Controversy

Biblical Literalism, Gluttony and Homosexuality

I like pieces that make me think.  Doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with them.  Like this one from Rachael Held Evans.  Rachael is a provocateur, even more so than I am. Read this excerpt from her, and let me know what you think.  Is there some truth in what she’s saying? Do we, as a Christian community, hand-pick sins to be vocally against? Is it more difficult to condemn sins when we know people in their clutch (like gluttony or divorce)?  Is it just easier to fight the latest cultural sin that we’re totally disconnected from (like homosexuality)? What do you think? —– So why do so many Christians focus on the so-called “clobber verses” related to homosexuality while ignoring “clobber verses” related to gluttony or greed, head coverings or divorce?  Why is homosexuality the great biblical debate of this decade and not slavery, (as it once was) or the increasing problem of materialism and inequity? Why do so many advocate making gay marriage illegal but not divorce, when Jesus never referenced the former but spoke quite negatively about the latter? While there are certainly important hermeneutical and cultural issues at play, I can’t help but wonder if something more nefarious is also at work.  I can’t help but wonder if biblical condemnation is often a numbers game. Though it affects more of us than we tend to realize, statistically, homosexuality affects far fewer of us than gluttony, materialism, or divorce. And as Jesus pointed out so often in his ministry, we like to focus on the biblical violations (real or perceived) of the minority rather than our own. In short, we like to gang up.  We like to fashion weapons out of the verses that affect us the least and then “clobber” the minority with them. Or better yet, conjure up some saccharine language about speaking the truth in love before breaking out our spec-removing tweezers to help get our minds off of these uncomfortable logs in our own eyes. We see this in the story of the religious leaders who ganged up on the woman caught in adultery. She was such an easy target: a woman, probably poor, disempowered, and charged with the go-to favorite of the self-righteous—sexual sin.   When they brought her to Jesus, they were using her as an example to test him, to see how “biblical” his response to her would be. (See Deuteronomy 22:23-14.)  Jesus knelt down and scribbled in the sand before saying, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone.” They dropped their stones. While self-righteousness avoidance certainly affects our selective literalism , we also have good reasons for not condemning one another for the more ubiquitous biblical violations (again, real or perceived) in our culture. It’s hard for me to flatly condemn divorce, for example, when I know of several women whose lives, and the lives of their children, may have been saved by it, or when I hear from people who tell me they would have rather come from a broken home than grown up in one. We have a natural revulsion to the idea of checking people’s BMI before accepting them into the Church, especially when obesity is not necessarily reflective of gluttony (often, in this country, it is a result of poverty), and when we know from our own experiences or the experiences of those we love that an unhealthy weight can result from a variety of factors—from genetics to psychological components—and when some of our favorite people in the world (or when we ourselves) wrestle with a complicated relationship with food, whether it’s through overeating or under-eating. Again, it’s a numbers game. It’s hard to “other” the people we know and love the most. It’s become a cliché, but everything changes when it’s your brother or sister who gets divorced, when it’s your son or daughter who is gay, when it’s your best friend who struggles with addiction, when it’s your husband or wife asking some good questions about Christianity you never thought about before. —– Read more here. Thoughts? Todd