Scriptures used to promote tolerance of homosexuality deep in the heart of Texas

Scriptures used to promote tolerance of homosexuality deep in the heart of Texas September 11, 2009

CHRISTIAN homophobes in Texas had better avoid travelling along Interstate-30, just east of Fort Worth, or risk an attack of the vapours.
Why? Because of the appearance of a series of billboards which use the Bible to promote tolerance of gay people.gaybillboard
One sensitive religiot who spotted a billboard containing a pro-gay message was Christine Lutz.

I cringed. I was disgusted at the same time.

The billboard angered Lutz so much, that she fired off a stern e-mail to the sponsors.

I said how dare you take the scriptures and twist it to fit your needs.

According to this report, there are four billboards with similar pro-gay messages along I-30 that have started a fierce debate among Christians in North Texas.
Rev Jon Haack, of the Promise Metropolitan Community Church, said:

If we go back to the gospel readings, we don’t find anything within those texts that discriminate or exclude against gay and lesbian people. Gay and lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people are part of God’s creation too.

Rev Haack is with one of five local churches sponsoring the billboards that advocate gay acceptance by all Christians.
One billboard reads:

The early church welcomed a gay man.

Another declares:

Jesus affirmed a gay couple.

gaybillboard2The billboards were put up along I-30 between Grand Prairie and Fort Worth and the negative e-mails are already coming in. Said Rev Colleen Darruagh, of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas:

There are people who have told us to reread our Bible which is the very question we’re asking others to do. We’ve had people say, ‘How dare you take the name of God in vain’ and that God hates homosexuals.

Pastor Sam Dennis, of Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, says Christians shouldn’t hate gays. He disagrees however with the billboards’ use of scripture to back a pro-gay message.

I’m hard pressed to find that scripture advocates that it’s alright to live in a gay lifestyle. Just like I’m hard pressed to find that scripture advocates that’s it’s alright to live in an adulterous relationship or as a wife abuser or as a murderer.

The five local churches sponsoring the billboards are part of the Worldwide Metropolitan Community Church which has a predominantly gay congregation. The roadside signs will be up in North Texas throughout September. For a closer look at the billboards check out the website whywouldwe.org and wouldjesusdiscriminate.org.
Meanwhile, we learn that the Catholic Church in Uruguay is beside itself with fury because Congress has legalised gay civil unions, making the country the first in Latin America to take this important step towards equality.
According to this report, the Catholic Church has said its opposition to gay unions is

Non-negotiable and Catholic politicians have a moral duty to oppose it.

Under the new law, both gay and straight couples will be eligible to form civil unions after living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and child custody.
Several cities, including Buenos Aires and Mexico City, already have gay civil union laws on the books. But Uruguay’s law would be the first nationwide measure in Latin America, which is home to about half the world’s Roman Catholics.

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  • Lutz said "I said how dare you take the scriptures and twist it to fit your needs." Of course the religious idiots never do that, do they? Pot-kettle-black!

  • heng

    They really have twisted the scripture to suit their needs. Only one of those passages seems to say what is implied (unless eunuch in the bible means something other than eunuch).
    But there's the problem with scripture. You're either a fundamentalist who ignores contradictions (contrary to your view), or you twist the bible to fit your own views.

  • Alan C

    How the hell is quoting scripture exactly as written in the buybull twisting it? The problem with most fundies is that they have never read their "holy" book and only know the bits told to them by their pastors.

  • name(erforderlich)

    Well…reading the passages from the bible i cannot find the meaning they see in those verses, but even if it has the message…it’s just a dusty old book 🙂

  • When I was quite a young boy, and quite aware that I was gay, I read these stories – David and Jonathan and the Ethiopian Eunuch in particular – and IMMEDIATELY understood what was really going on. I never said anything to anyone, for obvious reasons, and always took great delight in seeing the evangelicals squirming uncomfortably as they tried to explain away these passages! Therefore, I can only say that I am delighted to see them receiving such wide publicity. However, I have to sympathize with Christine Lutz here, I'm afraid. What this all boils down to is yet another group of misguided fundies claiming that the Bble supports THEIR view of the world, and going through scripture passages with a fine toothed comb, analyzing every single word, just to prove that they don't really say what everyone knows that they are really saying! I refer in particular to their ridiculous semantics over the prohibitions on homosexual sex by such people as "The Apostle Paul" and the writer of certain passages in Leviticus. (Cont.).

