Does the Bible Justify Bullying Gay People?

This spring Dan Savage, a leading gay rights and sex positive advocate, spoke at a conference for high school journalism students. He addressed the issue of folks pointing to the Bible to justify the bullying of gays. He did a great job of making his case with two exceptions: he used the words “bullshit” and “pansy-ass”, which weakens the argument- even if he was describing written words and actions (not people). He could have omitted those phrases and his speech would nearly have been worthy of carving in stone; the nation is sick of hypocritical “logic”. Even though I am not a fan of the use of cursing to make a point, I will concede that when people are suffering and dying at the hand of those who supposedly follow God, there is reason to be upset. There is reason to curse and gnash your teeth and pull out your hair. Hate begets hate and last time I checked, Jesus did not advocated hating anyone.

Sexual identity and bullying do need to be talked about at the same time, because the vehemence against gays has been proven to be deadly. Matthew Shepard first opened our eyes to this when he died due to hate for homosexuals. He was tied to a fence in a posture not very unlike that of Jesus on the cross. Today, 14 years later, we are discussing whether or not schools should be able to address the issue of bullying and hate crimes against gays directly with their students. Apparently some religious folks believe that addressing the issue legitimizes being gay and that offends them.

Dan Savage, after a spate of gay teen suicides – due to being bullied – decided to take action and put together the “It Gets Better” campaign. This is a project for kids in isolation (living in a situation where hostility against gay people is common) so that they can view positive videos and take solace that it is worth surviving high school and that there is a big wonderful world out there, no matter their sexual id, and that they can escape persecution someday. The most recent blog post from the site, posted by Gary Nelson, starts off with, “Dear friend, Let me start by telling you that I love you…” in an open letter to gay teens. This is the sort of message I believe Jesus would send today. You do not hear this sort of message coming from religious conservatives.

Christian conservatives have belief systems based in the Bible and often point to particular passages that support their villainization of gays. Their value system puts authority over all else, and for them, the Bible is the ultimate authority, even over personal or modern day divine encounters. You can’t blame someone for their beliefs, but you can speak out when their belief system interferes with someone else’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. That’s how it is supposed to work in America. We don’t all have the same beliefs or authorities other than sharing the law of this land. Even if one believes God is on their side, they are not allowed to bother other people about it unless they are willing to accept the legal consequences.

The following is a transcript from Dan’s keynote address at the conference.  I have yet to hear anyone using the Bible to justify anti-gay rhetoric explain why only parts of Biblical law are adhered to. I would welcome someone who can explain that point of view. Because we promote civilized discourse, I substituted the two curse words with asterisks.

The Bible, we’ll just talk about the Bible for a second ah. People often point out that they can’t help it – they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.

We can learn to ignore the bull**** in the Bible about gay people. [applause] The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bull**** in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. [applause] We ignore bull**** in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say “Christians don’t own people.” Paul talks about how Christians own people.

We ignore what the Bible says about slavery, because the Bible got slavery wrong. Tim — ah, Sam Harris, in A Letter To A Christian Nation, points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong. Slavery! What’re the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100% percent.

The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – if a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. [applause] And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days. [audience laughs]

People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality, um.

One other thing I wanna talk about is — [chuckles] — so, you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I’m done beating up the Bible. [applause]

It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-***ed some people react when you push back. [applause]
I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but I have a right to defend myself. And to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible, and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.

Any takers? Why do so many conservative Christians get stuck on the issue of Bible sanctioned hatred of homosexuality and not shellfish?

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8 thoughts on “Does the Bible Justify Bullying Gay People?

  1. Willa Addison says:

    One “sin” that is rarely addressed is judgement. HATE is one four letter word that grows within like a cancer, shutting out love. We are all children of God and as such all are loved. I do believe the Bible says “Love one another as I have loved you”. God so loved the world…not just the straights, homosexual, christian, non christian, black, white, brown, skinny, fat, the haves or the have not’s, all of these and more have targets to bully’s. some layers find love.
    Bullying plays to an audience. Do not be the cheerleader for any bullying. Those that stand and do nothing are playing into the bully’s production. Where is the sin? Judgement, bullying, inactivity to prevent? Remember a sin, is a sin. There are no “C” students here.

