Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Would Jesus Discriminate" Campaign Returns to Indy

Faith In America is bringing its campaign to educate Hoosiers on what the Christian Bible really has to say about same-sex relationships. About 20 billboards will appear around Indianapolis in coming days. The textual interpretation of the Bible represented by the billboards are likely to fuel a theological debate--one that is long overdue. You will learn, for example, that:
  • Jesus taught that some are born gay and are a gift from God. Matthew 19:10-12
  • Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Matthew 8:5-13
  • Philip, guided by the Holy Spirit, allowed a gay man to be baptized. Acts 8:26-40
  • In the Old Testament, we learn that Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. Genesis 2:24
  • And David (the giant slayer) declared he loved Jonathan more than any woman. II Samuel 1:26

For too long, fundamentalist Christians have gotten by intentionally misinterpreting the Bible to suit their own agenda. It is very clear in the Book of Matthew that Jesus is instructing us some people are naturally born gay. In the same passages where Jesus instructs us on why some men will not marry women and that is acceptable, he makes a strong statement against divorce. Essentially, he tells us if you can't commit yourself to your wife until death, you shouldn't enter into marriage. Explaining a question about marriage and divorce, Jesus says:

"Have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”? Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

It's funny how the fundamentalists pretend affirming passages of the Bible direct from the mouth of Jesus like this one in Matthew don't exist whenever the discussion turns to homosexuality and same-sex relationships. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to this latest campaign. You can bet the fundamentalists will vocalize their opposition to the campaign.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the campaign, but I do wish they would comply with Indianapolis sign code. We have enough trouble with the "We buy Homes", "Earn $50,000 from Home," and various other signs illegally cluttering intersections and city right of way.

I am no fan of Carmel, but at least they enforce their sign code and it does make a difference. Broken windows theory folks.

Wilson46201 said...

The posting explicitly says "20 billboards", not the multitudinous illegal signage cluttering public right-of-ways you so rightly decry. Relax!

Recently some shadowy political operatives have started erecting large illegal signs in troubled neighborhoods. This too needs control...

Mark W. Rutherford said...

My wife and I just drove by a yard sign by CTS with the reference to Matthew 19:10-12. We turned around to get the cite. It was nice to see it (and the yard sign isn't really hurting anyone - keeping such signs off of public highways sounds like the same ilk of stuff the British passed to keep the colonies in check in the 1700's - make it all public and then illegal to post unpopular speech in public areas - so nothing can be posted).

Anonymous said...

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)

Wilson46201 said...

Steph Mineart at her blog, A Commonplace Book, wisely has the word "leviticus" as a filter trigger to eliminate homophobic fundies spam ...

Advance Indiana said...

Ay yes, the infamous pretext for sanctioning discrimination against gays and lesbians. Let's put the words into the proper context as done here:

"Biblical historians tell us the Canaanite religions surrounding the Israelites at the time of Leviticus often included fertility rites consisting of sexual rituals. These rituals were thought to bring the blessing of the god or goddess on crop and livestock production. During the rituals, whole families, including husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts and uncles would sometimes have sex. Also included was sex with temple prostitutes. In short, every kind of sexual practice imaginable was performed at these rituals, including homosexual sex.

Consider one specific example. Historians tell us that many Canaanites and Egyptians worshipped a goddess of love and fertility called Astarte or Ishtar. Within her temples were special priests called assinu, who were deemed to have special powers. Physical contact with the assinu was believed to ward off evil and promote good luck. These priests were, in effect, living good luck charms, and worshipers would often ritually touch them as part of their worship practices. Sexual intercourse was considered especially effective for gaining the goddess’s favor, because the male worshiper was offering his greatest possession, semen (which was thought to be the essence of life), to the goddess through her priests. Depositing semen in the body of a priest of the goddess was believed to guarantee one’s immortality. Similar cultic sexual practices flourished in connection with many other ancient pagan deities.

This is what was going on in Canaan and Egypt at the time the Levitical rules were announced — homosexual temple prostitution. And as already noted, Leviticus 18 and 20 specifically say they were written to address pagan religious practices. Leviticus 18 begins with the admonition, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you.” (18:3) Chapter 20 is even more specific, beginning with an injunction against the pagan practices associated with a god named Molech. And both chapters include long lists of sexual practices common in the cultic rituals we mentioned above. However, neither of them speaks to the question of whether two people of the same sex can live in loving relationship with the blessing of God.

In fact, historians tell us our model of loving, long-term homosexual relationships did not meaningfully exist in Canaanite culture. This was a tribal culture in which it would have been virtually impossible to form such relationships. Offspring were essential to survival in this primitive agricultural economy. Moreover, there were rigid distinctions between women’s work and men’s work. If two men had lived together as a couple, for example, one of them would have been placed in the position of doing women’s work, and the presence of a man working among the women of the village would not have been tolerated.

It simply is not reasonable to believe the author of Leviticus intended to prohibit a form of homosexual relationship that did not exist at the time. When read in textual and historical context, the prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and 20 are clearly directed at homosexual temple prostitution, and that is how they should be applied.

