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A Manipulation of Biblical Proportions

Dishonesty and glaring omissions deem the Religious Right's stance on homosexuality illogical and irrelevant.

January 25, 2006
By John Grevstad

Once again members of the Religious Right are trying to convince government officials to adopt the "morals" of a fundamentalist zealot.

In the state of Washington, religious conservatives led by Ken Hutcherson, a self-anointed spokesperson for God, are trying to persuade lawmakers that it is in Washington's best interest to continue denying homosexuals equal protection in housing, employment and other areas. They believe that extending these rights to our fellow citizens is not only against the teachings in the Bible, but that these kinds of liberating shenanigans put our collective soul at risk.

Before I begin a little tour through biblical morality in regards to homosexuality and an assortment of man's other transgressions, it must be noted that the fundamentalist way is to take every word written in the Bible as a literal truth. This means that all of the events in the Bible are absolute historical fact and all of the laws and moral codes are the direct commands of God and are not to be violated.

Consequently, religious conservatives must acknowledge the historical accuracy of the Adam and Eve story and "Intelligent Design." They must believe that God killed all of humanity in a worldwide flood, saving only Noah's family and the five million or so species in the animal kingdom. They must also believe in the communication problems at the Tower of Pisa and that Jonah was chillin' in the belly of a whale with Pinocchio.

Or maybe I'm getting confused. Anyhoo, the Bible is to be taken literally. I get it. We all get it.

When consulting the Old Testament, it didn't take me too long before I discovered that Hutcherson is being too easy on gay Washingtonians. The benevolent reverend only wants to deny them equal rights under state law. God wants something else. "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." (Leviticus 20:13) According to God, gay men are to be put to death for their sin.

I do find it interesting that God does not order execution for lesbians.

In spite of the words of the Lord, we all know that we can't round up all of the gay men in America and execute them. This would be "homocide." If I am not mistaken this was outlawed by those damn socialists at the Geneva Convention.

Further problems arise when God addresses other sexual sins and the resulting punishment. As it turns out, not only should we be killing gay men, but we must also kill adulterers. God says, "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife - with the wife of his neighbor - both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10) If we did this, we would have to execute Rudy Giuliani hundreds of times.

Perish the thought!

Apparently, Reverends Hutcherson, Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, et al, have had some sort of divine negotiation with God that eluded those of us who do not speak with Him on a daily basis. The result of their supposed compromise is that we can't go and kill all of the homosexual men in America; in a stroke of compassionate conservatism we must instead deny them their legal rights.

However, if we are going to continue to deny homosexuals equality because they break one of God's laws, then it is only fair that we ponder legislation that will deny the same rights to all other individuals who have broken one of God's laws. Construction on a wall separating the church and the state that reaches to the moon should start immediately.

There is one other issue at play here. The Old Testament is the religious text of Jewish people. Personally, I have never heard a Jewish American rail against homosexuality with the same venom as fundamentalist Americans. It seems that Jewish people tend to be an open-minded and tolerant group of people who see past the anger and judgment of the Old Testament God to see His mercy, love, and compassion.

It is undoubtedly a narrow minded "Christian" sect that is manipulating the Bible in their efforts to continue the practice of discrimination against homosexuals across the nation. Normal people from a variety of other religious backgrounds don't seem to care what other people do in the bedroom.

All of this religious confusion and conservative distortion of biblical law led me to the next stop on my Biblical journey: the New Testament. I needed to discover why Jesus hates homosexuals so much.

As truth would have it, He doesn't.

Jesus never utters a word about homosexuality in any of the Gospels. Even when he addresses the sin of lust he directs his lesson at men lusting after women. If homosexuals wanted to manipulate the Bible in the same way as religious conservatives they could say that this is an endorsement of man-on-man lust. However, gay culture isn't that dishonest.

There is no question that the leaders of the Religious Right are well aware that Jesus never addresses the particular sin of homosexuality. Anytime a half-baked idea enters a fundamentalist's head, they sprint to the Bible looking for support. In this case, the support does not come from the man that the religion was named after.

It does, however, come from Paul of Tarsus. Most people are familiar with what happened to Paul on the Road to Damascus. People know that he was a notorious persecutor of Christians prior to his religious conversion. After this encounter, he started to persecute just about everyone else, including homosexuals - and drunks, and tax collectors, and revilers, and liars… and yes, it is Paul who finally condemns lesbians. What a jerk.

For those who are interested, Paul's definitive list of the condemned is located in the following passages (Romans 1: 26-27) homosexuals and lesbians, and (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) everyone else.

Paul also gave us this little nugget of wisdom regarding pre-marital sex. "It is better to marry than to burn." (1 Corinthians 7:7-10) In the end, Paul's list of transgressions covers just about everybody. Hell, I'm up there four times! I drink, I revile the Religious Right, I had pre-marital sex, and I have told more that a few lies.

But at least I don't collect taxes.

Again, it is only fair that in addition to homosexuals, people committing the aforementioned sins should be denied equal rights in housing and employment. While we are at it, we might as well take away the right to get married as well.

Now, I am not the only person in the world who has a problem with Paul. Religious folk defend Paul's wacky sense of morality by saying that he was a flawed man - he also believed that slaves should honor their Christian masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2), and women shouldn't be permitted to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14: 34-35). The problem is that fundamentalists take every word that this imperfect man said as if it was spoken by Jesus. Thomas Jefferson once said, "Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." He was right.

Concerned Americans need to hold religious conservatives accountable for their habit of picking and choosing morality from the Bible with the sordid desire of influencing governmental leaders. They should believe it all – like they say they do - and persuade the government to enforce it all, or they should keep their religion to themselves. They can't single out homosexuals for discrimination and ignore the biblical transgressions of everyone else. It is illogical and it exposes their bigotry.

It is dangerous for democracy and individual freedom to allow the narrow-minded morality of the Ken Hutcherson's and James Dobson's of the world to influence our local and national government.

In a stroke of good fortune, Jesus actually warns us about the dangers of the religious braggart who use their blasphemy to influence government in His name when he said, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24: 24)

'Nuff said.

By he way: has anyone started construction on that wall to the moon yet?

John Grevstad is a high school English teacher in Tacoma, Washington. He is the author of Red State, Blue State: Defending the Liberal Jesus and Blue State Morality from Red State Religion and Hypocrisy.

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