If the Pastor Thinks Gay People Can Go To Heaven, Maybe He Hasn’t Read the Bible

I don’t quite know why this is a story, but the other day, I called out a pastor for saying gay people (who presumably acted on their homosexuality) could still go to Heaven. He quoted the Bible, which was strange to me since verses nearby said the exact opposite thing.

Anyway, The Christian Post wrote all about it:

Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay, doesn’t accept [Pastor Craig] Gross’ argument. While Gross quoted the Bible to make his case, Mehta couldn’t get past the fact that the XXXchurch.com pastor missed the verses in Scripture that seem to undermine his argument.

“[T]he Bible talks about how gay men (who don’t change their ways) will most certainly NOT go to Heaven, directly contradicting what Gross writes in the rest of his essay,” the Friendly Atheist pointed out.

Mehta told The Christian Post that while he applauds Christians who support the LGBT community, he says such believers can only do so by “taking a non-literal interpretation of the Bible” or by ignoring certain Bible passages.

“But it seems very hypocritical to me when a liberal Christian says the Bible is God’s Word… but then simply ignores the verses that say untrue or un-politically-correct things,” he said in an email to CP. “It’s either God’s Word or it’s not. As an atheist, I believe it’s not.”

I’m still trying to figure out what Gross meant in his own comments to the Post. It sounds like he’s suggesting all atheists and gay people (and other “sinners”) need Christians to lead the way for them… which is a complete lie:

For Gross, he believes that churches need to approach the issue differently altogether.

“Jesus came for the sick not the healthy. Churches should be hospitals and not country clubs,” he stated in an email to CP.

“The deal is we don’t have doctors leading our hospitals; we have [fallen] patients who … need … help and that should be the mentality of our pastors that they don’t have all the answers or problems solved either.”

It’s as if he thinks Christians can somehow change the “sinful” ways of people who did nothing wrong in the first place. That’s why I don’t take pastors like him very seriously. He can’t bring himself to admit that the Bible isn’t a great source for morality or wisdom. It has no more of either one than the next book you come across in a library.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Nicki

    ” believers can only do so by “taking a non-literal interpretation of the Bible”

    Ummm….so what? Lot’s of Christians are very open about their non-literal interpretation of the Bible and think it’s the most appropriate way to read it. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to accept? Is it because it makes it more difficult to put all religious people into that scary “other” category?

    • Galdre

       I think Hemant’s problem with Gross is that he is trying to have it both ways.

      “But it seems very hypocritical to me when a liberal Christian says the
      Bible is God’s Word… but then simply ignores the verses that say untrue
      or un-politically-correct things,”

    • Rick

       My point was the same as Galdre made. They are trying to have it both ways. They want to say that the Bible is the inspired word of God but then say they are ok with homosexuality.  I have no beef with those Christians who openly do not take the Bible literally.

      • Nicki

         Most Christians I know who don’t read the Bible literally will still say it’s the inspired word of God, they just don’t say it’s inerrant. Those aren’t the same thing.

    • Aaron Scoggin

      I also think that’s the best way to read the Bible. If read literally, it doesn’t make any sense. But you can’t say that it’s inerrant and the “word of God” and also say that it is open to interpretation. It’s one or the other.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Like ya’ll so routinely do us? 

      • Nicki

         um, I’m an atheist

  • cneil686

    Where does it say in the Bible anyone at all will be going to heaven?  It doesn’t … the idea that the saved will go to heaven is a later invention not suggested anywhere in the Bible. New Testament luminaries – Jesus/the gospel writers, Paul and the rest – all believed God’s kingdom was going to be established on Earth (‘thy kingdom come on Earth as in Heaven’, and all that). They were wrong about this as about so much else. Check it out for yourself – Heaven is not on offer in ‘God’s Word’.

  • Eperce

    Hemant, Hemant, Hemant, maybe you need a lesson from one of the most knowledgeable bible  Atheist activists in the movement.  Atheists are just as guilty of cherry picking scriptures as believers. 
    Tsk, tsk, tsk,
    TheSaintsRevenge
    Ernest

    • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

      Of course we do. All biblically based arguments are cherry picked, it is hard to avoid which such a rambling, incoherent, inconsistent and self-contradictory mess of a document.

