Not long ago, I had lunch with an old friend I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years. It was mostly fun, until we were about 45 minutes into our lunch. That’s when a couple of women walked in, holding hands. They were obviously a couple, giggling and enjoying each other’s company. I could see my friend seething at this, but when they demonstrated the audacity to kiss (GASP!), he made his disgust clear. Since I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I would soon be living about 1700 miles away, I decided to let it go, and say nothing.
Well, apparently, he thought my silence gave him license to go into full-on homophobe mode. He went on and on about how he was a Christian now, and how Jesus would disapprove and all of that. He only went on for about three or four minutes, but it felt like hours. When he finally said, “But at least it’s not two guys! That would be REALLY disgusting!” I decided not to stay silent.
“As long as some guy’s not kissing you against your will, why does it matter?” I asked calmly, with a shrug.
“It’s just disgusting, that’s all,” he said. “And that kind of thing is just plain un-Christian™.”
“Oh, is it?” I asked pointedly. “Where in the Bible does it say that?”
“I don’t remember,” hereplied ignorantly. “But I know it’s in there.”
“No, actually, it isn’t,” I told him. I then proceeded to teach him about his very own religion. You see, I’ve had this discussion many times, and I can recite it almost by rote.
First, I gave him the passages he was looking for. There are two passages is in Leviticus; 18:13 and 18:22. (I’m going to use the King James version of the Bible, since it’s the one most people grew up with, and the one least tainted by far right wing re-interpretation.) They’re in the Old Testament, which should be considered secondary authority for Christians.
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.
22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
They seem pretty clear, right? And harsh. I mean, putting them to death seems a little extreme, don’t you think? And it doesn’t mention lesbians at all, so they would seem to be in the clear. But consider the specificity of the above verses; unless you see two men doing exactly what is described above, then to claim they are doing should constitutes “bear(ing) false witness,” should it not? And that’s a Commandment; so you have to wonder where Leviticus’s rules fit in the hierarchy of allegedly God-inspired rules and regulations. And you have to wonder why the only rule that matters is that one, since Christians tend to ignore all others. This is from Leviticus 11:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. 8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. 9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. 10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
According to other rules in Leviticus, everyone who has ever eaten a steak, hamburger, bacon, hot dogs, ribs or any kind of shellfish should be treated with as much disdain as any gay man. (Again, lesbians are apparently exempt). Put simply, if you consider yourself a model Christian, but you most meat (apparently, even rodents), you don’t really believe in the rules God allegedly set forth in Leviticus. Therefore, you shouldn’t get to use it to rationalize anti-gay bigotry. See, eating a cow, pig, rabbit or lobster is an “abomination,” and that’s the same word Leviticus used to describe “(lying) with mankind, as he lieth with a woman.” If you are going to proclaim that adherence with God’s law is important, then you shouldn’t get to cherry pick some over others. That apparently means that we should immediately put all meat eaters to death, or at least deny them their basic civil rights.
And don’t think you vegetarians are off the hook, especially if you wear clothes made with mixed fabric. This is from Leviticus 19:
19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
And those of you who curse or blaspheme God in any way are also subject to death, or at least losing your basic civil rights: This is from Leviticus 24:
13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.
Every time you smack your thumb with a hammer and shout “Goddammit!” you must be put to death, or denied your rights. Of course, the law doesn’t stop there. This is from Leviticus 20:
9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. 10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
It gets even worse. This is from Leviticus 21:
16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 17 Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, 19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, 20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; 21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. 22He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. 23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
Yes, that’s right. If you are to take all the rules of Leviticus seriously, only those without physical infirmities are allowed to set foot in His church. Seriously. Does anyone really believe all of that? Of course not. Therefore, when you use “the Bible” to rationalize your bigotry, you might want to consider how hypocritical that makes you. Except for a section of Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom 1:25-27) that is at best a passing reference (and which also gives lesbians a pass), Leviticus is the only mention of homosexuality in the entire Bible.
If you’re going to swear that the Bible is the unerring Word of God, and you are going to use it to condemn people and rationalize denying them the same rights that you enjoy, you don’t get to accept one “law” and ignore those you don’t like. You have to either admit that the Bible is just a book of fables with a number of good stories and a lot of nonsense, none of which was ever meant to be taken literally, or live as if everything in that book is an absolute law.
Of course, you might want to consider what that means. For example, what about the commandment that forbids “covet(ing) thy neighbor’s goods”? Our entire economic system is based on violating that! Coveting goods is what advertising is all about. And don’t get me started on the one about “false witness.” You’d have to shut down Fox News altogether to honor that one.
Christians don’t get to cite some biblical laws to deny folks their basic civil rights, while simultaneously ignoring dozens of other because they find them inconvenient. Exodus 35:2, for example commands that you be put to death for not keeping the Sabbath. Likewise, Exodus 21:7 sanctions the sale of a daughter into slavery. Do good born-again Christians believe their daughters should be sold into slavery? Why not? God apparently said it was okay.
Unless you plan to put people to death who eat shellfish, you plan to approve of female slavery, and you intend to eliminate capitalism altogether, stop citing the Bible as an authority for your bigotry against gay people. It doesn’t matter, anyway, since we operate under a SECULAR Constitution. But unless you plan on full compliance with all biblical law yourself, you’re just a hypocrite when you cite the Bible as an authority against same-sex marriage.
Everyone deserves their full civil rights, including you, Christians Period. And if you don’t believe me, go read Matthew, Chapter 7 for a clue. There, Jesus (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) said the following:
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
What that means is, you are not in a position to judge anyone, so stop it. God can enforce his own laws; he doesn’t need your help.
There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that gives you the power to deny other people their right to enter into a marriage. the Bible does not sanction your bigotry, so stop it.