The "real" reason Christians disapprove of homosexuality is based entirely upon the contents of one book... the Bible: Although the Bible is really just a collection of many books that have been edited together over centuries and millennia. It includes history, poetry, legal codes, mythologies, commentary, letters, proverbs and songs. It's also divided into two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
So despite all of the "junk science" created and purported only by the anti-gay movement, there's no scientific evidence that homosexuality is in any way wrong. There's no psychological or physiological evidence that it's wrong, and we don't see anything in nature that makes it wrong. It's just this one tome. That there is prejudice and bias against homosexuals is without question. Our species has been tribal for tens of thousands of years and there has always been prejudice against those who aren't in the tribe. Still, it's the Bible that empowers these anti-gay groups. They use this book as the basis for their prejudice and they don't have to be accountable for their intolerance.
When I find myself in discussions about the issue, the first thing my detractor tells me is that "The Bible condemns it." My personal response to that is, "So?" The Bhagavad-Gita doesn't at all. The Upanishads and the Vedas don't seem to address it, and the Talmud doesn't record a single instance of anyone being brought up on charges for homosexuality.
Yes, the Bible does condemn it in a few instances, as does the Qur'an.
It's for that reason Christians feel that I need to believe as they do, and that it's their responsibility to bring me around to their point of view: and if they can't do so by persuasion, then they must do so by force.
So I stand in what might be considered 'No Man's Land.' On the one hand I watch people struggling desperately to reconcile their God and their sexuality, and on the other hand are the Christians trying desperately to impinge their viewpoint onto me and those of us who don't see life the way they do.
It's mantra of the Christian and they intone it in their best James Dobson voice. "It's against nature."
There are two approaches to this argument.
- The first approach is to agree.
It's right there in the same category as everything else we do that's against nature.
All these are things that we don't do naturally, so why is it okay to do them now?
- It's against nature for us to wear clothes.
We're born nekked.
- It's against nature for us to use a toilet instead of doing what the animals do. Where do animals go to the bathroom? Wherever they feel the urge.
Bears shit in the woods... and babies shit their diapers.
- It's against nature to plop your ass into a tin-can machine and drive it down the freeway doing 60 to 80 miles an hour.
- It's against nature to build buildings into the clouds.
- It's against nature to place yourself into a 60 ton machine and hurl yourself through the air thirty-thousand feet off the ground, at 600 miles per.
- It's against nature to marry one person and live with that person for the rest of your life
Do you know of any animals that do that?
- It's against nature to watch HBO and eat Ho-Hos.
Can you name one thing at McDonalds that's "natural"?
- It's against nature to cut into a person with light and remove a cancer cell.
- It's against nature to get pregnant using artificial methods when it's already been shown that you can't have children.
Or maybe God was telling you he didn't want you to have children?
- Which brings me to my second argument.
The very fact that we're human means that we can live "beyond nature." We are the only creatures on earth to be given the ability to reason, to think, and to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. We are the only creatures who can manipulate our environment with such energy.
- And finally, if it happens in nature, then it's natural.
If you look at the animal kingdom (as many Christians are want to do in trying to prove that nature doesn't behave this way), you will also find that most species of animal don't have families. They mate, and then the male of the species disappears and the mother is left to fend for herself and her young. In some species, the mother even disappears soon after the young are born or hatched. Some mothers eat their young.
As an aside, I've often wondered if maybe homosexuality wasn't nature's way of slowing down the population so that she could guarantee enough room for everybody. People are easy to make, more Earth is not. Right now, with the population of the planet expanding exponentially, aside from a major disaster, this is the most compassionate way for nature to slow the population. If she has to do it another way, it could be drastic, and violent. I prefer this way. So in that sense, we may even be saving the planet.
This may be the argument upon which their entire argument hinges. Of course we could argue this from an evolution perspective, and we will later, but in truth, we don't need to because, ironically, even the Bible doesn't support this argument.
We start with the story of creation: but which one?
In Genesis 1:3-2:4 we have the first story of creation. Here, God (Elohim) creates the Earth, and the animals and finally humankind. Very little fanfare is made over the creation of humankind. In fact, there's really no separation between them. Genesis 1:26-27 puts it very succinctly: "Then God (Elohim) said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
This brings up some interesting questions:
This is significant. With all these questions swirling about the nature of the first humans, there's enough uncertainty that it doesn't make the cut-and-dry argument that Fundamentalists think it does.
- First of all, who is "us" in this story? Who was God talking to and what did he mean by "image" since God apparently doesn't have an image?
- This is an important question as it will say as much about God as it does about us.
- The second question is, "Who is man?"
The first author is fairly nondescript.
- The verse says that "God created man in his image," and then goes on to say "male and female he created them." The author doesn't tell us if both Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, or if Adam was in the image of God, and Eve was in the image of Adam.
