Ruth 1:15-18; 4:13-17
15 Naomi said to Ruth: Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods. Return after your sister-in-law.
16 But Ruth said: Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may God do to me, and worse, for death alone shall part us. (Parts of this speech are included in most modern wedding ceremonies.)
18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. (BACK TO BIBLE LIST)
(Read all of the four brief chapters of The Book of Ruth. Notice that four times we are told that Ruth loved Naomi. The book never says that Ruth loved Boaz. The book ends with the birth of a child to Ruth. Notice the connection between Tamar and Ruth in 4:12.)
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her, and God enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son.
14 Then the women said to Naomi: Blessed is God who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name be called famous in Israel.
15 May he be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for you daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.
16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap and became his nurse.
17And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying: A son has been born to Naomi! So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. (BACK TO BIBLE LIST)
(The word for the "love" of Ruth for Naomi in 4:15 and elsewhere is the Hebrew word that means "selecting" or "electing" love and is the expression of love that makes a choice and selects another person. In the biblical world, the only way a woman could make that choice was of another woman. The selecting process was only allowed between people who were equal. So a man could only "select" another man or a woman another woman. Women always were regarded as property of a man. The beautiful story of Ruth and Naomi is set in the context of a culture that ignored or else affirmed their affectionate loving relationship with each other.)
Legal recognition and celebration of same-sex marriage is far more revolutionary than just the passage of a few state and national laws. The bonds ("bondage") of matrimony cry out for a fresh look at the ancient human tradition of marriage, which is based on the same foundations as such time-honored practices as child abuse, slavery, terrorism, war, and tyranny.
The "Defense of Marriage Act" could more accurately be called "The Defense of Ignorance and Injustice Act." Legions of abusive religious forces are being marshaled to do battle against the GLBT struggle for human and civil rights for same-sex couples. Recent e-mail telling of the mounting fundamentalist religion opposition to "gay marriage" has reached a new "shrill level" of emotional misinformed rhetoric and media blitz.
The emerging Anti-Gay Marriage Industry is becoming even more politically active, well financed, misinformed, and aggressive than the "Ex-Gay" Industry. Militant "anti-gay marriage" religious organizations and political action groups are multiplying and growing at a rapid rate. Literature attacking gay marriage is pouring into millions of homes through books, newsletters, television and radio offers, e-mail campaigns, and every other available channel of media saturation.
James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" recently appeared on national television in an interview with Larry King and gave a vast glut of anti-gay misinformation and lies to the entire nation. We are being smothered in an avalanche of homophobic misinformation and distortions of the truth that is darkening the sky and moving like a new threatening apocalyptic cloud of doom overshadowing our entire world.
RESCUING MARRIAGE FROM ABUSIVE RELIGION
John Shelby Spong explored a revolutionary new direction in biblical studies in "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" in 1991. Bruce Bawer further extended this revolution in 1997 with his "Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity." My friend Clayton Sullivan in 2002 recently moved the revolution forward with his "Rescuing Jesus from the Christians."
Rescuing marriage from fundamentalism and religious misinformation is a formidable challenge. Marriage customs and expectations throughout the world are firmly entrenched in every social system and in the human psyche. Breaking into traditional marriage systems with fresh insight and honest new directions of freedom and human responsibilities has seemed to be truly a "mission impossible."
No matter how difficult the challenge, the truth is always worth fighting for and human dignity and self-esteem are worth saving.
CHALLENGING RELIGIOUS ASSUMPTIONS
The biblical view of marriage is an extension of male dominance and is "set in stone" in the Ten Commandments that protect a man's absolute right to own and control his possessions, his wife, his children, his animals, and his slaves. How this obvious fact has escaped the notice of fundamentalist religion is a great tribute to the brainwashing effectiveness of traditional religion throughout human history.
Modern marriage is a contradiction of all of the holy principles that legalistic religion claims to support the anti-gay marriage juggernaut that is crushing everything in its path to victory over the human rights and loving relationships of GLBT people. Take a close look at what is happening. The accelerating cultural war over gay marriage is dominating religious, political and social life now far more than any other issue since the beginning of the GLBT freedom revolution at Stonewall in 1969. This is a long-term war that we cannot afford to lose.
