Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Stop Arguing About the Bible and Homosexuality"

Thought-provoking article by Candace Chellew-Hodge, "a recovering Southern Baptist," and a pastor at a UCC church in South Carolina. Chellew-Hodge points out parallels in the way the Bible was and is used in the present struggle for LGBT rights and the abolitionist movement of a generation ago.
If you think making a pro-gay argument from the Bible is difficult, try to make an anti-slavery argument from it. There is precious little in the Bible that can be made to speak against the owning of another human being as property. Not that the abolitionists didn't try. They did – valiantly.


And so it will be with gay and lesbian Americans. We will not win our rights by having the best biblically based argument. We will never triumph in that arena – but we don't need to. As the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison so boldly proclaimed, "Nothing in regard to controversial matters ha(s) ever been settled by the Bible," and neither should it.
Of course, I don't agree with everything Chellew-Hodge writes. My own confrontation with the Bible's support of slavery, broad proscription of death penalties, genocide, and subjugation of women has left me why dubious of the authority of the Bible. I don't feel I hold the Bible in as high esteem as Chellew-Hodge does. I'm curious to know what you guys think.

hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch


seithman said...

I think most people would see me as more radical than Chellow-Hodge. When I see people trying to base their argument for equalit on the Bible, I think we've treading onto dangerous grounds.

My understanding of the Constituion and the founding principles of our country is that our equality and civil rights is based on our humanity. Trying to gain civil rights by proving the Bible doesn't say homosexuality isn't a sin undermines that centeral theme. In my opinion, taking up such an argument effectively concedes to the belief that it is not sufficient to be human in order to be granted equal rights, but one must also prove that one is "sufficiently moral" in order to "earn" those rights. To me, such a concession is an anethema to the very principles of equality and civil rights.

Furthermore, as a non-Christian, I consider it flirting with a violation of religious freedoms at best (and an outright violation of those freedoms at worst) for someone to suggest to me that I not only have to prove myself "sufficiently moral" to earn my equality and rights, but that I have to do so in accordance to a religion other than my own. The first respose to such a suggestion that comes to my mind is vulgar, crass, and downright confrontational.

I understand that many gay people remain Christian, and I respect that. I also certainly understand that given the issues over the role the Bible plays in that religion, many gay Christians are going to want to address the question of what it really says about homosexuality. I also understand why they want to make a solid argument for why homosexuality isn't a sin in Christian theology. That's all a part of their religion. However, when they discuss matters of civil rights and equality, they're not just talking about their own rights. They're talking about my rights as well. And I would just as soon they didn't shackle the fight for my rights to a religion that I do not follow. It's bad enough that those who oppose my rights attempt to do so.

Anonymous said...

Biblical literalists also ignore the Old Testament condonation of father's pimping their daughters, fathers having sex with their daughters, men throwing out their pregnant wives, and infanticide.

Why people in the 21st century still feel obliged to venerate and validate a bronze-age token of a savage tribal culture is a mystery to me, but they do.

Peterson Toscano said...

I find the Bible to be a complex collections of texts, a strange mixed of inspired insight and awful prescriptions for oppression. As I have taken a more critical and objective view of the Bible, I have found it to be useful to explore how various forms of oppression have occurred.

But to use the Bible to counter the anti-lgbt arguments often proves fruitless, except for when I look at the positive examples of the inclusion of gender different people in some of the most important stories.

Going toe to toe over this stuff does not achieve much though for most people. As Audre Lorde said, “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house”