- Is the author of the first creation story (E) saying that man and women were created at the same time and both in the image of God?
- Or is it making the case that Adam was both male and female starting out and then somehow separated by God?
- How did God create the female in this story and what was the timeline?
- If God did create Adam and Eve (men and women) in his image, at the same time, then is God a hermaphrodite, so that both men and women looked like him in one way or another.
In the second story of creation, Genesis 2:4-25 God (YHWH), forms Adam first, before anything else. "And no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground - the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
YHWH, then creates a garden (Eden) for Adam to live in. in the middle of the garden, he places two trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Almost immediately after Adam is in the garden, YHWH starts to rethink his creation. In the first story of creation, Elohim ended every creative session (each day) with the phrase "and God (Elohim) saw that it was good." That is not how YHWH felt after creating Adam. In fact, the first thing out of his mouth was: "The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'"
With Adam in the garden, and the foliage created, YHWH comes to the conclusion that Adam needs a helper, or help-mate. So, in an effort to come up with the perfect helper, he goes on to form all the animals. Once he's finished, he brings them to Adam one-by-one for Adam to name. When Adam is done naming the animals, YHWH determines that none of them are really suitable as a helpmate for Adam. That's when he puts Adam to sleep, pulls out one of his ribs, and creates a counterpart, which Adam names, "Woman."
No sooner did YHWH create Eve, when she finds herself hanging out near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and meets a serpent. The serpent advises her to go ahead and eat the fruit, which she does, and then takes some to Adam.
One of the many ironies of this story is what the food represented... knowledge. What could possibly be wrong with knowledge?
The biggest irony, though, was their state of dress. Their eyes were open and they saw that they were naked. Was it a sin to be naked? If so, why did God create them so? Is it only a sin to be naked if you know you're naked? They saw themselves as they were, in their purest state, in their 'innocence,' and they were ashamed.
To the point though, the second creation story makes it very clear that God (YHWH) didn't have any particular "helpmate" in mind, and that Eve was kind of an afterthought. Therefore, it wasn't ever in the mind of God (YHWH) that it would be man and women. It was in the mind of God (YHWH) that man needed a helpmate. In that context, homosexuality fits in just fine, since homosexuality fulfills that purpose.
If the Lord don't care and he chooses to ignore-a
Tell it to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah...
The Fundamentalist's favorite narrative is the perceived "Wrath of God" on Homosexuality based on the Stories of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most Fundamentalists know this story well, and they quote it from memory. They become orgasmic with every telling.
For the sake of those unfamiliar with this oft-told tale of vengeance, I'll briefly recap so you'll have the basics.
The first thing I should do is introduce you to the cast of characters.
The setting takes place in the plains just north of the Dead Sea surrounded by cliffs and rocks.
- At the top in a starring role is God and His costar is Abraham.
In this particular story we don't see much of either, but they played a key role in the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Then there's Abraham's nephew, Lot, one of the residents of Sodom.
- Lot had a wife and two daughters (both virgins as you will soon find out).
- Rounding off the cast are two angels.
In this infamous story God decided that he had had about as much as he could take from "The Cities of the Plain," which Sodom and Gomorrah were the two most famous. "The stench of their sins" had reached him all the way into heaven is what he told Abraham one day during a visit. That must have been some stench, since it would take thousands of years traveling at the speed of light just to get out of our galaxy let alone all the way to heaven. So Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy the cities if he found any righteous people living there, and God promised that he wouldn't as long as that provision was met.
Genesis 19 opens in the evening, with two angels walking into Sodom. Abraham's nephew, Lot, is sitting at the gate when he sees them. There's no reason given for the angels' visit. Were they there to find the alleged "righteous" citizens of Sodom? Were they on reconnaissance? Maybe they were there to warn Lot. The truth is, we're not told. We don't even know what Lot was doing sitting at the gate of the city either. Who sits at the gate of a city? Was he begging? Was he on the welcoming committee? Was he on the lookout for strangers? Was he changing the locks?
Lot sees the two angels and takes them to his house fearing their safety, but they don't arrive unseen. That night all the men of the city show up to Lot's house demanding the two angels so that they may "know" (i.e. have sex with) them. Lot is appalled by their actions, so in order to save the angels, he offers in their place his two daughters who had "never known a man" (or had never had sex with a man). In other words, they were virgins.
This act only made the men angrier and they threatened Lot with the same treatment. Just as the men reach Lot's front door, one of the angels pulls Lot back inside, and the men of Sodom are struck with blindness. They then tell Lot to take his family and get out of town that night before God rains down fire from Heaven. Lot and his family were also warned not to look back.
Lot was rather attached to Sodom, so the angels had to literally take him by the hand and lead him out of the city, telling him to take his family and head for the hills. Lot protested and asked if he could head to a small nearby city. "It's a small city" he told the angels, so they agreed but he had to hurry. So for Lot's sake, they spared the city of Zoar.
