Les Blough: Ban on Gay Marriage
Ban on Gay Marriage: Bush and Jesus got their own thing goin'
By Les Blough, Editor Axisoflogic.com
Feb 25, 2004, 16:21
Sometimes, while sitting in my little cabin in the deep woods of New Hampshire, I put one of Tom T. Hall's albums on the stereo and hear this:
"Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin'.
Me and Jesus, got it all worked out.
Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin'.
We don't need anybody to tell us what it's all about.
"Well I know a man that once was a sinner
I know a man that once was a drunk
I know a man that once was a loser
He went out one day and made an altar right out of a stump."
Now I happen to have deep respect for Mr. Hall when he sings this beautiful down-home testament to what I like to believe is his authentic spiritual experience. Me and Jesus have our own thing going too, when I walk in the woods around my cabin and gaze breathlessly at the sacred beauty of nature.
As we review the marriage of George W. Bush with the Christian Fundamentalists and Evangelicals in this country, it appears that Mr. Bush has "his own thing goin" with Jesus too. Many devout Christians are absolutely convinced today that George W. Bush is also a committed follower of the historic Jesus. It is not difficult to understand why this is so.
On February 10, 2003, David L. Greene wrote for the Baltimore Sun:
"The sincerity of the president's religious commitment seems beyond doubt. Bush is a churchgoing Methodist who said he has not drunk alcohol since 1986, when he recommitted himself to Jesus Christ. In 1999, when asked in a campaign debate what political philosopher he most identified with, Bush named Christ, "because he changed my heart."
Greene described the carefully scripted methods by which Bush communicates to Christians:
"David Frum, a speechwriter for Bush until last year, wrote in his recent book, The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush, about first entering the White House. Frum said he heard a staff member say to Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, "Missed you at Bible study."
"The news that this was a White House where attendance at Bible study was, if not compulsory, not quite uncompulsory, either, was disconcerting to a non-Christian like me," Frum wrote.
"From Bush's first days in office, his speeches -- often drafted by Gerson, an evangelical Christian -- have frequently included religious references, usually subtle.
"On the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush delivered a stirring nighttime speech from Ellis Island in New York Harbor about the war on terrorism, warning that America had "entered a great struggle."
"Our prayer tonight is that God will see us through and keep us worthy," Bush said. "Hope still lights our way, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it."
"In recent weeks, some critics say, the president's use of religious language has become more frequent and overtly Christian.
"In the State of the Union speech, he said: "There is power -- wonder-working power -- in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."
"The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said many people might not recognize that "wonder-working power" is taken from a Christian hymn. But most Christian conservatives, he said, would pick up on it immediately.
"It was designed to signal that he is one of us," Lynn said. "The tone set by Bush is, 'I am a Christian; I'm going to tell you about it on a regular basis.' It eventually gets very exclusionary."
Bush's biblical reference certainly reached at least one audience. The Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by Pat Robertson, stripped Bush's "wonder-working power" remark across the top of a Web page highlighting the speech."
Bush's claims to be a Christian have served him well. However, the Christian fundamentalists have been presenting a problem for Bush on the issue of Gay and Lesbian Rights. On June 1, 2003, The State (S.C.) published an article: Christian Right has Issues with Bush. The article opened with this:
"It might be hard to believe, but leaders of the Christian right community are fuming about President Bush. Some are even threatening to bolt the Republican Party in 2004, a development that could complicate President Bush's re-election prospects.
"There is considerable unrest in the Christian community," said Buddy Witherspoon of Lexington, a member of the Republican National Committee.
"At issue are questions about the administration's stance on gay rights and abortion. Some think there's a calculated Bush strategy to embrace and promote the homosexual agenda. Yes, that President Bush -- the advocate for federal funding of faith-based initiatives and putting prayer back in schools. Religious conservatives were particularly irked with RNC chairman Marc Racicot for meeting secretly in March with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian organization."
"In the 2000 election, 4 million gay men voted and 1 million of them voted for George W. Bush."
The report continues ...
