By Rev. Susan Watterson
Guest Column 

Concerned About The Gay Marriage Column

 


I am writing in response to Virgil Vaupel's article “Gay Marriage and the Media,” which was posted in the January 14, 2015, Glasgow Courier. I am concerned about Mr. Vaupel's article because it is important for people among us who are gay or lesbian, or wonder if they are, to know that not everyone thinks they are deviant. Some would say they are created in the image of God just like everyone else.

I have been a local church pastor for 35 years. I have been an active member of a church all of my life. I have read and studied my Bible in several languages. I do know that people have been taking scripture out of its context to prove one point or another since before the Bible was even drawn together in its present canon. We have used Scripture to persecute people for centuries.

In Leviticus 18:22 it does indeed call homosexuality an abomination. It also says, “You should not make any gashes in your flesh or tattoo any marks upon you. Lev. 19:28. Exodus 35: 2 says that anyone who works on the Sabbath should be put to death. Everybody who eats ham, pork, or bacon is in big trouble because it clearly says in Leviticus 11:7-8 that pigs are unclean. Everyone who is handling those footballs are in big trouble. You are unclean if you handle the carcass of a dead pig. Although maybe if they wear gloves while they are playing ball they might get away with it. Some would say, “let us look to the New Testament.” Well Paul does not say much but when he does write he writes about young slave boys who are sold to the Roman Senate for sexual favors. He is writing about child pornography.


If we turn to Jesus, Jesus doesn't say anything about homosexuality. He does stand with those in society that others ostracize. He does talk about “Those who are without sin can cast the first stone.”

I am sure that others in our community of deep faith can find scripture that supports another point of view. My only point is that people have used the Bible down through the centuries to justify great atrocities against other groups of people. It is time that we stop doing that.

Also, Mr. Vaupel, you are incorrect when you say that humans are the only animals that practice homosexuality. There is scientific evidence of homosexual behavior in other animals is not uncommon. It has been observed in laboratory rats, albatrosses, ram sheep, giraffes, and bonobos (small chimpanzees). These are just a few.

Finally, Mr. Vaupel, it is important that young people like the teen panelists that you referred to are discussing this issue. We all are aware of the high rate of suicide in Montana. Suicidal behavior is higher among teens who are struggling with their sexual identity. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has done extensive work in this area. They reported in 2008:


It would be difficult to overstate the impact of stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the United States. Stigma and discrimination are directly tied to risk factors for suicide. For example, discrimination has a strong association with mental illness, and homosexism may lead to isolation, family rejection, and lack of access to culturally competent care. While LGB youth are at higher risk for suicidal behavior, some groups of LGB youth are at particular risk: those who are homeless and runaway, living in foster care, and/or involved in the juvenile justice system. Although all youth in these settings are vulnerable, many LGBT youth experience multiple risk factors and have fewer supports than other youth.

Teens who are isolated, bullied and labeled “deviant” are at high risk. They need to know they are not alone. A mom and dad with a gay son told me that when their son told them he was gay, they were afraid for him. They told him, “To watch his back.”

We need to change our attitudes about people we do not understand. If nothing else let us remember that Jesus calls us to “Love one another.” I would encourage you to notice the wonderful people around you – neighbors, children of neighbors who you have know all your life who are gay or lesbian. They are there. They may not admit it to you because they are afraid of your opinion of them, but they are there. Gay and lesbian people have children and grandchildren. I personally know couples who have been together in committed, loving relationships for 30 years. I have friends who are actively involved in their church and community. They teach Sunday school and serve on committees in their church and in the community in which they live, but they have never been able to marry and to have the basic benefits that other married people have-the right to be in the hospital and make critical medical decisions when their loved one needs them to do that; the right to keep shared property in the event of their partner's death, the right to custody of their own children. The list goes on. I am glad that state by state we are righting this wrong.


The Rev. Susan Watterson, retired, United Church of Christ, lives in Glasgow.

 

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