Tag Archives: LGBT

The Article Every Liberal Needs To Show a Conservative

BoehnerCries-300x162by Allen Clifton – Forward Progressives.
When you’re like me, and I’m assuming there are quite a few, sometimes you hit a point where you can no longer sugarcoat your political arguments.  As you hear the same asinine statements constantly repeated, you just hit a point where you want to stand up and say, “Look you babbling buffoon, let me spell it out for you very simply.”

Now, most times we can’t do this because the person who we’re debating is a friend or relative and we don’t want to be overly rude.

Well, I’ve decided to do it for you.

Here are a few of my simplified responses to the ignorance by many on some key topics being debated in our country (and probably others as well):

*Side note: I’m not going to cover most of the lies against President Obama, I did that previously here.

Gun Rights:

I love when I see Republicans showing off some image of a group of “good ol’ boys” holding shotguns and hunting rifles with some caption like “Want to take our guns? Good luck!”  That or someone holding a handgun with a caption along the lines of “Liberals, come and take this!”

Attention all Fox News Sheeple:

Obama never said he was going to take your hunting rifles or handguns away.  He said he wants universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on assault weapons (a ban that every Republican President in the last 30 years, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush has supported).

So, when you share these pictures, acting as if you’re “getting at liberal ignorance,” all you’re really doing is spreading an image around the internet that showcases how you–and any other Republican who sees it and thinks “EXACTLY!”–don’t know a damn thing about which you’re speaking.

We’re Out to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage

Unless you want to make divorce illegal, don’t tell me about same-sex marriage “ruining the sanctity of marriage.”

Divorce did that long ago.

Marriage is a Sacred Bond Before God

Alright you religious radicals, I’ll take you on too.

Let’s assume marriage is a “sacred bond before God”.

First, that would eliminate any government involvement to define marriage.  So your push for a government “ban” on same-sex marriage would be pointless.

Second, there are millions of Christians who support same-sex marriage and many churches that would marry gay couples.  So isn’t that up to that particular congregation?

Or do you feel your congregation should control all others?

Which, if you feel your congregation should control all other religions (and rule every American), isn’t that a GIANT violation of the First Amendment, which gives Americans freedom of (or from) religion?

Then if you feel your religion should control all others, and all Americans, you then support a theocracy and apparently oppose the United States and our Constitutionally protected freedoms.

Because this country was largely founded to prevent, not strengthen, theocratic rule.

Same-sex Marriage overall

Honestly, I’m exhausted with the same-sex marriage “debate.”  There is no debate.

Procreation is not a requirement for the right to marry, nor are those who procreate required to get married.

“Homosexuality is a sin” comes from religion.

The term “traditional marriage” is defined from religious text.

Our country does not establish laws based on religion.

Therefore your “arguments” are invalid.

The end.

Republicans: The Party for Christian Values

ENOUGH!

If you want to say you’re the party of “Christian values” and you worship Jesus Christ…

Start by helping the sick, the poor, the needy—not opposing programs that do.

Republicans are for Fiscal Responsibility

Not even close.  There hasn’t been a Republican President that’s balanced the budget since Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953-1961.

Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all drastically increased our national debt.

Republicans are the Party of Small Government

Big government regulations, they’re un-American!  They’re unconstitutional and ruining your way of life!

Unless that big government regulates:

  • What language to speak
  • Religion to follow
  • When life is created
  • Who can marry
  • Who can serve in the military
  • Invasive health procedures on women
  • That we have prayer in school
  • Mosques aren’t built in certain locations
  • Corporations are people
  • The Patriot Act
  • Unions don’t have rights
  • When alcohol can be sold
  • The requirement of an ID to vote

Then those government regulations are just fine.  How “small government” of you, Republicans!

Abortion

Abortion is a Constitutionally protected right.  That isn’t debatable.

You might not agree with abortion, you might think it’s murder, you might think life starts at the moment of conception.

It really doesn’t matter.  Abortion is a Constitutionally protected right—end of story.