Lot took his wife and his two daughters, and they left Sodom just before dawn. As the angels promised, and just as Lot's family left the city, fire came down from Heaven. Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, thus proving throughout history, that God hates fags and the women who look back upon them (i.e. fag-hags). But it turns out that Lot was still afraid and left Zoar and headed for the hills anyway, where he dwelt in a cave with his daughters.
What amazes me most about this story is that nobody seems bothered that God, of his own volition, would take it upon himself to come to a city for the sole purpose of destroying men women and children - allegedly "his" children. Isn't that out of character for a God of love? Is that how a loving father behaves toward any of his children?
What about these "men of Sodom"? Even in San Francisco, where huge amounts of men are gay, you would still be hard-pressed to find a situation where "every man in the city" would come out and demand to know two strangers.
There are several other troubling events that nobody seems to care to discuss either.
In my mind the most troubling thought is this: Lot is apparently considered a righteous man - even though he was willing to give up his two daughters to
be raped by a mob of angry men to protect two people he didn't even know.
The men of Sodom were considered evil because they wanted to have sex with two angels (adults), but were unwilling to rape two innocent girls (most
likely around the ages of eleven or twelve since they hadn't been with a man yet. That usually happened at the age of thirteen or fourteen).
Doesn' that sound backwards? Granted, rape of any kind is unwelcome, but let's ask, "What kind of father would throw his own daughters to a
mob of men like that, specifically emphasizing their virginity?"
Now Lot is a widower and his only companions are the two daughters he was so ready to sacrifice only a few hours ago. While living in their cave, the two daughters decide that they don't want to die virgins, so they conspire to have children with the only man they know. They get their father drunk and then the oldest daughter sleeps with him. The next night they get their father drunk again, and the youngest daughter sleeps with him. Both girls get pregnant and according to Genesis 19, their father had no recollection of what happened, even though it happened twice.
This brings up some interesting questions which I won't address here, but that's a lot of alcohol. I've been pretty drunk before, but I'm pretty sure I would know if I committed incest (which wasn't officially banned until later in the book of Leviticus.). Second, for a man with that amount of alcohol in his system, there's going to be some performance issues. You see, the drunker the man gets, the less likely his equipment is going to work, right up to the point where he passes out.
Yet Lot's oldest daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab. The youngest daughter gave birth to a son and named him Benammi a.k.a. Ammon, and if you know anything about the history of Israel, these two groups of people made things rather difficult for the Tribes of Israel throughout most of their developmental years.
The God in this story doesn't sound like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. What further amazes me is that it seems that it's homosexuality, not rape or incest that God finds repugnant.
Genesis 19 strikes me not as much as a condemnation against homosexuality, but a stark reminder that God's family is far more dysfunctional than any of those who oppose it. Yet these are the family values that Exodus International and Focus on the Family, and other Ex-Gay ministries are trying to aver.
If you look at the reasons given for this horrific event, there aren't any. God tells Abraham that the stench of their sins has reached him. But what was that stench? Did it smell like homosexuality? Did it smell like soiled condoms? Did it smell like lube? Did it smell like the gym? We're not told, but throughout the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah have been used to represent sins other than sexual. Usually when you hear them mentioned, Sodom and Gomorrah are synonymous with greed and selfishness, not with homosexuality. The only overt reference to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah is in Ezekiel 16, where God accuses them of being greedy and selfish. He also claims that they didn't help the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan. And then he (God) accuses Israel of being worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.
There's also another option, though. It's been considered by scholars and it does have some credence in the realm of Old Testament scholarship. Scholars have noted some interesting particulars about the story, starting with the word, "know."
Most of us laypeople think that the word "know" as it's used in the Bible refers to some sort of sexual connection as in, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord." However, only in the King James version of the Bible is the word know used in this context.
The Hebrew verb "to know" occurs 943 times in the Old Testament. Of those 943 occurrences, only ten refer to "carnal knowledge" such as Genesis 4:1. Genesis 19:5 would be the only place in the entire Bible where the word "know" would refer to homosexual relations. So, out of the 943 occurrences, 933 of those times the verb "know" means "know." Nine out of the 943 times, "know" means carnal knowledge between a man and a woman. One time out of the 943 times, "know" means gay carnal knowledge.
Within the non-sexual context, we could read the story thusly: Lot (who was not himself a citizen of Sodom but still a sojourner) invited two men to his home, and at night, though he did not have the authority to do so. The men of Sodom responded by demanding that Lot present the men he was hiding so that they might "know them." In other words, they wanted to interrogate the strangers and find out what they were doing there in Sodom in the first place. The outcome could have been tragic for Lot's guests as they could have been put out of the city in the middle of the night (and left to gangs of thieves, or predatory animals). Because they were not invited by the elders of the city, they were considered a threat.