  • They are also trying to explain away the instructions given in Corinthians regarding the position and role of women in the church in a similar way – just because it doesn't fit in with modern attitudes. They so desperately want to believe that this book of theirs is the infallible, Spirit-breathed Word of Jehovah that they will go to almost any lengths to make it say things that it patently does NOT say! Why don't they just wake up and smell the coffee instead? The Bible is a collection of myths and fables, some of which are very interesting, but contains little moral instruction that is relevant in any way to life in the Twenty-First Century. It is most certainly NOT "The Inspired Word of God"!!

  • Amusing how Christians react when played at their own game. Do you think she has any problem with the 'Family Rights' scapegoat artists and rich Pat Robertsons using their interpretations of scripture to influence views on homosexuality?

  • I agree, heng: see my comments below. (BTW, when I wrote these, both your comment and Alan C's were not visible, so I have been caught out yet again!)

  • But these passages aren't nearly as clear as they are pretending, Alan C, otherwise people would have seen all this donkeys' years ago!

  • To read the reat of this post you will now have to click on to barriejohn, above!

  • sailor1031

    I know a few members of the MCC and I can assure BarrieJohn that they are certainly not fundies in any way. But they are, largely, christian. They've suffered enough from not only fundies but also from mainline xtian churches and if they want to use scripture in this way I think it's only fair. As for the passages that these quotes are taken from, I don't agree that they are not clear. They are quite self explanatory. Obviously king david the darling of the prophets was a bisexual (and a pitiless murderer……)……maybe it's just time to throw all this bible crap out and start believing true stuff?

  • This was areply to erforderlich, but I screwed up again!

  • This was areply to erforderlich, but I screwed up again!

  • This was a reply to erforderlich, but I screwed up again!

  • This was a reply to erforderlich, but I screwed up again!

  • You need to become an expert in Ancient Hebrew or New Testament Greek. then all will become plain!
    "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – nothing more or less" : Through the Looking-Glass (Lewis Carroll).

  • You need to become an expert in Ancient Hebrew or New Testament Greek, then all will become plain!
    "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – nothing more or less" : Through the Looking-Glass (Lewis Carroll).

  • That's just what I said, sailor boy! However, there is no evidence outside of the Bible that either King David , Jonathan, or Ruth even existed. Did the Centurion, or the Ethiopian Eunuch, of the NT stories even exist? These are myths. How can you argue that a mythical figure was "straight" or "gay"? When you look at the website you find that these Christians are going in for textual analysis, just as if God had really "inspired" ancient people to write these actual words on His behalf. He did not. Even if you think that God exists, it is NOT His literal word in that sense!

  • I said how dare you take the scriptures and twist it to fit your needs.
    You mean like religious people have been doing since the beginning of time? And tell me that's not a mixed-fiber top she's wearing. Yeah, I know–they're all under the New Covenant now and none of those old Laws apply except the stuff about gay people. Always some convenient excuse as to why the Bible applies to everyone they don't like yet they themselves don't have to follow anything that might inconvenience them.

  • name(erforderlich)

    Hey Barrie,
    you CAN read it in that way and seeing King David as bisexual, but i find it just as easy to read the love of a friend which is more than the romantic love of women (or a variation of bro’s before ho’s).
    But i am no bibel scholar and only know translations (in particular german, though i read part of english translations). Maybe it is clearer in the original…
    Cheers,
    Chris

  • sailor1031

    time then to stop believing this crap isn't it, barrieboy?

  • Pastor Sam Dennis would be hard pressed to find that scripture advocates a spherical earth, it does rather persistantly advocate a flat earth though. If he thinks that the Bible doesn't justify murder he can't be very farmiliar with it either.

  • Excellent barriejohn! Also from the same source:
    "I can't believe that!" said Alice.
    "Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."
    Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."
    "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

  • It's very good of Pastor Sam Dennis to say that "Christians shouldn't hate gays"! However, he then goes on to equate being gay with adultery, wife abuse and murder, which rather exposes him as not being quite the tolerant, non-judgmental, trendy vicar that he makes himself out to be!! (And he has pages and pages on the web, BTW. I wonder whether he had to have his doors widened to get his big head through?)

  • Lewis Carroll is one of my favourite authors – his exposure of pomposity and hypocrisy is hilarious!

  • Again – that's what I said! But I USED to believe it all!!

