The Bible, the state and gays - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

The Bible, the state and gays

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Posted: Monday, May 17, 2004 11:37 pm | Updated: 4:39 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The big topic Monday was homosexuality, regarding which, a few thoughts.

Whenever someone launches into the subject by saying, “I’m no Bible scholar, but . . .” it’s likely the point soon will proved beyond doubt. The reasonings of non-Bible scholars on the subject of homosexuality are trite, predictable and easily punctured.

Typically they begin by citing passages from the Pentateuch that governed the unique religious and civic circumstances of ancient Israel. Then they will say that since, for example, the Mosaic prohibition against weaving a garment from two kinds of thread (a tangible reminder, by the way, of the need for religious purity) has become antiquated, the same must apply to the clear Mosaic prohibition against homosexual behavior.

That is a lot like saying that since modern automobiles no longer employ carburetors, they also no longer need tires.

The Mosaic law that non-Bible scholars are so fond of mocking came into being at a particular time and place for a particular people. Many of its provisions were clearly meant to be temporary. But its most important components — its moral precepts — were not. They both predated and survived the law code that was given to an ancient, agrarian nation surrounded by a sea of religious and military enemies.

Therefore, while no one now suffers sanctions for wearing a shirt made from both cotton and polyester, the Bible still means what it says about murder, lying, adultery, theft, idolatry, greed and drunkenness. It also means what it says about homosexual acts.

The Bible presents these universal laws as emanating from a Creator who holds the right to set beneficial standards for his creation, namely, us.

People are free, of course, to listen or not. The Bible is actually a pioneering pro-choice document. It encourages individual decision-making on these matters while cautioning that long-term individual results will vary according to the decisions made.

On Monday, there were some folks at the Capitol because that was the day Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals. The Capitol rally, led by the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy, was aimed at making sure the same does not occur here.

Religious people may wish the state were a religious entity, but it is not. The state is founded on principles of civil liberty. Not only are there divine laws it cannot begin to enforce, it in fact thrives on the widespread violation of some: Where would capitalism be if everyone took seriously this business of not coveting things?

Thus, what cannot be condoned on scriptural grounds may often be permitted nonetheless, on libertarian grounds, by a secular state.

Many people don’t like that, but not to worry. God will have the final say.

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