[Recently, a who’s who of wealthy Evangelical assholes decided to publish a statement reaffirming Christian patriarchal, heteronormativity and it has been making some rounds online. Not surprisingly, it has provoked a renewed intensity within the back-and-forth war of words and exegesis that goes on endlessly between Liberal and Conservative Christians. I am not a Christian but I once was and since a number of my friends and people whom I try to serve at my work are queer (or Christian or both) I thought I would offer the following theses.]
In Deut 5, the Bible stipulates that if two brothers reside together (this could mean the same region rather than the same home) and one of them dies with no son, the living brother is to marry the dead brother’s wife, so that he can have sex with her in hopes of producing a son who will bear the name of his brother. If the living brother refuses to do this, the local elders are to try to convince him to do it and, if he still refuses, the dead brother’s wife has full permission to remove his sandal (denoting possibly her liberation from him or his shame or both or neither?), spit in his face, and then diss his whole household. Granted, this applies specifically to the Levites but since Protestants believe in the priesthood of all believers, well, it seems it should apply to them in the new covenant.
Or, you know, we might want to conclude that, hmmmm, we’re not really comfortable boning down with our brother- or sister-in-laws after the death of a sibling or spouse and decide, yeah, let’s give this law a pass even though it is nowhere refuted in the New Testament. Furthermore, the passage immediately after this one is about the punishment for a woman who saves her man from a fight by grabbing his opponent by the balls (“you shall cut off her hand; show her no pity”), so it’s probably a safe bet to say, yeah, those were different times. Really different times. I’m cool with not doing that now even if the good ol’ Word of God doesn’t tell me I have permission to not do that anymore.
Thesis One: There’s some really weird shit in the Bible and it’s okay to just ignore it and not take it seriously as a guide for contemporary sexual ethics.
In Ezekiel 23, YHWH, like a typical all-powerful trust fund dude-bro, insecure about the size of his, um, hands, and ever only viewing women as property, as things to be owned, complains that Jerusalem is like a woman who lusts after men with massive donkey dicks and cumshots as big as horses. In this way, YHWH explains, Jerusalem is like her sister Samaria who got off on having men jizz all over her while fondling her tits (at least I think that’s an English equivalent of what YWHW says in the Hebrew text). Therefore, YHWH is going to destroy Jerusalem just like he destroyed Samaria. Any woman who is not attracted to him alone and who is attracted to more attractive men or to men who can do sex better than YHWH can, is an horrific, whoring whore and YHWH gets off while imagining some kind of rape, snuff fantasy about Jerusalem as a young woman forcibly stripped naked as various parts of her face are carved off (and her kids are murdered).
(Revelation 17 suggests that, even after Jesus, when it comes to these things, with YHWH or God the Father, or whatever you want to call the God with the Penis, well, la plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.)
Thesis Two: Okay, so not only is there some weird shit in the Bible, but YHWH is fucked up, yo. Like seriously fucked up. Especially when it comes to women. And intimate relationships. And sex.
Tangentially, this means that the Evangelical Christians are actually right about one thing: sometimes Trump does sound like the very voice of God. When he talks about grabbing women by the pussy, it sounds like something YHWH would say.
This, then, leads quite naturally to
Thesis Three: anyone who looks to what YHWH has to say about women, intimate relationships, and sex, in order to determine how to act in relation to them, is also either already fucked up or is well on the way there. No wonder, then, that so much of Christianity is dominated by male leaders who are insecure about the size of their hands and who view women as property or, if those women refuse to be owned, as whores.
So, when it comes to Leviticus 20 and the passage that says two men fucking each other is an abomination that requires both men to be put to death (shortly before saying mediums and wizards should also be stoned to death and that married people who have heterosex while a woman is on her period are, like, super gross and should be cut off from the community), well, there’s a good chance we’re in some combination of the “really weird shit” and “seriously fucked up” part of the Bible.
(Because, hey, in John 13, we read about the disciple whom Jesus loved reclining on Jesus’ bosom. This guy gets mentioned a number of time in John’s Gospel. It seems that he and Jesus loved each other quite a lot (like love loved each other?). In light of this, it’s interesting that Jesus never got married despite the numerous female admirers that gathered with him… Regardless, however, with all this man-on-man snuggling going on, from the perspective of patriarchal heteronormativity, Jesus was, like, kinda queer.)
But Romans 1, Dan! Doesn’t Paul say that homosexual relationships are evidence of the kind of disorder and perversion that results when people stop worshiping YHWH (good ol’ YHWH) and start chasing after idols? And, sure, okay, maybe this is a somewhat veiled criticism of the imperial family and the likes of Claudius and Nero but, no matter how you cut it, homosexuality doesn’t come out of this looking great. But, here’s the thing: Paul tried but he was still a product of his time and couldn’t possibly get everything right. I mean, hey, YHWH repents at times (Gen 6; 1 Sam 15) and Jesus changes his mind sometimes (Matt 15; Mk 7) so we can’t expect that the altogether human Paul (whose, “oops, sorry for killing, plundering, and imprisoning all those people when I was younger” fuck-up is well known) to be more perfect than them.
Thesis Four: Paul’s analogy in Romans 1 is flawed and, unfortunately, has been used to justify a lot of violence against queer folks over the last two millenia.
The Bible says a lot stuff about gender, sex, and intimate relationships. Some of that stuff is pretty weird. Some of it is super fucked up. Some of it seems okay-ish. A lot of it only becomes understandable in a specific context (and, note, understanding something in one context does not require a person to apply it in another context or even approve of it in any context). Christians on all sides play language games in order to affirm the reading they want to read and in order to determine which parts are weird, which parts are fucked up, and which parts are okay-ish. On the one hand, Conservatives are down with the gays being an abomination and so they read the Bible one way (and abuse and abandon their queer children in all kinds of abominable ways — this is actually a major cause of homelessness in youth in North America). On the other hand, Queer or Queer-friendly Christians are down with non-heteronormative and anti-patriarchal expressions of gender and sexuality and action and so they read the Bible another way (see, for example, the Denver Statement which was written in response to the Nashville Statement). I for one, however, question the value of appealing to the Bible at all when it comes to such things. I reckon there are better tools to think about things like love, intimacy, identity, sex, and fucking, than this curious compilation of ancient, sacred texts. I mean, where does the Bible talk about the importance of informed, non-coerced consent or the three Gs proposed by Dan Savage?
Thesis Five: Really, I think all of us, everywhere, would be a whole lot better off if we cared a whole lot less about what the Bible has to say about these things and cared a whole lot more about, well, each other.