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My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?
June 21st, 2011
10:10 AM ET

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Editor's Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s "pro-family" activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (6,474 Responses)
  1. Marv

    man that put a smile on my face to see christian getting along and fight hypocracy .... right on David through and through

    July 26, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  2. kebwato

    Hell has broken loose i have never seen a male donkey going for a male donkey please tell me where i can see this happening
    reading one quotation in the bible can be very deceiving the bible does not support human reasoning give me a break

    July 26, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • LOL

      Why don't you stop being lazy and look at the research by Bruce Bagemihl which shows h-om-ose-xual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  3. Jester

    its a freak show and it is being legalized now..how sad

    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • LOL

      It's been legalized because the has proven that gays are born this way, it's not a mental illness, it's not a choice and it can't be voluntarily changed. What your comment shows it you were to lazy to really do any research before forming your uninformed opinion.

      July 26, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  4. RickG

    america's stance of freedom is somewhat hypocritical in some points, you can come to this country but we will criminalize you to death, you can say/write anything but you will be scrutinized... but marriage, yes, is for a man and a woman. but yet again this is the land of the free. Yes, god said man with man is a no no. but people forget that he made us with our own consciousnesses, which means i give you life but YOU CHOOSE YOUR LIFE. and what also people forget is that god is all forgiving and loving.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • LOL

      Gays are God's creation so they deserve the same legal rights as straights. It's have been shown that being gay is not a choice, it's not a mental illness and it can't be voluntarily changed which is why the laws of today are slowly being changed to give them the civil rights they deserve.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  5. GaysareEvil

    Here is on of the first verses from the Bible o God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth... Did not say one thing about gays only about MALE AND FEMALE>

    July 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Your ignorant avatar says a lot about you. Sorry.

      This article is about hypocrisy. Do you support EVERYTHING in the Bible or are you a hypocrite who just selects what they like and ignors the rest?

      July 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • ChristiansareEvil

      That's why it's the Christians spreading hate and lies about the gay community.

      By the way it also says in the bible God created mankind, you're such an idiot and ignorant.

      July 26, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Kindness

      True Christians would not spread hate and lies about gay people. That is farthest from the Christ like thing to do.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • RXW

      The very first thing it said though was 'God created man in his own image' and God is perfect right?

      July 31, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  6. diesel

    the term "gay marriage" is an oxymoron. study the etymology of marriage first. Yale grad?

    July 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • ...

      OMG THATS A BRILLIANT COUNTERARGUMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  7. David

    1Corinthians 6:9-10 "Men who sleep with men... will not inherit the Kingdom of God." With that being said, hell is the only place left for them to go.

    July 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • LOL

      NO men who worship a pagan god using s-ex, male prosti-ution and idolatry is what the bible talks about not about gays as we know it today. Stop being so lazy and pick up a history book so you can understand the true context of the scriptures, that is reading comprehension 101.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Observer

      If you commit sins like disobeying God and eating lobsters or crablegs, you'll join them. Gonna be real busy down there.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Joey

      Great verse, David! No gray area there, although I am sure someone will try to find some, but it's like I always say, if it's a gray area, it's still darker than the light. Keep the faith, brother! Amen......

      July 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • David

      I'd like to point out that you leave out a chunk of that damning verse...if you wish to Biblicly argue this point you must use the Bible as a whole, not picking and choosing parts of it to defend your own hypocritical values. The rest of the verse condemns fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, theives, the coveteous, drunkards and swindlers. As Jesus said; "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her".(John 8:7) (In refererence to an adultress)
      If you are without sin and have never commited any of the above, then please be my guest to condemn all the gays you wish to hell.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • justsayin'

      Well according to that biblical passage, the slanderers ain't getting into heaven either ...

      July 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  8. jack7521

    Jesus had two daddys

    July 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Neil

      Thanks for making me laugh!

      July 26, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • .....

      Yes he did God and the Holy Ghost, which is why he loves gay people!

      July 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  9. Albert Martino

    Look, which ever way you fall on this issue the choice is clear. Biblical values or men lying with men. You can't have both and you get to make a choice. Then live with it.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Kevin

      Yeah, pretty sure no one today lives by "biblical values". I'm pretty sure it's just ignorant fanatics that use carefully selected verses to defend their pre-existing benighted fantastical nonsense delusions.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • LOL

      "You can't have both and you get to make a choice"

      Being gay isn't a choice the experts have proven that, they are born this way so they can have it both ways because there are gay Christians being married in churches before God.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  10. Duke

    Let's be clear, if society wants to grant rights to gay couples as in civil unions, civil soceity has that right. However, such unions should not and never be blessed by any Christian Denomination that is Scripture based. See Mark 10:5 – 9 where Jesus is quoted as saying God made them male and female and the two shall become one flesh. Jesus does not say God made them male and male or female and female: or did Jesus get it wrong as well?

