Prejudice

We saw the Gay Pride march in New York on TV news last Sunday. I felt sorry at their seeming need to parade themselves, wanting to be recognised for who they are. They should not feel they have to do that. They have the right as human beings to be who they are, as have all of us.

On Monday, the readings at mass were of God’s destructions of sinful Sodom and Gomorrah as told in the Book of Genesis. Abraham pleads with God not to destroy those places for the sake of the good people who might live there and bargains God down from 50 to 10 good people. There weren’t 10 and the Bible tells of the terrifying destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We wonder if there were no innocent children or babies. Why would God punish innocent little ones?

The sin was not hatred, murder, killings, slavery, injustice – it was same-sex relations. Dear God, we ask, what sort of sick prejudice wrote that story? The Bible is full of hatred, war, murder, executions, and God allows it all to happen without interfering, leaving wicked people to punish and destroy one another.

But it is God who punishes same-sex relations and in that story we find justification down the Jewish and Christian centuries for the condemnation of same-sex love – just as in the myth of Noah (Ark) and his family is found justification for slavery to which Noah condemned Ham and his descendants.

The Bible in the wrong hands and heads is lethal. Fundamentalists justify their cruelty by reference to the Holy Book (as do Muslim fundamentalists). How much suffering has been caused by slavery, justified in our Catholic Church down to the 1960’s! I was a student in Rome when, at the Vatican Council, the Church for the first time condemned slavery. Always the Church had urged kind treatment of slaves but allowed slavery (even the popes traded slaves) because the Bible seemed to approve. Coming from the country of Wilberforce, Clarkson, Newton I felt ashamed of the Church.

The prejudice against same-sex love in Christian Churches is based upon the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah and down the centuries has led to severe punishments, even executions. A story in the bible has led to that horror and other horrors.

Gay Pride walkers, I was sorry you plead with us to acknowledge you as being fully human. Native peoples of Africa and South America had to plead that, also, in their agony of slavery. You all shame us to look to our inhuman prejudices, especially when we have prayed to our selectively-loving God “We are good, they are despicable, even unhuman.”

Close the Book. Open your eyes and hearts. Then go back and re-read the book with prayerful understanding.

May God free us from prejudices,

Fr John

(7th July 2019)

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