Sunday, June 04, 2006

What's the Big Deal About Gay Marriage?

So gay people want to get married. What is the big deal? Amid the ongoing problems this country has faced since Katrina, and the death and destruction of our military overseas, President Bush is pushing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. However, surprisingly or not, many black folks -- specifically, the black church -- support Bush in his efforts.

According to a 2004 Washington Post article, "opposition to same-sex marriage in the black church may influence black voting in the presidential election. A survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies showed that 18 percent of black Americans say they support President Bush, who has said he would support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage."

I have had this debate with many people, including some in my own family, and I am always disappointed to hear them constantly refer to the Bible as their source for condemning gay relationships. First, the Bible does not say anything about same-sex marriage. Someone please correct if I am wrong. Second, people -- black and white -- love to refer to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as the pinnacle anti-gay passage in the Bible. But why do black folks think it is okay to give the Bible such a strict, plain meaning interpretation? If the courts gave the U.S. Constitution the same strict, plain meaning interpretation, black folks would still be only three-fifths of human beings and enslaved, as the drafters of the Constitution intended. However, the courts have recognized -- very slowly -- that the Constitution has evolved over time, and it has a different interpretation now than it did back then. Likewise, I think Christians need to realize that the Bible is a living and breathing document that must evolve over time. I cannot understand why people are so against gay relationships and marriage. I cannot see how those relationships in any way affect the lives of heterosexuals. I am sure many people with disagree with me, and I urge you to post your comments. Intelligent disagreement is better than no discussion at all. But answer me this: how does the marriage of two same-sex people jeopardize the state of marriage between heterosexual people?

Focusing on gay marriage rather than the deaths of our soldiers and the people left homeless by Katrina? At least we have our priorities straight.

--Notta

10 comments:

tryin2learn said...

Before we look at gay marriage, first we have to remember what the Bible says about homosexuality. The Bible clearly and consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). God does not create a person with homosexual desires. A person becomes a homosexual because of sin (Romans 1:24-27), and ultimately because of his or her own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person choosing to sin by giving into their sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger / rage, does that make it right for them to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true for homosexuality.

To give sanction to homosexual marriage would be to give approval to that lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful. I believe that Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage. Marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Homosexual marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. God forbids and condemns homosexuality, so He clearly is opposed to homosexual marriage. As Christians, we are to seek to share the love of God and salvation through Christ with homosexuals. We are to be loving and kind to homosexuals, while at the same time not condoning their sinful lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, the United States is not a theocracy in which religious extremism rules. Notta, I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I think that exploiting black folks' homophobic tendancies serves to take our eyes off the prize and instead focus on discriminating against another group of people. It's ironic that black people, the most downtrodden of America's races, jump so excitedly on the bandwagon of making another group second class citizens. Shameful.

Additionally, I try to remind myself to treat others the way I would like to be treated. Count the number of times Jesus says the word "love" in the Bible -- my guess is that "love" outnumbers "discriminate against gay people in my name". THAT is a perversion -- to get so wrapped up in self-righteousness that one forgets to treat others with dignity, respect, and decency. There is nothing inconsistent in being a strong Christian and supporting gay marriage, and Christ himself warned us about becoming too obsessed with the speck in our neighbor's eye that we are unable to see the plank in our own.

I support gay rights, and I support gay marriage. Do I believe that churches should endorse gay marriage? Not at all -- I think each church should decided for itself whether or not it chooses to do so. But to deny the legal protections of marriage to gay people because it "threatens" heteroes is weird. I am no less my husband's wife if the man next door is married to another man.

Anonymous said...

Trying to learn...with all due respect, did you go to one of those anti-gay websites and copy and paste your response in reply to this blog? There is nothing original nor insightful about what you have said.

Within the very chapters of the Bible lie many other antiquated and questionably obsolete admonitions...many of which we do not even bother to follow because of the passage of time and the changes in society.

I think what Notta was asking is, given all of the other pressing issues, what is the big deal about gay marriage? It is pretty clear to many people that this is yet another attempt to mobilize the conservative right wing as we move into another campaign season.

