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November 17, 2012

Same-sex marriage and the book of Leviticus

(Continued)

Bishop Hall scoffed at such talk.

"There are plenty of false prophets out there," he said.

Hopson noted that when it comes to reading the Bible, there are many who are "literalists but not literate" and don't seem to understand how words that have been translated from "original tongues" evolved over time.

"Besides," he said, "Leviticus also says you shouldn't cut your hair, wear clothes of two different materials, eat pork, commit adultery or charge interest. So why not take that literally as well?"

Hopson was certainly right about that last part. Leviticus had a list of do's and don'ts so incomprehensible that I might as well kiss Heaven goodbye. No bacon? Come on, God.

No matter how much I wanted to dismiss the Living Word as so much mythology, years of church and Sunday schooling just couldn't be willed away. The Bible, for better or worse, was in the bones. The stories and parables had been used to teach me how to read, write, memorize and speak onstage. And to pick up a few pointers about recognizing "right from wrong."

Being in that voter line for an hour and a half, inching up to the table where poll workers checked for names on the registration rolls, I imagined this is how it would be at the Pearly Gates: St. Peter scrolling through the Book of Life, then waving me on one way or another.

The Rev. Delman Coates, pastor of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., and a supporter of the marriage equality initiative, told me that theological views on homosexuality had nothing to do with the vote I was about to cast.

"There is a difference between the religious rite of marriage and the civil right to marry," he said. "We live in a free, pluralistic democracy, not a theocracy, and the notion that civil marriage has to conform to the canons of conservative biblical theology is very troubling."

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