My friend Joe had a terrible problem. It is not that he was gay. It’s just that I and most Americans had made him ashamed of that.
So he struggled to change, to “reform” himself, and thus married Ruth, another dear friend — a lovely girl three years older than I. This happened in the 1950s, back when gay people were jailed for what they believed were acts of love. After a decade of marriage, Joe and that sweet girl divorced, leaving her only a few years of single life before her death in 1974.
Of course, the Bible condemns homosexuals to death, just as it condemns to death non-virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:21) and adulterers (Leviticus 20:10). Adulterers include those who divorce and remarry another person (Mark 10:11). The Bible condemns to death even “whosoever doeth work on the Sabbath” (Exodus 31:13), “he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord,” (Leviticus 24:16) and many more.
But why didn’t Americans consider that our shaming might steer Joe into a tragic, stressful marriage, which may have contributed to Ruth’s cancer and early death? That leads me to the message of this column:
Mind your own business.
Joe’s homosexuality did nothing to injure me or my fellow homophobes or my country (Like many of my generation, I gave up homophobia — but too late for Joe). Perhaps we could make Joe’s problem our business by assuming God will smite our nation if we don’t execute him. That’s hogwash. If today’s God is of that mind, we must also execute the adulterers, the non-virgin brides, the blasphemers, the Sabbath breakers, plus a further long list of sinners — half or more of the U.S. population.
But many today still single out gay people for scorn. During last year’s presidential election, the Greater Kansas City Roman Catholic Hierarchy listed support of gay marriage as one of five “inherently evil acts” that should disqualify any political candidate, targeting most Democrats, including Hillary Clinton.
Actually, an opening to gay marriage for Joe might have saved that young couple from the misery of a mistaken union. But the Catholic Hierarchy’s stance on homosexuality — along with that of millions of Evangelicals and United Methodists — doubtless tipped key votes toward that practiced sexual athlete, the twice-divorced, thrice-married Donald Trump.
The message of these churches seems to be: Donald’s sexual antics are just nicer than those of long-faithful gay partners.
Among other disqualifications in the Catholic Hierarchy’s list of evil acts was support for euthanasia. At the age of 82, I face in the coming decade a possibly agonizing death. Why should any church, using the power of government, deny me lawful euthanasia when I ask for it?
Mind your own business.
I know a medical professional who spent more than two years jailed in the Kansas State Penitentiary for selling 4 ounces of what he regarded as medical marijuana to a disturbed young client. His was just one of the nearly 700,000 marijuana-related arrests the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report says are made annually in the U.S. This tags arrestees with a criminal record, making it hard for them to find employment. It fuels street shootings over competition to sell marijuana.
Legalize the rotten-smelling stuff and most of that violence would die out. The worst evil in weed is the laws against it.
Still, unless used medically, I think marijuana is bad for people. I just believe if we’re going to send people to prison, let’s do it for tobacco sales. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in America, about 41,000 of them by secondhand smoke. Tobacco company executives might well be the biggest killers on the planet.
My wife and I stopped patronizing a chain drugstore that sells Life (in the form of medication) at the pharmacy counter and Death (in the form of cigarettes) up front.
We switched to CVS, which still has the Life part but has kicked Death and cigarettes out the front door. I grew up and lived most of my life in a choking cloud of smoke. Addiction to tobacco was a big factor in the death of my father and mother and my older sister. It inflicted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on my best friend.
So, yes, that is my business.