Unfortunately, many of the people who rally behind this issue with the most fervor are the same ones who are struggling under this administration's policies. I don't know if it's ignorance or what...but black people who fall for this will ultimately feel the brunt of the other policies that will piggy back on the anti-gay agenda.

Healthcare for our senior citizens is abysmal, many of seniors are cutting their pills in half to make their medicine stretch so that they can eat. Public education is in a state of decay...especially in urban areas. AIDs, other STDs, teen pregnancy, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and a host of other health calamities disproportionately infect and affect our communities-- I haven't even mentioned our horrible criminal justice system, pervasive racism, sexism, classism and corporate and government wrongdoing and the ongoing war we are in "Operation Seize the Oil."

The afformentioned list of potential political soapbox issues in this country is not complete, however, I've listed enough issues to demonstrate the folly of Bush's anti-gay agenda. Without question, Bush should be concerned about a lot more than the issue of Adam and Eve v. Adam and Steve.

BTW...I couldn't help but notice that your email presumes that Christianity is our government's official religion and that our policies should be guided by the Bible. Tip: there is no official government religion in the United States, thus, government policies and constitutional amendments should not be grounded in the randomly selected bible verses. This is the same type of tired rhetoric that was used to enslave black people and deny interracial marriages.

If Bush is really concerned about the sanctity of marriage and the stability of the "Traditional American Family"...then he should be supporting an anti-divorce constitutional amendment! But somehow...I don't think that would fly.

Notta Golddigger said...

I think the last comment brings up a good point about antiquated verses in the Bible. The book of Leviticus clearly states that a woman is "unclean" for seven days, and anyone who touches a woman during her cycle is also unclean for seven days. And on the eighth day, the woman shall "atone" for her sin of uncleanliness. HUH???

Clearly we don't follow this antiquated passage in the Bible, so we are Christians so quick to enforce other antiquated passages? I think it is hypocritical for Christians, or any other religious group, to pick and choose which passages in the Bible (or other book of worship) they want to follow, while ignoring the rest.

Just my two cents.

--Notta

Jusreadin said...

This is an interesting topic. I agree that the Bush adminsitration is using this topic as a wedge issue to appeal to the nation's more homophobic convictions. The proof is in the fact that they ran on a platform where this was a key issue, and have not addressed it until five months before an election. Nonetheless, I agree with Tryin2learn. I have to completely disagree with the statement that there is nothing inconsistent with being a strong Christian and supporting gay marriage. I would have to wonder what Bible a Christian who thought that way was reading. Sure, Sodom and Gomorrah is a key story that many people cite when referencing God's attitude toward homosexuals. However, what seems to be lost in this discussion is that the New Testament also states that homosexuality is an abomination. I Corinthians 6 states that, among others, adulterers, homosexuals, and idoloters will not inherit the kindgom of heaven. The bottom line, at least for a Christian, is that if it is an abomination to God, then we too are bound by God's word to think of it as against God's will. I cannot say that I accept Christ and his teachings, and yet agree that same-sex marriage, let alone homosexuality, is ok.

Jesus does say the word "love" plenty of times in the Bible. Love is the greatest gift there is. As the matter of fact, it sums up the one great commandment that He preached: Love they neighbor as thyself. Being against homosexuality is not the same as not loving homosexuals, or discriminating against them. Christians look to how relationships started to determine how they should be. Not only does the Bible explicitly call homosexuality an abomination, but when God made a companion for Adam, it was a woman, not a man. For Christians, the fact that the Old and New Testaments have the same opinion of homosexuality guides our belief system with reference to that particular issue.

Jesus' reference to being aware of one's own issues before trying to tell someone about theirs has to be taken in context. Jesus is teaching us not to point a finger about someone else's faults when we are not even trying to deal with our own issues. For instance, I cannot ream a man for being homosexual if I am unfaithful to my wife. The Bible says that "All have sinned," not "Ya'll have sinned." But, if I am a man who walks like Christ, and tries to live every day in a manner that is pleasing to him, then, according to Matthew 7:5, I can see clearly to chastise another brother or sister about their sinful lifestyle. The Bible says that a wise man will love you if you give him instruction. A fool will hate you. My comment is not to say that Christians are perfect. Lord knows we are not. We are tempted the same way anyone else would be. However, although we may slip at times, we know that God is faithful to forgive a repentant heart, and wipe the slate clean. This is different from someone who says, "This is who I am, and God has to accept me this way." Although Christians are not perfect, we are still bound to strive for perfection, or to be like Christ.

