Squaring off against Jed Bartlet: An alternate ending to The West Wing and homosexuality

In Season 2 of The West Wing, President Josiah Bartlet (one of my heroes) met a radio talk show host named Jenna Jacobs (a stand in for US talk show host Dr Laura Schlessinger). Inspired by point 9 in this hilarious and extremely well reasoned think piece, I started thinking about how an alternate ending might go…

The televised version (because even great ones like Aaron Sorkin and Josiah Bartlet find it easy to win one-sided debates against ignorant tight-a**es…)

BARTLET: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.

JACOBS: I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.

BARTLET Yes, it does. Leviticus.

JACOBS: 18:22

BARTLET: Chapter and verse! I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here’s one that’s really important, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean: Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

[mic drop]

* * * * *

My alternate ending [I tried to get Martin Sheen to come over and film this with me, but he was busy]

BARTLET: Think about those questions, would you…?

JACOBS: Of course, Mr. President. I’ve already thought a great deal about all those questions. May I respond?

BARTLET: Certainly.

JACOBS: Thank you, sir. With the greatest respect – and I really mean that, I think you’re wonderful – one of the greatest characters in television history…

BARTLET: What? What are you talking about? A character…?! C.J., what is she talking about?

JACOBS: Never mind, sir. As I was saying, in answer to your questions – with the greatest respect, you’ve misunderstood my position. My views about homosexuality aren’t based on the Old Testament. They’re based on the New Testament. As you’ll know, sir, the people of God in the Old Testament were gathered together in a single nation, Israel. Because they were a nation, they were governed by a complex set of laws and rules – a covenant – to teach them how to live and to distinguish them from the nations around them – to mark them out as holy. Those laws reached into every part of life to show them something of the incredible holiness of their God, and how he was interested in every part of their lives. But today, God’s people don’t live under that old covenant. We live under a new covenant, because the Lord Jesus has come. Today, God’s people are no longer gathered together in a single nation. They’re scattered among all the nations of earth, because Jesus came to save people from every nation and tribe and language and people – Jews and non-Jews alike. So there are things we can learn from the old covenant, but we certainly don’t follow it in nearly the same way that Old Testament Israel did. As an example, Mr President, I’m sure you know that Jesus declared all foods clean – Mark 7:19. In fact, the New Testament says that the old covenant is obsolete – Hebrews 8:13. And today the risen Jesus rules his church by his word, which is written in the New Testament by the apostles that Jesus appointed as his witnesses and spokesmen.

So the reason I hold my views on homosexual practice, Mr. President, is because the New Testament speaks about it, but says nothing about the skin of a dead pig or where you plant your crops. The New Testament says that God designed sex to be between a woman and a man who’ve committed themselves to each other in marriage. Matthew 19:4-6, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Corinthians 7, and 1 Timothy 1:10. I hope I can use my platform to help followers of Jesus – like you, sir – to understand God’s good design for sexuality, and to follow Jesus’ commands to his people, even when those commands are counter-cultural.

So while you have every right to disagree with my views, Mr. President, I hope you won’t perpetuate the myth that every Christian with a conservative view on sexuality is a bigoted, homophobic, ignorant tight-ass who doesn’t even understand their own scriptures. To be honest, sir, this is a pretty tired old argument, and lots of us Christians are sick of non-Christians telling us what the Old Testament says with this ‘Gotcha!’ look on their face, as if we never considered this before. While I have great respect for you, sir, and I’m incredibly grateful for so much of what you do – not to mention that you have a once in a generation mind – I don’t think it helps to caricature your opponent’s position, especially on such a complicated and emotive issue as this one.

BARTLET: Would you like a crab puff?


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