    July 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • ...

      Stupid argument, Jesus also portray marriage in a patriarchal light; should they be patriarchal as well.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Observer

      Duke,

      Your comments are perfect examples of what this article is all about – hypocrisy. Funny, you failed to mention that Jesus said that whenever two people are joined by God, man should NEVER separate them. You ignored that part. It's exactly what Dudley was referring to. Do you support NEVER divorcing except for infidelity? Or do you pick and choose from the Bible?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  11. Jay

    Wow, well so much for Yale Divinity, won't be hiring this person to preach from most pulpits. Typical lib elite school garbage. Check Genesis, I don't think that God created Adam and Steve versus Adam and Eve to be together or this columnist wouldn't even be here. Doesn't surprise me this is on CNN with commentators coming out by the day and stories leaning toward practically promoting gaydom every day. Good luck convincing the other 98%. Note, the American Psych Assn called this an illness until the Gay lobby pestered them to death and they changed it. Just like they got Coke and Home Depot to promo them in their policies ro they'd stop buying from them. Still doesn't make it right or biblical.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • ...

      I love how the conservatives here have no response to Dudley's argument other than attacking him for going to an academically rigorous school. Evangelical hate higher education because their beliefs require willful ignorance to be taken seriously.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Norman

      Jay, youre an overweight rednecked bigot-who is the 98%? all polls show majority now supports equality fro all-and that includes MILLIONS of christians-sorry, bud-your time is over-please die off soon

      July 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • LOL

      Prove the apa changed it because of gay lobbyist, that is just lies Christians make up because they can't handle the truth. They changed it from being classified as a mental illness because 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that ho-mos-exuality, in and itself, is not as-sociated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems. Ho-mos-exuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information. Plus scientists today agree that s-exual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, s-exual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's s-exuality.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  12. JC

    I don't remember reading anything in the Bible specifically condemning pediphilia but that doesn't make it acceptable....or will that be next. Whatever feels good..do it..that's what it seems to be about - not morality.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Observer

      JC,

      Get back to reality. We aren't talking about pedophilia. Don't you know the difference?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • ...

      Evangelical morality = project your bigotry and self-interest onto the Bible and then call it God's will

      July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Amy

      I totally agree with you. Also, it seems like our distinguished Yale Divinity School graduate should go back and do his homework. The old Testament specifically prohibits man sleeping W/man.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Observer

      "The old Testament specifically prohibits man sleeping W/man."

      Yep. It also says that if a man wants to marry a v-rgin, all he has to do is to r-pe her.

      What's your point?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • LOL

      It just shows you don't understand the difference from being gay and a pedophile. It just goes to show the old saying prejudice and hatred is built on a foundation of ignorance is true.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • richardfromthenorth

      Uh, Amy you do know that the Bible also says that you are unclean and not to associate with us during your period, do you not? It also says that firemen, nurses and store clerks should be put to death for working on a Sunday. I mean its pretty clear about these things. So, do you unreservedly accept that just becuase it's in Leviticus?

      July 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  13. Common Sense

    The gay argument goes on for ever and ever, and everyone tries to make their point, each claiming that their point of view is correct. But simply put, the male part was designed for the female part, and the purpose was to pro- create, have children.
    That was GODS grand plan, It's true that we cannot condemn people for what they do, we can sympathise with them for their disorientation, we need to be compassionate and help these people to recover their dignity by astaining from un-natural acts that lead to guilt and shame.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • ...

      "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

      July 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • LOL

      You do not have common sense at all. There is no recovery needed for these people because there is nothing wrong with them. 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that ho-mo-se-xuality, in and itself, is not associated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems.

      There is not guilt or shame in being who you are and what God created. It’s also not unnatural there are over 1500 doc-umented species that have gay relationships.

      What is shameful is prejudice people like you that refuse to look at the truth supplied by science and psychologist and continue to fuel the hatred against this minority group. Especially since they also showed that in the past, bias and prejudice people did the reports about gays.

      So according to your poor logic those that can’t procreate should be condemned by God that means infertile people and the elderly. Gays and lesbians have children so that proves how clueless you are about the truth on this subject.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      So you condemn all s-ex that is not intended for procreation?

      Which means you are against all methods of birth control and disease prevention as well?

