Biblical Bigotry

The Chick-Fil-A hullabaloo is just the latest public display of human bigotry. Our seeming inability to accept each other as we are, but instead to demean, to segregate and to diminish each other, once again has a public face. It isn’t surprising to me that yet again, the bigots use the Bible to hide behind, as if to say that somehow they would accept the equal rights of all human beings if it wasn’t for this old collection of books.

The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, which Jewish tradition tells us was dictated by the God of Abraham directly to Moses, who either wrote it himself or perhaps had some scribes write it down for him. In one of these five books, Leviticus, is a chapter on the Laws of Sexuality. In it, the God of Abraham tells Moses to tell the Children of Israel that He’s got some thoughts on their sexual predilections and includes a law about homosexuality and one about getting it on with sheep:

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.”

Here’s the problem with using these words to justify your position on the rights of people to marry the person they love regardless of gender: They’re just the words of one Bronze Age Jewish man who was more likely a mythical figure than God’s mouthpiece. You’re essentially saying that you believe the Creator of the Universe telepathically communicated things to a stupefied, half-literate peasant in the desert 3,000 years ago, and that this all important communication consisted of dietary restrictions, beard trimming instructions and a command not to uncover your father’s nakedness. This is nonsense and can’t be believed by a thinking person.

The other question of course is why non-Jewish people care what the God of Abraham allegedly told the Children of Israel. Christianity is the theology of choice in the United States and Jesus Christ, the so-called Son of God, had absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality at all. Apparently, it wasn’t all that important to him, although one could make the argument that when he told us to love each other, he didn’t discriminate:

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

We’ll set aside that Jesus was also a Jew and that he was also seemingly speaking to the Children of Israel and assume his message was for all of us. If not in the words of Jesus, where does the Christian find his bigotry of choice in the New Testament to hide behind? In the writings of another Bronze Age Jewish man, Saul of Tarsus, who got his information telepathically as well, in a vision. In Romans, Saul (who changed his name to Paul) wrote:

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Paul also wrote in Corinthians:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

I have to wonder if any of the bigots who use the writings of an ignorant first century Jew as the justification for their intolerance have had sex outside of marriage, or cheated on their taxes or coveted something or is fond of the booze.

Paul would write some more of his moral guidance in Timothy but I think my point has been made. If you are using the Bible to rationalize your hatred, and you call yourself a Christian, you are using a couple of sentences written by a man who claimed to have received divine communication from the beyond, and for some reason, what Jesus chose to communicate to Paul were things Jesus never communicated himself. You’re free to believe that Paul had a vision, just as you’re free to believe Sammy Hagar was abducted by aliens, but don’t expect it to give you much credibility.

Chick-Fil-A’s CEO has taken a stand, both with his opinions and with his company’s profits. He has donated money to groups who are committed to the prevention of marriage equality in the United States and has chosen to hide behind the Israeli tribal god to disguise his personal reasons for wanting to prevent other people from entering into a committed, legal relationship. It’s difficult for me to comprehend the opposition to this honestly, because it has no bearing on anyone’s lives except the people who take the plunge. But the opposition made a public statement by stuffing their faces with chicken biscuits and waffle fries. As I saw this, all I could think of was the young people across America, who are perhaps struggling with their sexuality, having admitted only to themselves that they are gay. Their neighbors, teachers, public officials and maybe even their parents, have let them know that they are somehow less than equal. My heart goes out to these kids but they should know that in the end, bigotry loses, tyranny is vanquished, and freedom lives to fight another day.

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