Burch: End the holy war

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Nashville continues to face two perennial questions: (1.) What does the Bible say? and (2.) Should we consult the Bible when laws are drafted?

Let’s face the facts honestly, because the current Metro Council debate over contractor hiring practices seems like a new holy war, with conservative Christians opposing any change to the status quo, while more tolerant council members insist that discrimination on the basis of sexual preference is wrong.

The argument that rule changes would be “unfair” to businesses is nonsensical, because the majority of Americans now agree that rules against racial discrimination are necessary, and fair. If we can have rules that forbid racial discrimination, then obviously we can have rules against other forms of discrimination, if those forms of discrimination are wrong.

So the real question becomes this: Is it wrong to discriminate against homosexuals? Many conservative Christians think not, because the Bible calls homosexual sex an “abomination” and says even “effeminate” people will go to hell. According to a few Bible verses, God sounds like a raging homophobe. But most of the books of the Bible never mention anything about “hell” or suffering after death — a curious omission.

Even the famously literal and conservative Southern Baptist Convention virtually eliminated the word “hell” from the translation it sponsored: the Holman Christian Standard Bible (published right here in Nashville). According to the SBC’s translation, a place called “hell” was never mentioned in the entire Old Testament, or in the book of Acts (ostensibly the self-recorded history of the early Christian church), or in any of the epistles of Paul, the great evangelist. The Hebrew prophets said that even Sodom would be restored in the end, and that all Israel would be saved. Paul also said that all Israel would be saved, and I’m pretty sure there have been gay Jews.

So if there will be gay people in heaven, why discriminate against them here?

Whether God is a homophobe is a matter of faith. The Bible says many things that no thinking person can believe originated with a loving God. The Bible clearly commands or condones racism, slavery, intolerance, ethnic cleansing, matricide, infanticide and genocide. Perhaps there have always been men willing to slander the name of God for their own evil ends.

But even if God is a homophobe, we don’t discriminate against people who eat shellfish or wear unisex clothing (other “abominations” according to the Bible). So perhaps it’s time to end the holy wars and be fair to everyone.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

39 Comments on this post:

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/11 at 5:50

Good morning
http://bobandtina.com/Bob/Images_by_Robert_Seely/SunriseSnow_20060215_0378_web.jpg

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/11 at 5:51

This is a very interesting letter which should give rise to some rebuttals and praise. I for one feel that it is not my place to say who anyone can fall in love with.
As for as the discrimination against gay, I think the partaking of this could lead to other acts of favoritism such as not hiring any one with a different political view or what NFL team you like.

By: Loner on 1/21/11 at 5:51

Good morning, Nashville!

This is another excellent letter from Mike Burch. I agree with his analysis and conclusions.

I thought that Mr. Burch was more than an amateur writer; I appreciate the info about Mike's work.

It's got to be tough being a liberal in TN.....hang in there Mike!

By: house_of_pain on 1/21/11 at 6:00

Nemo, I would never hire a Steelers fan.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/11 at 6:05

By: yogiman on 1/20/11 at 5:10
Gee! I wish I was as brilliant as you few seem to think you are.

We don’t have to be brilliant yogi. We just look it up, read it and then understand what we read. It really is not that hard to do.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/11 at 6:07

lol house

GO PACKERS!!!!

By: house_of_pain on 1/21/11 at 6:38

Okay, but no cheese-related headgear while you're on the clock.

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 7:05

Nemo - Very apt sunrise! However, GO JETS!

By: HokeyPokey on 1/21/11 at 7:37

Personally, I'd like to see each and every compelling argument in favor if keeping jobs/homes/opportunities away from persons of the gay persuasion that don't mention Holy Scripture or any particular Deity.

My guess they're darn few.

HP

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 7:41

The only team I'm pulling for is the Bears. I've had enough of the media annointing Rodgers as the greatest QB in the history of the game.

Oh yeah, the LTE...be excellent to each other.

By: global_citizen on 1/21/11 at 8:35

From the article:

"So the real question becomes this: Is it wrong to discriminate against homosexuals? Many conservative Christians think so..."

I'm confused by this. Did the author mean to say "Is it OK to discriminate against homosexuals?"

Conservative Christians seem to be just about the only ones who think it is and not too many (none that I know of) think it's wrong.

By: Antisocialite on 1/21/11 at 8:36

In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson:

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to sleep with a man or a woman. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

By: Antisocialite on 1/21/11 at 8:40

I think, given the context and tone, it seems like it is a small error. I'm betting he thought that he had worded it differently and never went back to edit.

He probably meant to say 'So the real question becomes this: Is it okay to discriminate against homosexuals? Many conservative Christians think so...'

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 8:58

Conservative Christians do as they're told. Independent thinkers need not apply.

By: yogiman on 1/21/11 at 9:08

The Bible "says" what the reader interprets it to mean, but the laws are written to control one person over the others to live in a comfortable society.

You can't demand atheists to accept as their laws the guidelines of the Bible.

