Gay Marriage, or “What’s in Your Closet, Bob?” pt. 2

Part 2: In which the Elegant Bastard and “Bob” each drop their Bible Bombs

Please see Part 1 before continuing.

Bob has returned and the sin-as-choice argument has apparently not done all that well. Bob has therefore brought with him with him a variation. Simply put, if God says something is a Sin, it’s a Sin, whether or not it occurs by choice. And the Bible specifically condemns Gay sex in at least three different places. Bob waves this around like North Korea waves a nuke.

I am reasonably familiar with the Bible. I read it sporadically at Sunday school, cover to cover in university and parts of it as research in my thirties. I have great respect for it, even if I poke mild fun at some of its passages. I also have a lot of respect for those who, like Bob, make a sincere attempt to live their lives according to its teachings. However, I do not turn to it for spiritual or moral guidance. Nor would I ever insist that others do so. This is why I have difficulty accepting its contents as the sole basis for the making of laws.

Three of the bigger biblical same-sex prohibitions are those found in Genesis 19, Leviticus 19 and 1 Corinthians 6. In the first, two male angels visiting a guy called Lot are threatened with rape by a crowd of men at Lot’s door. Lot offers up his virgin daughters instead but the crowd persists in its demands. Eventually, the angels strike the potential rapists blind and the story ends. All this occurs in the city of Sodom. In this tale, Bob finds an argument against Gay sex and Marriage.

Really? The big no-no seems to be rape, or, if we examine Lot’s words, the sin of poor hospitality. Lot makes it pretty clear that he has a duty to care for guests. And besides, if this is intended as a moral lesson to us all, it does seem to be giving us permission to use our sisters and daughters – our virgin sisters and daughters – as gifts to visiting mobs! Wrap ‘em in some tissue, stick a bow on ‘em and write “For You All” on the tag. (We have no idea what the return policy would be in this case.)

Bob, we will have to assume that Dear Reader’s stunned silence at this point indicates a less than thrilled response to this variation on neighbourly sharing, so let’s turn to Leviticus, who writes, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination.” [i] That seems pretty clear. Two things, however, do give us pause. First, we have to wonder what kind of strange folk Leviticus is dealing with because in the nearby pages, he feels it’s necessary to tell them that they can’t “uncover the nakedness” of, among others, their fathers, their mothers, their aunts, their uncles, their nephews and their daughters. He goes on to ban both men and women from having sex with goats, cows, and camels. I mean, who are these people?

The second and far more important issue is the range of other restrictions Leviticus lays down. Among them is a prohibition against eating the flesh of the swine that “cheweth not its cud” even if it has a cloven hoof. Bob, think for a minute. He’s talking about pork! Bar B Que! Ribs! That pulled sandwich you so love. The roadside dinner destination of millions of ravenous middle-Americans.

And please, won’t someone think of the bacon!

So essentially, it comes down to this. If we enforce  a Bible based ban on Gay Marriage, we are also going to have to give up eating any and all forms of pork, uncovering all that nakedness, and looking lasciviously at domestic animals. If, as you say, things banned in the Bible are Sins, Bob, then everything banned in the Bible is a Sin. If it makes you feel any better, Leviticus allows you to eat locusts (but not shrimp, scallops or lobsters, with or without garlic butter.) And by the way, he also bans gossip.

The bit in Corinthians is also going to force Bob to make an inconvenient choice. Here we find a list of those who will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a pretty long list. Yes, it includes those who “abuse themselves with mankind”. This likely means those who have Gay sex. I suppose I could argue that it includes anyone who plays tackle football, hockey or rugby! I mean if those aren’t examples of “self abuse with mankind”, what is? However, I would be kidding.

My real issue is the rest of the “excluded” list. Right there in first place are the “fornicators”, followed by thieves, drunks, those who covet and a few more. Fornicators, Bob! This includes anyone who had sex before marriage as well as those who marry and then commit adultery. According to USA Today, almost all Americans have had premarital sex! [ii] And if our past or present sex crimes don’t get us, how about cheating on a tax return, drinking one too many beer one too many times, wanting anything that is our neighbour’s or even feeling lust in an improper fashion. (Apparently the kinky stuff is a sin even if it happens within a marriage!)  I don’t even want to begin to think about Heaven’s opinion on internet porn.

So is self abuse with mankind the bad one because it’s the one you don’t do and the rest are just naughty examples of boys being boys? I don’t think that’s the way it works! The problem with using the Bible as a rule book, Bob (and as I said earlier I have no real issue with that idea) is this notion of consistency. You can’t just pick and choose what is and is not a Sin and for whom. And if you feel you can, then we really aren’t dealing with the Bible.

We are dealing with the Boble.

