No Biblical support for condemning homosexuality

Anyone who reads Real Live Preacher‘s post on homosexuality and the bible should be able to agree that the Bible is at least very open to interpretation on the subject.  I think it  demonstrates that sacrificing cattle should be a higher priority on the Christian agenda than banning gay marriage.

I found this in the comments to Wil Wheaton’s blog post about how the push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is part of a general “divide and conquer” strategy on the part of conservatives.  I’m not sure about that, but some Republicans are pretty sleazy, especially the ones in the White House, and the FMA definitely does reek of “separate but equal” and the breakdown of the separation of church and state… Hello, this country is not composed entirely of Christians, nor should it be, that would be rather boring.  And it would probably be a pretty disgusting country if it were composed entirely of Christians who believe that their point of view should be enforced on everyone else.

Someone in the comments said that the separation of church and state means that the church shouldn’t have legislative control, not that religious beliefs should be absent from the laws, and when I google for “separation of church and state”, the third hit is noapathy.org’s The Myth of Separation of Church and State, which is a tract written along similar lines. That website says “Our U.S. Constitution was founded on Biblical principles and it was the intention of the authors for this to be a Christian nation.”  Actuallly, I would say that our Constitution was founded on Enlightenment principles and many of the founding fathers tended towards Deism a la Thomas Paine, but fair enough, I’m willing to grant that many of the founding fathers were Evangelical Christians.  This doesn’t mean that the Bible should necessarily be interpreted to ban homosexuality or gay marriage, and it doesn’t mean that Biblical morality should be forced upon everyone in the country whether they believe in it or not.  Noapathy.org says “Congress has passed laws that it is illegal to murder and steal, which is the legislation of morality.  These standards of morality are found in the Bible.  Should we remove them from law because the church should be separated from the state?”  This is fallacious reasoning, because it assumes that the only reason to oppose murder and robbery is Biblical authority.  There are many other reasons why you may oppose murder and stealing, and it is generally accepted that these things are bad.  Even if there were peolpe who did not accept that murder is bad, it directly harms the “life, liberty and property” of others.  It is not generally accepted that gay marriage is evil, and it does not directly (or indirectly, as far as I can tell) harm the life, liberty or pursuit of happiness of others.  Some people may believe that activities which do not harm anyone can still be held to be evil.  I have nothing to say to such people, I can only wish that they would mind their own business.

Others say that supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is not as reprehensible as racism, and definitely is not the same as racism.  I’m not so sure about that, as Ernest Miller points out there are suspicious similarities to the Anti-Miscegenation Amendment.  For kicks, you should check out this Creative Commons licensed song that remixes the Supreme Court argument in a case that argued for state prohibition of interracial marriages.  I replied to J. LeRoy’s blog post where he posted the song with this:

I find this speech particularly disturbing, as my mother is Chinese and my father is a typical mix of Europeanness… this man is essentially arguing that my parents shouldn’t have been allowed to marry and I shouldn’t exist. My parents were married in the 70’s, not very long after this decision. They are still happily married, despite “increased tensions” or whatever this fellow is arguing makes interracial marriages so detrimental to society.

This hits a little bit too close to home for me, and makes the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment all the more creepy. How many times do we have to go through this before people figure out that love is good, and should be treasured, not banned or outlawed?

Someone said on Wil Wheaton’s blog “There are no simularities between the Defence of Marriage Act, a proposed Constitutional amendmant to affirm marriage is — as defined — between a man and a woman, and the anti-miscegenation proposals.” I beg to differ… the same argument was being put forth in that Supreme Court case, that allowing gays to marry is a slippery slope, that it will reduce the value of “traditional marriages”, and it would lead to the acceptance of incestuous marriages and underage marriages.  As others have said elsewhere, incestuous marriages and underage marriages both cannot be clearly declared to be the actions of consenting adults (incestuous relationships can leverage family ties to force sexual relationships and marriage upon a less willing partner).  Gay marriage and interracial marriage do not suffer from any such problem.  “Polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality why stop there?” one poster says.  Well, I think that there is a legitimate question about why marrying multiple people should be illegal, the nuclear family has been a failure, and I’m not sure why if we cannot have a large, supportive family through traditional means (the extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.), why we can’t build a large family through alternate methods, so long as the participants are consenting adults.  But pedophilia and bestiality are clearly not relations among consenting adults.

And then someone posted a comment (on Wil Wheaton’s blog, again) about how the phrase “sanctity of marriage” shouldn’t be used by anyone who supposedly follows the teachings of Martin Luther, such as Bush, who claims to be a methodist:

I think the thing that annoys me the most is that Bush and his ilk are trying to justify their deep-seated homophobia through quoting doctrine that doesn’t even apply to their professed faith, which is just hypocritical.

Marriage didn’t become a religious issue in the Christian tradition until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) under Pope Innocent III. Prior to that marriage was a civil, contractual affair. So the “sanctity of marriage” within the confines of the Catholic Church only–not Christianity as a whole–is a mere 800 years old. (It is notably also the only of the seven sacraments in the Catholic tradition that was not commissioned by Christ, since it was a preexisting civil condition, which I consider further evidence of its questionable status as a sacrament.)

Since the schism between orthodox and catholic church had already happened by then–in 1054 to be exact–I’m assuming that the orthodox churches made marriage one of their holy mysteries at one of their ecumenical councils at some point, but I don’t know when.

Martin Luther, on the other hand, was very vocal that, “Not only is the sacramental character of matrimony without foundation in Scripture; but the very traditions, which claim such sacredness for it, are a mere jest… Marriage may therefore be a figure of Christ and the Church; it is, however, no Divinely instituted sacrament, but the invention of men in the Church, arising from ignorance of the subject.” (cf. “Von den Ehensachen,” “De captivitate Babylonica”) Therefore any denomination that follows the Reformed tradition of Luther (Calvinists, Presbyterians, Puritans, Congregationalists, United Church of Christ, and Baptists) technically shouldn’t believe in the sanctity to marriage to begin with (regardless of whether they actually do), because it is contrary Luther’s teachings.

Bush claims to be a Methodist, and Methodists only recognize baptism and communion as sacraments. So whenever he’s talking of “the sanctity of marriage” I’m thinking he either doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, or else he hasn’t looked up the dictionary definition of the word “sanctity.”

And I’ll be buying your book, mostly because I wish a lot more celebrities had the guts to do what you just did by posting this. Thank you.

Posted by: Gio on February 26, 2004 04:25 PM

These Christian technicalities are beyond my ability to analyze for accuracy, unfortunately.  In the end, I can only reiterate my position, that the government should not bother people who aren’t hurting anyone.

2 thoughts on “No Biblical support for condemning homosexuality

  1. Of course the “separate but equal” idea never works in practice, but in this case the situation would be particularly unequal, as even IF every state adopted civil union laws, those unions would not necessarily be recognized in other states. Even more importantly, over 1,000 legal protections that come with a civil marriage are federal, meaning that same-sex couples would be denied those protections.

  2. Actually, if I take the position that “the government should not bother people who aren’t hurting anyone”, that doesn’t commit me to any particular position as to whether the government should bother people who ARE hurting others. Sometimes it may be appropriate, at other times it might not. Perhaps I should have said “harm” rather than “hurt”, but I believe my point stands… I don’t see a flaw in my logic, and I don’t understand how you justify nullifying the 1st Amendment based on my argument.

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