Monday, August 6, 2012

Suffer Not the God-Fearing LGBTQ

The Chick-fil-A issue in California is a good reminder that we're not done.  That hundreds of people filled the restaurants in support of CEO Dan Cathy's admission that he supports "the biblical definition of the family unit" while a few LGBTQ supporters had kiss-ins, is a wake-up call that we can't be complacent about human rights.  They waver.  Just when we think we've got everyone convinced to be  accepting of harmless differences, we hit a backlash.

The religious argument about biblical definitions slays me because it completely misses the point of the Christian bit of the Bible - you know, where Jesus tells everyone to be nice to one another.  Specifically, we're not to judge anyone at all because that's God's job (Matthew7:1-5).  If you start judging your neighbour, then you're trying to act like God, and that's not cool at all.  It lifts quite a burden to stop policing one another like children do.  Don't worry about what other people are doing (unless they're causing you direct harm) because God will deal with them later.  The world is just and fair, just not right here on Earth.  All we have to do is love everyone.

If we want to follow Jesus as good Christians, then the Gospels are the go-to place for guidance.  Jesus talks about how great it is when man and woman come together for sure, but nothing about other types of relationships being a problem.  He does suggest that divorce is right out of the question unless someone's having an affair (Matt. 19), otherwise, divorcing and re-marrying is still adultery.  That might be a problem for many unhappy marriages, but we don't seem to care much about that part.  The Catholics have that wired by granted annulments instead - which suggest the marriage didn't happen because it was never consummated, but it's funny that annulments are granted even if the couple had kids.  Maybe they used a turkey-baster.

If we look further back before Jesus, however, in Deuteronomy it's suggested that cross-dressing isn't okay (22), but that was a specific prohibition to maintain difference between the Israelites and their enemies, because cross-dressing was common at the time.  The Israelites wanted to see themselves as better than others.  It's clear in Leviticus that it's better to stone a man to death than tolerate man lying with man (Lev.20:13) (no mention of women, so that's cool - more on that later), but that was all written before God had his great epiphany and shifted dramatically from the vengeance-filled "an eye for an eye"to the forgiving "turn the other cheek."  If we follow those pre-gospel laws, then we're in for a heap of problems because there are a ton of things we do that are abominations worthy of the death penalty - eating meat and cheese sandwiches (Deut.14:21), eating cows, rabbits, or pigs (Lev.11:4-7), wearing cotton-polyester blends (Lev.19:19), complaining about your parents (Lev.20:9), etc.

But back in the day homophobia wasn't always just about difference.  There was a much larger concern centuries passed that we've forgotten.  Before 1827, there was only mere speculation that female mammals had eggs inside them.  Until they were seen with a microscope, it was largely believed that every sperm was like an acorn - the entire being ready to sprout.  And the uterus was like the earth - good fertile soil.  So it was crucial to avoid spilling your seed willy-nilly on barren rocks and sand.  From this came the pronouncements that gay sex, masturbation, and sex with a barren woman were all sinful because they were all MURDER.  They all caused the death of a small but fully formed person just waiting for a place to grow.  This is why man with man was an abomination, but women could do anything they wanted with each other (but not with animals - Lev. 20:16).   But we know differently now.  We don't chastise men for sex with infertile women or for masturbating.  But this last one is still hanging in there.

We just hate what we want to hate sometimes because it's just icky to us, or sometimes because we see the hate in others, and we feel the draw in ourselves, and we have to jump on that hating bandwagon to try to stop our own desires from putting us on the wrong end of all that violence.  I also wonder if some of this condemnation is from men fearful of the possibility of being raped (see Sodom and Gomorrah).  If we wipe out all gay men, then straight men are at the top of the pecking order, able to rape but not be raped.  But if there are gay men in the mix, suddenly straight men have something to be wary of.

I think if Jesus were here, he'd tell us to stop all our hating and try to get along for crying out loud!  Or maybe we could all just stop taking our myths so literally.

It just occurred to me that the passage that gives people the most trouble is Leviticus 20:13, and maybe next year, 2013, should be the year to focus on wiping out the power of that passage with a bit of knowledge.  The backlash needs a backlash.

The fact that several mayors wanted to outlaw the restaurants in their cities, well, that's an issue for another day.

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