“As a pastor and a former Miss California, I am often asked to interpret what the Word of God has to say on a particular subject. I am quite confident that God prefers that we human beings stick to speaking for ourselves. And yet there are occasions when God’s Word is used as a weapon, and I feel compelled to speak.
In the past few days, much has been made of the words of Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean. She stated that marriage is between a man and a woman. I write not in response to her opinion, but rather about her comments that followed: that the Bible condones her words. She said, ‘It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being biblically correct.’ While this sentiment is shared by many who seek to condemn gay people and gay marriage, citing pieces of the Bible to further one’s own prejudice fails to meet the Bible on its own terms.
Most people seeking to condemn gay people point to the Book of Leviticus, where we read that men lying with men is an abomination. However, we rarely hear of other verses found in the book of Leviticus that are equally challenging. For example, Leviticus also tells us that eating shrimp and lobster is an abomination. And that a person should not wear material woven of two kinds of material—an impossible mandate for a pageant contestant!
In Paul’s letter to the community in Corinth we read, ‘For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church….’ And yet these words have not prevented Christian denominations from ordaining women, such as myself. Sadly, the Bible has been used to further prejudice throughout history. We have used it to permit ourselves to enslave people; to conquer and kill; and to denigrate the earth.
The truth is that it is difficult to know for sure the intentions of the biblical authors, but we do know something about God. Those of us who know God through Jesus of Nazareth know that he went to great lengths to express God’s love to people who were labeled as outcasts. He spent time with children, prostitutes, and lepers, all of whom were labeled as outside of the grasp of the Holy. As we continue to seek God’s vision for us as a nation grounded in a love for justice, I pray that we might move closer to the cause of grace.”
Miss California, 2003