Christianity should be marked by love, not hate

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The advancement of minority rights in America has come slowly, and some minorities continue to experience vilification and persecution.

Civil rights activists have successfully banned racial discrimination, but the achievement of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals (LGBTQ) is more difficult to achieve because of the deeply entrenched religious stigma.

The rights and safety of these human beings are endangered as a result of the religious belief that homosexuality is immoral; therefore it is the responsibility of the religious community to re-examine that belief, the sources of the ideas supporting the belief and the accuracy of its interpretations of those sources used for support.

One of the most beautiful and essential acts of the religiously devoted is to shelter the victims of society and help and speak out for the weak and persecuted. Thus, Christians feel sad that the Bible was historically used to justify such terrible things as the enslavement of Africans and the persecution of the Jewish community and are joyful about the roles that Christians played in bringing an end to slavery and the Holocaust.

Tragically, in America today many religious people consider LGBTQ to be defective, sinful and despised by God. For example, Jim Rudd of The Covenant News teaches that “Until our civil officials [execute all homosexuals], we can only be judged with the most depraved pagan nations in history.”

Similarly, Rev. Fred Phelps feels so strongly about this issue that he preaches his message of hate at the funerals of our country’s most noble and dutiful patriots, often on signs carried by children.

The harsh teachings of these men explain why the attempted suicide rate for LGBTQ teenagers who are rejected by their families is more than 800 percent higher than that of their peers.

Perhaps you are wondering how a religion based on loving fellow human beings can be so misinterpreted and misunderstood as to justify vicious hatred. One of the most important causes of this fateful misunderstanding involves the inherent difficulty of transferring spiritual knowledge across barriers of time and language.

There are two words in Ancient Hebrew whose inaccurate translations have fueled the belief that homosexuality is immoral and repulsive to God. Both terms date back to the ancient times when pagans were being converted to Judaism, and the Middle Eastern pagan ritual of temple sex with prostitutes was being purged by the Church.

The word “Qadesh” refers to a pagan temple prostitute in Ancient Hebrew, but has been mistranslated into “sodomite” and “homosexual” by various versions of the Christian Bible. In reality there is no word for homosexual in the Ancient Hebrew language and the sodomites were rapists, not temple prostitutes.

The second term “To’ebah” refers to an act that is ritually unclean for a Jew such as eating pork, shellfish, three-day old meat or trimming one’s beard. The dreadfully inaccurate translation to “abomination” carries an implication of intrinsic evil that simply was not present in the original teaching of the Church.

When the misunderstandings resulting from these mistranslations are clarified, the Old Testament is understood to condemn only those homosexual acts that involve heterosexuals, temple prostitution, incest and rape/murder. Surely it is not a coincidence that there is not even one condemnation of monogamous homosexuality in the entire Bible.

Anyone skeptical of the views presented here or simply desiring to further understanding of this issue is encouraged to examine the work of serious Biblical scholars such as the staunchly conservative Rev. L. Robert Arthur from Bob Jones University.

When St. Thomas Aquinas shaped the Catholic Church’s view of homosexuality, he believed that homosexuality was a creation of human beings, standing in direct opposition to the intentions of the Creator. Today we know that homosexual behavior exists not only in other mammals, but also in birds, reptiles, amphibians and even bugs.

Although the evolutionary reasons for LGBTQ are not fully understood today, when a man or a woman is born gay that is clearly not a defiance of God’s will.

Although Jesus never condemned homosexuality, he did condemn the persecution of the weak, the vilification of those who are different and the hatred of fellow human beings.

God doesn’t hate LGBTQ. God hates hate.

– Myles Ikenberry is a graduate student in chemical engineering.  Please send
comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.

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