Let’s consider two further Bible related points here.  We need to keep in mind that the Commandments begin with “Thou” either stated or implied. For example, “Thou shalt not kill.” or (Thou shalt) “Honour thy father and thy mother.” No Commandment begins “Other people shall not … .” Thus, while a concern for the holiness of neighbours may be touching, it isn’t what the Bible’s going on about. No one is going to be denied the Kingdom of Heaven because the neighbours sinned. If that were so, no one would live within 100 miles of a Kardashian. No, that Divine Finger is pointing at you, Bob, so do let’s be careful. We don’t want another Sodom here, now do we?

And if your primary motive is less the holiness of others and more their pain, God doesn’t really need help there either. I mean this is the deity who managed to come up with great floods, columns of fire and assorted plagues without our help.

Let’s end today’s letter with a new but key point. Assume you and Bobawa have invited the neighbours over for a dinner celebrating your anniversary. We all arrive bearing small wrapped gifts. Conversation begins. You mention your first apartment. We ask what the sex was like there and did you “do it” on the balcony. You go on to speak adoringly of the birth of your two children. We ask for details about their conception. You reminisce about family vacations over the years. We want to know if you had sex in all the hotel rooms or just in those with three stars. You then unwrap our presents and discover that everyone has brought you condoms, albeit in different colours and several flavours.

At that point, you would (I hope) – with righteous and justifiable anger – demand we all take our filthy and sex-obsessed imaginations out of your nice clean house.

My point, Bob, is simply this. The issue being discussed is Gay Marriage and every argument you have raised has to do with sex. And since you undoubtedly would agree that you are married to Bobawa even on those days when you do not have sex, we must assume that there is more to marriage than sex. That being so, perhaps in part three of this letter we could move on?

Cheers for now, Bob.

The last part will be posted on Friday.

 



[i] Leviticus 19, 22.

[ii] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-12-19-premarital-sex_x.htm

 

 

Gay Marriage, or “What’s in Your Closet, Bob?”

Part 1: In which the Elegant Bastard and Bob discuss whether Gay Marriage is Icky, Contagious or a threat to Resale Values in Iowa.

Dear America,

You and I may have already met but allow me to introduce “Bob”.

I know that his name and the obvious subject of this letter will lead a few to assume “Bob” needs no introduction. For them, the name and context would have instantly conjured up the image of a chubby, middle-aged mid-western white guy with a beer in one hand, a gun in the other, a child on either side and a wife we can’t see because she is in the kitchen. There is likely a dog, also chubby. And if this image comforts you and aligns with your planets, so be it.

However, truth be told, Bob may or may not actually be his real name.  In fact, Dear Reader, you may eventually need to become comfortable with ambiguity since Bob may or may not be chubby, may or may not be white, and may or may not drink beer, or be overweight, or love football, or live in Iowa. In fact, Bob may not even be male.

What we do know is that Bob, his children (Bob Junior and Bobette) and his wife (Bobawa)  and likely his little dog ( Rob) do not approve of Gay Marriage. Our task is to determine why this is so and then, in the true spirit of Diversity, determine whether to accept Bob’s arguments or look elsewhere for a solution.

I will admit, America, that I found Bob’s insistence on discussing this issue a little strange. After all, if Salima weds Fatima or Dick elopes with Dan, it should really only concern me if 1) I am paying for these weddings, or 2) I am God or 3) I happen to actually be Salima, Fatima, Dick and/or Dan. If none of these conditions hold, then my polite inner Canadian will no doubt whisper to me that my primary duty is to shut up and butt out. However, let’s hear what Bob has to say.

Bob has apparently decided that Gay Sex is “icky” and Gay Marriage will inevitably lead to Gay Sex. This may be true. In fact, Bob, Other People Having Sex (OPHS) generally is icky to uninvited observers. That is why OPHS tends to take place indoors, at night and behind curtains. In other words, Bob, you would have to work really really hard to actually see married Gay Sex (and that nice policeman who does the late night neighbourhood patrols might not understand why you need to) so why bother. Much easier to stay home and watch porn. Of course if next door newly-weds Larry and Barry decide to install floodlights and go at it rabbit-like on your front lawn, we will understand your objection. When this happens, let us know.

Bob now decides that arguments based on sexual aesthetics might not wash so we are moving on to concerns based on maintaining both family and property values. But here, too, there are problems. Surely family values must be set by individual families. You cannot insist that I watch “American Idol” with my children; I cannot insist that you watch “Big Bang Theory” with yours. Your spouse works; my common law partner does not. We are vegetarian; you are carnivores. Your walls are beige; mine are light green. Bob, mi casa no es tu casa.

Property values are another matter, but ever since the first reports came out suggesting that an influx of Gay couples actually boosts house prices[i], I am frankly amazed that recession-hit towns aren’t begging them to move in and start the renovations NOW! Besides, if neighbourly behavior really impacted property values, Bob, weed whackers, rap music and large reptilian pets would all have been banned decades ago.

