On June 7, 2006 the Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a vote of 51-49. Similarly the House voted down its version of the bill by a vote of 236-187 on July 18th. The bill has been tabled for the time being but is not off the agenda of the religious right as it makes its way onto several state ballots this fall. The religious right is correct about one thing; the Bible does identify homosexuality as a sin. In fact it is listed in the Old Testament among those sins considered a capital crime, punishable by death. Does such a centuries old statute bind us in the 21st century? Perhaps further evidence from the Bible itself can help determine the answer.
In the 8th chapter of John the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus' day, brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, also a crime punishable by death. The Law of Moses, they stated, commanded she be put to death and asked Jesus what he had to say. The point that is missed by so many in his response was that he acknowledged the truth behind their statement. He did not tell them they were wrong but rather, insisted the executioner himself be without sin. Jesus did not refute the Old Testament law. As none were without sin, they left one by one, leaving Jesus alone with the accused woman. With her accusers gone Jesus said he did not condemn her either. She was told to sin no more but the point here is that the son of God, or God incarnate as the trinity suggests, chose not to condemn the woman, but to forgive her. If seems if anyone were going to apply the strict letter of the law if surely would have been Jesus, but he chose not to do so.
In the 15th chapter of Matthew Jesus once again confronts the scribes and Pharisees over another capital crime, one of dishonoring parents, and rebukes them for honoring their traditions and doctrines, labeling them as hypocrites. Modern day hypocrites, modern day Pharisees and scribes are once again basing their actions and their words on the doctrines of men. While a small sect has taken the extreme position of a return to the Old Testament laws, a larger group has adopted a position termed "family values". Taking neither the extreme view offered in the Laws of Moses, nor the position of forgiveness and non-condemnation of Jesus, the religious right has put forth an effort to rewrite the Scriptures, or at least to interpret them in a manner befitting the Pharisees of Jesus' time by taking the middle, and supposedly holy ground.
Rather than taking the Laws in their entirety, the religious right have hand picked a few to dwell upon, perhaps because they are easily used in a program of fear. This is where political expediency comes into play. Notably absent from Jesus' actions was a petition to the secular government of Rome to change their laws to suit his purpose. Neither is there evidence that the religious leaders attempted to do so. There seems to be no Biblical precedent for what the religious right is attempting to accomplish. A modern day theology is evolving with political entanglements using scriptural justification that is absent or at best, built on sand.
The task here is not to point out individual incidents or proponents, but rather, to point out that it is a doctrine based on the very thing Jesus condemned the religious leaders of, the doctrines of men. While the argument may be couched in terms of a return to Biblical values, it is anything but. This modern day theology is not based on scriptural precedents, it is based on a purposeful twisting of a hand full of scriptures while at the same time ignoring a multitude of passages that portray a loving, forgiving and non-condemning gospel for political motives.
I have only met a handful of self professed homosexuals in my 50 years and the attitude that best describes those meetings is most likely one of indifference, in that it never occurred to me to think or feel differently about them than any other individuals. The attitude was not one of disgust and a desire to discriminate. It certainly was not a feeling of fear. If there is any disgust at all in this issue it is the actions of a few to thrust a distorted illusion of the Scriptures in an attempt to use the very document that contains the Bill of Rights to willfully and purposely discriminate against our fellow citizens.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Perhaps that needs to be expanded to include a fear of losing the very liberties this country was founded on. The attempt to ban gay marriage via a Constitutional amendment is but one of numerous attacks on our freedoms in recent years. It has suffered defeat at the national level but retains the prospect of resurfacing at a later date and remains an active hot button issue at the local level. The very word progressive necessitates moving forward. It is an issue I scarcely gave a second thought to until it reached the level of a Constitutional amendment. How many other issues are lurking that we, as progressives, are not even aware of? The regressive religious right and their right-wing handlers/enablers want to take this country back to times long since forgotten. It remains, therefore, imperative that we keep a watchful eye on the freedoms we hold so dearly whether the issues directly affect us or not.