Morality not goverment's businessIn his column of Aug. 19...

the Forum

August 25, 1992

Morality not goverment's business

In his column of Aug. 19 ("Homophobic? Re-read the Bible"), Professor Peter J. Gomes seeks to equate the biblical injunctions against sexual perversion (Leviticus 18 & 20) with those lesser offenses found in the greater context of these passages.

He overlooks, however, that in much closer context to the injunctions against homosexuality are those against incest, bestiality, adultery and child sacrifice, all for which the stated penalty is death.

It is true that homosexuality is not overtly proscribed in the Gospels, but then neither is child sacrifice. Dr. Gomes observes that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality; but it is about spiritual bankruptcy, of which sexual perversion is a mere symptom.

Luke 10:10-13 does not reflect on the inhospitality of the men of Sodom, but rather on their unwillingness to receive the divine message; and Ezekiel 16:49-50 alludes to the failure to care for the poor as only one of the "abominations" of Sodom. According to the Gospel writers, all are a perversion of the Creator's intent.

On the other hand, it is incumbent upon Christians, who would not take that name in vain, to love the sinner, while not condoning the sin (John 8:1-11). Christ seeks to win men and women, not drive them away. Verbal and physical assaults on homosexuals are antithetical to the Gospel message. Dr. Gomes is quite correct on that point. The enforcement of Judeo-Christian morality is not a function of government, nor is it grist for the political mill.

D. Andrew Cook

Baltimore

The writer is a master's candidate in theology at St. Mary's Seminary.

Party's beliefs, not candidate, is key to vote

The constant campaign talk of "trust" regarding the candidates, and especially Bill Clinton, concerns me greatly.

For one thing, we are not choosing a messiah; we are electing a public servant. And politicians being what they are, I cannot remember another time in my life, beginning with Roosevelt, when we expected to trust our president to maintain his proclaimed moral standards in the face of impending defeat or even ominous polls.

For another, the extraordinary emphasis on the candidates' personalities is crazily beside the point in an American election. We vote to choose between two fundamentally different philosophies. Each party is represented by a leader who (unless he wants to be brushed aside like Barry Goldwater after his defeat) stands in the very center of the party's philosophy.

Contrary to the impression given by the electronic media in particular, these two leaders are basically figureheads, metaphors for their respective philosophies.

In a two-party democracy, the idea is to vote for the philosophy, the direction to be taken. The president is in effect the CEO who will enact the program more or less in collaboration with Congress. His personality and character are important mainly in the kinds of people he gathers around him to help turn the party's philosophy into some sort of reality.

For example, in my opinion, President Richard Nixon's great failing in office was that he didn't seem to know any first-rate people. President John F. Kennedy may have been no better a leader in person, but he did have the imagination and intellectual flexibility to surround himself with the best minds of his time.

For this reason, it is painful for me to hear Americans say, "I don't trust either one of them, so I'm not voting." In our system it is the party we vote for, not so much the face on the poster.

Michael Kernan

Baltimore

Blessed care-givers

"Care-giver" is an overused word in the English language. However, when a loved one is suddenly struck with a catastrophic problem and hospital care becomes limited and the patient is put into a home situation where support is needed, it is at this moment that the care-giver steps forward and, without saying words, quietly and unassumingly begins to perform whatever is needed for the house-bound patient.

This in no way is meant as criticism for patients going into nursing homes or for family members who do not assume a more active role in such difficult times, but only to acknowledge the presence of such care-givers and the thankless task they perform.

Raymond D. Bahr, M.D.

Baltimore

An idea for Bush

I am concerned that President Bush's desperation to be re-elected may affect his judgment in dealing with the present, extremely critical international situation.

It occurs to me that it might be wise if the president included Gov. Bill Clinton in the present discussions and perhaps even in the United Nations negotiations on world affairs.

Such an act would be a statement that his personal glory is less important to him than the peaceful functioning of the world. In the event he wins, nothing is lost. In the event Mr. Clinton wins, there is much to be gained.

Barbara Young

Baltimore

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