      Anal s-ex between a man and woman, oral s-ex between a man and a woman, marriage and s-exual relations between older couples past child bearing age, marriage and s-exual relations between those who are infertile....all of these things are also unnatural and we should be compassionate and help them get past their disorientation?

      July 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • GodPot

      "we can sympathise with them" "help these people to recover their dignity" "acts that lead to guilt and shame."

      Awwww, you are just too sweet, to go out of your way like this for others and to show sympathy and support for guilty shameful people who have no dignity...

      Nice backhand, you ignorant biggot.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • ryan

      commonsense, i dont believe in your god. i think he is a myth. i believe your bible is a book of fables for those too weak minded to do good on their own. why should i have to follow anything from your bible? i believe harry potter is more real and for sure more likable than your god. he is not a loving god. he is evil and full of hate. why would i support something like that. we allow you to worship who you want. keep him out of my life. keep your rules to yourself. if there is a god, let him punish me, but i deserve the same rights as other people. i deserve the right to get married to whomever i choose. i work, i pay bills, pay taxes. i deserve the same rights as a "straight" person.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Observer

      ryan,

      As this article says, it's all about hypocrisy. The people using the Bible to put you down are nothing but hypocrites who are desperate to pick anything they can find to support their h0m0phobia. The fact that they ignor their own sins just indicates how unthinking they are. You deserve the same rights as everyone does. You deserve for EVERYONE to actually practice the concept of the Golden Rule. Don't let small minds upset you.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • TexAtty

      CommonSense,
      Well said! Shooting my butt-hole boss may feel good and the Bible doesn't say "thou shall not shoot thy boss" but it's still wrong given the other lessens in the Book. Thank you for putting yourself on the line and taking a stand against what is wrong.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • GodPot

      @TexAtty – "Shooting my butt-hole boss may feel good and the Bible doesn't say "thou shall not shoot thy boss" but it's still wrong given the other lessens in the Book."

      First, I hope your handle is not short for Texas Attorney, but I wouldn't be surprised. Lets disect your "lessens". Your a-nalogy of feeling good about shooting a boss compared to being attracted to the same gender is moronic, unless the person was somehow born with a proclivity towards employercide, and even then the boss is obviously not consenting. It might be closer to making a case against r-ape, but hardly against gay's.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Observer

      TexAtty,

      You and Common Sense have entirely missed the point. We are talking about hypcrites who just pick and choose which sins they will trash and which they will ignor. How about talking about ignoring the abomination of eating shellfish?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Kevin

      Pretty sure that shooting your boss isn't /= being attracted to the same gender, which, by the way OP, is prevalent throughout the animal kingdom and quite normal.

      Fundamentalists never cease to amaze me with their galactic stupidity and shortsightedness, I really do think it's some kind of mental deficit.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  14. es58

    from wikipedia
    Leviticus 18 and 20
    Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus, which form part of the Holiness code, contain the following verses:

    Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.[2](Leviticus 18:22 KJV)
    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.[3](Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

    which part of "put to death" did you not understand?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Observer

      es58,

      What part of "HYPOCRISY" don't you understand?

      Do you protest at seafood restaurants? It's an abomination like being gay in case you haven't read the Bible.
      Do you protest at fortune tellers? It's an abomination like being gay in case you haven't read the Bible.

      That's okay. EVERYONE just picks and chooses the sins they support and ignor the rest. That's what this story is all about. What part didn't you understand?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Observer

      es58,

      Which part of "put to death" do you OBEY?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • LOL

      es58 playing that game are we.... so what about these....

      Leviticus 20:9 If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

      Leviticus 20:10 If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

      Deuteronomy 22:20-1 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house.

      Exodus 35:2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

      Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • rawr

      Create gay men – condemn them for being gay.

      Good job Christian God.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Rob

      @ es58: ...and why don't you keep reading that passage and quote the part about eating shellfish, touch the skin of a pig and wearing clothes made of mutilple fabrics....what part of sentenced to death DONT YOU UNDERSTAND!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • es58

      aside: many of things listed in the above replies don't require death sentences, and most of them are specifically directed at jjews (go back and read)

      but, for the author to suggest that "put to death" is an "interpretation", seems to be stretching it

      July 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • uncgrad

      es85: The entire book applies to the Jewish people. The book of Leviticus is a book of laws for the ancient Jews. Who were, as it so happens, trying to grow their tribe and establish their people in the region. Onan was struck down for masturbating, because he was seen as having wasted life that could have been used to procreate. Should we enforce that too? Or are you saying that only Jews should enforce these things? What's your point? Oh, and before you answer – there is no logical or even biblically-accurate way to argue yourself out of this. Simply put: you're wrong and don't even understand the passages you're citing. You talk about reading in context and then totally ignore that concept. Fail.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.[2](Leviticus 18:22 KJV)

      See, Christians have this all wrong, this is not a scripture against gay's, it's a scripture FOR lying to your spouse, and saying you shouldn't lie to men the same way... 🙂 It's all in the interpretation...

