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Wednesday, May 02, 2007
(9:39 AM) | Stephen:
Would Jesus Discriminate?

Some time ago Shakes linked a post by Bilerico where we see how some vandals defaced billboards put up by the Metropolitan Community Church. The billboards are part of MCC's "Would Jesus Discriminate?" campaign, and each one highlights an incident from the Bible that, the MCC claims, shows how homosexuality was actually accepted. Here's a picture of one of the vandalized billboards:

This is what happens when "defending the truth" becomes more important than "this is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." (John 15:12, NLT)

But that point has been made, over and over, on this blog and in many other places. What I'd rather do is take a look at the places in the Bible that the Metropolitan Community Church holds up as scriptural support for the idea that homosexuality should be accepted by the Church.

The campaign consists of five billboards, each one highlighting a different situation in the Bible. I want to look at each one in turn, going from what I consider to be their weakest point to their strongest.

First up is the relationship between Jonathan, the son of King Saul and heir to the throne, and David, a shepherd anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as king. Their story can be found throughout 1 and 2 Samuel. The article highlights a couple of passages, which I will address here.
“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
The article suggests that we replace David's name with that of a woman, so that the first verse would read, "the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of Mirriam," etc. Reading that would cause us to assume that Jonathan was in love with that woman. Well, true. But replacing David with Mirriam is a pretty big change. What if Mary Magdalene were Simeon Magdalene? Would "The Da Vinci Code" have been written?

The writer of 1 Samuel was telling us the story of Saul's downfall and David's rise. And remember, he was writing from the standpoint of the Davidic covenant, which states that David's descendant will rule over Israel forever. David for Israel is similar to King Arthur for the British, a king who represents the very best time the nation has ever enjoyed. Jonathan's actions can certainly be understood to mean that David's claim on the throne was so strong that even the crown prince recognized it and surrendered the accoutrements that marked his own claim to the throne.

Next we come to this passage:
“You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen [David] the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established.” (1 Samuel 20:30)

For this article, mentioning "your mother's nakedness" carries a sexual connotation, and referencing it with a family member connotes incest. Therefore, Jonathan "is bringing sexual shame on his family." Well, not necessarily. If Jonathan is discarding his claim to the throne of Israel, that would also bring shame upon his family, and Saul apparently felt that whatever shortcomings Jonathan had, they couldn't have been his fault, so the only one to blame would be Jonathan's mother. That Saul talks of Jonathan's kingship gives more weight to the idea that the problem was political, not sexual.

Finally, after Saul and Jonathan die and David is made king, David mourns the loss of his friend, and writes a song that he gives to all Israel to sing:
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
How the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan;
Greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

(2 Samuel 1:23, 26-27, emphasis added)
Surely it's clear why this passage is highlighted and why the article emphasizes the last phrases. What's less clear is why this should be taken so literally when it's clearly poetry. If we are to take this literally, then what shall we do with all of David's psalms we find in the Bible?

The friendship between David and Jonathan can certainly be used to criticize our culture's silly ideas about what constitutes "manly" behavior. And perhaps they actually were lovers. However, these passages of scripture cannot be used to prove that idea without twisting them, taking them out of their historical and scriptural context.

Remember, there are five places in the Bible where the MCC claims that homosexuality is accepted, and I'm working from what I consider to be the weakest to the strongest. Next up is the story of Ruth and Naomi.

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