    • kagekiri

      “Just as guilty”?

      We’re not the ones trying to base our morality or legislation on that crap: we point out the counters to believers claims because the entire thing doesn’t even begin to stay self-consistent, and thus destroys its own claim of being an unchanging moral code given by God himself.

      And if you’re just going to put some smug condescension in a pointless post, and you’re not going actually say how Hemant is actually cherry picking with any evidence, why don’t you find something better to do? You know, something useful?

      I didn’t see “go point out how atheists cherry-pick” as a command in the Bible, but selling all your belongings and traveling town to town preaching is pretty clearly stated by Jesus and Paul. Go do that; the Bible has few contradictions on that expectation.

    • Edmond

      It’s perfectly okay to cherry-pick scripture when you don’t believe it’s divine, and you don’t live by it, and you don’t claim that it’s the inerrant source of all morality.  To us, it’s just a book which makes a wide variety of points, some good and some bad, some completely contradictory.  There’s nothing wrong with atheists pointing out these contradictions, or praising it for its good advice, or slamming it for its bad.

      The only time you CAN’T cherry-pick is when you DO believe that the book is the authoritative word of the creator of the universe.  When this is the belief you hold, then you must support the ENTIRE book.  You can’t just support your favorite parts while ignoring the inconvenient ones.

      • Suziw3h

        what if some people don’t want to go to heaven and be surrounded by very judgmental souls who criticize you for every little mistake you make. It sounds like a bad eternal marriage with a nagging wife.

  • SJH

    Are St. Paul’s writings a statement of fact or are they a prediction of the perceived consequence of certain behaviors? Are these consequences imposed by God or simply natural consequences? Example: If I smoke crack, become addicted to crack, this potentially leads to bad behavior, violence, dishonesty which potentially leads to despair and leads me so far from God that I choose to completely separate myself from him which in turn leads to eternal separation. God isn’t imposing the consequence it is merely the outcome of a string of decisions. In other words, is Paul judging individuals and an outcome or is he warning of a probable outcome so that we avoid behavior?

    Can’t God ultimately make the final judgement as to who goes to heaven? It is not our place to judge others and make this determination. This inclination that some Christians (and some atheists for that matter) have to judge is potentially just as harmful as I perceive the homosexual act to be. We can discuss the possibility that homosexual behavior may or may not be unhealthy which can be verified or refuted with hard evidence but we are incapable of intelligently discussing without an incredible amount of speculation whether or not homosexuals are going to heaven or hell. That discussion does not serve any purpose.

    • kagekiri

      Uh, have you actually read the Bible? Paul’s statements aren’t fact or predictions: they’re guidelines for how the church should act.

      Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5 to judge and expel the sexually immoral from the church. That verse specifically says someone who slept with his father’s wife and wasn’t kicked out of church, and he condemns the church for being so forgiving. He says to judge and kick out all sexually immoral people, but it also mentions drunks and other externally sinning people.So, YES, Paul is judging individuals, and says it’s the church’s God-given place to do so, and that you shouldn’t even eat with sinners like that who still claim to be Christian, and that you shouldn’t be happy that you’re accepting sinners like that as your brethren.So for all of Jesus’ magical acceptance of “eating with tax-collectors and prostitutes”, Paul says not to eat with Christian tax-collectors or prostitutes.

      There’s not much room for “speculation”.

      • 3lemenope


        There’s not much room for “speculation”.

        I mostly agree. I’d say the only room left is to point out that that was only Paul’s advice to the church in Corinth. His advice to other churches (which, undoubtedly, were having different problems) would be (and was) different. That’s how moderate and liberal Christians tend to read away the “women be silent in Church” passages as only applying to the church he was writing to because that specific church resided in a culture with different social norms about women in positions of religious education and/or authority.

        • kagekiri

          The cultural dodge annoys me, but I don’t think it works nearly as well here.

          Paul is saying the church can and should judge, and God’s the one who gives them the authority. That’s purportedly at a time when the church was already based in relatively poor classes and had a lot less power.So yeah, if they had authority to judge then, even when mostly made up of new recruits and itching for more acceptance, now that they’re established in culture, why would they give it up? They’re still excommunicating people, aren’t they?