SHAKING THE FOUNDATIONS
The obvious fact that same-sex couples can and do enter into loving committed lifelong relationships is challenging and shaking the foundations of abusive religion and unjust social customs and systems. All of our biblical research reaches one clear conclusion: Homosexuals are not an abomination to God, but wounding and destroying homosexuals in the name of religion is! (Review all of my web site for related biblical research.)
The foundations are shaking and crumbling because they are inadequate and need to be replaced by realistic honest foundations that are built on logic and factual information and not on religious mythology and medieval imaginations. Foundations crack and collapse because they cannot bear the weight of logical, objective, realistic, practical new directions for human life into maturity that truly includes and affirms every individual as having equal value.
Christianity has not failed, because nobody has really tried it yet! What has failed is the bogus religious use of Jesus by abusive religion to raise money, build great material empires, exercise secular and political power and deny the basic human rights that Jesus celebrated, taught, demonstrated and died for.
Jesus has not failed. The misinformed self-righteous abusive religious leaders who falsely claim to follow Jesus have failed. The traditional churches have failed. The current educational systems of religious institutions have failed. You and I have failed to the extent that we have taken our eyes off Jesus to follow and sustain our own agendas and to please and satisfy other people.
WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE STAND UP!
Religion has worked hard for centuries to obscure the real Jesus of the Gospels in order to maintain control over people and to build and sustain the Empire. The living Spirit of Jesus, however, is free and available to liberate you from religious oppression and misinformation.
Church architecture, stained glass, statues, paintings, rituals, ceremonies, costumes and doctrines have obscured the real Jesus and created fanciful images that please the senses but fail to communicate reality and truth. Break out of the box! You do not find God in the "box church" but in yourself wherever you are and in all things God has made. The heavens still declare the glory of God and the firmament demonstrates the work of God. Jesus made it clear that you see God in other people or you do not see God at all.
RESCUING MARRIAGE FROM OBLIVION
One of the primary objectives of GLBT Christians should be the salvation of marriage from oblivion. By fighting for the human right to marry, same-sex couples are rescuing marriage, not destroying it! Gay marriage is a giant step in the direction of following Jesus in accepting and affirming all people as having equal value before God. The human institutions of our culture identify themselves by who they leave out. Jesus identified his people by who is included, not by who is left out.
Don't give up on gay marriage. Institutional Christianity will never be truly Christian until GLBT people are fully included at every level and in every activity of the life of the churches.
RESCUING MARRIAGE FROM TERRORISM
Today, September 11, 2003, is the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook the foundations of our nation and changed our everyday world forever. The religious terrorism against GLBT people is also reshaping our world. We cannot ignore terrorism in any form or expression. We have no choice but to resist and overcome terrorism. Our very survival depends on our clear awareness of the dangers we face and our determination to resist and defeat anti-gay terrorism in whatever forms it may appear.
Chapter 1 of my book begins: "Religious terrorists have distorted the Bible and used it to abuse, oppress, and hold hostage the spirituality and sexuality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and Transgendered people. This book is a weapon to fight back."
Victims of terrorism have done no harm to the terrorists, who act out of fear and misinformed religious zeal. Terrorist attacks against GLBT people are not based on logic, reason or the facts, but they are based on prejudice, misinformation, distortions and misunderstandings that can be corrected only with the truth.
Rescuing marriage from terrorism is a necessary goal of GLBT people, which will be accomplished when we act on and effectively communicate the spiritual truth in Jesus that truly sets all of us free to be ourselves.
"What Freud call religion, Jesus called sin." �Harry Emerson Fosdick
"And Jesus said: Follow me."
See my web site material on "Same-Sex Marriage" below:
NEW STATISTICS ON SAME-SEX DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS BY MAJOR COMPANIES: A recent survey by the William M. Mercer consulting firm revealed that 1 of every 6 large employers now offer same-sex domestic partner benefits. The Mercer found that same-sex domestic partner coverage in companies with 500 or more workers rose from 12 percent in 2,000 to 16 percent this year. Among the largest companies, with at least 20,000 workers, the rate grew from 24 percent last year to 34 percent now. This is remarkable progress since the first domestic partners legislation was passed in San Francisco in 1990. See current update for May 17, 2002 below.
The two following Bible studies are included in Dr. Truluck's book, "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse," and were included in the original version of this web site. In view of the current debate that still continues about civil unions for same-sex couples in the state of Vermont (2001) and elsewhere, it seemed to be important for this study material to be added again to this web site.
See the BOOK for additional material related to these issues.
