Since I've spoken with you all, I've written my dissertation, acquired a job, and moved across the country. Due to the vagaries of the job market, I'm shocked to look around and find myself knee-deep in the kudzu of the small town deep south.
To be fair, it's beautiful down here, it’s still fairly warm, and everyone I've met has been gracious and helpful. Actually I have few complaints. Well, that's not quite right. And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.
I’ve begun a daily regimen of gnashing teeth. Every morning I open the local newspaper and find that I am in fact in Republican Baptist World. In this land, the war in Iraq is going well (the surge was an accepted success). In this land, the main worry is apparently how to keep the disloyal democrats from undermining Bush’s successes. The first time I opened the paper, I saw four letters to the editor published and ALL of them were Republican apologists. If you remember my previous rants, you might know there were few things that got under my collar quite as much as the ascendancy of the religious right and the consolidation of media. Well, now I'm faced with both together. I know I should just stop reading it, but I’ve decided instead to wage my own insurgency within, and hopefully bring you along for the entertainment value.
So, I’ll be writing my own letters to the editor to try (perhaps in vain) to provide the locals another perspective. And I’d love to enlist the help and advice of Drek and his readers, if they’re inclined. Consider me a missionary among the heathens (I suppose taking on such a role is incredibly egotistical and foolhardy, but that never seemed to stop them).
This week, its all out gay-bashing. I would never have believed they'd print the kind of stuff they print down here. Allow me to reprint a full on op-ed piece for your amazement written by a professor at a local bible college about the important news issue: whether homosexuality is a “sin”. Then a short letter to the editor from a local woman less than a week after. Well, finally, I couldn’t take it any more and I actually sent in my own letter, which I provide below. The trick was to keep it under 250 words. Tell me what you think…. Did I go over the line or miss an obvious point to make? I’ll let you know if they publish it.
It's time to end using sophistry to invalidate the Truth
By Ward xxxxxxx
Recently, The ********* News printed a guest column titled, "It's time to end using religion to validate bigotry." I could not agree more with the article's title and initial paragraphs recounting examples of bigotry promoted through "religion." "Religion" has often been the tool evil men use to perpetrate their evil upon others -- it was through "religion," after all, that evil men demanded that the sinless Jesus be crucified! Noteworthy, however, is that the column made no mention of any religion other than Christianity -- not Islam, Hinduism, Paganism, and the like -- all which have fostered more than enough of their own religious bigotry. While the author wanted us to "reflect on and discuss the misuse of religion to victimize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," would it not be fair for him to point out that Islamists, for example, put all such people to death? Nevertheless, that is not why I am writing.
I am writing because the author stated, "After a careful study, I concluded that the Bible does not say homosexuality is a sin. ... In fact, there was no understanding of homosexuality in biblical times." He continued, "To be gay is neither a curse nor a sin" and concluded that "to be homosexual or bisexual is as much a blessing as to be heterosexual." In other words, he has declared that the Bible does not say what it really says! This is pure sophistry.
Some believe Scripture does not categorize the homosexual lifestyle as sinful; others maintain that Scripture clearly and repeatedly declares it to be sinful. Which is correct? Let the Bible "speak" for itself. Old Testament: Genesis 13:12-13 --"The men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly," "their sin is very grievous" (18:20), and in 19:4ff., they demanded that Lot "bring (the two men) out unto us, that we may know (have sex with) them" -- and God "rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire" (see Jude 8: Sodom's men, "giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire"); Leviticus 18:22 -- "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." God declares that this defiles the participants and that He will judge it (see 20:13); Deuteronomy 23:17-18 --"There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite (Hebrew qadesh, male cult prostitute) of the sons of Israel ... both these are abomination unto the Lord"; and 1 Kings 14:24 --"There were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel" (see also 15:12; 22:46; and 2 Kings 23:7).
New Testament: 1 Timothy 1:10 -- "(The law is made for) the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, ... for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai, technical Greek term for those who sodomize other men)"; Romans 1:18-27, 32 -- Of those suppressing God's Truth, Paul wrote, "(God) gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves ... (that are) vile affections. ... (Men) burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error. ... Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them"; 1 Corinthians 6:9 -- "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakoi, technical Greek term for males in the passive role in homosexual sex, those who are sodomized), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai, technical Greek term for those who sodomize other men) ... shall inherit the kingdom of God."
The Bible unequivocally teaches that homosexual sex is sinful. It is one of many kinds of sin people commit and God will judge. Nevertheless, sinners who repent will receive mercy, not judgment. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 proves that reality, for after listing various sins -- including homosexual sin -- Paul affirmed that "such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God"!
Persuading others that the Bible says differently is pure sophistry.
And it's time to end using sophistry to invalidate the Truth.
Can you believe the hypocrisy of his labeling their points sophistry? Now the letter to the editor.
The Bible is clear: Homosexuality a sin
I think it is pathetic the way the group "Faith in America" is distorting Christianity to fit their agenda. In their ads, they claim certain Christian groups are against equal rights for gay and lesbian groups and this somehow does not measure up to God's standards.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat, Christ condemned homosexuality as a sin, period. This is stated in Leviticus 18:22. We are also warned against such acts in Romans 2:27, 1 Timothy 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
If we are Christians and truly follow the teachings of Christ, we must recognize homosexuality for what it is, a sin. This does not mean homosexuality is greater or worse than any other sin. This does not mean that I do not love and respect everyone regardless of differences.
This does not mean I am a bigot. It means I am siding with Christ and am calling homosexuality what it is -- a sin. That's the standard I want to instill in my children.
Hm. Maybe she took Ward’s class? Here’s the letter I sent:
In the past week two separate editorialists, including a (*local college*) professor, have referred to ludicrous Leviticus and its friends in support of their views that homosexuality is a “sin” -- proving that when real wisdom fails, there is always a passage of biblical text you can find that says what you want it to.
Sadly some people need so badly to feel simplistic certainty that they close their eyes to all color and context. The Old Testament, we know, arises out of a bronze/iron age culture halfway around the world. Naturally, its authors succumb to the prejudices of their times in, among other things, their outright embracing of slavery, polygamy, child abuse, animal sacrifice, and even genocide. Seemingly, our current wisdom has
supplanted theirs in other important areas…. Yet many are still delighted to accept their ancient homophobia. I would suppose this comes out of an unquestioning devotion to “the Word,” except I notice that the Faithful regularly eat shrimp (Lev. 10:10), go to church wearing glasses (Lev. 21:20), have contact with menstruating women (Lev. 15:19-24) toil on Sundays (Exo. 35:2), and wear wool-cotton blends (Deut. 22:11). It’s curious.
As ever, when someone quotes a religious text in judgment, we learn far more about
the quoter than their God. Shame on the (newspaper) for devoting so much space to those who espouse their own prejudices through their decontextualized logic and selective Bible readings. Readers now have seemingly been offered God’s own authority to stigmatize and marginalize gay people.
Writing from the front lines…