So when you, and the party that you support, openly attempt to infringe on that right (or outright says they want to end abortion) you’re supporting a stance that violates a Constitutionally protected right.

For more on the overall hypocrisy of the right wing’s “pro-life” stance, check out this in-depth article.

The Debt Ceiling is About More Government Spending

No, it’s not.  The debt ceiling is about our government paying our bills on money we’ve already spent.

But guess what?  Ronald Reagan raised it 18 times and George W. Bush raised it 7 times.

I Want Big Intrusive Government–That Never Does Anything Good–Out of My Life!

Did you drive today?  Did you take your children to public school?  Did you enjoy a safe commute as you traveled thanks to traffic signals and signs?  Did you whisk through your city or state on an Interstate Highway?  Did you enjoy running water and plumbing that properly, and safely, disposes of waste?  Did you get a college degree at a public university because it was much cheaper than a private one?

Hey genius, that’s all government.

Tax Cuts Create Jobs

No, they don’t.  The rich don’t need more tax breaks, they want more tax breaks.

But guess what?  After you give them those breaks, they’ll want even more the next time.  Isn’t that what Republicans are basically saying now?  They had the Bush tax cuts for a decade, but now they want even more tax cuts.

Their argument will always be, no matter the economic climate, they “need” more tax breaks to create jobs.  Good economy?  “Cut our taxes and we’ll create even more jobs.”   Bad economy?  “Cut our taxes and we’ll create jobs and save the economy.”

Tax breaks don’t create jobs, demand creates jobs.

It’s an endless cycle, and it’s why Trickle Down Economics is a failure.

I’m going to stop there.  I’m sure there are more, and one day I’ll probably do another article covering those as well.

But I highly encourage any liberal/progressive/Democrat (or anyone that’s simply sick of right-wing rhetoric) to share this article so that those who’ve driven you to the brink of insanity when discussing these issues can see a simple counter to their Fox News-fed bullshit.

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The Pain to Gays in Africa Through the Evolution of Joel Osteen

joelfoxBy Melanie Nathan | Reblogged from O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

The Public Relations office of Joel Osteen sent a huge Timeline Memograph asking me to post it here on my BLOG. It was titled, The Evolution of Joel Osteen. I read it and all it did was brag about how he has evolved into the biggest Church in America, how many millions of books he has sold and how he is impacting the rest of the World, including Africa.

But has anyone heard Osteen and his ministry speak out against the anti-Gay fervor in Africa generated by the export of Christianity? Now one may argue that it was not Osteen’s brand of Christianity that hit the streets of Africa – that it was not his Church or denomination which caused the anti-homosexual fervor and the current new laws that target LGBT Africans for condemnation through arrest and persecution. However, one can argue that each and every Church,notwithstanding its brand or form, has a duty to speak out very loudly to vehemently condemn the new laws in Uganda.

People like Osteen have had five years to intervene, since we first learned of the pain caused in the name of Christianity to the Africa’s LGBT community, and yet there has been very little to zero outreach, be it quiet diplomacy or noisy protest. And now look at what is happening.

A great amount of publicity has been in mainstream press speaking to the genesis and evolution of the hate in Africa, touted in the name of Christianity. Yet people like Osteen have not only failed to speak out forcefully or at all against it, failing the LGBT populace, but they have actually failed Christianity itself, by allowing this type of anti-gay sentiment to prevail- to such a fever-pitch extent – in the name of Christianity.

Yes, I assert that Osteen’s silence hurts not only gays, but also Christianity. Especially since Osteen is now bragging that he has the largest ministry in America, and since he now asserts its growing influence in Africa.

Since President Museveni of Uganda and President Jonathan of Nigeria signed their respective Jail the gays Bills, Osteen and other mega pastors have not been seen or heard of on the issue. In case they do not know, here is the result: – Tabloids are outing gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people and others perceived as such,  and people believe they have license to attack in the name of Christianity.

Christian families, neighbors, employers and landlords are seeking retribution against this small minority and the wrath is palpable. People are in fear of their lives and have gone into hiding, with little to no resources. We now have hundreds of gays that we know of and possible many more, and an entire country of LGBTI people scrambling into hiding, some already lynched and beaten, and all are struggling to find shelter and food. Many want to leave their countries and have nowhere to go.

