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MARRIAGE: Bible reading can be illuminating

Letter by Justin Earick, Tacoma on May 31, 2012 at 8:58 am with 52 Comments »
May 31, 2012 8:58 am

I applaud two recent compassionately Christian articles (TNT, 5-20) regarding homosexual civil rights and unions.

I suggest we actually read the Bible, while understanding it’s a modern translation of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into modern terms.

First, there was no Hebrew word for homosexual. English-language biblical translation of “sodomy as homosexuality” was a 20th-century creation. Historically, biblical sodomic references were to sex slaves, temple orgies, male prostitutes and pedophilia, plus idol worship, gang rape and malevolence toward strangers and impoverished in Sodom.

Also, heterosexuals with sudden gender confusion (Paul, Romans 1), are paralleled with non-Christians. But condemnation of consensual homosexual relationships?

The Levitical code lists ceremonial ordinances (rules on tattoos, polycotton blends, Sabbath, eating shellfish, pig, leftovers) right alongside holiness instructions in Leviticus.

Also, slaves are commanded to serve faithfully, and wives submissively (Ephesians 6,5).

But Jesus taught “love your neighbor as yourself,” “judge not lest ye be judged,” “blessed are the merciful” and “in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 22,7,5 and 15).

Paul wrote, “But now, we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not to the old written code” (Romans), and warned (Galatians), “You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ, you have fallen from grace.”

My Bible can seem conflicted and contradictory, but I squint and see a big parable of peace, love and acceptance.

Leave a comment Comments → 52
  1. scooter6139 says:

    Well written Justin! Couldn’t agree more.

  2. We are no longer slaves to the law but there is nothing to suggest that the law is anything but right and proper and written by God himself. Christ came to fulfill, not jettison, the law.

  3. ithsmay says:

    Well-written, Justin!
    Biblical interpretation is a source of much discord among Christians, but the bottom line is the summing up of law as “Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.”

  4. Fibonacci says:

    sozo
    Do YOU follow all the laws in Leviticus? For example, are you removed from the family one week each month because you are unclean during your period? Leviticus DOES say that. Or, do you just choose those laws that serve your personal viewpoint?

  5. CrazyJim says:

    The main point being that some so called Christians are cherry picking parts of the bible to justify their homophobia. Just the way it is.

  6. “there is nothing to suggest that the law is anything but right and proper and written by God himself.”

    Oh geeeeeeeeeeeeez….

  7. The main point of same-sex marriage is that it is a secular civil-rights issure and will not impact christians or their chruches.

  8. “there is nothing to suggest that the law is anything but right and proper and written by God himself.”

    I’m sorry but there is EVERYTHING to suggest the law was written by man, and man only.

  9. Bible debates are moot when discussing secular governmental laws. Governmental laws in the US do not require Biblical endorsement.

    In fact, Biblical endorsement should not even be part of the debate.

  10. There was not one mention of the Bible in the discussions concerning DOMA at the 10th Circuit, and that is the way it should be. I agree with Justin completely in his interpretation of what the Bible says, but sozo has a right to believe her religion.

    sozo just doesn’t have a right to force all of the rest of us to believe exactly the same way. Freedom and equality under the law must include all people or our society is living a lie.

  11. You’d think that Christians, whose mythical Savior was denied by the Church and crucified, would have the reason to recognize rights

  12. sandblower says:

    Leave it to sozo to add an ignorant statement, which she proclaims is the truth, with no possibility of proof.
    The problems brought on by blind faith are with us every day and only by pointing them out can we expect to make progress.

  13. krumm — is there any argument against homosexual civil rights other than biblical? where do you think it comes from then? “god said one man and one woman, the gays want to redefine marriage…”

    It’s about the denial of basic civil rights and pursuit of happiness to fellow Americans, the right to publicly and legally affirm their commitment to one another like anyone else; simply based upon how they were born. It’s about the majority voting on the civil rights of a minority.

