Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How dare they question our heavily rationalized bigotry?

Newsweek published this neat little article recently: Our Mutual Joy. The basic premise is that, as much as conservative Christians use Biblical text to support their opposition to gay marriage, they do it through selective interpretation and ignoring other relevant issues. I know...I was shocked too.

Some choice quotes, chock full of TRUTH:
"Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so."

In response to standard tripe about the Bible dictating what marriage is and is not:
"First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else's —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. "Marriage" in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance."

On Biblical condemnation of homosexuality and doublethink:
"The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as "an abomination" (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat—or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?

Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who "were inflamed with lust for one another" (which he calls "a perversion") is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery. In his book "The Arrogance of Nations," the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. "Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all," Elliott says. "He's talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We're not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We're talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God." In any case, one might add, Paul argued more strenuously against divorce—and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching."

On inclusiveness (within the confines of those who accept Christian doctrine, of course):
"In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins, and brings the whole Christian community into his embrace. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, cites the story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well— no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend—as evidence of Christ's all-encompassing love. The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, emeritus professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ." The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, "is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness."
The practice of inclusion, even in defiance of social convention, the reaching out to outcasts, the emphasis on togetherness and community over and against chaos, depravity, indifference—all these biblical values argue for gay marriage. If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow."

The reactions, predictably, run the gamut from "OMG persecution" to blathering on about how homosexuality is still, most definitely, evil. It is the reaction that you can almost expect from them about anything remotely pertinent to anything religious in nature.

And, apparently, the reactions were loud enough to warrant their own news story.

“It doesn’t surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus,”

Why is the phrase "in the tank" becoming so popular all of sudden?

“I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”

Leviticus is serious business.

“yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.”

We would stop "attacking" you if 1. you stopped using your orthodoxy as an excuse to oppress others and 2. if you stopped sucking at life.

“I hardly think that Newsweek is a credible venue for theological discussion,”

Theological discussion, of course, being much better suited for something like, a laundromat, or a Chuck-E-Cheese. Anything else makes theological discussion seem too credible.

"If they think they’re going to cause Evangelical Christians or Bible-believing Christians of different stripes to somehow say, oh, the Bible doesn’t matter on marriage, I think they’re mistaken,” Perkins said. “I don’t think too many in the Evangelical world are too concerned about what Newsweek has to say"

So true. They don't care about anything dissenters say, and their arguments reflect that fact.

"How can you address the subject of marriage from a religious perspective and utterly ignore the two foundational texts that deal with marriage: Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5?” Land asked. “If a student turned a paper in to me on a religious argument for or against gay marriage and neglected to reference the two foundational texts, I would give them a pretty poor grade based on that alone.”

See? There's that sucking at life thing again.
They did mention the Adam/Eve thing in the article, first off, and mentioned that saying that this was a proscription for what marriage should be is bullshit with all the polygamy shown prominently, even among the positively portrayed individuals in the Bible.

Anyway, here are those passages (only the portions actually relevant to men and women rel

Genesis 2: 20The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.
So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man,
5 the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."
6 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body

Ephesians 5: 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word,
and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Oh, look at that. Both are descriptive, not prescriptive. The first one is explaining why we leave our parents to go off and procreate, and the second is telling how you should behave, true, but within an institution of marriage that is presumed to already exist and is not set forward in the text itself. In addition, Ephesians is describing a male-dominant paradigm for marriage that we actually moving away from. Teehee.

“I see it as an attempt to caricature and reduce to a cartoon the social conservative belief in the efficacy of traditional marriage, and try to reduce it to some formulaic, scriptural literalism,” said Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. “There’s more of a practical, sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution than I think is generally understood by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage.”

It must have hurt to say that without giggling uncontrollably. "There's more of a practical sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution"? Please, don't spare us ign'ant libruls the fascinating details behind that bold assertion. From here, it sounds like the same vapid bullshit you guys spout about marriage falling into ruinsif we allow two informed, consenting adults who love each other to get married if they happen to both penises. And I suspect that I am not far off in my guess, am I?

“We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”

Your fellows in homophobia lead us to believe otherwise. Sorry for the confusion.

“The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage,” Land said. Broadening the definition of marriage could “shatter” the social role married couples have traditionally played, he said.

So...the Bible has nothing to do with it, we just have a country full of people who feel that homosexuality is icky and think that slippery slope arguments are an excellent reason to define marriage to the exclusion of others? Wonderful. Just because you have secular arguments does not mean that you have good arguments. It's a good first step, but not far enough.