Now Osteen are you ready to talk EVOLUTION?

And all the while this so called Christian Nation ( as per Yoweri Museveni) has done little more than perpetuate the persecution. And Osteen’s evolution by virtue of its silence on the issue and bragged influence, is complicit.

And the Public Relations Office of Joel Osteen has the audacity to ask my BLOG – which stands for Human Rights and advocates against the persecution – to publicize Osteen’s Evolution?

Here was my response:

Dear Aniya

What has Joel Olsteen and his Christian Ministry said or done about the export of hate by Christians to Africa against the target gay group?  – Now That would be an evolution right?

Have you read my BLOG and the nature of its work?

I fight Christians and others who export hate to Africa – and now I will fight those who do not speak out vehemently against it.

Has Osteen come out and spoken against the Jail the Gays bills – the handy work of Christian Evangelicals in Africa- namely Uganda and Nigeria.

Do not speak to me about the evolution of Osteen until he has the guts to speak out very LOUDLY in the name of Christianity to thwart the anti- gay fervor in Africa.

People are dying in Africa right now – all LGBTI – in the name of Christianity and you want me to promote it further?

Osteen can brag as much as he likes about his church, but until he does something concrete to undo the harm of Christianity, albeit other denominations, as far as I am concerned he is complicit.

Take care

Melanie Nathan.

Please note that I understand it is the fringe group of Evangelical extremists that have exported this form of hate. However what people need to know is that while the people in Africa have responded to  that fringe notion, as exported,  to promote the anti-gay laws and to to persecute, to them it is simply “Christianity.”  So all this persecution is being done in the name of Christianity, without any regard for the fact that it may be fringe. This places a much larger duty on the “good” Christians to come for ward to counter the harm.

Lest we forget that part of the BRAG that speaks to money. How about Osteen hit up his membership for the much needed dollars to help Africa’s LGBT fight the harm perpetuated by Christianity,  on the Continent.

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melMelanie Nathan is the publisher of the “O-blog-dee-o-blog-da” blog, and is a lawyer, mediator, equality activist, and human rights advocate who speaks and writes on issues impacting LGBTI communities around the world, with a focus on the U.S.A. and Africa.

Nathan and her guests highlight their work in a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, intersex, and gender-free people are the subjects of persecution and discrimination.

The Problem With Evangelicalism Is Not Evangelism

1262587_332378626908049_1879140176_oI have to admit, I’m a fan of Benjamin Corey. Who is Benjamin Corey? Glad you asked. He writes the “Formerly Fundie” blog on Patheos. Click the link, bookmark the site, spend some time, show Ben some love.

Seriously. Do it now. I’ll wait…

On 14 January 2014, Ben wrote an article in the form of a “Break-up Letter” to Evangelicalism. Titled, “Dear Evangelicalism: I Don’t Think This Relationship Is Going To Work.” it remains one of my top-ten blog posts in the history of the known universe.

The first half of his blog is wonderfully poignant regarding his personal feelings about the Evangelical movement, and is sprinkled with wit and wisdom. It will give you a chuckle, which is a quality that is somewhat lacking in most faith-based bloggers.

The second half is where my split between smiling and nodding my head went from even-keel to mostly and vigorously nodding my head in what would have appeared (if there were anyone watching) as if I were being violently shaken by a massive pair of invisible hands.