    In biblical times people traded their adolescent daughters for a goat, and the bible instructs widows to marry their in-laws.

    plus, same-sex unions have been around since the ming dynasty and the roman empire. other animals are gay, not just humans.

    and if the homophobia isn’t biblical, then where does it come from, it is pure hatred? if so, then where does that come from? the church fanning the flames of fear and angst of “the other” maybe?

    The letter poses purely biblical arguments against the justification of institutional suppression. using religion to justify homophobia is not righteous or divine in any form.

  14. Jellee, there are no valid argumenets against gay marriage IMO, Biblical or otherwise.

  15. i get that; we agree that religion should not infringe on civil rights, shouldnt be an issue in elections et al. but since those rights are being infringed upon all across the country; to what do you attribute this? i agree that church and state SHOULD be separate, but to what else can this be attributed? it’s just a question, not an accusation on you personally. my point is that i see no other apparent source for all of this homophobia. do you disagree? that was my question…

  16. Of course the source of the vast majority of homophobia is Religion. Religion with a healthy side of ignorance.

    I realize some of you think that the above statement was redundant.

  17. jellee, the same fervor of contolling other people’s lives and denying freedom has hit our nation many times. People seem to need an object of their fear and feelings of superiority.

    We still feel the leftovers of that fervor against alcoholic drinking.

    Carrie Nation epitomized the hate-filled religious dialog that filled the pulpits during the temperance movement, with Nation even applauding President McKinley’s assassination because, as a descendent of Scots-Irish, she was sure he was a secret tippler. The WCTU that she founded was still a strong influence when I was growing up in the late 1930’s and 1940’s.

    That is just one example, there are many other obvious ones.

  18. I have no wish to impose my beliefs on anyone here, but I do have a right to form my opinions of right on wrong on what I believe to be the truth. As do all of you. And with that right, an obligation to act and vote accordingly.

    I am not homophobic; that is a label others use to collectively dismiss any argument that does not coincide with their particular beliefs. Are there bigots and zealots and nutcases who “fear” and hate homosexuals? Of course there are. But it is complete fallacy to assume that everyone who questions these matters is hateful. It serves the purpose though of not having to bother with consideration of another way of looking at things.

  19. tacomascene says:

    May I please add my 2c:

    This country has too many bigots and hypocrites; and all the leaders of all the one and only true churches can take a long walk off a short pier.

    YO!

  20. surething says:

    Great letter.

  21. sozo — there is a big difference between believing something to be true, and using those beliefs to justify discrimination against fellow Americans. You do not have the right to impede the civil rights of others because of how you feel about them.

  22. old_benjamin says:

    Civil rights? Where does the right to marry someone of the same sex come from, and why has it taken so long to recognize it as a right? Presumably, the woman who recently married herself asserted her civil right to do it. Where does such nonsense end?

  23. old_benjamin says:

    There was a woman in Seattle who married a building. This kind of destruction of meaning is exactly what is at issue in changing the definition of marriage.

  24. Thanks for the laugh old_b!!

  25. old_benjamin says:

    Anytime, kluwer. I find most of your stuff quite amusing.

  26. “Where does such nonsense end?”

    The nonsense ends when you stop worrying about people’s private lives and start worrying about things that can harm you.

  27. old_benjamin says:

    Oh, I get it now, Larry. Not to worry about the institution of marriage. Right you are. It’s of no consequence historically or contemporaneously. Silly me.

  28. There was a woman in Seattle who married a building.

    So the building decides whether or not to pull the plug on her if she goes into a coma? And inherits her estate in the case of her death?

    That is a lot of responsibility for an inanimate object. WE MUST STOP THIS TRAVESTY!

  29. “institution of marriage”

    Comedy gold!

  30. The government clerk that issued the licencse should be terminated with prejudice.

  31. old_benjamin says:

    kluwer, the fact that you find the “institution of marriage” comical says more than I could ever hope to. No doubt you find the notion of the family equally hilarious. I recommend “One Million Years BC” for your further amusement.