          • 3lemenope

            Those liberal Christians in response would undoubtedly argue that the historical practice based on those passages is in error, that the church should not maintain power to exclude, and that that power should be read in the context of the text to only extend to the situation Paul was addressing.

            I’m not saying it’s plausible. I’m only saying there is room to argue, and liberal Christians are generally happy to rush right in to those little spaces in order to explain the discomfort away.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, orphan

        there is no such thing, between consenting adults, as “sexual immorality.” get over people having consensual, pleasurable sex already. believe it or not, sex doesn’t define all people. it’s just a facet of human life. 

        • kagekiri

          I concur, sorry if that wasn’t clear. I tend to revert to sounding pretty Christian fundie when I cite the Bible to argue with people, but yeah, I’m an atheist now, and I think consent is all that matters in that case.

          My point is that this guy is trying to squirm out by saying “oh, judging people is wrong, all real Christians think that!” when his Bible obviously disagrees.

      • SJH

         It seems to me that Paul is writing to a church body that he feels has reached a point that needs to purge itself of certain behaviors. Is he calling on the church to judge whether or not a person is going to go to heaven or to judge if the person should be participating in their church activities? It is clear in Chapter 5 that he if specifically referring to people within the church community.
        I admit that Paul does seem like he is less compromising then Jesus regarding who they should interact with but Jesus’ purpose was to get people to grow in love and charity with each other while Pauls’ purpose for this letter seems to be to cleanse a dysfunctional community.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    The world is full of Christians who don’t believe that the Bible can, or should, be taken literally. I would not criticize any Christian for taking that position, or suggest that they are “less” Christian for allowing their interpretations to change with the times.

    The fundies are the real problem, not people like this. A Christian is not required to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Ocu/100002355860370 Alan Ocu

     I am a gay man and this atheist hatred toward me makes me sick.   How about you read this part of the Bible, Mr. Unfriendly Atheist.   I can pick and choose Bible verses better than you, honey.  John 13:34 “”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” — John 8:7 “”He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” — Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” — Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” — Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    • Baby_Raptor

      Did you read the same article we did?

      There was no hatred of you, or any other gays, in that article. He was talking about a certain pastor’s cherry picking to promote a view. He aimed his critique at that pastor. Not at anyone else. 

      Hemant is an Atheist. He doesn’t believe in hell. Nor does he believe that being gay is wrong. Get over your persecution complex. 

      Also, just for the record, quoting the words of a God someone doesn’t believe in to try and burn them isn’t going to work very well. 

    • Feline256

      Seriously, do so some research before getting all snippy at the author, who’s an ally to the queer community.

  • Rzgset

    Be ye inclusive as your heavenly father… Jesus says. Perfect translates as inclusive. This judgmental attitude of yours makes you one of the new pharisees. But even they will find a place in heaven, because ultimately, God’s love is irrestible.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I don’t quite follow. Traditional Christianity seems to promote an exclusive theology, not an inclusive one. Or will atheists and other non-Christians “find a place in heaven,” too?

    • kagekiri

      You must be reading a different Bible. The one I used to believe in was pretty clear that most would not get into heaven, and had plenty of stories and parables to back that up: parable of the 10 virgins, parable of the wedding guests, parable of the sheep and the goats, etc. None even begin to say everyone’s getting in, and Paul definitely says atheists are evil and going to burn in hell, because they have no excuse for not believing.

  • http://twitter.com/btomsheck Ben Tomsheck

    Chicago, it makes sense. May God help your soul and those children that are being deceived. You couldn’t give me ANY amount of money, or ANYTHING to walk in your shoes! WOW, unbelieveable. What on earth is so bad in Chicago that people allow this evil into their school systems? They seek answers, obviously desperate and satan and his assignments are there to deceive and destroy. I would like to invite this man and his friends to a party that’s hosted by a good friend of mine. Oh, his name is JESUS!!. Wanna come?

  • Lance

    I personally think religion is a mental crutch used to control the masses, preventing free thought. So when I hear a Christian actually interpreting the Bible and not taking it literally, I get a little giddy, thinking, “man, this is one step closer to a smarter America.”


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