Looking more closely at the Good Book

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mike Shakespeare's March 19 Letter to the Editor, "Opposing Homosexuality on Religious Grounds" is an example that ignorance breeds intolerance. Since he wears Christianity on his sleeve and seems ready to give us a good Bible thumping, it's his turn to open his "Good Book" to the correct chapter and verse.

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One biblical story used to beat homosexuals into submission is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps Shakespeare is unaware that what allegedly happened in this myth was not an act by homosexuals but rather misogyny and a violation of the cultural rules of hospitality.

According to the Rev. Robert E. Goss, the crowd gathered at Lot's house weren't there to perform acts of consensual homosexuality, but to "womanize" Lot's guests and thereby drive them out of their towns. Goss says, "Hospitality is enjoined by many ancient codes. When the messengers enter into Sodom as strangers, they have no legal status. The men of Sodom ... decide to make them symbolically women and thus physically submissive." He continues, "The laws of hospitality are fused with the patriarchal gender code that privileges males over females. These require that Lot protect male honor over female honor. In other words, it is better to shame a woman than a man ... so Lot offers the sexual capital of his household, his virgin daughters ..." Ah, there's a good man of God for you.

Shakespeare should look up Romans 1:26-27 and read it within its cultural context. The Apostle Paul was referring to male temple prostitutes employed in fertility cults and those Romans who visited them to ensure the fertility of their crops in the coming year. And I'll not even get into 1 Corinthians and the temple of Aphrodite located in that very cosmopolitan city.

The Palin administration has the opportunity to break the chain of suffering inflicted on consensual cohabitating members of our modern world by rejecting their religious ideology that same-gender couples are lesser humans, not deserving of state benefits given to heterosexual couples. In Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran and other Muslim countries, the highest penalty for a homosexual act is execution. In Alaska, it's a lifetime of suffering and poverty because these people aren't afforded equal treatment and protection under the law so that they can pay what often amounts to bankrupting medical costs. Let's get religion out of our political system and insist on equitable treatment for all humans.

Russell Roberts


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