  • And that's why I don't understand these people in the MCC. If, as you say, they are intelligent enough to see through all this fundamentalist clap-trap, why are they analyzing these ancient folk stories word by fucking word to try to "prove" that the Judaeo/Christian god approves of homosexual relationships, and doesn't really command women to take a subservient role to men? What on earth is the point of the exercise? Can't they just accept the Bible for what it is, instead of trying to imbue it with some sort of "divine" wisdom?

  • Sorry – I wasn't being serious there! What I meant was that they use their "knowledge" of the ancient languages to make the Scriptures say absolutely anything that they want. I came across this all the time as an evangelical Christian. I don't think the original is clear at all here, but my INFERENCE is that this was a homosexual relationship. I don't think the language used PROVES whether it was or wasn't, though.

  • mikespeir

    On the other hand, tu quoque isn't much of a rebuttal. Maybe we shouldn't be doing what the "religious idiots" are doing.

  • tony e

    Prick a trendy vicar and you'll find an intolerant prick underneath.

  • sailor1031

    I guess they are trying to show that anyone can use bible text to support or oppose anything and that the bible is just a mass of contradictions. If the fundies can mine it for quotes so can they. A lot of the MCC folks came from strict protestant backgrounds and are in rebellion to a degree. I guess the MCC is a liberalising step for most of them – maybe on their way to being unitarians where they can spin wheels for a few years before accepting that it's all a bunch of nonsense and they don't need it. It's a well-worn path.

  • Raycol

    Though I sympathise with the aim of the billboards, some of them don’t seem to be too accurate. One, illustrated in your article, says “David loved Jonathan more than women. II Samuel 1:26”. What this verse actually says is "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women”. In other words, Jonathan loved David. Nowhere does it say that David loved Jonathan in return. It seems that Jonathan was gay, but not David. The billboard is wrong.

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  • William Harwood

    Clearly Raycol is unfamiliar with 1 Samuel 20:41, "They kissed each other and wept with each other until David ejaculated." 2 Samuel 1:26 reads, "My brother Yahuwnathan, your love for me was ecstatic, surpassing the lovemaking of women." (The Fully Translated Bible, available from Amazon)
    Might I suggest that, before a well-meaning amateur tries to correct people who DO know what they are talking about, he either learns to read the original language, or at least quotes from a translation that has not been deliberately falsified to hide the true meaning of the original.

  • mikespeir

    "They kissed each other and wept with each other until David ejaculated."
    I think I'd like to see a reference on that. There's no version or translation I know of that puts it that way. Although I am no Hebrew scholar, I have looked up the word and can't find any justification for such a rendering.
    From Strong's:
    gâdal
    gaw-dal'
    A primitive root; properly to twist (compare H1434), that is, to be (causatively make) large (in various senses, as in body, mind, estate or honor, also in pride): – advance, boast, bring up, exceed, excellent, be (-come, do, give, make, wax), great (-er, come to . . estate, + things), grow (up), increase, lift up, magnify (-ifical), be much set by, nourish (up), pass, promote, proudly [spoken], tower.

  • William Harwood

    Prior to The Fully Translated Bible–which I cited, so the reference to "no version or translation I know of" suggest a failure to read the whole paragraph–no translation ever correctly rendered the dual-sex generic plural, ha-allahiym, as "the (male and female) gods," and instead falsified it to the male, singular, proper name, "God." The FTB corrects all such intentional mistranslations designed to conceal that bible authors did not believe the things taught by modern religion.
    Ben-Yehuda's Pocket English-Hebrew Dictionary translates ha-gediyl as "to make great, increase". As a religious publication and therefore part of the conspiracy to conceal the real meaning of biblical passages, it also translates allahiym as "God", even though it correctly translated allah as "goddess." Quoting anything published by a religion , such as the Strong's dictionaries, as authoritative, is as naive as quoting Wikipedia.

  • mikespeir

    'so the reference to "no version or translation I know of" suggest a failure to read the whole paragraph'
    No, it simply reflected that I, in fact, don't have access to any translation that puts it that way.
    Furthermore, I'm not buying your vast conspiracy theory. Nor, for that matter, have you given me any reason to. That you've come up with some obscure translation that purports to "correct" what centuries of scholarship has so masterfully hidden reminds me of the Independent Baptist's defense of the KJV as the "true Word" or, even better, the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation, whose "scholars" have found all kinds of mistranslations designed to cover up "the truth."
    BTW, you might want to check the Septuagint on that verse. The word there is μεγá½±λης, and there isn't any doubt as to what that means.