Read The Book of Ruth
At the Academy Awards presentation on March 30, 1992, Bill Lauch accepted the Best Song Award for his late lover, Howard Ashman, who had died of AIDS. Debra Chasnoff thanked her Lesbian "life partner" in her acceptance speech for the award for best documentary film. The audience accepted and applauded this unprecedented open expression of same sex committed relationships.
For 33 years, The Metropolitan Community Churches have celebrated same sex loving committed relationships for Gay and Lesbian Christians in ceremonies of blessing and Holy Union. Recently, other Christian denominations have begun to accept and celebrate the life commitment of Lesbian and Gay couples. During the AIDS epidemic, thousands of Gay men have cared for their life partners with HIV and AIDS and have been faithful care givers over months and years of illness.
One of the greatest things that traditional churches can do for Lesbian and Gay Christians is to recognize, accept and celebrate same sex marriages. Lesbian and Gay couples deserve and have the same right to the respect, community support and protection under law as heterosexual couples.
Fairness and honesty demand that same sex committed couples should have legal protection of their property rights, medical coverage, social security, death benefits, job and housing security and community encouragement and support. To deny basic human rights to any person because of sexual orientation is a blatant violation of the United States Constitution and is given no support at all in the Bible.
Marriage in the Bible
Modern marriage customs have little to do with marriage practices in the Bible or in the early church. John Boswell concluded: "No marriages in ancient societies closely match their modern equivalents. Most cultures regard marriage as a private arrangement negotiated between two families." (John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: University of Chicago Press, 1980, p. 26.) Romantic love as the basis for marriage is absent in the Bible. The only way that people of equal rank and freedom of choice could enter into a lifetime covenant commitment in biblical times was for the partners to be two women or two men. A woman was the property of a man, either her father, brother or husband. Women were not free to make a marriage choice based on romantic love. The Greek word for romantic love, eros, is not used at all in the New Testament, though eros was the most common word for love in use at the time.
The most prominent Bible examples of commitment between two people based totally on individual attraction and free choice are Ruth with Naomi and David with Jonathan. Read the Book of Ruth and I Samuel 18 - 20 and II Samuel 1 to become familiar with these important Bible stories of same sex loving committed couples. The Bible gives no basis for most modern heterosexual marriages, divorces, and remarriages. Yet the Bible stories of Ruth and Naomi and Jonathan and David paint a beautiful picture of same sex loving and loyal committed relationships entered into voluntarily before God and the community "until death alone shall part us."
Ruth and Naomi
Ruth forsook all others and committed herself to Naomi:
"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you live, I will live. Your people be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May God's worst punishment come upon me if anything but death alone shall part us." (1:16-17)
Many modern marriage ceremonies contain ideas from this speech. Most people, however, choose to ignore the fact that these promises were made first not by a woman to a man but by a woman to another woman!
Ruth and Naomi were brought together in loving commitment to each other by the death of their husbands, which left them alone and vulnerable as widows. The Hebrew word for widow is "mute" and is a heavy reminder of the weak and defenseless condition of unmarried women in Old Testament times. The name Naomi means "pleasant," but after she became a widow, Naomi said, "Call me Mara (meaning bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me...and has afflicted me." (1:20-21).
Being helpless and vulnerable in the face of social and economic pressures has also brought many gay and lesbian couples together. Living "in the closet" makes most homosexuals "mute" and defenseless about their deepest feelings and needs. Lesbian and gay couples can identify with the fears and dangers faced by widows in ancient times.Homosexuals can also appreciate the many references in the Bible about legal protection from abuse and injustice against widows, orphans and aliens. Deuteronomy 27:19: "Cursed is the one who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow. And all the people said, Amen!"
The relationship of Ruth and Naomi was accepted and approved by family and friends. Community appreciation and encouragement for the love and faithfulness between these two women was expressed in Ruth 2:11-12, 22-23, 3:17; 4:13-17. Ruth and Naomi developed healthy and inclusive loving relationships with other people in their lives. Though The Book of Ruth never says that Ruth loved Boaz but frequently says that Ruth loved Naomi, it is obvious that Ruth cared very much for Boaz and also that Ruth and Naomi loved the baby, who was named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth was David's great grandmother. Read Ruth 4 for details of the arranged marriage of Boaz to Ruth. Notice the interesting reference to Tamar in 4:12 and look up and read the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, where continuing the family line was far more important than issues of sexual practices, sexual morality or sexual orientation!
