Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Does Rep. Andy Gipson Want Homosexuals Dead?

Mississippi lawmaker, Andy Gipson, was recently accused of condemning (at least indirectly) homosexuals to death by citing Leviticus 20:13:

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

To be fair, I want to quote Gipson's response to the media backlash against his comments: 

Apparently the Huffington Post (a California-based liberal blog) ran an article falsely stating or implying that my facebook post citing Leviticus 20:13 was to "suggest" that gay people should be put to death. I reject and resent that accusation; I have NEVER condoned or requested the killing of ANY PERSON. I believe all are created in the image of God, and one of the 10 Commandments is "Thou shalt not murder." What I did intend and did say is that the Bible clearly defines homosexual conduct as morally wrong - a sin. I cited this and another scripture for the purpose of pointing out that the conduct is sin, in defense of my stance against same-sex marriage. What I find amazing is that the same people asserting the virtue of "tolerance" will tolerate all views except the view of Scripture - and, as evidenced today, will call and threaten me for referring to a Bible passage! Of course, we are all sinners, all in need of God's grace. Only Jesus Christ can provide the grace we all need, including the folks who left those hateful messages on my answering machine. I pray for them that they would see and understand the truth. 

Believe it or not, I no longer believe that Gipson was necessarily condemning homosexuals to death.  Citing Leviticus and other passages that are believed to address homosexuality is actually quite common, and I refuse to believe that everyone who engages in this practice wishes death upon homosexuals.  The context of his discussion, which was prompted by President Obama’s decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage, suggests that he was focused on proving via the Scriptures that homosexuality is a sin, not on whether it should be a punishable crime.

However, while I don’t think Gipon is implicitly arguing that we ought to make homosexuality a capital crime, I believe that he is guilty of contradicting his professed manner of interpreting the Scriptures (assuming he’s Evangelical).  If, like most Evangelicals, you subscribe to verbal plenary inspiration (VPI), believing that each and every word in the Scriptures is "God-breathed", you'll have to explain why you're not totally contradicting yourself by accepting the first statement of this verse while rejecting the second.  To me, this is a perfect illustration of the dangers of VPI, which Orthodox Christians do not subscribe to (although Richard Dawkins and his ilk prefer to lump us all together).