With gay marriage back in the mix as a political issue for 2012, I’ve been thinking a lot about religion, morality and human rights. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mitt Romney.
I’m a liberal and I support gay marriage.
That doesn’t mean I’m some “godless” communist, as the crazies on the far-right like to put it any time they encounter someone with whom they happen to disagree. I’m just some ordinary guy, doing the best I can to understand the world around me.
So it sparked my interest when the New York Times ran a story about rhesus monkeys and how they’re overrunning New Delhi in India, biting pedestrians and stealing groceries out of bags as people stroll along the streets. Monkeys, it turns out, are believed to be the living representatives of the Hindu god Hanuman and tradition holds that Hindus should feed them accordingly, Tuesdays and Saturdays, every week.
There was a similar story about Mr. Romney in the Times not long ago. Not about monkeys. No. Romney is a good Mormon. His church teachings hold that ancient Israelites fled to America many centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived. These ancient Israelistes developed their own civilization, which later fractured in a bloody civil war, involving two groups, the Nephites and Lamanites, the latter triumphing in the end and going on to become the people we call today the “Native Americans.”
Conservatives tend to be sure they’re right because they have (or think they have) religious truth and the U. S. Constitution on their side. Liberals, of course, tend to skeptical. So I might not buy the Hindu take on monkeys. I might not buy Mormon teachings about Nephites and Lamanites, either. Yet, as a good liberal, I understand that what Mr. Romney chooses to believe in no way harms or influences me.
Now we hear voices raised in certain conservative circles, warning that we must not allow gay marriage. Some Christian extremists (and all religions breed occasional extremists) insist, “God hates fags.” If we allow gay marriage, Reverend Pat Robinson likes to warn, God will punish our great nation. It’s right there in the Bible, they tell us. See Leviticus: 20:13: “If a man 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.”
I’m a liberal, see. And if nothing else, I’m skeptical about putting homosexuals to death.
Now, let me say, that some of the very finest people I have known are Christians, or were, including my mother, a devout Roman Catholic until the moment she passed away. I hope they all get to heaven in their own fashion; and if conduct and compassion are a guide, I believe they will, and so, in whatever manner God intends, I hope they’ll all be happy. With a bit of luck, I might even join my Mom and Mr. Romney.
But I do wish, if people were going to base their entire stance against gay marriage on Biblical principles, that they would explain their position on other issues the same way. If Mr. Romney is against gay marriage based on ancient religious teachings, shouldn’t he also take a stand against witchcraft, and not just change his position whenever it suits him to gain a little in the wiccan vote? This matter is addressed in Leviticus, too, 20:27: “A man or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.”
I’d like to hear him address the plague of children cursing parents in troubled modern times. Mr. Romney doesn’t curse much, himself, according to reporters. He has a reputation as a fine father, too, and his children probably don’t do much cursing, either. If other boys and girls do, however, what would be Dad Romney’s stand when we look at Leviticus 20:9? “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.”
In the end, if you’re going to base your case for intolerance toward homosexuals on what men and women were originally taught two or three thousand years ago, then I’d have liked to have seen someone ask during the Republican primaries this spring: “Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich, you both oppose gay marriage. What is your stance on adultery?”
I’d like to have seen Mitt lay it on Newt, and watch Newt squirm, when Mr. Romney quoted Leviticus yet again (20:10): “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adultress shall surely be put to death.”
I don’t think it makes me a godless communist to admit I’m puzzled by such matters. I can’t see how gay marriage is a threat to me, or to my wife’s happiness or mine, or how it harms my straight neighbors if they mind their own business. If Mr. Romney wants to sit in church and study his particular version of the truth, I don’t see where that would be my concern, or anyone else’s, be they observant Jew, devout Baptist or practicing Muslim.
If a loving pair of men or loving pair of women want to go to a different church and stand up before God and marry, and maybe later adopt and raise good kids, I don’t understand how society has a right to block their way.
I’m just your average liberal.
That means, as far as I have the capacity to understand these questions, that I’m for religious freedom and personal liberty, too, as far as both can be extended in any society, without harm to the common good.
If you want to feed the monkeys, that’s your business, too.