      July 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • es58

      so "put to death" means legislate to legalize marriages

      I get it, it's a metaphor!
      thanks for the clarification 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • ryan

      your bible also says it is a sin to eat anything from the sea that does not have scales or fins. do you shellfish? if so, sinner, hypocrite
      do you wear clothes made of 2 types of fabric? also a sin according to the bible. hypocrite
      have you or your male children ever had long hair? sin, its in the bible.

      we can keep going and keep going, but you are a ty pical christian. you pick and choose which scriptures to follow and which to ignore. you are the worst kind of christian. do as i say, not as i do. go spew your hate elsewhere. that is also a sin. judge not lest ye be judged. if there is a god, he will have fun kicking your slimey butt down to hell when your time comes bud.

      i for one, dont believe, dont need him.. strong minded enough to do good on my own. i dont need a spellbook to tell me how to live my life. i treat others with respect when respect is deserved.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Observer

      es58,

      So "put to death" means "keep alive"? If not, why aren't you obeying the Bible that you want EVERYONE ELSE to obey?

      Hypocritic Oath: Do as I say, not as I do.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • es58

      observer:

      So "put to death" means "keep alive"? If not, why aren't you obeying the Bible that you want EVERYONE ELSE to obey?

      I'm just reading here, the author says "put to death" can be interpreted as "legalize this union"; if that is the case, then why bother reading a single word in the book? if you don't want to read the book, that's your choice, but why turn day into night?

      There can be many technical reasons a sentence can/may not be executed, but it doesn't imply that the behavior has become praiseworthy. Is this really difficult?

      July 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Tina

    Jesus said that we should distinguish true and false teachings by their fruits. And the teaching that ho*mose*xuality is a sin—that, in the words of the Southern Baptist Convention, even the desire for ho*mose*xual se*x is “always sinful, impure, degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent, and perverted”—this is a teaching that time and again has born poisonous fruits. The shattered promise of Zach Harrington’s life is just one more example in a painful litany.

    In the face of that litany defenders of the traditional Christian view dismiss reformers as sell-outs to secular culture. They thump the Bible and quote Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:24-27 as if that settled the matter. Of course, that would settle the matter if one blindly accepted the idea that every pas*sage in the Bible, in its most straightforward reading, represents the inerrant word of a perfectly loving God.

    But if we accept this idea, either we’ll need to ignore the lessons drawn from sensitive and empathetic attention to our gay and lesbian neighbors, or we’ll need to refrain from practicing such attention at all. After all, when we do attend to gays and lesbians (as love for them calls us to do), it becomes hard to escape the judgment that the supposedly biblical condemnation of ho*mose*xuality has been carving a path of destruction through their lives for generations.

    And so, if you accept the conservative view about the Bible’s content and its relation to God, either you’ll need to stifle the lessons of compas*sion and empathy, or you’ll need to refuse to listen with compas*sion and empathy in the first place.

    But can you really have the right theory about a book if the book teaches you to love your neighbors as yourselves, but your theory about it demands that you stifle the character traits most intimately as*sociated with love? If your theory about the Bible leads you to ignore or refuse to hear the suffering cries of your gay and lesbian neighbors, wouldn’t that be a reason to rethink your theory? Put more forcefully, how many gays and lesbians, crushed by the weight of anti-gay teachings, have to kill themselves before we decide that, just maybe, our theory about the Bible isn’t the best fit with the idea that God is love—and hence isn’t the best fit with the content of the Bible itself?

    Any theory of the Bible that requires me to ignore my neighbors in favor of teasing out the correct meaning of Romans 1:24-27 seems to do an injustice to the Bible’s heart. If there’s a core message to the Christian Scriptures, it’s that Jesus—a person, not a book—is the fundamental revelation of God. It’s Jesus that John’s Gospel calls the “Word of God,” not the Bible. And in the Gospels, not only does Jesus say nothing about ho*mose*xuality, but He is recorded as saying that He comes to us in the form of the neighbor in need—“even the least of these” (Matthew 25:37-40).

    Conservatives tell me that when I reject the condemnation of ho*mose*xuality I’m selling out to secular values. But the reality is the opposite. Were I not a Christian, I might not be so pas*sionate about gay rights. My pas*sion, born from my commitment to an ethic of love, is intensified every time a young person like Zach Harrington comes to me crying out in need or despair, too often in the most tragic terms.