  32. The fact certain holier-than-thou individuals think they alone get to define marriage just shows how little regard these people have for fellow citizens and their beliefs. Where these people got the idea that they get to impose their rigid “holiness code” on the rest of us i have no idea. self-righteousness at its utmost…to the enth degree

  33. and again there is no “institution of marriage”. this is a complete rewrite of history. Marriage for love is the new definition. Marriage has been a financial agreement throughout history. Oh, and same sex unions have been around since ancient times; the ming dynasty, rome. People are gay. Pets are gay. Bigots are bigots.

  34. move to pakistan and then you’ll see the historical “institution” of marriage in all its glory. Why do christians think they get to impose their own form of sharia-law? this is not a theocracy. our country was founded by people who were escaping state-sponsored religion. notice the constitution says freedom of and FROM religion.

  35. OB – did the “institution of marriage” survive the plural marriages of the Mormons?

  36. tacomascene says:

    jellee, I can dig it:

    “The fact certain holier-than-thou individuals think they alone get to define marriage just shows how little regard these people have for fellow citizens and their beliefs. Where these people got the idea that they get to impose their rigid “holiness code” on the rest of us i have no idea. self-righteousness at its utmost…to the enth degree.”

    …and that’s just one example of why religion has nothing in common with legislative and constitutional law.

    Self-styled self-serving religious hypocritical bigotry seems to be the name of the game for a lot of good ‘ol boy christians.

    And something else that really sucks:
    All the leaders of all the one and only true churches.

  37. beerBoy says:

    sozo – your claim of not being homophobic would be stronger if you didn’t regularly compare homosexuality with alcoholism. Perhaps you aren’t homophobic but you are certainly heterosexist.

  38. Huh? I’m afraid of neither alcoholics nor homosexuals, bBoy. My comparison has been about the fact that we are born sometimes with predispositions to things that are harmful to us and we are free to choose how we will address that situation. No fear. No phobia. Just an observation.

  39. I presume that all of you here who are so worried about a government controlling our sex lives likewise finds it absurd that the government assumes the right to control what we eat, smoke and wear on our heads when we ride motorcycles?

  40. sozo, even though you present false equivalencies, I will approach it as a real philosophical issue about the role of government. Government should only restrict freedoms if the actions cause significant harm. As I have often said, show me where gay marriage would harm society, harm the individuals involved or harm others, and that might create a rational reason to restrict such marriages.

    We the people in the form of our representative government look at rational and scientific studies about food production and delivery, harm to smokers, non-smokers and society in general, harm to bikers and the huge public costs for medical care and rehabilitation among that group caused by head injuries and spinal cord injuries, to determine at what level society has an interest in these issues.

    We didn’t look at passages in the Bible to determine if it says we should keep our body healthy, which it does to determine this.
    1 Cor. 6:15,19- 20
    2 Cor. 6:14-18
    Heb. 10:22

    As opposed to harming society, which no one has yet been able to show, gay marriage has, in fact, been shown to reduce certain activities which might harm society, like STD’s. Gay marriage and adoption has helped ease the adoption crisis for “unadoptable” children.

  41. Oh, and sozo, I am still waiting for evidence of Christians suffering extreme abuse and persecution in the USA that you mentioned on the other thread.

    I really do want to rally around them and help their plight. Couldn’t you at least point me to a few examples so I can get a group together to provide assistance?

  42. sozo — where did you get the idea that being gay is “harmful”? you can prance around the bigotry issue all you want, that dont make it any less harmful to your prey. you are singling out a minority, and pointing your finger in disdain, in an ill-conceived quest to suppress people you look down upon. your ilk are hate-filled bigots. you should be ashamed of anyone who espouses suppression and contempt. shame on them.

