Judge Not


I’ve never done a guest blog piece before, but when my own mother asks to do one, how can I say no? Enjoy!

Susan E. Lindsey

The Supreme Court’s recent decision about same-sex marriage brought forth a rainbow of celebration, but also dark clouds of anger and lightning bolts of hate.

Many—but not all—of those condemning the ruling identified themselves as Christian and cited various biblical passages to support their positions. Some—but not all—of those celebrating the decision made anti-Christian remarks.

I consider myself a Christian, and I don’t like the term being used as an all-encompassing label for rigid or ultra-conservative people who love to point the finger of sin and condemnation at others. Most Christians I know do not behave this way. The word Christian means a follower of Christ, and Jesus Christ did not call us to condemn or hate one another.

I support the decision of the court and think it’s long overdue. However, I also want to respect the beliefs of others and consider what they have to say, so let’s examine some of the scriptures most often cited by opponents to same-sex marriage.

I have to preface this by pointing out that marriage is both a civil/legal construct and a religious construct, which complicates the matter. I am a great believer in the separation of church and state. That is not an anti-Christian statement. I’m all for Christians practicing their faith. I am not in favor, however, of practitioners of any faith (Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything else) dictating the laws of this land.

I also realize that many people have come to their conclusions about homosexuality from a position of emotion, not logic, so trying to use logic to discuss this may be futile. All of that being said, let’s look at those scriptures. (Citations are from the Revised Standard Version.) First, the Old Testament.

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

This scriptures provides a model for marriage, but it does not say that it is the only model for marriage, nor does it in fact use the word “marriage.” A similar New Testament passage (Matthew 10:6-8) likewise does not restrict marriage to this model.

In this passage from Genesis, Lot offers shelter in his home to two travelers identified as angels.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

Genesis 19:4-8

The passage is used as an argument against homosexuality, but it is really about attempted homosexual rape and Lot’s willingness to allow his virgin daughters to be raped instead of his guests. A similar story is told in the book of Judges, where a man provides overnight accommodations for a traveler.

22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24 Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light.

27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her upon the ass; and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and laying hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.

Judges 19:22-29

In this gruesome tale, the host protects his guest by throwing the guest’s concubine into the street (after first also offering up his virgin daughter). The concubine is gang-raped all night. When she crawls back to the house, she’s thrown over a donkey for the trip home, where she is murdered. Again, not a tale about same-sex relationships, but a horrific tale of rape, a culture of blaming the victim, and the disposability of women. Why would anyone want to use follow the advice of the writers of these stories?

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the Levitical priests lay down the law and specifically address sex in chapter 18. Verses 12-17 of the chapter deal with prohibitions against incest. Verse 18 prohibits a man from marrying his wife’s sister. Verses 19-23 prohibit sex during a woman’s period, adultery with neighbors, child sacrifice, gay sex, and bestiality.

19 You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. 20 And you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, and defile yourself with her. 21 You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is perversion.

—Leviticus 18:19-23

Apparently, the priests considered these to be comparable levels of bad stuff. However, I have a difficult time believing that sex during a woman’s period or gay sex compare in any way to child sacrifice or bestiality. And this passage is from a book that also discusses the rules of animal sacrifices, outlaws the eating of pork or rabbit, requires male circumcision, and forbids getting tattoos or trimming beards. Can we agree that some of it might be outdated?

Once in a while, people will cite passages from the book of I Kings. Chapter 14 tells about a ruler establishing male prostitution cults in Judah; chapter 15 tells about a subsequent ruler who puts an end to the practice. Neither of these passages deal with loving same-sex relationships, but rather with male prostitution in a cult setting. It brings up the question: were female prostitutes in a cult setting OK? Or was prostitution of either sex in a non-cult setting somehow acceptable?

These Old Testament passages were written long before Jesus was born. Let’s look at the New Testament.

21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened . . .

