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“Christians Who Support Gay Rights”

March 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Progressive Christianity

Chris Hallquit, a patheos atheist blogger, writes about liberal Christians who support gay marriage. Here’s his objection to the way its generally approached:

I object to liberal Christians who are so eager to reinterpret the Bible to be gay-friendly because when they do that, they’re still upholding the principle that the Bible should be treated as a special source of guidance. Sure, reinterpreting the Bible on gay issues may help in the short run on those particular issues, but until we see the Bible as just another human book (albeit an influential one, though one whose influence has so often been ill), we’ll never get out of fights over Biblical interpretation that we shouldn’t need to have for purposes of setting government policy in a modern liberal democracy.

So basically Chris says this. The Bible is a human book, with human errors, but instead of admitting this, Christians just debate and hash out their differences for hundreds of years about what the Bible really means. Instead we should be demonstrating the errors in the Bible, and the human development in the Bible, and then and only then, will people get over the anti-gay, anti-women, and all this and that.

He has somewhat a point.

Sometimes I feel that way over women’s rights. I look at the Bible, and all the anti-women verses, and just want to scratch them out, admit that Paul is a man apart of a human book, and then be done with my life. I mean, you know, there’s some pretty misogynistic stuff in there.

And I agree that we should have more conversations about the discrepancies and contradictions in the Bible and the development of the Bible. And we should have more talks about how we don’t have the originals to any manuscripts and that the manuscripts we do have contain more differences than words in the New Testament. And I think its worth pointing out that history has changed a lot in the last 2,000 years, and to divorce history from the New Testament is, well, dishonest.

But still, if the church has interrupted a scripture the wrong way, that’s worth pointing out too. This is not an either/or lesson.

I guess for me it boils down to honesty. In the debate on women’s roles in the church, in some cases my interpretation of scripture was definitely wrong, and it was worth Christians pointing out. In other cases, I discovered that words were added to later manuscripts, and that was also worth pointing out. By studying both, it freed me of the anti-women interpretation of the Bible. [My study was more complicated than that, but all that's for another post.]

I also don’t think this is going to affect the government in the long run as the older generations are slowly losing their voice. But this debate will have implications on the church, and that’s what we are seeing right now in both the LGBT and women’s debate.

How do you all think we should approach the Bible on these debates? If your not a Christian, how do you personally engage Christians?

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11 Responses

  • opinemine says:

    Why is it gay men are singled out for a special level of vitroi in conservative circles? Why aren’t lesbians harassed by these folk? My theory is that the worst thing a man could do in their eyes is voluntarily be effeminate thusly putting gays in the same bucket as women.

    Also, my emphasis with respect to gay rights is gay civil rights and that is an issue of separation of church and state.

  • How do I engage Christians?
    Honestly, I don’t.
    I have never seen a debate end in someone changing their fundamental beliefs and I dislike confrontation. (I know, underneath it all I’m a wimp.) But I simply don’t confront believers at all. They confront me, but I don’t care to engage with a person whose reason for initiating a discussion is so that they have the opportunity to best me in a game of semantics. But, if someone seeks to understand the atheist point of view, I’m happy to oblige.

    As for my opinion on how to address issues with the Bible not jiving with current knowledge, it’s simple. Acknowledge that it is a work of man. No acrobatics or complicated “explanations” or debates necessary.

    • Lana says:

      I understand. Mostly I think we should let people believe whatever they want (freedom of speech in a nutshell, and also doing people the service of letting them have their own opinions). When it becomes a problem is when anyone, Christian or not, starts infringing on the rights of other people.

  • Lynn says:

    Even if we believe the bible is human and full of errors, if we want to change the mind of a person who believes the bible is authoritative and inerrant, we have to speak to their level. A debate won’t go anywhere if the two sides are not using the same authority as their ground understanding. So I think any religious debate needs to be catered to the person’s core beliefs regarding scripture, religion, and humanity.

  • Benjamin says:

    Lynn has a point there. You won’t change someone’s mind if you don’t start at their staring point. Imagine Fundamentalists. What would they say if you told them the bible is all men’s work and not divine? Right, they wouldn’t listen to you.
    So you have to start at their point of the bible being inerrant. And then you can ask questions. Questions how things fit together. And you have to be good, because fundamentalists tend to know the bible better than liberals.

    So I would (and do) approach the bible from the other’s point of view, and try to explain, how to get to my point of view from there. I mention the inconsistencies that are linked to the other’s way of looking at the bible and offer my own opinion. Meanwhile I try to take fear away, because I sense that many people fear they’d loose God if they loose the inerrancy of the bible, and that they’d have nothing to stick to anymore. I try to point out that faith is possible without the bible, and that neither Adam, nor Eve, nor Noah nor Moses, Josef, Abraham had a bible or any kind of scripture (at least according to the belief that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, which seems to be believed in conservative circles) and could still be faithful believers.

    For me the bible is a collection of testimonies, and as testimonies are made by humans, they are errant, but still get the message through somehow. Already Luther wrote that one has not to stick to the letter but to the spirit of scripture, in order to not establish a paper pope. Would anybody say testimonies are bad? I think not so many. But still they can have their mistakes in them. This is also true for Paul, who wrotes in his letters what he thinks to be correct. According to women’s rights and gay rights we feel today that some of the verses in Paul’s letters are plain wrong. And they don’t connect well to the commandment to love our next in some cases. And some verses are only bad translated or interpreted. But none of them really concerns the cross, which is the center of our faith.

    Excuse me for another lengthy comment.

    • Benjamin says:

      just ticking the E-Mail notofication… ;)

    • Lana says:

      No, No, thanks so much. This helps me when approaching my friends, especially the “testimonies” hint. I do understand the fear of losing faith if the Bible has any single error. That’s how I first felt when I saw the contradictions. Now I think no big deal. Now I realize that God evangelizes his world through imperfect people, and he uses an imperfect book to reach people.




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