  43. beerBoy says:

    sozo – yes, the term “homophobe” is unfortunate – that is why I prefer to use “heterosexist” when categorizing those who hold bigoted views based upon sexual preference. You will note that I wrote that, if you aren’t homophobic, you clearly are heterosexist.

    However, given aislander’s whole “gay marriage = a vast conspiracy to destroy civilization” meme, I believe that he is clearly in fear of homosexuals being provided equal status and thus “homophobe” fits him.

  44. I said, tuddo, that Christians in the U.S. suffer social persecution which includes being belittled and dismissed as insigificant. Extreme physical persecution, I said, occurs in other places in the world. Is this not so? Do I really need to google the persecuted church and find stats for you?

    As for “harm” to society re gay marriage, I believe that the strength or a society is rooted in the nuclear family. We have watched the family deteriorate in our culture for many decades now. Divorce, though legal, is part of the problem IMO. I am saddened and concerned with every divorce I hear about, the only exception being in cases where a spouse or the children are being abused.

    Again IMO…in my opinion, and of course you are welcome to disagree, children need healthy mothers and fathers guiding and directing them in life. Of course love is the key, and I don’t deny that two mommies or two daddies can love a child deeply, but I believe a child needs the balanced diversity afforded by a male and female influence in his or her life.

    In my personal experience, though I think myself a fairly decent mother, my kids did not need TWO women giving them direction.They need what only their father could give them in many situations. Their father and I needed each other to keep a healthy balance in our home.

    I grew up in a brokn situation. I am not saying that kids can’t survive dysfunctin and bokenness, but I think we should do all we can to discourage it and to preserve the healthiest possible paradigm. Call me an idealist.

    As for how this affects our society, I believe children from these healthy, balanced homes will be the most effective leaders of tomorrow. Anecdotally, I can tell you that I taught school in communities that were rife with broken homes and self-serving parents and I taught school in communities that reflect what I’ve described here as “healthy” homes. Looking back over thirty years, I can promise you that the kids from that first community are pretty much living out their lives in the same brokenness they were raised in, and the kids from the latter community are now doctors, lawyers, teachers and leaders in society.

    With casual divorce, children born out of wedlock, women choosing to turn “fathers” into mere sperm donors and raise kids alon, and now with gay marriage, I believe we are acquiescing to the cultural value wherein one’s personal “bliss” reigns supreme. Happiness rules. The individual, not the unit, is valued above all else. Personal sacrifice is no longer valued…it’s all about me getting to have whatever I want.

    This “argument” will me meaningless to many here, and that’s fine, but it is what I believe and it’s what I mean when I suggest that gay marriage, in the long run…and we may not see the full-blown evidence of it for a long time…is a continuation of the deterioration of the family unit as it should be.

    I’m sure I could find plenty of articles and essays that would back up my opinion regarding the potential harm to society w/re to gay marriage, but I chose to keep this response personal intentionally.
    There is not even the slightest measure of hate in me for gay people, but some of you will insist that my personal opinion reflects hate and bigotry. You are mistaken.

  45. sozo, so you have refined your statement of Chrisitans in America suffereing “extreme abuse” and persecution to some people “belittling their points of view”. If you think that is persecution, then you must be a very sensitive soul.

    Can you just imagine, then what gays must feel when they are “belittled” to the point of their rights are actually being denied, their bodies attacked, their children denied entrance into scouting and other activities.

    If you read these threads at all, then you will see that my points are belittled all the time. I guess that means, in your eyes, that I am being persecuted for my beliefs and I am suffering extreme abuse.

    In your eyes I am a persecuted hero, having joined the military, which in your eyes made me a hero.

    And, no, you will not find any real science or study that shows gay marriage harmful. I have looked for it, searched for it, asked for it and it is not out there. But, continue believing your smug little “personal opinion”. You may not be a hater or a bigot, but your opinion is based on others’ hatred, bigotry and falsehoods, and you are just perpetuating it.

    To start with, your equating a healthy family headed by gay couples as a “broken” family is the devil working through you to perpetuate deceit.