By: global_citizen on 1/21/11 at 9:42

But many people have been told, and believe (incorrectly) that America was founded as a Christian nation and that everyone here (atheists, Muslims, Hindus, everyone) either accepts Christian rule or be effectively disenfranchised.

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 9:56

Global, one can argue that the religious freedom that our founders fought to create was nothing more than freedom for different denominations of Christianity.

And the amount of non-Christians in America (not many) at that time really didn't make this an issue.

They did not create a Theocracy and stated firmly that no religion would be established by the state. So no, it was not founded as a Christian nation, but it was certainly influenced by Christianity.

By: yogiman on 1/21/11 at 10:20

global_citizen,

The founding of America was the beginning of the future back then. There has been changes each day since then and each day is the beginning of the future from that day. People and issues will change each day.

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 10:23

That's the dumbest post I've ever read.

By: global_citizen on 1/21/11 at 10:53

Deep Thoughts... by Jack Handy. Thanks for that pearl of wizdumb, yogi.

By: Lealand419 on 1/21/11 at 11:51

Jeez, some of you guys get up early!!!

Hm, was the attempt to shift the topic off discrimination and onto football a deliberate effort to change the subject to a more interesting/relevant one? Or was it an unconscious attempt either to steer away from an uncomfortable topic, or to affirm your hetero-machismo? Food for thought?

Also, I think Mike's use of the term "sexual preference" is a bit misleading. It implies one has a choice, like red wine or white, chocolate or vanilla... "Sexual orientation" seems to be a more apt term, from which one's sexual preference might stem.

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 12:04

Leland, I'm not certain, but from some of the eye-batting, limp hand gestures, prissy walk & coquettish talk, witnessed often, I would say "sexual preference". Those seem to be practiced habits.

By: house_of_pain on 1/21/11 at 12:19

bfra, I know a few gay people, and at some point, all of them had tried to be straight.

By: slacker on 1/21/11 at 12:53

Its hard to be a pimp in this town...

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 1:08

house - Just saying, those I described, are not normal developed male habits. So they are by preference.

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 1:19

Not true, bfra, history has many examples of effeminate heterosexual men.

When did you make your preference?

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 1:47

g - You are welcome to your opinion, but I differ. I am not saying all, but most.

By: gdiafante on 1/21/11 at 1:50

Again, when did you make your choice?

By: slacker on 1/21/11 at 1:52

Its said, Attila The Hun loved show tunes.

By: Antisocialite on 1/21/11 at 1:56

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effeminacy#Effeminacy_and_gay_men

bfra, you have a selection bias at work in your anecdotal example. You see an effeminate man and automatically assume he is homosexual (which is already skewing your sample). However, have you considered how many homosexual men you pass on the street or in your office every day that are not exhibiting those characteristics? Without those non-effeminate homosexual men included in your example you have no real basis for the claim you are making.

The wikipedia article I began with has some interesting information in it, and for the truly adventurous try browsing some of the source articles for the wikipedia entry... that's where you get the real meat of the studies.

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 2:30

Antisocialite - I appreciate your referral, however, that is not a subject I wish to study. I am sure, I pass by many homosexuals that do not display the characteristics I noted. The ones that do, IMO, do it by choice.

g - I never made a choice or preference, I am what I was born to be. Did you at some time in your life, make a choice?

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 2:31

slacker - I thought Attila liked mountains & fighting.

By: Antisocialite on 1/21/11 at 2:54

I am sure, I pass by many homosexuals that do not display the characteristics I noted. The ones that do, IMO, do it by choice.

Well, I'm not exactly sure about this either and there seem to be competing theories, but I tend to think that it is more of a learned trait. Those boys that do not fit with gender norms are more likely to be ostracized from the male group where they are not able to pick up on the more 'masculine' traits the others do. Instead they are welcomed by the female group, and as a result of their interactions with the female group, especially early in adolescent development, they pick up some of the traits we consider more 'feminine'.

Again, I'm no expert, but it seems somewhat logical.

By: slacker on 1/21/11 at 3:18

bfra, don't buy into that revisionist history. It was Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Italian burgundy loafers, for the Hun Man.

Packers - 31
Bears - 20

Steelers - 26 (they get a safety)
Jets - 17

By: bfra on 1/21/11 at 3:29

slacker - Depends on which Hun Man, I guess!

Bears 24
Packers 10

Jets 21
Steelers 14

By: yogiman on 1/21/11 at 4:22

gdiafante,

I understand you not understanding my phase. Really, I do understand.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/11 at 4:48

Go Packers

By: HokeyPokey on 1/22/11 at 8:00

@ bfra
"Leland, I'm not certain, but from some of the eye-batting, limp hand gestures, prissy walk & coquettish talk, witnessed often, I would say "sexual preference". Those seem to be practiced habits."

Yes, yes yes, we all know how little girls are trained to be attractive women, but the discussion is ho-mo-SEX-uals. Do try to pay attention.

HP

By: bfra on 1/22/11 at 11:21

hp - You seem to be the only one that thought I was referring to "girls"! That's funny.