I was picking up a growler of beer at People’s Brewing Company a couple of weeks ago when I was delighted to stumble across a couple of buddies of mine; actually one long time friend and his colleague with whom I’ve become acquainted and come to like quite a bit. They invited me to sit down for a beer and cheerfully suggested they had been talking politics and it was starting to stray into religion. Count me in!
The long time friend I have pegged as a moderate Republican who would’ve probably been happier under the Eisenhower brand than otherwise. Come to find out the other guy has politics that are probably more informed by his deeply held religious beliefs. The conversation turned to gay rights. He said, “well, the Bible says that’s a sin.” The conversation kind of ran aground there. I made a quip about the Bible also saying that eating shell-fish was a sin.
But, at that point, there really wasn’t any discussion to be had. If behavior is sinful, not because it’s inherently immoral, but because a book whose dictates you will not question tells you so, there isn’t a lot more you can talk about. I’m not going to get anywhere talking about the merits of the written down version of the oral traditions of bronze age shepherds or, for the New Testament, selected books of second hand accounts of a Roman-Era Jewish preacher.
It does bother me that gays, individuals who are every bit as human as anyone else, and who are by most accounts born into their sexual orientation, should have their lives – the one and only life any of us gets – diminished because of unflinching devotion to those tales; because of the refusal of many individuals to exercise their own, independent judgment about whether the relationships that have been declared sinful are, in fact, immoral or detrimental to society such that government should be in the business of discriminating against gay couples or offering preferences to heterosexual couples.
If a person has abdicated their own independent judgment, there really isn’t a basis for conversation. It’s like talking to a low level functionary at a call center who has only the authority to say “no.” There is no point to talking to that person; you have to go up the management chain until you’re talking to someone who at least has the authority to say “yes.” Even if that doesn’t end up being the person’s decision, the conversation is still worthwhile at that point.
Chris Sikich had an article on the Indiana Youth Group that made me think of that brewery encounter. Unlike the “Choose Life” and “In God We Trust” license plates, conservative religious types are concerned about a Indiana Youth Group license plate because, according to them, the license plate constitutes a state endorsement. The State is apparently on solid ground endorsing religious belief and a pro-life message but when it comes to a support group for gay teens, that’s beyond the pale. Apparently in the course of providing support, the group provides information about sex that’s not for procreation and not within the confines of marriage.
Homosexuality and premarital sex are sinful. The Bible says so. Because they are sinful, regardless of whether they are immoral, the State can’t endorse a group that provides information about either, let alone both. End of discussion.