Personal Choice and Mutual Responsibility
The San Francisco Domestic Partners ordinance passed in 1990 respects and protects the committed relationships of same sex couples and defines domestic partners as "two adults who have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring, who live together, and who have agreed to be jointly responsible for basic living expenses incurred during the Domestic Partnership." The basis for the partnership is a free decision of choice by consenting adults.
The Hebrew word for love is ahab, used of Ruth's love for Naomi (Ruth 4:15) and of Jonathan's love for David (I Samuel 18:1; 20:17). It means "electing or selecting love." It is the word used for God's electing love of Israel (Jacob) in contrast to Esau in Malachi 1:2, which Paul quoted and developed in Romans 9:13. The love of Ruth and Naomi was freely expressed romantic love that could not be forced on them or arranged by parents or other authorities. The love shared by Ruth and Naomi was like the romantic love that draws two people together to be married today, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. This kind of love clearly was not the basis for biblical marriages, which were always arranged by other people than the married couple.
Ruth and Naomi took care to see that each one had food and shelter. Naomi's scheme to provide security, protection and support for Ruth through Boaz is the main plot of the story. The Book of Ruth never says that the loving committed relationship of Ruth and Naomi was or was not a lesbian relationship. The Bible never discussed same sex sexual orientation either to condemn or to commend it.
Ruth and Naomi stuck together through great adversity. They traveled a long distance to stay together, looked after each other when they were hungry and protected each other from danger. They expressed their love through physical affection in kissing and holding each other (Ruth 1:9, 11). They respected family and community customs and still maintained the integrity of their love for each other.
The Bible is Clear
Lifelong committed partnerships of loving same sex couples are clearly supported in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible condemn same sex romantic love. Neither homosexual nor heterosexual romantic love was ever discussed in the New Testament. Homosexual love was not condemned. It was never mentioned. The Bible encouraged loving commitments between people who freely choose their partners in life. Bible emphasis was on God's "faithful" and "steadfast" love and on human love that demonstrated the character of God. Read Ruth 4:13-17. Ruth was David's great grandmother. I wonder what David called Naomi!
Reflect on How Love Has Developed in Your Life
1. When did you first realize that you loved someone other than your parents or family? Who first aroused your sexual interest? What control did you have over your feelings?
2. Do you know any loving same sex couples? Should they be accepted and protected by legal marriage? Why or why not?
3. Genesis 2:18 says people should not be alone but need helpers who "correspond to themselves." How should gays and lesbians interpret this? What does it say to you?
Read John Shelby Spong, Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality: Harper, 1988; Karen Thompson, Why Can't Sharon Kowalaski Come Home?: Spinsters/Aunt Lute, 1988; and Malcolm Boyd and Nancy L. Wilson, Editors, Amazing Grace: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith: The Crossing Press, 1991.
As part of the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual March on Washington in the year 2000, UFMCC and Rev. Troy Perry along with many other clergy joined in celebrating a great wedding event for thousands of homosexual couples. Contact the UFMCC web site to locate the MCC pastors and congregations near you that can give you up-to-date information concerning planning a Holy Union (same-sex wedding).
A California Field poll was released while I was working on this material in April, 1999, that showed that a majority of California voters (55% to 39% with 6% undecided) now favor a ballot initiative in 2000 that would change the state Constitution to prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. A previous poll in 1997 had almost exactly the same results.
Read I Samuel 18:1--20:42 and II Samuel 1:1-27
The loving relationship of Jonathan and David got off to a highly dramatic public beginning:
"Jonathan made a covenant with David because he love
him as himself. And Jonathan stripped off the robe
that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor,
his sword and bow and belt." I Samuel 12:3-4
This extravagant display of public affection by Jonathan for David was remarkable in that the clothes he gave to David signified his rank as heir to the throne of Israel. Wow! No wonder Jonathan's father, King Saul, got so mad that he tried to kill both David and Jonathan!
Saul's feelings about Jonathan's love for David are clear:
son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Do I not know that you
are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of
your mother's nakedness?"
Upon saying this, Saul tried to kill Jonathan. The love of David and Jonathan was so unacceptable to Saul that he was willing to kill his own son to end it! Saul also loved David, and David loved Saul, which further complicated the whole situation.