Also, I do not believe that we can separate Christianity from the law. As Jesus taught, following His commandment automatically fulfills the law (i.e. love of your neighbor will not allow you to murder, steal from, or covet his goods; love of God will not allow you to do those things either, or commit idolotry, or live a lifestyle not pleaseing to HIm). Now, here is where I believe that I find some common ground with anonymous. While I am a Christian, I do not believe that my beliefs should be forced onto anyone else. Jesus was a gentleman, and He gave us a choice to either follow Him or the world. There is no in between, as you cannot serve two masters. Therefore, Homosexuals deserve the respect and dignity that all of us do. They are free to live whatever lifestyle they choose. No one is saying that they should not be served at public restaurants, or be able to get an education because of their sexual orientation. They are also free to suffer the consequences for their choices. Yes, Jesus loves all of His children, but He loves us enough to allow us to choose hell if we want. And that's not just for homosexuals. That applies to those who do not accept Christ, those who serve other Gods, unrepentant adulterers, fornicators, theives, and murderers. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but you get my point. It is not my job to be judgmental, and I preface everything I say by stating that I read and study the Bible daily, and pray for guidance. I owe all that I am to Christ, so I am only speaking the truth of God's word as it is given to me.

There are countless problems that this nation could and should be dealing with apart from same-sex marriage. I certainly agree with that. But I will say that, while it is certainly a homosexual's right to choose their lifestyle, the Government surely does not have to sanction it. The U.S. may not have an official government religion, but this nation was founded on Christian principles. Even our U.S. Supreme Court has sculptures of the ten commandments, and Moses. Even if it didn't, my belief in Christ and my acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God is enough for me to oppose same-sex marriage (I can't oppose the act and approve of the union). I will agree with anonymous that this nation's founders held slaves. They were human. Holding slaves was despicable, but anyone can use their religious beliefs to support something that's wrong, or to promote their own selfish desires. That does not make the Bible or Christ's teachings any less true. In fact, Christ loves justice and righteousness. Slavery did end, didn't it? He did send forth brave men and women of all races, creeds and colors to fight, bleed, sweat, and die to end the establishment of slavery and racism in this country, didn't He? The same way with the Israelites and Egypt. He also allowed the Israelites, like our ancestors, to endure slavery for a time....until we called on His name and accepted Him as Lord.

Notta, as for the unclean woman reference, again that has to be taken in context. There is a long explanation to this rule, and I'm sure I've taken up enough room. I'll end by saying that, while we may not agree on everything, I respect your opinions. If you are not Christian, I hope and pray that you come to the knowledge of the truth that is in Christ Jesus. Read and study His word, and ask for guidance and wisdom. If you are a Christian, then like me you will continue to grow and learn, becoming more like Him every day. I don't necessarily agree with Bush's politics, but I have to pray for him and his administration. God says that "if my people who are called by my name would humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Christians have a duty to pray for those who govern us. Even if our leaders are corrupt, the Saints have power through prayer to entreat God for change. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, and we spend too much time speaking death into this land, cutting our leaders down. Sure, they leave A LOT to be desired, but I don't depend on them ultimately. If you depend on men you'll always be disappointed. I depend on Christ, who will never fail me (and never has). God bless.

knibilnats said...

"how does the marriage of two same-sex people jeopardize the state of marriage between heterosexual people?"

I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps if gay marriage becomes legal, heterosexual marriage will then become illegal. Maybe that's the gay agenda.

Notta Golddigger said...

Jusreadin --

Thank you for comments, I also respect your opinion -- but I also have to respectfully disagree with you.

You made many statements that I could take to task; however one comment sticks out for me. Your comment, "Yes, Jesus loves all of His children, but He loves us enough to allow us to choose hell if we want. And that's not just for homosexuals. That applies to those who do not accept Christ, those who serve other Gods, unrepentant adulterers, fornicators, theives, and murderers," is bothersome to me. The fact that some Christians, and other religious groups, would tell someone he is going to hell because he is gay (whether or not you think he was born that way), or because he doesn't worship Jesus, is almost laughable to me. I think that display of intolerance is just as bad as the intolerance white folks exhibited -- and continue to exhibit -- towards black folks, except that those Christians use the Bible as a crutch to support their bigotry.

