Saturday, November 5, 2011

Does Iowa = Sodom & Gomorrah?

I checked out The Gazette this morning following my morning work-out and noticed the following Letter to the Editor:
Iowa shouldn't be like Sodom and Gomorrah

When is it that you want to change your party affiliation? When they support the decision to allow man-to-man and woman-to-woman to marry in my home state of Iowa. I feel like I’m living in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. When anything goes. What about worshipping golden idols? Our society is losing its moral fiber.

What message does this send to our kids who are already so confused? My granddaughter says Iowa’s not the corn state anymore, it’s the corny gay state.

I think we’re going in the wrong direction with the information age and all the open closets. Let’s not be a state that caves to society’s moral floundering. Let’s reclaim our great state of Iowa’s reputation as one that has strong standards and high morals and a role model that all man and woman unions will not be put under.

Let’s make Iowa a place that even God would be proud of. Take a stand and vote for the moral choice. Let’s even the Democratic hold and vote Cindy Golding for Senate.

Sherry Holsinger
Toddville, IA
Firstly, I would like to point out to Ms. Holsinger that Iowa isn't an "anything goes" state.  Iowa is actually a state that encourages marriage for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.  That's a good thing.  New Hampshire's GOP is trying to rescind its own legislatively-passed marriage equality law and in the process is proposing a weakened civil union bill that essentially encourages incest.  Taking away marriage rights and responsibilities encourages an "anything goes" society, not the other way around.

Secondly, marriage rights and responsibilities for gay and lesbian Iowans hasn't created a modern day Sodom & Gomorrah.  I've written about Sodom & Gomorrah before.  It still surprises me that people use that story to argue against my marriage.  Genesis 19 told the story of Sodom's destruction after the city's men surrounded Lot's home and attempted to gang rape some visiting angels.  Also, keep in mind that God already planned to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah before the attempted gang rape.  It's very easy to look at that story and assert that the existence of gay people caused the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah.  But that's also pretty sloppy theology.

What did Jesus Christ himself say about about the sins of Sodom & Gomorrah?  Was he concerned about gay marriage and "anything goes" practices?  Let's check out Ezekiel 16:49-50:
‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.'
It's true that Iowa (and the United States of America as a nation) have the potential to become a modern-day Sodom & Gomorrah, if we haven't already.  But I would argue that it has very little to do with my January 2010 wedding.  Our state and federal governments are constantly looking at tax revenues and chopping here and cleaving there in order to balance the budget.  That's a good thing.  What's concerning is the level of cuts that are being made and barriers that are being erected to those seeking basic needs like food assistance and energy assistance and housing programs and governmental disability services. 

I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its various local spin-offs, but there is much truth to the income gap between our nation's wealthiest 1% and the remaining 99%.  Too often, it seems like we are too concerned about cutting taxes and giving deals to the very rich without holding them accountable for how they respond to those tax-cuts and deals.  There are factions of our federal and state government who are advocating for the total dissolution of our safety net.  No more Social Security.  No more Medicaid or Medicare.  The repeal of a law that ensures that pretty much anyone can access some sort of health insurance.  No more food assistance or housing assistance.  No more Pell grants or government education.  I could go on.   I'm not saying that this is all coming out of one particular political party, but much of it is.

We can rant against gay and lesbian families and marriages here in Iowa all we want, but we imagine the rebirth Sodom & Gomorrah because of those marriages at our own peril.  Sodom & Gomorrah might exist here in the Heartland, but it's here for much different reasons that what Ms. Holsinger asserts.  And it's going to take a lot more than the involuntary dissolution of my marriage to turn things around.

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