[first posted in Blogs 4/29/2010]
To Bishop Spong, the debate is over but in case you don’t agree I’ll add my view. It seems that much – if not most – of the scriptural basis for considering homosexuality as sin can reasonably be interpreted as referring to homosexual rape rather than homosexuality itself. Don’t throw Leviticus into the argument unless you are willing to stop cherry picking and accept the whole thing (eg “Anyone who curses father or mother must die:” Leviticus 20:9). Beyond that, there are conflicts and inconsistencies in the bible and we need to go with the higher, and more general interpretation.
The first thing we have to realize is that being gay, lesbian or transsexual is not a lifestyle choice. The Lake Wobegon motto fits: “Sumus Quid Sumus” – we are what we are. Does anyone really think that someone would choose to be gay with all its disadvantages and risks just because it would be fun? How about those gay people in places where it was or is extremely dangerous? In some parts of the world it’s the death penalty if you’re found out! Furthermore, there is evidence of physical differences in the brain associated with homosexuality. Animals have been known to display homosexual behavior (New Scientist, Biological Exuberance). The claims that gay men can be made straight by proper training are nonsense – they merely show that there are circumstances under which we can suppress our true nature – at least for a while – and usually at considerable cost to ourselves!
If we accept God as a loving God then would this God create a whole class of people who are doomed to spend their life suppressing their own God given nature? This hardly is a vision of a loving God!
If we look to Jesus, we see someone who often hung out with assorted marginalized people to the scandal of the proper and respectable citizens. He suggested that one had better be careful before judging someone else. Who did he condemn? It’s summarized in the judgment section of Matthew 25: It’s not gays and lesbians – no, the fire and brimstone are reserved for people who ignored those on the bottom. “I was hungry and you didn’t give me food, thirsty and you didn’t give me drink, a stranger and you didn’t welcome me, sick and in prison …..” Not a word about “you were gay…”
The sanctity of marriage issue also is subject to all sorts of distortions. The view that the “one man one women” marriage is a sort of universal concept is nonsense. Marriage is a social construct that varies with time and place and can have many forms. Marriage evolves – look at the changes in our own society in just the last hundred years. How many people want to go back to the form of marriage in Jesus’ time? One man and possibly many women; the women basically property; different definitions of, and punishments for, adultery applying to husband and wife….
The bit that gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage also is pure nonsense. Yes, the institution of marriage in our country has major problems – but these problems have nothing to do with civil unions or gay marriage. For children one can see some advantage to having parents of different genders – but the advantage of having two parents instead of one is of much greater importance. Research in this area has been distorted by some on the right. In any case, the difference between individuals far outweighs everything else.
The argument that the purpose of marriage is to have children – be fruitful and multiply – may have had some substance a few thousand years ago. However, we are supporting our present population levels through the unsustainable consumption of resources such as oil, gas and water – all combined with enormous environmental damage. Therefore it is in the best interest of God’s creation that we stop multiplying!