    Confronted with their anguish, how can I fail to see the face of Christ?

    July 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • KP

      @Tina, Your compassion needs to be in line with Truth. Jesus is full of grace and Truth. He says that it is The Truth that sets people free. Free from what? Why- did Jesus even have to come and take on flesh in the first place? Everyone seems to be ignoring that main point. He came to set people free from sin and testify to the Truth; that sets people free. Which IS the greatest compassion.

      July 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • LOL

      KP the truth is something YOU don't want to hear. Being gay is not a sin because God created them. Human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, s-exual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior s-exual experience. Psychologists do not consider s-exual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed. 35 years of objective, well-designed scientific research has shown that ho-mos-exuality, in and itself, is not as-sociated with mental disorders or emotional or social problems. Ho-mos-exuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information. Studies comparing groups of children raised by ho-mos-exual and by heteros-exual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in four critical areas: their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and popularity with friends. It is also important to realize that a parent's s-exual orientation does not indicate their children's.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  16. Martin

    A huge problem with people talking about the Bible is that they often do not understand exactly what the Bible is about. For example, it is against men having "long hair" and women having "short hair" – not because the length of the hair is important, but it is condemning people attempting to appear to be a gender that they are not. In any case, in the time it was written, "short hair" meant anything up to about shoulder length. "Long Hair" as worn by women would typically go to anywhere from half-way down to back down to the waistline.

    It is important to understand the purpose of the text rather than to take a literal and legalistic interpretation of what the text says. I wouldn't read a physics textbook as though it were poetry. And one must consider ALL of the text and how each section relates to each other before a proper understanding can be developed.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  17. studdmuffins

    Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. ~Leviticus 18:21-23, KJV

    "Gay Marriage Foes Twist Bible" is apparently a twisted tag in itself.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:32 am |
    • ...

      eating ostrich is also condemned as a abomination. you're selective quoting from the bible just proves the author's point.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • abc

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      Proverbs 6:16-19

      King James Version (KJV)

      16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

      17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

      18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

      19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

      July 25, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • arthurrrr

      Atheists can twist scriptures all they want, but God will never Bless gay marriage-never ever. not ever.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Observer

      arthurrrr,
      Could be, but this story is all about hypocrisy. Do you protest at seafood restaurants? Do you protest when people work on the Sabbath?

      July 25, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • LOL

      arthurrrr do you protest that women are working outside of the home? Do you protest when women speak up at Church or worse actually become priest? Probably not, which is why you are doing exactly what this author is talking about.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • GodPot

      "God will never Bless gay marriage-never ever. not ever."

      Well, you got me, I must admit when you are right, and you are right.

      It's like saying Wile E. Coyote will never ever catch the roadrunner...never, never ever.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • ryan

      if you arent going to follow the bible 100%, meaning, if you dont take that what the bible says is 100% gods word, and follow it to a T, then you are making a moot point and leading us to believe you are a hypocrite.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Smith Carlos Juan Diego

    For those of you looking for more contradictions in the bible, http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    July 25, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Contridictions

      Kings 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
      John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

      Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
      Exodus 32:14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

      Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith . . . not by works.
      James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? . . . Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
      Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

      Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.
      Matthew 6:1 Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.

      John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
      Matthew 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

      Genesis 32:30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and my life was preserved.”
      Exodus 33:11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.
      John 1:18 No one has ever seen God.

      John 5:31 If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.
      John 8:14 Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  19. Garrick

    The interesting thing to me is that the issue here is MY sin and MY desire to make myself right in the eyes of people and God. That is the reason Jesus came to give His life on a cross, defeating death and abolishing my sin. From the comments posted each of us wants to make what we think is right okay to those around us. We are defending ourselves to the wrong person. But it is God who we have offended. My sin is horrible in His eyes and he still offers me grace thru Christ to take my sins away. It is pride and thinking i am right on my own accord that God opposes. I need Him.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • abc

      People are using their interpretation of the bible to justify their point of view and personal prejudices. .

      July 25, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Robert Hayton

      Indeed, Garrick!
      Try this one: if God tells me to do something and I don't do it, that is "sin" for ME. If He tells me NOT to do something and I do it anyway, then =that= is "sin" for me.

      I believe the point that Jonathan Dudley is making is that God is NOT telling me what is "sin" for anybody else. I am responsible for MY relationship with a holy God. YOU are responsible for yours.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  20. merebai

    questioning the scripture is a sin according to the Bible and it says mankind is accountable for his/her actions. The judgment is going to depend on our faithfulnes to JESUS.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.