Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another little refresher course on "clobber passages"

I did revisit Clarendon Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA this morning, much remodeled (the organ is gone, an odd priority, and the pews are cushioned).  Pastor David Ensign had spoken at a NOVA service Thursday night, and the church had attracted a few years ago by refusing to perform any marriages at all until there was marriage equality.

The sermon today, called a “Reflections”, was titled “Thy Word, Thy Queer Word, based on some text from Psalm 119 (“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”) and the most notorious “clobber passage” Leviticus 18:21-13, 20:13.

The sermon did not add anything to what has often been said about these passages:  it’s all about the context of the circumstances of the people when the words were written.  It did mention a same-sex marriage case in Virginia ten years ago in Haymarket (during the time of Marshall-Newman, “outside the law”) and a recent male same-sex marriage performed in the church. 

The most strict anti-homosexual values often develop in smaller, tribal communities with lower standards of living and with many surrounding enemies.  Many of the peoples for whom the Bible and later the Koran was developed lived this way.  Such tribes may reasonably fear they will not survive, so procreation and having more people may seem like a high priority.  In societies with less opportunity in terms of individual expression and achievement, participation in familial ties becomes more important, but those ties may seem predicated on the idea that everyone else will do their part and go along.  Collective security may seem to depend also on men being able to protect women and children physically.  Although I grew up, in the 1950s, in a relatively well-off society (the US then as a while person), collective security, in Cold War times, did affect the expectations of gender conformity.


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