HOMOPHOBES—and anyone who is against gay marriage is a homophobe, without exception: William A. Donohue and Kirk Cameron, Marcus Bachmann and Bob Vander Plaats, Mitt Romney the prep school student and Mitt Romney the candidate, and more than half the registered voters in the
great state of North Carolina—are quick to reference the Bible as divine justification for the codification of discrimination.
Indeed, the Bible, and the Hebrew Bible in particular, makes its opinion on homosexuality abundantly clear:
Leviticus 18:22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Leviticus 20:13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Samuel 20:30-33: Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.
That doesn’t even take into account the destruction of Sodom, as told in Genesis. This is how that story goes: Two angels show up at Lot’s house. The men of Sodom immediately set about trying to rape them. Lot—the only honest man in that God-damned town, we’re told—implores them to please rape his virgin daughters instead of the angels. The men refuse. Lot escapes with said daughters, his wife turns into a pillar of salt, God obliterates the city. The widower Lot, who had no sons, gets so drunk in his grief that he blacks out, whereupon his daughters have sex with him, become pregnant, and bear him male heirs. He lives happily ever after.
Some thoughts on the text:
1. If Sodom was a big gay metropolis, it must have been fabulous—a center of art and culture and fashion and theater, and the most aesthetically appealing city in the world.
2. God killed those men because they were rapists, not because they were gay. Rapists are an abomination. Especially angel rapists.
3. How do we know the two angels were dudes? Can’t angels be female?
Let me express this moral lesson mathematically. In terms of the magnitude of the sin,
a > d
where a is angel rape and d is drunken incest. Oh, wait, sorry…I just checked the math, and I made a mistake: drunken incest is not a sin; it’s something to be celebrated! Gay sex is abomination, but a menage à trois with your daughters, hey, that’s divine!
That’s the Bible, folks—the same two-thousand-year-old “authority” homophobes use to denounce gay marriage.
As far as the New Testament goes, St. Paul—whose theology shaped modern Christianity much more than that of the man who lent his name to the religion—was decidely anti-gay. In letters to the Romans and the Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that guy-on-guy action will not be tolerated in Heaven.
Paul’s legendary intolerance extended to women, too; it’s mostly his influence that led the Church to ban women from positions of authority. What with the fundamentalism, the homophobia, and the misogyny, Paul would have been the perfect running mate for Mitt Romney.
But saint or no, Paul was just fallible flesh and blood, like the rest of us. What about the Son of God? What were His views on homosexuality? Or, put another way: if He had the option to make gay marriage illegal…what would Jesus do?
Let’s give Him the floor:
Yeah, He sure was outspoken on the subject. The only place Jesus even remotely touches on homosexuality is in Luke 17, when He speaks of the Rapture:
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Four Gospels, and nary a mention. I wonder why? Well, let’s examine the evidence. What do we know about Jesus? He was 33 and never married. He traveled around with a bunch of men—big, strapping, sweaty, salt-of-the-earth types. Of those 12 men, he had a special fondness for John, his favorite disciple, with whom he liked to lie. His last words—his dying wishes—were for his mother to love John as her own son; this was a wish usually reserved for one’s spouse.
Could it be that Jesus was gay?
It certainly sounds that way. And if you’d rather not accept the word of a socialist neo-pagan apostate like me, how about the sermon of an Anglican minister and chaplain of the University of Sussex? Here’s Paul Oestreicher, writing in The Guardian:
After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical.
Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today. Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches.
Hmm. The maxims put forth by Jesus—love thy neighbor as thyself; turn the other cheek; it is more blessed to give than to receive—certainly can be read as endorsements of gay tolerance.
Oestreicher also points out that, while the notion of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ lover has often been floated in fiction—most notably in The Last Temptation of Christ and The Da Vinci Code—there is no Biblical evidence to support it. But the phenomenon of a straight single woman who keeps company with a group of gay men is so common in modern culture that there’s a (derogatory) term for it. That relationship seems far more likely than anything sexual.
(Note: Jesus was also a community organizer, an opponent of income inequality, a socialist, and probably black. But that’s a piece for another day.)
The point is, my reading of Jesus’ view of gays is just as valid as anyone else’s. For all we know, the whole reason He was put to death, the crux of the crucifixion, is because he preferred men. No one knows what J.C. was really up to, and no one can presume to speak for the Jesus on the subject of homosexuality.