Al Mohler says the apostle Peter was wrong and that’s why evangelicals should ‘focus on homosexuality’

According to the New Testament book of Acts, the apostle Peter was given a vision from God. The 10th chapter of Acts describes that vision. And in that chapter and the next, Peter himself explains what that vision meant.

Southern Baptist enforcer R. Albert Mohler Jr. says that Peter was wrong. The vision from God, Mohler says, meant something else.

The Bible condemns a lot, but here’s why we focus on homosexuality,” Mohler writes today for CNN’s Belief Blog. Here’s Mohler:

“Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”

On its face, it’s a fair question. But it can be posed in two very different ways.

First, the question can be asked to suggest that the Bible’s clear condemnation of sexual sins can simply be set aside. The other way of posing the question represents a genuine attempt to understand how the Bible is to be rightly applied to life today.

In truth, those asking the question the first way really don’t want an answer.

Fair point, but after dismissing those who ask the question dismissively, Mohler offers his response to those who ask it from “a genuine attempt to understand.”

It is here that Mohler tells us that the apostle Peter was wrong — that Peter misunderstood his vision from God in the Book of Acts and that, even worse, Peter spread this misunderstanding as a false prophet in the early Christian community.

Most of the biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament. That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet.

As the Book of Acts makes clear, Christians are not obligated to follow this holiness code. This is made clear in Peter’s vision in Acts 10:15. Peter is told, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

In other words, there is no kosher code for Christians. Christians are not concerned with eating kosher foods and avoiding all others. That part of the law is no longer binding, and Christians can enjoy shrimp and pork with no injury to conscience.

I should note here that Mohler’s interpretation of Peter’s vision is widely held and quite popular among American Christians. (I wrote about this earlier in “The Abominable Shellfish: Why some Christians hate gays but love bacon.”)

But while popular, this view utterly contradicts Peter’s own interpretation of his vision. If Mohler is right, then Peter was wrong. If Peter was right, then Mohler is wrong.

For Peter, his rooftop vision wasn’t about kosher dietary laws — it was about people. He says this explicitly: “God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”

That’s a very different conclusion from the one Mohler draws. Mohler says this story — this scripture — is about purity laws. Peter says this story is about God’s commandment that no people should be excluded as impure.

I’m going to have to side with Peter on this one. Peter was right. Mohler is wrong.

Mohler’s case for his interpretation of Peter’s vision only looks plausible if you extract a tiny portion of the story from the rest of the chapter, but if you read all of Acts 10, you’ll see that the story doesn’t allow that.

Consider, for example, the purpose of Peter’s vision. It wasn’t sent because Red Lobster was about to bring back “endless shrimp,” but because of the people who were about to knock on Peter’s door. The author of Acts makes sure we don’t miss that point, writing: “While Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the [impure, uncircumcised, bacon-loving Gentile] men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate.”

And just in case you somehow miss that point, as Mohler does, the author of the book of Acts gets pretty anvilicious by repeating the whole thing in even more explicit terms in the very next chapter: “Peter began to explain it to them, step by step …”

And those chapters, again, must be read in the context of the entire book of Acts, which begins with Pentecost — bringing together people “from every nation under heaven … Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to the Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs” — and continues inexorably outward to include and embrace European tradeswomen and African eunuchs and anyone else the author can imagine the reader otherwise being tempted to exclude or reject. The book reads like an after-school special on celebrating diversity.

People — all kinds of people. No one is excluded. Not purity laws but people. That a major theme throughout the entire book. And not just that book, either.

“God is showing us that we should not call anyone profane or unclean.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I said stuff here and here regarding the selective discarding of the Old Testament among some Christians.

    I would just be repeating myself if I were to retype it all here.

  • http://forholyterra.hobbycore.net Paul Bagosy

    Acts 10-11 is my response to anyone who wants to trot out Leviticus or any other verse about homosexuality.  And I particularly love the “well it was just about dietary laws” argument, because that’s a tacit admission that the person hasn’t read the Bible and therefore doesn’t know enough about their own religion to use it as a weapon against other people.

  • Twig

    Consider, for example, the purpose of Peter’s vision. It wasn’t sent because Red Lobster was about to bring back “endless shrimp,”

    You continue to be one of my favorite people.

