Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 11, 2004
The turn of the century has provoked a fight for the rights of gays. Gay marriage has been outlawed in almost a dozen states. The Catholic Church has deemed homosexuals morally corrupt, saying that it is acceptable for a person to acknowledge to him or herself that he or she is, in fact, a homosexual, but that that person is not allowed to act upon his or her inner acceptance. While homosexual intercourse is being frowned upon by the Church, there are many Catholics who are engaging in adultery. Despite having adultery laws in place in 26 states, there has only been one prosecution in the past five years. Why has the Catholic Church not pushed for a national law criminalizing adultery? Is it not expressly written in the Ten Commandments?
There are many who do not follow the ways of the Church’s teachings. Because of Catholic pressure to control Mormonism, for example, polygamy was outlawed nationally. This is a Western ideal that has no foundation in the Bible. After all, did not the men of Bible have many wives? God did not punish them for their polygamy. The writer of the phrase “the two shall be one flesh” is Moses, who had two wives. The monogamous requirement of marriage started in Roman culture, and had no roots in the Bible. Seeing this, it is easy to understand how biblical passages are often misinterpreted.
The Bible also never explicitly condemns homosexual relationships. The passages often cited to denounce homosexuality contain incorrect translations from the original Greek and Hebrew texts. Research proves that the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, first used in 1946, was the first version of the Bible to use the word homosexual. The word “homosexual” itself has no parallel in Hebrew or Greek, and only came into being around one-hundred years ago with the combination of the Greek “homo” and the Latin “sexualis.” Translations of the Greek “malakoi” and “arsenokoites” into “effeminate” with regards to homosexual men are equally incorrect. Even sodomy, which has been used to describe the act of homosexual intercourse, was not a word in biblical Greek or Hebrew. In fact, the languages of the time had no word for “sex” at all. With these examples, it is easy to see the mistranslations that often lead to the Biblical text being misconstrued.
Where would Jesus stand on homosexuals? The Catholic Church would like for us to believe that Jesus would express disapproval of such a group. But, when we examine Jesus’ teachings historically, social pariahs of the times, such as prostitutes and lepers, were welcomed. His acceptance of all teaches us to love our neighbors, regardless of their religious belief, or any other view that they hold. How can we force our religious views on people who do not believe in them? This is the purpose behind the separation of Church and State in the Constitution. The government is not allowed to endorse any religion. Laws are meant to be created only for moral reasons – moral in this case means ethical, not religious. Humans decided that homosexuality is wrong, not God, though God will decide who will go to heaven and who will not. Because of this, it is not right for the Catholic Church to ostracize a portion of society that does not follow its teachings.
The Church cannot continue to condemn the gay lifestyle through the advocacy of laws that govern people who do not always believe in the Catholic faith. It is important that the Church recognizes that gays are people. Biblical passages that are cited in support of why homosexuality is morally wrong are mistranslations and therefore misinterpretations. I am not gay, but I believe that gays should receive the equal rights the Constitution guarantees to every American. I urge America as a whole to accept the gay community for what it is. There are too many misconceptions about gays. Just as race and gender should have no place in how people are viewed, neither should sexual orientation. It is time for a new rights movement – one that accepts all people as they are.