This might also make more sense out of Lot's counteroffer to the mob in offering his virgin daughters to appease them. It certainly makes sense that if the men were straight, they would be more tempted to take Lot up on his offer. If the men had come to rape two men, why would Lot consider that they might be tempted by his two daughters instead?
The result of this translation would lead to the conclusion that the cities of the plane, Sodom and Gomorrah, were destroyed for the sin of inhospitality, a very serious crime in those days.
"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."
Jesus himself may have believed this to be the case when he gave this command to his disciples:
"Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of our feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."
(Matthew 10:14-15, Luke 10:10-12)
Another thing that frightens Christians is the perceived attack on Family Values, specifically, "Biblical Family Values." I remember receiving an e-mail at work from a friend. It seemed a certain domestic brewery was planning to use a gay couple in one of their beer advertisements. In my friend's "concern," she sent around e-mail to everyone on her e-mail list (from her work e-mail) asking them to write or call the beer company and protest the advertisement and to threaten to boycott the company all together. Of course at the time I was still hiding out in my closet so she sent it to me thinking that I felt the same way she did. In jest, I sent back an e-mail asking her if she knew the number to support the ad. She responded by reminding me that "I couldn't be serious," among other things and that upset me. So I fired back another e-mail.
First of all, I asked, are Christians really supposed to be frequenting establishments like this?
Her response to that was that she had a problem with the ad. She didn't want her children, and her nieces and nephews growing up under the influence of this "abomination."
Now I was really pissed. Friend or not, I was not going to be silent about that.
What I've noticed about Christianity in general, is that they're looking for some kind of utopia. Some place where they can live in peace and harmony. Some place where everyone thinks and acts as they do. Some place where there's no freedom of choice, no freedom of expression. Everybody's doing the same thing all the time, and nobody's offending them. It sounds like a nice world, but it isn't the world that I live in, and when we try to create such a place we end up with a little thing called the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, or worst, the Nazi Party.
I remember watching the news one day, just after the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky story broke. They were interviewing protesters, and I saw one self-righteous man reach into his wallet and pull out a picture of his kids and show it to the reporter. "What am I going to tell my kids?" he asked.
My thought at the time was, "Tell them the truth" as carefully as you can to a child, and then help them understand how much trouble the president is in, and why." To me, this was the perfect opportunity to teach the children about actions and consequences.
Of course history has revealed that the impeachment of Bill Clinton affair had nothing to do with sex. It was purely politically motivated.
Which brings up an interesting side note: Christians hate sex. Of all the evils of the world, sex is at the tippy top. You look at any Christian protest, any Christian diatribe, any Christian condemnation, and sex is at the heart of it. Every definition of immorality comes down to some sort of "unsanctioned" sexual involvement.
We are not "responsible" for your kids. Christians are terrified that their kids will grow up in an environment where gay people are given voice and they are terrified that their kids might see these ads using gay couples, and soften their views. That would bring them mental distress, and challenge their perfect utopian beliefs.
I agree that children are impressionable and that they should be offered as much protection as we can healthily give them. But to shelter them from a natural expression of love does them a great disservice. Sooner or later they're going to have to grow up and live in this big world. Any person bringing children onto the planet does so at their own risk and shouldn't expect society to change the rules because of their choice to procreate.
They're using a gay couple in a beer commercial (which I think is odd, because it's the lesbians that drink beer. Gay men drink cosmos or appletinis). If you want to make the world a better place for your children, teach them about the world... it's got its ups and its downs, and there's a plethora of people living in it. If we try and shelter children from the world, they may become like us: unable to deal with diversity, and striving desperately to make everyone around them conform rather than learning how to live with their neighbors. Isn't this what causes wars?
Six billion people are a lot of people to try and change, but one person, the person you see when you look into the mirror every morning, that's much easier.
The Real Values of the Bible's Families
Let's address this Biblical Family Values issue by looking at some of the greatest men of the Bible, and their families?
Let's start with Adam and Eve, and their sons Cain and Abel.
It's a fairly common story, but again, for those of you unfamiliar with it, here's the basic storyline from Genesis 4.
Cain, the older brother was a farmer, or as the Bible says, "tilled the soil," and Abel, the younger brother was a shepherd. He "kept the flocks." Both of them appeared before God to offer up a sacrifice. "Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord." And Abel brought "fat portions from some of the firstborn of his livestock." The Lord looked favorably on Abel's offering but for some reason he didn't look so favorably on Cain's. We're never told why, but it made Cain jealous. There is a conversation where God tells Cain that if he will do what is right, then God will look favorably on his sacrifice, but again, we're never told specifically what it is God is looking for (isn't that always the way with God). What is it that Cain needs to do to get on God's good side?
So Cain set up a meeting with his brother somewhere in a field, and when Abel showed up, "Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him."
