After listening to President Jimmy Carter’s keynote address at Clark Atlanta University last week, I really got to thinking. Not that I hadn’t been thinking before, but his words really got me thinking about a particular topic. The topic of his speech that day was violence against women. He talked about everything from sex trafficking, to rape, to unequal pay across gender lines. As interesting and as important as all of those things are, one thing he said really stood out to me. He said that the misinterpretation of religious texts is responsible for much of the violence against women. The ideology that women are inferior, less than, and meant to be submissive all stem from religious books like the Bible and the Quran, but President Carter says that he feels the texts have been misinterpreted…and I agree. That brings me to the issue of homosexuality and the Church, and how I feel religion has been used to make members of the LGBTQ community, scapegoats.
Over the weekend, after reading an article about the 15 must-see Netflix documentaries, I decided to watch a doc called, “For the Bible Tells Me So.” This documentary explores Christianity and how many members of the Church deal with members of the LGBTQ community. I must admit, it was a little painful to watch. But of course, like all good documentaries, it was thought-provoking and confirmed what I had believed for so long; a lot of people in the Church have gotten it all wrong when it comes to homosexuality.
In another post, I will talk specifically about the Black church, and the Black LGBTQ community, but for now, I will keep things general.
The Bible says that being gay is an “abomination.” In case you don’t know, this is a go-to scripture for a lot of Bible toting Christians who wish to condemn those who live a non-hetero lifestyle.
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
Here’s the thing: The problem with taking things you read in the Bible and running with them is that…you may not have understood what you read. Many scholars have pointed out that when reading the Bible or any other religious text for that matter, you must first take into context the time period, the culture, the language, etc. During this time, an “abomination” meant something that went against tradition. It meant something that was unorthodox. For example, eating shrimp was listed as an “abomination” in the Bible, as well as remarrying your wife, or being a craftsman. God also thought that things highly esteemed by men were an “abomination.” So…like, that could be anything, right? Take your iPhone, for example. I mean, who doesn’t love their iPhone?
The Bible also says some things about selling all of your items and giving everything to the poor. Anybody doing THAT these days? And what about that whole no sex before marriage thing? How’s everybody doing with that? The point is, the Bible says a lot of things that may not be relevant today, given the shift in culture and in my opinion, are certainly open for interpretation.
So why does everybody zero in on GAY?
I have a couple of theories, but the main one is, because it makes people super uncomfy. It seems that people can deal with the lying, cheating, fornicating, coveting, murder and adultery, but the GAY thing is just far too much.
Then there’s Sodom and Gomorrah. Something a lot of Christian radicals and Biblical literalists really like referring to when it comes to LGBTQ folk. But according to the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah was never about homosexuality. The sin that was committed was the sin of being inhospitable. I would break it down, but writer Kimberly Knight broke it down way better than I ever could.
It is a story about wantonness and dominance over others, about radical inhospitality (a grievous sin according the the bible we share), about malignant power used to reject God’s shalom.
In fact, the Bible itself expressly describes the sin of Sodom elsewhere as radical inhospitality. Check-it, good ole Ezekiel claims the real “guilt” of the Sodomites was the fact that, although they had “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease,” they “did not aid the poor and needy” and were “haughty” (Ezekiel 16:49-50). Even your main man Paul in a little note he scribbled out to the Hebrews warns Christians by alluding to the true sin of the Sodomites as inhospitality: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
“The overwhelming weight of scientific authority concludes that homosexuality is not a disorder or abnormal. The universal acceptance of that conclusions—save for outliers such as JONAH—requires that any expert opinions to the contrary must be barred.”