Ben gives his reasons why he had decided to split from Evanglicalism, as follows:

  1. I’m tired of the way you view people as objects.
    It’s been my experience that you often see people as objects to be converted instead of people to love, and I just don’t like that. It’s dehumanizing, and I can’t associate with it. In fact, Jesus doesn’t like that either– he once chided religious leaders of his time for their ability to go to great lengths to win a “convert” only to turn them into something that God never intended. First, learn to love people simply because they are PEOPLE, and then all the other stuff will work itself out.
  2. I’m tired of the way you treat women.Call me a heretic, but I think men and women are equal and that God gives individual gifting regardless of gender, and I know you don’t always share the same belief. I had hope you’d come around on this issue, but I’m realizing more and more that we just have irreconcilable differences when it comes to this, and that it’s a non-negotiable for me. I want to encourage women to use their skills, talents and abilities to be whoever God created them as individuals to be, and I just can’t be with someone who won’t support women embracing their full identity. Plus, every time I log onto Twitter you’re doing something to bully female bloggers, and if you treat them that way in public, what does it say about how you treat other women in private? So, until or unless you start treating women like equals at home and at church, it’s over between us.
  3. I’m tired of the way you treat my gay friends.I don’t care if you always believe that being gay is a sin– that’s your prerogative– but I do care how you treat my gay friends and the ways in which you express your beliefs on this issue. I think it is important for you to realize that there are in fact, Christians who are gay. They are people just like you and me who are busy trying to follow Jesus the best they can. However, the way you treat them is having the opposite effect that you claim to want– I think the way you treat them is actually driving them further from the wonderful message of Jesus instead of closer to it. As one of my readers told me yesterday, there is a large gap between Christianity and the LGBT community, and we need people to bridge that gap in loving ways– something you don’t seem interested in doing. So, until your culture is one where my LGBT friends will find a safe place to connect to God, I just can’t claim to be part of you anymore.
  4. I’m sick of your gun obsession.Seriously– have you tried to step back and look at your gun obsession through the eyes of an outsider? You look like a 12 year old collecting video games. I’m tired of it, and I’m quite sure that Jesus is tired of it too. You act like Jesus had a tattoo of the second amendment and sported a mullet, and quite honestly, I can’t be with someone who has that bizarre a view of Jesus. The more you continue this obsession the more you actually participate in a never ending system of violence, and I want nothing to do with that– because Jesus wanted nothing to do with that. I mean really- whenever we’re on the phone you end up talking more about guns than homelessness, which really seems backwards. So, until I see some growth in this area, it’s just not going to work.
  5. I find your insistence that Jesus was a Republican almost unbearable.You do know that there were no such thing as Republicans back then, right? When we first started spending time together, this issue wasn’t a big deal to me but as time goes on, I now see how silly this is. Jesus invites us to follow him, but you seem more concerned with following the platform of the Republican National Committee. I used to think there was a chance you’d grow out of this, or at least embrace that not all of us identify with conservative politics, but now I see I was wrong about that. I don’t know how to be in a relationship with someone who has meshed faith and politics together like a grilled cheese sandwich.
  6. I’ve had it with your obsession with power and control.I need to be completely honest: I’m starting to think you have a power addiction. The next time you hear Mr. Brownstone by Guns n’ Roses, pay attention to the line: “I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it so a little got more and more”, because that’s the way I experience your relationship with power and control. You keep feeding the beast, but the beast keeps getting more hungry. As if the power you already have isn’t enough, now you talk about “taking the country back” which makes me think you’re more concerned with the pursuit of power and control than pursuing the Jesus guy who said “blessed are the meek”. It just feels like we have different goals for the future of this, and that’s not going to enable a healthy, life-long relationship.
  7. I’m tired of arguing over finances.I know that finances become an issue in a lot of relationships, and it did in ours too. I tried to look past this, but I just can’t anymore. Have you even looked at the checking account lately? We’re actually LOADED with dough, but whenever we talk about finances it feels like you’re more interested in building funds than feeding the hungry in the local community. Seriously, are you even aware of the tone you take with me when I bring up “social justice”? Whenever I say those words you get instantly nasty with me and when that happens I don’t even want to be in the same house as you. I just can’t continue sharing my finances with someone who wants to blow so much of it on building campaigns and installing life-size Noah’s Arcs in church sanctuaries. I won’t even bring up how much must have gone into that foolish Creation museum with the cave men riding dinosaurs. You’re free to spend to spend your money however you’d like, but I feel like our financial priorities are too often incompatible.

