Thursday, February 26, 2009

Going toe-to-toe with the Christianists

Today on one of my favorite blogs in the whole world, Pam’s House Blend, we get the otherwise cryptically-named article by Pam Spaulding herself entitled:

And Blankenhorn and Rauch think these people will compromise on marriage?

(The cryptic reference to Blankenhorn and Rauch is to an op-ed piece on compromise in federal recognition of civil unions that ran earlier in the week in The New York Times, A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage, by By DAVID BLANKENHORN and JONATHAN RAUCH
Published: February 21, 2009 )

I won’t go into the proposed “compromise” here – that’s not the thrust of Pam’s thoughtful essay.

What Pam writes about here is the right-wing Christianist rhetoric about gays that rings lodly in the halls of Congress and the inner recesses of our state legislatures. Today’s featured nutcase is Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe, a Republican from Greeley, Colorado.

Renfroe was quoted in opposition to a bill to grant insurance benefits to gay partners of state employees (a bill that passed in the Colorado Senate after his less-than-inspiring speech) as saying “I oppose this bill because of what my personal beliefs are. I think that what our country was founded upon was those beliefs also.”

What are Renfroe’s beliefs? He certainly can’t be a Christian. Then again, even Pope Benedict XVI isn’t really a Christian. People with the sort of belief about LGBT people that Renfroe has, if they claim to be Christians, are lying. They’re Christianists – people who pervert and twist the kerygma of the message of the Good News, and use it as a justification for attempting to take their bigoted feelings about people who are different from themselves, and make their bigotry the law of the land.

How do we deal with the Christianists? Toe to toe on the theological level.

Every time they cite Leviticus 18:22:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination"

We should turn the other cheek with 1 Samuel 18:3:

“Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul”

and 1 Samuel 18:21 (KJV and most other translations are confused):

"And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain,"

giving the impression that David will be marrying one of Saul's two daughters. So let’s not use the old KJV or other mistranslations of this verse. The literal and accurate Darby gives us:

"And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be upon him. And Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time."

The first time was with Saul's son Jonathan, the second with Saul's daughter Michal). That means David and Jonathan were married.

The American Standard version (ASV), also a reasonably good translation, differs from Darby in only two words:

"And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time."

John Nelson Darby was the leader of the Plymouth Brethren movement in the 1800s. He was extremely gifted in linguistics. Darby is reputed to be a very rich and accurate translation. By going to the available original language sources rather than translating from St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate, (Douay-Rheims does the best job of that, but most non-Catholic Christianists think that the KJV was "authorized" by God rather than King James . . . ), Darby gets to the essence of what otherwise looks like a completely fumbled passage. After all, when homophobes do the translating, they're more likely to try to obscure the meaning of anything quite as powerful an example of same-sex marriage clearly stated in the Bible as the sacred covenant between David and Jonathan.

How does this relate to Leviticus 18:22? Simply put, at worst this verse from the "holiness code" relates only to a single kind of male-male sexual activity. Some theologians will also link this prohibition to the story of Sodom, and indicate that it relates only to the practice of anal rape, commonly used in the ancient Near East as a way to humiliate a defeated enemy by "using him as one would use a woman" (which has nothing to do with a loving gay relationship). Others would link it to a prohibition of sacramental religious relations with transgendered priestesses of Near East agricultural goddesses (Astarte, Ishtar, etc.), relating more to Caananite religion as the forbidden "competition" for the Hebrews at the time of Leviticus.

The Christianists and their erroneous understanding of Sacred Scripture can be challenged, and should be challenged, on their own theological turf. Too often LGBT people will turn away from Christianity, thinking that the Christianists are the bearers of the Good News. They are not - they pervert the Bible with their Un-Chriatian foul bigotry spawned by Satan. Unless they repent they will be numbered among the goats on the Day of Judgment, asking in their confused false righteousness:

"Lord, when saw we thee . . .a stranger, . . . and have not ministered to thee?

Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me.

And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal."

- Mt. 25:44-46 (Darby)

This relates back to one of my favorite passages, Isaiah 56. I often will cite verses 3-5, but see 6-7:

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

- Isaiah 56:6-7 (KJV)

Strangers are not only those who are from foreign countries and cultures, but also those in our midst who are different by our natures or circumstances from the majority - whether it be based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

Real Christians embrace the wonderful diversity in God's creation, while Christianists, even the Pope, abhor it. Like the men of Sodom, their desire is to obliterate us, to humiliate us, to deny us human rights and common decency, solely because we are different, because we are "strangers," because we are aliens in our own native land and culture.

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