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Friday, January 21, 2011

The bible and some other stuff

My friend Janet sent me this essay, ostensibly about the case of a gay couple's dispute with the religious owners of a Bed & Breakfast.  The article is just a great read, quite funny, and of course I agree with her views.  I especially like her description of the bible, which is exactly the way I look at it.  Below are a few of my favorite paragraphs~

Christina Patterson
You can't allow some people to invoke 'beliefs' and not others

 . . . if you take the Bible not as a thrillingly poetic, and gloriously contradictory and, at times, bloodcurdlingly violent, snapshot of a certain kind of history, but as the word of God - whatever that might mean - and you live in a society that has decided that men and women who are attracted to their own sex should be allowed to act on their natural (and maybe even God-given) instincts in forming relationships with people of their own sex, relationships that are sanctioned by the state, and the law, you've got what even an American would have to call a problem.

British Christians don't, on the whole, wave placards saying "God hates fags", or plan demonstrations suggesting that the murder of, say, a nine-year-old girl by a mad gunman is God's vengeance for homosexuality. What many of them do say – at least if they've embarked on the sanity-wrecking enterprise of taking the Bible literally – is that people can't help what they (in their view tragically) are, or who they're attracted to. What they can help is their behaviour. On this reading, it's fine to be gay, just as long as you never, in your whole life, have sex. No wonder people go to counsellors, hoping that their homosexuality will be "healed".

. . . Should Peter and Hazelmary Bull have been found guilty of discrimination for refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in their B&B? (Should Hazelmary have changed her name?) Should teachers in state schools be allowed to cover their heads, and faces – everything, in fact, but their eyes – because they believe their religious faith tells them to, and a Christian couple not be allowed to choose the paying guests in their own home? Would the gay couple have taken action if the B&B had been run by a Mr and Mrs Mohammed? Or would they have assumed that a Muslim couple probably wouldn't be overly keen on having a Mr and Mr in their master bedroom?

. . . The law says that you shouldn't discriminate against people because of their sexuality. And you shouldn't, but the law does seem to get very worked up about some things, and be very laid-back about others. Prostitution, for example, isn't illegal. Would it be illegal for a prostitute to refuse sex with a black man? Or with a man in a wheelchair? Or a lesbian?

I think if two gay men want a weekend in Cornwall, and have booked a room in a B&B, and haven't read the website which talks about the owners' prejudices (which they would call "beliefs"), they should probably be allowed to have it. Personally, I'm not sure that my top choice of vacation host would be someone who thought I was going to hell. I also think that if you have very strong feelings about other people's sexual behaviour, then you should probably choose a business that doesn't focus quite so heavily on beds.

+ + + + + + +
It was never said better than this "Letter to Dr Laura" from years ago, pointing out some of the most ridiculous aspects of Leviticus~

Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.  Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.



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