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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

For a funny parody of anti-gay protesters, and other people who use out-of-context Bible verses to make themselves look superior, see God Hates Shrimp. One of my essays, with a similar message, follows.

The Bible and Gays, an essay from
Holding Me Together.

“And Ruth said [to Naomi], Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and whither thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (II Samuel 1:26).

“Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer” (Proverbs 24:26).

God gave us each other for companionship (Genesis 2:18). Certain people need to reproduce, but not everyone (Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 7:1-8). The Creation accounts never mention gays as part of God’s Creation, but they also never mention the disabled or the different races. Besides two passages that sound like gay relationships (Ruth 1:16-17; II Samuel 1:26), most people who object to homosexuality would probably rather not visualize John 13:5; Proverbs 24:26; I Samuel 18:1-5; II Samuel 20:3-4, 16-18, 33-34.

“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekial 16:49).

The Bible blames the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah on wickedness, greed, callousness, and inhospitably (Genesis 14-19; Ezekial 16:49; Mark 6:11; Matthew 10:14). Only sheer inventiveness can force “wicked” to mean “gay.” God decides to destroy the cities, but says He will spare them for ten good men. After God’s decision, some men say they want to “know” the visiting angels; somehow, that part of the Sodom passages will become the basis for using the entire story against gays, as if all the people (including the babies) of both cities are gay.

Depending on which translation we use, the Bible contains three-twelve apparent condemnations involving male/male sex, one involving female/female sex, and around 360 involving male/female sex. Many Bible scholars say most of the male/male passages actually condemn rape or temple prostitution, but that the biases of translators warp them into anti-gay references. Remember that the nomadic Hebrews desperately needed children to replace those killed from battles, draughts, and slavery; they condemned all forms of birth control and understood very little about human sexuality.

Leviticus says not to eat fruit from a young tree (19:23), read horoscopes (19:26), get a haircut (19:27), get a beard trim (19:27), get a tattoo (19:28), eat shellfish (11:9-12), eat meat with fat or blood (3:17), crossbreed cattle (19:19), plant two different kinds of seed in the same field (19:19), wear clothing of mixed fabric (19:19), eat pork (11:7-8), or touch pigskin (11:8, so much for football). It also condemns gay male sex twice, once calling it an “abomination.” However, Leviticus 20:25 shows Levitical use of the word “abomination” to only mean vulgar or not kosher.

The Bible also says not to use profanity (Colossians 3:8), get drunk (Proverbs 20:1), pray aloud in public (Matthew 6:1-8), swear (Matthew 5:34), call someone worthless or a fool (Matthew 5:22), or charge interest to poor people (Ex. 22:25). It demands the death penalty for using God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), having pre-marital sex (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a son acting stubbornly or rebelliously (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and children cursing their parents (Leviticus 20:9). The death penalty for adultery (Leviticus 20:10) could include a divorced person who remarries (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12). Paul gives two lists that condemn every person ever born (Romans 1; I Corinthians 6:10), but clever uses of ellipses can make those lists only condemn gays. With selective reading, the Bible also sanctions slavery (Ephesians 6:5; Leviticus 25:44-46), allows men concubines or multiple wives (II Samuel 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chronicles 11:21; Deuteronomy 21:15), bans the disabled from worship services (Leviticus 21:18-23), and establishes negative views of women (Exodus 21:7; Leviticus 12:1-8, 15:19-33, 20:18; I Corinthians 11:5, 14:34; I Timothy 2:9-15).

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). See also Matthew 7:1-5, 23:5-6, 23:24; Luke 18:10-14; Colossians 3:8-14; Romans 2:1-3, 7:6, 13:8-10, 14:10-13; I Corinthians 7:6, 7:25; Galatians 3:28; Hosea 1:2; Titus 3:9-11; all of I John. Fortunately, salvation comes simply from accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior (John 3:16-17; Romans 10:13), not from laws, literalism, or appearances of holiness. Some people of faith will say the verses I list here are irrelevant, especially if these verses happen to be the ones that those people violate. But the verses someone else violates are, of course, all important. What convenient theology!

Coming from a Christian fundamentalist background, I know all too well how people like to pick and choose Bible verses to use against each other. Unfortunately, that promotes nothing but division and condemnation, helping no one.

If you’re a Christian, please focus on the Bible’s overall messages: faith, hope, love, compassion, salvation. We miss those when we pick and choose out-of-context verses to use against each other. I pray that God will teach us all to love each other, instead of warping the Bible into yet another excuse for hatred, violence, exclusion, and alienation.