In a video message addressed to “religious people who use the Bible to justify their anti-gay bigotry,” Dan Savage says, “there’s so much in the Bible that we’ve learned to ignore: the anti-female, anti-woman stuff…the stuff in the Bible that forbids us to eat lobster…that justifies and defends the institution of slavery…we’ve learned to ignore what the Bible says about pork, and…about polyester. We’ve learned to ignore all of that. We can also get over the anti-gay stuff in the Bible.”
As a Christian, I’m deeply sorry for the attitudes and behavior of those who use the Bible to discriminate, shame, belittle, or dismiss the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community. It’s indefensible.
Savage’s call for religious people to ignore the Bible, however, divides Jewish and Christian communities and the LGBT community even further; and it stems from a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says.
For the record:
I do not choose to ignore the “anti-female stuff”. It isn’t there. Men use the Bible to justify their anti-female bigotry, sure. But I don’t see it in the Bible. I see in the Tenach (Jewish Bible and Christian Old Testament), Deborah, the prophet, ruling over Israel, and leading in wartime1, Ruth taking charge of her own destiny2, and Abigail preventing a massacre by wisely going against her husband’s wishes.3 I see God providing for women4, protecting women5, and warning men not to deal treacherously with them.6 The Ten Commandments require respect of both father and mother.7 The ideal woman is described as a decisive, assured, powerful, working property owner.8 An entire book is devoted to sexual love between husband and wife, where the wife is equal throughout, and receiving as much as she gives.9 In the New Testament, I see the teaching, “there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”10
I do not choose to ignore the stuff that forbids us to eat lobster and pork, and wear polyester. Those laws were always intended to be temporary. In the Bible, Levitical laws forbid eating certain foods11, and wearing blended fabrics.12 God intended these laws to be temporary. He didn’t give them until over 3000 years after the creation of mankind, and he put them aside after the coming of Jesus.13 According to the New Testament, we have freedom to follow or to not follow them, as we choose.14
I do not choose to ignore the parts about slavery. I admit that I stumble over them, though. Under the law of Moses, God commanded masters to treat slaves with respect, as hired workers.15 He commanded they get a day off once a week.16 If a slave owner harmed a slave—for example, knocking out a tooth—God commanded them freed.17 Still. According to the Bible, humans could be bought, sold, and inherited as property under the law.18 Perhaps God established laws requiring humane treatment of slaves, because slavery already existed. Perhaps not. I don’t say I understand it, but I don’t ignore it. We are no longer under that law, and slavery was never required, so I can argue and work for the abolishment of slavery without violating the Bible.
Both Testaments say, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”19 Savage says that the New Testament says to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Actually, both Testaments say that. Maybe instead of calling upon religious people to ignore the very book that we stake our eternity on, Savage, and others concerned with equality, should call upon us to stop ignoring parts of it. We, as religious people, need to get over our pride, and recognize that we are called to serve and to love.
Please watch the following video for a truly Christian perspective on the treatment of LGBT people.
Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier. All rights reserved. Shevarim.com