I knew we would ultimately come to the next concern and here we are. Please won’t somebody think of the children!

Simply put, Bob wonders if the she-bop shenanigans of neighbours Beryl and Cheryl will confuse the emerging sexual identities of Bob Jr. and little Bobette. In other words, he is worried about contagious homosexuality in the same way that any parent might worry about mumps or measles. The fact that studies have shown that parental sexual preference has no impact on the choices made later by their adult children[ii] only increases his worries, especially since those very same studies remained mysteriously silent on the impact of Neighbour sexual preference! (Everybody loves a conspiracy, eh?)

Is Bob’s concern legitimate? Let us assume that adult sexual identity is contagious if it occurs between 35 and 50 feet away from impressionable children and only if the “germs” have to pass through two intervening external walls. Let us further assume that 5 % of the adult population in America is naturally gay. Finally, we will take as a given the fact that `natural` homosexuality was invented by communists at the start of the Cold War – say around 1950. We will use these assumptions to track the hypothetical growth of the feared Gay tsunami:

If, in 1950, the first subversive Gay Anti-American Sex Pair  (GASP) was infiltrated into, say, Smallville, then by 1965, the time it would take those born in 1950 to begin regular sexual activity, an additional 15 % of the population would have been infected. By 1980, GASP would grow to 45%. The takeover would be complete by 2010. As it is now 2013, Bob needs to accept that if Gay sex is communicable, not only will Bob Jr. and Bobette definitely be gay, Bob himself and Bobawa already are.

I sense we are now moving closer to the core of Bob’s concern. He believes that even if Gay behavior isn’t contagious, it is sinful and allowing Gay marriage means encouraging the growth of sin in the community. If true, this is indeed a troublesome notion and it deserves the same thoughtful consideration we have given Bob’s other arguments.

Let us begin by understanding the nature of sin. Sin occurs as the result of free choices we make. Eating, breathing and drinking are not in themselves sinful since we have no free choice in the matter. However, if we choose to fricassee our mother-in-law’s yappy poodle while inhaling cheap drugs and drinking bathtub gin, we have definitely committed several sins!

Now comes the difficult part. Bob and many of his buddies say that being Gay is a sin; ergo, it follows that people are Gay by choice. If this is so, then Bob’s argument becomes quite strong. However, we must be thorough. To determine if such actions are committed by choice, we must now ask Bob to select any one or more of his best buddies and go test this hypothesis, preferable behind the afore-mentioned closed doors and closed curtains. If neither Bob nor his closest friends are able to rise to this challenge, then we will have to assume that being Gay does not occur by choice and therefore cannot properly be call Sinful!

We’ll wait for you here, Bob.

(End of Part 1. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday)

 

Cry Pity for Gargantupeds

In which The Elegant Bastard urges others of his big footed tribe to join him in leaving their sorrows in the closet and to come out Stomping.

Most of us now live in politically correct communities.

Here we have no obesity, no lazy folk, no bald guys, no bad boys, no dumbies, no pet owners and no Christmas. Instead we have persons of size, the alternatively motivated, the comb free, the morally challenged, the differently “wisdomed”, animal guardians who walk around with little plastic bags in their hands and, my favorite, Winter Holidays (if you happen to live in the appropriate hemisphere).

The tall no longer need to hear the wit-deprived ask about the weather “up there”. The short are no longer asked what they and their six brothers really wanted to do with or to Snow White. The bald no longer have to “polish it up for us”. No large breasted woman is told how fortunate she is to have a built-in tray on which to rest small objects. No one’s disabled, no one’s nasty and no one ever ever fails. If Evils of any sort do exist, we have all agreed not to speak of them by name.

Are there those who remain unenlightened, who wander about in their own dark, refusing to believe that  “compete”, “win”, “earn” and “best” have been replaced by “differently”, “alternatively” and “otherly”? There well may be but if they are wise, they do so quietly.  The Gods of Happy Clappy and Hippy Dippy are jealous gods and they carry big not-so-inclusive sticks!

Yet as this spirit of Undifference sweeps across the land, loading us all into one giant Procrustean bed where we will all learn to play well with others, one group is left behind. And upon encountering members of this last lost tribe, the legions of the Variously Abled raise their chins, look down their noses and curl their upper lips. For here in the beige halls of Brave New World, there are none to cry pity for Gargantupeds.

I am one of these and have been so since birth.