Some people may object, saying, “But if you ignore the context and just read the words of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in black and white, they appear to prohibit all sex between men, not just sex in pagan rituals.” But that is the whole point: The meaning of words depends on context. Remember, the words of 1 Corinthians 11 also appear to require long hair and head coverings for all women in all circumstances. But, because we have studied the context, we know that is not what was meant. A text taken out of context is pretext. Let’s apply the same common-sense rule here."

Anonymous said...

The same standard ought to apply to the citing of scriptures on these billboards. NONE of them mentions homosexuality. I suggest that you leave the theology to someone without an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Yet again those who want plural marriage are left in the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 6:20 am:

If you can find someone who DOES quote scripture without an agenda, I'd like to meet them.

Wilson46201 said...

"Yet again those who want plural marriage are left in the dark ages."

Mitt Romney, is that you posting anonymously? Or are you just another Eric Miller cohort trying to raise phony issues against opponents of SJR7?

Jay said...

Scott and I passed about 7 small signs on our way to work today along Binford. They each featured a different verse, and most were placed near intersections and medians.

Anonymous said...

...which, Jay, are illegal.

Those who worked long hours on the signage ordinance, developers, real estate professionals, neighborhood activists, etc., wish the city would do a better job of enforcing this issue.

No signs, of any kind, are permitted in rights-of-way. Electioneering signs are permitted around elections in private yards. These might be loosely construed as that.

Sign clutter is a huge problem. It's not getting better. These signs, if on licensed or permitted billboards, are perfectly permissable.

The yard signs, if not placed in private yards, are the problem.

Jesus Church was made aware of this the last time they put out their worthwhile message "Would Jesus Discriminate?" They apparently chose to ignore the reuglations altogether, which is troubling, albeit temporary.

Jay said...

9:38. We didn't place the signs. We don't go to Jesus MCC. That said, I agree that yard signs placed along roads are an eyesore and should be removed.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for someone to give me historical context for how "eunuch" is automatically translated to "homosexual"

Donna said...

anonymous said: "I'm waiting for someone to give me historical context for how "eunuch" is automatically translated to "homosexual" "

"Homosexual" is nothing more than a label. It was first coined by the German-Hungarian Károly Mária Kertbeny around 1868. What's your point?

Anonymous said...

My point, Donna, is I don't understand how passages relating to the historical social place of eunuch are being related to gay rights.

Michael said...

Eunuchs are men who are unable to have sexual relations with women, either because of reproductive biology or because they have no attraction to women. Homosexuals fall into the latter category. There were eunuchs who were understood to be what we now consider "homosexual." It's really just that simple.

Advance Indiana said...

Neither the term gay nor homosexual existed in the ancient languages of the time. Eunuch has often been used to describe a male who has been castrated, or who was born without testicles. Others described eunuchs as effeminate men who cared for the palace women, and who the men had no fear would become sexually involved with their wives. In other places, it is used to describe men who are attracted to other men and not women. You have to look at the context of how the word is being used. Describing its use by Jesus in Matthew, one scholar wrote:

"So the Lord Himself has expanded the meaning of eunuch to include the unmarried for a variety of situations. Some were made this way by others. Some are born this way. They are unable to get married because they have no natural inclination to have sexual relations with a mate of the opposite sex because of sexual traumas (abuse, etc.) in their past. For some it is not an anticipated option. For others it is not an options at all. The hurt and scars are too deep. For whatever reason, and there are many, eunuch means anyone not likely to get heterosexually involved. At any rate, this list expanded by Jesus certainly includes gay people and others of either sex."

Anonymous said...

I've just confirmed in six different dictionaries, including an "urban dictionary," what I already knew to be the case.

A "eunuch" is a castrated male. A couple of those dictionaries included a male who is incapable of sexual relations - in other words, impotent. But it has absolutely nothing to do with sexual preferences.

So if you really want to stick this argument, go for it! I guess I never knew that homosexuals are so gung-ho about abstinence. That definitely puts a whole new light on things.

Wilson46201 said...

Get a clue! A penis is not a requirement for sexual activity. If you think about it, 51% of the U.S. population is penile-deficient...

[It's also lots of fun if you do have one!]

Anonymous said...

Well that did it.

Thanks for the mental image.

My eyes burn now.

10001110101 said...

Hey, Leviticus also says we can't eat a lobster or enjoy a pork tenderloin. By the way, according to Leviticus, the next time your wife asks you to go to the store to pick up a box of tampons, you'd might as well pick up a couple of turtle doves to sacrifice in order to make her "clean". What law shall we ignore and what law shall we obey, oh wise ones? Does someone have a release from Yahweh? If you can't apply all of it everything, you can't apply any of it to anything.

Anonymous said...

I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of Christians do not believe the literal words of the entire Bible. But it is a long, long, incredible stretch to move from literal interpretation to making up completely new meanings of commonly-understood words, as AI has done in this incredibly laughable post.

But of course, that's what the bulk of this blog has become - twisting the meanings of commonly understood words to promote your homosexual agenda. We've just finished weeks of doing that with the word "marriage." And now, it appears, we're about to do it with the word "eunuch."

