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Jimmy Carter: 'Jesus Never Said a Word About Homosexuality'

Jimmy Carter talks about homosexuality, the Bible, and gay marriage in his new book, NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter:

CarterHomosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.

I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.

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  1. Perhaps we shouldn't be using two paragraphs from a 1500+ page book to represent all of President Carter's views relating to the Bible.

    But, if we are talking only about the quote, here's how I interpreted it: While no legitimate LGBT organization or person wants to force churches to perform safe-sex marriages, that's not how the radical right thinks. President Carter's statement could his way of calling that argument spurious.

    Posted by: alex | Mar 19, 2012 8:50:23 PM

  2. I would think we would want all churches to perform safe-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages, on the other hand, should be up to the particular institution.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Mar 19, 2012 9:07:54 PM

  3. Good job, Ricco dude.

    Posted by: Javier | Mar 19, 2012 9:33:41 PM

  4. We didn't deserve to have so eloquent and classy a president when we had him and we squandered many an opportunity to be great under his leadership. But he continues to be the most amazing former president and leader of conscience that we have ever had. He has never not taken the high road.

    Posted by: Don | Mar 19, 2012 9:51:53 PM

  5. I loathe that the Baby Boomers (In general not all!) dislike Carter, what a reasonable and intelligent man. Only to have been replaced with the exact opposite.

    Posted by: Redebbm | Mar 19, 2012 9:52:29 PM

  6. @Ricco -- Yes! What you said!

    Posted by: kit | Mar 19, 2012 9:54:33 PM

  7. Thank you, Everyone, (and you KIWI have written many amazing comments that, likewise, thrilled me) for your generous comments. I find them gratifying because I have always admired him, both as a president, and an ex-president.

    DON writes that President Carter ". . . continues to be the most amazing former president and leader of conscience that we have ever had," and he is so right.

    Years ago when we had five living ex-presidents: Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr., I read, for me, an eye-opening article on how these five conducted themselves post-presidency; and of the five only President Carter continued to live by his professed political and Christian ideologies, going to dangerous parts of the world, either to broker peace between warring factions, or help monitor political races.

    President Ford used his money, according to the article I read, to invest in a soft porn company, that pumps porn into motel and hotel rooms.

    I have nothing against soft porn, except that I have a preference for hard porn, but when it comes to the ex-president who earns my greatest respect, whom I would most like to emulate: then the president who made the time to erect homes for the poor wins over the president who maintained erections.

    The article also went on to say how, of the five ex-presidents, President Carter was the only one who was not using his former position to procure speaking engagements at exorbitant presidential fees: upwards of 100,000.00 per engagement. Of course, brokering peace, establishing The Carter Center (take the time to check out what the Carter Center does), monitoring political processes elsewhere in the world, building homes for the poor, and teaching Sunday School, even if he were so inclined to so poorly use his former office, I don't know where he would have found the time.

    For those of you have not done so, please click on the hyper link Towleroad provided. Huffington Post conducted a much more comprehensive interview with President Carter where he also addressed the following issues: Creationism vs science; women assuming positions of authority in the church; slavery; exclusivist faith vs. respect of other faiths and people of other faiths; Jesus as the Prince of Peace vs. that Jesus who said he did not come to bring peace; and the literal vs the metaphorical approach to the Bible.

    His mind is not only sharp for his age, but far sharper than most people I know, (or know of) of any age.

    I am not saying that regarding apologetics the off-the-cuff answers President gave in the interview were on par with the works of C.S. Lewis, but as an avid reader of Lewis I found his answers to be well reasoned, informational, and astute.

    Please forgive this too-long posting. I hope everyone will take the time to read the interview.


    Posted by: Ricco | Mar 19, 2012 10:41:28 PM

  8. RICCO - the Carter/Ford election was my first. I had just turned 18. Because my family voted republican, I voted for Ford. Even though I had watched the Watergate stuff and thought Nixon sucked, even though I thought Vietnam was wrong, even though I grew up thinking that Civil Rights were important, even though family dinners could be battlegrounds when we kids argued for protesters. Carter started the consciousness-raising for me. I voted for him next time; soon afterward, I switched party affiliation. For me, he represented (and represents) a great leader in an environment that fights true greatness.

    I have followed his career since. I have admired his integrity. You are a worthy and eloquent spokesperson for someone who has walked the walk. Thank you.

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 19, 2012 11:36:59 PM

  9. Ricco, right on! Thanks for your wise words. In addition to your wise words, you also beat me to expressing gratitude for Little Kiwi's comments on a variety of Towleroad posts.

    As for Carter, I very much appreciate his well reasoned and vocal support. He truly is a politician and humanitarian worthy of admiration.

    Posted by: Mitch | Mar 19, 2012 11:41:09 PM

  10. "'JESUS NEVER SAID A WORD ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY', because He was in the closet?

    I know gay married couples, I've been to gay weddings. What these people don't have is legal recognition. It's easy to find someone to officiate a gay wedding ceremony, they just like a little money to show up. And you can have a very gay wedding reception and sing the YMCA song. Who needs to force anyone to perform or attend?

    Posted by: No kidding | Mar 19, 2012 11:49:03 PM

  11. @TRACY LEE
    Your using Leviticus 18:22 to show homosexuality to be an abomination.

