Sunday, May 22, 2005

Slavery and Homosexuality in the Bible

I recently saw a self-described Christian on television asked if she condemned homosexuals. “Well,” she replied, “the Bible is quite clear that homosexuality is immoral.” She obviously felt that the Bible left a Christian no choice on the matter of homosexuality. She was not asked about slavery but I am sure that she also felt there was no question that a Christian would be against slavery. This is curious because although slavery is often mentioned in the Bible (much more often than homosexuality) it is never condemned or considered immoral. In fact, in Paul’s letters Christian slaves are admonished to obey their masters.
I have been reading the book “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild which recounts the anti-slavery movement in Britain and the long campaign to abolish first the slave trade and then slavery in the British Empire. During this political struggle there was no obvious Christian position on slavery – there were Christians on both sides. Those who argued against slavery talked about a Christian understanding of the equality and dignity of all people irregardless of what the Bible had to say about slavery. After 40 years support for their side increased enough to win the political struggle and slavery was abolished. Now the vast majority of Christians take it for granted that a Christian will oppose slavery.
There is now a similar political struggle about homosexual rights. Once again there are Christians on both sides and once again those arguing for homosexual rights talk about the Christian understanding of the equality and dignity of all people irregardless of what the Bible says about homosexuality.
In 40 years will Christians regard the Bible passages condemning homosexuality the way they now interpret Bible passages about slavery, lending money at interest and people with mental illness being possessed by demons?

The High Cost We Pay for Riverboat Gambling

I have grown used to the fact that no opposition to riverboat gambling will be allowed to appear in the news media. The news media has a vested interest in the gambling industry and journalism ceases on subjects in which in the owning corporation has a vested interest. But I was surprised to read a blog in which the blogger and all those making comments took it for granted that what was good for the riverboat casinos was good for the entire community in which the casino was located. The assumption is that the casinos bring jobs and tax base to the community and the state mandated local grants awarded by the casinos is found money. All up-side, no down-side.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The casinos could be bringing money into the community only if some of their customers are people from outside the area who would not be comming into the area and spending money here if the casinos were not here. The studies which have been done show that this is not the case. Those tour buses in the casino parking lots are not coming from far away. Almost all of the casinos customers would be spending their entertainment dollars in the local area if the casinos did not exist. How many locally owned restaurants, race tracks, night clubs, etc. have folded since the casinos came? Those casino jobs are not new jobs for the community, but rather transferred, often from locally owned business to the non-locally owned casino.
How many people have you heard about who were decent law-abiding family people who became gambling addicts and embezzled money after the riverboat casinos came? There were a number of cases in the media the first few years of riverboat gambling. Lately I have seen a number of embezzlement cases reported in the paper that curiously did not report on what the embezzler did with the money. Have the news media decided not to report that the motivation for the embezzlment because that might lessen support for the riverboat casinos?