Gay bashing, in the name of the Lord

Given Jesus Christ's radically inclusive nature, his followers sure do have trouble getting the whole tolerance thing down.

Recently, Indiana University professor, Yale graduate and devout Christian Eric B. Rasmusen posted the following comment on his school's Web site in regard to why male homosexuals should not be allowed to teach in elementary schools: "Male homosexuals like boys and are generally promiscuous. They should not be given the opportunity to satisfy their desires ... [Hiring] homosexuals as teachers puts the fox into the chicken coop." In response to the uproar that arose in regard to his comments, Rasmusen noted, "The fact that some people get so upset makes me think they see some truth in it" ("A Weblog Starts a Fire," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 7).

One wishes it were possible to dismiss this man as antiquated and ignorant, move on and never give him -- or his (ideally) ruined career -- another thought. Sadly however, Yale "educated" Rasmusen is hardly in the minority. Even our fearless President George W. Bush, given his latest embarrassing initiative "Marriage Protection Week," might not be so far from this camp.

Now it is true that Rasmusen is fully protected by his First Amendment rights, and is thus thankfully allowed to say whatever he wishes. However, why he feels the need to perpetuate extremely unfair, wholly ungrounded and severely hurtful stereotypes is another issue. Rasmusen believes that he has a religious foundation for his hatred. Let's take a closer look at this issue.

In the book of Galatians, 5:14, Paul speaks: "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." He then goes on to note: "But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." Paul's message couldn't be clearer, but this religion, founded upon the principles of love and service is nonetheless continually used to justify that which it most despises: persecution, division and hate.

Hatred and unnecessary discrimination are everywhere in our society. Christianity should be used to combat these injustices, not to promote them. Does the Bible say homosexuality is wrong? Yes, there are arguably a few allusions to this in the massive text. However, the Bible also says that women are inferior creatures and that slaves should not make haste to free themselves. What we all need to understand that the Bible is, like everything else, a historical document. Even the letters of the New Testament were written to specific regions regarding specific problems that were to be resolved in specific ways. The Bible has been used as a means of social control since its inception, and has always been subject to the self-preserving interpretations of the ruling class.

What we are facing right now is yet another crisis in the "Land of the Free." Homosexuality, though decidedly more "accepted" (I mean, we've all seen Will and Grace!), is still not truly tolerated by the mainstream. Take, for example, the fact that there is increasing talk in the government about keeping gay marriage illegal. Or the fact that the partners of homosexuals at the University of Virginia do not receive medical benefits. And why? For what? Why do we insist on depriving people of true equality on the basis of something they cannot control, and which should not be of concern to us at all? Why must we ruin people's lives by telling them that what they are is not OK? To maintain the status quo? To not have to reckon with what it means to truly let everyone (and not just heterosexual, rich, white men) be equal?

America wants security. It is a natural desire. The way America tries to achieve that security is by clinging to myths of normality like that of the idealized heterosexual family. It is myths like this -- and yes, they are quite clearly myths -- upon which our life as we know it rests and depends. Rasmusen's horrid comment is yet another glaring example of why we need things like diversity training. What people do not understand is that the white, heterosexual, Christian capitalist norms we are taught every day are not "neutral," as people like to believe, but are themselves political! These status quo perceptions need to be challenged, all the more because they are perceived as being "non-political" and "natural." Instead however, Christianity -- which in truth preaches nothing more radical than love -- is being used to maintain and further reify these social constructions which leave so many behind.

All of this being said, until the day comes (if ever it does) that the scales fall from our collective eyes, if we are going to be so selfish as to continue to advance personal agendas at the severe cost of the lives of others, for God's sake, lets at least stop doing it in Jesus' name.

(Laura Parcells' column appears Fridays in The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at lparcells@cavalierdaily.com.)

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