If Gay Christians Go To Hell, So Are The Ones Who Don’t Recycle

If Gay Christians Go To Hell, So Are The Ones Who Don’t Recycle June 9, 2014

Last week, I wrote a couple of pieces on Gay Christians which has generated a lot of discussion across the web (one of them has been shared 177,000 times, which is crazy).

One of the most common responses to the idea of accepting gay Christians, is that some folks feel this is a no-room-for-discussion, black and white issue that is clearly covered in scripture. For these folks, the case is clear: gay Christians who have not repented are going to hell. The position on this end of the spectrum is that the verses don’t need to undergo an exegetical process beyond the predominant historical position.  These six verses, so the argument goes, simply mean what they appear to mean in the plain English. The case is closed for discussion– gay Christians go to hell.

Fine. But there are two sides to that same coin– because if gay Christians are automatically going to hell, so are Christians who don’t recycle plastic.

Don’t believe me? It’s a black and white issue covered in scripture. To try to convince me otherwise would be a replay of serpent in the garden– “hath God really said??” (an accusation often lobbed at me).

You see, in the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible) it does describe God’s coming judgement– it even talks about his wrath. Just take a look at how God’s future wrath pouring is described in chapter 11:

“The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18)

It’s right there in black and white. If you accept the inspiration and authority of scripture, one must affirm that there is coming a time where God will be giving out judgements and rewards. At the coming judgement, the Bible says in a straightforward way that God is going to destroy unrepentant gay Christians people who did not properly care for the environment.

That means my friends who don’t recycle plastic are going to end up in the same boat they think all of my gay friends will automatically be in (if God judges them by their own level of judging others). Why? Because unrecycled plastic, among so many other things, is destroying the earth.

Many plastic items are borderline evil: they’re products designed to be used once and then thrown away, but are made out of a material designed to last forever. Crazy, isn’t it? We use a product that is basically indestructible for single use, throw-away situations. It is truly an odd logic.

What’s more tragic is where plastic often ends up: the ocean. The problem of plastic in the ocean has gotten so bad, that we now officially have an area called the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is an approximate 5000 square km area of the ocean that is saturated with plastic. Scientist had warned in the 1980’s that with the trend of plastic ending up in the ocean, such a “garbage patch” would occur in an area where opposing currents trap the plastic.

The key problem, as discussed by the Harvard Gazette, is the fact that plastic breaks down, but doesn’t degrade:

“Plastic can float for centuries. It doesn’t biodegrade into component materials, but can be broken down mechanically into tiny bits of plastic. It can act to magnify chemical pollution in the seas, since it attracts some types of pollutants, which are passed on to creatures that ingest it. One estimate is that there’s more plastic floating in the oceans today than plankton, the tiny drifting plants and animals that form the base of the ocean’s food web.”

What we’re starting to see as a result of this breaking down of plastic without degrading, is not so much what you would imagine a “garbage patch” to look like, but would better be described as turning the ocean into a plastic soup.

Yup, we’re turning parts of the ocean into a plastic, toxic soup.

Not to mention all the other things we do to destroy the earth… carbon emissions, destroying the rain forest, over harvesting animal species, pollution,… the list goes on.

Once again, what do the holy, infallible scriptures have to say about people who destroy the environment?

“The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18)

The fact that God would be so angry at people who live in a way that is destructive to the environment, makes sense in light of Genesis. In what we often refer to as the “original mandate” we see that God’s original plan (job/role) for humanity was to be a caretaker of creation (the environment). The opposite of God’s plan, would be for humanity to become a force that is destructive towards the environment.

Which, is exactly what we’ve become in so many ways.

So, want to draw hard lines on the issue of sexuality and say that, no matter what, all the people who are X, Y, or Z are out, and that there’s no room for God to judge the individual heart?


But, you also need to do the same thing with people who don’t recycle.

It’s what we call being consistent.

But here’s what I think (the readers digest version of Repenting of Religion by Greg Boyd): God is the only being in existence who fully knows each individual, human heart. Even when someone sins, it is only God who knows the reasons why they sinned or even still do sin (and what level of culpability they are to own). I think it is perfectly valid to debate and explore the meaning and application of various biblical texts and it is perfectly valid to help people apply biblical truth when you are speaking from the inside of their sacred story. What is wrong, however, is to declare that you factually know a certain individual is without question, going to hell. That is something known but to God.