Then God asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
Cain replied "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
God knew where Abel was and of course he was angry with Cain and cursed him so that when he worked the ground it would no longer yield its crops to him. He also told Cain he would be a restless wanderer on the earth. So the first thing Cain did was get a wife of his own (presumably one of his sisters), and have kids and build a city in the land of Nod (I guess he could have been restless: what with traffic and the noisy neighbors upstairs, and those damn kids and their music blaring at 120 decibels).
The great patriarch and founder of Israel, Abraham
Abraham always wanted a son, but his wife, Sarah, was barren.
God, on many occasions, promised Abraham that his children would be like the 'sands of the sea,' or 'the stars in the sky.' But at age eighty-six, Abraham was still childless.
One night, Sarah had a wild idea. She had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. She told Abraham to take Hagar as his wife and marry her.
As luck would have it, Hagar conceived. And from that moment, things went downhill between her and Sarah. Apparently she "began to despise her mistress." So Sarah went to Abraham once again, and while this whole affair was her idea, she blamed Abraham.
"You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering," she told Abraham.
Abraham responded by saying, "Your servant is in your hands. Do with her whatever you think best."
Sarah decided to mistreat Hagar, so much so that Hagar fled. The Angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert and told her to go back and submit to her mistress. So Hagar returned and bore Abraham's first son, Ishmael. However, it was Isaac, Abraham's second son and first son from wife Sarah, that got all of the press, and, consequently, Abraham's blessings... not to mention his money.
As a reward for being God's favorite, God demanded that Abraham take Isaac to the top of Mount Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice. Of course God stepped in at the last minute, but imagine, if you will, your father tying you up and laying you on a bunch of kindling and preparing to drive a dagger through your heart, and then light you on fire.
We like to think of Jacob, younger twin of Esau, son of Isaac, and grandson of Abraham, as one of the great patriarchs of the Bible. But Jacob was a cheat, a liar, and a thief.
He used extortion to attain his brother's birthright.
His brother Esau, who was a hunter, came to him hungry. Jacob would only feed him in return for Esau's birthright as the older brother.
When it came time for Isaac to give his sons his final blessing before he died (which included the inheritance and all his possessions), his mother concocted a scheme. "When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son." Sensing that Isaac was about to give Esau the blessing, Rebekah, Jacob's mom, dressed her younger son to look, smell, and feel like Esau. Thus Jacob again got the blessing that was supposed to go to Esau.
But his deception doesn't end there. The list of Jacob's deceptions covers several chapters of the book of Genesis. His sins were so outrageous that God eventually change his name before he could carry on his lineage as the father of Israel.
Aaron, the brother of Moses, also the first high priest of Israel in the Sinai desert, had two sons: Nadab and Abihu. They also were ordained as priests by God and by Moses. Then for some reason, they decided to disrespect God's temple, and "they took their censers, put fire in them and added incense, and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command."
If there's one thing you'll learn quickly as you read through the Bible, "Don't piss God off."
Well Nadab and Abihu did just that. So fire came from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and Aaron was told that he wasn't to morn his two sons.
Jephthah Kills his Virgin Daughter
In the book of Judges, we have another fine example of Biblical Family Values in action.
In Judges 11, a man named Jephthah found himself locked in a battle with the Ammonites (remember Ammon, the grandson of Lot?). In a desperate attempt to win the battle against the Ammonites, Jephthah promised God, "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord's and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."
Well shucks, wouldn't you know it, the first person out the door was his daughter and only child, dancing to the sound of tambourines.
When Jephthah saw his daughter, he tore his clothes and told her of his vow to the Lord.
All in all, she was fairly understanding.
"My father," she replied. "You have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised."
But then she makes one more request. It's kind of an odd request, but it makes sense.
"Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry."
So she went away and wept over her virginity for two months, and then returned.
Personally, I would have gotten the hell out of there, but she didn't. Instead she returned home and her father "did to her as he vowed."
Another tragic part of this story is that if it had been anyone else, Jephthah probably wouldn't have cared. If it was one of his servants, he would have dispatched them quickly without even allowing them a last request.
This represents the mindset of the Fundamentalists. They only care about their own. The only family values they care about are their families. If it's not their family, they don't care.
The stories of David and his family dysfunction are epic.
One night David takes a walk on the roof of his castle and sees Bathsheba taking a bath on her roof. So he invites her over. She informs the King that she's married. Her husband, Uriah the Hittite, is a soldier in David's army fighting for his king, but David sleeps with her anyway.
Soon she reveals to her king that she's pregnant. In an effort to remove the suspicion from himself, David has Uriah brought home for some special time with his wife. But Uriah is too frickin' loyal to his King and he will not go home to his wife. Instead, he sleeps at the entrance of the palace with David's servants.
So David tries another approach.