Ben goes on to point out other, not necessarily lesser, reasons, and touches a bit on what makes or breaks a healthy relationship and “laments” about his dashed hopes of he and Evangelicalism being able to live in peace and mutual respect; hopes dashed due to Evangelicals not open to being “content with diversity of viewpoints in the areas where we don’t see eye to eye” and being “more interested in changing me, than actually knowing me and loving me for who I am.”

Ben finishes up his “Dear John” letter with being tired of “the way you’ve always forced me to the margins and isolated me when I didn’t meet your expectations or asked questions that made you uncomfortable. I’m tired of the way I experience your culture and your tone, especially with people you disagree with. More than anything, I’m tired of the fact that I don’t believe you even care about anything I just told you.”

Ben does leave the door open for a reconciliation, but with the caveats of a cease and desist of bullying women, ditching the guns, apologizing to LGBTs and keeping its hands off the checking accout.

A tall order, and one that shows no signs of being fulfilled. Still, my hat’s off to Ben, for another predictably marvelous piece of prose.

Brilliant, Ben. Just freaking brilliant.

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benBenjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is currently a Doctor of Missiology student at Fuller Seminary. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his Peruvian Princess, Johanna Grace.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Arizona – A Letter From George Takei

George_TakeiDear Arizona,

Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.

Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.

But not you, Arizona. You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects “religious freedom,” but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used “God’s Will” as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.

This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.

The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.

So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.

And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.

So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.

George Takei

WWGD: What Would Galileo Do?

galileoBy Rev Susan Russell 

Here’s a question from an email I received not long ago. The subject line was, “The Clear Truth of Scripture.” The question was, “What we’re asking for is a straight answer out of you people on where in the Bible you find a passage that shows God approves of same sex marriage. Can you do that or not?”

Finally a question I can answer without hesitation.

And the answer is “no.”

There is no single text, no specific chapter and verse, that I can point anyone to and say, “Here it is: the clear truth of scripture in support of same-sex marriage!”

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” in support of the equality or ordination of women.

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” on the sanctity of interracial marriage.

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” opposing the death penalty, supporting the abolition of slavery, or proving that the Earth revolves around the Sun — which you may remember got Galileo in all kinds of trouble with the clear-truth-of-scripture crowd in his generation.

And yes, Galileo’s opponents also cited biblical references in defense of their position that the Sun revolved around the Earth, including Psalm 93:1, which states that “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved”; Psalm 104:5, which states that “the LORD set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved”; Ecclesiastes 1:5, which states that “the sun rises and sets and returns to its place”; etc.

Meanwhile, Galileo defended the science of heliocentrism to the point of being condemned by the Catholic Church for “vehement suspicion of heresy” — and of course history eventually proved him right. In 1992 the Roman Catholic Church issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Church, and in 2008 Pope Benedict XVI praised Galileo’s contributions to astronomy.

They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it — and an excellent example of that theory is the folks who, 400 years later, are throwing around isolated scripture passages to support outdated understandings of human sexuality, just as others have done through the ages, on everything from slavery and integration to equality for women.

So here’s the “takeaway” from this today’s object lesson on life, the universe, Galileo, and heresy: the Bible is no more a textbook on human sexuality in the 21st century than it was a textbook on astronomy in the 17th. And the folks who get that part confused repeatedly end up on the wrong side of history as the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice.

And here’s the good news: we live in a country where the First Amendment protects not only your right to read the Bible any way you choose but your right to be on the wrong side of history. It does not, however, protect your right to write your theology into our Constitution and take away the equally protected rights of all Americans from some Americans because you’ve gotten the Bible confused with a textbook on human sexuality.

We begin this new year with anti-gay rhetoric in the presidential primary debates escalating while we await a decision on California’s Proposition 8 to come down literally any day now and watch the move to repeal DOMA gaining support on Capitol Hill. There is therefore every indication that gay and lesbian Americans will continue to experience the collateral damage of seeing their lives and relationships treated like sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics by those firmly planted on the wrong side of the history of LGBT equality.

