Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Opinion Piece

I'm taking a persuasive writing course this semester called Rhetoric. Although I don't feel like I'm learning a whole lot, writing assignements are interesting because we are forced to write about things that we wouldn't normally write about. Additionally, Angie always says that I write well, so I thought I'd post my essays as I get them back from my professor. They may not always make sense (as they will be out of context, especially the counter point type essays, but that's ok - I'll post anyway).

The following is an opinon piece in response to Peter J. Gomes' "Homophobic? Read Your Bible"...

The problem with Peter J. Gomes’ “Homophobic? Read Your Bible”, isn’t his disdain for fundamentalists who validate their prejudice and persecution of homosexuals using Scripture, it’s that his (Gomes’) arguments just don’t support his claims. Gomes puts forth a refutation of common arguments made by fundamentalist Christians when they “gay bash” (3) or otherwise demonstrate their “hatred” (1) for homosexuality. Additionally, he argues that either these fundamentalists are misapplying Scripture, picking which Scripture to follow in an a la carte fashion, or are otherwise ignorant.

While I do wholeheartedly agree that prejudice, hatred, violence and other acts against homosexuals are despicable, and I agree that fundamentalists do much of what Gomes states above, I also think it is no less important to recognize that many Christians view homosexuality as a sinful act, in the same way that ANY sexual activity outside of the vows of marriage is a sinful act.

Gomes’ argues that many fundamentalist Christians “appeal to the moral injunctions of the Bible” (4) as they oppose political and social equality for homosexuals. He then attempts to refute the common verses in the Bible cited as being anti-homosexual. What Gomes misses, is that these verses are defining a morality that Christians follow. As homosexual acts are defined as sinful, so is prostitution. He even goes so far as to state that “the moral teachings of Jesus are not concerned with [homosexuality]. (7) This is perhaps the most ignorant statement within the essay, and clearly shows that Gomes has little grasp on the contents of the Bible. Jesus’ teachings were about ALL morality, not just some of the more important sins, as Gomes seems to intimate. Sexual purity was just as important to Jesus as greed, violence, and other sins. However, Jesus’ application of His moral teaching is where the fundamentalist faction could stand to learn. Jesus loved all, even the sinner. He knew why He was on earth, and it wasn’t to save the sinless (they were already saved – even if there are none). He was here to save the sinner – the liar, the cheat, the murderer, the greedy, the philanderer and the homosexual alike.

Gomes’ essay continues with questionable logic and he eventually moves on to the topic of subjectivity in the interpretation of Scripture. He claims that, “The right to use the Bible, an exercise as old as the church itself, means that we confront our prejudices rather than merely confirm them”. (12) In this, I agree with him, however this statement does not change the fact that Christians believe homosexuality to be sinful.

In fact, his essay does not repudiate the status of homosexual behavior as sinful. And in this statement, we see the weakness of his argument. Because he cannot challenge the claim put forth in the Bible that any sexual activity outside of marriage is considered immoral, he instead focuses on the fundamentalist Christian movement - a movement that perhaps needs to apply a more Christ-like application of Scripture instead of a hateful one.

It is here that his essay finally gets it right – but not for the reasons he intends. He uses examples of fundamentalists using the bible to justify more heinous acts in history – slavery (17), segregation (18), misogyny (19) and, to according to his logic, homophobia (20). However, what he fails to bridge is that even though the actions of these fundamentalists is wrong, it is wrong in a similar way that homosexuality is wrong – it is sinful according to Scripture and Gomes’ essay never addresses that.

Gomes argues that fundamentalists are dangerous to homosexuals, and in this I agree – in fact, they are dangerous to everyone, because they often espouse a hatred that is neither Christian nor Scriptural. Remember, Jesus spent his time with sinners because He knew that the so called “religious” were most likely unable to give themselves to Him. However, that never made the behavior of the sinner acceptable to God.



Sheldon said...

Great opinion piece Scott! I've noticed something in evangelical circles lately concerning how we should battle the gay agenda. Many are saying we shouldn't use the bible to defend our position that homosexual behavior is wrong. Instead we should depend on statistics like the short life expectancy of homosexuals and that it's bad for kids to have two same sex parents or the high suicide rate. All of which are good reasons to not engage in homosexual behavior. But to say the double-edged sword of God has no relevance in defending our position because gays don't care what the bible says or because gays believe in a false tolerant god that is accepting of all forms of debauchery, I just question the wisdom of that. I wonder what you think about teaching against homosexual sin because God is against it and not because its not a safe way to live your life.

Scott Lessard said...

I think whatever gets listened to is the tact you should use. Some might not be receptive to the "this is what God wants because it is in the Bible message". And some might not care that it is a unhealthy way to live, so you know your audience and go with what resonates.

Ultimately, though, I think that we should always keep in mind that Jesus loved all and gave His life to save everyone, including the gay community. Because of that, whatever message is delivered should be done with love and without judgment.


Michele said...

Your response to the comment posted ends superbly...."with love and without judgement". That is how WE ALL should live our lives. I personally feel that homosexual behavior is not something that is chosen to engage in, nor do I feel that a child growing up in a home of love with two same sex parents is a bad thing, but those are my opinions and I do respect others that differ. Angie is correct, you write very well and I enjoy reading what ever it is you write. So keep sharing and I will keep reading...Love ya

Scott Lessard said...

Will do - even if it pisses off some people. :) Thanks for reading and sharing!


Anonymous said...

Scott..you need to read the article once again, I suspect that you misconstrued what Gomes was arguing against. Gomes is not using the bible against homosexuality, he is refuting those who use it against homosexuals precisely because of the fact that the word "homosexuality" does not appear in the bible. He cited Deuteronomy 23:17, I Kings 14:24, I Kings 22:46, and Kings 23:7 to say that they only forbid prostitution, he does not use them to say that they ban homosexuality. When he mentions the Holiness code, he says that it bans homosexual acts and mention that it also bans eating raw meat, planting different seeds on the same field, and wearing garments made with different types of yarns because he attempts to show that these are just as bad as committing homosexual acts. Just read it one more time, I suppose that his diction must have confused you.


Liz Elizabeth.