Thursday, August 26, 2010

the Bible got it wrong

An evangelical preacher is taking a new tack in proselytizing to gays, starting with "I'm sorry." The idea is that he used to be a bigot about homosexuality until several of his friends came out, and now he tries to talk to gays about Jesus without pressing on them that their lifestyle is sinful. From what I can tell, however, he still thinks homosexuality is sinful, he just doesn't talk about it openly:
"It's theologically sloppy to say it's not a sin," he replies. But he quickly adds that all Christians are sinners, according to Romans 3:23. "We're all dealing with something."

Thus the current limits of evangelical outreach to the GLBT community.

My real interest is the next part. Dan Savage moves from here and drops a bomb on the whole conversation:
When evangelicals are ready to admit that the bible got homosexuality wrong—just like it got slavery and shellfish and figs and masturbation and burnt offerings wrong—then we can talk.

Provocative. It did get those things wrong, though, didn't it? Certainly slavery and masturbation in any case.

The problem here is that biblical inerrancy is a principle feature of conservative religion in general and evangelicalism in particular. Popular religion is rife with unexamined contradictions, of course; we're all perfectly aware that, for instance, kosher law is in the Bible and yet Christians don't practice it, or riffing from prior conversations, that the Sabbath is on the 7th day of the week, which isn't Sunday. Sometimes Christian children in Sunday school ask where Cain's wife came from, or how Noah was able to get animals native to the Americas before the Flood. Biblical inerrancy as a sentiment, however, is deep and powerful and fundamental to conservative reliosity. To let go of it jars loose the entire rock of the church.

To ask evangelicals to admit that part of the Bible was wrong, any part, is frankly asking conservatives to become liberals.

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