  • Twig

    therefore doesn’t know enough about their own religion to use it as a weapon against other people.

    I am starting to think not knowing enough about their own religion is a prerequisite for using it as a weapon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    I never realized that Fred was funny until this post.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’d say anyone who thinks opposition to homosexuality is what Christianity is about is not actually Christian. This is because, unlike Scots, Christians are not born Christian — it’s not an ethnicity. If hating homosexuality is at the core of your religion, you’re not Christian, you’re something else. Most likely a closeted non-heterosexual, for one thing.

    Which is not to say all homophobes are totally closeted. “Casual” homophobes who have never been forced to confront their bigotry and who can change (I’ve changed a couple) are mostly only a little closeted. They have not embraced their sexuality fully, whatever it is, because they have messed-up ideas about sexuality. As most of us do, since most of our cultures are messed-up about sexuality, thanks to a patriarchy which depends on messing all of us up. Also, I think most people are not a zero on the Kinsey scale; most of us have some level of attraction to the same sex, even if it’s only certain types of the same sex. (For me, it’s bosomy redheads.)

    Anyway, I’ve digressed here. And I have a question: when did this happen? Nowadays, so many religious leaders are spending their time loudly obsessing over anal sex and how women should submit to men in the bedroom and all sorts of other things. So now so many children are forced to sit and listen to these adult sexual fantasies from authority figures. Not okay.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    *Raises hand* I actually don’t care, at all, about understanding how to apply the bible to life today. I do want the people who write our laws to disregard the bible’s condemnations of “sexual sins”. I very specifically *don’t* want the people who write our laws to be thinking about how to apply the bible to modern law-writing.

    Fred’s biblical argument aimed at Christians seems like a fine one and it is nice to see Christians making it but, for those of us that aren’t Christians there’s a bigger problem here: Mohler’s distinction up there implicitly assumes that there is something inherently inferior or unacceptable about wanting to disregard the bible rather than wanting to apply it to a changing world. I myself would rather not accept that premise if I’m going to respond to his argument. Mohler says that “those asking the question the first way really don’t want an answer” and in my case he’s quite correct, I don’t really care what Mohler’s explanation for his hypocritical focus is. I don’t have any interest in engaging in a dialogue with Al Mohler, because I don’t think he’s reachable. I’m looking at the hypocrisy thing as an argument to offer to third parties in order to convince them they should not take the things Rev. Mohler says seriously.

    Rev. Mohler says

    “Why are Christians so concerned with homosexuality? In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times.”

    …and I think he communicates a lot in a way he probably didn’t mean to, there.

  • RickRS

    Chris, you must have be a recent fan: Fred has always has humor popping up in his writings.  One of the things that makes slacktivist a favorite of mine; a guy that likes real people of all kinds.  All kinds except for the bullying types. 

  • SisterCoyote

    Yeah, this passage was what convinced me, back in the early not-surrounded-only-by-strict-fundamentalists teenage years, that the people shouting about how QUILTBAG folks were Against God Evil, etc, were wrong.

    1) I will believe that LGBT folk choose their identities only when you can prove to me you chose to be straight (pinpoint the exact moment when you decided “Oh hey, I think I am going to chase women/men and am totally into them.”). If you didn’t choose to be straight, you didn’t choose not to be gay, the choice was never offered you… which means it was never offered them, either.

    2)  If QUILTBAG folk did not choose their identities, they were born that way. Which means God made them that way.

    3) God is all-loving. God Is Love. What kind of love is it to create someone a certain way and then forbid them to ever have a meaningful relationship, the kind they crave and need? The kind their neighbors and friends and loved ones get to have… but never them?

    4) “What God hath made clean, call not thou unclean.”
    “But I’ve never done anything unclean! You want me to defile myself now? ._.”
    “…What God hath made clean, CALL NOT THOU UNCLEAN.
    “*sigh.* This is gonna be fun to explain, innit?”
    [Paraphrased]

    5) Seriously? Seriously, you’re telling me that passage applies to shrimp, mixed drinks, polyester, women-on-their-periods, lobster, pork, bacon, ham, cheeseburgers, slavery laws, Jubilee laws, lobster, crayfish, beards, circumcision, ancestry…

    but not people. (Except Gentiles. It may have been about Gentiles, but NOBODY ELSE.)

