“The Bible. We’ll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can’t help it, they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying ‘cause 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 bullsh*t in the Bible and what it says about gay people, the same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullsh*t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullsh*t in the Bible about all sorts of things.
The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during 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… if the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%…
People are dying because they can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t clear this one last thing in the Bible about human sexuality… [continuing, as dozens are quietly now walking out..] It’s funny as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react.”
Such were the words of Dan Savage, an anti-bullying advocate, especially in the gay & lesbian community, speaking at the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle on Friday.
Friends, as said here several times, human sexuality is a tough issue; it’s tough to handle well. The Intramuralist has friends engaged in multiples lifestyles, and as some of us have discussed, this is hard to talk about; people confuse disagreement with disrespect. They aren’t the same.
What concerns me most about Savage’s words — founder of the “It Gets Better” project, an encourager of gay teens to persevere, supported by various celebrities, activists and politicians — is not his stance on homosexuality. It’s his savage approach.
When we disagree with other people, is it appropriate to attack them? Is it appropriate, in a sense, to verbally bully them? … to disparage them or to regard or represent them as being of little worth? Savage not only demeans the people who disagree with him, but also to embolden his point, he denigrates and distorts the source.
Choose not to believe in the Bible. Choose this day who you’ll serve. Choose to agree or disagree with it’s teachings. But to suggest that the chances of historical scripture being wrong are “100%” means one also inherently proclaims that oneself is infallible. The lack of humility within that proclamation thinly veils an unfortunate foolishness.
I am not suggesting that Savage is right or wrong in his passion regarding the lack of limits on human sexuality; he is entitled to his passionate perspective. He is, however, factually inaccurate in how he presents the contents of scripture, especially, for example, in regard to slavery. The Bible does not condemn slavery; neither does it advocate the brutality and dehumanization that has manifested in the minds of contemporary culture. The Bible teaches against slavery as we know it.
I thus wrestle with the reeling discomfort when Savage or any man claims to be more knowing and knowledgeable than God. I wrestle also with the distortion.
Friends, I have many flaws. Contrary to not-even-popular belief, I don’t know it all. And there are things within the Bible that are far too wonderful for me, that I cannot even begin to comprehend.
But never will I equate my lack of comprehension to a personal omniscience… me, this fairly insightful, witty blogger knowing exactly what is right and exactly what is wrong… me, knowing more or better than God… me, knowing it all… me, being able to claim a lack of comprehension of scripture as a definitive proclamation. I will never proclaim a wisdom all according to “me.”
So in those areas where each of us disagree — where our passions and experience have challenged us in varied manners and ways — I make one promise: I will never call you “pansy-assed.” I won’t think it either.
Disagreement is not the same as disrespect — and the intentional employment of disrespect and distortion only decreases the validity of one’s perspective.