The covenant between David and Jonathan was renewed in I Samuel 20:17 and 20:23: "As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, God is between you and me forever." The same sex committed relationship of Jonathan and David was made under God and for life. The loyalty of David and Jonathan was a central theme of the story. Read carefully I Samuel 18, 19 and 20 and II Samuel 1.
Even though David and Jonathan loved each other in an oppressive environment and under the threat of violence, they did not waver in their commitment to each other. Perhaps one reason that David was called "a man after God's own heart" (I Samuel 13:14) was because David's love was steadfast and enduring. God's covenant love is steadfast and dependable.
Jesus "loved his own who were in the world and loved them to the end." In I Corinthians 13:8 the climactic statement about love is that "love never fails." The word "fails" means "to come to an end or to collapse." Love never gives up under pressure. Jonathan and David pledged durable and unswerving love for each other that will never end.
Unlike Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan had to meet in secret because of the anger of Saul. Is this an early example of being "in the closet?" Jonathan escaped from Saul's wrath to meet David in an emotional farewell that is recorded in I Samuel 20:41: "When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, until David was satisfied (or "fulfilled"). The Hebrew word at the end of the verse that says that David "was satisfied" is my translation of gadal, which means "to be or to become large or great" and was used in a great variety of ways in the Old Testament.
Some who see a homosexual encounter in this verse assume that gadal means that David made love with Jonathan until achieving erection and orgasm. There is no basis in this use of the word to say whether or not a sexual encounter took place. Like most Hebrew words, gadal was used with many meanings depending on the context. King James Version says "wept one with another, until David exceeded." (whatever that means!) KJV also rendered gadal as "exceeded" in I Kings 10:30 where "Solomon exceeded all the kings." The word also was used for intense emotional "grief" in Job 2:13 and for "mourning" in Zechariah 12:11. It means "to grow up" in I Samuel 2:26 and "to be great, magnificent" in victory in I Samuel 19:5. In I Samuel 26:24 gadal was used twice to speak of David's life being "highly" valued to Saul and to God.
The word gadal is flexible enough to refer in I Samuel 20:41 to David's great and overwhelming emotions. Physical love and affection are clearly indicated, but a sexual encounter is neither required nor ruled out by this use of gada;. The Bible never described details of private sexual practices of people who love each other, straight or gay.
Arranged Political Marriages
The same Bible materials that describe the loving same sex commitments of Ruth to Naomi and Jonathan to David also tell of arranged marriages for political and economic reasons for Ruth and Boaz and for David and Saul's daughter Michal. The Bible stories show that the same sex partnerships of Ruth with Naomi and David with Jonathan were far superior to the arranged marriages.
David described Jonathan in a wonderful outpouring of emotional fervor in II Samuel 1 when David was told of the death of Jonathan and Saul. Read slowly and carefully the entire chapter. Notice how appropriate the words of David would be for a gay lover who has died of AIDS! This is the first "psalm" (song) of David recorded in the Bible.
David lamented the death of Jonathan and cried out: "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women! How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished." (1:26-27) David's eloquent poem of grief and loss over his beloved young companion Jonathan is filled with beauty, pathos and inspiration.
David as a Biblical Ideal
The Gospel of Matthew begins by calling Jesus the "son of David" and then gives the ancestry of Jesus in 3 groups of 14 names in each group. The name David in Hebrew is the number 14. Jesus was called "son of David" in the gospels. "Son of" meant "to be like" someone as well as to be a physical descendent.
David represented the ideal of being "after God's own heart." David loved many people with great emotion and at great cost. David was well known for his love for his several wives, for Bathsheba, his baby that died, his soldiers, his rebellious son Absolom and even his greatest enemy Saul. Nathan the prophet of God challenged and condemned David for his love for Bathsheba that led to the murder of Uriah. General Joab criticized David for loving his son Absolom to the neglect of his own loyal soldiers.
David's inclusive love was expressed in many ways in the Book of Psalms. David loved God and David loved people. The deepest and most profound love of David for any person in the Bible was for Jonathan. As David said in his final song of praise and appreciation for his dead lover: "Jonathan's love was wonderful!"
