I was listening to the latest episode of the Savage Lovecast today while walking my Chow, and there was another call from a Christian with hurt feelings complaining about Dan calling Christians “bigots” and whining that “not all of us are like that!” Dan’s average response to the frequent calls and letters like this mirrors my own; Don’t tell me that, tell the Pat Robertsons, the Bryan Fischers, the Tony Perkins and the countless other bigots who presume to speak for all Christians from their major media soapboxes. Tell them that they do not speak for you, and that you resent the picture of Christianity they are painting for the world to see. Believe me, I know that not all Christians are bigots, it just the only ones I ever seem to hear are the bigots.
Today was different though, because as of today, there is a platform for all of those “Not All Like That” Christians to tell the world the bigots do not speak for them. The Not All Like That Christians Project, a joint venture of Truth Wins Out and John Shore, is a site inspired by Savage’s It Gets Better project, where Christians who are accepting of alternative sexuality can post videos of themselves saying, in short, that not all Christians are like the bigots who get national exposure. Hopefully it will take off, and we will be able to see countless videos telling the Tony Perkins of the world to shove their religious bigotry up the orifice they are so obsessed with.
I do have to admit that while I am linking to and promoting this site, I am of two minds about it.
One the one hand, I think it is great. The bigots pretty much have a monopoly on media presence currently. When someone mentions gay marriage and Christianity to you, I am willing to bet the churches who support marriage equality are not what first comes to your mind; rather it is groups like the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and NOM that come to mind because they are the ones you see on the nightly news opposing gay marriage. You think of the Mormon church funding Prop 8 in California, and the Southern Baptists freaking out when gay kids were allowed in the Boy Scouts. We need the non-bigots who consider themselves Christians to speak up and let America know that Christians are not by definition against homosexuality. And honestly, in a nation that is as overwhelmingly Christian as this one, I think that this side of my personal mental argument has to be the winner for now.
But on the other hand I see this as just more of the Ala Carte Christianity that is so prevalent in America and the world today, where a large portion of especially moderate Christians just choose to ignore any part of their religion they feel like while still clinging to the “feel good, life eternal, Jesus loves us all” parts for whatever reason. If the Bible doesn’t work for you, chuck the Bible. If the religion doesn’t work for you, chuck the religion. If you want to keep the Jesus part while getting rid of the stuff that is plainly written for a 2000 year old culture, then why continue to claim that the Bible is divinely inspired, especially when it is clear that so very many moderate Christians today have never even read the book they claim divine status for? While I am far more likely to agree with moderate, liberal Christians on any number of issues, the reason for the agreement is that they are ignoring the parts of their own religion that they disagree with. A literal reading of the Bible is in most cases going to reveal that the fundamentalists have the better theological claim. Even though they all practice under the umbrella of “Christianity,” they are not all practicing the same religion.
On the Savage Lovecast, John Shore spends a little bit of time explaining why he doesn’t think the Bible actually condemns homosexuality. For the Old Testament, his argument can be summed up as “Paul said we don’t have to follow it if we are Christians” while his argument for the New Testament passages seemed to be “We are reading Paul out of context, Paul didn’t mean open homosexuals, Paul was only talking about the culture they had at the time, and if all that fails, well, it was only Paul, not Jesus.” While Dan asked some very good questions during the interview, it sounded to me that if not for Dan’s respect for the NALT Christians project, he could have completely nailed Shore to the wall theologically. Now that could have been my imagination (listen to the interview for yourself, it is on episode 359 of the Lovecast during the free portion of the show) but if a sex advice columnist could nail you to the wall theologically, I would shudder to think of what an actual theologian could do with Shore’s arguments. I know my impression of his argument was “I don’t agree with that part of the Bible, so I am going to ignore it and justify that any way possible.”
The Bible is an ancient book written by a bronze age culture. It is full of bigotry. It is misogynistic, it condones slavery, its morals are hideous when compared to modern day ethics. According to the Bible, while Jesus brought some radical new moral teachings, he was far from perfect morally, believing in a Hell where his opponents would be tortured for eternity. While even some of its defenders admit that it was written by human hands inspired by God, there is literally not one section that reads as if written by a omnibenevolent, omnipotent, all knowing being. Rather it reads as if written by human beings suffering the ignorance of their day.
Christians shouldn’t be bigots because bigotry is morally wrong, just like they shouldn’t be misogynists because misogyny is morally wrong, and they shouldn’t own slaves because slave owning is morally wrong. Rather than reading the morally wrong answer in your Holy Book, and then inventing reasons to ignore the passage in question, shouldn’t you instead examine the Bible and its relevance to the religion you practice now, thousands of years after the book was written?
Not all Christians are like that, but as long as Christianity clings to the Bible as the inspired word of God, Christianity is like that. Christians individually can be feminists who proudly support GLBTQ causes and lifestyles, but Christianity as a whole is still a bigoted, misogynistic religion wedded to the bronze age.