Friday, September 18, 2009

Standing up for gay rights, WWJD?

Last week I was reading the online edition of my college newspaper, The Grand Views, when I came across an opinion piece about the Lutheran Church, the bible, and the gays; so I just had to read it.
"As many of you can see from the hot media topics the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has voted to allow lesbians and gays to hold a pastoral position in the church.

There are many debates on the topic recently and I admit I am befuddled as to how there is any question. I genuinely do not understand how any professed Christian can really believe this is acceptable.

The ELCA clearly states on their website, "As Lutherans, ELCA members believe that the Bible is the written Word of God." Thus, I'm forced into confusion as I try to make sense of this. If they believe the Bible is the Word of God, wouldn't they want to abide by His teaching? The Bible clearly states that acting on homosexuality is wrong."
- "
Lutheran churches contradicting Bible" - The Grand Views, 9/11/09
I read this, and the rest of the article, and was personally taken aback. As a gay man my shock mostly came from my lack of personal contact with people who hold this belief. It's not as if I select my friends based on whether or not they agree with me on any given subject, but my friends and I tend to agree on most gay rights issues. We all gravitate towards those we agree with; it's human nature. So sometimes a strongly-held belief from the other side can throw you off.

But I thought, naïvely it would seem, that personal feelings about gay marriage and homosexuality aside, we could agree with Jesus when he said "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I guess you can love your neighbor but if that neighbor is gay and wants the same rights you have, too bad.

I was proud to see others, most notably Steve Snyder, a Humanities professor at Grand View, stand up and give voice to the other side of the debate. Using history, facts and commenting on how we interpret what the Bible says, he gives a great defense of the beliefs and values I hold. He also called out those against such gay rights saying, "arguments founded on literal interpretations of scripture are often highly susceptible to the charge of hypocrisy."
"Indeed, those using the Bible to condemn homosexuality often overlook behaviors proscribed in other biblical passages. A passage in Leviticus, for example, is often cited as support that the Bible sees homosexuality as an "abomination." By the same token, Leviticus also demands animal sacrifices. It bans crossbreeding of various kinds of cattle and even wearing "a garment made from two kinds of material mixed together," yet I see no uproar over the presence of synthetic fabrics in the Lutheran pews on Sunday morning. If Lutherans are perfectly free to disregard Leviticus 11:1-12 (which would forbid eating portions of the menu at Red Lobster), why aren't they free to adjust their views on homosexuality? To denounce them for not following one passage but not others seems conveniently selective."
- Steve Snyder, Letter To The Editor, 9/18/09
I was also proud to see Molly Hottle (former Editor-In-Chief of the Grand Views '08-'09) take a similar stand. For me it was much more powerful coming from her because of her background and because she speaks for our generation. Those 18-29 are much more supportive of gay rights than any other age group.
"Many of the same arguments from scripture that are being raised, we also heard 30 years ago when the Lutheran churches decided to ordain women," said Jack Mithelman, campus pastor. Even with these historical references, it's happening again. How many repeats of history will it take for people to realize discrimination of any group-no matter race, gender or sexual preference-is wrong? These statements I make are not because I am ignorant of the argument used by those who say the Bible forbids homosexuality. In fact, I know it very well. I am a Christian who grew up in a conservative Christian home and was made to believe that homosexuality is a sin. But I grew up and did something unheard of: formulated my own opinion. And the fact is, times change. If people insist on using the literal meaning of the Bible to condemn the gay community, then those same people should also be expected to not play football since the Old Testament prohibits the touching of the skin of a pig. The accusers should also not be allowed to wear clothing made of two different materials and the women should be forbidden to wear makeup. Today, the enforcement of those rules sounds silly to us, as should the prohibition of homosexuality.
- "Hottle: No matter how they say it, opponents of gay rights spreading discrimination" - The Grand Views, 9/18/09

I didn't say anything about this subject until now for one very specific reason: I'm not a active member of the Lutheran Church, or a member of any religious organization. I didn't feel my input would really add anything to the debate. I also felt that as an Agnostic gay man, my bias would cause more conflict than it would help.

But I can't stay silence, and I definitely shouldn't hold back because of what people might say or think of me.

I agree 110% with Ms. Hottle that those who wish to deny rights, status, and basic equal rights are spreading discrimination. These people are painting the entire GLBT community as less than human, not entitled to the equal protection and equal opportunities of our straight brothers and sisters. By pushing this idea that they are smarter than everyone else, and saying they can't even see why gays should have the right to help others while spreading their love of God and Jesus to everyone they meet as a pastor in the Lutheran Church is only more evidence of their small-minded, selfish and hateful beliefs.

If Jesus had a vote in this matter, what would he do? Simply put, WWJD?

No comments:

Post a Comment