No one has yet addressed my comment about giving the Bible such a strict, plain meaning interpretation; and the similarities with a strict, plain meaning interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. I would still like to hear someone comment on that.

The Bible has been interpreted and reinterpreted over and over again. That said, who is the authority on Bible interpretation? Why do you think that your interpretation of it is superior to someone else's? I don't have a problem with using the Bible as a guide for your life; however, I do have a problem with people who exhibit intolerant and discriminating behavior, and then constantly use the Bible to support their intolerance and discriminatory attitudes.

--Notta

jusreadin said...

Notta,

I, too, appreciate your comments. I must make a point of clarification on something, though. You certainly have the right to feel it is laughable when a Christian mentions hell in these circumstances. Please understand that there are some people who love to be judgmental and tell people they are going to hell. I'm not one of those people. My comment was that Jesus would allow us to go to hell if we so choose. It may seem harsh, but as a Christian, it is not my job to water down God's word. It is my duty as a follower of Christ to state what is in His word. Like Christ, it is not my hope that anyone would go to hell. It is my hope that all people would repent of their sins, accept Jesus as Lord, and accept the gift of eternal life that is promised to those who follow Christ. But, the Bible is clear that Christ is the only way to salvation, and that those who choose not to follow him, and choose to die in their sinful ways, can only go one place.

I will concede that one would have to be a Christian to believe the way I do. I know that there are other faiths that believe the same way, but I cannot speak for them. I can only speak concerning the truth as I have accepted it in Christ Jesus through the study of His word, and through the wisdom He has blessed me with in my personal relationship with Him. Again, it is not my place to condemn someone else to hell. I don't have the keys to open or close that place. But I do worship Christ, and I accept the Bible as truth. Therefore, I have to accept all of its teachings. The Bible is clear on who will go to hell. Those are God's words, not mine. Jesus preached about hell, so why would I think that I am to do any less as a follower of Christ?

You are correct to a certain extent when you use the word "intolerance," but only insofar as God is completely intolerant of all sinful acts. The Bible teaches that the wages of SIN is death. That is ALL sin, not just some. No sin is worse than the other, as they all carry the same wages, death. Homosexuality is a sin, and just as much of an abomination to God as any other sin I could name. There is salvation for those who turn from their sinful ways and accept Christ. Christ's death on the cross for all of humanity guaranteed that. But for those who refuse to accept Him, and continue instead to live in ways that are not pleasing to God, there is unfortunately only one place to go. I don't say that because I want it to be so. I say it humbly in acknowledgment that it is a harsh reality, and I must be about my heavenly Father's business, regardless of what others might perceive it to be. I would rather ruffle anyone's feathers than anger my God after all He has done for me.

I do not believe that it is intolerance in terms of the bigotry exhibited by racist whites, past and present. Many of them did use the Bible as a crutch for their beliefs, but the Bible does not support slavery or racism in any way. As I stated before, anyone can twist God's word to justify or fulfill their own selfish, evil desires. That does not make God's word void, or somehow wrong. It makes those who misuse His word hypocrites and fakes. The Bible makes it clear that people who act in such a way and believe that they are doing Him service do not truly know Him.

As for the Bible being old and antiquated, I will agree that it is old. But God's word also teaches me that God is the same today, tomorrow and forever. There is certainly symbolism in the Bible; plenty of it in the book of Daniel and Revelations. God's wisdom reveals the truth of that symbolism to those who diligently seek it. I would be honored to answer any questions you have concerning what you feel may be contradictions, or just flat out outdated rules. For purposes of the topic of this week, though, God's word, in no uncertain terms, is against such underlying behavior. Certainly it is against same-sex unions. There is no place for evolution or re-interpretation due to the times changing. God was against it from the beginning, and since He is unchanging, He is against it today. Homosexuals are free to choose their lifestyles. I have a few homosexual friends. They know my beliefs, and I know how they feel. I love them very much, because Christ first loved me. I pray and hope that they will turn from their lifestyles, but it is not my decision to make. I don't treat them any differently than I would anyone else. Why would I? Many of my heterosexual friends are not married, and they have sex for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I used to be the same way. I changed my life, though. It pleased God and He has blessed me abundantly for following Him. Thank God for marriage! You see, God was patient with me. Therefore, I must be patient with others and remember my own past. I also know that God is equally patient with all sinners.

