Denominations differ on homosexuality
While I appreciate Jarrett Skov’s sentiments regarding the Westboro Baptist Church [printed April 8], I would like to clear up a misconception he stated. Mr. Skov stated that “Christianity considers homosexuality to be a sin.” This statement is not true.
Mr. Skov identified himself in his article as a conservative, evangelical Christian. Now, it is true that homosexuality is considered sinful in his particular tradition. However, Christianity is comprised of a variety of diverse traditions, with diverse theological understandings of the nature of homosexuality. Indeed, there are some traditions, such as the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, which allow for its gay and lesbian members to rise to the highest levels of leadership within their denominations.
A letter to the editor is not a proper forum for a theological discussion, and that is not my intent here. I simply want to challenge the misconception that all Christian communities understand homosexuality in the same way. There are many Christian communities that seek to provide safe and welcoming spaces where people may explore their faith in light of their sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation in light of their faith. I am proud to say that the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech is one such community.
Rev. Steve Fazenbaker
Director, Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech
Editorial puts friendly face on homophobia
Last week’s opinion column by Jarrett Skov [printed April 8] was self-important and insulting. In a reactionary, 800-word trip back to the 1950s, he criticized the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church and, in the process, purported to apologize for believers like himself who “fail in caring more for others.”
He apologized for the wrong thing. Like most Christians, Skov believes that homosexuality is a sin. In his eyes, this doesn’t make him a bigot—not like the awful Westboro Baptist Church—because “God does not hate the sinners, just the sin.” God doesn’t hate homosexuals; he just hates homosexuality. How charitable of God.
This is ridiculous. Homosexuality is not a choice; homosexuality is not a sin. Even Skov himself claims he can’t “justify elevating one sin above everything else.” And sure, the Bible says homosexuality is an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). But God also forbids wearing clothing “woven of two kinds of material” (Leviticus 19:19). He prohibits clipping off the edges of one’s beard (Leviticus 19:27). He considers it a sin to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10). So where are the Christians claiming that beard trimming is a sin? Or claiming that shellfish are an abomination?
The context for all of these verses is the same. You can’t pick and choose which abominations you prefer. You can’t pick and choose which sins “count” as actual sins.
Recognize that both homosexuality and shellfish are abominations, or recognize that many, many parts of the Bible are outdated and obsolete. Recognize that being a good person requires more than disagreeing with the Westboro Baptist Church, more than mere lip service to “genuine love and compassion.” It requires the elimination of all bigotry and intolerance—including the belief that homosexuality is a sin.
Christians pick some beliefs, ignore others
Letters to the editor are obviously not the place to have a theological discussion, but Jarrett Skov’s recent editorial concerning the Westboro Baptist Church [printed April 8] suffers from the same flaw that causes the nation to be disgusted with the WBC. It is a flaw that permeates society in areas other than religion, on issues most divisive and in the political arena. That flaw is cherry-picking, and it doesn’t generate any fruits for your labor.
Cherry-picking involves taking only facts, arguments or any other points that support your argument and discarding the rest. To my understanding, you can’t quite do that with holy texts. It’s all or nothing; it’s inspired by the word of a deity or it’s not. The WBC may ignore Jesus’ forgiveness of the New Testament (cherry-picking the bad), but Skov ignores the tyrannical hothead of a god in the Old (cherry-picking the good).
He ignores the fact that his god created humans with the sin we should feel guilty for. Even beyond ridiculous edicts about wearing wools and linens (Deuteronomy 22:11) or eating shrimp (Leviticus 11:12), he ignores the drowning, killing and slaying of millions by his god or his followers. Even Jesus only saves us from sin created by God in the first place. And while homosexuality and adultery could be interpreted as the same degree of sin, the Bible is clear about the punishment: death. Skov argues that this is “hating the sin,” but it is still people that are suffering the consequences (i.e. eternal hellfire for finite crimes).
Why not step away from the millennia-old mythology and embrace instead a secular moral system? This allows you to judge the Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita or any holy book of your choice on its own merits. These books are an antiquated reflection of the time they were written (and perhaps edited, retranslated, copied, edited again). A neutral look at the Bible shows a lot of brutality mixed in with the love and kindness.
To be a Christian, you must accept it all, however. There are wonderful lessons amongst the madness; that’s absolutely true. But let’s drop the stuff about slavery, sexism, homosexuality and original sin and keep the Golden Rule, brotherhood, and forgiveness. Some of those commandments are good building blocks, too. I firmly believe that mankind today is far better than the Bible collecting dust on their shelves.
“Green” bottles not as sweet a deal as they seem
All that glitters ain’t gold. The same is true that all that is renewable may not be “green”. When I first heard of Coke and Pepsi’s new “plant-based bottles,” I have to admit I was excited. Coke’s bottles use sugarcane molasses to create bottles from 30 percent plant-based materials. This sounds like a great advance given that 50 billion plastic water bottles were consumed in 2006 in the U.S. alone, which contributes to the consumption of petroleum. Unfortunately, the environmental impact of a product depends on a lot more than the source of the materials used to make it.
A life cycle assessment from the University of Pittsburgh was conducted on the Coke’s plant-based bottle which compared the environmental effects of a regular petroleum-based plastic bottle with the new plant-based bottle from the raw materials to the end of the manufacturing process. The plant-based bottle did perform slightly better in two areas: greenhouse gas reduction and a lower use of non-renewable energy. However, this “green” bottle was more harmful to the environment in a number of categories, including greater acidification, increased carcinogens, ozone depletion, increased smog, more eutrophication (which increases nutrients in the water causing depletion of oxygen and killing aquatic creatures) and respiratory effects. All of these are important factors in determining the effect a product will have on the environment. Sustainability is definitely an optimization problem, and I am happy that corporations are beginning to work for a better tomorrow. However, advocating a product without knowing all the facts is a dangerous thing.
I hope Tech will consider all the facts before bringing these bottles to our vending machines. But to be even more sustainable, we should look as consumers to the order of the waste hierarchy: Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle. So when you buy a plastic bottle, please recycle. But to really reduce your environmental footprint, why not bring your own reusable plastic bottle? That way you save some green while being more green.