Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Heart of the Matter: Supporting Gay Rights

The heart of the matter - I am going to try and discuss an issue amongst Christendom that is quite the 'hot button' and not a deeply divided issue - the gay rights issue. This was brought to my attention on facebook from a friend of mine that is gay - and she asked me to support the cause of 'gay rights'. I don't have to do anything to be involved mind you - but just the very idea had me thinking for days about 'what I thought' on the issue.

I have a variety of thoughts but what matters is what I did - I decided to support the cause - mainly on the basis that all people in our countries deserve all the rights promised in our constitutions (no one is excluded).

I guess I approach the issue more on the idea that we are called to 'treat others how we want to be treated' - and I think just because someone is gay - doesn't make that person less human than me or not wanting the same things I want (namely acceptance and love). For me, that is where the issue begins and ends - with how I treat someone else and what that means to my integrity.

So I am interested - what do you think on this issue? Should Christian people be supporting the cause for gay rights? Is it contradictory?


BrotherKen said...

I have an opinion on gay rights. I have previously expressed it publicly. I am going to stop doing that. I don't think I should. I posted about this today, here is a bit of it;

While I do believe that God has and still does call some into politics, the church should not be a tool for political purposes. I am not saying you should not have an opinion on these issues. As Christians we should discuss them in the light of scripture. We should be challenged to read the scriptures and pray about them so that we can discern what is right and wrong. We should not have political pundits in the pulpit telling us what to think and do!

First off, the opinion of Christians is of no concern to secular society. To them, our morals are simply based on a book that has no relevance to them.

Secondly, we have no right to tell those who do not conform to Christian morality what is right and wrong.

Anonymous said...

What I find contradictory in some Christian circles is the use of Torah as a reason for continuing their condemnation of homosexuality. Always I am told that Jesus did away with the law, it is effect no more, yet when it comes to homosexuality all of the sudden I hear that Torah calls it an abomination! Abomination is a great word, constantly tossed out there, I suppose because it sounds really bad to have something be seen as an abomination by God.

The Hebrew word for abomination is to-eva. This word is also used two other times in Torah which don't seem to get mentioned much in Christian circles. Eating non-kosher meat is an abomination, yet I don't see too many Christians limiting their meat consumption in order to avoid this particular abomination. Everyone is free to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Having intercourse with a woman who has not gone to the mikvah after her period is also an abomination. I don't see Christian women flocking to the mikvah, yet I see plenty of them having babies! Do any men feel guilty about committing this pariclar abomination? I have my doubts.

Is the issue really with God's perception or is it instead with people's perceptions? I don't quite understand how someone can consider themself free from the laws which would inconvenience them, even though Torah calls their resultant behavior an abomination, while at the same time enforcing laws on those 'others' because 'God says homosexuality is an abomination'. If two abominations can be pushed aside in Christianity without any qualms, why is the third held to with such tenacity?


Anonymous said...

Politically, I think the government should get out of the marriage business. Let people have the ceremonies they wish and define marriage however they wish and give no special rights to any group.

As a Christian, marriage is not about government sanction and benefits. It is about a man and a woman each making a commitment to God, each other, and to any future children they may have.

I know a young woman who is promisquous, I love her. I know a young woman who is a lesbian, I love her. I know a young woman who has had multiple children out of wedlock, I love her. I know young men who are promisquous and I love them. Many young people in my life are caught up in sexual sin and I love them all and pray for them. They all are experiencing some degree of suffering as well, their families, as the consequences of how they have chosen to live. I love them and I don't love that which is causing they and their loved ones pain. I don't love their sin and I don't condone it even though I love and accept them.


SocietyVs said...

Thanks Pam and Ken, I think I am on similar lines as both of you on the issue.

"If two abominations can be pushed aside in Christianity without any qualms, why is the third held to with such tenacity?" (Yael)

Good point. I think we do see a lot of this double talk in the faith about the law being finished yet they refer to it like it's still enacted - making it tough for one to even know what that person believes.

3 abominations: Homosexuality, non-kosher meat, and intercourse with a women who has not gone to the mikvah after her period? This third one has thrown me for a loop - what is a 'mikvah'?

What is interesting about the comparison of the 3 is that for something be considered an abomination doesn't neccesarily have to be sexual (ex: food). What is you perspective Yael on what that word 'abomination' means to your faith and are these 3 things still enacted?

In the NT abomination is likely used only once - in a term from Daniel we find in Revelations - Abomination of Desolation - which seems to refer to the breaking of the first commandment in the temple (an idol in the temple). But even on this - I am not sure - but it is used in the NT.

