My reply to Christians who support gay rights

A couple days ago, Hemant Mehta (aka The Friendly Atheist) had a guest post from a liberal Christian complaining about atheists allegedly making it harder for Christians to support gay rights. I left a comment in response, genuinely hoping for a response from the guest blogger, but didn’t get one (which is okay, I often ignore my own comment threads!) But I decided what I wrote is worth posting here. It begins with a quote from the guest post:

But this is not exclusively what I’m seeing. Instead, I regularly see atheists telling affirming Christians that they’re not really Christians.

I’m curious to know where you’ve read that. It’s not something I would ever say. But I definitely would say things that might be misunderstood as that. Here’s what I would say:

The Bible is a man-made book that’s full of contradictions. (And yes, the choice of “man” rather than “human” there was deliberate.) There’s no “right” way to interpret the Bible aside from recognizing that.

But if you do insist on treating the Bible as some super-human source of guidance, some interpretations are easier to come up with others. “The Bible says men having sex with men is an abomination to God” is easy to come up with because it’s right there in Leviticus. It takes more work to convince yourself that the Bible says nothing against loving gay relationships.

And furthermore, the Bible’s contradictions are largely a product of it having been written by many different authors. Once you start asking, “what did *this particular* author mean?” you shouldn’t be surprised if you find out their values were at odds with modern liberal values, because they all lived approx. 2000 years ago at minimum.

I object to liberal Christians who are so eager to reinterpret the Bible to be gay-friendly because when they do that, they’re still upholding the principle that the Bible should be treated as a special source of guidance. Sure, reinterpreting the Bible on gay issues may help in the short run on those particular issues, but until we see the Bible as just another human book (albeit an influential one, though one whose influence has so often been ill), we’ll never get out of fights over Biblical interpretation that we shouldn’t need to have for purposes of setting government policy in a modern liberal democracy.

Related: Arguments we shouldn’t be having

Arguments for the existence of something that sounds kind of like a god
God: kind of like an abusive boyfriend
Bertrand Russell explains Ray Comfort
Did Chris Mooney have a point?

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