I am not sure when I first realized I was different. Perhaps it was when I turned five and saw my mother turned away from the Childrens’ Shoe department at Montreal’s Eaton’s. She was told to take me over “there” where they might have “something” suitable. Or it could have been the time I kicked back at a bully (with spectacular results!) and my father was subsequently told by my principal to “have those bloody great feet of his licensed!” I can remember entering a Toronto friend’s home one fine summer’s day, only to have his smiling brother ask me to leave the skis outside. Even my own uncle, a sea plane enthusiast, once opined that while I might not ever be able to walk on water, I could likely one day land on it. Certainly by the time I reached adolescence, I was fully aware of my own Gargantupedia. I had crossed far beyond the bounds of normal and stumbled around my world on  feet sized 13 and a half (47 in Europe.)  Even my best friend, after a day spent fruitlessly searching for new sneakers, suggested I give up and just wear the boxes his came in.

As parents do in cases like this, mine assured me that the steady stream of comments was motivated by the jealousy of others. I smiled silently in response to this – Gargantupedians always smile silently – but I did not believe them. Had I been overly sized with respect to some other bodily appendage, I might have bought that fiction. But in the hierarchy of highly valued human parts, feet come very near the bottom. We struggle for big muscles, are made maudlin by big eyes, gaze surreptitiously at big breasts, flaunt big bulges, encourage big hearts and call upon others to give us that big smile. Not only in the male world does size matter. Big rules everywhere, except in the kingdom of the feet!

This prejudice is evident even in our language. We are never asked to lend a helping foot.  We congratulate no one for hitting the nail on the foot. Armies are not armed to the feet,  friends never cross heir feet to wish us luck, and no one ever learned a poem by foot. Our society stands condemned by its own common utterances.

A few friends tell me there are logical reasons for this unfair treatment of feet and by extension, the differently footed. Things would change, they tell me, if we reached for the heavens with our feet and ran like hell on our hands. Yet even in activities where feet are essential, they are ignored. A large group of young women I observed paying rapt attention to Christiano Ronaldo in the World Cup assured me that they were not watching his feet. I can pick up a dime with my toes and yet, Dear Reader, you would be shocked to discover how few people ever want to see me do so!

One colleague tells me it’s all about fear. I reject this. What fearful things can feet do? I cannot pick a pocket with my feet. I cannot shoot a gun. I could, I suppose, start stomping things indiscriminately but this would inspire more hilarity than horror. Of all the great monsters in our world, the only one we laugh at is – you guessed it – Big Foot.

Another suggests the culprit is the classical hero, Oedipus the King, for as we all know, the name “Oedipus” means “swollen foot”. Would anyone, my friend points out, want to get really close to a guy who might at any moment indulge in unrestrained father-bashing or mother-marrying?

Most, however, simply ignore my efforts to highlight the plight of Gargantupeds. I am patted on the shoulder, offered a stiff drink and told it’s all in my head. I wonder for a while if they are right, if in fact there is no conspiracy, no deliberate attempt to break our spirits and shove us into society’s closet, an almost empty place now that virtually everyone else has come out.

Then I went to Paris and discovered the horrible reality first hand.

It had been a good day. I had strolled though Notre Dame, lingered in the Louvre and decided that the Eiffel Tower did indeed tower. I’d had innumerable cups of coffee, all of them too small. Now it was time for the real pilgrimage, my own journey to my own Lourdes. With shopping bags in one hand and wallet in the other, I made my reverent way to the world’s ultimate department store, Les Galeries Lafayette.

The crowds were enormous. Fewer people go to Mecca. I could understand this better than most, for I knew that here in this temple to commerce I would find the world’s largest shoe department. Here I would finally find my fit. My True Faith would be welcomed, heart and body and soul and sole. All my saints could be found within: Sargent, Ferragamo, Bally, Westwood, Nichols, Choo and more. Great hoards of other worshippers streamed around me. Euros flowed like wine and prayers were murmured.  Finally an Armani-clad and Prada-shod priest approached and asked if he could help me. I took a calming breath and spoke.

“Could I see something in a loafer, size 47?”

He stared at me. I saw his lip twitch. He called another over. They looked at each other, at me, at my feet and at the sky. They shook their heads. It was not possible. A 45 perhaps if one had been sent to them in error but this, no. This was too much.

They did not scoff. They did not sneer. They even seemed to offer the kind of Gallic pity normally extended to those allergic to wine or foie gras. But the ultimate outcome was clear. There was no room for Pharisees in their church. I had been mocked in Montreal and teased in Toronto but here in Paris I was doomed to go barefoot.

I am home now but one cannot undo an epiphany. I must respond. Will I do so with bitter tears? Perhaps, and I may add to that loud wails. However, I will go further. I will also do what so many have done before me when they uncovered evidence that society had deliberately and with malice targeted and maligned their Otherness.

I will accept the fact that I have done nothing wrong, that I do not deserve this treatment, that I need not feel shame. I will remember that a strangely dressed lady came to me in a dream to tell me I was born this way.

I will have justice. I will demand my rights. I will step forward knowing in my heart what the down-trodden have always known.

Somewhere out there, there is someone I can sue!