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Last year, I made a video saying that the print version of The Skeptic's Annotated Bible was my favorite book of the year.
Well, that author, Steve Wells, is back with a new book.
It's called Strange Flesh,
and it's all about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
I asked Steve if I could share with all of you the first chapter of his book, which is all about the so-called "Clobber Verses"
in the Bible, and he said yes. So a lot of what I'm going to say here,
it comes directly from his book.
There are only a handful of verses in the Bible
that deal directly with homosexuality.
Conservative Christians cite them all the time.
Liberal Christians, on the other hand, hate these verses.
They call them the clobber verses, because these are the verses conservatives always clobber them with.
And they want to do anything they can to convince you it's not really as bad as it looks.
It sounds like one of those things we should be able to figure out by looking at those verses
and figuring out what they actually say,
and then see how both sides of that issue approach those verses.
So, let's do that.
Leviticus: chapter 18, verse 22.
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind:
"it is abomination."
That's supposed to tell you how bad homosexuality is, right? It's an abomination.
But, hold on. Because in the Bible there are lots of things God says is an abomination.
So, let's run down just a few of those and see how seriously we take those issues.
Leviticus says: "anything without fins or scales in the water is an abomination."
So, that's shrimps, snails, squids, and lobsters.
Same with things that creep on the ground or crawl on their bellies,
like snakes. The book of Deuteronomy says that sacrificing a goat is an abomination.
And so is cross-dressing.
In the book of Luke, the Bible says: "anything we truly cherish is an abomination."
But if everything is an abomination,
why are we crying wolf? Why are Christians singling one point out about homosexuality?
Well, conservatives will say that the only sexual practice that's called an abomination,
is homosexual sex. So that's their reasoning.
So, what are some of the ways liberal Christians have responded to that verse?
Some have said, "Well, it says nothing about lesbian sex".
Or they'll say that the verse before that one involves child sacrifice.
So, God's only interested in sexual activity that happens at idolatrous religious ceremonies.
So, in other words, gay sex is okay, as long as you're not in a pagan temple.
Score!
They'll also say that Leviticus is the Old Testament
and the New Testament nullifies all those laws.
Leviticus: chapter 20, verse 13.
And this one's a little long, so I'm going to have to read it.
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman,
"both of them have committed an abomination:
"they shall surely be put to death;
"their blood shall be upon them."
This is about as clear as the Bible gets on the issue and everyone just kind of wishes this verse would go away.
I mean, even Westboro Baptist Church, and Fred Phelps, and the God Hate Fags family.
Even they don't touch this verse.
Its meaning is pretty simple and indisputable.
God thinks we should kill male homosexuals.
Now, even conservative Christians tend to believe that God went a little too far on that one and...
So, liberal Christians don't even have a response for it.
Because if the conservatives don't take it seriously,
they don't need to respond to it.
But in general, the best response you'll hear to that verse is, again,
"It's the Old Testament, and the New Testament did away with all those laws."
Romans: chapter 1, verses 20 through 32.
Now, this is the only passage that mentions lesbians,
and that's a really long section, so let me just give you some highlights.
"God gave them up unto vile affections:
"for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
"And likewise also the men,
"leaving the natural use of the woman,
"burned in their lust toward one another."
"God gave them over to a reprobate mind."
"And they which commit such things, are worthy of death."
Now, in the context of that passage,
God actually makes men and women homosexuals
for the crime of not glorifying him enough.
So, it all starts with a lack of gratitude toward God.
God then makes ungrateful people gay
and that puts them down the slippery slope for having a reprobate mind.
In the end, those ungrateful wretches commit all sorts of evil deeds
and that means they're worthy of death.
Conservatives love this section.
Not only does it condemn homosexuality for both men and women,
it happens in the New Testament. So, you can't use that old argument about how it happened before, and it doesn't count anymore.
Though, even conservatives get a little squeamish with the whole put-to-death part.
So, how the liberals respond here?
Just to name a couple of their rebuttals:
Once again, they say Paul was talking about homosexual acts in pagan temples;
not homosexuality in general.
Or they say that Paul discouraged marriage and sex in marriage
because Jesus was coming soon.
Paul said a lot of silly things.
If we ignored him about all the other stuff, we can ignore him now.
First Corinthians: chapter 6, verses 9 and 10.
Paul is talking about who will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So, who's not going to go to heaven.
He writes: "The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind
shall inherit the kingdom of God".
That seems pretty bad.
But one interpretation of the words I just said was "effeminate". One interpretation of that
is that the word means "soft". So, Paul is actually talking about weak men.
So, if you're a gay guy, that's fine,
as long as you're manly about it.
Similarly, when we talk about "abusers of themselves with mankind",
it's not actually talking about gay people but rather male prostitutes.
Finally, we have First Timothy: chapter 1, verses 9 and 10.
And this is all about the people for whom the laws were made.
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient,
"for the ungodly and for sinners,
"for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers,
"for manslayers,
"for whoremongers,
"for them that defile themselves with mankind,
"for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,
"and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine".
A lot of the responses you'll hear to those verses
are things I've already said before.
There's a lot of misinterpretation going on here. A lot got lost in translation.
But specifically to those verses,
it's been said that First Timothy was a forgery.
So, we can ignore that.
Personally, I see a very clear takeaway from all of this.
The Bible may condemn homosexuality in the actual text,
but if that's not how you feel,
there are lots of ways to work around those verses.
If you believe that the Bible is truly a good book,
you're going to have to do a lot of rationalizing and explaining away of these verses.
And if you want to believe the Bible supports anti-gay bigotry,
well, you can find a way to make it say that, too.
Which is exactly why it's silly for anyone to say we should use the Bible
as a rulebook for life.
With so many ways to interpret it,
it's not very helpful at all.
Strange Flesh is a great book.
It expands on a lot of the things I'm saying in this video, and it has so much more in it.
So, check it out.
And if you want to order the book, we have an Amazon link below.
My name is Hemant Mehta, and I write at FriendlyAtheist.com
Leave a comment below
and we'll be sure to check it out. And don't forget to subscribe.
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What the Bible Says About Homosexuality

79 Folder Collection
Caurora published on February 3, 2018
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