Photo Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
If you thought that Gwyneth Paltrow's e-newsletter GOOP was all about macrobiotic recipes and expensive handbags, then you're in for a surprise. In honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, the actress-turned-lifestyle guru has dedicated this week's GOOP to a serious discussion about homosexuality and the Bible. But first, she explains her own views.
"A few months ago, in the heat of the tragic teen suicides that came about from intolerance of homosexuality, I saw a man on television who was apologizing for wishing death on gays from his Facebook page," writes Paltrow. "This member of an Arkansas school board was contrite for the violence in his words, but maintained that his values pertaining to homosexuality would remain, as he felt homosexuality was condemned in the Bible."
The actress admits that she doesn't really understand the idea of homosexuality being morally wrong.
"When my daughter came home from school one day saying that a classmate had two mommies," she recalls, "my response was, 'Two mommies? How lucky is she?!' What does it actually say in the bible that will cause some people to be upset by my line of thinking?"
To answer this question, Paltrow called on four different religious authorities -- a female Episcopal priest, a Kabbalah scholar, a gay Episcopal priest and an Evangelical Anglican minister -- to interpret what the Bible actually says about being gay. Their viewpoints are often enlightening, and worth taking the time to read (which you can do here). However, there's one important distinction between these experts: The first three believe that the Bible is not against homosexuality, and the fourth believes that it is.
Given the controversial topic, it's not surprising that this week's GOOP has drawn strong reactions from around the Web. Drew Grant at Salon believes that none of Paltrow's experts really answered her original question, discussing the issues around it rather than what the Bible itself says. But the greater controversy is over Paltrow's inclusion of an anti-gay pastor, the famous British religious leader John Stott, who believes that Jesus actually condemned homosexuality. Mark Malkin at E! Online gets to the heart of the matter, asking if Paltrow would feel the need to include a racist's point of view if she were writing about Black History Month, or an anti-Semite's thoughts if the newsletter were about Jewish pride.
"Until the basic human rights of gay people are accepted similarly -- as long overdue by some who would use their faith as a reason to hate or divide -- we still have a long way to go, Goop," writes Malkin.
It's a fair point, but it doesn't diminish the power of the pro-gay religious arguments that Paltrow includes. Here's one such passage, from priest and author Cynthia Bourgeault:
Where Biblical testimony is internally inconsistent (and even Jesus experienced it this way!), I am bound to honor Jesus as my final court of appeal. And thus, the bottom line must inescapably be that nowhere does Jesus condemn homosexuality, and certainly nowhere does he wish harm upon anyone, even those whom the religious culture is so quick to condemn as sinners.
Interesting stuff, no? Bet you didn't think Gwyneth Paltrow would make you think hard today...