(The following letter to the editor was published on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 in the Calvert Recorder.)
I am writing in response to Gloria Hawkins’ Aug. 17 letter, “Homosexuals choose not to follow God’s word.”
Ms. Hawkins says that, “God doesn’t change,” and she implies that the Judeo-Christian conception of sexual ethics hasn’t changed “for more than 2,000 years and always will be until the end of time.” Both points are highly dubious.
Limiting myself to the Bible (which Ms. Hawkins claims to hold in high regard but seems not to have read in full), Genesis 32:14 says, “The Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.” In Jeremiah 18:10, God speaks through the prophet to say, “I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.” Jeremiah 26:3 says, “I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings.” Jeremiah 26:19 says, “Did not the Lord change his mind about the disaster that he had pronounced against them?” And Jonah 3:10 says, “Did not the Lord change his mind about the disaster that he had pronounced against them?”
Thankfully, God does change, and there is a whole field called Process Theology dedicated to exploring the implications of a God who changes.
Marriage is also a tradition of change. From the easing of divorce restrictions to the lifting of bans on interracial marriage, same-sex marriage is one link in a long chain of changes in the institution of marriage. Turning to scripture for only one of the many different types of “biblical marriages,” 1 Kings 11:3 says of King Solomon that, “Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines.”
Ms. Hawkins would also be well advised to remember that it was not that long ago that married women had few-to-no legal rights. The struggle for marriage equality for same-sex partners is equally as important as the struggle once was for gender equality in marriage.
I invite readers to consider, further, that choosing to bless same-sex marriage is precisely in line with the way Jesus read scripture. The “Bible” for the historical Jesus was what we see referred to the Gospels as “The Law and the Prophets” since the New Testament obviously had not been written yet. The most important part of “Jesus’ Bible” was the Torah, the first five books of our Bible.
In Mark 12:28-34 when Jesus was asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus could have selected from the Torah any of the commandments. He could have chosen one of the passages that have been used to justify sexism, racism or violence; but he chose Deuteronomy 6:5, which commands us to love God. For the second greatest commandment, Jesus could have chosen something more “realistic,” but he singled-out Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Thus, I invite you to consider that if your way of reading the Bible does not lead to an increase the love of God and neighbor, then you are failing to read the Bible as Jesus showed us how to do.
As I see pictures of joyful same-sex couples streaming out of churches, synagogues and town halls, I see an increase in the love of God and neighbor. When I celebrate same-sex marriages with friends and family members, I see an increase in the love of God and neighbor. I think Jesus would be overjoyed to attend all such events. He might even turn some water into wine for the happy occasion. Thanks be to God for change.