    Well If were going to go back to the old testament I think you should address these issues that I came across while reading another site, the questions are funny but they make a valid point:

    Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you
    clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

    I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
    Exodus 21:7.
    In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9).The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness(Lev 15:19-24).The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.
    Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10),it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

    Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27.How should they die?

    I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?(Lev 24:10-16)
    Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    Posted by: Shelly | Mar 20, 2012 3:27:27 AM

  12. Carter could have mentioned Matthew 11:20-24, where Jesus said it would "be more tolerable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom" than for those who presume for God who is saved and who is condemned. Jesus also dared to say that prostitutes and tax collectors were entering the Kingdom ahead of Pharisees, the uber-observers of his day. No wonder they condemned him for blasphemy and demanded that he be crucified.

    Posted by: bystander9529 | Mar 20, 2012 4:36:33 AM

  13. To bad more Christians aren't like Jesus eh?

    Posted by: Shelly | Mar 20, 2012 4:59:08 AM

  14. Ricco, Can you send me a photo of yourself? I like to see what all the men I love look like!

    Posted by: Richard Crystal | Mar 20, 2012 7:55:33 AM

  15. Bravo Ricco. My mother's most prized possession was a photograph of her with Jimmy Carter. She believed he was exactly what the county needed him and the years have proven her right. Although I think it may have been him who said the people get the government they deserve. True, but unfortunate.

    Tracy Tracy Tracy. Maybe there is a comic book version of the bible you could read, since it is obvious you are not familiar with the original English.

    Posted by: melvin | Mar 20, 2012 7:58:10 AM

  16. It's my belief that Jesus was himsefl gay.

    Posted by: Commenter | Mar 20, 2012 8:21:16 AM

  17. Rico--

    Carter is one of my favorite presidents. I like him much better now than I did when he was in office. He is a prized liberal compatriot. However, his comment on not pursuing a requirement that churches perform gay marriages is a real non sequitur. He is posing as a religious concern a non issue. It is preposterous to raise concerns about gays forcing conservative churches to marry them. Hell, I even refuse to go inside the damned temples for marriages and funerals. you think I would want a bigot solemnizing my marriage? I think old age is showing a bit in Mr. Carter's writings.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Mar 20, 2012 8:36:50 AM

  18. @Tracy

    I believe Carter was speaking to what Jesus said, not Moses.

    Please provide links from the Gospels...or are they missing in protestant Bibles?

    Posted by: Rin | Mar 20, 2012 10:17:09 AM

  19. Carter lost reelection because of the Iranian hostage crisis, and the failure of Operation Scorpion to extract the hostages - which was caused by bad weather. If Operation Scorpion had been a success, Carter would have won in a landslide.

    By the way, most of the prosperity of the 1980s is the result cheap oil and Paul Voelker's work to tame inflation - Voekler was appointed by Carter.

    Posted by: Hank | Mar 20, 2012 10:20:14 AM

  20. thanks very much Ricco for your dead-on accurate analysis of President Carter and why he's still important for the country and for LGBT people.

    Tracy Lee: you should really learn to keep your mindless foolishness to yourself.

    Posted by: antb | Mar 20, 2012 10:21:22 AM

  21. So well put Ricco.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Mar 20, 2012 10:32:43 AM

  22. I have always like Jimmy Carter. He stays true to his views and takes action on what he believes, like supporting Habitat for Humanity as well as sharing his views on homosexuality.

    Posted by: Professor Locs | Mar 20, 2012 10:34:17 AM

  23. Yes , this is a positive statement, and it's to the point, since so many people hate on us in the name of jesus..

    But it's too bad he veered off into fantasizing about churhes being required by law to marry gay people. That's never happened, and nobody's ever suggested it should. It's just a made-up scare tactic some christian right propaganda uses, on a par with "the gays are trying to corrupt your children." It's similar to saying "I draw the line at gays recruiting our children." He should be a little more educated and judicious about what rhetoric he incorporates into his writing.

    Posted by: Hank | Mar 20, 2012 11:01:35 AM

  24. ©DALE, ©CHARLES, and @RICCO

    The way I understand Carter's reasoning is that since Jesus never condemned homosexuality, it is ok for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. He is judging civil marriage, which has nothing to do with religion, based on what Jesus said. I have a problem with that, because I think that in a secular state laws should not be based on interpretations of religious teachings. If I want to take the wind out the sails of some Christian zealots, that's the argument I use. I don't counter them with a different interpretation of the Bible.

    Ricco, even if I agree with someone's conclusions, it doesn't mean I necessarily agree with the reasoning that brought them to these conclusions. I know this is not a pragmatic stance, but pragmatism is not what I'm striving for.

    Posted by: borut | Mar 20, 2012 12:10:58 PM

  25. Carter lost the election because the bad economy and his inability to deal with major foreign policy issues like the Iran hostage crisis. He's always been very naive. He though that Tip O'Neill (Dem. speaker of the house) would automatically go along with the administration's agenda on domestic policy. In really, O'Neill was a cynical pork-barrel specialist only concerned with bring the bacon back to Boston and essentially let nothing of Carter's agenda through the House. Carter could not imagine why this would be so. It was only once out of office, when the stakes were essentially zero that his pie-in-the-sky naivety would come across as virtuous. Had he achieved a second term in office, he would have been sympathetic to AIDS victims, but O'Neill and other catholic politicians in the House would have blocked any major legislation to deal with it and Carter would not have known how to compromise to get something through.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 20, 2012 12:18:31 PM

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