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Archive for September, 2007

The NYTimes ran an article investigating the status of homosexuals in Iran, as a follow up to Ahmadinejad’s denial of there existence. I found this bit on transsexuals particularly interesting:

But Iran has also taken the unusual step of encouraging sex change operations for those with homosexual tendencies. While religious authorities here view homosexuality a clear sin, transsexuals are considered ill and in need of the help that such an operation can provide.

Reza said he knew of gay men who had changed their sex so that they could be recognized by the government as transsexual and mingle with men more easily.

The policy seems at once both progressive, repressive, and naive. It is progressive in its acceptance of transsexuals–it seems we’re no where near that level in the US. It is repressive in that it encourages extreme surgery for homosexuals who don’t actually have gender identity issues. And the last bit in the block quote clearly indicates the utter silliness of the idea.

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The pandering to the religious right never seems to end for McCain. Beliefnet has just posted an interview on religion and politics. Some of the gems from the interview:

Q: It doesn’t seem like a Muslim candidate would do very well, according to that standard.
A: I admire the Islam. There’s a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what’s basically an honorable religion. But, no, I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles…. personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith…

Q:A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?

A: I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation…

Q:Have you ever prayed with President Bush?

A:No, I’ve never been asked to do so.

Godfather Dobson’s not buying it–does McCain really think anyone is?

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The Fate of the Death Penalty

From NYT:

A day after the United States Supreme Court halted an execution in Texas at the last minute, Texas officials made clear on Friday that they would nonetheless proceed with more executions in coming months, including one next week.

Though several other states are halting lethal injections until it is clear whether they are constitutional, Texas is taking a different course, risking a confrontation with the court.

Should be interesting.

p.s. Don’t Mess with Texas.

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Lesbianism and the Book of Ruth

Cory Tucholski from Josiah Concept Ministries has challenged my interpretation of the book of Ruth. My response is as follows:

I will grant you that my initial post on the Book of Ruth lacked depth. Though I also feel that you present a somewhat naïve interpretation yourself, as you fail to address the language and the context of the Biblical story.

First order in supporting my claim that Naomi and Ruth had a potentially romantic relationship, I would like to look at a specific bit of language found in the Book of Ruth. Ruth (1:14) states that “Ruth clung to [Naomi]”. The usage of the verb to cling is significant in that it is found in Genesis to describe the relationship between Adam and Eve. Genesis (2:24) reads: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Thus it would seem in using this common language, that the relationship between Naomi and Ruth was similar to that of Adam and Eve.

Now to look at the context of the verse. You claim, “Ruth is Naomi’s daughter-in-law. I really don’t see a romantic relationship developing between these two women.” You are correct that that the women were mother and daughter in law, but I don’t understand how you can make the stretch from there that this means they could not be lovers. The Bible is full of passages about romantic relationships that we would not consider kosher in our modern world.

For example, the story of Judah and Tamar from Genesis 38, in which Tamar becomes pregnant by her father-in-law Judah. Like Ruth, Tamar was drawn to her dead husband’s parent after a string of failed levirate marriages.

You also question how Naomi and Ruth could possibly be lovers if Naomi helped Ruth marry Boaz. Again, you overlook other Bible passages in which people have intimate relationships with more than one person for the sake of carrying on a lineage. This is true of Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and his wives, David and Bathsheeba, etc.

Lineage was extremely important in Bible, as I’m sure you are aware. The Elimelech lineage, to which Naomi belonged, would have come to an end with the death Naomi’s sons (Ruth’s husbands). In order to continue that lineage, which would eventually produce both King David and Jesus, either Naomi or Ruth would have to have a child, and at that time, a man was the only way to do that.

And of course, marrying a person of the opposite sex does not preclude one from being gay, as the stories of Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, et. al painfully reveal.

I believe the passages referring to the birth of Obed are also significant in that they show how Naomi and Ruth share parenthood with Obed. Ruth (4:16-17) reads, “Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.”

Obed’s father Boaz is a minimal figure—pretty much that of a sperm donor. The passage clearly reveals that Naomi is a more important parental figure to Obed than Boaz. It seems that Naomi is playing the role of the non-biological mother that you see in modern lesbian families. Of course that is a difficult connection to make, given the different era and lack of further Biblical text, but it does not seem as far fetched as you would have it.

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It seems now that since the nexus of Christianity is shifting from the global north to the south, we’re getting more church leaders saying outrageously extreme things. I’ve written before about the down right hateful comments made by Bishop Issaac Orama (which are under dispute).

Now there’s Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Mozambique, who is now resorting to scare tactics in order to push the Catholic church’s position on abstinence only for AIDS prevention. He said:

I know of two countries in Europe who are making condoms with (the) virus on purpose, they want to finish with African people as part of their program to colonize the continent… People must choose what they want between death and I propose to them that (abstinence) is the best way to fight HIV/AIDS.

Apart from his paranoid delusion of a grand condom conspiracy, Bishop Chimoio’s words have potentially deadly consequences. Married women are one of the most at risk groups for contracting HIV in Africa because they already face pressure from their husbands not to use condoms, and now they have a ‘Man of God’ working against them as well.

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Mitt Romney issued the following press release this morning:

Last night’s debate was just the latest example of how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people. Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade. This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers. We need to strengthen our families by passing a federal marriage amendment and also insisting on marriage before having children. Change in Washington requires Democrats with the courage to stand-up to their ultra liberal base and do what’s right for our children.

I don’t understand how the mere knowledge of the objective fact that gay couples exist is harmful to children or the institution of marriage as a whole. I suppose the logic could go that if children learn about gays at a younger age, there is a higher chance that they might actually recognize and accept them as human beings, rather than a threatening national political issue.

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Senator Craig has apparently voted against the Kennedy hate crimes amendment, which would add gays to the federal hate crime statute.

If he voted against gays, he can’t possibly be gay, right?

Let’s see if the court reviewing his bathroom sex sting case buys it.

UPDATE: the hate crimes measure passed the Senate this morning by a vote of 60-39.

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