I was, initially, going to use this post to discuss the…inflammatory…nature of a certain duck hunter’s remarks and why they demonstrate just how much conservatives, especially social ones, need to watch how they say what they say. I do not, however, intend to do so, because I thought of a matter that is far more significant. During an online discussion, I was reminded of the fact that, these days, one cannot make a biblical reference in a discussion on morality without someone saying “People used the bible to support slavery/ban interracial marriage,” or other things of that nature, then act like that ends the discussion.
In point of fact, it doesn’t, but I thought it might be useful to track how we here in America got to this point.
Let’s start in the 1830s. Already feeling threatened by the burgeoning population of the free states, slaveholders were further spooked by Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831, which killed dozens of whites and was put down ruthlessly. The state of Virginia proceeded to debate whether to sustain slavery or end it gradually. It chose the former, and then proceeded to double down by banning slave literacy and limiting slave religious instruction to whites. This also ended up pushing Southern slaveholders to go beyond what they had claimed for decades–that slavery was a necessary evil–as Thomas Jefferson described it, “A wolf by the ears, we cannot hold on, and we cannot let go”, but that it was rather, as John C. Calhoun described it, “a good, a positive good!”
Of course, to show that such a system as obviously psychotic as American chattel slavery was good, a mountain of evidence was required. Copious amounts of pseudoscience were used to prove blacks inferior to whites–notions, by the way, that were so far accepted by the time of the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln, of all people, either agreed or at least pretended to agree with them. Also used, especially on the slaves and towards abolitionists, were Biblical passages that either supported or at least did not condemn slavery–i.e., slaves, obey your masters–as well as numerous discourses on the sin of Ham, held at the the time to be the progenitor of black Africans, and the curse of Noah.
All of which was completely true. All of which was being used to prop up a system that, at its base, didn’t fit with the Bible at all, as the American chattel slavery system was built upon the slave trade, and people who go around enslaving folks are listed among murderers, homosexuals, and perjurers in one of the apostle Paul’s lists of awful people. Meanwhile, as to Ham–well, turns out Canaan was the primary one cursed…
Now, decades after that nonsense had been dealt with as a result of a massive war, the twin bogies of racial integration and interracial marriage showed up, and preachers inveighed against both. The support verses, as near as I can tell, seemed to be the laws on Jewish/Gentile relationships in the Old Testament. Which, of course, made total sense, because all American white people are Jewish and the old covenant based on Jewish distinctness is still in place…oh, wait, American white people aren’t Jews or Israelites? The distinctions between Jews and Gentiles are not only abolished but are outright banned in the Bible? Who’d’ve thunk it?
This, of course, brings us to today. What we have now is a society that demands Christian acceptance of something that is clearly labeled as immoral in the Bible–that is, homosexuality. Unfortunately, due to various blithering morons who seem to think that it’s the government’s job to enforce the penalties of Old Testament law–or worse, their job to enforce it–as well as the previously mentioned idiocies and accommodations to the culture (more on that in a later post), this is no longer seen as justification for a belief except among those who believe. For those who do not, it is merely an excuse for hatred and is not to be taken seriously.
Fact is, they’d probably say that anyway, but as things stand they have some pretty broad fig leaves–and humans are really good at mistaking fig leaves for actual clothing.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness