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Don’t we Christians eat pork?

Posted: October 23, 2008 8:31 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

Why I, as a Christian, will vote "no" on Proposition 8: I am very aware of the stance the Bible takes on homosexuality, both in the New and the Old testaments. I know that in Deuteronomy same-sex couplings are termed "an abomination," and that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for deviant sexual practices such as homosexuality. Paul too upholds this disdain for homosexuals in Romans.

Today, even the most devout Christians find it difficult to follow every tenet in the Bible. As a woman, I find it especially dangerous to adhere literally to many of the laws which are laid out clearly in the Bible. Take Deuteronomy. It mandates that women who are raped marry their rapists, or be killed with their rapists if they could have been saved but weren't. It describes people with mental and physical disabilities as inwardly sinful, and requires that they be excluded from worship of God. Even men with injury to their testicles are considered to be less than men and denied the opportunity to worship the God who created them. There are countless other laws which are delineated clearly and unequivocally in other books of the Bible, in both Testaments.

I, and almost every Christian I know, take liberties with even the most explicit and unambiguous portions of the Word of God to function in the real world. We do not force rape victims to marry their attackers, nor do we tell them that the rape was their fault because they should have yelled louder. We treat disabled people with compassion and respect and pray for them and their families. We do not kick out men who have testicular cancer or have groin injury from worshipping with us in church. We do not ask families with children with autism or Down Syndrome to leave our congregation because their mental defects are a sign of God's contempt. We treat adultery and divorce with a somewhat apathetic view considering the Biblical stance, which calls for execution of adulterous spouses. We eat pork. We do not burn the linens our wives and daughters have dirtied by touching when they are on their menstrual cycle.

We should often ask ourselves what gives us the right to decide that certain of God's laws are anachronisms. How do we know that they simply don't apply anymore, or weren't interpreted correctly? Part of the answer lies with Jesus' message. While never directly contradicting the Old Testament, Christ calls us to temper the harsh judgement and intolerance of many of the Old Testament laws with love and compassion. While Leviticus and Deuteronomy tell us to shun the blind and the lame, Christ embraced and healed them during His time on earth. He brought mercy and understanding, and treated women as fellow children of God rather than as sexual and household slaves. We are called to be humble and kind, and are not to persecute others. Most importantly, Christ taught us tolerance, that we are not perfect in every way, and thus cannot judge others without hypocrisy.

The point is that we cannot be sure about which Old Testament laws we should be enforcing and which God would not hold us to. If we assume now that God created children with Down Syndrome or leukemia, and loves them and has a special plan for them, then how can we say that God did not create homosexuals to be who they are, and loves them as much as any other person on this Earth? I do know, however, that when I am facing my judgement, I will be accountable for any persecution or restrictions I placed on my fellow human beings.

I have no desire to be the historical equivalent of those who passed the Jim Crow laws and fought racial integration. We cannot, in good conscience, act in the name of Christ to persecute anyone for any reason. The fact is that if a man enters into a civil union with another man, it doesn't affect you or me one bit, even if the law calls that union a "marriage." As long as no church is required to perform such a ceremony, this is not an issue of faith but of civil rights.

I thank God that we do not legislate directly out of the Bible. If we did, the 19th Amendment would never have passed in 1920 and I wouldn't be able to vote this November.

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