Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bible told me to...

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Point 1. There seems to be much more to the story of their relationship than is discussed in this video clip. The written article adds only more murkiness. Perhaps the younger man was being abused, perhaps it was greed, much of it is speculation at this point.

Point 2. I think it is relatively obvious that the young man was disturbed, either clinically or as a response to the relationship he had with the victim.

Point 3. Without more information, much discussion on this story is speculation and speculation based analysis is pretty pointless. There are a few facts and they alone warrant discussion, at least they do to me.

Point 4. He is totally correct in saying that the OT calls for the stoning death of homosexuals.


Even if the young man was deeply disturbed and even if it could be reasonably argued that he would have found another reason to kill this man, isn’t this still a very real condemnation of his Holy Book - that he derives his motivation from an accurate reading of its text?

People point to Catcher in the Rye as a book that has been inspiring to people, some of which have gone on to commit terrible crimes - including murder. Is this not the same thing?


Catcher in the Rye is not held up by significant portions of our culture as the moral guidebook from the ultimate divine authority. Catcher in the Rye itself makes no claim of authority of any kind. Catcher in the Rye doesn’t explicitly call for (or glorify in) the killing, torture, rape or slavery of anyone let alone whole groups of people.

Disturbed people will find motivation for their crazy just about anywhere, true enough. However here we are, as a society, revering a book that explicitly calls for it. We endorse it and we give it special influence and privilege. Even if it could be argued that it is a “misinterpretation” – it’s not. Even if the same book says we should NOT kill. When the book is given unique and divine authority- its words, all of its words, take on the virtue of that authority, all of its words not just the ones we like.

The Bible is not anymore evil than any other book, as long as it is just a book. Once we start saying that passages such as the ones that justify the stoning of disobedient children are divinely inspired or the inerrant word of God that is something altogether different.

Many Christians, Jews and Muslims don’t hang their religious faith on the less popular and more bloody/bigoted passages in the Bible. Many of them will say those passages are irrelevant to their understanding of God and his message. That’s great. I applaud that. It just doesn’t change the urgency of this problem. The folks that hold these relatively moderate religious views do not make up a large majority of the faithful, especially not in America, as we often want to think

We cannot ignore that many people DO take these passages seriously and it’s NOT a small fringe group. The majority of Americans still oppose equal rights for Gays, the vast majority of them with biblical justification.

(55% oppose Gay marriage, and 51% oppose civil unions :

That is just one of many statistics that support the Religious Right in their agenda to create a fundamentalist theocracy in this country.

I’m not saying all people that revere this book are bigots or violent, or even a majority. I’m saying that the book itself can be reasonably interpreted to endorse those things and it takes a more creative interpretation to disavow those messages. I’m saying that this book has too much influence in modern America and should be dismissed as a divine book, let alone an inerrant one. It is time for us as a society to renounce the special status of this book. Allowing us to more freely preserve what good messages are there (Charity, love, forgiveness) and dismiss the destructive ones. As long as the book is holy we will have to argue to establish any passage as immoral or irrelevant. Without that distinction each story, assertion, or value stands on its own, for better or worse, as what it is - the wisdom and understandings of an ancient culture, sometimes noble, often barbaric, simply what it is.

Indulge me a moment of even deeper and less founded speculation:

If it turns out that this killing was motivated in part due to a young homosexual being conflicted by his nature vs. his faith, as too many suicides have been, there also is a condemnation of the aspects of our culture that use this book, (as he did) to justify hatred against homosexuals, against self.

Here is my question: How can we call this book (the Bible) a good book or a moral book without disavowing the “naughty bits”? If we disavow the naughty bits how can we claim divine authority for any single part of the book without establishing divine authority for all of it?

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