"Ken Connors, president of the Family Research Council, recently wrote a scathing memo to pro-family leaders attacking the Republican leadership.
"The question naturally arises: Have Republicans been so intimidated by the smear tactics of the homosexual lobby and its Democratic attack dogs that they are cowering in silence?" he wrote.
Christian right voters played a pivotal role in electing Bush in his razor-thin victory over Al Gore. He cannot afford to lose them in 2004."
The article closes with the following ominous warning:
"The Christian Right is watching".
In a meeting with The American Enterprise Institute, Karl Rove (White House political director) stated that 4 million fundamentalists and evangelicals didn't turn out to vote in 2000, almost costing Bush the presidency. Rove said, "we have to spend a lot of time and energy" drawing them back into politics.
So Mr. Bush finds himself between the proverbial rock and hard place. The "Gay Marriage" issue is not a two, but a three-edged sword. When Mr. Bush identifies himself as a Christian and appeals for votes on the basis of Christian ideology, he also opens himself and his policies to be measured against the teachings of the historic Jesus. He is not only subject to critique by the Christian Fundamentalist ideologues and the Gay and Lesbian community. Jesus himself presents the third edge of that sword. Anyone familiar with, and wants to be honest about, the teachings of the Gospels of the New Testament is compelled to ask: " How does Bush's call for a ban on 'Gay Marriage' fit with the teachings of the historic Jesus ". Yes, Bush and Jesus have their own thing goin' too.
What's a president to do?
It is faced withy a failing economy, families suffering from joblessness, paycuts, loss of benefits, a mess and failure of monumental proportions in their wars on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. What to do? It appears the Bush regime has now shamelessly decided to exploit the homosexual issue to try to prop up it's sagging timbers in the polls. It's the perfect diversion ... and division ... for many Americans. Today, the Washington Post reports that the Bush Regime has now called upon congress to pass a constitutional amendment to "ban gay marriages". In my opinion, with the exception of their attacks on innocent people abroad, this is perhaps the most irresponsible strategy they have used yet - to "win" at all costs - by dividing Americans.
The strategy is as simple as it is old: Divide and control the American people on emotionally-loaded issue - But is it "Christian"? My family-of origin and others representing fundamentalist Christianity will vote on this single issue alone which for them, represents good and evil. But those who side with Bush on this issue are not limited to the followers of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson and Bob Jones University, that American citadel of racism and hatred from which I graduated in 1965. The regime in Washington knows full well that many other Americans feel threatened by gays and lesbians. This divisive strategy is packaged in the idea that equal benefits under the law for gay and lesbian companions will protect civilization's oldest institution of all: marriage and family. The theological underpinnings for this divisive strategy are rooted in religion. Religion - used once again to divide the people.
It is a simple and amoral strategy to use religion as a divisive wedge. The amorality of those at the wheel of the American-led Corporate Global Empire can be seen here, in this, another cynical wedge to seed hatred and bitterness between Americans. The fact that the Neocon Advisors to Bush are instrumental should also not be lost on us. While not even claiming to be Christian themselves, they know the fault lines in American society very well. They know that those who call themselves "Born-Again Christians" truly believe George W. Bush when he calls himself a Christian (i.e. a follower of Christ).
What does it mean to be a Born-Again Christian?
For those who may not know,
the term "born-again" comes from the New Testament story of
Jesus meeting Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the
Jewish ruling council. No doubt a wealthy man.
The story tells us that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to him:
"Rabbi we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with Him."
"I tell you the truth, no one can see The Kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus explained what he meant by "born again":
"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
"Spirit gives birth to spirit". In the tradition of history's other great world mystics, Jesus was teaching Nicodemus about enlightenment. He told him that he must be born again - spiritually.
What credentials will satisfy the Christian Fundamentalists?