    Yeah, somehow I doubt God went through that much back-and-forth with Peter just to tell him he was allowed to eat pork and shrimp.

    (It’s funny, though. Even after admitting all of the above, it still took me two years or so to be able to admit to myself that the feelings I had for my best friend were more than friendship. Feelings that were obvious to literally everyone but me… because I somehow thought giving her vaguely enthralled poems and flowers and art was Totally Normal, because even though being QUILTBAG is totally okay with God! …Good Baptists  Don’t Do That. Such very insidious ideology.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Much as I’d like to agree, I think the bigger problem is that there’s plenty of folks who know a lot about their religion… but then only really care about the parts they can use to bludgeon people.

    Someone like Al Mohler knows full well what Fred’s talking about – he KNOWS he’s lying through his teeth – he just doesn’t give a shit because that’s part of the game.  The people ‘at the top’ in the religious right are with maybe a couple exceptions,  just con men and women.  They know the material, but they also know how to work it in order to work up their target audience (a bunch of bigoted rubes for the most part.)

    Now, your average right wing Christian type… yeah I could totally agree there; but in the context of people like Mohler and Robertson and Dobson, not so much.

  • Robyrt

    Great reminder.

    For those of you not familiar with Christian theology, here’s a quick rundown on the shellfish issue: The food laws (and by extension most of Leviticus) are repealed by Jesus in Mark 7, with an unsubtle editorial comment saying “Thus he declared all foods clean.” These parts of the Bible are not being “ignored” at will; they are subject to later revision in the text itself, like the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Most of the book of Galatians is devoted to explaining how and why this works, which boils down to “Jesus accomplishes the purpose the rules were designed for, and does it better.” Acts 10 is on a different topic entirely, as Fred has ably explained above.

  • SisterCoyote

     I think “But why is SSM totally not against Christian laws?” should indeed be an irrelevant question for the legality of marriage, because Freedom of Religion/Separation of Church and State.

    But that doesn’t make the question 100% irrelevant, because if when we finally jump that ridiculous barrier and all marriages are legal in all fifty states, plenty of Christians will still have to fight their pastors, deacons, priests, and elders tooth and nail to get married in church, or to have their church recognize their marriage. Not politically relevant, perhaps, but very serious and important to a lot of people nonetheless.

  • SisterCoyote

    I am starting to think not knowing enough about their own religion is a prerequisite for using it as a weapon.

    Or at the very least, pretending not to know enough about it. Because it is self-evidently not designed to be a weapon. There’s way too much ‘love’ and ‘peace’ and ‘blessing’ in there, so you kinda have to be willfully ignorant to still be trying to ignore it all. Like somebody handed them a bouquet of flowers, and once they realized there weren’t any thorns they spent several hours pulling all the softening petals off and thrashing and weaving the stems together to make a nightstick. Yes, technically they’re still using the source material, but they haven’t so much missed the point as grabbed all the points, discarded them, and then claimed their idea was the real purpose.

  • http://adjunctions.wordpress.com/ Brittany

    If hating homosexuality is at the core of your religion, you’re not Christian, you’re something else. Most likely a closeted non-heterosexual, for one thing.

    While it is true that internalized self-hatred is a problem (for all kinds of people who suffer under oppression), and that there are some high-profile xtian-celebrity sexual scandals of this nature, this line of reasoning still sucks.  It is quite possible for straight people to hate and discriminate against GLBT people. People do hate difference and otherness. This is not, at heart, a gay-on-gay problem. This is, most definitely and emphatically, a Straight Person Bigotry Problem, period.

  • http://lightningbug.blogspot.com lightning

     I limit calling people “repressed gay” or somesuch to the folks who say things like “we’ve got to keep kids away from gays because once they find out how OMFG awesome gay sex is, the human race will die out”.  Obviously, they really think they’re straight …

  • swbarnes2

    “Someone like Al Mohler knows full well what Fred’s talking about – he KNOWS he’s lying through his teeth – he just doesn’t give a shit because that’s part of the game.  ”

    You don’t know that.  So he’s not treating the text literally, he’s treating it metaphorically.  It may say “people”, but that’s a just a metaphor.