He sends Uriah to the battle front with a letter to his general, Joab. Uriah isn't privy to the information in this letter (although he delivered it), or he may have been more reluctant to pass it on.
In this letter David told Joab to put Uriah on the front lines of battle and as soon as it got heated, Joab and his men were to pull back and Uriah would be left alone.
So that's exactly what happened. Uriah was dead, betrayed by his King and David was free of a scandal.
Later in the story, David's son Amnon falls in love with his sister Tamar. "He became frustrated to the point of illness" because it was impossible for him to do anything to her. So he set up a little scheme. He had his friend, Jonadab, tell Tamar that Amnon was ill so that she would minister to him.
Amnon pretended to be sick and David sent Tamar to take care of him.
When she arrived, Amnon raped her, but once he had his jollies, "he hated her. He hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her."
He told her to get out.
She told him that making her leave would be an even greater crime than the rape itself, but they threw her out and bolted the door behind her. She could no longer wear the robes of a virgin because of her attack and she could no longer marry because of the customs in Israel.
Tamar was Absalom's favorite sister. He loved her deeply, and when he heard this he was understandably angry, setting the scene for his attempted coup d'état several years later.
Absalom did have his revenge. He took his brother to a celebration at Baal Hazor. When his brother was in high spirits from excess wine, then Absalom's servants slew him as they were instructed by Absalom. And yet Absalom is portrayed as the bad guy.
Ironically, the one king who had a good child was Saul, the father of Jonathan: of David and Jonathan. Jonathan was true to David, true to God and true to Israel. He was everything God said he wanted in a king, and yet God took the kingdom from Jonathan and handed it over to David who wasn't really true to anyone but himself. Go figure.
It's also worth noting that David never met a woman he didn't marry. Between him and his son Solomon, they probably married half the known female population at that time.
Which brings up another matter. Biblical marriage was never between one man and one woman. It was common for men to have many wives, and the women of that society were simply property.
These are just some of the stories in the Bible. These are the family values that Focus on the Family is afraid that homosexuality is threatening. To be completely honest, I don't care how great the Bible says these men were; I do not share their family values. Christianity talks at great lengths about love, but nothing mentioned here is love.
The family values of the Bible do not constitute family, or even values. As I've read through these stories, the one thing I've noticed missing throughout all of them is just that - "values." These are highly dysfunctional people who should not be emulated, but should instead serve as a stark reminder of how important it is that we as humans develop spiritually so that we no longer propagate these kinds of behaviors.
What threatens Biblical Family Values is not homosexuality, not television, not rock and roll, not Democrats, not even pornography, or a president getting a hummer in the Oval Office. What threatens Biblical Family Values is the Bible itself. As we humans become more "civilized," these behaviors are no longer acceptable to us. We now know that we should never tolerate violence of any form against children. We now know that it is deplorable to tolerate the subjugation of women or the proliferation of slavery. We now know that families must act responsibly toward one another and the communities around them if the human race has any chance for survival. Even in the name of God we now find these things appalling and unacceptable. These Biblical events may have been acceptable at one time, but they are no longer acceptable, and that's why Biblical Family Values are under attack.
Our society is now looking for is a place where children are loved and cherished, and taken care of. We are looking for a society where women are equal with men and are full human beings, capable of making their own decisions. We are trying to create a place where love is allowed to express itself however it chooses to express itself, without superstition and judgment placed upon it.
We still see it in churches. When we look at their basic structure, we see that they're set up to subjugate children, to suppress women, and to control their members.
This is where today's society is finally starting to break free. I believe that if every child on this planet were to know they were loved and cherished (not that homosexuality was wrong), then we would have heaven on earth.
I once watched a television talk show where the topic was gay adoptions. All through the show one man in particular kept protesting that if they allowed gay adoptions then the kids would turn out gay. My first thought to this argument was that every gay and lesbian person I had ever met was the product of "straight" parents, not gay parents. My parents were both straight. Sexuality is in the hard drive, not the software. I can't share my gay hardware with anyone, no matter how much I wish I could. And believe me, I had a lot of friends who would have been perfect candidates for any file-sharing software, were that possible.
I'd also like to use a little bit of math. For some reason people compare sexuality (hard drive) to environment (software) and sex (behavior). I can understand because it looks so similar. So this is where the math comes in. Let's say I have an equation. It looks something like this: X³ + X² + X and I'm told to simplify that as far as I can go. Can I simplify this any further? The answer is no. While X³ and X² and X may look similar, in fact they are three completely different integers. This is the difference between sexuality, environment, and upbringing. They look similar, but they're very different.