One might ask, what credentials I have to be critical of the Bush-brand of Christianity. After all, I am not a follower of Christianity as an organized civil-religion and do not call myself a "Christian". However, I am one who has experienced "the new birth" and I once called myself a "born again Christian". I studied the fundamentalist view of Christianity since the age of 12. I graduated from the Institute of Christian Service at Bob Jones University, where Bush gave his controversial speech while running for president. I once had substantial portions of the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible committed to memory. I have also studied the history of the Judeo-Christian Church from the first century to the present day. I was officially accepted as a member and leader of Christian fundamentalism at my ordination following an oral defense of the ideology of Christian fundamentalism. I was an ordained minister whose mission it was to convince others they needed to be "born again".
After abandoning that ideology, I was condemned as a heretic and cursed with the dread "anathema" . (Anathema is a Greek word generally meaning "set apart, or put away". The Old Testament Hebrew equivalents "were pronounced kel-aw-lah, meaning contemptible, or vilified, and kheh-rem, meaning doomed, or set apart for destruction." They amount to a curse, hardly consistent with Jesus' teaching that we should love our enemies as we love ourselves and that God is Love.) Even as I write, I hear the arguments of the of Christian fundamentalists trying to explain what they mean by "real love" to the "worldly", "unsaved", and "the lost". I know that twisted, pretzel logic better than many of those who parrot the phrases.
As one who understands the ideology of fundamentalist Christianity, I must ask a favorite question of Christian fundamentalists - one of their own: What would Jesus do (WWJD)? I have asked before what would Jesus do about the deadly wars of revenge and profit and the killing fields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now I add two questions to my WWJD list:
Questions for "Born Again Christians
the historic Jesus of nascent Christianity were here today,
would he kill and maim hundreds of thousands of innocent
people for personal and corporate profits?
(Jesus: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. - Matt. Ch. 5, Vs. 9)
2. Would Jesus steal the lands and resources of other people?
3. Would Jesus imprison and deport people for simply giving voice to their opposition to his views?
4. Would Jesus fund and lead corporate empire to widen the gap between the wealthy elite and the poor?
5. Would Jesus bust labor unions and take money from the orphan and the widow?
6. Would Jesus rob the young of food, a good education and decent health care?
7. Would Jesus covet wealth and give tax breaks to the wealthy while the poor languish?
8. Would Jesus judge a person for being gay or lesbian and deny them the rights to benefits equal to those of a married couple?
9. Would Jesus use one minority group of people to divide the majority, seeding the population with distrust, anger, suspicion, fear and hatred?
Was Jesus Divisive?
One might argue that Jesus was divisive too! I most certainly agree. He divided the wealthy Roman elite and the ruling religious Pharisees from the people. Of the religious ruling class of his day, Jesus said to them: " Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." The Gospels tell us that he threw the money-changers out of the holy temple. For that and his popularity among the people, they hated him enough to have him killed. (According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Pharisees used the ruling Roman government to kill him.) This was the historic Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Jesus of Nascent Christianity as described in Gerald Lower's timely, historic book, Jefferson's Eyes.
The Bush regime has called for a constitutional amendment against gay and lesbian marriages, but the congress has to do the job. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said "it would take time" to gauge the level of support in Congress for a constitutional amendment". So the Neocon/Bush regime has it both ways: Bush receives credit for "siding with Jesus" for the many "fundamentalist, born-again Christians" whether the congress passes legislation or not. Tom DeLay delays. If polls showed that a majority of Americans approved of "gay marriage", would Bush be riding this horse? - a rhetorical question.
The Global Corporate Empire and its obliging corporate media is using the homosexual issue to divide America just as they have used welfare, labor laws, race, ethnicity, abortion, the death penalty, prayer in the schools, war and other "hot button" issues to divide us.
What will you do?
Will "we" agree to be divided? Will you as a "progressive" or "liberal" or "Christian" reach out across the Great Divide? Are you willing to examine the hatred that may be harbored in your own heart toward "the far right" or even for George W. Bush himself? Are you willing to drop your inflammatory language and refuse to contribute to the division? Will you refuse to aide and abet the very Global Empire that you say you oppose? Will you open your mind to listen - really listen - to what is on the heart and mind of the Republican, the Conservative, the Born Again Christian ... the person who fears the weakening or loss of the sacred institution of marriage?