    Or is it that only liberal Christians know the real, true way to tell which parts should be interpreted literally, and which parts one should interpret more freely?

    The casual dismissing of other points of view here is alarming, but totally consistant with how religions usually operate. Refuse to hold this or that political premise, you aren’t a real Christian.  Someone says they believe something other than what a liberal Christian thinks, that person can’t be sincere.

  • http://lightningbug.blogspot.com lightning

    And if they want to harp on “sexual sins” (usury, lack of charity,  etc, no longer being problems) then we can talk about divorce, adultery, and fornication.  All of these are given much more emphasis in the Bible than homosexuality.

    Indeed, I’ve heard that the word translated as “homosexuality” in the New Testament is used *nowhere else*.  Maybe it means homosexuality, maybe it means temple prostitution, maybe it means something entirely different.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Ok, maybe it’s just me, but I’m confused. I’m assumeing that Mohler thinks that the Bible is inerant — every word is from God. If that is the case than how can Peter’s  analysis of the vision that we have in the Bible be wrong?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I’ll give you this much:  I don’t know Al Mohler.  Maybe he really believes what he says.

    That said, I want to explain my reasoning and expand on it a bit:

    1)  I grew up in the fundiesphere – ie: that closed off cultural world where things like Transformers are “Of Satan” because they’re “Deceptive”.

    I say that to say this:  I saw the game up close.  I saw the wolves among the sheep, and I watched them grow fat on those sheep and then leave once they’d drained them dry.  This among other things has left me quite bitter and cynical toward anything associated with the religious right.

    2)  Biblical literalism is a hallmark of the religious right.  I’m not saying Mohler COULDN’T read it metaphorically like that, but it would be very, very odd for anyone on that side of things to do so.  Even Catholics like Rick Santorum who travel in those circles tend to pick up at least some of the whole “inerrant Bible” concept.

    3)  I’m neither Christian nor straight.  This is important because for me, these culture war battles are not abstract exercises in theology.  These are things that directly affect my life so long as people continue to try to legislate religious morality.* 

    It’s also important that not only do these attitudes affect the legislative process, but also the cultural norms which we live by; and those norms (often varying by region) can make being non-Christian or non-straight quite difficult, at least if you’re at all open about it.

    Or in other words:  Who’s theologically right is only important to me insofar as it affects aforementioned culture war.  If this were contained to within the church, and didn’t spill out into lawmaking, then frankly it wouldn’t be my business at all.

    —–

    The point of all this is that basically, I may have gotten a bit carried away by singling out Al Mohler.  I don’t know the man.   That said, while I may have gone a bit far,  this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Mohler here on Slacktivist, and nothing before has given me a single reason to be remotely generous toward him and his views.

    *Whether or not that morality is even consistent with said religion in the first place really ought to be irrelevant within the context of law; but for now it actually does have some relevance.

  • http://twitter.com/wonderbink Sheila O’Shea

    “Or is it that only liberal Christians know the real, true way to tell which parts should be interpreted literally, and which parts one should interpret more freely?”

    Or is it that ‘liberal’ Christians know that reading the Bible ‘literally’ simply doesn’t work, and that the Spirit is infinitely more important than the letter?

  • AnonymousSam

    Of course, one factor that can’t be underestimated is that for these people, the Bible outlawing homosexuality is just convenient justification for what they already feel. We’re not talking about people who are willing to be reasonable and accept what they can’t understand. These are people who are joyful to cause misery and pain unto others. See that misbegotten jackass who was gloating over the illegal abortions he was sure his bill would be certain to cause for an example.

    For them, homosexuality isn’t just a sin, it’s dirtyfilthy. Even if we somehow passed a Secular State Identity amendment tomorrow which outlawed use of religion as a reason to pass any law, I have no doubt that the majority of states would continue to ban homosexuality for the same reasons we have laws banning pedophilia and bestiality: to these people, we might as well be talking about the same thing.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

     Talking about the culture wars here got me thinking about just how tired I am of fighting this crap.  Really just how tired I am period.  I’m going to step back for awhile to recharge.  Maybe only drop in on Left Behind Fridays or something like that.