It is a time of opportunity for everyone who holds fast to the fundamental American value of liberty and justice for all to remember that the First Amendment is both a protection of and a protection from religion, and to say so loud and clear.

It is also a time of challenge for people of faith to stand up and speak out in rebuttal to those who presume to speak for “traditional Christian values,” which have nothing to do with God’s values of love, justice, and compassion and everything to do with their own homophobia projected onto biblical texts taken out of context.

Galileo didn’t live long enough to get the apology he deserved from the institutional church, and neither will we. But we’re not in it for the apology. We’re in it to win it — as we work to make “justice roll down like waters” and to turn “liberty and justice for all” from a pledge to a reality for LGBT Americans.

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Copyright �2012 Rev. Susan Russell. All rights reserved. Rev. Russel is the Senior Associate for Communication and Inclusion at All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA. Originally published on January 11, 2012 in the Huffington Post . Follow Rev. Susan Russell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/revsusanrussell 

The Best Case For the Bible NOT Condemning Homosexuality

same-sex-marriage-960x340by John Shore – April 2, 2012

God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible. 

Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pitting the Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grant full moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all, to the word of God.

Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christian ethics; the Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

The answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice. The text of the Bible on one hand, and full equality for gay and lesbian people on the other, is a false dichotomy. God would not ask or expect Christians to ever choose between their heart and their faith.

Reconciling the Bible with unqualified acceptance and equality for LGBT people does not necessitate discounting, recasting, deconstructing or reinterpreting the Bible. All it takes is reading those passages of the Bible wherein homosexuality is mentioned with the same care we would any other passage of the book.

We can trust God; we can trust that God is loving.

And we can trust that we can – and that we certainly should – take God, in this matter, as in all things, at his Word.

If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize and ostracize gay people, then Christians continuing to do so is morally indefensible, and must cease.

What cannot be denied is that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering to gay persons, by:

  • Banning their participation in the church, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church;
  • Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of marriage;
  • Damaging the bonds between gays and their straight family members, thus weakening the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays
  • and their families; and Using their position within society as spokespersons for God to proclaim that all homosexual relations are disdained by God, thus knowingly contributing to the cruel persecution of a minority population.

Christians do not deny that they have done these things. However, they contend that they have no choice but to do these things, based on what they say is a clear directive about homosexuals delivered to them by God through the Holy Bible. They say that the Bible defines all homosexual acts as sinful, instructs them to exclude from full participation in the church all non-repentant sinners (including gay people), and morally calls upon them to publicly (or at least resolutely) denounce homosexual acts.

Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as the most important commandment from God: to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

The gay community has cried out for justice to Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just. Because the mistreatment of gay persons by Christians is so severe, the directive from God to marginalize and ostracize gay people must be clear and explicit in the Bible. If there is no such clearly stated directive, then the continued Christian mistreatment of gay and lesbian people is morally indefensible, and must cease.

Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in only six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. (The verses wherein homosexuality is mentioned are commonly known as the “clobber passages,” since they are typically used by Christians to “clobber” LGBT people.) The fact that homosexuality is so rarely mentioned in the Bible should be an indication to us of the degree of importance ascribed it by the authors of the Bible.

While the Bible is nearly silent on homosexuality, a great deal of its content is devoted to how a Christian should behave. All throughout it, the Bible insists on fairness, equity, love, and the rejection of legalism over compassion. If heterosexual Christians are obligated to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of homosexual acts, how much greater is their obligation to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of their behavior toward gay persons, especially in light of the gay community’s call to them for justice?

Some Bible passages pertinent to this concern are:

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.
– John 8:7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law – Romans 13:8-10

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you – Colossians 3:11-13

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. – Matthew 23:22-24 

A fundamental tenet of Christianity is that we are all born sinners, that we have no choice but to exist in relationship to our sinful natures. And so Christians accept as inevitable that any given Christian will, for instance, on occasion drink too much, lust, or tell a lie.

