Monday, June 14, 2010

Special rights? I think not

A letter in the Aberdeen American News:

Equal rights already present
We wish to respond to the letter written by David Fischer on June 1. He states that the ELCA made the right move by allowing gay clergy. He also states that anyone who opposes this is reacting because of "ancient words with mere faith-based definition". In other words, we are reacting because of Biblical truths! We didn't know that the Bible has become old-fashioned and should be brought up-to-date. A scripture-based church does not embrace every sinful whim of society.

Your organization, Equality South Dakota, an organization whose mission is "to secure, protect, and support the rights and the well being of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) South Dakotans and their families," is working towards getting "special rights" for the gay community.

You already have equal rights.

Marvin and Marion Hoffman

Dear Marvin and Marion,

LGBT people (and by extension, their friends and family) do not have equal rights in South Dakota. Equality South Dakota is working with Republicans and Democrats to make our State a place where they cannot be discriminated against in housing, employment or health care. Yes, we have a "gay agenda" -- that everyone be treated fairly in South Dakota. A radical notion? I think not.

Frankly I was amazed last legislative session when HB 1144, a proposed state law, was voted down in committee (on partisan lines, although the bill had bipartisan support). Our testimony in favor of the law, backed up with facts and reasoned argument in favor of adding LGBT persons to our existing human rights law (which has not been modified since the 1970s). The testimony against 1144 frankly struck me as quite shrill and fact-free; it seemed aimed to stir up fear and prejudice rather than make any attempt at reasoned argument. In truth, I am encouraged by this fact -- as the arguments against basic fairness for LGBT people in South Dakota are getting thinner every day.

On the Biblical front, I urge you to go read your New Testament and find where Jesus speaks against lesbian and gay people. I can't find any words like that from Him, but He sure said a lot of radical things against divorce, economic disparity, and the turning away of anyone who only thirsts for justice and acceptance as they are.

I appreciate your sharing your point of view... but I'm very glad it's increasingly a minority view in South Dakota.

Curtis Price
Rapid City


  1. An excellent program worth watching on the Sundance channel is The Bible Tells Me So. It's a healthy look at scripture and the religious views of parents of gays.

  2. Couldn't agree more....

    You can read more about The Bible Tells Me So here.

  3. Anonymous20:21

    Thanks for suggesting we read the new testament and jesus carefully on this issue. We have. We found Jesus accepting of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. However his comment -go and sin not more- makes it clear he was able to accept people while rejecting their sin. In this case that sin was a relationship outside the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Jesus has an issue with any sexual activity outside the man/woman marriage covenant, and that does include same sex and well as opposite sex sexual activity. His issue is not solely with gays in this regard and this is an important point.
    We have also considered Matthew 19:4-6 which record Jesus' words in divorce, marriage and what constitutes adultery or immorality. Read it yourself. It's in conceivable that relations of any sort outside the male/female marriage bed would be acceptable to him. Verse six is a strong pronouncement of Jesus against anything that would undermine the traditional definition of marriage. We are glad you are pro-gay. Our issue is that you do violence to the sacred text to justify your views. And yes, the is about special rights. We who are straight are only free to marry someone of the opposite sex, just as those who are gay are free are only free to marry someone of the opposite sex. But you say straight people are free to marry those they love. No, only if they are the opposite sex. If the one we love in underage, related, already married, not human, or the opposite sex we are not free to marry them. Same rules apply to straights and gays. The words under the entrance to the supreme court are "equal justice under law." Gays want to throw that equality out the window and make it a greater crime to murder a gay person than to murder someone who is not gay. Pardon the typing and spelling.

  4. Anonymous:

    In this case that sin was a relationship outside the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman.

    Gee, I find Jesus's words to the woman at the well a little less judgmental and a little more encouraging. More along the lines of "now that your life has been spared from destruction by hate, prejudice, and legalistic self-rightousness, go live your life in response to that gift."

    It sounds like (in contrast) you take away a highly different (and to me remarkably un-Christian) message: "OK, honey, you got off: f*ck up again and you will burn-- go straighten up and fly right-- or else!"

    To each her own, I guess.

  5. Anonymous21:34

    The sin she was being stoned for was adultery. When he said go and sin no more he was saying I've spared you the consequences of that past sin and now don't have sex outside marriage anymore. CP, it is not debatable what that sin was, the context narrows it down to the sin of sex outside marriage.

    Not judgmental? Jesus was equal in his judgments and all in this passage were found guilty - please note Jesus acknowledged the woman had sinned, and that there was no one in the crowd who hadn't sinned. Jesus is the judge in this passage and those who read tolerance of sin into this passage are mistaking his patience with us for tolerance of us.

    Gays always want special treatment and here you want a special Jesus verse that is gay specific. He treats gay sex on the same level he treats any sex outside marriage, he says- no more.

    Again our point is not persuade to you away from your pro-gay views. Our point is to say we have done what you suggested in looking again at the New Testament and Jesus and discovered the opposite of what you conclude about Jesus in regard to gay relationships.

  6. Anonymous22:05

    "OK, honey, you got off: f*ck up again and you will burn-- go straighten up and fly right-- or else!"

    Not sure it's possible for you to more fully miss the point. People who've been given a second chance by God respond by loving him and that love manifests itself by living so as to not presume on his graces again. Jesus has freed her and told her how to stay free.

    The verses we mentioned about in Matthew 19 shut the door on any sexual relationships outside the covenant of marriage. Jesus doesn't single out gays or any other deviation from the standard he upholds as being rooted in God's creational intent for humankind.

  7. Not sure it's possible for you to more fully miss the point.

    Me and a lot of grown-up theologians who are actually paid to look into this stuff find your world view a little, let's say, narrow.

    May I quote a Christian theologian who speaks in the film For The Bible Tells me So:

    "There's nothing wrong with a fifth-grade understanding of God... as long as you're in the fifth grade!

    I really hope you see this film someday.

  8. The funny thing about people that interpret the Bible literally is they pick and choose. They pick issues and find passages that fit their views and disregard all the other crazy stuff in the Bible. It's mind numbing and sad they don't want to engage their brain, this wonderful thing that's a gift to all of us. I suppose it's scary when what a person would logically think is so incompatible with what they see as a sacred rule book. Better to not open that that can of worms. A lot of people won't open their eyes either until they are forced by family associations to take a real look at gay issues. Hopefully their son or daughter isn't dead by then.

  9. Anonymous20:47

    What an arrogant response, really. I do forgive you knowing you aren't my privy to my identity. Suffice it to say I'm one of those grown up theologians who writes, teaches and yes, has been paid these past three decades in academia. Be assured, one cannot get the sacred text to tolerate homosexuality without twisting it beyond recognition.

  10. I feel very badly for your many LGBT students who clearly are victims of spiritual violence. Thank goodness things are getting better.