Another thing that bothered me about this man's argument was that in his obsession with averting any further homosexuality, he lost sight of something that I think is even more important. Most of the kids up for adoption wouldn't have a family life otherwise. Even though there are people who want to take these kids and give them a chance at a happy life, this man would rather that these kids stay in their troubled lives rather than find the support of someone who loves them, just because he didn't care for their disparity from his own viewpoint. That, to me, is the biggest tragedy. It reveals that Fundamentalists are not Pro-Life. Life is about diversity, about love, and about making sure that all those in need are being supported and loved. Fundamentalists are just anti-abortion. That's completely different.
Them of course there are the big four verses in the Bible that seem to "outright" ban homosexuality. Here they are in their entirety so that you can see them for yourself.
The first one shows up in a list of sexual prohibitions in the book of Leviticus.
Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, that is detestable.
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.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders?
1 Corinthians 6:9
And that is what some of you were.
1 Corinthians 6:11
Well there you have it. That seems pretty cut and dry. You can't argue with those injunctions can you? But let's look at what else Paul said in Corinthians, just a few verses later.
Now for the matters you wrote about. It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 1:1-2
Christians love to use this verse as a ban on Gay marriages, saying that true marriage is a union of one man, and one woman, but Paul is really just making marriage a concession to those who can't handle their morality.
I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:6
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:9
Paul also has some other commands right alongside the ban on homosexuality, and I don't see these rules enforced anymore.
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors the head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off, and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.
1 Corinthians 11:4-6
Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:15
In Leviticus, there's an injunction that says:
"Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanness to uncover her nakedness."
I don't hear that one preached from the pulpit too often.
In Leviticus 20:18 the same injunction is repeated, just a little differently.
"If a man lies with a woman in her infirmity and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has exposed her blood flow; both of them shall be cut off from among their people."
In Leviticus 20:8 it reads:
"You shall faithfully observe my laws. I the Lord make you holy."
Let's look at that closely. According to this passage, God's laws are to be obeyed. There isn't anything in this scripture that says "some of my laws." Jesus even went so far as to say if you break one commandment, you've broken them all. In the Pentateuch, there are over six hundred laws, and if we want to take one out of there, then we've got to take them all out. That means you can't show deference to the rich. You can't sow two types of seed in the same field. You can't eat blood if you eat meat. There are several types of meat you can't eat. There were many laws about sacrificial lambs and scapegoats and holidays and religious ceremonies and cleanliness. You can't just lift one of the scriptures out of this passage unless you're prepared to use them all. This is true of Leviticus, and Corinthians.
In my copy of the Torah, translated from Hebrew by the Jewish Publication Society, they have this to say about this particular verse.
Far more controversial, from the modern standpoint is the outright condemnation of sexual relations between males - conduct for which the death penalty is prescribed. We have no record of a death sentence for this crime being carried out under Jewish auspices...
In his famous 1935 letter to the concerned mother of a homosexual man, Sigmund Freud wrote, "Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness."
In many cultures there has been little or no objection to homosexual behavior. The ancient Egyptians condemned it, but it was widespread among the Greeks. In the Athens of Pericles and Plato, love affairs between teenage boys and older men were frequent and were even considered beneficial for the intellectual and moral development of the younger party. Even in societies that officially ban such practices, they occur more frequently than former generations supposed - or at least admitted. Homosexual behavior has also been noted among lower animals as well...
Our greatest needs at present are to gain more knowledge on the subject - knowledge which is sought objectively - and to insure that individual reactions to this admittedly sensitive subject do not result in the denial of simple justice and fairness of homosexual women and men.
The Torah-A Modern Commentary pp881-883
Edited by W. Gunther Plaut
Published by the Jewish Publication Society
But it can be argued that the command was reaffirmed in the New Testament, so that makes it credible, right?
What really makes me crazy with those who use the Bible to condemn homosexuality is that so many of them are fat. There is nothing more insulting than Fat Fundies screaming out that homosexuals are degrading their bodies. The Bible has just as much to say about gluttony as any other sin, yet gluttony is rampant in the church, and it's completely ignored. Obesity and the diseases that accompany it are so prevalent that the church has just now decided that maybe they should talk about it.
Many fundamentalists will say "sin is sin in the eyes of God," and completely overlook their own sin as they sit down to a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast with extra bacon, eggs over easy, salt for the hash browns and lots of syrup on those pancakes. And while you're eating, don't forget to insult your wait-staff for not getting your order right and then stiff him or her on the tip.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
And put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.
When I talk about my experiences, someone will often approach me and say, "But I know someone who's changed." I even sometimes talk to those who tell me they have succeeded. I know that if I pursue the issue with them, there will be several caveats to their change. First of all, they have to avoid any place where temptation will be available. Second, they have to avoid any contact with any homosexual who is being themselves for fear they'll be led astray themselves. Finally, they can never talk about homosexuality as being good, under any circumstances. They have to blame their past problems on their sexuality.
I've never met anyone who, I believe, has changed, and even if they did, I know many more who have abandoned any semblance of spirituality simply because they couldn't beat this thing, and God wasn't at all interested in helping them.
