22 June 2012

Travis vs. Facebook and Leviticus

The following is making the rounds on Facebook lately as a chain status update:

June is National Gay Pride month. Put this as your status if you know or love someone gay. I hope people will soon understand that being gay is not a disease or a choice! People who are gay are not looking for a cure or special rights, but acceptance and equal rights. Many won't copy and paste this. Will you make it your status for one hour? Promote love and acceptance. Stop the hate.


A Crohnie pal of mine posted it. The very first two comments are from someone I don't know. I'll spare you the unpleasantness, but they were of the "God Hates Fags" variety. I posted the following:

The Jesus in *my* Bible once stood up to an entire mob intent on killing a prostitute in the name of righteousness. That Jesus spoke very clearly that it is not our place to use scripture as a weapon against one another. But, you know, maybe it's not in every version of the Bible.

Now, the funny thing is that as of this writing, that post has been Liked thrice...including by the Bible-thumping homophobe. I don't think I wrote what she thought I wrote, to be honest. I think instead, he saw the first few words and assumed since I wasn't arguing whether the Bible was an appropriate source for passing judgment on others, that I was automatically in his camp. See, that's the funny thing to me as a pro-LTGBQ Christian; I don't see any inherent conflict. I don't think I have to refute or be squeamish about my faith in the matter. Above all else, Christ taught a message of peace. There is nothing peaceful about homophobia.

Anyway, this individual then commented that, "I understand both sides of this but this needs to be left in where sex is done IN THE BEDROOM.. Gay or Straight..." To that, I replied:

One can confine sexual acts to just the bedroom (though that's dreadfully unimaginative), but one cannot place such restrictions on one's sexual nature. It's an innate part of each person, regardless of orientation. I can't leave my heterosexuality in the bedroom; it goes out into the rest of the house and even into public with me. It would be impossible for me to hide it, and it would be wrong of anyone else to expect me to. If that's true for me, then it's true for anyone else.

Now comes my favorite part yet of the entire exchange: his retort.

Give it up Travis... Have you ever heard of an opinion?? I expressed mine and didnt ask for yours!!!!!

That's right, folks. His unsolicited bigotry is an "opinion" he's allowed to express, but somehow I am not to challenge that with, y'know, my own counterpoint. Again, we encounter this wrongheaded idea that somehow we can hide behind the "It's my opinion and opinions can't be wrong" shield because in third grade when our English teachers tried to explain the difference between fact and opinion, 99% of our classmates only heard what they wanted to hear.

Just to clarify: When you think that there's something "wrong" about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, that is an "opinion." When you insist your "opinion" be applied to the lives of others, you're no longer expressing individual feeling or thought. You're trying to dictate the lives of others and you do not have license to do that.

This also brings me to a side point, where someone else in the discussion pressed about where in the Bible it even states anything about homosexuality. Another poster cited a few pieces of Leviticus. I replied to both the original homophobe and his Leviticus-quoting ally in one post:

Wait, wait, wait...So you get to have an opinion no one else asked for, but I can't have one that you didn't ask for? 'Fraid not.

Oh, and Leviticus says a whole lot of things. It's fine if you want to invoke it, but I assume you:

Make sure to offer your sacrifices to the Lord as described (19:5-8)
Don't wear clothing made of two woven materials (19:19)
"Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard" (19:27)

Furthermore, if we're to live by the letter of the law per Leviticus, there's the pesky matter of what to do about children:

"Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head." (20:9)

Make sure you pay close attention to that calendar, too: "If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people." (20:18)

And just in case you think it's okay to cherry pick, there's Leviticus 20:22 which says:

"Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out."

In any event, I'm not Jewish and Leviticus was part of the Old Covenant. I assume Christians are aware that they are not bound to it at all, for that was the entire point of Christ representing the New Covenant. Or do we again only pick out specific parts of Scripture that align with whatever wedge we wish to drive between others?

I do not claim to be a theologian, but I am adamant that the Jesus who defied he who was without sin to cast the first stone valued compassion and love for one another and did not promote judgmental crusades against one another couched in cherry-picked lines of Scripture. He was very clear on the matter of how we were to treat one another, and making second class citizens of people was incompatible with His philosophy.

Sometimes, my even more liberal-than-me friends become frustrated that I'm not an atheist. I wholly reject the vast majority of what I have encountered in my life that has been said or done under the guise of faith. My faith, however, is a deeply personal and private matter for me. I know in my heart that divisiveness is not what He intended to come from His teachings and legacy.

Moreover, as noted in my last Facebook comment: Christ represented the New Covenant, superseding the Old Covenant (of which Leviticus was part) anyway. I'm not about to tell anyone how to live their lives, but I do ask that they at least learn how to read and handle concepts like chronology if they're to defer to a book about such serious matters. I mean, come on. Kids reading comic books know the importance of continuity. They know, for instance, why it doesn't matter that Superman and Lois Lane were married in the post-Crisis continuity because that marriage never existed in the New 52 timeline. They can be curious about that earlier story line, sure, but they also accept that it's invalidated by the current continuity. If children can manage to keep things like that straight, there's really no excuse for alleged grownups to fail so badly at it when it comes to matters as serious as one's faith, interactions with others and, ostensibly, with one's own salvation.