  2. lokywoky says:

    As far as I can tell, Jesus only said two commandments. #1 – Love God. #2 – Love everyone else. No exceptions. Get that – NO EXCEPTIONS!

    As far as all that crap from the old testament – Jesus basically said that all that stuff was in the past and he was there to say that his two commandments were all you had to pay attention to. It’s too bad that all the so-called Christians cannot listen to the person they claim to follow instead if picking and choosing only the stuff they want out of the old testament.

    Love everyone! We all would be so much better off!

  3. Amy Meier says:

    Thanks for comments.

  4. Luke Haskins says:

    I do not hate gay people. I look at posts like this and it drives me insane that we conservatives are thought to be complete idiots that just want to hate for the sake of hating, and as much as we are told to love, we are thought to be too hard-headed to appriciate it. We don’t have a hatred problem. We love gay people.

    I am a Christian, and I believe in correction. In other words, when I’m at a formal occasion and nobody tells me that the back of my shirt’s not been tucked in for the entirety of the time, it bugs me. I know that correction is a way of (carefully and kindly) showing love to those people. If I was simply “loved” by my parents without correction, would they truly love me?

    I simply believe that homosexuality, the biblical sin, is wrong. I correct because I care, because I want them to want to see the beauty and saving grace of Christ. All I am saying is, if people don’t say anything, and if the world falls silent, then how can there be a proper correction and change in Christ exist? We are not blind to love, we love people enough to help them and want them to find the one who CAN save them, as He saved me.

  5. Amy Meier says:

    In “saving” someone, you presume that they are wrong. How would you like to be “saved” from your own “wrong” thoughts? Suppose someone was on a mission to save you from the idea that policing on behalf of the Bible or Christ is misguided?

    I’m guessing it would make you feel defensive?

    • Luke Haskins says:

      But is the answer acting the the problem doesn’t exist? Too many people, including Christians, just try to ignore the biblical elephant in the room, when it does need to be debated. The bible has stunningly more in talking about homosexuality than people give it credit for. And yes, I know people who are on a mission to “save” me from Christianity and the Bible, and I understand why they do so: so I’m not spending my life chasing after fairy tales. But I have done my research on the subject, I’ve read my bible, and I’ve done my science. I have even prepared myself for defending what I believe. I’m not hard-headed, nor am I hard-hearted. I just want to see a change in the world back to hearts who want to follow Christ. I think the first place is to start is to see what He has to say, don’t you?

      • Amy Meier says:

        Again, you are assuming that everyone else perceives homosexuality as you do – as a problem. It is not a problem for millions of people – even millions of Christians. A Christian is allowed to call themselves a Christian and to never read the Bible if they so choose. Just because you believe your interpretations are important and you’ve done your research does not give you more credibility than another; it does not give you the authority to “correct” anyone else in society. Our country was born out of religious oppression and using your religion as a tool of oppression is directly opposite of why this country was founded. Religiously or spiritually you might feel that you have the power, but as soon as that “correction” crosses the line and interferes with someone else’s present life (not afterlife), the “correction” goes too far. I’m a huge fan of free speech until it turns into hate speech and incites a crowd to act violently with words or actions.

        “Correcting” others is arrogant IMHO and does not model a style like Jesus. Jesus told stories and reached out in love to those on the fringes.

        Jesus’ most dramatic (and rude) “correction” was the upsetting of the money changers tables in the temples – a similar shake up of the prosperity doctrine in the Christian world is needed today. I have yet to hear of any quotes where Jesus addressed the issue of committed gay relationships.

      • Amy Meier says:

        Another interesting article pertaining to this topic of Christian culture and attitudes toward homosexuals.

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