    Regardless, right now I’m taking a nap.

  • JonathanPelikan

    Very, very, very, very, very understandable. This shit is like a war; it’s like World War I, and the trenches only ever move in fits and starts ,with a titanic effort for each little bit and the constant danger that we’re going to start losing ground.

  • http://chaseafterwind.blogspot.com/ Amy B

    “Mohler says this story — this scripture — is about purity laws. Peter says this story is about God’s commandment that no people should be excluded as impure.”
    Seems to me this is a false dichotomy. Gentiles were considered unclean precisely because they did not keep to the laws of the Old Covenant – they were not circumcised, they did not keep kosher, etc. If I Gentile were to convert and begin obeying those laws, they would be considered clean. Yes, the Lord’s vision is taking away the barrier between Jew and Gentile – AND it is taking away the commandment to avoid certain foods. The two are bound up together. 

  • Tricksterson

    Except that seems to be the basic premise of a lot of anti-SSM rhetoric.  although they’re not honest enough to outright say it the only reason I can come up with why legalized SSM marruage would corrode and ultimately destroy straight marriage is because it’s so much better a deal.

  • Tricksterson

    Come back when/if you’re ready.  We’ll still be here.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Except that according to Jewish law, any man without whole testicles is “unclean”.  Say you have a guy with an undescended testicle — doesn’t matter if he was born Jewish or converted, according to Jewish law he’d be forever unclean and there’s no law he could possibly follow that would make him otherwise.  And yet one of the people who gets converted, post-Peter’s vision, is a eunuch.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So, when I hear “Oh, that was just the Oooooooold Testament. Totally just ignore that!” followed by thundering pronouncements about Teh Evul Buttsex based on Leviticus (an Old Testament chapter), that’s something else besides just rank hypocrisy?

  • Robyrt

    Yeah, that’s either hypocrisy and/or ignorance. Leviticus makes for a snappy quote, but its prohibition of gay sex is only valuable in an originalist, “What was God thinking when he said this?” sort of way. Sexual immorality in general is one of the few things forbidden the early church, but at that point you’re arguing translations and you’ve ruined your chance to make people feel icky about Teh Buttsecks.

  • stePH

    Haven’t been reading Fred for long, have you?

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     While it is true that internalized self-hatred is a problem (for all
    kinds of people who suffer under oppression), and that there are some
    high-profile xtian-celebrity sexual scandals of this nature, this line
    of reasoning still sucks.

    I hate that line of argument, too.  When it gets right down to it, there are white people who really, really hate black people, too.  That doesn’t mean that the person in question is actually black, nor does it mean that the person really wants to get it on with Rhianna and is ashamed by their desires.

    Some people simply learn to hate and do so without question.

  • Praxeis

    “The book reads like an
    after-school special on celebrating diversity. People — all kinds of people. No
    one is excluded. Not purity laws but people. That a major theme throughout the
    entire book. And not just that book, either.”

     

    Absolutely! No one is
    excluded on the basis of race, national origin, observance of purity laws, etc.
    And yet, this same book that “reads like an after-school special on celebrating
    diversity” constantly focuses on behavior. In Acts 2:28 Peter calls people to
    repent. In Acts 3:19 he tells them to “Repent and turn to God, so that your
    sins may be wiped out.” In Acts 3:26 Peter speaks of how “God raised up his
    servant…to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” In Acts
    8:20-23 Peter tells someone that his “heart is not right before God” and
    commands him to “Repent of this wickedness.” In Acts 10, the chapter under
    discussion, Peter explains his visions saying, “I now realize how true it is
    that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear
    him and do what is right.”

     

    In chapter 15 Peter—apparently
    referring back to the events of chapter 10—says, “God, who knows the heart,
    showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did
    to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts
    by faith.”

     

    In Acts 20:21 Paul says, “I
    have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance
    and have faith in our Lord Jesus. There is the bottom line of the book: Ethnic
    differences don’t matter. Racial differences don’t matter. All that matters is
    that people repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ in faith (which could
    be defined as “loving devotion).

