By Cornelius A. Fortune
DETROIT – When Rev. Todd Eklof was fired from his day job for refusing to perform marriages for everyone (not just homosexuals), he did the only sensible thing: he ascended the pulpit, and spoke out against discrimination, becoming, as he puts it, “an unlikely gay rights advocate.”
“It’s what I’ve become since then,” he said, “and that’s perfectly fine. Though I think this is much more about being an American, and civil liberties – we should be past that. I thought we were. Now the state (of Kentucky) has said ‘We’re going to enforce one religious viewpoint on everybody,’ so I feel we have to, as a religious community, take a stand against that.”
The Kentucky native, and former Southern Baptist minister, spoke at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church in Detroit July 24 to talk about “The Bible and Homosexuality.”
“I try to educate people a little about what the Bible says about homosexuality,” said Rev. Eklof. “It really doesn’t say anything about homosexuality…at least not what we think of as homosexuality today.”
Rev. Eklof maintains that there are only six references in the Bible to homosexuality: four in the Old Testament, and two in the New Testament. What they have in common, according to Rev. Eklof, is either abuse or idolatrous practices, not homosexuality.
“So when Sodom is condemned, it’s condemned because these men were rapists (they wanted to rape strangers), not because they were gay, which is ridiculous. Everyone should be able to see that,” he said. “Another thing is idolatrous practices. The Hebrews tried to separate themselves from everything. So when they talk about ‘detestable acts,’ which involved sexual rituals – they’re referring to temple prostitutes.”
The mutual, loving, consensual relationships found in today’s society, he said, are not mentioned in the Bible.
Rev. Eklof is proud to take up his mantle, despite the opposition. “My role as a human being, my role as a minister, is to create justice; to create a space in which balance and harmony can exist.”
The city of Louisville is debating an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.
“Right now the fact that I was publicly suffered over for a religious stance, has given me a bit of a platform. People want to hear from me, so I’m going to use that as an opportunity to keep this issue in front of the public.”
Rev. Eklof is the minister of Clifton Unitarian Church in Louisville, Ky., a position he’s held since 1999. He wants to encourage others to take a strong stand. In his view, everyone’s affected, including the unlikeliest of people.
“Even heterosexual white guys can be discriminated against if they take a stand for somebody that’s being oppressed,” he said. “It’s real. We need protection. There’s discrimination going on, and we need to protect people, and not have laws passed enforcing the religious values of one segment of our society.”
For more information on Rev. Eklof or Clifton Unitarian Church, visit http://www.cliftonunitarian.org.