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

—Romans 1:21 and 26, 27, 32

These are Paul’s words in a letter to the Romans. Paul is speaking of people who knew about God, but did not honor him. In this passage, Paul rants against those who believe and live differently than he does. He labels same-sex relations as dishonorable, unnatural, and shameless, but seems to be condemning them more for not honoring God. He then advocates for their murder and the murder of those who approve of such practices. Not exactly a shining example of Christian love. In another letter, Paul writes to the Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

It is easy to define thieves and robbers, adulterers and drunkards. The other definitions are broader: who defines what is immoral, what is idolatry, and what is sexual perversion? It was once considered immoral for women to show their ankles. In many cultures, any kind of sex besides heterosexual / missionary position / with your spouse is considered perversion. In this same letter, Paul writes about marriage, advocating celibacy for those who can live that way (as Paul did), but marriage for those who cannot:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. . . . I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

—1 Corinthians 7:1-3 and 6-9

This is another passage sometimes cited as a definition for marriage. But Paul isn’t celebrating marriage as a union of one man and one woman. He is saying it would be best if we all could be celibate, but if we can’t, then we should marry. Paul may very well have been asexual, without desire for sex with anyone. He chose, instead, to devote his life to his faith. But if everyone were celibate, the human race would end. If, as Christians, we believe that God created us, then he also gave us sexual desire. We hear again from Paul when he writes to Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

1 Timothy 1:8-10

Dictionaries define sodomy in various ways: as homosexual acts, as oral sex, as anal sex, as bestiality, as sex that is not intended for procreation. Many heterosexuals engage in sex that is not for procreation, and have oral sex or anal sex. So sodomites does not refer exclusively to same-sex relations. And Paul is equating vastly different “sins”—is telling fib equal to killing your mother?

I don’t believe that the Bible forbids same-sex marriages or condemns homosexuality. It certainly isn’t listed in the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), and there is no record that Jesus said anything one way or another about same-sex relationships.

We have learned much about human sexuality in the centuries since Paul was alive. There is a range of sexual behavior and identities that are clearly biological: these include heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, transgender, and intersexuality.

As a Christian, I follow Christ—not Paul and not the writers of the Old Testament. We are called to love one another and to avoid judging others.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

—Matthew 7:1-16

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

—John 13:34

37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

—Matthew 22:37-39

History is filled with people who cited the Bible, Koran, or other religious writings to shore up arguments for everything from slavery to domestic abuse to wars. If you’re going to cite the Bible, understand the context and history of the passages. Apply some common sense and thought, and recognize that your own experiences and fears color your views. Don’t support a stance just because your friends or relatives support it, without doing your own thinking.

Finally, if you’re opposed to gay sex, don’t have gay sex. If you’re opposed to gay marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex.

The world if filled with enough hate: let people love who they love.

50 States, 6 Territories, and 1 District Down!


We won.

In a larger, more inclusive sense, everyone wins, and that’s because no one really loses. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. If your church is against the concept, they won’t be forced to allow same-sex couples to marry, just like they currently aren’t forced to allow mixed-race couples to marry, or allow divorced couples to marry. If your business does flowers for weddings, and you won’t do business with gays then, well, clearly money is something you hate. Also, you kind of have to do it, so suck it up and reel in the cash.

I don’t have too much more to say about this, so I’ll let Andrew Sullivan take it from here. I’ll also remind my friends that while this is good and great, we still have one more major problem to overcome before full equality; adoptions of children by gay people, which is still illegal in several states. But once that’s gone…that’s that.

It’s All Over But the Screeching


So earlier this week, I spent much of my time in Vegas. This included the days when, suddenly, gay marriage kind of exploded outward in one big rainbow cloud. The first I knew of it was when I saw a wedding chapel with a bright sign with a rainbow background saying something about it, and suggesting gays should come get married right now.

Ah, cynical capitalism. I love it.

Anyhow, obviously I’m quite pleased by SCOTUS refusing to hear the cases, and I’m pleased by the recent moves from the Ninth Circuit, even if Kennedy’s weird waffling on the issue made things a bit confusing for a few days.

Still, this is going along even quicker than I expected, and I think it is obvious that very soon we’ll have gay marriage everywhere. There just isn’t any legal leg for anyone against it to stand on.

marriage-equality-population

Thanks, Obama!