As we’ve seen, in the clobber passages Paul also condemns, along with homosexuality, those three specific sins. But Christians don’t think that they are expected to never commit any degree of those sins. They understand that circumstances and normal human weaknesses must be taken into account before condemning any transgression. We all readily understand and accept the moral distinction between drinking socially and being a drunk; between a lustful thought and committing adultery; between telling a flattering white lie and chronically lying.

Even a sin as heinous as murder we do not judge without first taking into account the context in which it occurred. Self-defense, protection of the innocent, during a war – we recognize that there are times when even taking the life of another is not only not a sin, but a morally justified, and even heroic act.

Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sin’s perpetrator.

They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.

Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment. Christians draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed homosexual partners.

Heterosexual Christians are being unfair and hypocritical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality (and an absolute penalty) to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are never tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality (and applying no real penalty) for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

As there is no demonstrable harm arising from sex within a committed homosexual relationship, and there is significant demonstrable harm arising from discrimination and condemnation against gay persons, what possible biblical basis can there be for not recognizing the vast moral differential between sex acts done within the context of a loving committed relationship, and sex acts of any other sort?

Here are a couple of Bible passages that any Christian should bear in mind whenever he or she is called upon (or at least emotionally compelled) to render a moral judgment:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
– Matthew 7:1

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Luke 6:41-43

The Bible isn’t a rulebook, and Christians cannot lift out of its context any passage from the Bible, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that passage. 

It is important to understand that even the most fundamentalist Christian sects do not take the Bible wholly literally. The New Testament is two thousand years old. Its cultural contexts, along with the translation at hand, is always taken into consideration by any Christian serious about understanding this vast and complex work.

Further, the Bible is not a contract, or a set of instructions, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific. It is not a rulebook for being Christian. It is instead a widely varying collection of poetry, history, proverbs, moral directives, parables, letters, and wondrous visions. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take any small section of the Bible out of its own context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of its meaning.

Using the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

The Bible’s first four mentions of homosexuality occur in the Old Testament.

While continuing to be spiritually inspired and influenced by the Old Testament, Christians were specifically instructed by Paul not to follow the law of the Old Testament, in such passages as:

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. – Hebrews 7:18-19

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. – Galatians 3:23-25

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another … – Romans 7:4

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. – Romans 6:14 

In practice, Christians do not follow the dictates of the Old Testament. If they did, polygamy would be legal, and forbidden would be things like tattoos, wearing mixed fabrics, eating pork, and seeding lawns with a variety of grasses – and the Christian day of worship would be Saturday, not Sunday. And if the parents of a new bride could not, upon her husband’s request, prove that she’s a virgin, then that bride would have to be stoned to death. And Christians would have to stone to death any other Christian guilty of adultery.

Clearly, we no longer follow any such laws.

Therefore, the use of the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is in keeping with neither any directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

In the clobber passages Paul condemns the coercive, excessive, and predatory same-sex sexual activity practiced by the Romans – and would have condemned the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

Because Christians’ understanding and practice of New Testament prescriptions naturally and inevitably evolve along with the society and culture of which they are a part, at any given time in history Christians have always selectively followed dictates of the New Testament. This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church. It’s also why the Bible is no longer used to justify the cruel institution of slavery, or to deny women the right to vote.

Just as those thoughts and understandings of the New Testament changed and grew, so today is it becoming increasingly clear to Christians that the three New Testament clobber passages (each of which was written by Paul in letters to or about nascent distant churches), when understood in their historical context, do not constitute a directive from God against LGBT people today.

Here are the three mentions of homosexuality in the New Testament:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. – 1 Timothy 1:9-10:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. – Romans 1:26-27 

In the times during which the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between older men and boys, and between men and their male slaves. These acts of non-consensualsex were considered normal and socially acceptable. They were, however, morally repulsive to Paul, as today they would be to everyone, gay and straight.

The universally acknowledged authoritative reference on matters of antiquity is theOxford Classical Dictionary. Here is what the OCD (third edition revised, 2003) says in its section about homosexuality as practiced in the time of Paul:

“… the sexual penetration of male prostitutes or slaves by conventionally masculine elite men, who might purchase slaves expressly for that purpose, was not considered morally problematic.”

