Sunday, April 18, 2010

Leave the Shellfish Out of It, Please

Dear secular progressives, even Christian progressives, and all the rest of you GLBT allies who use the Bible to support the cause of equality,

I thank you for your work trying to help people of faith see the logic in supporting civil equality for our GLBT brothers and sisters. We are in this work together, and I am grateful for the ways that you support families like mine.

One quibble, friends. When you are using the Bible to argue that lots of stuff in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament) are no longer binding on Christians, please, please, please do not bring up the shellfish argument. You know, the one that begins, "Well, do you eat shellfish and wear clothing of mixed fibers? Then you, too, are violating the Levitical Codes and have no room to speak about homosexuality." By all means, use the clothing argument all you want - beat it into the ground for all I care. I will even give you what I believe is a compelling argument as to why the abomination of mixed fibers is a moral issue for us today.

But please, please, please, leave the shellfish out of it. Acts 10 specifically addresses how Peter is commanded by God to eat non-kosher foods, and the implication is clear that the church is released from this obligation of the Holiness Code. (Which is part of why most Christians don't keep kosher.)

When you continue to use the argument that because Christians eat shellfish, they are in violation of the Holiness code, you just sound ignorant of the Christian story. And while the odds are slim that you are ever going to win over evangelical/fundamentalist Christians anyway, using this argument closes the door for them to listen to anything you have to say, because they just assume you "don't get it."

If you want to use the clothing argument, be prepared to hear, as I have often heard, that some of the Holiness Code is still in effect (you know, especially the stuff about same-sex genital contact) because it is about MORALITY, while some of it isn't because it was about how people understood hygiene or some other "time-bound" or culture-bound rules. When that rebuttal comes your way, go ahead and ask whether or not God cares about the kinds of cloth that touches the skin of God's people. If people are created in God's image and we are vessels of the Holy Spirit, then it stands to reason that God really, really cares how our bodies are attired. Therefore, one would think that the mixed-fiber commandment is, indeed, a MORAL issue. (If nothing else, you may convince some folk to wear more all-natural hemp fabric.)

In the end, however, one of the best arguments I've heard about welcoming our GLBT friends and family members comes from Christian singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp, who recently came out to the chagrin of many in the Christian community. She said in an interview with CNN, "I would rather be judged before God as being an honest human being. If I am in any way unpleasing in his sight, I can only hope and pray that he gives me the opportunity to find who I am supposed to be."

Bless you, Jennifer, on your life, your music and your witness. May God continue to be pleased at your honesty and the integrity with which you live your life.

1 comment:

Rev. Nicole Havelka said...

Good point, LiturgyGeek. I just wish Jesus or Peter or Paul had said, "We honor loving, adult relationships of all kinds." Then, we wouldn't have all this hoopla about gay marriage. But, perhaps that chapter of the Bible is yet to be found in the basement of a church somewhere.