March 24, 2008

IconHow to: respond to anti-gay Christians

As you sat shovelling chocolate into your mouth this weekend, did you consider how sinful you were? No not with the gluttony, with the gay thing. The Church hates homos, right? Abominations and Sodom and all that bad stuff, right? Not necessarily – Lesbilicious is here (via our pals at the BBC) to help you stack up on ammo, so next time some God-squadder starts quoting chapter and verse, you can fire a few back.

Before we get started, a few general points. There are actually very few mentions of homosexuality in the Bible. When it is mentioned, it’s usually only in relation to men (as you’d expect from such a misogynist book). And Jesus didn’t anything specific to say about the gay thing. Now let’s get going.

1. Leviticus

“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; that is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

Anti-gay interpretation
Gay = wrong, simple as that. God says it, it’s clearly His word, end of.

Pro-gay interpretation
Fair enough. But some context please: burning incense is also an abomination (Isaiah 66:3). God’s not keen on cotton-lycra underwear either (Leviticus 19:19) haircuts (Leviticus 19:27) or women having sex when it’s their ‘time of the month’ (Leviticus 20:18). But more than anything else, God hates shrimp, he really really does :( Leviticus 11:10), (Leviticus 11:11), (Leviticus 11:12).

2. Sodom and Gomorrah

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is another classic staple of homophobic Christians. In a nutshell, it’s the story of how Lot has two angels staying in his house. Men from the town of Sodom surround the house, and say to Lot: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, and let us know [have sex with] them.”

To protect the angels from an act which Lot describes as “wicked”, he offers the crowd his two virgin daughters instead. The crowd are not satisfied and break in – the angels make the men from Sodom blind, and the town is eventually destroyed by “fire and brimstone”.

Anti-gay interpretation
The men of Sodom were immoral and wicked for wanting to practice homosexuality, and they were punished for that sin.

Pro-gay interpretation
Yes the men were wicked, but not because they wanted homosexual sex – it was because they wanted to rape the angels. And on a slightly separate matter, why did Lot offer his daughters to would-be rapists? And why doesn’t the Bible seem to mind that?

3. Jesus on marriage

“Man shall leave his father and mother, and be made one with his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:7-9)

And “That is something which not everyone can accept, but only those for whom God has appointed it. For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or made so by men, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it who can.” (Matthew 19: 10-12)

Anti-gay interpretation
Jesus is clearly stating that heterosexuality is the only true option. Only people incapable of having children of men who were castrated are exempted from hetero marriage.

Pro-gay interpretation
Yes, Jesus is stating the case for marriage, but he also makes it clear that some people are not born for straight marriage – ie they are homosexual in nature. What’s more, that’s ok.

4. St Paul

St Paul. Now there’s a homophobe. Writer of such classics as “God has given [people who worship false gods] up to shameful passions. Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and their men in turn, giving up natural relations with women burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males and paid in their own persons the fitting wage of such perversion.” (Romans 1: 26-27)

And “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Anti-gay interpretation
Homosexuality is clearly an offence against God.

Pro-gay interpretation
St Paul’s writings are clearly of their time, and he wrote many other verses which we have no problem ignoring: “a woman brings shame on her head if she prays or prophesies bare-headed; it is as bad as if her head were shaved.” And “man does not originate from woman, but woman from man” (1 Corinthians 11, 2-16)

In the second passage, the original greek word that was translated to ‘effeminate’ was ‘malakoi’. It literally meant ‘soft’ and sometimes referred to young boys who would receive anal sex, often for money. In some Bibles it’s translated as ‘morally weak’. The original Greek for ‘homosexual offenders’ was ‘aresenokoitai’, which referred to a male prostitute who served heterosexual or homosexual clients. At any rate, the sin here is prostitution, not homosexuality in itself.


So is it Good News, Bible?

To sum up, yes the Bible does include a fair amount of anti-gay rhetoric. But it also has a whole bunch of crazy stuff that anti-gay Christians are happy to ignore while they pursue their own agendas.

It’s worth remembering too that the Bible is a series of writings that were assembled, re-written, copied, translated, re-interpreted, lost, found, copied again, re-written again, translated again, re-interpreted again and finally translated again. Is it still God’s exact word? God only knows.

Crucially, are the anti-Christians right, and are we all going to Hell? No idea. But if all the gayers are there, at least it’ll be one helluva party…

The following sources were consulted for this article: BBC News The Purple Pew Christ Covenant Metropolitan Community Churches Women Priests.Want more? This Wikipedia writer has a lot to say on the matter.

12 Responses to How to: respond to anti-gay Christians

  1. Georgia says:

    If you aren’t a Christian then it’s unlikely you believe in Hell and therefore unlikely (impossible, in my opinion) you will go there; I just feel for the gay Christians – they are more obliged to engage in this debate and prove themselves worthy of the god they believe in.

  2. Marissa says:

    You make some very good points. I used to feel this way too, that I should give it right back. The problem with this for me is that I am not a Christian and by quoting the bible I feel I am giving it weight. I am saying that the bible is in fact a guide, that it is what I should look to for truth. I think of the bible as nothing more than a book, an anthology, and a not very well written one at that. If others choose to live their lives by the pages of this terribly confusing and contradictory anthology, then there is nothing I can do about it but I am not going to support it by basing my arguments against it on its own contents. I feel like that is just saying Christians are still correct that the bible is the guide, they are just wrong about what it says. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, I think it’s good for gay Christians to speak out in this way…just not people like myself that don’t believe in it to begine with.

