Fred Clark began a recent post on his blog by pointing to a list of 76 things banned in Leviticus that someone posted online, and a subsequent self-scoring against the list posted at Tad’s Happy Funtime (click through to see where C3P0 gets a mention).
Fred used this jumping off point to notice that pretty much all of us observe some of the things mentioned in Leviticus and consider them to be of ongoing validity, while regarding others as obsolete. Conservative critics who regard him as a “liberal” because he does not regard homosexuality as sinful nevertheless retain employees’ wages overnight, treat foreigners differently than the native-born, and so on. And so Fred writes,
Yet somehow their disregard for all of those biblical commands never results in thembeing accused of “liberal” tendencies or a suspicious failure to respect the scriptures.
They’re picking and choosing.
And so am I, of course. The difference is I can explain why.
Here is the basis on which I do my picking and choosing:
- He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
That tells me that No. 47, “Defrauding your neighbor,” still applies. And No. 67, “Using dishonest weights and scales” still applies. Those are both expressions of love for, and justice toward, your neighbor. But No. 61, “Trimming your beard,” does not still apply. In another time, place and culture, leaving one’s beard untrimmed may have been an expression of love for God. But not here, now, in this culture.
Related to this is John Shore’s recent post in which he asserts that there is no middle ground on the issue of same-sex relations, because it is a black-or-white moral issue whether one treats GLBT human beings as human beings made in the image of God or in a dehumanizing and unloving manner.
Hemant Mehta appreciates John Shore’s stance, but expressed frustration with so-called progressive Christians who don’t take a clear stand on the matter. He suggested that we should tweet the following:
It’s no sin to be in a homosexual relationship. I support same-sex marriage.
Some of us may prefer a blog post, like Fred’s, in which we can actually not merely state our view but offer justification for it. But I agree with him that we need to be clear and vocal about out views on this. (As an aside, I “came out” as a Liberal Christian in response to hearing a lesbian colleague share what it was like to marry her partner, in a ceremony not recognized by our state, and not be able to openly share her joy on this momentous occasion with colleagues and students.)
In a guest post on Hemant’s blog, Alise Wright asked atheists not to make it harder for liberal and progressive Christians to “come out” in favor of marriage and sexual equality. Some atheists actively undermine those Christians who do so by joining with Christian fundamentalists in declaring them to be “not really Christians.” As you can see from the comments on the post, many atheists do not accept her point, and chimed in to illustrate the problem she addressed in her post. (See also her blog, Alise…Write).
Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood seems to grasp the point, coming out in favor of marriage equality and saying that her stance is inspired by her Christian faith.
Irreducible Complexity and The Lead chimed in about the Church of England’s recent pronouncement against marriage equality. Crystal St. Marie Lewis blogged about an experience when theologies collided over same-sex relations and the Bible in the classroom.
In conclusion, I’m very much with Fred on this. Same-sex relationships and marriages are expressions of human love one for another, and when the guiding principle is love, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to oppose such relationships – or to believe that God does so.
Photo from the blog On a Bicycle Built for Two