Posts Tagged ‘lesbian’
I was going to blog about the historic announcement yesterday on Same -Sex marriage, but as usual, my better half puts it so much better than I ever could have…so, just read what she has to say….for a change!
Yesterday was Pride. A wonderful gathering in Kelvingrove park, a march through the West End, City Centre, and finishing with a festival on George square. Positive reactions all the way, nothing negative at all except perhaps the Rainbow Flag wasn’t flying from the City Chambers this year). I chaired Pride Scotland back in 2001/2002 and so i know what a huge chunk of your life it takes to organise such an event. This year of course, one of the main focuses was on Equal marriage and as Ruth and I had done our bit earlier in the week we were able to take a bit of a back seat and just march, chat, wander about and generally enjoy the event. I bumped into several ex-pupils from my old school, Cathkin High and it was great to hear their stories, and even greater to hear how me being an out, openly gay teacher had made their own lives just that little bit easier. Maybe my time as a teacher at Cathkin wasn’t all wasted then! Anyway, it made me think back to when I was coming to terms with my own sexuality in the mid to late 70′s. Things were very different then if you were LGBT. You’d never have admitted it at school, thats for sure. It really was a different world back then and looking around George Square yesterday at all the young people, teenagers, even those in their twenties, I reflected on just how they were taking it all for granted; the freedom to be just who they are without fear of violence from peers, colleagues and especially, the police (who had their Strathclyde lesbian and Gay association officers out proudly marching in the parade in big numbers this year). I know we still have a long way to go on homophobic bullying in schools, as Stonewall Scotland pointed out earlier this week, but we’ve come a long way since I was a kid. As was brought home to me when I watched this video from back then…
Just what is it with religion and homosexuality at the moment ? Ever since Peter and Hazel-Mary Bull lost their discrimination court case and rolled out their religion as a justification for their bigotry, the television and radio waves have been hot with news reports and discussion shows trying to analyse the wrongs and rights of this legal tussle. And in most of these broadcasts, the so-called religious authorities are wheeled out to defend the Bulls on the grounds of their right to practice their faith. Almost invariably, they quote the bible as justification for their beliefs as if this was some sort of divine authority by which everyone, including those of all faith and none should abide by.
Now before I go any further, I should state here that both my partner and I are practicing and observant Christians and are active members of our church, things you would expect of practicing Christians. We did have to go abroad to marry because we wanted to celebrate our commitment to each other in a Christian ceremony, something which is at the present time, not possible for same-sex couples in the UK. We have a marriage certificate, which makes me wonder if we’d have been turned away from the inn by the Bulls had we pitched up one dark and stormy night with nowhere else to go…
But I digress somewhat. I have to admit I’m getting rather fed up of what I can only refer to as Christian fundamentalists quoting the bible so selectively. They thunder and rant the biblical passages that refer to sexual acts, both man on man and girl on girl as justification for their collective stances without, I believe, stopping to consider what most rational people might think which is the old adage that those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. For, my logic goes, if you’re going to insist that somebody’s actions are wrong because one part of the bible says so, then shouldn’t you condemn all ‘anti-biblical’ behaviour. Should not these folks also speed headlong into the arms of the media to rail against pork and shellfish eaters ? and those naughty people who insist on wearing clothes made from mixed fibres ? or even those who refuse to participate in animal sacrifice ? I could go on and on. The first five books of the bible, the so-called law books list six hundred and thirteen such strictures. Some are not relevant to life today, such as those concerning the treatment of slaves for example. But can those folk so fond of quoting bible passages to support their prejudices honestly say that they live their lives by as many of the biblical laws ? I think not. This video clip illustrates the selective quotes issue very well I think.
And herein lies the crux of the problem, for if it’s ok to put aside some rules which don’t fit in with life some four thousand years after they were written, surely this has to apply to lifestyles which were not apparent all those years ago. For the bible makes no mention of long-term, openly visible and ‘official’, same-sex relationships between men or between women, and there are certainly no laws which appear to prohibit such relationships, at least ones which I have been able to find ( indeed the only biblical reference in the bible which could be interpreted as being directed at Lesbians is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, 1-26-27 and even this is open to very loose interpretation!). Indeed, there would be an outcry, both moral and legal if some of the biblical ‘lifestyles’ were practiced by Christians today, such as Polygamy, for example. The bible can be a liberating text if understood in it’s context, but a dangerous tool for hurting and oppressing others with whom one might not agree.
You get the picture. For me, you see, it really doesn’t join my dots.
But actually, you know, there are at east two biblical stories which might just provide some support for long-term faithful same-sex relationships. One is the story of David and Jonathan, and for the other, You have to go to the times chronicled in the book of Judges. Because during these sometimes violent and lawless times in the history of Israel we find the peaceful story of Ruth and Naomi. Briefly, Ruth, a woman from Moab is married to an Israeli émigré, who died. Rather than staying in her own country, she journeyed back to Israel with her former mother-in-law, Naomi, demonstrating a rather uncommon loyalty for those times. In fact, she can’t bear to leave Naomi as her feelings run far to deep for her to consider separation. The story tells us that Ruth clung to Naomi, and it’s here that the story becomes of interest to us because the Hebrew word translated into English as clung is dabaq, interestingly, the same word used in Genesis to describe how Adam felt about his wife, Eve (I guess this is one of the benefits of being married to a fluent Hebrew speaker). This is the way spouses are supposed to feel about each other and Ruth’s feelings for Naomi are celebrated rather than condemned.
Ruth goes on to make a vow to Naomi – the beautiful words (which we had as central to our own wedding ceremony) almost echo down the centuries speaking now, as then, of the love and devotion of one to another. Ruth promises….
“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried. May the Lord‘s worse punishment come upon me, if I let anything but death part me from you!” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Later in Ruth’s story, she remarries, a much older man called Boaz( remember, an independent woman in those times had no status…Ruth had little or no choice in the matter of re-marriage, being of childbearing age and it is very notable that there is no mention of their being any love between Ruth and her new husband with their relationship being portrayed almost as a marriage of convenience contracted to help the women survive the harsh realities of widowhood) and bears him a son, Obed (whose grandson was David, the greatest of the kings of Israel). There is, however, a further twist to this tale because when the baby Obed is presented to the people, the women gave him to Naomi, who “held him close after taking him, and took care of him”. The women then proclaimed to everyone that “a son has been born to Naomi” and remind Naomi that “Ruth, who loves you is more important than seven sons”.
It’s all about the reaction of Ruth and Naomi to the birth of Obed, nothing being recorded about the father’s reactions. The emphasis of the book of Ruth is the relationship between the two women being more important and significant than any other, even after she married another man.
Can there be any doubt at all that God, through this story, affirms the committed love between these two women? I think not, at least not if you share the view that the bible is the word of God, or at least, inspired by God. Indeed, throughout Christian history, Ruth’s vow to Naomi has been used to illustrate the very essence of the marriage contract, the ideal love that spouses are supposed to have for one another. Peter and Hazel-Mary Bull would do well to re-read the Book of Ruth and consider the nature of this relationship before using the bible to reinforce their own bigotry under the guise of religious freedom. They might also consider the irony of turning away the two men from their hotel in the run up to Christmas, something another couple about two thousand years or so ago had to endure, as well as the point they tried to make central to their case as a smokescreen for their prejudices, marital status.
For Joseph and Mary were unmarried too.