Monday, June 26, 2017

Anchorage Pridefest 5: Fire and Brimstone

The Pridefest was not all sweetness and light.  There were a few folks who were there to pass on their interpretation of God's word, and it wasn't pretty.   I went to the spot to figure out what was going on. There was this big sign, the rainbow flag, drummers, and people dressed like angels.  I asked one of the angels what was happening and why she was there.  Her reply was something like, "I get harassed every day.  I don't need to hear it at Pridefest where I should be safe with welcoming people."

So, the angels and the flag were surrounding the protests, blocking them from view and the drums were drowning out their message.

There are lots of interpretations of the bible.  Many conclude that homosexuality as we know it today is not what the bible refers to.  For example, this evangelical who believes practicing homosexuality is a sin, argues that the sin of Sodom was NOT homosexuality.
"There’s nothing in Genesis 19 that talks about gay people. The main sin committed in Genesis 19 was attempted gang rape. And I don’t know any gay person who’s trying to justify gang rape. In fact, whenever Sodom is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, the city is usually described as being inhospitable and not caring for the poor — an ironic description of many straight Christians."
I'm not a biblical scholar and don't know Hebrew or Aramaic, so I'm not qualified to interpret these passages.  I can only point out that various Christians (and Jews) have different interpretations about what the bible says about homosexuality.  Another writer I saw claims the opposite of this quote - that Sodom was not about lacking hospitality and it was all about homosexuality.

The woman in the white tee shirt with the microphone was droning on and on.  I don't mean to be disrespectful, but it really didn't make any sense to me.  I'm sure all the drumming didn't help.  Someone told me that this group was from the Valley and they showed up last year and no one was prepared.  This year they were prepared.  They were even passing out earplugs.  [My wife, who wasn't there, thinks the word 'droning' is too judgmental.  Normally I'd try to find another word, but 'harangue' isn't neutral either.  But to my ear, both are good descriptions of lecturing to a crowd of people who simply don't want to hear what you have to say.]

This does, of course, raise free speech questions for some.  As the first woman I spoke to said, "This is the one day I shouldn't have to hear this sort of thing."  I expect 99% of the people at Pridefest don't want to hear this woman.  They've heard messages like hers all their lives.  One could argue she's disturbing their peace.  But Pridefest isn't shutting her down, they're just counter protesting her.  And anyone who wants to know what her message is can come in close and listen.

I'd note the implication of 'real Christians' on the tee shirt would seem to be, "If you disagree with me on this, then you aren't a real Christian."  I've always heard the the most important message of Christianity was: "do onto other what you'd have others to do onto you." That's not something these folks are doing.

If you click on the image, it will get clearer and you can see at the bottom it references Matthew 19: 4-7.

Well, here's Matthew 9 4-7
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’1 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’2? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7  “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Hmmm, good question.
 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Leviticus says the punishment for all sexual immorality starting with adultery and including 'a man lies with a man as with a woman' is death.  I haven't heard about anyone picketing the divorce courts.  I did look quickly to make sure and only found reference to people opposing orthodox Jewish men who don't allow their wives to divorce.  I wonder if the picketers at Pridefest voted for the president who's on his third wife and was practicing sexual immorality with his second wife when he was still married to his first wife?

But let's read the rest of this section of Matthew:
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Professor of Theology and Ethical Studies Stephen J. Patterson interprets what "when a man lies with a man as with a woman" might mean in the context of the Middle East 2500 years ago.  He argues it does not mean what we call homosexuality today.  Instead he argues it's a form of dominance by one heterosexual male over another.  He then points out the example Jonathan and Samuel, "“Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women.” 

I'm not a biblical scholar and I don't necessarily buy this interpretation, but enough denominations of Christianity, not to mention of Judaism, accept gay love and marriage that I have to believe that when reading the original Hebrew and maybe even Aramaic, there's lots of room for interpretation.

I don't have a neat ending for this.  I'm just documenting what I saw and what I've been able to find online to help me interpret the bible passages.  I don't pretend that these interpretations I've quoted are 'right' just that they exist.

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