Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The long standing reason for shoving the courts, the federal government and the states into the private relations between two adult consenting men or women is the Bible. There are those two infamous and interminably cited passages in Leviticus 18:22 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27 that deem it “detestable” a man lying down with another man. Then they castigate men for doing “shameful things” with other men.
The ultimate punishment is that the two offenders must be put to death. The only fair thing about this is that in the modern interpretation the part about putting the two men to death for their alleged detestable act is not cited. This would be murder, and that bumps up against the law. But the first part is read and acted upon literally. It’s after all written in the Bible.
But then why take one passage out of the Bible so literally and not others? Consistency in Biblical citing would do much to shut the critics up who finger point those as hypocrites for cherry picking a passage from the Bible to prop up a personal hatred or a political agenda on gay marriage.
Here is a checklist of Biblical prescriptions that gay marriage opponents must embrace if they want to shed the tag of hypocrite. Gay men aren’t the only ones that must pay the ultimate price for their Biblical prescribed un-godly transgression. Leviticus 20:10 also is stern that a married man that commits adultery with any man’s wife must be immediately dispatched. Girls don’t escape Biblical wrath either. If she has the temerity to have sex before marriage Deuteronomy 22:20-1 demands that she must be stoned to death, by no less than the men of her town, even presumably that could include one of the men that caused her to lose her virginity.
Psalm 137:9 has something to say about children when it orders to revel in those that seize children and smash them against a rock. If a man, and presumably it would be warring men that smash the children, the children’s mothers could not raise a peep of protest since Timothy 2:12 absolutely forbids a woman to have any authority over a man. But if for a moment she forgets her place, she runs the risk of being branded a sorceress. Exodus 22:18 commands that she must not be allowed to live. If she somehow escapes being rapped as a sorceress and simply has a relationship with any of the male child smashers she could be tossed around sexually among many men, and according to Judges 19:25-28 she would just have to meekly accept her lot. The same rule of merciless and pitiless retribution doesn’t spare a man’s daughter either. Judges 11:30-1, 34-5 makes it clear that she must be sacrificed to satisfy the triumph of the Lord. It was not just a daughter who could be slain in sacrifice. A son could also be the designated victim in Genesis 22:2 which commanded Isaac to take his only son to another place and dispose of him “as a holocaust.” But the son or daughter can’t protest their fate since Leviticus 20:9 insists that talking back to a parent is disrespectful and once again the ultimate price that must be paid is death.
The two groups that fare best in the Bible are faithful husbands and slave masters. The word of a faithful husband is law says Ephesians 5:22 and his wife must obey him unquestioningly in whatever he says and does. Then there are the slave masters. The iron rule from 1 Peter 2:13, 2:18 is that their chattel, human that is, must not only serve them faithfully but must serve them in “reverence.” This rule doesn’t apply just to kind and charitable slave masters but the lousy and brutal ones as well. But there is an element of equity here since Leviticus 25:44-45 permits anyone to buy their neighbor if they have only been a neighbor for a temporary period and they can then press them into slavery.
Biblical scholars have written volumes alternately debunking these passages for their errors, misinterpretations, and for being taken out of context, and worst of for being selectively used to make any moral point one wants to make. Yet, the truly scary part of this is that no volume of meticulously researched and documented scholarly assessments of the Bible, let alone rationality, mean little to millions of Americans. A Gallup poll in 2011 found that nearly one out of three Americans is convinced that every word written in the Bible is the literal truth. About half of those polled were more charitable and simply said it was the “inspired word of God.” But inspired or literal, the danger is the same. The Bible is not simply taken on faith but for millions is the basis of moral conduct, and even law. But then that begs the question, whether it calls for the stoning of women, or being a cheerful slave, or slaying sons and daughters in the name of God, why not trumpet these acts too as appropriate conduct just as is routinely and passionately done to condemn gay marriage? But then that’s less a question than the ugly example of the never ending hypocrisy of hiding behind the Bible.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
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