Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scott Renfroe: Yet Another Republican Using the Bible as an Excuse to be a Douche

(via Queerty)

Scott Renfroe, Scott Renfroe. Quite the publicity stunt you've pulled here, buddy. Two days ago you were just a Colorado State Senator, probably not even widely known in your own state. Now, however, all them pesky gays and their friends are mad at you. It's an interesting political choice you've made, seeing as the gay rights movement has gained unprecedented momentum since the (narrow) passing of Prop 8 in California. Them pesky gays aren't taking America's shit anymore, but you're going to try to give it to them anyway. I don't know much about Colorado, but it seems like a weird decision to me.

Anywayz, in regard to your little speech we all just heard, there are a few points I'd like to touch on:

I know I don't always succeed, but I do try not to tell people how to interpret the Bible. As I've said before, it's inherently a pick-and-choose kind of book, and different people will read it different ways. That said, I'm no fan of literal interpretation, particularly when it comes to Genesis. All conventional science and much of Christendom has come to accept the creation story from the Bible as something that is, as the Catholics put it, "spiritually true, but not historically true." And honestly, I do think it is ultimately a story. Every religion ever to exist on Earth ever has had a creation myth. It's natural for human beings to seek out an explanation as to where we come from. We're still looking for answers to that question today, but mainly through science. We've managed to figure out how species evolved (more or less), but we still don't know how life started in the first place.

See? There's your chance right there. We don't know how life started. So, if you take Genesis as a symbolic myth and not as something to be interpreted literally, you can say that that first spark of life was put there by God, and that He set in motion the sequence of events that would lead to life on Earth as it is today. If you open up your mind a little bit, you can make science and religion compatible (this goes for you too, people who say that you have to be an atheist to believe in evolution).

Now, I'm assuming that you're a creationist because it would be consistent with your speech. In retrospect, it's a poor assumption to make that you would be consistent about anything regarding faith (or anything else for that matter), but I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. The reason I bring up the creation story is because you seem to take other parts of Genesis pretty literally. Specifically, you cite Genesis as proof that God meant man to be with woman. Period.

(Oh, and by the way, I take offense at being referred to as man's "helper." Thanks.)

As I said, it would be much easier for you to exist in the modern world if you could find it in your heart to see not only the symbolism in this story, but the way it likely evolved. The story fits with a nomadic desert tribe thousands of years ago. It fits with ancient oral tradition. It does not fit with life as we know it today. If you look at the evolution of the story, actually, you can see in earlier versions, the serpent was a god (that is, one of many), and the monotheists changed it to make him the villain. Just sayin'.

On to my favourite book of the Bible... Leviticus (imagine ominous music in the background). Leviticus? Again? Really?! What is with people and Leviticus? Since when did an ancient Jewish public health code (thanks, Chris) become the ultimate authority on Christian (and, by extension, American) life? I know all you gay-hater types like to throw Leviticus 18:22 around as though it's the ultimate proof that homosexuality is the worse sin ever and everything. But, as I've said before and will say again, it's pretty lame of you to throw that part of Leviticus around without holding the rest of it to the same standard (see this post). Where's your beard and curls, Scott? How do you feel about bacon?

To be fair, you've thrown another verse from Leviticus into your argument. Leviticus 20:13 says:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Nice one. I've heard it suggested that more literal translations of both these passages are referring to women sleeping with two different men, thus making it difficult (if not impossible) to determine the paternal line of her possible children (thank you, anonymous commentor), but that's neither here nor there. It's still Leviticus, and I still say Leviticus is an all-or-nothing deal. If you don't think it's kosh to sell your daughters into slavery, then you can't cite Leviticus as evidence that gays are an "abomination." Kay? Kay. Moving on...

The last verse you cited, Romans 1:18, says:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness
Not bad, Scott. Very ambiguous. It's a nice trick to pull. But Romans, as in The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, was written by Paul. Why don't we instead cite some verses that were actually (apparently) spoken by Christ? There is a recurring theme I think we should examine.

