Homophobics And The Bible
Homophobics And The Bible
Many people use the bible as their reason for being homophobic. These people claim that according to scripture, homosexuality is condemned. However, this is not completely true. Most selections used against homosexuality are indeed not speaking directly against homosexuality. Each scripture selection can be interpreted different ways by different individuals. Peter J. Gomes provides an effective argument against homophobia in his article from the New York Times in 1992, “Homophobic? Read Your Bible.”
Gomes begins his article with several examples of how this belief pertaining to homophobia and the bible has been used against homosexuals. Acts of violence are mentioned along with matters of public policy. By doing this, Gomes creates a pathos, or emotional appeal to the audience. He continues to tell about the author Bette Greene who interviewed four hundred prisoners incarcerated for gay bashing. She found that “Gay-bashers generally saw nothing wrong in what they did, and, more often than not, said their religious leaders and traditions sanctioned their behavior. (Gomes 412)”
People generally use nine selections from the bible to argue that homosexuality is condemned. Gomes presents each of these selections and analyzes them from his point of view. He explains that each of the selections is not explicitly banning homosexuality. Instead, the selections are being interpreted differently by different groups of people. People interpret scripture according to their own individual belief’s, prejudice, and histories; therefore, it is inevitable that each individual’s interpretation of the same selection will be different. To further convince the audience of the different ways in which scripture can be interpreted, Gomes uses the example that the same bible has been used to inspire different groups of people on many different crusades from racism to women’s rights. Another argument Gomes presents is that these selections were written a very long time ago and it is impossible to know exactly what was meant when the selections were written. Gomes explains these differences of interpretation as a key element of his argument so that perhaps homophobics will examine the scripture from a different point of view.
Also in his essay, Gomes argues that homophobics commit many of the same acts mentioned along with homosexuality in the bible. The same Holiness Code that is commonly used to attack homosexuals also bans such common American activities as getting tattoos, eating raw meat, sexual intercourse with a woman while she is on her menstrual cycle, and wearing clothing that has been created with two different kinds of yarn. This presents a good argument against the homophobics because they probably do some of the things that the Code bans. These people more than likely would not like it if they were assaulted because of having a tattoo or wearing a shirt made of two different yarns. Also mentioned in the bible along with homosexuality are the sin of greed and the burden of wealth. Many people set goals in life aiming to become financially successful. These same people may still be homophobics. This may be more of a problem than homosexuality.
Although Gomes creates a good argument against homophobics, some may argue that his essay creates an either-or fallacy, his way or the homophobic way. Basically saying, that the selection condemns homosexuality or does not. Four of the selections used to attack homosexuality just ban prostitution by either males or females. Just because someone is homosexual it does not necessarily mean that they engage in prostitution. This is effective to Gomes’s argument because it shows that homophobics are forming their reasons for attacking homosexuals on opinions and not on facts.
Gomes is writing his article for the New York Times, so he appeals to an audience of educated adults. His use of language that is sophisticated yet still understandable, and informative explanations allows most any adult reader to understand. Also, Gomes writes about issues that are controversial and people take interest in them, such as homosexuality and religion.
Gomes creates a reliable ethos in his essay. He has been serving since 1970 at the Church at Harvard. Because he has been a minister for so long, he is knowledgeable about the bible. Also Gomes is a professor of Christian morals at Harvard. To be able to teach a class on Christian morals proves to the reader that he is credible.
Gomes’s final argument appeals directly to the emotions of the audience. The concluding reason states, “And the same bible that on the basis of an archaic social code of ancient Israel and a tortured reading of Paul is used to condemn all homosexuals and homosexual behavior includes metaphors of redemptions, renewal, inclusions, and love, principles that invite homosexuals to accept their freedom and responsibility in Christ and demands that their fellow Christians accept them as well. (Gomes 414).” The same bible people are using against homosexuals is also telling them to accept homosexuals.
The article, “Homophobic? Read Your Bible,” truly creates an effective argument against homophobia. By appealing to the emotions of his audience at both the introduction and the conclusion of his essay, Gomes is able to create a successful argument. Also by using his own knowledge of scripture, he is able to convince the reader of alternate interpretations regarding homosexuality.
"Homophobic? Read Your Bible", New York Times 1992, Peter J. Gomes