The social role isn't going to be shattered, because marriage's social role has only recently gotten to the point where it makes sense to allow for the inclusion of homosexuals. It is currently a partnership with legal benefits and the only requirements being that both can legally agree to enter into it, and are given the ability break it at any time. It's not a way to get two people locked into the same hovel together for eternity in order to churn out a dozen or so kids to work in the acid mines. At least not anymore. Gay marriage fits within the new iteration of marriage quite nicely, as can be seen in the other countries that have accepted it and have yet to destroy the institution. If you are going to go by the old role it has taken, than I suggest you immediately take up residence in any time period before the Industrial Revolution, because only then is your opinion on the matter valid.
Yes, we have a right to define marriage. And people are arbitrarily deciding to define marriage according to how their superstition of choice supposedly tells them to. And are using it to exclude people that their superstition of choice tells them to despise And are using their special magic book of superstitions to support all of this, and that is what the bloody article is responding to. Your claims that that is not happening are an utter crock.

"In an e-mail to Politico, Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, took a similar line, calling marriage “the one necessary adult relation in society – the way we bring together male and female to bring the next generation to life in a way that connects those children in love to their own mother and father.”"

Yet we don't need to be married to bring about children, don't need to be married to have a loving, committed relationship, and don't need to bring about children to be married. And, as divorce lets us know all to often, you don't need to be in a loving, committed relationship to be married. It's a nice little rule of thumb you have there, but it isn't a hardset definition of what marriage HAS to be, and is no ways needed to reach the stated goals.
They're so cute when they try to hide that they are really from the 19th century.


pboyfloyd said...

I liked the Keith Olberman plea, it was more of a plea than his usual 'rant'.

Jon Stewart did a good job talking to that idjit Huckabee.

Still, ya gotta love the "Where would it all end?" disaster scenarios.. giant polygamous conglomerates including animals, vehicles and bodies of water!?

Chains of wedlocked... he is married to her and she is married to another her who is married to another him who is married to the original him.

Christians minds boggle at this kind of magical thinking, they are TRAINED to think that way, don't forget!

pboyfloyd said...

How about this though. Just imagine, a man, marries a woman and has the kids.

He gets divorced and THEN decides he's gay and his ex. doesn't want the kids BUT she doesn't want them looked after by a man/man type relationship.

If the guys get married, there is little a court could DO to stop the man/man married from keeping the kids.

I'm just saying that some people would find that 'creepy', and if it's the 'real' mom that finds it 'creepy' the law could find itself in a pickle...

... especially if 'something happened' to the kids.

pboyfloyd said...

Maybe Christians are kind of perplexed at how the church being the bride of christ perplexing situation would end now that it would be perplexing(squared)!

I think that the gays just 'blew their minds'!

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Just goes to show you how unsupportable a truly literal interpretation of scripture really is.

It also points back to a conversation on Ste B's blog that I had with Eric. He contends that rights are either passive or active where the active rights are the ones that require us to give something up for the other person to gain a right. This is the argument many use to oppose gay marriage. His assumption is based upon the notion that there actually is a defined and unchanging universal morality which defines those rights which are a given. This assumption is predicated on the truth of the Bible (Koran, etc.) in many cases.

For moral relativists such as myself there are no passive rights at all. All rights are culturally active in that for someone else to benefit from a right I have to be willing to forgo some action or response of my own. This includes all the inalienable rights we talk about - and ignore in places like Guantanamo. They only exist if I am willing to not try and take them away - and society creates barriers to me attempting to do so. The pay off to me for leaving others to their own devices is the notion of reciprocity. If I ignore others activities I can exact the expectation that they must return the favor. Religious people forget that their freedom of religion requires me to ignore their behaviors and not try to suppress their actions since I do not recognize any higher moral authority to their actions. In order to continue to enjoy that freedom an expectation of active reciprocity is reasonable. I. e., leave gays the hell alone. Religious people sometimes assume that their moral stance is unquestionable. But in reality is is just another relativistic position. When they push their beliefs into the political arena then they must be expect that there is going to be a push back.

pboyfloyd said...

"He contends that rights are either passive or active .."

Yea, just like D'Souza and all 'intellectual' theists, I suppose, he is composing these notions, this word-magic to fit his basic premises.

GearHedEd said...