Matthew 23:29-31 (NIV):
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.
Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV):
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 15:1-9 (NIV):
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"
The theme, of course, in these three passages is that it is the apparently righteous who are corrupt. They hold strong to tradition and therefore persecute the prophets, the new ideas, that end up being the catalyst for change. This is a theme we see throughout history. Those willing to stand up against the institution and say, "Times have changed. What you are doing is no longer the right thing to do," are often persecuted, and often murdered. Look at Martin Luther King Jr, look at the Kennedys, look at Ghandi... these people spoke for change, and for civil rights, and they were killed because of worn-out dogmas and exhausted ideals. Jesus Christ warned against people like you, Scott Renfroe. Do you really want to be the kind of person who, in the time of Christ, would have killed the very man to whom you pray every night? Is that what it means to be Christian?

And since you are not only Christian, but also American, I leave you with this, from the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
In the end, it doesn't matter which parts of the Bible you believe, so long as you are able to do your job as a state senator in an appropriate manner. The job of the American government is not to outlaw sin. It is not to prevent "abomination according to the scripture". The job of the American government is to protect and take care of its citizens so that they may have all the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to which they are entitled. If you stand in the way of allowing that to happen, for all citizens, then you will find yourself on the wrong side of history, my friend. WTFWJD?


Anonymous said...

When people quote Romans 1 to make the point that homosexuality is "un-natural," they skip the full logical argument in the passage which ends at Romans 2:1

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things."

That's not to say Paul isn't calling homosexuality sinful, but that it's right up there with every other wicked thing we do, so if we won't extend grace to the gays, why should we expect God to extend grace to us?

Anonymous said...

Jocelyn, you're fantastic!!! Greatly needed blog!

Seattle Mama said...

Well said! And, in my opinion, quite well suited for Ash Wednesday.

Jocelyn said...

Anonymous - That's actually the spirit of Christianity, I think. It's a recurring theme, that whole "don't effing judge people" thing.

Nikko and Hannah - thanks!

Side-note, today I learned that Ash Wednesday is a really bad day to bang your head on something, because it becomes very tricky to explain to you that that giant thing in the middle of your forehead is not, in fact, a bruise, and if they looked a little south and to the left, they'd see that your eyebrow is bleeding.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jocelyn,

Kim in Portland from slog here. Nice post. It pisses me off when people get their knickers in a twist and quote Ro. 1:18 without the rest of text to Ro. 2:16. Paul is describing what happens when we worship ourselves, the creature, rather than the God. When that passage is read in ancient Greek, the sexually immoral idolators aren't homosexuals, they exchanged natural relations (physin) for unnatural (para physin), they're straight people performing fertility rites to idols. Straight people performing sex acts with other straight people.

Anonymous said...

Should of put this on the previous post. It should be obvious, the issue isn't sex its the idolatry that leads to immorality (pornoi) that leads to evil (poneria). Which Paul, points out to all believers that before we were saved we were all guilty of, and if were judging others were still guilty.


Joble said...

I'm glad I got to hear this. If I'd only read the transcript, the extend to which this guy was a mouth-breathing cretin would have had some small chance of escaping me.

It's difficult to tell whether he's stopping more to think of something hateful to say next, or just to consciously remind himself to chew and swallow some more oxygen down the breathy-hole.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I got here thru the Slog. I just wanted to agree with you about the Paul stuff. Fundies often act like he ws Jesus. It's almost like Jesus is too wimpy for them. Pisses me off!

Jocelyn said...

Hi, Kim. Wouldn't it be great if everyone were required by law when citing the bible to put every quote in context?

...Yeah, yeah... first ammendment.... whatever.

Joble, I'm all for giving what-for to people who need it, but you leave mouth-breathers alone.

Anonymous, srsly. Bunch of mouth-breathers.

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