I am currently going to school online and had to write a paper for a logic class, arguing a side of a major issue from a supplied list. The college I attend has some biases to there was a definite religious slant to the choices. Most of the questions had answers that were so simple, there was no argument. Should evolution be taught in schools? um ... yeah. Is racism still a problem? Of course! Can you be moral without religion? Hell yeah! But the question that jumped out to me was "Should we allow homosexuals to marry?". The answer is of course we should, but getting those with an obvious negative stance to see my point, or even listen when their beliefs are so locked into "the Bible says it is a sin, so I will oppose it until I die" mentality was going to be hard. After much thought I decided my stance was to use the bible to prove homosexuality is not a sin. And I will after the squiggly thing.
I chose to tackle the subject of the rights of homosexuals to marry for many reasons. First I have friends who had to fight to be treated equally in their partner's life and decisions because they were homosexual. Family members who had cut them out of their lives or publicly scorned them decades ago had more legal say in their lives than the person who had loved them and been with them for many years. It is a hotly debated issue in many political arenas and there are many excellent arguments for allowing the right to marry to anyone who chooses to make that commitment. The right to marry was recognized by the supreme court as a fundamental right granted by the constitution. Denying this right to a subset of the population while allowing it to others violates the equal protection clause in the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution (Loving vs. Virginia 1967). The same legal arguments given for not allowing homosexuals to marry were used and denied to ban interracial marriages in the nineteen sixties. Once those are removed, all the arguments against gay marriage are bible quotes, mainly taken out of context and ignoring equal repercussions for other “sins”, more common today, which are also condemned in the same text. Establishing laws based on religion violated the separation of church and state in the constitution (US Constitution, first amendment), so any laws based solely on religious dogma are unconstitutional. But even if we could allow such laws, we cannot use the bible to justify the removal the rights of homosexuals to marry unless we accept and follow all the tents in it. In the teachings of Christ from the new testament He says that his only law was to love one another. He said that this law superseded the laws of the old testament. So even if the few passages could be taken as written, they would no longer be valid because Christ's law over-rules them. Therefore everyone should have the right to marry because neither established law or the Bible restrict it.
Homosexuality is defined by Webster's dictionary as “a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex” (Webster & Merriam, 2012). Whether you believe that there is a biological difference between gender preferences in humanity or not, there is scientific evidence that in many species of animals in the wild when faced with overpopulation will develop homosexual tendencies to lower the population (I had a source for this but can't find it now. I will find it before the final paper). The world is becoming overpopulated with people. Cities are filled with people living and working in close quarters in apartments and skyscrapers. It makes biological sense that if this safety clause for overpopulation exists in other species, it would be present in humanity, and would be being triggered now to combat the growing population of the world. The Bible only mentions homosexuality explicitly three times. Twice in Leviticus when it lists specific acts which are not acceptable, such as witnessing nakedness in anyone related to you, your neighbors or animals, lying with prostitutes or lying with men. It discussed in Romans as one of the many wicked things done by the Greek. There are other references that some people think discuss homosexuality, but they are debated, and I will discuss them later.
Marriage is defined by Webster's dictionary as “the state of being united to a person as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law” (Webster & Merriam, 2012). Therefore marriage is a legal arrangement that allows people to establish a joint identity for sharing property, financially support, raising of children, living arrangements and/or mutual well being. The bible defines marriage with the following passage “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.” (Corinthians 7:1-6). Sex with women outside of marriage is a sin, so get married to avoid sin.
The main counter-arguments to homosexual marriage are the same four quotes, three specifically describing homosexuality and one from First Corinthians discussing the unrighteous and many people include homosexuals because it refers to fornicators and effeminate. The two from Leviticus are very similar, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Lev 18:22) and “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death: their blood shall be upon them.” (Lev, 20:13). First Corinthians states “ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9-10).
Most people arguing against homosexuality quote these.
Occasionally they may quote Romans with “for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense for their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting” ( Rom 1:26-28). They take it to mean that they chose homosexuality and therefore turned away from God.
