This letter to the editor is from the Thursday, November 6th, 2007 edition of the Springfield (MA) Republican:
Gay marriage opponents may flee Massachusetts
After Gov. Deval L. Patrick lobbied and twisted the arms of legislators to switch their votes on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban homosexual and lesbian marriage, it is not surprising that he now wants to legalize casino gambling. After all, one more vice does not really matter. We are already on a long slippery slope; and if we don’t alter our moral compass, we will self-destruct.
While some writers to The Republican wrote to applaud Massachusetts as being tolerant, progressive and the only state in the country to legalize gay marriage, I see a 50-50 parallel that I wish to point out. Fifty votes of the legislators were required to put the gay marriage issue on the ballot. We fell short by five votes, thereby killing the proposed amendment.
According to the Bible, Genesis 18:22-24, the ancient twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so plagued with sin and homosexuality that God decided to destroy the cities. However, he made the “mistake” of telling Abraham of his plans. Abraham then lobbied God, pleading with him to spare the city if he could find 50 righteous persons. God agreed, but 50 righteous persons could not be found, so God sent two angels to lead Abraham’s family out of the city. God then carried out his original plans and destroyed those two cities. II Peter 2:6 confirmed the Genesis account, stating that God turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes as an example for those who would live ungodly.
Maybe those of us who believe in the God of the Bible, traditional marriage, high and ethical standards, should flee Massachusetts, leaving only those who believe in homosexual and lesbian marriage to face the wrath of the God they don’t believe in.
JAMES A. BROWN-Springfield
Let’s hope Mr. Brown makes good on his threat and beats feet to a venue more appealing to him. I suggest the land of Canaan, circa 1000 BC.
As far as his letter, I have a few quibbles about the Bible passages: Abraham haggled with God and got him to agree to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if God could find 10 righteous people there–down from the 50 righteous people that was God’s initial offer. (Genesis 18:23-32) The Angels escorted Lot’s family out of Sodom, not Abraham’s. And as far as I can tell from my reading, there is no mention in the text of God actually looking for any righteous people in Sodom. In any event, Sodom and Gomorrah are utterly destroyed by God’s wrath, Lot’s wife looks back at the blast and is vaporized, and later, in a cave, Lot’s daughters take turns getting Lot drunk then raping him while he’s unconscious, thereby getting pregnant by their father and carrying on the family line. Genocide. Incest. Rape. All in all its a pretty gruesome story, and not one I’d look to for inspiration or instruction.
Truth be told, I’m sick and tired of religious zealots cherry-picking from the Old and New Testament to justify their hatred of those not like them. If you a Bible literalist and you only hate gays after reading Genesis, you really are missing out on a lot of hate. I suggest re-reading the whole book, along with the rest of the Old Testament. El Shaddai (The Lord) hated lots of people back then–often for reasons that were, at best, nebulous. And if modern-day Christians are to award gays with “most hated” status, and back it up with scripture, why is it there so few mentions of gayness = badness in the holy book? If gayness was so hideous to the Lord, why didn’t God put “don’t be gay” or something similar on the ten commandments given to Moses–being as these were the first, and most important, written laws God gave the people? Wouldn’t that have driven home, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how horrible gayness was?
Let’s face it, back then God didn’t need much reason to destroy people–or even whole cities. God cursed the Israelites with misery, pain and death in large quantities because one guy stole gold from the plundered city of Jericho that God had claimed for himself. When the guy came forward and admitted to the theft, God had the Tribes stone him to death–along with his immediate family and entire clan, who didn’t do anything wrong other than be related to the thief.
God’s punishment for adultery is death. Ditto for not honoring your mother and father.
Two of Aaron’s sons were killed for bringing unauthorized fire before the Lord in his temple. Moses and Aaron were killed for not giving God proper credit for giving them the power to make water flow out of a rock in the desert.
God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and spared Isaac only as Abraham was about to plunge his blade into the boy’s throat. God decided that since Abraham was willing to kill his only son for the Lord, that he had the proper fear of his God. I guess God thought fearing him was more important than loving him.
God tormented Job, killed his family, cursed him etc. etc. Job’s crime? He was too devout. The Satan (at the time an angel, and God’s arbiter: he decided if Jews were holy enough to get into heaven, or something like that) thought Job was a phony-baloney and suspected Job would renounce God if God made Job’s life on earth hell. Job doesn’t renounce God under a moderate level of torture, so Satan turns up the heat and really heaps on the abuse. Job still doesn’t crack, merely asks if God will explain why he’s made to suffer so? God doesn’t explain why Job had to suffer even though Job had been pure and true his whole life, or apologize, but he does heal him and restore his family and lands. This is a happy ending in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament God also condones slavery, allowing the Jews to own slaves, and long as the slaves aren’t other Jews. He even makes a code of laws governing the treatment of slaves, allowing a master to beat their slave with a rod, as long as they don’t beat the slave so savagely that the slave needs more than 3 days to recover from his/her beating.
God orders genocide in the Old Testament, making the Jews exterminate certain defeated peoples. In several cases, after a city’s army is defeated, God orders the Jews to kill every man, woman, child and animal in the city, then burn it to the ground. He then has the Jews pour salt over the scorched earth, so that nothing will grow there.
Polygamy was also OK with God. David and Soloman had scads of wifes and concubines (sex slaves). Abraham had two wives. In fact, most Jewish men did. Big families equaled big tribes, which were essential for survival.
I could go on all night with these anecdotes from the Holy Bible. My point is this: unless you plan on following all the laws/edicts/demands of the Old Testament God, don’t take one or two passages of anti-gay sentiment and demonize and condemn a fairly large segment of the world population. So, unless you’re going to be a slave-owning genocidal polygamist, you probably should just let go of your anti-gay tendecies. Anytime one goes to the Old Testament for guidance, it’s important to remember we’re talking about stories and laws governing a people at the dawn of human civilization, thousands of years ago. Might the anti-gay stuff have been included because gays don’t, and didn’t, procreate? No babies meant small tribes, which was a big no-no in those times. Large, often polygamous and incestuous, families meant large tribes, and large tribes meant large armies to attack or defend against other tribes. Big tribes survived, and small tribes were slaughtered and/or enslaved. This is one reason I can think of that openly gay people were persecuted. Also, as only a small minority of people are gay, being different, then, as it is today, meant you were going to get marginalized and victimized.
After all this depressing stuff, I suddenly have a hopeful vision: I see Massachusetts as it will be after Mr. Brown and all those like him depart. It’s a really wonderful place.