But like I said– if you’re going to make such declarations based on a person’s sexuality alone, then to be consistent, one must make the same level of judgement based upon an individual’s recycling habits. Personally, I am uncomfortable cosigning someone to hell based on external appearance of either issue.


If you want to explore the Pacific Garbage Patch more, check out this documentary from Vice (they make the best mini-documentaries on the web)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kyle McComb

    I think you picked a poor example of condemned behavior (not recycling), especially given the ambiguity of the verse you used (considerably more ambiguous than those on homosexual behavior, not to say that there isn’t ambiguity there)… But I strongly agree with your point.

  • Cory N Jamie Gilliam

    It does seem people are blind to the myriad of text in the Bible that name explicit sins yet harp on the stuff dealing with sexual expression, style of clothing, “bad words” or body ornamentation yet forget this verse. Destroying the good things of the Earth has to be the most devastating of any of the things I listed. Those who willfully do it for a profit and then try to lie about doing it are criminal at best. Their cushy, privileged position will not stand at when judgment day sneaks up on them. I believe most of the major wars being fought today are just pissing contest to see who is going to be king of the garbage mountain that is looming over us. At least the meek stand to inherit a new earth after the vultures are done away with.

  • Cory N Jamie Gilliam

    Actually he did not and I’ll tell the reasons. The behavior he is highlighting in this article, in contrast here to the 6 prohibitive passages that pertain to certain same sex activities, is actually going to destroy this Earth. The other things clearly condemned in scripture, such as idol worship, adultery and homicide also pale in comparison in respect of what is slowly being done to the planet. Most of the stuff that serves as sin in mostly interpersonal in nature but here this has to do with a sin against the whole of creation ie The Earth which largely ignored. J/S

  • AJ

    On the bright side, Climate Change is something the Republicans can’t blame on LGBT people (seeing as how CC is a myth and all…)

  • DrVanNostrand

    I’m disappointed with this blog entry. In your previous entry discussing Gay Christians, you encourage Christians to reconsider long-held beliefs, approach key Scripture verses with a fresh set of eyes, and to at least give some thought to the fact that other exegetical interpretations of various Scriptures exist.

    However, in this post, I find none of the exegesis that you extol in your previous post. It would have been nice to see you exegete Revelation 11:18 and support your conclusion that the phrase “those who destroy the earth” refers to those who do not recycle.

    Granted, one plausible interpretation of “those who destroy the earth” is that the phrase refers to the ecologically irresponsible. On the other hand, that phrase could also refer to people who literally destroy the earth through warfare or it could be referring to those who corrupt the earth.

    The Greek verb diaphthero can mean to destroy, kill, or ruin in the physical sense, but it can also refer to moral ruin or corruption. That verb is used twice in verse 18; the thorny issue with exegeting this passage is determining how the verb is used both times and whether the verb could have different meanings each time it is used.

    I contend that the verb has two different meanings in Revelation 11:18. In the first usage, God is the subject, and thus the verb should be given a meaning connoting physical destruction. This is consistent with other passages, such as Genesis 8, in which God executes judgment by undertaking destructive action. The second usage of the verb arguably refers to individuals who damage the earth through immoral conduct. Not only is this an acceptable rendering of the verb diaphthero, but it is also consistent with the overall message of Revelation.

    I’m not arguing that this interpretation is definitive, but I do believe that it is not only a plausible interpretation but also one that is more faithful to the overall message as stated in Revelation. Regardless, I am open to considering other viewpoints.

  • Kyle McComb

    You make a very good point. My only problem was that “destroying the earth” could be interpreted a number of ways, as a physical destruction, a spiritual/moral destruction, or a destruction of people… It’d be necessary to examine the Greek. With that said, the verses condemning homosexuality are ambiguous as well for entirely separate reasons, but that’s an entirely different discussion…

  • Kyle McComb

    And this is the exegesis I would have liked in the article. Although I’m a bit confused as to your point (so you do not agree with Benjamin, correct?), I’m glad that someone took the time to examine the Greek.

