01 May 2007

WMMs: Weapons of Mass Misinformation (Part Two)

When Faith in America interprets the Levitican prohibition against same-gender sexuality as a directive that only applied to male temple prostitutes, they're even farther off the mark! There's no way to soften Levitican law's harshness. It was imposed on the ancient Israelites as punishment for idolatry, and therefore was draconian by design.

It condemned sexual contact between males, and depending on how you read the prohibition (do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, according to the New International Version of the Bible), it either forbade homosexual or bisexual conduct, or both. Even though the blended-gender status of those men Jesus Christ called " eunuchs from their mother's womb" (the ancient equivalent of Gay men; see my blog sidebar essay on "fullness") technically made them exempt from this prohibition, Israeli eunuchs were most certainly penalized under it! The Jewish orthodoxy of Biblical times despised eunuchs, as documented in the footnotes of The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

This tortured approach to what are commonly called "clobber passages" in Gay Christian circles is a typical dodge employed by Liberal-leaning Christians. Knowing that there's anti-homosexual language in the Bible makes them uncomfortable, so they go into denial about it. They deal with it by fudging the meaning of verses in Leviticus, Romans, etcetera. In so doing, they try to shear off some of the Bible's rougher edges.

They don't only do this with the "clobber passages", either! They often teach a sanitized version of the Old Testament, leaving out the illicit sex and gratuitous bloodletting. Why do they find this necessary? It's because they, just like Fundamentalist theologians, have inappropriately raised Scripture to the level of Divinity! They consider it the direct word of God, and the direct word of God must be perfect in every way. If, in fact, it isn't perfect, then they're inclined to make it so. They worship the Bible, a man-made anthology that didn't even exist in Biblical times, and they encourage others to do so as well.

This is idolatry, the sinful deification of inanimate objects! It also qualifies as laying a stumbling block in the path of believers, something the Savior warned against doing! The Bible is not to be worshiped! It is to be studied. Proper study of the Bible and other Christian texts brings us closer to understanding God's will. However, book study is not, has never been, and will never be the primary vehicle to such understanding!

The totality of Divine truth can only be arrived at via a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! You can take my word for it, because I know from experience. Without the Savior's help, I'd never have been able to decipher the ancient teachings about eunuchs and virgins that I write about on this blog.

I'm well aware of the Bible's rough edges. They not only include bigoted teachings about homosexuality, but also tacit and explicit endorsements of slavery, incest, atrocity in war, and the suppression of women. There's sexism and heterosexism in Bible scripture! There's racism and xenophobia. There's outright celebration of violence! There's confusion about what God does and why He does it. From a scholar's standpoint, there's even evidence of tampering with ancient source texts (for details, read Bart Ehrman's provocative books Misquoting Jesus and The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture)! The Bible is problematic in many ways; but when you think about it, why wouldn't it be? What else would you expect of a subjective history written, compiled and edited by corruptible human beings?

Scripture is far from being the direct word of God! Centuries of flawed translations alone are sufficient to underscore that fact. However, when you study the Bible rather than worship it, its imperfections don't matter to you. You don't feel a need to sanitize it. I couldn't care less what this prophet or that Apostle may have felt forced to say about the way people like me express our sexuality! All I care about is what Jesus Christ is reputed to have said in the Gospels. Why do I care more about the Christ's teachings? Because I'm a Christian, and that's what Christians are supposed to care more about!

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I do not love the Bible! I respect the Bible. I love God. I'll say it a thousand times if I have to: The two are not one and the same! At one time, as I revealed in my essay called "My Conversion", I actually hated the Bible. With a passion, I hated it! I blamed the Bible for the brutal persecution of Lesbians and Gay men, as well as for things like the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, and the ongoing Catholic pedophile scandal. I saw it as an inherently evil book responsible for the perversion of faith!

It took God's direct intervention to change my mind. He taught me that there's no such thing as an evil book. He taught me that the power to do evil always rests with humankind, not with words on paper! The Messiah was truly profound in His wisdom when He observed:

MARK 7: 15
There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.

MATTHEW 15: 18
. . . what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander!

Not to mention false prophecy, a form of defilement practiced by both Conservative and Liberal wings of the Christian Church! WouldJesusDiscriminate.com has chosen to represent the Liberal side of falsehood, and they may soon learn the folly of their mendacious ways. The Right Wing religious orthodoxy, which has far better funding, greater media access and powerful political allies, has been galvanized into action by those "shock and awe" billboards of theirs. Check out this news dispatch from the 27 April 2007 edition of The Indianapolis Star:

The Reverend Andy Hunt (said) "It ignites passions whenever someone brings a lie against the God you worship, but we can't go down to their level . . . we have to be able to fight a lie with the truth." He said he nearly drove into a power pole the first time he passed a yard sign with the message: "Jesus affirmed a Gay couple." Then he cried. The message is such a distortion of the Bible's clear opposition to homosexual behavior, he said, that he has begun going to the signs and praying people won't be misled. "That is an absolute affront against God," he said. Hunt is one of a handful of pastors commissioned by the Indiana Family Institute, a Conservative faith-based (sic) organization opposed to Gay marriage, to respond to the billboard claims with written counterpoints.

A few of those counterpoints appeared as a sidebar to the Indianapolis Star article. WouldJesusDiscriminate.com's Reverend Jeff Miner provided rejoinders. Both pastors' analysis of the disputed Bible verses was questionable, but how much would you care to bet that most readers will find the Fundamentalist minister more credibile? When Reverend Hunt and his allies launch their counter-campaign in earnest, you'd best believe it won't be pretty! I take no pleasure at all in saying I told you so. I fear that Lesbians and Gay men, as well as Progressive heterosexual Christians, will suffer unnecessary negative repercussions as a result of Faith In America's arrogant and reckless distortion of Scripture.

Satan is clever! He converts the enemies of LGBT folk to Bibliolatry, and then they use it as an effective Gay-bashing weapon. Then he fools LGBT folk into believing they can defend themselves by taking up the same weapon! As a result, both groups get trapped in Satan's evil web, and with his deadly spider fingers, he draws the idolaters farther and farther away from Divine salvation!

As we battle one another over the application and interpretation of religious law from antiquity, the very reason we call ourselves Christians gets completely lost in the struggle! That reason, of course, is Jesus Christ's supreme sacrifice that freed us from Levitican edicts. Just like I told "Sally Hay", or whoever it was that wrote WouldJesusDiscriminate.com's haughty form letter, it's a case of not seeing the forest for the trees!

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. . . and express your opinion about Faith In America's billboard campaign!