Okay, after a bit of a break….
Gay Marriage. Nobody’s come out with any reasons – let alone good ones – why gay marriage should be illegal from a non-religious point of view, so let’s move on, shall we?
Religious reasons! I’ve seen three major ones, all Judeo-Christian in origin.
1: The Legacy of Sodom
When God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, according to this argument, he did it because the men of Sodom engaged in homosexual activity, particularly attempting to rape the two angels God had sent down to check on Lot and tell him to get out of Dodge.
2: The Leviticus Charge
Leviticus 18:22, according to King James’ version of the Bible. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” Based on this, the argument goes, all homosexuality is sinful, and homosexual marriage is a greater sin yet, as it places the Church in the position of supporting it.
3: Paul at Work
Romans 1 – Paul’s Letter to the Romans includes several references to homosexuality, such as this one. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.” Clearly, Paul is railing against homosexuality as sinful and abominable, and it can’t be allowed. As with the Leviticus argument, clearly gay marriage is similarly horrifying.
Now, taking each of the three arguments in order.
Sodom and Gomorrah.
Was the sin which the city was destroyed for really homosexuality? Remember – the angels were sent there for a reason. God was already going to trash the place if they couldn’t find sufficient ‘good men.’ Further, what is Lot’s reaction to this? To offer his daughters to the men of Sodom, after which Lot is still considered a good man.
So, the only interpretation of that is that God felt it was proper to offer his daughters to these men rather than to let them at the angels in his house. Does this mean that the Bible feels that it’s less of a sin for a father to throw his daughters to the proverbial wolves than to allow homosexual activity? Not necessarily.
Let’s break down what exactly happens in Genesis. Two angels come on down to a sinful city which God is already pretty much ready to smite. Lot invites them into his home and, knowing what the others in the city are like, presses upon them how important it is that they stay with him. When they’re getting ready for the night, things go thoroughly pear-shaped, the Angels get Lot and everybody in his family who believes him out, and the place is struck down with fire and brimstone. Points to raise:
1: The men of Sodom intended to force themselves upon the angels. Homosexuality, perhaps. Bestiality, by the definition often used by biblical scholars, definitely. Rape? Most definitely. Does it not occur to anybody that arguing that the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is strictly about homosexuality is like arguing that it’s fine to commit rape – just don’t commit it against an animal, or against a member of the same sex, because *that* would be wrong? Of all the sins evident in Genesis 19, perhaps the most egregious one is the one that people consider last.
2: It should also be remembered that there’s another sin here that most people don’t recognize – inhospitality. These days, being inhospitable is bad manners. However, in the ancient world hospitality was one of the most critical ‘manners’ to develop – you would die yourself before letting your guests be injured, and your guests would not harm you. It was the critical factor that let people be hospitable, or visit people. The powerful taboo can be seen in several folktales of the region, where thieves would break into a house, taste a white powder they found (thinking it sugar), and after realizing they’d tasted the salt in their victim’s house – creating a bond of hospitality, even by accident – leave without taking a thing. Similarly, in the tale of Ali Baba, the bandit leader would take no salt because it would have created a hospitality bond. Killing everybody in the house? That wasn’t a problem. Killing your *host* and his family? Not even a rampaging bandit out for revenge would do that.
Considering that Lot wasn’t struck down for offering his daughters up, it becomes clear that the sin of Sodom may well have been inhospitality, not homosexuality. This argument becomes stronger when you add in Leviticus 19:34, which says that any stranger who dwells with you shall be treated as having been born among you.
The Leviticus Argument
Ah, Leviticus 18:22 – is there any more loved passage for those who are against homosexuals? (Actually, yes, as we’ll soon see). Leaving aside that Leviticus only speaks about male homosexuality, not female – and any arguments about whether or not the translation was valid – let’s look at the other things Leviticus allows and disallows, shall we?
Butchering animals as religious sacrifice: ALLOWED (Leviticus 1, 2, several others – it goes on for some time detailing how.)
Eating bread with yeast: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 6:16-17)
Eating rabbit, pork, or shrimp: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 11)
Spreading rumors: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 19:16 – sorry, Enquirer!)
Slavery: ALLOWED (Leviticus 25:44-46)
Now… we’ve decided that, apparently, Leviticus was wrong about all of these things. So why is 18:22 so special, that *it* isn’t wrong, but all these others are?
Paul and the Romans
Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it pretty darned clear what he thinks of homosexuality – it’s worthy of death. But, while he goes and says this in Romans 1… let’s take a look at Romans 2, shall we?
All of Romans 2 is about man not judging man – elaborating on Christ’s “let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” God may judge, but man should not – MAY not – do so, for he himself is sinful.
Personally, I think there’s a line to be drawn there, and I’m really not so sure about Paul as moral compass, but that’s for reasons of my own – the fact is that even Paul is saying ‘yes, that’s bad, but let God handle it.’
Further, by making gay marriage illegal – or keeping it that way, either way – it ignores the simple fact that not everybody is a member of a faith that believes in these arguments. If you’re an atheist – or if you’re pagan – then these arguments don’t even come up, leaving the argument against gay marriage with even less of a leg to stand on.
So, what other arguments do you have, and how do you justify applying it to other people outside your faith?
Part 3, assuming nothing else comes up, will be on my ideas for what ought to be done about all this.
And thanks for your patience, people who really disagree with me – this stint pissing off social conservatives, I’ll be sure to nail the social liberals for a while next.