For 22 years, I’ve tried to believe what others wanted me to believe. Often, I’ve followed advice blindly. Before going to Carolina, people told me I’d meet types of people I’d never met before. They also told me my morals would be frequently challenged. They were all very correct. What they didn’t tell me was that it happens on every college campus across the nation. They also failed to mention that I could keep my values, my morals, and my faith by slightly changing my over-arching opinions. In the current Washington, DC climate, two heavily-debated Supreme Court cases have been recently weighed-in on: the Constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Here’s where I changed my young impressions of the LGBT community, while balancing my faith and commitment to Jesus Christ, my Savior. Where I concluded I could simultaneously be a Christian and an ally.
Although I have spent years grappling with what I believed to be true in my heart, searching the Bible page by page, digging deeper and finding a plethora of arguments, I’ve recently found a documentary that put all that research into one place. A Fish Out of Water, written and directed by Ky Dickens, examines seven of the Bible verses most often used to condemn homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Written hereinafter is a reflection of those examinations, as well as my own personal input of Biblical findings.
First and foremost, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater” (Mark 12:31). It was in this moment that the scribe by Jesus’ side recognized that “to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength…” was much more important than all other offerings (Mark 12:33).
Genesis is the book most often referred to when attempting to outline God’s full plan, His design of all life we have grown to know. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Anti-gay Christians have interpreted these words to mean that only one man and one woman can multiply the human race through ‘regular’ sexual intercourse and that any motive differently is a sin. What about post-menopausal women? Infertile women? Sterile men? Does this mean, under heterosexual relationships, couples should practice celibacy for the rest of their lives since they cannot “multiply?” No, probably not. What I think God’s commandment means is to produce good or helpful results; to multiply and fill the earth with the fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23); and to bring under control—subdue—such things as hatred, genocide, and judgment.
The story of Adam and Eve also comes under scrutiny as a tool of argument. In the second book of Genesis, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner,” but as the man interacted with all creatures God had provided him, “there was not found a helper as his partner” (Genesis 2:18-20). From the man, a rib taken, and a woman made. While the current language of the Bible does specifically mention a man and a woman, let us remind ourselves that prior to the creation of the second partner, ‘Adam’ had no gender—he was simply human. Additionally, let’s not forget the etymology of the current English noun woman. Prior to the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century, the word mann or monn had a gender-neutral meaning—human. The first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch (“five scrolls”), are attributed to Moses, who lived approximately 1300 years B.C.—long before any such addition of ‘wo’ to ‘man.’ God had intended the man’s partner to be whosoever the person chose to help him and ease his loneliness. Now, I do have to recognize that the current form of the Bible isn’t in the same language or translation as the first and original Bible. The Vulgate – principal Latin Bible—only mentions the word “hominem” in this section of Genesis. I will agree that I don’t know the full etymology of the Latin term, but I understand it to mean “human.” I do not speak, read, or write Latin or Arabic, Aramaic, or whatever else the original Bible was written in, so of course I cannot know the true etymology of the words used in today’s Bible…but…what “common” Christian arguing against gay marriage does? I figure those are few and far between. If you know of one, please point them in my direction. I am more than happy to be better educated on the language patterns and shifts through time and further improve or strengthen my argument.
We now find ourselves in the book of Leviticus. Most often cited, the book reads, “If a male lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” (Leviticus 20:13). Explicitly so in today’s translation, one can rightfully argue this means to not sleep with another man. However, we must again pay due attention to the fact that the Bible has been translated time and time again, across many years of language patterns and through a variety of interpreters. Who’s to say the original meaning was taken largely out of context? Some in academia argue that at the time, women were purchased and viewed as property and the intended interpretation was that a man should not view another man as his property, but rather as an equal without purchasing power for one over the other. Or, perhaps, it means something different. What if, in Biblical times, there were no monogamous, faithful, loving, homosexual relationships? Is that maybe what this means? If homosexual relations had been bound in love, commitment, and monogamy, is it likely it wouldn’t have been considered sinful? This calls to mind the difference between lust and love. Lust is always wrong. Love never should be. If, however, the decision remains to interpret the verse exactly as written, a strict interpretation of all other verses in Leviticus must also be taken. You should not wear garments made of cotton blends or of other material combinations, for the Bible says, “You shall not put on a garment made of two different materials” (Leviticus 19:19). You should not eat fruit from a tree until at least the fifth year the fruit has grown—yes, this means you must let fruit grow, fall, and die for five years until you can eat it—“for in the fifth year you may eat of their fruit” (Leviticus 19:25). You should not cut your hair, for the Bible says, “You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard” (Leviticus 19:27). Finally, any person with a tattoo should be damned to hell for “you shall not…tattoo any marks upon you” (Leviticus 19:28). Each of these, as written verbatim from the modern translation is considered a sin. If you hold true to one, you must hold true to all. The words of God also say, “You shall not render an unjust judgment, you shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:15-18). Who are you to hate or judge someone simply because you think they sin differently than you?
