Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Michigander Ganders

I wouldn't want to be the answering machine for either David G. Myers or Letha Dawson Scanzoni. Their What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage has already gotten quite a bit of attention in Michigan, where Professor Myers lives and appeared in the Boston Globe "Ideas" section yesterday.

Their book hit the street a few days ago (Harper, ISBN: 0060774614). Scanzoni is a Norfolk, Virginia-based Christian scholar and author. Despite Myers' religious credentials and his slot at Hope College, a Christian liberal school in conservative Holland, Michigan, he won't necessarily be the most popular guy right now. You can read a chapter from his book and a letter from the authors about what they intend on his site

The Globe interview was short but delightfully provocative. While scholars and even casual observers have long known how inaccurate and patchwork the King James version of the Bible is, the authors point out how even the twisted wording from the 17th century Bible-by-committee does not even suggest banning same-sex marriage.

Of course, fundamentalists dare not question, but for the vast majority of us, this is good background.

For example:
IDEAS: But isn't the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19, after the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his male visitors so that they might ''know" them, often cited as God's judgment upon homosexuality?

SCANZONI: God's judgment was upon the lack of hospitality and attempted sexual humiliation of the visitors through gang rape. The judgment was not about the love of two homosexual persons for each other. Ezekiel 16 says, ''Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door."

IDEAS: What about the passages in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and First and Second Kings that condemn sodomites or Paul's epistles condemning those men he describes as ''abusers of themselves with mankind"?

SCANZONI: Jewish and Christian scholars agree that the word sodomite doesn't appear in the original language. A Hebrew word for leaders in idolatrous rituals was mistranslated as sodomite in some older English Bible versions. The passages from the epistles refer to exploitative male prostitution practices in St. Paul's time. They don't apply to same-sex marriage any more than admonitions against heterosexual prostitution apply to heterosexual marriage.
That's far too Christian an attitude for many.

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