Apparently we hit a nerve. Yesterday there were over 17,000 hits on my blog still responding to the article “What I Wish the Church Knew About Homosexuality.”
Having weathered this storm before, I knew there are certain patterns to the assaults one can expect after making a Christian defense of homosexuality. The first waves of negative responders assume I am a gay atheist defending my “lifestyle.” These are usually kind but frightened people who are just repeating what they have been heard. Many of these people stay surrounded by other people of like mind and have never really heard how hateful and shallow their arguments sound out of that context.
In this first wave, people often repeat the barely understood Bible verses they have been taught assuming that I just haven’t noticed those places in scripture. When it becomes obvious that I am straight, and a Christian, and ordained, and that I know scripture much better than they do, there is usually a panicked attack which brings the second wave of assaults.
At this point, people quit being nice and say things like I am a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” not noticing that they are the ones with fangs bared. Now it gets interesting. Some of the people go back to their pastors for reinforcement. At this point, the heavy weights start showing up in the third wave one might call “the Bible Bullies.”
“Bible Bullies” are people who, at some point in their lives, realized that scripture can be used as a power tool. In other parts of their life they may be timid and unremarkable, but if they master the obscurities of scripture they can use that knowledge to rise to leadership positions. The problem, of course, is that the only fuels that can drive this kind of power are fear and anger. So they must constantly point out one threat after another, or lose power.
This is why they can’t leave other people alone. Without threats and scapegoats the theologies of fear and anger do not work. So their worldview resembles that of an abusive family. God is presented as a kind of cosmic drunk daddy with a major anger problem, but is the only protection we have from mean ol’ Uncle Satan.
One cannot understand the teachings of Jesus and see the world this way. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, one is called to trust, not hyper vigilance. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, one is called to a life of forgiveness, not constant judgment. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, it is quite clear that the only “fuel” that can drive this theology is love.
When a Christian (or someone from any other path of love) is confronted by a Bible Bully it is essential not to respond in kind. If you become angry or afraid you are using the fuel that works in their religion, not yours. It helps to remember that we can all be bullies when we are frustrated or afraid, and that what we are really seeing is not a powerful giant, but a frightened little heart.
“God is presented as a kind of cosmic drunk daddy with a major anger problem, but is the only protection we have from mean ol’ Uncle Satan.” This is beautifully conceived and written. Bravo!
I am enormously grateful that you are steadfast, strong, and articulate. You must, however, get very discouraged at the persistence of hate, prejudice, marginalization and manipulation in the name God. Your faithful and consequential witness is noticed, appreciated, and effective. I am ordained as well and serving a church. When I am tempted to give up on that whole enterprise, I find encouragement from those, like you, who stay with it and do make a difference. It reminds me that it matters.
I suppose that if one realizes his calling is to guide Christians to the understanding that Christ’s message of love and tolerance are as important as his Resurrection, one must find it very encouraging to know that one will never be short of something to do.
I am trying to get to the original article. Where can I find that?
I am trying to get to read the original article. Where can I get that?
Google “Ten Things I Wish the Church Knew about Homosexuality.” I’ll repost on the blog to make it easier to find.
Jim, as you said, you hit a nerve. Some nerves deserve to be hit. Good job! Hand in there and keep bringing it on.
hang in there not hand in there. Well, you know.
For those looking for the original article, you can find it at http://www.jimrigby.org/ten-things-i-wish-the-church-knew-about-homosexuality/
Keep doing what you’re doing! You are an uplifting voice of reason in the wilderness.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am to have found your site. It is so refreshing to read such reasoned, well researched writing.
I do firmly believe that most people are good at heart, the trouble being that we seem to be pre-programmed to want to belong to clans/groups, probably as a survival trait. The trouble is that then we start to believe that other groups are not only different but inferior to us.
It is, or should be; that the measure of civilisation is how well we can ignore this “us and them” behaviour and embrace everyone as equals, but it can be an uphill struggle. Thank you for shining a light on this struggle.
