Saturday, February 15, 2014

Legalized Discrimination

Freedom of Religion....the freedom to practice religion; not the freedom to discriminate against others.

In Idaho, Lynn Luker, a Mormon, has proposed a state bill that would allow anyone to discriminate against single Moms and the LGBT community:

House bill 427-FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION - Amends existing law to provide that a person whose exercise of religion is burdened in violation of specified law may obtain appropriate relief against any person relying upon any government action, enactment or law that burdens a person's exercise of religion.

This is a letter to him and anyone who supports the bill,
I have been a single Mom for seven years. I have raised three daughters. I have worked two jobs in that time, one full time and one part time. Contrary to the myth of what a single Mom looks like, I have never received public assistance of food stamps or Medicaid during this time. I have money in savings and money in retirement programs. I take care of myself.  My car is paid off, I pay my bills on time, and I have raised my daughters to be independent members of society. My youngest just received a $50,000 scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  My oldest just graduated with her Masters in Economics and has landed a job in Seattle. My middle child is working on her bachelor’s degree at Portland State University. 

I have many friends who are gay, straight, married and single. I love all people equally, regardless of their economic status, their sexual status, or their religious beliefs. I do not support your bill, H-427 on many levels. 

I have read the Bible many times, and I've read nothing in it that says single Mom’s are evil and should not be allowed to receive services in restaurants, healthcare, law enforcement services, etc. If I am the victim of domestic violence and I call the police, will it be okay for them to not arrest the perpetrator? If I am strangled, is it okay for the paramedics to not give me treatment? What if I die because of my injuries due to my inability to receive services? You are okay with that? Why is it now okay for men to kill me simply because I am female and single?  The state penitentiary is full of single men. The government spends money to take care of them, therefore they are now of more value to the state simply because they have a penis. Even though I work and support myself and my children, I am of no value simply because I am female and a single Mom. I am currently dating a single Dad and there are no potential laws to discriminate against him; why?

Gay men and women also work, support themselves, go about their business and do no harm to you or others in any way. Yet, you are enacting a law that would allow people to publicly discriminate against them when they have done no harm to society.

There are a lot of misunderstandings about what the Bible teaches about gays. Take the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example. They were not destroyed because of their sexual sins. According to Ezekiel 16:49  Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.  Also, in genesis 19, this is about gang rape, not about consensual gay sex. I don’t know anyone who would admit that gang rape is accepted or approved. In Matthew 10 and Luke 10, Jesus also associates the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah with not aiding the poor or being hospitable.

Leviticus 18 and 20: Both these scriptures condemn homosexuality. There is no doubt about this. Yet, the book of Leviticus condemns eating shell fish, pork, combining two types of threads in any given garment (think of a cotton/poly blend, for example) cutting men’s hair at the side or the head, making a fire on the Sabbath (which begins on Friday at Sunset and continues to Saturday at Sunset) walking too far on the Sabbath, having sex with a woman who is menstruating, and over 600 laws. Today, Christians and most Jews do not follow these very restrictive laws.

In 49 AD, there was a counsel held to determine how to accommodate gentiles who were joining into the new faith but not living the kosher laws as described in Leviticus, as well as circumcision.  The decision was made that none of the 600 kosher laws of culture and identity contained in the book of Leviticus would be applied to the Christian/gentile converts. This can be found in Galatians 6. There is no reason to believe that only two verses of scripture would apply today while the rest would be discarded. Paul speaks of the old law as one of slavery and to not be burdened by it. In Colossians 2:13-14, it states that God says that the Old Law has been cancelled. In Romans 10:4 Paul says that Jesus is the end of the Law and in Hebrews 8:13 it states that the old covenant is obsolete, freeing Christians from the old Law. For Christians, then, the book of Leviticus cannot be used to justify prejudice against gays.

In 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 It states that it is unnatural for a woman to pray with her face unveiled, or for a man to grow his hair long.  In order to understand this scripture, we need to understand the Greek and Roman meaning of the words, ‘natural and unnatural, disgrace, and shameful’.  The Greeks interpreted the word ‘natural’ as ‘custom’. So the proper meaning of this scripture is this, ‘do not the customs of our day dictate that it is shameful for a man to have long hair.’ This makes more sense than believing that men naturally will have short hair.

 What makes this scripture and meaning so important is that it is so similar to Romans 1:26-27 Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  The proper interpretation, then would be, 'Even their women exchanged customary sexual relations for uncustomary ones.'  The Greeks and Romans considered a man’s natural sexual role to be active, a woman’s natural sexual role to be passive. If these roles were reversed, this would be unnatural and shameful. The term ‘nature’ refers to social custom, not to biological order. Therefore, the New Testament cannot be used to justify prejudice against gays.

I look forward to the day when all people will be accepted as equal.

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