Sure the Bible has been interpreted over and over. It's the most read document in the world. As for the authority on its interpretation, it's simple. Anyone whom God blesses with the gift of wisdom and understanding. Those are people who diligently seek Him, and obey His word. They are filled with His Spirit, who guides them, and will make plain His teachings. I have been blessed with that gift, and a few others. Don't get me wrong, there are several mysteries that will not be revealed until Jesus returns (i.e. when Christ will return).

Finally, the Constitution is a document drafted by man and interpreted by man. It can certainly evolve as man is fallible. God's word was written by men at the direction and divine revelation of God. It is set, and is not to have one word added or subtracted from it. Those who accept the Bible as God's word will live their lives by it. It will automatically determine their outlook on certain issues. If God is against it, so are we, and vice versa. If you feel that God's word is discriminatory, you are certainly entitled to that. As I believe that Christ is the only true God and the supreme authority over all, I accept it and believe that He, above anyone else, is certainly entitled as the creator to dictate what is righteous and what is wicked, good and evil, concerning the created. Much love, sistah. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I think much of the confusion about "how to interpret" the Bible stems from the fact that many people do not understand how the Bible is set up. Many of you are citing "outdated" laws from the Bible, because that is exactly what they are- "outdated." The Bible makes this clear if you search out the truth in it.

In short, the Old Testament is just a guide for us now. An example of how to live or not to live, but it is in no means law. To understand how Jesus really wants us to live our lives, we must only search the New Testament. And while this may seem unfortunate to many, the New Testament is not silent on the sin of homosexuality.

First of all, you have to come with the understanding that the Bible is right. If you don't agree with that position, then you will not agree with much of what I will say. Second, you have to believe in Jesus and believe that he is our savior. Again, if you have not crossed that hurdle, then I can understand why you would not agree with me. My point is though that when Jesus died on the cross, with that death established his kingdom. At that point, God said all old laws were done away with (the OLD Testament), and Jesus' laws now rule (the NEW Testament). This is why a woman is not unclean for seven days, we can eat whatever God has blessed us to eat, our hands won't get cut off, etc, etc, etc.

To answer your question about why there is such a strict interpretation of the Bible, it is that way because Jesus has taught us to interpret it that way.

Revelation 22:28-19 reads:

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Again, you have to believe that the Bible is right (on all points) to agree with this. A true Christian will never pick and choose what they will and won't follow in the Bible. Doesn't mean they won't make mistakes, but they will know they faltered and hopefully repent of their sins.

With that said, I also agree that is a sin is a sin is a sin. The sins that I commit are no less offensive to God than the sins of another person (whether it be hating, lying, stealing, lusting, gluttony (over indulgence), slothfulness (laziness), getting drunk, or even homosexuality).

There will always be much debate over the Bible and how it is interpreted. But those that truly want to understand it (whether or not they believe in Jesus or the veracity of the Bible) will eventually see its how it comes together and how there can only be one interpretation. Those that don't seek to understand the Bible will be the ones that misinterpreted it and spread confusion about it. And of course you always have to look out for those that do understand the Bible, but choose to misinterpret it for their own personal gain.

With that said, I invite you to read and study the Bible for yourself. Even if you don't agree with it, it will help you better formulate your position on the same.

Amanda

Ehav Ever said...

Greetings. As someone who can read Hebrew I can tell you that the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) did prohibit the Israelites from having same sex relations, and marriage. In the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) sleeping with a woman was the same as marrying her.

Yet, the issue is more complex than Christians often go into, due to the lack of language and and historical sources. The following is the ancient Jewish view of Homosexuality. i.e. the one that has been transmitted through the oldest Middle Eastern Jewish communities.

http://www.lookstein.org/resources/homosexuality_amsel.pdf