Well said Maggie, thanks.
My ordained Methodist minister sister has always explained that she follows the teachings of Jesus about homosexuals, He said nothing.
I will use your term, “Bible Bullies” from now on…it is a very apt description of what I encounter so many times. One comment I usually make to people who start quoting “cherry-picked” Bible passages is …..”Do you know the scripture, Matthew 25?” When most say “no”…I urge them to read it not once but at least 3 times in its entirity and…then ask themselves what it has to do with our Christian behavior in today’s world. For those who actually look it up and read it—it is an eye opener. Why is the entire reading not used more frequently? It is so powerful! Most times we only hear the: “What you do to the least of these”…part. The entire passage says it all.
Thank you for hitting a nerve! There is much discord between what many churches teach about homosexuality and what the Bible actually says about the subject. When I was working on a paper for a Christian Ethics course in college, my pastor pointed out to me that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. The paper I wrote can be summed up as this, “We as Christians focus too much on sexual orientation, and too little on love.”
what I like about this term “Bible bully” is its utility and the definition given here for it. I will use it as a verb as well as a noun. The theory that fundamentalism is driven by those who gain influence by condemming people who can be stereotyped to represent some social fear or anxiety just resonates as an explanation. If someone hasn’t done a study of the patterns of fundamentalist condemnation as a manipulation of social anxieties, I think they should.
Thank you for your article. Below, I have several thoughts. I humbly share them. I acknowledge that I could be wrong.
1. Name-calling isn’t useful when we’re preaching love. Our goal should be to arrive at the truth not just win the argument. Just because someone disagrees with us doesn’t mean they “hate.” We can get to the point of saying, “I think everyone should be able to believe whatever they want as long as they believe that people should be able to believe whatever they want.” If they don’t believe that, then are they “wrong?” How did you come to that conclusion? Judging? It’s rare to find someone who looks at Scripture with a desire other than “what can I get away with and still get into Heaven.” If one studies, he can see that the concepts of judging a person’s behavior and judging them to eternal hell are two very different things and are treated as such.
2. Making the choice to only follow things Jesus addressed directly is simply self-serving. Usually, that stance can be translated to, “I want to be considered a religious person and yet be pro-choice, pro-homosexuality, promiscuous and smoke weed.” Rarely does having a stance of “the Bible is just a giant parable” lead one to exhibit more self-restraint.
3. In the “clobbering passages” as well as all other verses regarding homosexuality in the Bible, the word for “woman” can be translated as “young male, ” or “boy.” Having sex with boys was a common practice and still exists today in some areas of the Middle East. Ask a soldier who has been over there about “gay Thursday.” Thus, Scripture doesn’t condemn homosexuality.
We spend a lot of our time trying to justify and denounce the things we don’t like in Scripture. When our number priority is to serve Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to guide and reveal Truth to us. Isn’t that the point? The relationship?
In general I agree, but it is important to not treat discrimination as a mere opinion. If someone thinks the Bible condemns homosexuality that is an opinion. If they work to keep gays and lesbians from having the same rights they do, it is discrimination. It isn’t judgmental to point that out because we are seeking a fair scale for all people. Stopping a bully isn’t bullying.
I agree it can get confusing, but if our goal is to make sure everyone gets their human needs met, it gets much clearer.
Thanks for your thoughts, Jim
Finally! I find someone who understands what he reads. Where were you 60 years ago. I pretty much gave up on church’s when I was 7 because every where I turned all I saw was frauds in the any church I went to. I read the bible for comfort not power.
Charlene. Sounds like you turned out strong anyway. Thank you so much for writing.
Jim. Looks like we’re totally on the same page on a number of issues, especially what I refer to as “pseudo-Christians.”
Glad to send a copy of my upcoming publication, Bible Bullies, the introduction and preface of which are available on my website, http://www.biblebullies.com.
Best of luck,
Thanks, Art. I check it out. Thanks for writing the book.