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Hate is not a conservative Christian value

Biblical literalism shouldn't trump message of love

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I'm a 62-year-old conservative Christian Republican who has slowly but steadily come to the awareness that gay rights and lifestyle probably aren't near the threat to life on earth that so many of my ilk seem to believe. Please know that we don't all hate those we disagree with. I'm not even sure I disagree. Most of us just want to be treated as average people and allowed to live our lives unmolested and unridiculed. Some of the Pride Festival events make that attitude a bit difficult to maintain, but surely they're no different from the displays seen at big football games. Cheese wedge worn on the head? Stripped to the waist with body paint? Equals or exceeds anything gay, in my opinion.

When confronted with the argument that sexual orientation is a choice, Neal Boortz likes to ask his callers when in their lives they decided to be straight and how difficult a choice it was. Part of my receptiveness to this view is that the few gay people I've met have been — all of them — delightful.

Let me briefly go into the logic behind the church's stance on homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 prohibits sex with mankind as with womankind. I can't say much pro or con on that one. It says what it says. And the often-quoted Leviticus 20:13 prohibits men having sex with men. However, one rarely hears Leviticus 11:7 mentioned. This is where the "no pork" idea comes from. The same chapter prohibits eating any kind of shellfish and rabbit, and you can scratch ravens, ostriches and eagles as well. Did I mention I love lobster?

Sometimes we let our literal interpretation of the Bible totally push out the attitude that Christians purport to hold: love for all persons. The love is not felt when lathered on with self-righteousness and you're-a-sinner-and-I'm-not type of messages. I've never had good results proffering unasked for lifestyle advice.

Christianity's teaching against homosexuality is in no way based upon fact, history or social research. The fact that gays do not appear to be tearing society apart at its core merely makes us slightly less confident of something that most have long since made up their minds regarding. We're against excess of all kinds, too, like alcohol, but we seem to be OK with overeating and obesity — note the girth of most any Southern Baptist minister.

A more even-tempered approach taken by many Christians is in Romans 3:23, which states, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." It basically says we're all in trouble and doesn't single out any particular group for special treatment, be it punishment or praise. That's an entirely scriptural basis upon which to run a church and leaves out that rather un-Christ-like hate thing.

Christians believe that what they have is perfect for everyone. They could be correct, but it still requires persuasion. How open is anyone going to be when your sales pitch is, "You're going to burn in Hell for eternity. Would you like to hear about the love of God?" Hate pretty much sends the customer out of the store.

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