Los Angeles Loyolan
« Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all! » Trump reportedly joked of Pence at a private meeting as described in an article published in the New Yorker.
While the extremes of Pence’s personal feelings toward gay people are unknown, we do know that he believes in conversion therapy and is against gay marriage. We do know that people all across the U.S. use the Bible every day to defend their claims that homosexual people should not have the right to marry, love or even exist, depending on the respective religion one adheres to.
Disclaimer: everything I am about to say, I say with full respect to everyone’s individual religious beliefs, practices and relationships with God(s).
Growing up as a very sheltered member of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) church, I was always told that I did not have to accept members of the LGBTQ+ community, merely tolerate them.
For the majority of my life, I saw gay people as sinners. They were my friends, my neighbors, my relatives, but they were not going to heaven. It wasn’t until I fell away from my religion that I saw this logic as flawed.
The LDS religion did not accept black people as worthy of holding the Priesthood until 1978. Their reasoning being that black people are descendants of the biblical figure Cain who was struck by God with a dark mark. In 1852 they declared that “any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot hold the Priesthood,” as noted in the New York Times.The church used the Bible to justify racism. I hardly think it is a coincidence that the church changed their stance just 14 years after enactment of the Civil Rights Act by proclaiming that “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the Priesthood without regard for race or color,” according to the Times.
Until recently, I didn’t know enough to argue in defense of the Bible’s defamations of homosexuality, but a lesson in my Christian Marriage and Sexuality course taught me what the Bible actually says about the matter.
In the New and Old Testament there are only about six or seven verses that even touch on homosexuality. This news shocked me. I had been certain that if so much hate could arise toward a group of people, more than two percent of the Bible would be devoted to preaching against it.
We watched a documentary for the class called « For the Bible Tells Me So, » which went about analyzing each of these Bible and how it pertains to homosexuality. I definitely recommend watching it to anyone who believes the Bible condemns homosexuality.
I was in for another shocking surprise. The documentary, along with some supplemental reading from Richard McCarty’s book, « Sexual Virtue, » explained away every verse as showing no evidence that God finds homosexuality to be a sin. In fact, the concept of homosexuality wasn’t even introduced until the 19th century.
McCarty discusses how the Genesis creation story includes Adam and Eve, but suggests that any correlation to gender complementarity is pushing one’s own interpretations onto the text. He argues that it “points toward the human need for companionship,” adding that religious marital laws have frequently broken the Adam and Eve narrative —for example, the allowance of male polygamy.
Another book he addresses is the book of Leviticus, where the Bible asserts that a man laying with another man is an abomination. The part that we don’t often hear is that later on in the same book, eating shrimp, mixing wool and linen and spilling your seed are all deemed abominations. McCarty also explained that the term abomination does not mean sin, but rather an act that goes against the ritual and tradition of the Jewish people of the time.
The rest of the verses were proven illegitimate because of poor translation and a lack of cultural and historical context of the language used.
When the case of the legality of a Denver bakery refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake made the headlines, I found myself debating the issue with my father. He argued that it should be within the frame of someone’s religious freedom to remove themselves from situations which they believe to be wrong.
I retorted that there was a time when black people were denied service all across this country because people wanted to avoid socializing with people who they believed to sinful. I’m speaking of Jim Crow laws, of course. I asked him that if we both agree now that that was Biblically informed racism, how is denying to serve someone or threatening to kill someone — which happens all the time — not also Biblically informed discrimination and hate?
I believe that religious freedom should not entail discriminating against anyone. There are far more verses about loving each other than there are about hating gays.