So again, let's look at the hard drive and the spectrum of sexuality.
Depending on where you are on this line, I think, has a lot to do with how successful you're going to be at any attempt to change. Those in the middle of the Gay/Straight line can focus their attention to one side or the other, and they can live there comfortably for quite some time. They would be what we called bi-sexual.
Others find that they would like to experiment and see what it's like on the other side, but that's just because they're a little further away from "straight" on the scale. Then there are also those of us who are definitely on the "gay" side of this spectrum. I've seen interviews with those who have claimed they have changed (there aren't very many, but there are a few) and most of the time they look to me as if they're not telling the truth about their true feelings and instead are trying to force themselves to the other side of this line. This is borne out by the plethora of reports of those who thought they had changed and then all of a sudden uprooted their families and tore their lives apart because they just couldn't "continue to live a lie."
It's the beach ball syndrome all over again. Only this time, unfortunately, there were other people involved. In fact, the list of high-profile Ex-Gay celebrities who have either come out or been outed is quite long. Here is a partial list, and that list is growing longer every day.
I read a book early on in my Ex-Gay expedition called "Beyond Rejection" and the man who wrote it claimed that he was gay because he was raped by his step father. I don't think that's how it works though. What I hear most often about child abuse and molestation is that the child perpetuates the abuse as they grow and mature. That means if a child was raped by a same-sex parent or adult, then the child may perpetuate that abuse for many years, trying to deal with all the emotions that were present during the experience. In this case, as the abused adult seeks help and works through those issues, their true sexuality will be restored to them. Notice what I said here. Their true sexuality will be restored.
The molestation argument is a favorite of the Ex-Gay counselors and most of them go to great lengths to convince their clients that their homosexuality is based in some form of inappropriate contact with men in authority.
When I first heard this I was shocked. Granted, I didn't remember a lot about my childhood, but it seemed to me that something like that would stand out. So the first time I heard it, because I couldn't remember anything, I rejected it. However, when something is repeated enough times, you start to consider its efficacy. So eventually I started to consider it. I figured it had to be one of my mom's boyfriends. I knew it couldn't have been my father since he had very little contact with me even when he was still married to my mom. And I knew it couldn't be my stepdad since those feelings had started to develop before he and my mom had met.
After hours of Soul searching and a lot of sincere prayer, I had to conclude that there was no molestation. I told my counselor that I wasn't able to find anything in the back of my head to support his assertion and that I didn't think it was fair to make accusations that couldn't be supported. So the issue was dropped and we moved on to the next topic.
Mickey, the leader of one of my Ex-Gay groups used to tell us a story about something that happened between him and his mom during our support meetings. When his mom found out that he was gay, she stood in the middle of the room and tore up his picture, and pronounced to him that he was no longer her son. Our leader cried and said, "I'll change mama, I promise."
Needless to say this is a profoundly tragic story on many levels. Mickey's mom has been dead for some time, but based on the stories he's told about their relationship, it felt to me as if there were still some profoundly unresolved conflicts. By his own admission, Mickey has to avoid Seattle (especially the Capitol Hill Area) and he encouraged the rest of us to do so too.
It appears to me that he's managed to change his behavior, but he hasn't changed his orientation.
I know of only two men in Mickey's group who claim to be successful. I know of at least thirty who have left the group and are now openly gay. The success rate in Mickey's group is abysmal, and if any other organization claimed that kind of success, they would be dismantled. The Ex-Gay groups are the only groups I know of where the success of one or two persons is celebrated and used as a model for everyone else.
Finally, there's the all-time classic, "It's the Mother/Father's fault."
I once had a guy tell me that 'the reason I was gay was because of the relationship I had with my father.' Now I've had many people tell me that and at one time that's what I believed, but what made this event stand out was my response to him.
I started laughing.
Then I asked him, "Do you know anyone... anyone at all... someone whose brother's sister's father-in-law's son's college roommate's best friend's little brother's step-dad's daughter's friend... who has had a good relationship with their father?"
I was a Christian for decades, and in that time I have seen just as many bad Christian fathers as I have ever seen outside the church, and quite frankly, inside the church it's worse because the fathers can be abusive and the children have to take it because they're Biblically obliged to submit. Absalom and Solomon had a rotten father, but they weren't gay. Isaac's father tried to kill him, but he wasn't gay. Cain's father was God's first son, and Cain didn't turn out so well (at least according to legend).
Parenting plays a big role in the upbringing of a child but let's face it, even if our parents tried to be good parents, they're only human, which means that many mistakes were made; either in delivery, or in perception. Even Jesus had issues with his parents. That's just the nature of growing up on planet earth. There are certain issues that will get exaggerated and certain problems that can be created by certain styles of parenting, but that's like saying a bad parent can make you shorter, or taller, or a different sex all together.