December 20, 2008

for your consideration

Okay, I didn't write this, so it doesn't really count as me posting, but I really am trying to get back into the swing of things, guys. Just been a really busy week for me with the working, the shopping, dogs being sick, etc. (Cleaning up six different slime-puddles at 5:30 am sucks, by the way!)

Anyway, I just wanted to offer an article for y'all to read...

GLBT Community Should Know Bible
Ruth Schneider

I went to see "Milk" this week, intending to write a review of the movie.

The new film about Harvey Milk, the first out-of-the-closet elected official, is already winning copious film awards. And I highly recommend it, but I'm not going to write a review.

While watching it, I was struck by how far the gay-rights movement has come in 30 years. As a product of the '70s, I am thankful that the prevailing attitudes — attitudes of homophobia, even in San Francisco — have changed.

In many ways, Milk was a symbol of the gay-rights movement. As he says in the movie, he was "a homosexual with power." He probably wouldn't have taken credit for it himself, but he mobilized the movement.

And for that I'm thankful — thankful I was never beaten in gay bars by police; thankful I don't have to worry about losing my job because I'm a lesbian; thankful I can walk down the street at night without having to look over my shoulder.

But the most striking difference between then and now is the nature of the fight.

In the '70s, it seemed the churches fought back on the grounds that gay men and lesbians could not reproduce, defying the basic nature of a family.

In the decades since, it has become apparent there are millions of GLBT parents raising children.

And it's clear that queer families raise children who are no better and no worse than the offspring of straight couples.

Today's battle, spurred by the passage of California's Proposition 8 in November, is a direct attack against interpretations of the Bible.

And it was highlighted by Thursday's pick by President-elect Barack Obama to have the Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.

Warren, the proponent of Propostion 8, repeatedly has compared same-sex marriage with incest and pedophilia.

He uses his pulpit to further hatred about the GLBT community.

"The vast majority of Americans view the Bible as authoritative in one way or another. We have to understand where they're coming from. We have to speak their language, and we have to speak to them in a way they understand," said Patrick Chapman, author of "Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays" and a South Puget Sound Community College anthropology instructor.

"Given that our rights are being voted on by them, we have to speak their language," Chapman said.

Leviticus 18:22 possibly is the most common scripture cited that calls gay sex an abomination. The King James version of the Bible translates the line, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

Chapman said, "What you have are Leviticus and Deuteronomy. They are basically regulations that deal with purity violations. Eating lobster is a purity violation, as was eating dolphins, bats and pork."

But, as "Prop. 8: The Musical," a short video put out by points out, many pick and choose which regulations to follow.

"You'll find that most conservative Christians don't care about these purity violations because Jesus, Peter and Paul all dismiss the purity violations, so they don't see those types of things as being relevant anymore," Chapman said.

So why is gay-male sex still an abomination? Why is that relevant? What makes it more relevant than the rule banning men from having sex with women who are having their period?

"They will argue that is still relevant because they are condemned in the New Testament," Chapman said.

Really, it comes down to a matter of interpretation and translation. Both the New Testament and the Old are rife with possible examples of same-sex relationships.

Chapman cites a story in the New Testament of a Roman centurion and his six servants.

"The words used in Greek can be interpreted in different ways. You can interpret that as his servant, but it can also be the word for 'his boy.' The wording used and the description of the boy or the servant was his beloved," Chapman said. "Given that we know Romans had same-sex male relationships, it can be interpreted as that."

Corinthians also is commonly used in defense of fundamentalist arguments that homosexuality is a sin.

A modern translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Chapman said, "One of the verses that they use against us is 1 Corinthians 6:9, which explicitly says no homosexuals will go to heaven. But before 1952, no Bible had that. It is very difficult to find any translation that Sodomites will not go to heaven. It's very difficult to find any modern American Christian that knows that."

Which is precisely why the GLBT community needs to be versed in the Bible. That does not mean we need to believe it. But we need to know it.

We need to be able to defend ourselves in this, the new gay-rights fight.

"They need to know what the Bible says. They need to know what biblical scholars say about the Bible. When I enter dialogue with Christians, they are never able to respond," Chapman said. "That is one of the reasons I wrote my book — to give gays, lesbians, bisexuals what they need to defend themselves."

We must be armed for the new fight.

We need to be ready to fight the Rick Warrens of the world.

Ruth Schneider has a mixed religious background. Contact her at

From The Olympian.

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