Some say that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of the rampant homosexuality supporting this claim because the men of Sodom demanded Lot turn over the men he was sheltering to them for sex. So they justify that if we allow homosexuality, we are risking the destruction of our own civilization.
My main response to the counterarguments are that most are taken out of context. Those who want to condemn gay marriage single out homosexuality from a long list of “sins” and ignore the rest. Leviticus had two verses about lying with man as with woman among ninety six others about not seeing any member of your family naked, (regardless of gender), keeping the sabbath holy, giving to the poor, respecting your spouse and parents, being honest in business and in all aspects of your life, treating strangers with respect, and many, many other rules to follow, just in those three chapters.
The quote from Romans was also taken out of context. It is from a letter of support to the Romans in their war against the Greek, justifying the war because the Greek had “turned away from God”. It continues after describing their homosexuality to state they were also “being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity. They are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affections, implacable, unmerciful” (Rom 1:26-31). So while their homosexuality may have been a symptom of their unrighteousness it was not as bad as the further sins which are much more acceptable now than homosexuality by these same people.
The quote from First Corinthians condemns many things and some translations translate “fornicators” and homosexuals, but others translate it to mean those who commit any act of fornication, including incest, adultery, prostitution, but the punishment for all of these is that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The most that can be asked of those who remain righteous is to shun those who are wicked, banishing them or abandoning them to their wickedness.
In response to those who say that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was because of the rampant homosexuality. But there is no clarification of what wickedness in those cities caused their destruction in Genesis, only saying that they were unrighteous, their sin was grievous and the cries were great (Genesis 19:20). The men in Sodom circled Lot's house demanding the strangers be turned over to them and in some translations, saying they wanted to have sex with them (Genesis 19:5). Some say that the men of Sodom's demand of the strangers for sex means the sin so great that the city needed to be destroyed, was homosexuality. But any violence against innocents is a sin throughout the bible, as is not showing respect and granting protection to your guests, so Lot allowing the crowd to take his guests for any purpose would be a sin. In other descriptions of what is considered unrighteous such as discussed in Romans list other sins as far more wicked, gossip, murder, pride, greed, disobedience, deceit, breaking of covenants, and others. I can only assume that Sodom and Gomorrah harbored all these sins and more.
As with other laws, biblical laws evolve and change throughout the bible. New laws surpass older and new precedents are established. Just as when there is a conflict in secular laws, we follow the most recent laws instead of those from hundreds of years ago. So when Christ states in John that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love one another, that no other commandment is greater than these (Mark 12:29-31). So wouldn't that commandment superseded the few lines used against homosexuality from the old testament?
The most controversial of the arguments against homosexuality is the claim that there were cases of homosexuality in the bible that are not condemned, specifically David and Jonathan. Samuel 18-20 discuss how David loved Jonathan, Saul's son. “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.” (Samuel 18:2-4). “ And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.” (Samuel 19:7). Even discussing them kissing and swearing eternal loyalty in Samuel 20:41. David was a much revered prophet and had at least one homosexual relationship, but was still considered an honored and respected servant of God. No one thought less of him. He later married a woman, Bathsheba, and from his line came Jesus Christ. If homosexuality is such a dire sin, would God have chosen David's line to bring forth the Savior? (Haffner 1997)
Even if we choose to base our laws on the bible, we should base them on the whole text, not just on a handful of lines gathered from the entire tome. If we base laws on the bible, we should also remove the rights of children and wives to be safe from being beaten to death by their parents and husbands for disobedience, most politicians and board-members of corporations would be put to death. Our social services would be increased because there is clear guidelines for caring for the sick, poor and needy.
The Bible is not a document we can pick and choose what we want to follow from. Either it is a sacred text that must be accepted as a whole, or it is not. If we don't accept all of its teachings, we cannot use them as a valid basis for our system of belief. So we cannot ban homosexuality if we allow all the other sins. Because Christ stated that his law superseded those of his fathers, more emphasis should be given on loving one another, and treating everyone as you would like to be treated than on any actions previously considered sinful. If God didn't condemn David for his homosexuality, why do we feel justified in condemning homosexuals now? Therefore, the right for homosexuals to marriage is not restricted by the Bible.