Jim Jordan said...

regarding the law not being in effect. Jesus came to fulfill the law.
Matt 5:17 - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them".

The law points us to Jesus, the only person who upheld the law. We then believe in Him and we are saved (John 3). Homosexuality is not condoned, but Jesus is the One who will deal personally with each one. There's an interesting event in Matt. 3:11 where John the Baptist has just rebuked some pharisees who came to be baptized, but then baptizes them anyway reminding them in verse 12 that One is coming who will "throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire". So that's up to Jesus. Only God can judge the human heart.

The term "gay rights" is a legal term that means that gays should have the same rights as everyone else. I don't think anyone can argue with this.

A problem arises when a benefit is re-cast as a right, as in marriage. Is same-sex marriage a "civil right"? It is in fact a benefit. In ruling to uphold a Nebraska SSM ban, the 8th Circuit stated "The First Amendment guarantees the right to advocate; it does not guarantee political success." Success is a benefit.

Whereas I support gay rights, same-sex marriage does not fit that definition. It would be in the same vein as declaring that African-Americans had a "right" to reparations because of slavery or as Dennis Kucinich said, to have a "right" to clean drinking water. Of course, we can vote to give reparations and certainly we'll vote for cleaner water. But we are demanding a benefit and we are saying we agree with the cost [tip: benefits cost money, rights do not]. If we decide to give the benefit of marriage to gays, then it should be by popular vote, not judicial fiat.

I know that might make some folks angry but it is the truth. How does the saying go...I can do no other? Regards.

BrotherKen said...

My belief is that the law was not abolished by Crists' sacrifice. Christ 'fulfilled' the law. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matt 5:17

By repenting and accepting Christ as Lord our sins are covered by His sacrifice. That does not make the law obsolete. Those who have yet to accept Christ as Lord are still under the law.

This being said, I still do not believe it is my place to be publicly for or against gays, abortion, etc.

One should really ask themself though, 'Why is it that most Christians believe the law was abolished?' The answer of course lies in the almost complete focus of the churches of the freedom that may be obtained in Christ. Very little is being done to challenge the people to live as Christ wants (commands) us to live. To love everyone, especially those who are still under God's condemnation.

Anonymous said...

Good point. I think we do see a lot of this double talk in the faith about the law being finished yet they refer to it like it's still enacted - making it tough for one to even know what that person believes.

I don't suppose there is a person alive who doesn't struggle with inconsistencies, I just get annoyed with the ones who won't admit to any. If we honestly wrestle with and face up to these things, I think we at least become more compassionate to others instead of making harsh pronouncements. The person probably won't march in any gay pride parades, but they also won't be standing along the way with those awful, "God hates fags" signs like some people shown on TV.

A mikvah is a ritual bath.

IMO, the prohibition against homosexuality in Torah is against idolatrous worship rituals, not a blanket prohibition. I put a post up on my blog with a link to an article which looks closely at the various texts about idolatry and the two on homosexuality. I think it has merit for its interpretation. I've read various Jewish legal briefs on this subject as well, and have reached this same conclusion. Is this interpretation a stretch? Maybe. But, you know my view of Torah is not at all rigid anyway.

The word abomination? I usually roll my eyes when I hear it. IMO, it borders on hysteria. Too extreme. I think it is another case of Torah putting down very strict rules, which are then followed by leniency. The words clue us in that this is something important, but I don't go overboard.

Jewish laws for kashrut and family purity are still very much in place. Mostly the prohibition against homosexuality has been interpreted away, but not completely. Our fundies condemn it just as harshly as yours. Our Jewish inconsistency is that many of us consider observance important but by and large we don't observe much.

My shul is quite traditional in many ways so we have a high level of kashrut observance; family purity I couldn't tell you since that is a private affair, but we step away from tradition when it comes to homosexuality. Gays and lesbians are just fellow congregants to us. We celebrate their commitment ceremonies, baby namings, anniversaries, the same as we would with anyone else. People are people. What I like is we don't make any big deal, it's just who we are.

The abomination of desolation we consider to be the pig slaughtered on the temple altar during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, thus desecrating the temple.

It's almost time for some more holidays to start here so I'm off the net for a few days again. If this sounds all jumbled some of it is that I am very tired.

Thanks for the interesting conversation. Fire away any questions or comments, but just realize I won't answer for a few days if you do.


SocietyVs said...

Interesting a blog about gay rights turns into a blog about the use of the law with regards into Christianity - you know what - let's go there!