  • nabil89

    Benjamin did not do proper exegesis on purpose. The purpose of the article is to say: If you take the gay-related verses on face value, then you should also do that with other verses. If we do that, pretty soon we will all be going to hell ;)

  • Mr Gray

    I see a massive opportunity of fishing and sorting plastics in key areas such as the Pacific where they build up. Vast islands of plastic collect and I am sure a suitable vessel or platform could have a massive effect on catching the plastics as they build up and collect. Essentially there is a vast opportunity here for recycling.

    It is easy to look at a situation in dismay but there is also hope and opportunity in this.

  • You got it :) I was trying to show what you are forced to do when you do not exegete a passage.

  • Sylvia Leierer

    I saw a video clip of baby birds who were born in an area where the plastic swirls in the ocean, not far from Hawaii. The babies starve to death because the mommy bird doesn’t know what plastic is, she always got food from the ocean. Islands are just dotted with baby birds who starved to death and workers would move the carcass around and there was the plastic in the pile of debris of what used to be a bird. It’s very sad.

  • Sylvia Leierer

    Okay, I’ll read the article.

  • DP

    This is one of the dumbest blog posts I have ever read. People who waste their time writing garbage like this should be mandated to repay me for the 5 mins wasted reading this. Your failed attempt to correlate the LGBT community sins with ocean litter is not only ignorant, but to even attempt to correlate the two based on a single scripture demonstrates the garbage that pollutes society today. True, it is not any man’s ability nor place to judge another man, however, the Bible blatantly condemns, in many verses, the acts of homosexuality no matter how you interpret the scripture. Maybe a round three at Gordon-Conwell will better equip you in understanding of the scripture so this garbage doesn’t begin to fool you into believing you’ve developed something insightful.

  • nate

    We already are going to hell. The whole point of the law is that it reveals how far we are separated from God. Wether it’s stewardship of creation, sexual purity, care for our neighbors, whatever. We all fall short- He forgives and saves the everyone who repents and submit to His Kingship.

  • Jon Fermin

    this article makes false assumptions that opposition to homosexual behavior and disregard for the care of this planet are 2 mutually exclusive opinions, if not in scripture then in praxis. the problem is in order for that to work, he needs to prove it is mutually exclusive in praxis. failing that, the argument is specious. you are correct in saying both are a problem, Benjamin, that does not necessarily mean we should address one issue to the exclusion of the other. this logic applies to fundamentalists and progressive christians equally. (for the record I am a practicing catholic who pays as much time applying humanae vitae as he does caritas in veritate and thus am neither a fundamentalist or what passes today under the umbrella term “progressive christian”)

  • Bruce K.

    This is so ridiculous a thesis, it does not deserve a response. Kudos to DrVanNostrand for giving it a go. I wouldn’t have wasted the time.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Sorry, I don’t get your point then. Same gender sex has been and continues to be fully and (I think) adequately exegeted for thousands of years. You could have simply said we are not given authority to judge any individual in a single sentence if that was all you wanted to say.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Bad application of biblical texts doesn’t, however, justify more bad application.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    Rather engaging rhetoric; or perhaps its just a hot topic, but 177,000 shares says you’ve got something goin on in yo brain boy. I like your hypothetical conclusiveness: eg., “if you …. then you’ve gotta ….” And your main point is spot on: we are not called to “judge” others [now].

    Still, are we really talking apples to apples here? No, as a number of comments have already noted. On the one hand you’ve got a definite moral behavior category with something like 3500 years of specific clarity, and on the other you’ve got a general principle that requires exegetical nuance and reasonable contemporary contextual extrapolation to establish; same gender sexual activity versus creation mandated husbandry regarding recycling plastics. The literal yet ambiguous use of “destroyers of the earth” in Revelation hardly comes close to the specificity of proscribed moral behaviors; all the more so since the author of Rev. himself undoubtedly included same gender sexual relations in the category of _porneias_, or “sexual immorality.” The author’s use of the term earth also seems to be in contrast to heaven; since the earth is emblematic of the created order (as you implicitly affirm regarding ecological issues) it would therefore include matters regarding gendered sexual–creational–relationships as well. So, “those destroying the earth” would likely in the mind of the author of Rev. include those engaging in acts considered to be sexually immoral. Just sayin’

  • $105158253

    Well thanks for confirming that you really have no idea hat you are talking about.