It's about time that SOMEBODY besides the Christo-Fascists started interpreting the bible in a way that makes sense. I mean, if the C-F's can interpret, why can't anyone else? Two things:

The bible, esp. the NT, was written for all mankind, and

All of the currently available translations of said bible are open to interpretation.

OK, three things.

I'm sure someone else has pointed it out already, but marriage among Christians of all sorts hasn't been the roaring success the fundamentalists would have us believe.

Go, Newsweek!

Asylum Seeker said...

"Jon Stewart did a good job talking to that idjit Huckabee."

It's a shame, but Huckabee actually seemed sane and reasonable until about the time that gay marriage came up. Then it was like "Talking Points Mode: Engage".

You know what's creepier than kids being raised by two gay men, though, pboy? Kids being raised by a heterosexual bachelor. At least when there are two guys, it is unlikely that they are both pedophiles...

"He contends that rights are either passive or active where the active rights are the ones that require us to give something up for the other person to gain a right."

I would be curious to know the distinction. It seems like even the most innocuous of passive rights would have some cost in society once that right is given to everyone. At least all the ones that I can think of. And, considering that if marriage is an active right that is already given, what is the problem with making it so that we give that active right to another group for the sake of fairness?

"All rights are culturally active in that for someone else to benefit from a right I have to be willing to forgo some action or response of my own."

Oh...heh. I guess we are in agreement on that then...

"I suppose, he is composing these notions, this word-magic to fit his basic premises."

Word-magic...are you saying that sophists are witches?

"It's about time that SOMEBODY besides the Christo-Fascists started interpreting the bible in a way that makes sense....
Go, Newsweek!"

Amen to that! (OMG! He said "Amen"! He must be a closet Christian!).

mac said...

I must be an idiot.

I thought this country was about personal freedom....that was so long ago, when I was young and idealistic.

Who cares if the reason for the exclusion of homosexual unions are biblical or secular? Neither should apply in a truly free society.

I don't eat shellfish, but I don't think people who do are wrong or going to hell( leviticus !)
I don't understand the attraction of gay men, but I don't hate them or think they are wrong ( Leviticus again !)

GearHedEd said...

Ordinarily, I'm with ya on virtually everythang in here, but I'm a hetero-bachelor raising two teens (one of whom is a 16 year old girl), an atheist AND a college grad.

How is that creepy? My daughter (I shall call her "Mini-Me") and I get along, but not THAT well...

mac said...

Really, is it anybody's business what two adults do in their own bedroom?

While I may be interested, one must not interfere - unless those girls down the street invite me in one evening ;-)

Asylum Seeker said...

Sorry, should've gone into a bit more detail, Ed. And I also should have noted that I think that both concerns are ridiculous, but I only brought that up because most cases of child molestation involve heterosexual males (though usually they are not the fathers, but an uncle or grandfather...), and that if you are going to be concerned about two men who could possibly keep one another in check (inadvertently), you should be probably just as concerned about a single male who has no one to stop him and is from a demographic from which such activity is more common. That being said, both of those concerns are so steeped in paranoia that I hardly think it is an issue (as tragic as such things are when they do happen). So, sorry if it looked like an attack against single parenting. That's something I leave to, once again, the "pro-marriage" crowd.

And, mac...well put.

Richelle said...

jon stewart did do a really good job when talking to fuckab... uh.. i mean huckabee. i'm not ashamed to admit that i am not a fan of the huck (if you couldn't tell). he's incredibly dense (a startling trend among religious xtians, who'da thunk?). and his covenant marriage ideals are incredibly stupid and dangerous to women who are victims of domestic violence.

and as far as the disaster scenarios that would accompany the legalization of same-sex marriage, it's just another example of moronic people thinking that false dilemmas and slippery slope arguments are actually valid forms of reasoning.

it would be possible for us to allow same-sex marriage and not allow polygamy and marriage between people and their pets or rocks, or whatever else, on the basis of the legal complications which would arise from such unions.
and the argument dealing with marriage being necessary for reproduction, well that is just dumb. it's like they seem to think if we allow same-sex marriage all the heterosexual people will suddenly want to be gay and nobody will have babies.

these same idiots try the very same arguments in their anti-abortion stance. they say that if we allow women to choose to have abortions then pretty soon woman are going to be allowed to have abortions in the third trimester. this is not true, of course, and any rational person can understand that, but these people are far from rational.

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