Friday, March 24, 2006


Creep: Ethel Fay Jordan

I seem to reseverve my "creep" awards to Montana homophobes...why is that? Why can't I just let them walk away? Why is the issue obviously so important to me? It's not like I'm affected in any way by discrimination against gays: I'm a middle-aged straight white guy, I'm sitting on top of the power pyramid. What do I care? It just irks me when people go out of their way to put others down, not for what they do or say (like Republicans or letter-writing homophobes), but for who they are. And it double-irks me when they use Christianity -- a religion that, in theory, is all about forgiveness and love, fer chrissake! -- as the basis for discrimination. Enter Billings Gazette writer Ethel Fay Jordan:
Condemning sin according to Bible I read with interest a spine-chilling article in the Saturday, March 11, Gazette, written by the Rev. Erik Thorson, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Billings, in which he attempted to redefine and modernize the entire subject of homosexuality. The Christian Bible definitely teaches that we should love the sinner but hate his sin. However, my interpretation of Thorson's manuscript is that according to him, we now in this day should also love the sin -- well if not love and embrace it deeply, then to condone and accept it as an A-OK alternative lifestyle at any rate. But sin is sin -- no matter how you slice it. But the Bible also states that in the last days, "Good shall be termed evil, and evil good," and this situation is Exhibit A of this particular prophecy. I also need to know why there are the six verses in the Bible which Thorson referred to that explicitly condemn same-sexual activity, if indeed homosexuality is not a sin and a problem? In that case, just why are these six verses contained in the Bible in the first place? Meanwhile, may God forgive us again, and also in the meantime, I shall attempt to redeem the time by speaking out and taking a stand against such evils as homosexuality with whatever time, strength and will I may have remaining.
I admit Ethel's letter lacks the usual vitriol found in your standard anti-gay outcry. I picture some old nanny in a rocking chair shaking her cane at the people walking by her front porch. So maybe she's not a "creep," per se. Maybe "misguided." Or "delusional." Here's the thing: maybe the Bible contains six versions railing against hot man-on-man action. I don't know 'em off hand. But it seems that these six verses get a disproportionate amount of attention over the, oh, dozens...hundreds?...of passages on charity, class injustice, the redistribution of wealth, etc. Take Nehemiah's passionate outburst against landlords, the system of credit, and usury (Nehemiah 5:3-13):
For there were those who said, "We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live." There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine." Also there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. "Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others." Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words. I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother!" Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? "And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury. "Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them." Then they said, "We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say " So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied " And all the assembly said, "Amen!" And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.
So...where's the outcry about landlords, credit, and usury from contemporary Christians? How many are storming MasterCard/Visa's offices and tearing down their walls? Heck, how many Christians have credit cards? To me, the Bible is a radical book because it establishes the value of a human above anything -- money, possessions, and property, especially. That modern Christians chase around gays, evolution, and abortion, which have little or no presence in scripture, seems like maybe someone's trying to distract the faithful from what the Bible really says.
In addition to deemphasizing the "red letter" sections of the Bible, folks like Jordan refuse to acknowledge that "Christian" condemnations of homosexuality require a selectively fundamentalist reading of the passages in question.

Leviticus is the fundie fave from the OT, but the same people who love to quote the "abomination" of homosexuality certainly don't follow the entire Levitical holiness code, which includes passages about not shaving, or eating shellfish, or using the same dishes for milk and meat, etc., most of which are also "abominations." If a man sleeps with his wife during her period, they should both be put to death. Oops -- guess fundies only have to take the Bible seriously when it reinforces their existing prejudices.

Same with Paul and Corinthians in the NT. Paul thinks ALL sex is gross and ungodly -- not just homo sex. Paul says sex is sin, period, and if there's any justification for it at all, it is only for the purpose of having children within the confines of marriage. Oops, guess fundies only have to take the Bible seriously when it reinforces their existing prejudices.

The Christians I choose to know and love think Jesus Christ was the model for Christians, and they place the highest importance on the red letter passages (words directly attibuted to Jesus). This is the opposite of fundamentalist Christianity, which is an abomination in every sense of the word.
OMFG! Jordan is even creepier than her current letter indicates. Go back in the Gazette archives and google her. Check out her "vote for Jesus will save the world" letter from years back.

That woman loves the coming apocalypse.
Thanks for the comments, DS. I'm glad you bothered to note the offending Biblical passages. I didn't know them offhand and couldn't be bothered to spend a couple hours trying to find them...
The ones you'll find most often flung about are:

Genesis 19:4-11
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
Romans 1:26-27
I Corinthians 6:9-10
I Timothy 1:9-10

Jesus was silent.
Gotta love those fundies- just don't let them anywhere near the steering wheel or the keys!

This post reminded me of Paul Weyrich's (FREE Congress Foundation)"World" magazine. They discovered toe cure to poverty in Africa a while back= microloans at 16% interest with constant leveraging to grow those microbusinesses with bigger loans.

Good to see you again David.
Here's a handy guide homosexuality and the Bible.

It ends up that the translators obviously had agenda's when then did the translation. Surprise!
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