UPDATE
Leviticus Guy came back after my last response with a torrent of nasty slams:

actually u fag lovin bitches bastards and cunts the new testament was written to amend the old testament and in the new testament it still states that its wrong...sorry to burst ur bubbles lmao

‎1 corinthians 6: 9-11 this is new testament u illiterate fucks

and if any of u could read i NEVER claimed to be a christian

Charming, no? One of my friends who has also participated in this "discussion" asked him, "if u r not a christian then y do u care what the bible sez?" Her parody of his spelling went entirely over his head, but not mine. I confess: I laughed when I read that. His reply to her:

bc the above douche bag started talking about it so i figured id educate him a little bit

That's right, folks. You have it on the highest authority that I am an illiterate douche bag. I'll update my resume and order new cards from Vistaprint that will reflect this. I really debated how to reply, or whether to reply at all. I would gladly continue to debate the merits of Biblical interpretation on the matter, but I have a strong aversion to having to respond to such insults. It's beneath my standards of decorum and I firmly believe there was no call for such language at this time in the discussion.

One of my friends noted that there's no way to win with such people, which is true. What's worse, though, is that there's no way for such people to lose. They're so convinced that they're the only people in the world who understand things properly that either they keep it going ad infinitum or you tire and walk away - cementing their sense of "victory." Reasonable people don't wish to keep any kind of conflict going for so long. Eventually, though, I did feel compelled to address the points he raised though not the insults.

On the matter of whether you claimed to be a Christian - you did not make such a claim. It is not, however, a matter of literacy that such a conclusion was reached. It was an assumption erroneously based on your enthusiastic invocation of scripture.

I would counter that I likewise never claimed that the New Testament does not classify homosexuality as a sin. I did, however, claim that the New Covenant supersedes the Old Covenant, which does nullify the validity of the Scripture you initially cited. The relationship between the two covenants has been debated for centuries and by much wiser people than you or I. You will understand if I do not defer to your interpretation of it.

Regarding Christ, I refer you to Matthew 6 in which He makes very clear how He feels about people who pay mere lip service to piety. The spirit of Christianity is far greater than adherence to its rules and regulations, and the spirit of Christianity is compassion and forgiveness. That is contrary to using Scripture to justify anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policy.

You're absolutely right that I love "fags." So does Jesus. Get over it.

As of this update, he has not commented further. I feel I've taken this as far as I'm going to take it. There is nothing further to be gained. I have spelled out my argument and defended it. I have no illusions that I am going to lead this guy to an epiphany of any kind. In fact, I haven't even shared all of this here in the hopes of changing anyone's mind (though that would indeed be quite a feather in my debating cap!). Rather, I share this in hopes that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters might take some solace in knowing that they do have allies who do not allow the bigotry they face to go unchallenged. I wish I could do more, I really do. I know this one Facebook spat isn't some kind of major forum or arena that will sway public opinion more firmly into acceptance. It's the battle that came to me, though, and I've fought it to the best of my ability and I can only hope that you, Dear Reader, go to bed at night knowing you're not alone.

(Unless, Dear Reader, you side with Leviticus Guy, in which case you're just Reader and I hope you go to bed at night knowing you're not going to go unchallenged so long as I draw breath.)

2 comments:

  1. Sheesh. People.

    As a Christian, I get so frustrated when Christians use "it's just what the Bible/Jesus/God says!" to justify their beliefs but don't actually KNOW what the Bible/Jesus/God says about any of those things and get completely thrown off when people who know the Bible a bit better than they do point out that there's a lot more to the issue than they may be considering.

    Also when Christians act like hearing someone else's opinion is some form of religious persecution, but making everybody else listen to theirs is their divine right.

    Sigh.

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    Replies
    1. It's certainly encouraging to me any time a Christian such as yourself is willing and able to see such broader perspectives than recycling talking (shouting) points. I'm generally very quiet about my faith, which I readily acknowledge is not directly tied to any interpretation of Scripture save my own. If I didn't believe that the most important point of Christ's teachings was to love one another and leave the judging to God, I don't know that I would have much faith in Him at all, really.

      I don't understand the appeal of interpreting the Bible as a weapon to use against others, to create second-class citizens out of those who are different or don't at least pay the same kind of lip service to the fire and brimstone message coming from the pulpit. I see no way in which that's comforting to anyone, to feed fires of anger and hatred. Nor do I see that being consistent at all with the message left by Christ. If I just wanted someone to validate hating other people, why would I need to believe in something greater than man for that? Man already offers all of that anyone could ever desire.

      Also, Hannah, you read and replied before I updated to reflect some sniping that took place after I originally posted this. I suspect whatever thoughts you may have had about Leviticus Guy being an "ugly Christian" will be severely reinforced. It's shameful that people like him have become the face of Christianity, rather than people like you. Just know that when I think of Christianity, I think of you first.

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