  • It certainly does seem to be the case that it was Jonathan who was obsessed with David, but then the latter wasn't exactly rebuffing him, was he? If you read all the passages referring to their relationship it certainly seems that there is more going on than meets the eye! In I Sam. 20 it says: "Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse and rebellious woman, do I not know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?" These accusations are quite plain, and Jonathan makes no attempt to refute them, so he presumably acquiesces in his father's judgment.

  • I think you're shooting yourself in the foot there, mikespeir! The evangelicals with whom I used to consort also believed that the translators of the KJV (although mainly "men of the cloth") were divinely led in the decisions that they made, and the Trinitarian Bible Society produced reams of material which castigated every other modern translation from the RV onwards. This, of course, is because King James's translators very definitely had an agenda of their own, and worked assiduously to produce a "translation" which supported accepted doctrines of the day (and of the King!). The only way to ascertain what the Bible really says is to get back to the original texts and look at them dispassionately. The Septuagint won't do, as that, although considered very reliable, is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures! Admittedly, there will still be confusion over what individual words in the original meant precisely, but at least we will have a better idea of what that might have been!!

  • I might add, as I have also said above, that I give no credence whatsoever to the idea that these ancient texts were in any way "divinely inspired". They are a bunch of myths and legends. Whether "Jonathan" and "David" really existed I have no idea – certainly they were not the characters portrayed in the OT, just as King Arthur, if HE existed, was not the knight in shining armour of more recent stories. My belief is that they were two mythical lovers, but even if you can prove this from original texts that doesn't mean that "God approves of gay relationships"!!

  • I do sympathize with your point here, mikespeir. As I have said below, when you engage in this word for word analysis of ancient texts you are in danger of lending weight to the idea that those texts have some deep significance which they patently do not. Most are myths, legends and fairy stories. However, when the texts have been translated in the past every translation has been influenced by the beliefs of the translators concerned, and some of what we have are translations of translations (eg using the Septuagint or Westcott and Hort) believe it or not, so it might be a good idea if we knew exactly what it was that the original texts were saying!

  • mikespeir

    Yes, the KJV translators had their agenda. So do they all. So does William Harwood. But when every objection seems to be met with cries of "Conspiracy!" I can't hang onto interest very long.
    The reason I brought up the Septuagint is that is an ancient Greek translation by people who spoke the Hebrew tongue more or less as it appears in the OT. If anyone would have known what the word gâdal really meant in this context, they would have. Of course, maybe they were in on the conspiracy, too? (Speaking of contexts, it would probably be enlightening to go through the many verses where the word appears in the OT and see if some conjugation of "ejaculate" would fit. I rather doubt it. In fact, I've done that cursorily. I sure can't see how it would work.)
    Look, I'm an atheist. To me the Bible is nothing more than an intellectual curiosity. If it did say "ejaculated," I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep. I don't order my life by the Bible and I certainly don't have an anti-gay agenda. And for all I know there's a lot of good in this work. Perhaps mistakes are corrected here and there. In this instance, though, where one man (although I'm sure he has allies) seems to stand against the whole of current and historic scholarship–when even the layman can see that there would be nothing cut-and-dried about the interpretation of this verse even if his suggestion were supported by majority scholarship–I can't take him seriously.

  • William Harwood

    Anyone who can dismiss as "conspiracy theory" the observable reality that ALL religion-produced bibles make the same deliberate, conscious, blatant mistranslations for the purpose of pretending that bible authors believed what modern religion believes (most notably the falsification of a word meaning "male and female gods" into "God", a character that does not exist in the Hebrew bible), would be well advised to heed Mark Twain's warning: It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
    The corrections made in THE FULLY TRANSLATED BIBLE are supported by the best biblical scholarship of the past several decades.
    Amateurs have a legitimate right to ask scholars for clarification. Accusing them of being wrong is pretentious insolence.

  • William Harwood

    PS: The Septuagint was created several centuries after the Priestly author introduced Zoroaster's homosexuality taboo into Judaism. So its translators had the same motivation to change a Hebrew passage that contradicted their theology into something innocuous in Greek, as modern bible producers do when they falsify embarrassing passages into something innocuous in English.

  • William Harwood

    PPS: The AV's translation, "until David exceeded", leaves little doubt that King James's translators were fully aware of what the Hebrew passage really meant. Keep in mind that the Samuel/Kings books were written at a time when David having a gay lover was viewed as no more of a big deal than his willingness to marry his son to his daughter (2 Samuel 13:13), or that he ate eggs for breakfast.

