The Bible, Bigotry and the Willie Nelson Look

I’m sincerely sorry for doing this. I said that I would speak no more of He-who-shall-not-be-named. I want to honor that. But some of the comments I’ve seen on Christian blogs deserve a response.

The comments in question all follow the same lines: “Why is He-who-shall-not-be-named being called a bigot just for saying what the Bible says?” As an answer, let’s start with this:

I know that the logic of 1 Corinthians 11:13-16 is famously hard to puzzle out (see Mark Goodacre), but the point is easy enough to understand: women should be veiled and men should have short hair. Paul seems to consider it not just a matter of culture but actually part of natural law (“… the very nature of things …”).

And yet … that long hair. Back when I was a child in NC, we called that the “Willie Nelson look.” How much of a hearing would I get if I were to start preaching 1 Corinthians to such people? After all, I’d just be telling people what the Bible says.

Let’s go further. Jim Wallis started Sojourners with a hole-y Bible, a Bible with all the verses about “the poor, wealth and poverty, and social justice” all cut out. As a result, he’s been shunned, shouted at by Glenn Beck and almost thrown out of the seminary where he started. All for just telling people what the Bible says.

We talk a lot about marriage these days. The largest block of text about marriage in the New Testament is 1 Corinthians 7, which begins with that ringing phrase, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” Paul encourages the unmarried and widowed to “abide even as I,” and he seems to see celibacy as a higher calling. Yet I can count on exactly zero hands the number of sermons I’ve heard preached on the topic. But it’s just what the Bible says …

Do you start to see? It honestly looks to us outsiders that many Christian only care about the parts of the Bible that they can use against the people they don’t like. The whole stance of “The Bible says it, I believe it, that does it” is a total sham. For some Christians, the Bible is only useful as a weapon.

When you do this, you look like a bigot. When there is always some reason that the verses don’t apply to you, but the verses that apply to other people are always taken at face value, it look like your concern is less with the message of the Bible and more in finding support for your own prejudices.


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