Marriage is a legal commitment that provides many legal advantages. Now that gays and lesbians are being accepted, many want legal unions that include those values and obligations. Marriage provides hundreds of advantages; some are:
Since gays and lesbians are citizens, why should they be denied these rights? The only reason is religious beliefs of some that gay and lesbian unions are wrong, and claims that such unions threaten heterosexual marriage. These are feelings, and not supported by any data — actually the data shows that threats to marriage are primarily from heterosexual people.
Our Founders rebelled against the common European custom that the beliefs of one group should be made into law and forced upon groups that did not believe them. The beliefs of some against gays must not be laid on any other Americans! For the development of the Founders' strong conviction that religious requirements must be separated from the government, see my seminar on this critical American topic and my page on America. American founder James Madison wrote, "It degrades from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority" (Memorial and Remonstrance, No. 9).
All of the statements in the Bible that object to homosexuality are:
The ten-page chapter, "The Loyal Opposition and Scripture," in the book The Loyal Opposition edited by Tex Sample and Amy E. DeLong, deserves careful study and discussion.
Remember that for writers of the Old and New Testament illness was caused by demons, the world had four corners, the universe was the three levels of gehenna, earth, and heaven with earth at the center. Face it, we know far more than Biblical writers did about the causes and curing of illness, cosmology, earth sciences, and sexuality.
The Romans 1:26–27 Greek text may condemn women who enjoy sex! The Greek is difficult to translate, and every translation is partly guesswork.
In the Corinthians and Timothy passages note the large number of other sins in these "sin lists" that are equated with sodomy — a word first used a thousand years later! These two passages actually condemn the Greek custom of pederasty, in which well-to-do Greek men kept a teen for sex so as not to get his wife pregnant. Pederasty was condemned by Greek ethicists as well as by the Apostle Paul.
The Leviticus texts refer to dominance not sex; males must be dominant, and not take the woman's place. Leviticus if taken literally requires we eat kosher and follow many other legal requirements. To condemn only the sexual of the two passages while ignoring kosher and many others may be called Levitiphobia.
The situation in the life and culture at the time of those Scriptures:
1. Genesis 19.129 and Judges 19.130 are similar. They are probably about the hospitality that is an old tradition in nomadic, desert areas, where hospitality is critical to survival. Two references to Sodom suggest that inhospitality was their sin: Ezekiel 16.4950 and Matthew 10.1415.
2. The statements from Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13 literally say no male shall lie the lyings of a woman in a dominance culture that devalued women. They knew nothing of homosexual people, or of people being born homosexual.
Leviticus was written when the Jews were a small minority facing extinction through intermarriage with non-Jewish neighbors. Their leader, Ezra, "found" this code and read it to the assembled people, requiring them to be holy and avoid anything unclean. They were to be different from the people around them. Many practices in Leviticus are called abominations, including homosexual acts, a menstruating woman coming into church, eating pork or shrimp, blending fabrics, and hundreds more. All these were contamination. To ignore hundreds of these "sins" to emphasize only one is unbiblical! If you emphasize the male dominant two texts, then you MUST eat Kosher!
For Ezra's time sex was to out-procreate foreigners.
3. 1 Corinthians 6.911 and 1 Timothy 1.10 should be read against the cultural background of Greeks and Romans in which it was normal for older men to take an adolescent boy as a student and for sex to avoid procreation with his wife. Paul and Greek ethicists were deeply offended by this practice, which is actually pederasty.
4. Romans 1.2627 is hard to translate. The best translation of 26 is "…Their women exchanged natural use for that contrary to nature…," that is, they exchanged procreation for pleasure, which is not the "natural use of women." We need to ponder their culture's "natural use" and their "natural order" of:
Most in our culture feel such inequality is unnatural. We also recognize that homosexuality may be inborn as is left handedness.
So, Bible times did not know homosexuality as we have it; the few places that mention males and males assume using boys, so it is pedophilia not homosexuality. Nothing is said about lesbians, because women were so de-valued.
Bishop Hughes of the Episcopal Church says "scripture" is shorthand for a rounded theological reflection about sexuality, personhood and the complementarity of men and women. The Episcopal church does not hold, and Hughes does not believe, that "it is morally wrong to be homosexual." He adds, "There are single gay clergy all over our church, and they serve with distinction." Bishop Spong recently said he never had any sexual problems with his gay clergy, and wished he could say that about his heterosexual clergy.
Some books that give insight into homosexuality:
The Church Studies Homosexuality: A Study for United Methodist Groups, 1994.
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality by Daniel A. Heiminiak, 1994.
We Were Baptized Too by Marilyn Bennett Alexander and James Preston, Foreword by Desmond M. Tutu, 1996
The Loyal Opposition edited by Tex Sample and Amy E. DeLong, 2000; the ten-page chapter "The Loyal Opposition and Scripture" deserves careful study and discussion.
At recent conferences and neetings of the United Methodist Church the stoles project displayed hundreds of stoles sent by gay and lesbian active pastors, often with their life stories and pastoral work summarized, but having no identifying information. The large number of stoles impressed delegates with the fact that several hundred gays and lesbians are effective pastors. As I write, restrictive rules remain in effect.