  • When, in your opinion, would the books of Samuel and Kings have been first written? They must have contained many earlier Jewish myths and legends, so to what period of history would you date these stories of Jonathan, David and Solomon? These characters obviously didn't live during the period suggested by Archbishop Ussher and others, otherwise the evidence would be there, which it is not!

  • William Harwood

    To quote from THE FULLY TRANSLATED BIBLE, PART ONE OF TWO, page 195, "The books of Samuel-Kings were completed during the Babylonian Captivity, but borrowed from older chronicles dating back perhaps as early as the tenth century. It is not possible to separate all of the conflicting and incompatible narratives…. Passages found in either the Masoretic text or the Septuagint, but not both, are identified as interpolations."
    Let me quote from my review of DAVID AND SOLOMON by Finkelstein and Silberman (http://www.midwestbookreview.com , Sep 2007), "In the appendix, 'Did David Exist?' F & S effectively refute the conclusions of 'minimalists' that he did not…. While historians who accept that there really were kings named David and Solomon have some problems to explain away, those who reach the opposite conclusion have even bigger problems."

  • mikespeir

    "Amateurs have a legitimate right to ask scholars for clarification. Accusing them of being wrong is pretentious insolence. "
    Really? Which scholars? Are you saying "the best biblical scholarship of the past several decades" believes gâdal should be translated "ejaculated"? Somehow, I doubt it. Do these scholars publish online so I can check?

  • mikespeir

    I'm having trouble finding anything particularly scholarly on the Internet at all, one way or another. There's a lot assertion from each camp, but I pretty much dismiss that. One Christian (conservative) site went to the trouble of pointing out that scholarly opinion siding with a homosexual relationship between Jonathan and David seems to have come along mostly since Kinsey. They clearly meant this as a negative, implying that in a newly taboo-lax society there was a freedom to read into the texts something that wasn't there. But it could be as easily taken the other way. Perhaps the inhibitions that had prevented a more accurate rendering had abated somewhat, allowing consideration of possibilities heretofore unthinkable.
    Anyway, I'll keep looking. I think I'm going to buy the book, at least.

  • William Harwood

    If you are going to buy a book by Finkelstein and Silberman, the one I recommend is The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of the Sacred Texts, which I described in a review as, "a groundbreaking re-examination of early biblical history that later scholars can ignore at their peril. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for David and Solomon. While it expands some of the information in the previous book, it says nothing new."
    Neither scholars nor theologians use the internet to publish significant conclusions. Someone who has not read the books of Michael Arnheim, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, Robert Eisler, Freke & Gandy, Richard Friedman, Maurice Goguel, Kersey Graves, William Harwood, Randell Helms, Hoffman & Larue, Martin Larson, Dennis McKinsey, Gerd Ludemann, Burton Mack, A.J.Mattill, Robert Price, Rene Salm, Thomas Thompson, and G.A. Wells, cannot possibly know what points scholars agree or disagree on. A couple of those authors (I will not say which) reach conclusions that I view as ranging from doubtful to ridiculous. But they nonetheless deserve to be read by anyone trying to discover the facts.

  • mikespeir

    Actually, I was talking about your book or, rather, books: the Fully Translated Bible. I do hope you do more than just translate, though. I hope you include justifications, especially in the cases of such controversial passages as that under consideration here.
    It's not that I can't be persuaded, and I do hope you're persuasive. But there are more than a few crackpot PhDs out there. I don't learn cosmology from Gerardus Bouw or human origins from ICR or the Discovery Institute. I find it especially suspicious when one contradicts standard reference material. Still, you might be thoroughly right. I'm going to take a look.

  • William Harwood

    With the exception of issues on which there is widespread disagreement, such as whether Jesus was a real person from history, I do not contradict the findings of scholars, defined as persons who start from the evidence and reach only conclusions that conform to the evidence. Those of my conclusions that have been called controversial have been reached by many previous scholars. I do contradict the assertions of theologians, defined as persons who start from predetermined conclusions and distort the evidence to whatever degree is necessary in order to make it fit. Persons with no specialization in biblical history tend to confuse the latter with the former.
    Since you are interested in reading my books, I strongly recommend God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion, which does to religion what the first photographs of the Martian surface did to the canals myth.

  • William Harwood

    PS: While The Fully Translated Bible contains copious interlinear notes, and a detailed explanatory introduction, the kind of justification you are looking for can only be found in God, Jesus and the Bible. With any luck, a one-volume edition of FTB will be available by the end of the year. At the moment the most concise version is in two volumes.