Will you as a "conservative", "patriot" or "Christian" allow the ruling class to kindle the fires of hatred in your heart toward others who live differently than you? Do you have the courage and internal resources to reach across America's Great Divide and shake hands with the gay man or lesbian woman and recognize them as human beings? Will you listen to what they are saying?
Let there be no confusion. Your answers to these questions amount to a moral decision on your part. There is no escape. If we contribute to the bitterness and hatred that divides us as a people, you are, I am - in complicity with the very evils that we self-righteously condemn.
Listening and Seeing
When we "see what we see", it is difficult for us to even imagine (i.e. "image") our "truth" ever changing. We often defend our intransigence with claims that we are "standing on principle" or "obeying God's word".
When counseling couples whose marriages or partnerships are in difficulty, I sometimes use a simple metaphor to help them learn to communicate. With one sitting on my left and the other on my right, I hold up a coin. I ask each to describe what she or he sees. One will say "tails" and the other "heads". Then I ask one of them to "see" exactly, precisely, what the other sees. In order to do so, the client has to get up from the chair, sit down beside the other and see what he or she is seeing. After one of the partners does this, I ask what it is that he no longer sees: his side of the coin. Why is it so difficult for the client to accomplish this simple, figurative procedure?
The answer is plain and simple. When we truly look at an opposing point of view, we temporarily lose sight of our existing view. After truly looking and listening to that other point of view, we can return, but we retain the image of the other perspective, thus changing our own in some way. Therein lies the threat. But when we find the courage to temporarily give up our own point of view and honestly look at or listen to that of another, a magical thing happens. We find that our own point of view is enhanced and enriched. More importantly, we have demonstrated to the other, that we truly have listened ... and heard ... and respected his or her intelligence and humanity. Thus wounds can be healed and bitterness can evaporate.
Have you ever experienced a Paradigm Shift?
One of the favorite books in my library is The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson. She wrote "The Brain Revolution" in 1973 and has been the editor and publisher of "The Mind Brain Bulletin" since 1975 and "The Leading Edge Bulletin" since 1980. This is how she describes paradigm shift:
"A Paradigm Shift is a distinctly new way of thinking about old problems...reconciling the apparent contradictions between traditional knowledge and stubborn new observations ... it throws open doors and windows for new explorations."
Adjunctively, Dawn Adrian Adams, Ph.D, President and Founder of Tapestry, wrote this about paradigm shifts:
"Paradigms are things that people of a particular culture assume to be True. That means they do not change easily, in individuals or in cultures as a whole. However, when a person repeatedly encounters evidence that Reality is simply not as one had thought it was, it becomes increasingly important to respond to that evidence. A person does this in a series of predictable steps that constitute a change called a paradigm shift."
Marilyn Ferguson's book created an image for me - one that has served me for the last 30 years. It is the image of what I call "packages", - "new information" knocking on the doors of my consciousness from without. These packages may be delivered by news sources, written commentary, from the words of a friend or a neighbor. Sometimes the new package has a warm and friendly wrap. I have shelves and closets within my the house of my mind into which these new, friendly packages fit perfectly. I answer the door when the knock comes, open it and happily receive the delivered package with interest. I give them their proper place in their new home. Sometimes, I don't even bother to open them.
There are other times when I answer the door and see a package that looks very unfamiliar, even strange, and sometimes threatening. I find myself slamming shut the door and retreating to the safety of my comfortable "home". But over time, the packages left stacked against the door, add more and more weight until they reach a critical mass. The door caves in and a flood of new information comes tumbling into the foyer of my tidy living room. Anxiety and sometimes panic follows. I stalk around the packages lying on the floor, eyeing them with suspicion. Eventually, I begin to carefully open the packages and examine their contents. It is immediately clear to me that some of the contents are superior in every way to some of those I have been storing in my closet for years. I am experiencing a paradigm shift. It's an exciting time.
