Pagan Pulpit: Gays, Marriage & the Bible: Dan Barker

You know those Christians who wear “What Would Jesus Do?” necklaces? I have an answer: “Keep your mouth shut about gay marriage.” Jesus never once talked about homosexuality.

Today’s opposition to gay rights is orchestrated mainly by Christians who think they are following scripture, but they don’t realize that the bible doesn’t even get you halfway there. Lesbianism is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the bible. The Hebrew bible does call male-to-male sex an “abomination,” but this appears in the Leviticus “Holiness Code,” which is concerned only with religious purity and Jewish national identity, not with moral behavior.

Lev. 20:13 says: “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.” That word “abomination” means “unclean for religious purposes,” and is applied to many other things that are not crimes, or even (if you are religious) sins.

Menstruation, giving birth, eating the meat of certain animals, being a hunchback or a dwarf, and so on, were thought to sully the purity of God. The bible requires the death penalty not only for homosexuality, but also for the “abomination” of disobeying your parents. Do antigay Christians stone their sons to death for refusing to take out the trash? Such an outrageous idea is no less ridiculous than denying gays the freedom to marry.

Modern homophobes would never imagine that the Old Testament death penalty for adultery should be applied in today’s world–that might cut into church membership rolls–yet they insist that the “uncleanliness” of homosexuality should be codified into secular law. The bible, in Second Corinthians 6, is also very clear that believers should not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

If a Christian wants to marry an atheist, should the state deny them the license? If we must follow the bible’s teaching on same-sex marriage, then we should do the same with same-sect marriage. And that is preposterous. In the bible, no uncircumcised male was considered worthy to worship god. Why aren’t rightwing Christians lobbying to deny the rights of uncircumcised men to join a church, get married, adopt children or join the military? We all know this is not a moral issue; circumcision, like homosexuality, was only a matter of religious identity.

The ancient Israelites and the Apostle Paul and modern Christians were/are free to set up their little religious regulations to show how “pure” they are, but in America, they are not free to insist that the rest of us must conform to their insecure and barbaric orthodoxies. A modern secular democracy would never base its laws on the worship rules of the ancient Mayans or Egyptians, so why should we conform to the arbitrary standards of ritual purity in the bigoted commandments of ancient Israelites? Let’s turn this around and look at it rationally and ethically.

If the bible is opposed to homosexuality, then it is not gay marriage that is wrong: it is the bible that is wrong.

Freedom From Religion Foundation