  • Tonio

    Andrew Sullivan:

    You find that most of the really impassioned anti-gay activists are just
    as motivated by personal passion – whether as an early victim of sex
    abuse (Paul Cameron), or as the father of a gay son (Charles Socarides), or as a single mother abandoned by her boyfriend (Maggie Gallagher), or someone fighting to restrain their own gay feelings (Ted Haggard, Larry Craig)
    – as pro-gay activists are. This is a perfectly legitimate motivation
    for all sorts of political movements, but on the gay question, one
    should always be alert to the personal psychological undercurrents.

    If Sullivan is right, why do you think the gay question would be prone to more of those undercurrents than would ethnic or cultural differences? I agree that most average people who believe homosexuality to be wrong probably aren’t motivated by internalized self-hatred, but with the professional homophobes there does seem to be something going on in their psyches.

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/spitzer-recants-cameron-comes-out.html

  • Tonio

    This is beyond hateful:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/north-carolina-pastor-gay-rant-starvation_n_1533463.html

     

    “Build a great, big, large fence — 150
    or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Worley suggests in
    the clip, reportedly filmed on May 13.He continues: “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals
    and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know
    what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t
    reproduce!”

  • lowtechcyclist

    I agree with Fred’s interpretation of Acts 10.  But just in case I ever want to play along with Mohler’s little game , is there anywhere where he gets specific about which parts of the Old Testament are part of the ‘holiness code’ that Acts 10 supposedly tosses in the dumpster, and what parts aren’t?

    For decades, I’ve wanted to know which parts of the OT are for thundering “this is the word of the Lord!!” from the pulpit, and which parts are the ones that they get to say, “Real True Christians don’t have to do that – that’s what Acts 10 says!”

    Is it just Leviticus?  It doesn’t seem that way – there are plenty of commandments in Deuteronomy that they ignore, including those that have nothing to do with diet. 

    Like (Deut. 22:8) “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.”  I don’t see too many houses built like that. 

    Or (Deut. 10:18-19) “[The Lord] defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”  I think we know how deeply most evangelicals hold to that commandment these days.

    So even if we accept Mohler’s premise, what are the rules here?  Which OT commandments must be obeyed today, and which ones were just for the ancient Israelites?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     If Sullivan is right, why do you think the gay question would be prone
    to more of those undercurrents than would ethnic or cultural
    differences?

    Quite frankly, I think that this is a Schroedinger’s homophobia thing.  The reason those undercurrents exist is because we’re observing them.  I don’t think anyone puts too much deep thought in to why someone would be racist, for instance.  We just see it as a case of someone being backwards and bigoted.  But there’s all kinds of conventional wisdom that people who are homophobic are because they’re afraid of their own latent desires.  So we look for those explanations or some other psychological fracture.

    I think we could find similar stories to Gallagher’s or Cameron’s if we dug into a racist’s past (I.E. husband left her for a black woman, was robbed at gunpoint and beat to a bloody pulp by a black person, etc).

    The problem, though, I think is exacerbated by the very nature of that particular variety of Christianity’s attempt to repress human sexuality.  So there are a lot of genuinely confused and frightened people who are actually struggling.  But there are also a lot of people who are innocently unaware of the whole, “Holy shit, does that guy have any idea what he just SAID?” aspect of things.  Then there are wolves preying on the sheep.

    Which, really, the sexual repression dimension pretty much explains a lot of the undercurrent.  However, it’s important to note that an outsider pointing out that there are repressed is likely to get a hit, especially if they point to the major crusaders.  But, again, it can be taught.  There’s also a self-selection problem, as I’m pretty sure that people who aren’t struggling with something or other wouldn’t choose to become an anti-gay crusader.  Sometimes, though, it’s an issue of, “I’m ashamed of myself for *this*, but at least I’m not as bad as *those people*,” so they try to redirect attention, but it’s from a completely different place than the simple “homophobic = closeted homosexual/traumatized by homosexuals in some way” explanation.

  • swbarnes2

    “2)  Biblical literalism is a hallmark of the religious right.  I’m not saying Mohler COULDN’T read it metaphorically like that, but it would be very, very odd for anyone on that side of things to do so.”

    Don’t get hung up on what that particular blowhard may or not think.  Why would it be wrong for anyone to read that part “metaphorically” if reading it like that “worked” (that is, it agreed with their own beliefs about how the world works) for them?