So today President Obama signed an executive order saying that federal contractors can’t discriminate against LGBT people. This is an excellent thing. It’s made even more excellent that he did it over the objections of religious types who, citing the recent Supreme Court ruling about Hobby Lobby, opined that they should be allowed to discriminate. That’s a bullshit argument. If you want to take federal money, you have to play by federal rules. If you don’t want to play by those rules, don’t take the money. Simple.

And a Slow Sense of Sanity Returns


She vetoed it. Thank goodness.

I’d like to hope that threatening the state’s economy and trying to turn back the clock on civil rights by 50+ years will be enough to get these asshat Republicans out of office. I’d like to think that. But what will happen is that Republicans will vote for them anyhow. They will either do this because they agreed with things like SB1070 and SB1062, or they’ll do what a gay Republican friend of mine seems to be doing and simply rationalize away the problem. Also, I’ll lay down some money right now that the Arizona GOP will try to censure her for this and the Medicaid expansion. If they did it to McCain, after all…

Oh, Arizona…


There are a lot of things I love about living in Arizona. The fact that the temps have been in the low-to-mid-80s during the middle of February, for example. The low cost of living in Phoenix, the sixth-largest city in the country. The beautiful terrain.

On the other hand, our politics are unbelievably fucked-up beyond…well, beyond all belief.

We’re the sort of state where people can, and do, openly carry guns around with them. Because apparently Arizona in 2014 sometimes gets confused with Arizona in 1884. We’re the sort of state (and specifically, Phoenix is in the sort of county), where having a sheriff like Joe Arpaio is considered acceptable. We have this odd mix of local politics that, at least outside the metro areas of Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson, mixes the worst elements of extremist Republicans with the worst elements of extremist Libertarians. How fucked-up are our politics? They are so royally fucked-up that the Arizona Republican Party actually censured John McCain, a sitting, senior United States senator and former GOP candidate for the White House, for voting alongside Democrats too often. That’s how fucked-up things are here.

I had thought that was kind of the low point we’d hit with politics in this state, and then the GOP-controlled state legislature (previously noted for filing a lawsuit against our Republican governor for expanding Medicaid), passed a bill that is, essentially, the same bill the Kansas legislature killed a few days ago. You know, the one that was the subject of my latest article mocking Kansas.

Now admittedly, Arizona’s state legislature is notorious for being comedy-level stupid. This is the same group of people who manage our state’s economy so poorly that they had to sell-off parts of the state capital complex, and then lease them back, in order to make our budget. They are so incompetent that they keep cutting educational budgets to the point where the CEO of a major tech company said he’d have to reconsider doing business in this state, because he wasn’t sure he could hire a skilled and educated workforce. So the fact that this collection of ass-clowns has now passed, along party lines, of course, this latest bill is almost zero surprise.

It’s also worth noting that I’m 99% sure our governor is going to veto this. She’s someone with whom I disagree more often than not, but I doubt she’s stupid enough to sign this. If she is, of course, we can then expect several years and several million dollars to be wasted defending this bill before the courts; all the way up to the US Supreme Court which will say, “Yeah, fuck, no.” Though possibly they might dress it up a bit.

It isn’t correct to say that I’m surprised or deeply disappointed in Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature. I’m not. This is absolutely the level of stupidity I’ve come to expect from them. I would like to hope that anyone I know who is Republican in this state, and especially anyone I know who is gay and Republican, would find themselves unable to vote for the party next time around, but I know that won’t be the case. They’ll find a way to rationalize all this and set it aside. They’ll say, “the governor will veto it, so it’s a symbolic vote” (while ignoring what the symbolism represents), or they’ll point out that discrimination against gays is already legal here (you can indeed be fired for being gay, because the law doesn’t say you can’t), or they’ll simply scream, “BENGHAZI!” at you until you walk away. But I’d dearly like to hope they’ll learn from this exactly what their party is, and take that into account next time they vote.

The Last Acts of a Desperate Party?


So state legislatures have latched onto the idea of allowing people to put up “No Gays Allowed” signs. This is fucking stupid, and won’t stand up in court, but I think they know that. I think it’s basically an act of desperation from a group of people who know they are on the wrong side of history and morality and want to go down spewing more hate rather than accept reality. My thoughts pretty much echo those of Andrew Sullivan who wrote about this earlier today. Go have a look, and rejoice in the fact that, basically, we’ve won.

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