Or if that goofy moron Wilson takes off, it looks like "sexual activity" might be the new focus. Of course, it won't matter then because nobody except Wilson's fellow idiots will be left here to read anything.

Anonymous said...

Wilson doesn't represent the majority of writers and readers here, Anon 12:49.

And instead of slamming Gary's superb earlier post, and name-calling, why don't you bring some, oh, FACTS?

It's lame to villify something without some backup. The Book of Lev. is full if contradictions and customs of the time, which, appliled today, would cause chaos. Homophobes quote Lev. constantly, without realizing this.

As one of the first five books of the OT, it shares that trait with the other earlier writings contained in my Bible. Context is important.

Without context, the literal interpretation is frightening. THe dietary and behavioral proclamations are not to be taken completely literally, and they aren't by any serious Biblical scholar.

Wise up.

donna said...

anonymous said: "I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of Christians do not believe the literal words of the entire Bible. But it is a long, long, incredible stretch to move from literal interpretation to making up completely new meanings of commonly-understood words, as AI has done in this incredibly laughable post. "

Why is this a laughable post? Why not try to open your mind to the possibility that Jesus did not discriminate? My "Christian" opinion is he did not and we as "Christians" should not. This is an absolute no-brainer to me. The entire books of canon are open for interpretation. People pick and choose scripture and come up with their own narratives all the time to support their particular religious belief system. This is why there are so many different religious denominations.

In reading the comments on this post I have not any seen scholarly discussion to support that Jesus would and did discriminate.

Still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Why is this post laughable? Go read the referenced passages and see for yourself!

The definition of "eunuch" is a castrated male. More specifically, in the context of the time, it referred to a castrated male whose duty it was to watch bedchambers of royal wives. It does not have now and has never had anything to do with sexual preference. That simple and clear fact blows up over half of the wishful interpretations offered by this post.

Likewise, the story about the Roman soldier and his slave says nothing and implies nothing about a homosexual relationship. Just because a man cares for another man does not mean that the two are homosexuals! (The same can be said of the II Samuel passage.) As the passage clearly states, Jesus was amazed that a man of "power" would show such concern; and that is why Jesus responded as he did. Sorry, your wishful hope for a homosexual relationship is absolutely without merit.

But perhaps the most ridiculous is the post's twist on Matthew 19. If you read the full passage, not just the sentences referenced by AI, you see that the passage actually focuses on God's creation of man and woman for the purpose of marriage. Nothing in there about homosexual "marriages." And certainly nothing in there about some people being "born gay" and "a gift from God."

What is laughable is the extreme, distorted attempt to read something into these passages that clearly does not exist. And yet, the same people readily dismiss other passages in the Bible that they say should not be read literally. So, if something literal opposes you, then dismiss it. And if nothing literal supports you, then make something up.

That really is laughable.

donna said...

Anonymous 10:48

Based on your literal interpretation of marriage (and in such modern language too!), then we all should be paying the Bible a lot more heed.

Divorce is forbidden:
Deut 22:19, Matt 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:9-12, Luke 16:18, Rom 7:2, 1 Cor 7:10-11, 7:39

Prohibition of inter-faith marriages:
Gen 24:3, 28:1, 28:6, Num 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Neh 10:30, 2 Cor 6:14

Women marry the choice of their father:
Gen. 24:4, Josh.15:16-17, Judges 1:12-13, 12:9, 21:1, 1 Sam 17:25, 18:19, 1 Kings 2:21, 1 Chron 2:35, Jer 29:6, Dan 11:17

A rapist must marry his victim:
Ex. 22:16, Deut. 22:28-29 - unless she was already a fiancé, in which case he should be put to death if he raped her in the country, but both of them killed if he raped her in town (Deut. 22:23-27)

I think we are clear on your interpretation and opinion but I do not think you have sufficiently argued your case that Jesus would discriminate.

Anonymous said...

Poor, poor Donna. Absolutely nothing in my post of 12:48 advocated for literal interpretations of these or any other passages in the Bible. All that I pointed out in 12:48 is that AI has reached way beyond reason to claim, in the passages that he cites, that there are endorsements of homosexuality contained in the Bible.

Your attempts to tie my comments to a fundalmentalist interpretation of the entire Bible is about as legitimate as saying that all homosexuals believe in the sexual perversity that is demonstrated each year in New York's "gay pride" parade. Is that a fair descripion of you? Is it a fair description of Gary? If it is inaccurate to generalize about the two of you, then please don't generalize about me.

Let's just not go there.

donna said...

“Poor poor Donna”, condescending but I’ll move past that.

Perhaps AI did not “deliver” the point of his post clearly and to your satisfaction, BUT the point was as the title indicates: “Would Jesus Discriminate”.

Here’s an interesting read, The Historic Origins of Church Condemnation of Homosexuality:

http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/rome.htm

Anonymous said...

If you think about it, 51% of the U.S. population is penile-deficient...

I do! It brings me great pleasure. :)