We shouldn’t be surprised that several Christians have recently used the Bible as a weapon against the LGBTQ community in Springfield, particularly when it comes to the matter of relationships and, by extension, equal rights. Their use of the Bible is extraordinary. It’s not that their arguments are unbiblical. To insist that scripture is clear about marriage being between one man and one woman is quite true (which is the primary claim made to oppose same-sex relationships and LGBT identity as being normative). The problem, however, is that their arguments are not biblical enough. If we are going to insist that biblical norms related to human sexuality and relationships dictate the laws of the land (even though, last time we checked, we live in a democracy and not a theocracy), then we need to embrace everything the Bible clearly teaches about human sexuality and relationships, beginning with marriage.
From a biblical perspective, we can insist that marriage is between one man and one woman, but what else? Aside from women being literally treated as property (emphasis on literally), should we also insist, as Deuteronomy 22:28–29 does, that a woman who is the victim of assault marry her attacker? Should we pass a law stating that a widow with no sons must marry her brother-in-law in order to keep the command of God (Genesis 38:6–10 and Deuteronomy 25:5–10)? Perhaps we should—in light of Deuteronomy 7:3, Ezra 9:11–12, and Nehemiah 13:25, 27—prohibit U.S. citizens from marrying non-citizens and/or those outside of their particular religion. Or perhaps we could invoke the examples of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon and finally legalize polygamy.
And what of the New Testament? Should divorce be outlawed, since Jesus himself unequivocally condemns it in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11-12, then offers it a qualified condemnation in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9? Should all divorcees be denied the right to remarry, since both Jesus and Paul are against it (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)? Or, in terms of equal rights, perhaps all women who hold supervisory roles over men should be fired by legal precedent and be replaced by men (1 Timothy 2:12)? Why aren’t Christians trying to prohibit and repeal such things, since they represent clear violations of biblical principles? As far as SOGI is concerned, based on this criteria, shouldn’t a Christian have the right to deny housing to someone who is divorced, or fire an employee for getting remarried? After all, this is the logic that opponents to SOGI invoke.
But whether they’re aware of it or not, Christians who stand opposed to equal rights, protections, and relationships for LGBT people aren’t doing so on biblical grounds. Rather, they draw on a select few verses that support their previously held beliefs and assumptions. And in case you’re keeping count, there are twice as many verses cited in this article alone (verses that support mandates no Christians in the community are trying to repeal) than all the references in the Bible (six at most) that are used to condemn LGBT people.
When it comes to making ethical decisions based on faith, let us appeal not to our worst instincts, but to the timeless truths of love, dignity, and compassion that our sacred traditions point to at their very best. As Christian pastors, we’re in favor of “No repeal” — not because all of our traditions have been perfect in all times and all places, but because Love is the one thing that is (1 John 4:7-8).
Rev. Darryl J. Schafer
Billings Christian Church
Rev. Phil Snider
Brentwood Christian Church