  3. Kevan says:

    Slight newsflash for everybody, but Marriage was, and still is supposed to be a commitment to your spouse made by God, in front of God, sealed by God.
    The entire point of Marriage, Marriage itself, revovles AROUND God, Mankind has twisted it into something that isn’t so holy, and basically treat it as “Permission for Sex.”
    Really now, it defeats the whole purpose of marriage.

    Also, to the people(Or person, whichever.) who posted this, get off your feminist high horse, people like you are the reason why I’m having more and more trouble finding a good girl.

  4. Georgia says:

    Kevan, please define for me what a ‘good girl’ is…

    Also, I agree that the sacrament of marriage in Christian terms is exactly what you say it is. However, there are many people who are not Christians who want to commit to their partners formally, officially, legally etc.

    To say that marriage has been twisted into ‘permission for sex’ is slightly naive – many people today have sex before marriage and then still go on to get married. What I find amusing about this ‘permission for sex’ comment is that my main experience of seeing people treat marriage in this way is amongst younger evangelical Christians who rush into marriage for exactly that reason.

    Marissa, I agree that using Biblical arguments to justify yourself, if you are not a Christian, gives more undeserved authority to the ol’ big book the Bible. At the same time though, given the immense contradictions it would be a waste not to highlight the flaws! :)

  5. michael kavusak says:

    One thing people always forget about homosexuality is that its a sin and, just like every other sin ever commited, it is forgiven if you believe that jesus is lord. Gays commit sin just like everyone else and are forgiven jus like everyone else.

  6. Milly says:

    Michael – I agree that gay people commit sins just like straight people, but as I explained in the article the Bible doesn’t unequivocally say that homosexuality itself is a sin.

  7. greenmouse says:

    There’s a bit more to Sodom than rape, though that’s still a part. God said he’d save it if there were ten good men, and there was only Lot.

    Ezekiel 16:48-50, NIV
    As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.

    Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

  8. Billy Squier says:

    I was expecting a typical secularist kind of argument: “Christianity is a archaic Roman mythology based on a zombie born to a Jew filled with the hot sticky angel dust of a magical sky pixie” and the other crap that everyone says.

    I’m surprised that you put your anti-Christian beliefs aside, and actually made a serious logical argument. Kudos for your open-mindedness and intellectual honesty.

  9. tweedy says:

    michael you are my worst kind of person. Homosexuality is a sin please!

  10. David says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m continually amazed at how many people will twist a Bible verse to make it say what they want.. they try so hard to justify their sin, because they don’t want to admit their sin and are so blind to the fact.

    All have sinned and come short of the glory of GOD. We have to first realized that someone being homosexual is just like any other person caught in sin. All will go to hell if there is not repentance and salvation.. its not like only gays will go to hell, but everyone that is not saved. One can only lovingly show them their sin and pray for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and lives to help them change.

    “Crucially, are the anti-Christians right, and are we all going to Hell? No idea. But if all the gayers are there, at least it’ll be one helluva party…” this last phrase really scares me Micheal. I don’t think you fully understand what you are saying right there.

  11. Michael Kavusak says:

    @Milly
    well first, the term homosexuality wouldnt be used in the bible since it wasnt used as a word until much much later in time.
    Second, in Leviticus there is an entire chapter devoted to sexual sins one of which is “A man shall not lie with a man as he does a woman, for that is detestable to God.” Thats pretty clear in my opinion. However, thats the old testiment. In the new testiment, Jesus does not give many do nots but he gives many do’s. One of them is the universal, “If you confess with your tongue that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God rose him from the dead then you will be saved”. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Homosexuality is a sin, just as much as me lusting after girls is a sin. The best part is that it can all be forgiven because its all the same to God. I dont understand why people cant accept that it doesnt matter cause its all sin.

    Which brings me to you Tweedy.

    First of all, thanks for not adding anything to the conversation other then a asinine remark on my beliefs. Way to go. What do you actually believe about it? that just because they cant change who they are makes it not a sin? i cant change the fact that i lust after women, and i consider that a sin that constantly holds me back. The truth of the matter, something that some Christians have lost track of, is that God loves everyone, Gay or straight. We should too but people misinterpret and misunderstand the Bible and its message that God and Jesus love us no matter what we do. All you have to do is believe that they can save you from your sin. Does that mean youll never sin again? no, but atleast were now forgiven. Besides, even if homosexuality wasnt a sin, you would still go to Hell without Jesus because you will still sin. Thats the hard truth of the matter so dont get all bent out of shape when i say if you sin you are going to Hell… i was there once too and im no better then anyone else. I just know that im forgiven and will be saved from that.

  12. Rory says:

    my family are secular jews, so I’ve been going to hell a long time before I ever became a Lesbian, lol.

    Anyway read Princeton Prof. Peter Schafer’s “Jesus in the Talmud” where Jesus is punished in Hell for eternity by being made to sit in a cauldron of boiling excrement?
    The Talmud’s scattered portrait of Jesus unapologetically mocks Christian doctrines including the virgin birth and the resurrection.