A debate is raging in the United States over Arizona’s proposed anti-gay law which, if passed, would allow shopkeepers to legally refuse to serve gay people based on their religious beliefs.
On the one side, proponents of gay rights are decrying the bill (SB1062) as pure discrimination, while those in favour say it defends freedom of religion. I tend to side with those in the former group, because even though I am not a particularly religious person, I have read the Bible, and can’t imagine Jesus — the guy who preached compassion, loving thy neighbour, turning the other cheek and supposedly sacrificed himself to wash away humanity’s sins — would agree with those shunning their fellow man in his name.
Indeed, there are passages (about seven) contained in the Old and New Testaments that speak about homosexuality, but depending on your own world view, these texts can and have been interpreted quite differently.
The most widely quoted bit comes from Leviticus in the Old Testament, and basically says it is an “abomination” for man to lay with another man as with a woman. Of course, Leviticus also says that eating shellfish is an abomination (so I’ll see all you other shrimp and lobster lovers in hell, I guess), and that you should burn a bull on your doorstep every Friday. Leviticus also states that anyone who curses his or her mother or father should be put to death. That pretty much covers every teenager who ever existed.
The other Bible passages have been interpreted by more liberal minds to be more about prostitution and justice than about condemning homosexuality per se. And of course, you do have to take into account all those texts were actually only written long after they were passed around orally (so no, not one single apostle actually wrote his section of the Bible himself), and a long time ago, when morals and attitudes were quite different than today.
In my humble opinion, it’s more about people feeling uncomfortable with something that is different from their own experiences and feelings. I mean, it’s no secret that humans tend to reject and demonize anything that strays from their preconceived notion of normal. But let me tell you, normal is only a setting on a dryer, and not something real. Sexuality and preference is a big sliding scale with all of us residing at different places… usually identifying with straight, gay or bi.
So, while I do absolutely respect anyone’s choice to practice any theological view, I do have a problem with skewing your interpretation of that view to spread hate or shun another person for basically being who he or she is.
I hope Arizona’s governor vetoes the bill, and that in time the only message — Biblical or not — that people adhere to is one of acceptance.