  • Joel Hathaway

    When a post begins with some reference to how many times a previous post has been shared, it typically doesn’t go up from there. Straw man articles through.
    I’m more intersted in the bigger question: if Christians who struggle with homosexuality are “Gay Christians” why not have sub-cagtegorical labels for Christians who struggle with race, arrogance, or child abuse: an ” Arrogan Christian,” a “Racisit Christian” and a “Child-Abusing Christian”?

  • If you don’t know what’s different between being gay and being a child abuser, I’m not sure anything else I could say would really be helpful to you.

  • Joel Hathaway

    That’s a rather insufficent response. Other than the fact that child abuse is illegal, and homosexual practice use to be… You’re still avoiding addressing the main question: why the need for a sub-category, and discuss it in terms of other politically correct and politically incorrect sins?

  • Jane

    When did Papa become so complicated?;)…wow..do I love “the simplicity that is IN CHRIST! !!!

  • WOW! That is what you believe that scripture means? This is what perpetual education buys?

    When it comes to homosexuality, grace, abortion etc, I can always expect someone to surprise me. I’ve seen debates where verbally bludgeoning people to death in the name of God reaches a level that rivals the dark ages. Not this time. It wasn’t that at all. It’s your claim that Rev 11 is about recycling, or even environmentally grounded that brought today’s surprise.

    Listen, I absolutely believe in our obligation to care for Gods creation, but seriously?

    I totally get the point you’re trying to make. I make it all the time. Mankind has an obsession with creating a moral scale by which degrees of sin are ranked and filed. Rev 11, tho? Where’s your scripture back up for that one in light of it’s obvious meaning?


  • I’d like to know one other thing. You often use the long-held beliefs of early Christian leaders to legitimize your argument and validate your claim to the “only” truth w/regard to other topics. Can you tell me what homosexuality meant to Christians for the first few hundred years post Christ as you have with other subject matter? You make them seem so inerrant, I can’t help but believe that they must have some influence on your thoughts.

  • Cory N Jamie Gilliam

    I’ve also may written this with a little sarcasm but still I believe that greed and the love of money is actually a tight stronghold for Satan and his minions. One might forget the devil got turned down when he offered Christ all the Kingdoms of the earth (therefore implying absolute control and obscene riches, not just the power to rule or make decisions). Christ is seen as the good King willing to put himself out for His subjects, ruling with beneficence and humility, whereas Satan wants to have profitable endeavors that benefit a select few but do nothing good for the whole. Kind of ironic that Satan wanted to control something that has such limited resources and will surely bring his demise when they run out. Satan and his angels i.e. the vultures, will be banished along with anyone else that has conspired with them. The love of money is the root of all evil” makes even more sense in this light and is why I see things the way I do. Thanks for helping me clarify in a more straightforward way,

  • Cory N Jamie Gilliam

    True. Another interesting point. It is also safe to surmise that those who are most immediately being affected by Climate and ocean pollution/destruction are also being plunged into despair. This kind of hopelessness can destroy the spiritual ties a man has if he gives in to it. Obviously this kind of critical, radical disruption can be another toe hold for the Enemy to push people away from God toward Nihilism. Trials can either build you spiritually or tear you down but Satan is always the one unleashed as the test giver. I would like to think we could do something to minimize such devious temptation by eliminating as much suffering as possible. This is article highlights one such place.

  • Kyle McComb

    ” I would like to think we could do something to minimize such devious temptation by eliminating as much suffering as possible.” I like that. I love being able to have rational discussions on blog comments, doesn’t happen very often lol

  • Daniel

    I feel that a lot of comment posters here are missing the clearly satirical tones. :( It’s really too bad. I really enjoyed this article and I felt that Benjamin L. Corey made it really clear that his “poor” exegesis of the Revelations quote in the article is a representation of that which fundamentalists and conservatives provide us, especially when the says its what the Bible says in “plain English”. Obviously this isn’t his tone; he’s adopting it to make a humorous point. I suppose that one has to remember that typical conservative American humor is very egocentric; nothing can be funny that doesn’t in some way make others, i.e. minority groups, feel lessened as human beings, if they happened to hear or read the joke. Saying who can go to hell in a joke only seems to jive for them only when it’s about someone they could never be; in those cases, it’s always hilarious. What a poor sense of humor I’m observing from this lot of responses. Well, maybe that will change once they realize need a better sense of humor to deal with a changing world. Maybe… Or maybe they’ll just keep on feigning ignorance and making up their Bible, and it’s all still 1961.