This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians are obliged to bring to their understanding and interpretation of the three clobber passages. Paul certainly condemned the same-sex sexual activity he saw around him. It was coercive; it was without constraint; it involved older men and boys. As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts – as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

The Bible’s clobber passages were written about same-sex acts betweenheterosexual persons, and do not address the subject of homosexual acts between a committed gay couple, because the concept of a person being a homosexual did not exist at the time the Bible was written.

It is also critical to our reading of the New Testament’s three clobber passages to understand that while of course Paul knew about sex acts that took place between persons of the same gender, he had no concept whatsoever of homosexual persons. Virtually no one in Paul’s time was “out”; no one lived, or in any way publicly self-identified, as a homosexual. Paul had no concept of an entire population of people who, as a fundamental, unalterable condition of their existence, were sexually attracted to persons of the same gender, and not sexually attracted to persons of the opposite gender.

Here is the opening of the OCD‘s article on homosexuality:

“No Greek or Latin word corresponds to the modern term ‘homosexuality,’ and ancient Mediterranean society did not in practice treat homosexuality as a socially operating category of personal or public life. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex certainly did occur (they are widely attested in ancient sources), but they were not systematically distinguished or conceptualized as such, much less were they thought to represent a single, homogeneous phenomenon in contradistinction to sexual relations between persons of different sexes. … The application of ‘homosexuality’ (and ‘heterosexuality’) in a substantive or normative sense to sexual expression in classical antiquity is not advised.”

We can be confident that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smart phones or iPads. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people. All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts between heterosexuals.

If we are to rely on the Bible, then we must take its text as it is. It does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive, and outside of marriage. It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself – much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple. Christians therefore have no Bible-based moral justification for themselves condemning such acts.

Because there was no concept of gay marriage when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts done within the context of gay marriage.

The Bible routinely, clearly and strongly classifies all sex acts outside of the bonds of marriage as sinful. But, because there was no concept of gay people when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts done within the context of marriage. Christians therefore have no biblical basis for themselves condemning such acts.

In fact, by denying marriage equality to gay people, Christians are compelling gay couples to sin, because their intimacy must happen outside of marriage, and is therefore, by biblical definition, sinful.

Being personally repelled by homosexual sex doesn’t make homosexual sex a sin.

In addition to the Bible, many Christians cite as additional evidence of the inherent sinfulness of homosexual acts their raw emotional response to such acts. It is understandable that many straight people find homosexual sex repugnant (just as many gay people find heterosexual sex repugnant). It is normal for any one of us to be viscerally repelled by the idea of sex between, or with, people for whom we personally have no sexual attraction. Young people, for example, are often disgusted by the thought of senior citizens having sex. And who isn’t repulsed by the idea of their parents having sex? (When, rationally speaking, we should rejoice in the fact that they did!) But it is much too easy for any person to mistake their instinctive reaction against something as a moral reaction to that thing. Outrage isn’t always moral outrage, though the two usually feel the same.

It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises out of the Bible. But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our vision or understanding of God’s sacrosanct word.

“The greatest of these is love”

The overriding message of Jesus was love. Jesus modeled love; Jesus preached love; Jesus was love. Christians desiring to do and live the will of Jesus are morally obliged to always err on the side of love. Taken altogether, the evidence – the social context in which the Bible was written, the lack of the very concept of gay people in Paul’s time, the inability of gay people to marry, the inequity between how the clobber passages are applied between a majority and a minority population, the injustice of the punishment for a state of being over which one has no choice being exclusion from God’s church on earth and human love generally – shows that choosing to condemn and exclude gay people based on the Bible is the morally incorrect choice. That evidence should instead lead Christians to the most obvious, and most Christian of all positions, stated so beautifully by Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

– by John and Catherine Shore, excerpted from UNFAIR: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work. (Print editionKindle editionNotebook edition)

See also John’s LGBTQ and Christians.

©Copyright 2012 John Shore. All rights reserved. Used with Permission
Originally posted on John Shore’s Website – “Trying God’s Patience Since 1958”

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