Bryan Fischer leap to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s defense last Friday, after Perry was indicted by a grand jury for trying to forcing out Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
Fischer is not concerned about Perry’s alleged criminal behavior. He is concerned that Lehmberg is a lesbian. Perry is not disqualified from public office because of his thuggishly unethical behavior, but Lehmberg is because she prefers the intimate company of women to the intimate company of men. For Fischer, this is “sexually deviant behavior.”
Watch courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
My view of public service is that somebody who is engaged in a sexually deviant behavior is not qualified to hold public office. That’s why if you get a conviction for rape, you can’t hold public office. You get a conviction for pedophilia, you can’t hold public office. You might even get run out of office on a prostitution charge because it’s sexually deviant behavior. Now lesbianism is sexually deviant behavior because it deviates from God’s plan and design for human sexuality. So I believe that this is a person who, because she’s involved in sexually deviant behavior, should be, ought to be disqualified from public service.
This is not a surprising stance. After all, being under investigation, indictment, or actually charged in a crime seems to be a prerequisite for holding public office in the Republican Party. By comparison, and from a common sense perspective, it seems wholly immaterial who you sleep with.
But just how bad is lesbianism from a Christian perspective, since Fischer wishes to pretend his own view is Christian?
You don’t find it condemned in the Bible, which, after all, barely wastes any breath on so-called homosexuality. It’s not a violation of the Ten Commandments or of any other Jewish law. Jesus didn’t condemn it. Neither did Paul of Tarsus. Evidently, ancient Jews and Christians just didn’t think it was a big deal if women hooked up with women.
According to the Mishnah, Martin Goodman tells us, “Lesbian sex, not specifically outlawed in the Bible, unconnected to the prohibition of ‘wasting seed,’ and rarely mentioned, was treated as deplorable licentiousness but not as wicked on the level of male homosexuality or female prostitution” (Rome and Jerusalem, 2007:295).
Of course, that’s how Jews felt about lesbianism. The Jews didn’t speak for the whole ancient world any more than Christians (let alone fake Christians) speak for the whole world today. As Ray Laurence tells us, far from being seen as deplorable, the ancient images in the Suburban Baths in Pompeii reveal women having sex with women for all to see (Roman Passions, 2009).
Sexuality was more fluid in the Pagan world. The Romans did not share the moralistic horror of their monotheistic neighbors. For the Romans, the objection, relates Marilyn B. Skinner, was to women wasting sexual energy on each other when it should properly be directed at men (Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture, 2005:189). “A waste of a good looking woman,” is how it is often jokingly viewed today.
Men will always view it from a male perspective, of course. This is often condemned but what other perspective would a male have? The real problem here is not the male perspective but that the male perspective is the only perspective in history.
We don’t know much about how women felt about these things, and if people like Fischer have their way, it won’t matter how women feel about them today.
The point, however, is that female homoeroticism was not illegal for the Jews because no seed was wasted on the exercise, or for the Romans, because, as Goodman also points out, The “Romans did have very clear notions of sexual boundaries, but these were boundaries that could be transgressed, particularly for sexual pleasure” (Goodman, 275).
A man might demean himself (in Roman eyes) by allowing himself to be penetrated, but he could still do it. Caesar was said to have so demeaned himself but his men still followed him from victory to victory. The slurs that Octavian “put out” for his uncle Caesar in order to attain first place in his will did not keep Octavian from becoming an object of veneration, Augustus, Rome’s First Citizen, ruler of the Roman world, father of his country (pater patriae), messiah, and even a god.
What are missing from ancient views of sexuality are religious hangups. Archaeologist Joan Breton Connelly writes that,
[T]he Greek pantheon acknowledged the complexities of what it means to be male and female, allowing for sexual ambiguity and plurality, that is, the ‘maleness’ in the female and the ‘femaleness’ in the male…The Greeks developed a religious system based on the human experience and so it both reflected and sustained the human condition in its fullest realization of sexuality, gender, and the life cycle (Portrait of a Priestess, 2007:30).
Brian Fischer and the other patriarchs on the so-called Religious Right wish to deny the human experience. They certainly reject the “fullest realization of sexuality, gender, and the life cycle” by their insistence it be channeled it down the narrow path assigned it for all these long centuries by angry old white men.
They seem to share a common hatred for humanity itself, evidenced every day in their pronouncements against this and that, all the while extolling the complete lack of civic virtue found in their own candidates for public office, male and female, like Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Chris Christie, and Rick Scott, to name just a few candidates for incarceration.
The God of fake Christians doesn’t mind if you lie, cheat and steal, but he does care who you sleep with. This alone ought to tell you all you need to know about the culture of corruption that is the Republican Party.