|So I'm a pack rat, a character trait I seem to have inhereted from my mother. It's a bit ironic, because her tendency to hoard things she doesn't need drives me bat shit. Yet I have a desk crammed full of stuff I will probably never look at, magazines, newspapers, little snippets of things. Needless to say, my wife is making me clean out my desk this week. In doing so, I came across this piece written by Metro Pulse writer Jack Neely. It was written last year about gay marriage. Not much has changed since then. |
Americans struggle with the Bible. At the root of our distress is the fact that we like some commandments much better than others.
The American Ten Commandments are different from the Biblical ones. The one about keeping the Sabbath is so tough that we actually delete most of it. In most photocopied versions of the Ten Commandments, and on those engraved for courthouse purposes, there's a handy shortened version: "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." Americans like room for interpretation. The real Ten Commandments are more specific. You're not supposed to work at all on the sabbath. You're not supposed to allow any of your servants to, either. It's easy to explain why our ancestors didn't ever go out to eat on Sunday, or shop for anything at all, because those activities would call for others working on our behalf. Their attitude is logical and consistent, a literal interpretation of that commandment. It would be hell on business, though, so we skip it.
Maybe because we feel guilty about ignoring so many large parts of the Bible, the hard parts, when we find a rule in there that we think we can follow, we take the opportunity to make a great big deal of it.
You have to hunt around for the bans on homosexual behavior; for some, the search is worthwhile. For the 96 percent of us who are heterosexual, avoiding sex with members of the same gender is easy. In fact, most would agree that it's actually pleasant to avoid sex with members of the same gender. We enjoy following that commandment so much that we actually legislate it.
Even Jesus said a few things that Americans don't like much. The parts about giving all your money to the poor and turning the other cheek are famously tough ones.
Jesus never spoke about gay marriage. But he was pretty stern about heterosexual marriage. He said divorced people should never remarry. Marriage after divorce, he said, is adultery. The Catholic Church still forbids it. Yet marriage after divorce is legal in Tennessee and always has been. Tennesseans like Andrew Jackson and John Houston indulged. I don't know whether our legislators know anyone who might be affected by a Biblically justifiable ban on marriage among divorced people.
In his entire ministry, Jesus never mentioned gays at all. He was, however, especially tough on hypocrites. Maybe the next order of business is to constitutionally ban them from public office.