The Connection Between the Crucifixion and the Passover, Part II

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 9 February 2005 0 Comments
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I want you to clarify for me certain issues that seem to me to impact our common existence. Are you in support of gay marriages and abortions? Do you think we have the antichrist and the Dragon in our midst today?


Your reference to "antichrist and the Dragon in our midst today" is language so closely identified with evangelical religion that it is almost incomprehensible to discuss it outside that frame of reference, so I assume that must be your tradition. To call one's opponent "antichrist and the Dragon" is to assume that anyone disagreeing with your fundamentalist view of Christianity is evil and it serves well to keep your assertions from ever being engaged in any sort of debate. I am neither impressed by nor attracted to that mentality. The fact that you link those concepts to homosexuality and abortion is a further indication of the same mentality.

The issue of homosexuality is not a 'moral' issue so much as it is a 'being' issue. That is because all contemporary and scientific data today suggest that homosexuality is not something people choose to do; it is something that a minority of the world's population simply is. It is abnormal only in the sense that it is minority. Prejudice against a gay or lesbian person is thus in the same category as prejudice against those whose skin color is different, or against women or left-handed people. To denigrate a person simply because of who that person is, is evil and yes, I would also call it sinful. The homophobia that I have encountered in many parts of the Third World is a combination of religious zeal and human ignorance. I am grateful that there are African voices like that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Khotso Mkullu and Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane who have become champions of homosexual people that might counter the impression that homophobia is an African or third world illness. I do believe that gay and lesbian people have a right not to be excluded from any activity or benefit that the heterosexual majority enjoys.

In regard to abortion, the issue is quite complicated. It pits the life of the unborn child against the life and well being of the mother. Once abortion was illegal which meant that women, desperate not to have a baby for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, resorted to back alley abortionists and in far too many circumstances lost their lives in the process. I am quite sure that the abortion laws are misused. I am also sure that without them, great harm will be done to women. I believe very deeply that abortion ought to be legal. I believe that it ought to be safe. Finally, I believe it ought to be rare. I do not believe, however, that a male-dominated society, even when it claims to speak in the name of a God called 'Father,' has the right to tell a woman what she must do with her own body.

If abortion is going to be rare, competent and effective sex education must be carried out in the public arena with standards set by health authorities. I find it interesting that the same religious voices that are opposed to both birth control and abortion are also opposed to rigorous sex education in public schools. Religious schools have far too often proved themselves to be incompetent to handle sex education so wherever churches run religious schools, I think the government ought to require that sex education, run by the state or qualified health officials be done outside the auspices and control of religious officials.

Above all I think it is time evangelical Christians stop quoting the Bible to perpetrate their prejudices against both homosexuals and women. The Bible is not a medical and health textbook and the level of knowledge available to the ancient people who wrote it compromises its authority. Jesus is even portrayed, you might recall as thinking epilepsy is caused by demon possession. The Bible came into written form roughly between 1000 B.C.E. and 135 C.E. The world has learned much since then. To suggest that the Bible somehow has the answer to complex modern issues like homosexuality and abortion is to be uninformed at best; it is to be malevolent and destructive at worst.

I hope you will find these comments helpful and enlightening.

-- John Shelby Spong




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