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The Never-Ending Hypocrisy of Hiding Behind the Bible on Gay Marriage

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The longstanding reason for shoving the courts, the federal government and the states into private relations between consenting adults of the same sex is the Bible. There are those two infamous and interminably cited passages in Leviticus -- 18:22 and 20:13 -- that deem a man "lying with" another man "detestable." Then there's Romans 1:26-27, which castigates men for doing "shameful acts" with other men.

According to these passages, the offenders must be put to death. The only fair thing about this is that today, that part is not frequently cited. That would be murder, which bumps up against U.S. law. But the first part is often cited and taken literally. It's written in the Bible, after all. But then why take one passage of the Bible so literally and not others? A little consistency would do much to appease the critics who decry the hypocrisy of cherry-picking passages from the Bible to justify personal hatred of gays or an anti-gay-marriage political agenda.

Here is a checklist of biblical proscriptions that opponents of gay marriage must also embrace if they want to shed the tag of "hypocrite":
  • Gay men aren't the only people who must pay the ultimate price for their allegedly ungodly transgressions. Leviticus 20:10 sternly asserts that if a married man commits adultery with another man's wife, both must be immediately dispatched.
  • Girls don't escape biblical wrath, either. According to Deuteronomy 22:20-21, if a girl has the temerity to have sex before marriage, the men of her town must stone her to death at her father's doorstep. Presumably, that could include one of the men who had caused her to lose her virginity in the first place.
  • If a man kills a woman's child, she cannot raise a peep of protest, because Timothy 2:12 forbids women from having any authority over men. If she forgets her place for a moment, she runs the risk of being branded a "sorceress," and Exodus 22:18 commands that sorceresses not be allowed to live. And Judges 19:25-28 seems to condone tossing a woman out into the streets to be raped by a gang of men.
  • The Bible doesn't spare daughters, either. Judges 11:30-31 and 34-35 make it clear that a man may sacrifice his daughter to thank God for giving him a triumph. And it is not just daughters who can be slain in sacrifice. In Genesis 22:2 God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac to a mountaintop and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. And the child can't protest his or her fate, because Leviticus 20:9 insists that talking back to a parent warrants the death penalty.
  • The two groups that fare the best in the Bible are husbands and slave masters. Ephesians 5:22 says that the word of a man is law in his household and that his wife must obey him unquestioningly in whatever he says and does. And 1 Peter 2:13 and 18 asserts that slaves must serve their masters not only faithfully but in "reverence." And this rule doesn't apply just to slaves of "kind and charitable" slave masters but to slaves of lousy and brutal ones. But at least there's a caveat: Leviticus 25:44-45 only permits the enslavement of foreigners.

Biblical scholars have written volumes about the problems with these passages: translation errors, misinterpretations, out-of-context readings and the selective use of these passages to make any moral point one wants to make. Yet the truly scary part of this is that to millions of Americans, no amount of meticulously researched and documented scholarly assessments of the Bible, let alone rationality, could sway them. A 2011 Gallup poll found that three in 10 Americans are convinced that every word written in the Bible is the literal truth. Nearly half of those polled were more charitable and simply said that the Bible is the "inspired word of God" but should not be taken literally. But whether the Bible is literal or merely inspired, the danger is the same. The Bible is not simply taken on faith; for millions, it is the basis of moral conduct and even law. But then that raises an important question: If the Bible condones stoning non-virgins, taking slaves and slaying children in the name of God, why not trumpet these acts as appropriate conduct? Really, that's less a question and more an ugly example of the never-ending hypocrisy of those who hide behind the Bible.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of The Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.