Here, we find ourselves in the Book of First Corinthians. Chapter Six states, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).” I cite this to say that Christ’s shed his blood shed for everyone, not a pre-determined select few. I also cite this to argue a point against a passage I’ve purposely chosen to skip because much more exists in the story than the argument of homosexuality—sodomy (from Sodom and Gomorrah). The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one often cited as against homosexuality. However, sodomy does not refer simply to same-sex intercourse. Instead, it includes all other copulative acts that are not penile-vaginal. This would include oral sex, anal sex, or any sexual act otherwise—hetero or homosexual. Again, then, wouldn’t almost everyone sin? Why is it that so many people focus only on one part of a ‘sin’ rather than the whole? What I ultimately gather from this passage is that any sexual act meant to diminish the humanity of the person is wrong – sodomy, as derived from the Biblical story, is symbolic of the warring of two cities, not the acts of a mere two people. Again, I’d like to additionally explore the original text of the Bible and/or speak to someone who can interpret it for me since I myself cannot determine what the implications of sodomy were at the time and what it included.
Finally, I’ll end my Biblical arguments with a final and far-reaching argument. I must maintain my full belief that the center piece of Christianity is Jesus Christ. Jesus said many things, but absolutely nothing about homosexuality. He spoke of love (mentioned over 600 times in the Bible), forgiveness, and the absence of judgment. I owe the next few sentences from my favorite episode of Grey’s Anatomy: Season 6, Episode 5 (found here) when Callie Torres, a newly-out Lesbian, argues Jesus’ love against her father’s judgment. Jesus said, “A new commandment that I give unto you, that you love one another.” Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” And finally, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes to which I pay particularly close attention when others criticize and persecute the LGBT community—or any other group of people widely discriminated against. Here, Christ said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Those who are compassionate will obtain compassion. Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Those who love unconditionally—any gender—will find the Truth. Finally, Christ said, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Those persecuted by the ‘weapon’ of the Church will again find the Truth. I know the most popular interpretation of this verse means that Christians persecuted for their faith in God will reach the promise of Heaven, but the former is how I see it. Given all things Christ mentioned, I believe He was concerned about people, about justice, and about creating a community. Jesus wasn’t biased. He loved all of us, the immoralized. Since when has Christianity become about everything on the outside? Jesus Christ cares about our hearts and the ultimate depth of our character. It’s time we judge a relationship by the fruit that it produces, not by the external object(s) of our choosing. It’s time to use the Bible as a window TO God instead of as a weapon away from Him. God doesn’t make junk or mistakes. He created all of us in His image.
To conclude, putting all my religious and faith-based beliefs aside, I’ll argue for equal marriage on the side of my political persuasion. I believe wholeheartedly in the separation of Church and State. If Christ intended marriage to be designated between one man and one woman, then so be it (I’ll reiterate again that I do not believe in my heart for this to be the case). No Church should be forced to perform any marriage that it does not want to. Yes, this includes marriages between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man, etc. The government should not force such rules on any Church establishment. Civil unions are, however, a function of the government through the authorization of the courts. In this sense, all Americans should be granted equal rights without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religious or political affiliation. Any governmentally-recognized marriage (whether backed by a Church’s support or not) should have entitlement to the same legal benefits. All legally married Americans should receive the 1,138 federal statutory provisions in which benefits, rights, and privileges are contingent on marital status or in which marital status is a factor. Given my full belief in separation of Church and State, I support, with undying conviction, the recent repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA).
This concludes a majority of my thoughts on same-sex marriage. While probably “non-traditional,” I will continue to uphold my Christian faith through love, friendship, and compassion.