Holy Union and Gay Marriages
Denmark, Norway and Sweden were the first countries that permit same-sex marriages. Since this material was first written, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France and other countries have provided for same-sex marriages and others are considering it. The state of Vermont has provided for civil unions for same-sex couples. A growing number of cities and states in the United States have established public policy that respects same sex "domestic partners" in regard to certain limited job and medical benefits. In 1990, San Francisco was the first city, county or state anywhere to approve a same sex domestic partner ordinance by popular vote. It marked a revolutionary new beginning for same sex couples to celebrate their loving life commitment to each other in the context of public acceptance and support. Now the City and County of San Francisco will do business only with companies that provide the same employee benefits to domestic partners as to married couples.
Much of the material in these studies of Ruth and Naomi and David and Jonathan was printed and used in the campaign for approval of the Domestic Partner proposition in San Francisco in 1990 and for reaffirmation in 1991. At the San Francisco City Hall celebration of the first registration of Domestic Partners on February 14, 1991, several lesbian and gay couples rejoiced to announce publicly for the first time their twenty-five years or longer committed partnerships.
Challenges and opposition to justice and fairness for gays, lesbians and bisexuals at state and local levels continue to be fueled by the fires of fear and hate generated by ignorant and abusive religious leaders. Bible facts do not support negative religious and political campaigns against homosexuals. Instead, the Bible gives support and encouragement to loving committed same sex couples who want to celebrate their "holy union" before God in Christian marriage in their churches in the presence of their families and friends. Fairness and justice for all people will eventually legalize gay/lesbian marriages.
Fear, ignorance, anger and hate should not be allowed to determine the spiritual validity of homosexual marriages. The basic issue is the human need for respect and fairness. Many same sex couples in committed partnerships suffer under public policies that are inconsistent with Christian and civilized principles of fair play.
Holy Union and Evangelism
Frequently at marriages for Christian lesbians and gay men, we have given copies of my UFMCC brochure, "The Bible as Your Friend", to the guests at the request of the celebrating couple. The ceremony of holy union is itself a witness to God's love and acceptance and a powerful testimony to the gift of freedom in Christ.
Questions for Study and Discussion
1. Is it fair that loving same sex couples cannot share in family health plans, visit their partners as family in most hospitals, receive death benefits or have their community property rights protected?
2. Is it fair to deny to gay and lesbian couples the family and community support that friends and neighbors and family always give to heterosexual couples at times of sickness, death, and grief?
See Eric Marcus, The Male Couple's Guide to Living Together: "What Gay Men Should Know about Living Together and Coping in a Straight World: Harper, 1988; (This book personally helped me.) and Larry J. Uhrig, The Two of Us: "Affirming, celebrating and symbolizing Gay and Lesbian Relationships": Alyson, 1984.
In the spring of 1999, as this material was being written, the United Methodist Church in the United States was caught up in conflict and divisions over the public celebration of same-sex couples marriage ceremonies conducted by many Methodist Clergy, beginning with Rev. Jimmy Creech in 1998 and continuing with ceremonies conducted by many other clergy.
See also Keith Hartman, Congregations in Conflict: "The Battle Over Homosexuality": Rutgers University Press, 1996. Mentioned earlier in this in chapter 4, this book tells the story of Dr. Mahan Siler and the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, where the first public celebration of a same-sex marriage was performed in a Southern Baptist Church. It led to the expulsion of the church from the Southern Baptist Convention and the change in bylaws by that denomination to exclude any local church that accepted openly homosexual people into the church. See my "Gay Christian Response to Southern Baptists" at the end of this book.
Desperate determined efforts by the homophobic legalistic religious abusers has reach a new level of intensity with the proposal of a constitutional amendment to force religious ignorance and prejudice on the entire country in the name of "Protecting Marriage." This is a clear backlash against recent progress for LGBT people in many states regarding adopting children and recognizing and affirming same-sex committed relationships and marriage.
President Bush has given aid and comfort to the homophobic religious establishment in many direct and indirect ways. The "Faith Based Initiative" to give government funds to churches to carry out their social and educational programs is a prime example. The President has appointed the wife of James Dobson, head of "Focus on the Family", to a sensitive position of religious influence. "Focus on the Family" is primarily a "focus" on misinformation and bigotry against GLBT people and against women's rights in the name of religion.
Every event of progress for acceptance and human rights of gay and lesbian people is being matched by renewed efforts of legalistic judgmental religious oppressors to poison the atmosphere of positive change for the benefit of sexual minorities. Led by Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, the religious industry in this country has unlimited funds and rabid support from millions of people.