    “Or is it that ‘liberal’ Christians know that reading the Bible ‘literally’ simply doesn’t work, and that the Spirit is infinitely more important than the letter?”

    Liberal Christians do not  know what the true “Spirit” of any text is better than anyone else, and there is no reason, other than smugness and wishful thinking, to think that they know it better than Christians with different political policy preferences.  Literalists are just as sincere in believing that they understand God’s meaning in the text as non-literalists.

  • Tonio

    The flip side to your Schroedinger’s homophobia idea is that public expressions of explicit racism have become far less acceptable over the past few decades, so we have many more examples of anti-gay crusaders available for study. With a few exceptions, expressions of racism by public figures tend to be dog whistles. And usually they’re not “crusading” against non-whites, but intstead using demagoguery to get votes.

    Sometimes, though, it’s an issue of, “I’m ashamed of myself for *this*,
    but at least I’m not as bad as *those people*,” so they try to redirect
    attention, but it’s from a completely different place than the simple
    “homophobic = closeted homosexual/traumatized by homosexuals in some
    way” explanation.

    That fits Sullivan’s point about “personal psychological undercurrents.” It wouldn’t have to be trauma specifically.

  • http://profiles.google.com/maguyton Morgan Guyton

    Brilliant piece. Thanks!

  • alfgifu

    This discussion is not about whether a section of the text should be read literally or not, it is about how to interpret a passage that both sides already agree needs interpretation.  Fred’s interpretation is arguably more literal than Mohler’s, as he is citing the context around the passage as evidence.

    The casual dismissing of other points of view here is alarming, but totally consistanet with how religionspeople usually operate. Refuse to hold this or that political premise, you aren’t a real Christiangroup member.  Someone says they believe something other than what a liberal Christiangroup member thinks, that person can’t be sincere.

    There, fixed that for you.
    Yes, it is a common human failing, but you haven’t demonstrated convincingly that it has occurred in this post.  Or provided any evidence that it is particularly endemic to religious groups.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    This is beyond hateful:

    Holy crap!

    That has got to be the most un-American thing I ever did read.

    Where is the United States of America in that horrid pronouncement? The USA whose Declaration of Independence and later Constitution set out the kinds of values the nation would aspire to as its own country? The USA which fought a war to destroy slavery? The USA which shouldered a tremendous economic burden to rid the world of fascism?

    That is not the kind of USA that this… person… is endorsing. (>_<)

  • Joe
  • EllieMurasaki

    No, it’s really not. Try again.

  • Tricksterson

    As far as i can tell the only parts of “the Old Law” they still consider valid are the parts saying “you gotta hate gays” and “women are inferior and must obey their men at all times and in all ways”.  Gee. I wonder why?

  • Joe

     Yes Ellie it is. Here’s the passage in question:

    9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
    14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
    15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
    16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

    As Peter says: :”I have never EATEN anything impure or unclean”.What part of EATEN dont you understand? God here is saying that the DIETARY code is repealed.

  • Joe

     Christians dont hate homosexuals. We are sinners just like they.

  • Mark Z.

    So God was really telling Peter to eat Cornelius. Got it.

  • Lunch Meat

    Are you being deliberately obtuse, or do you really not understand how the events in a story relate to each other? I suppose you think the Parable of the Lost Sheep was about a real shepherd with a real flock and had nothing to do with what people were saying to Jesus.

  • Lunch Meat

    Christians dont hate homosexuals. We are sinners just like they.

    Some Christians don’t hate queer people. I should know; I’m one of them. In fact, I am a Christian and I happen to love everyone (at least I try to; I’m not perfect) regardless of their sexuality. Unfortunately, many Christians do hate queer people, and a lot of them think they can explain it away as “disagreement” or “opposition” or “love the sinner, hate the sin”. But if you call people sick, depraved, abominations, disgusting, freaks? If you bear false witness about them and accuse them of doing things that they don’t do and wanting things that they don’t want? If you advocate exterminating them? If you proclaim that giving them equal rights will destroy society? Then yeah, that’s a pretty good sign that you hate them.

  • Joe

     This is BEFORE he goes to Corneilus house.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X