Shalom folks. Every Tuesday, we examine a Biblical commandment, adding it to the massive visual over at EtzMitzvot.com. Today, I’m tackling commandments related to homosexuality, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s historic decision this past week legalizing gay marriage. In this post, I aim to amplify tolerance & understanding, and reduce hate. By this, I mean reducing hate of religious people, amplifying tolerance and understanding of people of faith with different values than you, the secular reader.
Q. Why do religious people oppose gay marriage?
Q. Isn’t the real reason is that you are a hate-filled bigot?
Q. Isn’t the very position of opposing gay marriage a bigoted position?
A. No. Consider that President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other leftists also opposed gay marriage until very recently. Were they bigots, too? Some might say yes, but then we must extend that to nearly every person in the history of humanity; no society has ever equated 2 same-sex people marrying with male-female marriage, and with ample reason.
Q. Homosexuality is forbidden by your religion? I don’t believe you.
A. Yes, it is. The 3500 year old text of the Torah reads:
וְאֶת-זָכָר--לֹא תִשְׁכַּב, מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה: תּוֹעֵבָה, הִוא
Quite literally and plainly, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Q. What about those ministers who perform gay marriage?
A. They are dismissing the founding document of their religion, choosing to be guided instead by feelings.
Q. What’s wrong with following your feelings? Shouldn’t #lovewin?
A. Should a man be unfaithful to his wife because his love of another woman should win? Some might say yes, but the founding document of our faith – which we believe was given by God long ago – tells us we must become master over our feelings, rather than be governed by them.
Q. Are you comparing adultery and homosexuality?
A. Homosexuality is like adultery in two ways: both are forbidden sexual acts, and both hurt society.
Q. How does homosexuality hurt society?
A. First, it doesn’t promote life. One of the first commandments of God is to have children, be fruitful and multiply; homosexuality cannot produce life. Secondly, homosexuality undermines the family unit, the bedrock of societies.
Q. How does homosexuality undermine families? Gay couples can adopt and be loving parents.
A. Adoption and artificial medical insemination means gay couples can have children. But their children will be robbed of a mother or father. Having both a mother and father is a natural and healthy part of childhood development, both mother and father contributing unique elements to a child’s life.
Q. Are you saying gay couples can’t raise good children?
A. No. But all other factors being equal, society ought to favor children being raised by mother and father. Both mother and father have something to contribute to a child.
Q. Let’s get back to hate-filled religious bigots. What about groups like Westboro Baptist Church with the “God hates fags” signs?
A. Going back to the foundational document of Judaism and Christianity, that document doesn’t state that God hates people who practice homosexuality. While the practice is considered sin and forbidden – along with adultery, promiscuity, and a host of other sexual behaviors – the text does not say God hates homosexuals.
Q. Your Bible forbids homosexuality, but it also forbids foods like shrimp, and you’re eating that!
A. Yes, the foundational document of Jewish and Christian faiths lists forbidden sexual acts, as well as forbidden foods. Judaism adheres to both, while Christians do not adhere to the latter.
Q. Then aren’t Christians being hypocrites by upholding the Bible’s laws about homosexuality, but ignoring the Bible’s laws about food?
A. If the Torah – the founding document – was alone in its rejection of homosexuality, you’d have an argument. But Christians draw their moral guidance not from the Torah alone but from the New Testament part of the Bible as well, and the New Testament forbids homosexuality:
God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
-Romans 1:24-27, New Testament
Q. Didn’t religious people also reject interracial marriage? Isn’t gay marriage another instance of bigoted religious people being wrong?
A. The foundational document of our faiths, the Torah, does not forbid interracial marriage. In fact, quite the opposite: the author and recipient of the Torah, Moses, is recorded as having a black wife. In the case of religious people opposing interracial marriage, they were in fact racists hiding behind religion, rather than religionists being true to their religion.
Q. Didn’t religious people oppose civil rights for blacks?
A. On the contrary, it was religious people like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King who, knowing the Biblical concept that all men are created equal, fought for God-given rights for minorities.
Q. Let’s talk about rights. Don’t people have a right to marry whomever they choose?
A. If by “right” you mean, “God-given right”, as the founders of the US meant when they said, “Man is endowed with certain unalienable rights by their Creator”, then no, there is no God-given right to marry whomever you choose. In fact, God lays out some clear ground rules for marriage, and they do not include same-sex marriage.
But if by “right” you mean, “Who’s going to stop me?”, then that answer has traditionally been the government, for better or worse. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, this is no longer the case. But the problem with these lightweight “rights” is that they aren’t rights at all, anymore than it’s the “right” of a man to cheat on his wife if he feels like it. Sure, it can be done – who’s going to stop him? – but it may not profit him, his family, nor society.
Q. Aren’t there hateful people opposing gay marriage in the name of religion?
A. Undoubtedly. Fringe groups like Westboro Baptist are claiming, for example, that God laughs at the death of homosexuals. This is real hatred, and it is not supported by the founding document of the Jewish and Christian faith. On the contrary, the Bible records that God takes no pleasure in any person’s death, regardless of how they lived.
Q. I was born this way, I’m gay. Therefore, it can’t be sin; God made me this way.
A. Virtually all men are born with a great sexual desire that leads many to promiscuity and adultery, or worse. It is possible to be born gay, even when God forbids it.
Q. Fine, homosexuality is forbidden in your faith. Why prevent gays outside of your faith from getting married?
A. Because we want to promote a stable society based on Judeo-Christian values.
Q. What if we don’t want your Judeo-Christian values?
A. The United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values. For example, when the US Declaration of Independence declares, “Man is endowed by his Creator [God] with certain unalienable rights.”, this was a statement informed by and influenced by the foundational document of the Jewish and Christian faiths, the Torah.
A. The United States has been a champion of freedom and liberty in a world dominated by dictatorships and despots. Judeo-Christian values are responsible for this unique liberty and freedom.
“In God we trust” is not just a nice statement, but a Biblical mandate.
“E pluribus unum”, making one people from many – as opposed to today’s multiculturalism – is a Biblical idea.
“Man is endowed with rights by his Creator” is not a new Enlightenment Era idea, but a Biblical truth put into practice in the form of the Bill of Rights.
“All men are created equal” is a core Biblical principal.
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”, the inscription on the Liberty Bell, is a direct quote from the founding document of the Jewish and Christian faith, Leviticus 25:10.
Judeo-Christian values, tested in the furnace of 3500 years of civilization, are at the center of America’s greatness. Moving towards a subjective feelings-based morality is a step in the wrong direction.
Secular people and leftists need not hate religious people or resort to childish name-calling if someone doesn’t support gay marriage. A person isn’t a bigot for opposing gay marriage.
Jews and Christians need not hate homosexuals, while remembering that our faith’s founding document, which has been an unchanging bedrock of moral societies for 3500 years, a faith that has preserved us as a people, need not conform to the world. Our values are not dictated by the shifting winds of popular opinion, nor drawn from the dictates of secular judges. We have a higher authority informing our morality, and unlike today’s popular opinion, ours is tried and tested and has born much good fruit.