- Posted August 2, 2012 by
Saint Paul, Minnesota
This iReport is part of an assignment:
I recently did a study into homosexuality in the Bible: Partly for my own benefit, and partly for a book I am writing. I got my hands on a number of books from Northwestern College and scholarly articles online, and did research into the context and language of the biblical passages discussing homosexuality. Many are familiar with the term ‘Sodomites’, as used by Bible translators to supposedly describe homosexuals. This term is an incorrect translation of Jude 1.7, which states that the men of Sodom went after strange flesh and the rest of the chapter discusses mankind’s interaction with angels. Other passages in Genesis (the book containing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah) discuss mankind having relations with angels and God’s condemnation of these acts.
Other New Testament passages (1 Cor. 6.9, 1 Tim. 1.10) discuss prostitution and pederasty (modern day pedophilia), condemning the people who continuously engage in such relationships to an afterlife away from God. The first passage contains two Greek words, Malakos and Arsenkoites, the first discussing the prostitute or young boy in prostitution or pederasty and the second discussing the client or the older man respectively. Another passage in Romans discusses wantonness in sexual activities using the language of Plato’s Symposium. Other passages in the Old Testament (Genesis and Judges 19, Leviticus 18.22/20.13) discuss rape and gang rape. What we glean from a thorough study of verses discussing sex in the Bible is that abusive forms of sex are condemned while relations within marriage are not and that the writers in the times the passages were written had no concept of sexual orientation.
The owners of Chick-fil-A are exercising their freedom of speech to state that they take a traditional and biblical view of marriage. They are perfectly free to make such statements, just as Clinton was free to state that he did not have sex with Lewinsky and Focus on the Family can state that gays can be cured by praying the gay away. That does not make their claims or statements correct, and anyone with any respect for intellectual honesty should feel free to state that their statements are not accurate. I do respect them for taking an unpopular stance on a tough issue, but I do not respect how they and many others like them abuse the Bible to suit their own purposes. You would not view someone who takes your words out of context to change the meaning of your statements very highly, nor do I view those who abuse texts of any kind to suit their own agenda. I believe in being an objective interpreter of any text and leaving the original intent of the author intact so that its meaning can be preserved. Anything less is a personal attack.
There have also been discussions focused on tolerance. Some have stated that the restaurant is being intolerant for spouting its views that marriage should be exclusive to their traditional values and that people who do not share these views should be forced to follow their understanding of marriage. Some have stated that the protesters whose voices rise against the restaurant are being intolerant for ‘not allowing them to state their views’. What these people are really saying is that tolerance involves not only respecting the views of another, but allowing their views to be shared unmolested by criticism and argumentation. That is, one should listen to someone’s view about something and not criticize their view and politely listen. They should be ‘politically correct’ (whatever that means).
If we define tolerance as an attitude towards an opposing view that allows so much leniency for that view that it cannot be opposed by anyone, then we have defined it too broadly. If we define tolerance as an attitude of respect towards those holding said view but nothing about the attitude towards the view itself, we define it too narrowly. I believe that until we can come up with a rational definition of tolerance/intolerance, accusing people of being intolerant is like saying they are a filoshnekov. It is a meaningless accusation because the word has no rational meaning.
Freedom of speech is important, and I believe that people can respectfully discuss an issue without attacking those holding to one view or another, and I believe that people should have the freedom to agree and disagree with one another without having to worry about heated conversations. If the words tolerant and intolerant are thrown around during a discussion on an issue, then the discussion has ceased to be about the issue. The owners of Chick-fil-A have the right to release a public stance on gay marriage, and I have the right to ignore their existence in protest of their erroneous stance. We can do so respectfully, ‘tolerantly’ (whatever that means), and without blowing the issue into more than it is. This discussion and controversy started as a polite news release respecting opposing opinions, but taking a stance on what someone believes. The discussion should remain centered on the issue rather than the exchange of insults, and protesters on both sides have every right to protest for their belief: Respectfully, and without judging the person for the view they espouse.