In the middle of this process, questions, challenges, thoughts and ideas swirl about my home. Ultimately, I find myself throwing some of those older, less useful packages into the dumpster and giving their place to their new replacements. Over the years, as I have become more comfortable with this process, I find fewer and fewer packages building up, outside the door. I find myself looking forward to receiving the new, unfamiliar packages. Sometimes I am even able to keep the door ajar or wide open. The periods between paradigm shifts elongate. I hope that eventually they will become one seamless process of change.
Some of the older packages in my closets and rooms have been there since my childhood and have never been vanquished by anything better. A very old wisdom tells us to "allow the wheels of our wagon to follow the deeper ruts in the road", but to also be open for the change in our lives and knowledge.
Our Paradigm Shifts in Religion and Politics
Am I open to the possibility that the Christian fundamentalist view of "Gay Marriage" might be right and I might be wrong? One might fairly ask, "But you have just written about the position of Fundamentalist Born Again Christians in very negative terms. You don't sound very 'open' to me! Indeed I have written aggressively against Bush's request for a new law to ban "Gay Marriage".
Am I open to a possible change in my view of this issue? Only I can know the answer to that question, but it is one that I must ask myself. I must remain open to new possibilities even though I haven't come to my present view without first listening to opposing views. I singularly listened to the Fundamentalist Christian ideology for 12 years of my life. I listened in the fundamentalist church of my youth. I followed that ideology to the classrooms of Bob Jones University and studied them in the library and my dormitory room. I sat in chapel at the university and listened to the ideology of Dr. Bob Jones Sr., Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. and Dr. Bob Jones III and fully opened myself to their thinking. I received their ideology and meditated on it with true devotion. I embraced it and preached it from the pulpit of my pastorate for over 6 years. I can even say that I found spiritual peace in some of it, meditations in the Davidic Psalms and the Psalms of Asaph. The packages that have remained in my house hold for me an inner peace has always remained.
But when I see seeds of racism, hatred and divisiveness within that same ideology, I must condemn it for what it is. Only I can know whether I hold hatred in my heart for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Richard Perle or the other Neocon Advisors who have made war. I have a lot of questions I would like to ask them, but I have no hatred for them. Hatred for them would not only be wrong. It would also rob me of my own humanity and inner peace. But I will do my best to show their ideology to be at variance with the teachings of the historic Jesus. I will do my best to expose what I view to be deceit, hatred, greed, avarice and murder - just as I will do my best to expose any such qualities I may find harbored in the packages on shelves of my own heart and mind. Self-deceit is the most dangerous deceit of all; it is my greatest fear. What should Americans do with the Bush demand that Gay Marriages be banned? To everyone, I ask, "WWJD?"
Tom House wrote a satire on a common paradigm through which many Americans view homosexuals today. Is it part of your paradigm? Are you ready for a shift?
"Jesus didn't die for faggots like you
So shut up and take what's coming to you
And you're gonna have to do your own suffering too
'Cause Jesus didn't die for faggots like you"
From "Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
There is little doubt in my mind that Mr. Bush and Jesus "have their own thing going". If he's got something going with the historic Jesus, Bush has a real problem. If he's got something going with the Jesus of today's Christian Civil Religion, I for one, am not convinced that it is Tom T. Hall's Jesus ... or the same Jesus who walked the earth and was murdered for his revolutionary ideas and teachings 2000 years ago.
© Copyright 2003 by AxisofLogic.com
About the author: Les Blough is founding editor of Axis of Logic, launched May 18, 2003. He grew up in the country in Pennsylvania where he began working on a dairy farm in his youth. He has been writing poetry since the age of 12 and political essays for many years. Currently, his work is divided betweenhis counseling & forensics practice and his work as a poet, politicalactivist, writer and editor. He is a graduate of Bob Jones University, University of Tennessee (Nashville) and Penn State University (College Park). He lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his family. More biographical informationAbout him is provided in the About Us section on the front page of Axis of Logic. He welcomes your comments: email@example.com