The Republican presidential contenders this year each ran on anti-gay platforms, believing this would help give them the votes they desire. Out of all the hopefuls, Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination. He has donated money to pro-reparative therapy group Massachusetts Family Institute, as well as The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, whose web site includes a post claiming that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might oppress military chaplains. After the recent public support of gay marriage by President Obama, Romney reaffirmed his stance that he believes marriage should be for heterosexuals only. It is sure that Romney will continue his anti-LGBT campaign in the coming months, and that numerous Americans will decide he is the more viable candidate based on lies.
Many Americans don’t know what being gay really means, and honestly think it’s appropriate to compare homosexuality to bestiality. Children are taught that a gay or lesbian person is a lustful sinner who has deliberately and hatefully turned away from God, and continue to believe this throughout adulthood. We must educate the ignorant with the truth, and to do that we need to understand the misinformation they believe. Republican leaders pander to both religious and secular homophobia, and both types need to be disproved.
Perhaps the root of what conservative religious groups feel about homosexuality can be summed up in this Bible verse: “But now I am telling you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:11) These are the words of Paul, whose only encounter with Jesus was in a vision. As a person who was raised in the church, I know that “sexually immoral” gets translated as “homosexual” most of the time. I also know that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, and did not shy away from eating with “sinners”. Nevertheless, according to many fervent religious believers, gay people are not to be tolerated. To make any compromises whatsoever is to spit in the face of God.
There are eight other well-known Bible verses used to justify the denial of LGBT rights. Also called the “clobber passages”, they include Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with another man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” These verses have been analyzed by many religious leaders, scholars, and pro-gay rights groups already. I won’t bother to question whether certain words have been translated correctly or taken out of context, because the work already done by others has made no difference. But I can prove that even if we examine verses that say nothing about homosexuality at all, it becomes obvious that the Bible should not be used as a reason for denying gay people the same legal rights as everyone else. The idea of an unchanging sanctity of marriage, for example, has no Biblical basis whatsoever, and here’s why:
Genesis 4:16-17 says that Adam and Eve’s oldest son Cain left his parents after he murdered his brother. He and his wife then had a son and built a city (Population: 3?). According to these same Biblical accounts, Adam and Eve were the only people on earth before Cain and his other siblings were born. Therefore Cain’s wife was his sister, and all of the first generations on earth intermarried.
Even after the earth was a bit more populated, these customs did not change for a long time. As recorded in Genesis 20:12, Abraham’s wife Sarah was also his half-sister. God promised Abraham a son, but when Sarah didn’t become pregnant right away, Abraham decided God must have meant he would have a child with someone else, and so conceived Ishmael through a concubine named Hagar. After a mild reproach from the Lord, Sarah became pregnant with Isaac. When Isaac grew up, Abraham found him a wife among his relatives. Isaac then had twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, married two sisters, as shown in Genesis 29. Through these marriages, all of the Israelites (God’s Chosen People) were born.
It wasn’t until Leviticus, after an Exodus and several generations later, that the infamous purity laws were established. Along with lists of clean and unclean animals to eat and sacrifice, it is there that for the first time sex and marriage with a sibling, parent, or other close relative were called abominations. Multiple wives and concubines remained popular, however, and were enjoyed by such revered Biblical leaders as King David and King Solomon.
In the New Testament, times changed as far as multiple wives. I could stop right there and the point would be made that marriage customs did indeed evolve over time, but I’ll give some more examples anyway. The genealogies of Jesus’ parents are given, with Joseph’s line in The Book of Matthew and Mary’s ancestors dating all the way back to Adam in The Book of Luke. By comparing the two, we learn that Mary and Joseph were cousins. The only thing that Jesus said concerning marriage was that a man should not divorce his wife unless she has been unfaithful (Matthew 19:8-9.) This is in direct contradiction to the Old Testament law, shown in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, that says if a man is unhappy with his wife for any reason he may write her a bill of divorce. (Women, of course, have no choice in the matter.)
Other than that, the current views of marriage are based mostly on the writings of Paul, who says that the elders and deacons of the church should be the husband of but one wife*. Paul is also the author of such commands as “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord”^ and “Slaves obey your earthly masters in everything.”+
Today the Bible is being used to imply that marriage has always been the same, or that somewhere along the way the customs became frozen and no more changes are necessary. Since the Bible was even used to denounce interracial weddings, apparently the final draft on the sanctity of marriage was ordained by God in 1967.
Not even these facts are likely to persuade the most zealous believers that perhaps the United States’ laws on marriage in 2012 shouldn’t be based on what a middle-eastern book said thousands of years ago. When religion gets enmeshed into the way people vote, it may seem hopeless to try to change their minds. But not all those who are against gay rights claim religious reasons. What may not be accomplished through Scriptural study may be achieved by showing that the core of secular anti-gay beliefs is also based on lies. Agreeing on what the most important truths are could be the best way to systematically destroy the lies being spread. Here are five major truths that anti-gay voters need to know:
Gay people are not immoral heathens who decided one day to hate God and have gay sex while screaming “screw you” to nature, religion, and society.
Gay people are not pedophiles.
Gay people do not spend their lives doing drugs and spreading AIDS.
Gay people don’t want to convert children to homosexuality.
Gay people are not going to bring on the apocalypse, terrorist attacks, or the wrath of God.
If the true definition of LGBT people is revealed as those with the same broad range of desires for relationships and families as heterosexuals, it will open the eyes of anti-gay voters. Many anti-gay politicians don’t actually believe the lies they’re spewing, but most of the people who vote for them are trained to have blind faith. Unfortunately, that faith is only supposed to be in God. It doesn’t seem clear that the Bible’s stance on marriage has remained an eternal, unchanging example for the world, as many religious and political groups claim. All of the other anti-gay views we hear about are born of prejudice, ignorance, and hate, and have even less of a foundation to stand on except for a vague, primitive feeling that people who are different in any way are icky.
The most powerful message that will eventually reach the hearts of voters who oppose gay rights is that of love. Just as Africans used to be considered the cursed sons of Ham, Jews responsible for murdering Jesus, and women an entire population placed on earth for submission to men, I know that one day LGBT people will no longer be portrayed as sinful perverts, intent on blazing the quickest path to hell. I don’t think this will happen after a horrible gay/straight civil war, or that we’ll have to pack up and flee to Canada. But at the same time, it would be best to illuminate the facts about the gay community during the upcoming presidential election, as there are still many Americans who believe we’re an inferior or even dangerous group, and who will vote accordingly.
*1 Tim. 3:12
+Ephesians 6:5, and Colossians 3:22