Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

And yet, the state of California still exists!

Excellent coverage from the Daily Show yesterday about the legalizing of same-sex marriage in California:

First, I want to say congratulations to George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu) and his adorable new husband. And because Jon ridiculed the "heartless, insulated, myopic grandstander[s]" protesting the same-sex marriages, I can forgive him for the Star Trek fellatio joke; that and the fact that it was pretty funny, mostly because of Jon's poor impersonation skills (not that it's difficult to do a funny Shatner impression; even the bad ones are funny).

Anyway, back to the heartless, insulated, myopic grandstanders. Jon ridicules them briefly and beautifully, as is his wont, but I just wanted to point out that their rhetoric is getting harder and harder to swallow follow. They seem so desperate to attach Jesus' name and authority to their little protest that they've taken to referencing quotes from the Gospel that, when placed back into their original context, bear little to no relation to the argument they're meant to support. For example, at about 1 minute 16 seconds of the above video, someone is holding up a sign that says, "Jesus said, 'Go and sin no more.' John 8:11" Which is an accurate quotation, but I'm completely flabbergasted why anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of the Bible in general and the Gospels specifically would use that particular verse to argue against same-sex marriage. It's like they literally Googled "Jesus" and "sin" (or searched for those keywords in an online version of the Bible) and slapped the first verse they found on the sign. Unless, of course, it was a conscious decision based on the assumption that their audience would not be familiar with the Bible, but that seems like a risky rhetorical strategy because your intended audience could easily look up the verse and its context and say, "Oh, well that doesn't apply to their argument at all," and just continue gaily along their way.

For those of you not up on your Biblical references, the first dozen verses or so of John chapter 8 is the story of the Pharisees who bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus, pointing out that the law requires her to be stoned; what does he think? His response, and most people have probably heard some version of this quotation, is "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7 I'm quoting from the New American Bible, which is the Catholic Bible in the United States, not only because I'm Catholic but because it's a scholaraly translation that's been revised to be non-sexist). The crowd moves away and only the woman is left behind, and I'm going to quote it here because I feel that it's more powerful:
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore." John 8:10-11 (my emphasis)

I'm completely mystified how you can read that latter third of verse 11 in context with one of Jesus' most famous lessons on non-judgment of others as an argument against same-sex marriage. I suppose, though, it makes sense if you assume that homosexuality is a sin, but to draw that conclusion from this particular verse is something of a circular argument.

At 1 minute 24 seconds into the above video, someone is holding up a sign that says "Fags can't marry--Matthew 19:5", which is a rather loose--and, I would venture to say, disingenuous--paraphrase of that verse. The actual verse (again, quoting from the New American Bible) says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh", and actually, Jesus is quoting that passage from Genesis in order to illustrate his point that married couples should not divorce; what he's saying has nothing to do with same-sex relationships at all. Moreover, this verse is shortly followed by Matthew 19:12, which some interpret as Jesus' only reference to homosexuality at all (albeit a very oblique one) and of those who interpret it as such, most (myself included) interpret it as validation of homosexuality.

I suppose I should provide some amplification of that argument. It's quite complicated because of the translation issue, but here goes. I'll start by quoting Matthew 19:5 as it appears in the NAB:
"Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."
This translation illustrates one of the drawbacks of revising the text to be non-sexist: where Jesus says "some" in this translation, in the original text is "some men." In other words some men are incapable of marriage to women, and the explanatory notes inform us that the the literal translation of "incapable of marriage" is "eunuch". In other words, some are born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs (castrated) by others, and some "have made themselves eunuchs" in the literal translation.

Now, my understanding is that a male child being born without testicles is an extremely rare birth defect (although I'm not sure how common it may be for a male child to be born with non-functioning testicles), which suggests that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, as does the violently extreme image of people mutilating themselves in God's service (granted, however, this is not unheard of, especially in the early church). Therefore many people, myself included, interpret that as Jesus' recognition of homosexuality as a congenital state of being which makes a man unfit for marriage to a woman (or more specifically, for sexual relations with a woman) and so such a man should not get married to a woman. Granted, this interpretation doesn't shed any light as to whether or not same-sex relationships between those so oriented would be acceptable; Jesus never seems to address that question in the Gospels at all. I'm not a biblical scholar, so I could be wrong about that, but surely if there were such an explicit reference someone would have pointed it out before now, and if it condemned same-sex relationships, surely the protesters would slap that all over their signs, instead of extremely questionable paraphrases and verse fragments taken out of context. Incidentally, the NAB interprets "ma[king] themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom [of heaven]" as "devot[ing] themselves entirely to its service", which supports the metaphor argument; it does not, oddly enough--and inconveniently for me--provide an interpretation for the "born eunuchs."

I also wanted to point out that one of those hateful and disingenuous signs also shows a picture of two male plugs, which would be an appropriate analogy if sexual intercourse was the way we obtained the nutrients required to sustain ourselves. Again, I'm not a biblical scholar, but I'm pretty sure that nowhere in the Bible does it say "he created them as electrical appliances."
Tags: faith, politics, the daily show
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