MISINFORMATION AND POLITICAL POWER
Partial information, withheld facts, misleading reports, suppressed truth, and other manipulations of information are characteristic of political and religious leaders who are determined to maintain their control over people at all cost. We have seen a long history of the use of political and religious misinformation in the Vietnam War, Watergate, religious television scandals, and many other recent incidents.
One recent homophobic religious appeal for support claimed that the average gay man is dead before the age of 40. That statement is totally fabricated and is blatantly untrue. Nobody knows who the "average gay man" is. Most GLBT people are still in the closet. From my contact with LGBT people on the Internet, in churches, and through many other contacts, I have concluded that the average gay man is middle-aged, married with children, and has never had sex with another man because of fear.
I am 68 years old and retired from parish ministry. Many of my gay friends are older than I. My friends Rev. Jim Mitulski and Paul Steindal have spent much of their time in recent years in San Francisco working for adequate housing and other services for the growing population of aging gay and lesbian people in our midst. Any religious group that lies about the early death of gay men is probably lying about everything else!
POLITICAL ABUSE OF GLBT PEOPLE
Efforts to change the United States Constitution into an anti-gay document will almost surely fail. The result of the campaign to do it, however, will contaminate our culture with misinformation, lies, pious ignorance, and other deadly forces that will cause many LGBT people to doubt themselves and turn against themselves and each other. Internalized homophobia will continue to work its deadly way into many minds and lives. Self-destructive behavior and plummeting self-esteem will actually cause the deaths of GLBT people and will be another chapter in the ongoing genocide of our people by the powerful misinformed religious forces all around us.
Do whatever you can to give accurate, reliable, believable information to religious leaders, politicians, lawmakers, friends, family, and others whom your life touches. Bring my web site and book to their attention. The truth is out there and readily available on the Internet. The lies, distortions, and misinformation also are out there and available at a mouse click.
WE NEED SUPERNATURAL HELP
And we have supernatural help. You already are made in the image of God. God is already with and within you. The Spirit of Jesus has already been given to you and dwells within and with you at all times. Draw on the spiritual guidance and powers that you already have. You do not have to go anywhere or consult with any expert to find and know the love of God and the will of God for you.
Whatever you have found to build up your own self-esteem and to make you feel good about yourself as a LGBT person who is a child of God can be of help to others. Find or create some kind of situation in which you can share what you are learning of the truth and self-acceptance that all of us need.
LET GO AND LET GOD DO IT
GLBT people, like everybody else, are tempted to manipulate politics and religion to get what we want. One thing is very clear about Jesus in the Gospels: Jesus rejected all uses of power politics and religious manipulations to accomplish his purpose. Jesus believed in and trusted God. Jesus was able to let go of everything, even life itself, trusting God that when God has total control, power for change beyond one's wildest imagination will break into the world and truly change people and culture.
When we are finally willing to let go of our own meager efforts and let God guide and empower us into changing the unchangeable and doing the impossible, then we might begin to find what we have been looking for all along.
DIVERSITY is basic to GLBT acceptance and human rights. We resist pressure into sameness just because others are doing it or because the society demands it. We truly believe that variety is the spice of life. In fact, to most of us, variety is necessary for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There are many varieties of ministries, many "heresies" (literally: "differences"), and many useful methods, but there is one God who is Creator and the Mother/Father of us all. Learn from God to be yourself and accept yourself for who you are. Discover your own unique identity and role in the great cause that you and I share with Jesus, who taught: "The Spirit of God is upon me, because God has anointed me to proclaim good news to the outcast, has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to announce deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to those who cannot see, and to set at liberty those who are beaten up and bruised, and to proclaim the time of God's acceptance of all people." Luke 4:18-19
(Study the lessons in Step 2 in my web site, and especially lesson 5 in my book.)
KNOW AND SHARE THE TRUTH
Responding to misinformation with guesses, speculations, and more misinformation does more harm than good. Successful challenges to ignorance demand careful honest research and reliable believable information. The truth is out there and also within you. Search for the truth until you find your own truth and whatever information you need to be equipped and "to be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with humility and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Live and behave in such a way that others will ask you about your positive outlook, your faith in God, and your self-confidence as a LGBT person.
This may sound too easy. Yet it is the only approach that will open the way into other people's thinking. While you contemplate your own weaknesses and failures when you have "done your best" to change people, remember that: "Nothing is impossible with God."
Hurray for heresy!
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