With same-sex marriage a major topic of debate in both politics and American society, its critics continue to cite religious beliefs as their main justification for not supporting what they believe is not "traditional marriage" (that is, a marriage between a man and a woman) as specifically identified in the Bible and various religious texts. I have the utmost respect for those with deep and devoted faith, but if they are as devout in their religious practice as they claim to be, I would like them to not be selective in what they choose to follow and enforce. Instead, they should enforce every religious law, especially the Ten Commandments. Let's not be shy or selective; if you feel that strong about your faith, you might as well be thorough in your practice. So, to help those people who disagree with same-sex marriage and homosexuality solely for religious reasons, I have compiled a list of figures, both past and present, who are either taught or revered in American history but who are "sinful," according to the Bible.
I might as well start off with the American "Cincinnatus" himself, George Washington. The fact that George Washington is portrayed as an American god in many paintings is enough to possibly warrant him a seat in hell (consider the fact that the first commandment states, "Thou shall have no other Gods before me"), but that isn't even the reason that I chose him. So why shouldn't we be teaching and worshipping the "Father of our Country," from a biblical perspective? George Washington was probably in love with Sally Fairfax, his longtime neighbor and the wife of his best friend, but the tenth commandment specifically states, "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife." Additionally, even after his marriage to Martha, Washington maintained correspondence with Sally that some might deem romantic. Again, I am making these suggestions for religious reasons and not historical ones. Washington has always been a hero of mine, but it doesn't change the fact that he broke two commandments.
The next individuals whom we revere and even teach about every year are Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. As a history teacher, I know for a fact that each of these individuals has led to dramatic and transcending changes in our society (at least MLK and JFK did), but, as far as their religious practices, each of them is probably guilty of adultery. Again, committing adultery not just a "sin" like homosexuality; it's violating a commandment, and therefore much more offensive. I do not question the impact and lasting legacy of these significant historical figures, but if we are as religious as we are claiming to be, these three men should not be in our books, taught to our children, or warrant having memorials or schools named after them.
Recently, politicians in the state of Tennessee were pushing for a "don't say gay" law, which would prohibit public school teachers from discussing homosexuality (and all topics that are associated with it) in the classroom. These politicians claimed that they aren't anti-homosexual but pro-heterosexual and have very strong Christian values. There is nothing wrong with having "strong Christian values," but if they are that strong, then I suggest that Andrew Jackson be eliminated from every textbook. Every statue or bust of him should be removed and destroyed; every school, street, or town named after him should be renamed. Basically, the state of Tennessee should adopt another state hero. Because "thou shall not kill" is a commandment, and considered a very important one, one should question how a state that doesn't want to say the word "gay" would worship a man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Native Americans, not to mention the people he killed during the many duels in which he participated. Apparently, their Christian values assert that homosexuality is much more sinful than murder. But we can leave Andrew Jackson on a $20 bill; that I don't have a religious problem with.
Technically, if we were to eliminate every person who has killed or has been involved in the killing of another, our social studies textbooks would be almost completely empty. So it's safe to assume that every president or figure who has declared or supported war would surely earn a place in hell and not heaven. Again, this is based solely on religious values and principles, and not on their contributions to history.
I can name multiple historical figures who have sinned or blatantly broken commandments with their actions or behavior, which is why, for my last figure, I chose someone who is revered and idolized solely for his religious beliefs and practices and who is not a historical figure: Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow mania has become something of a cult in America. I have no doubt that many feel he is the second coming of Christ, but all those who worship at Temple Tebow fail to acknowledge that, as a professional athlete, he is a sinner. Where should we start? Well, first of all, the fourth commandment states (obviously, for that matter) that Christians are not to work (or farm) on the Sabbath. Excluding a few Thursday- and Monday-night games, Sunday is the only day the NFL tends to play their games. Also, though it's a sin to touch the skin of a dead pig, I will give Tim Tebow a mulligan on this one, because footballs are no longer made from pig bladders. But he shaves, which is a sin; he wears different cloths and materials at the same time, which is sin, and so on. In Tebow's defense, all NFL players, baseball players, or anyone who works on the Sabbath, for that matter, is a sinner. I myself may be guilty of breaking this particular commandment, because I do work out on Sunday, which may or may not be considered working.
As a lover of history, and as someone who has dedicated his academic life to history and the figures who have defined it, I am not suggesting that we eliminate all of the brilliant figures who have come to shape the country that I hold so dear. But I am suggesting that people shouldn't claim to have "strong Christian values" and then be selective of which of those values they choose to follow and endorse. Either we follow every religious law as it's stated in the Bible or we support and follow none of it, but no one has the right to be selective in what laws they choose to follow and which ones they don't.