  46. Christians in the U.S. suffer social persecution which includes being belittled and dismissed as insigificant.

    Not sure how you think all of the attention spent on garnering the Religious Right’s vote by the Republicans somehow equates to being “dismissed as insignificant”.

    And….as far as being belittled….I don’t understand why you want to be constantly praised for your faith. in the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:10, which famously says:

    “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” (KJV).

    And also:

    “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

    “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

    “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

  47. tuddo, perhaps you could point out where I said that American Christians suffer “extreme abuse?”

    As for the other discussion, believe what you will. Time will tell, since you and others favoring gay marriage will no doubt have your way.

  48. sozo:

    “Tell that to the Christians who have experienced extreme physical persecution scooter. And I’m not talking about yesteryear.”

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/05/31/bible-not-culture/#storylink=cpy

    and here you clarify that you are including the USA as well as other countries:

    “That said, there was nothing to indicate that the comment about persecution was limited to what takes place in the U.S.A. And if you are unaware of the risk Christians take in openly professing their faith in other places, you are just unaware, period.
    There are various levels of persecution. We observe it in school all the time. Social persecution is one level, and that certainly is alive and well in the U.S.”

    Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2012/05/31/bible-not-culture/#storylink=cpy

    Forgive my interpretation that persecution and abuse are similar, if not the same.

  49. At least from James J. Crook’s perspective, it is the Christians in America who are engaging in social persecution, rather than being the victims of it. I googled “social persecution” and found this:

    A Harsh Judgmental Theology

    Christianity Revisited: America’s Not-So-Christian Christian Society

    Western Christianity, as an espoused spiritual entity, shot wide of the mark when its religious dogma anchored in punishment rather than rehabilitation of the human condition. A punitive or “imposed suffering” focus to manage the faithful equates a mean theology which then creates an intolerant, mean, and sometimes quite cruel society. Christianity’s theological compass needs to be tweaked, fine tuned, and redirected back to spirituality and away from judgmentalness and punishment i.e. back to the rebuilding of fallen human beings rather than their condemnation and destruction. This commentary is all about Christianity’s punitive-type theological intolerance and the multiple social persecutions such intolerance has resulted in regarding different targeted classes of people in U. S. History, especially those among us who, at one time in our lives, found ourselves on the wrong side of the law.

    http://jamesjcrook.hubpages.com/hub/AMERICAS-NOT-SO-CHRISTIAN-CHRISTIANS

  50. eyeAManon says:

    Justin, so according to these passages, we aren’t slaves now, (Christians, that is) but the Jews certainly are still imprisoned by the law, right? Also, this is to say that God Almighty wanted us to be slaves to the law prior to the Golden Rules. (Love Thy God Love they Neighbor…)

  51. You are mis-reading my posts, tuddo. Sorry if I was unclear. I was saying that extreme persecution exists, if not in the U.S. then certainly in other places. And I was saying that there is a level of social persecution against, in particular, evangelical Christians in the U.S.

    I don’t deny that Christians can likewise persecute those who do not agree with them. This does not change the fact that evangelical Christians are frequently portrayed in a harsh light, especially by the entertainment industry. This IS a form of social persecution. I personally have suffered nothing more than the slings and arrows of unpleasant people here and there along the way, but I have known friends who were serving in foreign lands who have had to escape for their lives, and I’ve known OF many who have suffered and died for what they believed, including Dietrick Bonhoeffer. You are no doubt aware of the consequences for Christians who attempted to protect Jews in German occupied countries? But you don’t have to go back in history to find examples of assaults on Christians in countries which are not free. This of course is why I will fight always for freedom in this country….not a theocracy, but the freedom to worship as I see fit while my Muslim neighbors enjoy the same freedom.

  52. I just did a quick web search for ‘contemporary christian persecution in the US’ and found the only sites that exist solely for the purpose of claiming that christian are being persecution becasue they are christans.

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