rejected by people of faith, and the momentum for equal rights increases.
Here’s the dirty little secret about gays and lesbians – the values they exhibit in their daily lives are no different than the rest of us. They are committed to their neighborhoods, they love their family, they follow the law, they volunteer to charities, they try to be good citizens, they want meaningful relationships and most remarkably of all, they are religious.