What to say when the Bible is used as a weapon
Many people disagree with lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered folk living our lives in the way we want to. Often they use the Bible as a weapon against us.
This is appalling as the Bible was never intended to be used in this way. The Bible never discusses sexual orientation as such; neither does it discuss gender re-assignment. The Bible verses used to condemn and reject lesbian, gay and transgendered people are twisted out of context, distorted and incorrectly translated to hurt people.
No reference to sexual orientation or gender identity exists in the Bible. This is because the ancients didn’t think about sexuality in the way we do now – the Romans, for example, saw homoerotic desire as being an extension of heteroeroticism, whereas we think of them as being quite different. It simply wasn’t possible to change gender in the ancient world.
Despite this, many Christians tell us to "obey" or "follow" the Bible. Here we give you some questions to ask your friends when they start to quote the Bible at you. We suspect you will have some fun with this…
There are many problems with taking the Bible entirely literally.......
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Leviticus 1:9). The problem is that my neighbours don't think it is a pleasing odour.....I wonder if I should smite them.
I would like to sell my niece into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7 but I really don't know, in this day and age, what would be a fair price for her........
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Leviticus 15: 19-24). The problem I have is knowing when a woman is having her period. I have tried asking but most women seem to resent being asked.......
Keeping the Sabbath:
I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 states that he should be put to death. I can't work out if I am morally obliged to kill him myself......
Hair Styles & Tattoos:
Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, some of them have it trimmed very severely indeed. Some of my friends have some very nice tattoos. These are expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19: 27-28 and I wonder how they should die.......
It's hard to be a farmer:
My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread. He also tends to swear and blaspheme a lot. I wonder if it is really necessary that we go to the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them as required in Leviticus 24: 10-16. I feel sure we could just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws as proscribed in Leviticus 20:14.
After a few of these you may have made your point! The Bible is a wonderful book which Christians believe is both inspired by God but also written by humans. As Christians we have to discern the Word of God in the midst of those human words.
You might also find this YouTube clip from the West Wing television drama interesting. In the clip, President Bartlett challenges the homophobic broadcasting of a radio talk-show presenter. The script for this sequence echoes many of the biblical inconsistencies described above.
But What About the New Testament?
Of course Christians might claim that all these Laws no longer apply as the New Testament is our rule of faith. However the Book of Acts, chapter 15 - in the New Testament - commands all Christians to abstain from meat which has blood in it or which comes from a strangled animal. Most Christians, however, do not condemn the eating of rare steak or turkey at Christmas!
So Is The Bible True?
Of course it is. The Bible is a unique record of the historical basis of our faith and contains the Word of God. The task of Christians is to separate out the words of God and the words of people who spoke and wrote in ways no longer appropriate to our culture. The Bible is a liberating book if understood correctly. However, it can be dangerous if used as a tool to hurt and oppress others. Like all valuable things, the Bible has to be understood and used correctly.