John Fugelsang: Why the New Testament doesn’t condemn gay people

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March 27, 2013

John Fugelsang:

As the gay marriage debate rages in our country, it’s getting tougher for all the right-wing Christian homophobes who keep on being homophobes because they’re so devoted to non-homophobe Jesus. Now some fundamentalists like to bring up Matthew 19 to say that Jesus was against gay marriage, but that story is Jesus objecting to straight divorce, not gay marriage — we talked about this on the show before. And if you’re against straight divorce, you’d better be opposed to Rush Limbaugh marriage before he gets to number five.

So what’s a fundamentalist to do? Nobody follows Leviticus. Sodom and Gomorrah’s got nothing to do with gay relationships — it’s actually about gang rape of angels — Google it. And in the New Testament, Jesus refuses to be as bigoted as so many of his unauthorized fan clubs.

Well, this week we’ve been talking about marriage equality a lot, and I’ve been besieged by fundamentalists who tell me the New Testament demands homophobia in Romans, Timothy and Corinthians. Which is ironic, because together those chapters sound like an Italian gay bar with leather.

So allow me to very briefly use the Bible to smack these Bible thumpers, because Romans, Timothy and Corinthians — it does sound like an Italian leather bar — are not God or Jesus speaking. Those are all letters from the one and only St. Paul.

Now, Paul is a fascinating figure. Jesus is like this radical revolutionary liberal and Paul is his really conservative PR guy. Most of the sexual hang-ups of the New Testament come from Paul, who believed the world would end in his lifetime and generally thought people should be celibate like him.

Now Romans says, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another.” Slam dunk for homophobes, right?

But when you read what comes before, Paul’s talking in the past tense about God punishing Romans for worshiping Roman gods. How? By giving them up unto vile affections. They’re not hooking up with each other to spite God — God’s making them do it to punish them. In the fetish community, this is called “forced bi.” Or so I’ve read on Craigslist.

What’s more, if they’re changing their “natural use of the woman” to burn in lust for each other, where’s the gay part come in, homophobes? They’re not gay guys: They’re straight guys hooking up with other straight guys. Also very common on Craigslist, or so I’m told.

Now in Timothy, Paul condemns “impure and immoral persons, those who abuse themselves with men, kidnappers, liars, perjurers.” First off, the perjurer part means you guys also have to be against Lt. Col. Oliver North marriage. But the word Paul uses for gay is a Greek word. I don’t really do Greek, but I’m willing to experiment. The word’s called “malokoi” and 2,000 years ago it referred to male prostitutes who rented themselves out for temple prostitution. Again, ancient Roman stuff.

Most of what’s now called “homosexual” in the modern Bible translations actually refers to heterosexual married men fooling around with guys on the down low. You know, like a GOP senator in a Minneapolis men’s room.

Finally, in Corinthians, Paul rails against the — I want to get this word right — the “arsenokoitai,” a word that was originally thought to mean male concubines, later came to mean pederasts, later came to mean sodomy for gay and straight guys, and centuries later it was decided that Paul meant “abusers of themselves with mankind.” It’s like a big game of homophobic telephone tag.

Now in the next chapter, Paul says it’s better for men to marry than to burn with lust, which is, ironically, the best biblical argument for gay marriage.

Now many theologians even think that Paul himself may have been a closeted gay man in the first century holy land, which would explain his hang-ups with his own unholy urges. Bishop John Shelby Spong, a regular here, has documented this thoroughly. But these out-of-context verses are all Christian homophobes have left to hang their hate on.

But if you really believe that St. Paul is right about everything and you’re obliged by God to follow him, then check out his letter to the Hebrews, where he said: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls.”

You hear that, haters? Paul says you have to obey your leaders. That means if you oppose gay marriage because you follow the writings of St. Paul, you’re morally obliged to obey Barack Obama. That means you support Obamacare. And you have to support taxing the wealthy. And since you’ve got to completely obey your leader — again, it’s your rule, homophobe, not mine — you have to obey Barack Obama on gay marriage.

Ain’t that a paradox, haters? The one guy in the whole New Testament you thought would back you up on bigotry, and he tells you to obey a non-bigot.

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