July 10, 2011

Sunday Skooled: I’m Not Homophobic, But The Bible Says It’s Wrong

More articles by »
Written by: Carmen
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
biblical interpretation

I’m about to launch on a fairly brainy rant, but I’m an academic so give me a little leeway.  I have to say (to your credit, dear readers) that when it comes to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, most people are fairly self-aware, self-exploring, seeking answers and incredibly articulate.  Because when the majority of the world still pushes the community to the sidelines, you kinda have to be.  So I’m sure you’ll follow…

I went to seminary thinking that all people who were religio-politically (is that a word?) more conservative than me were “fundamentalists.”  Yet there are many people of faith across different traditions who are conservative but would not identify as “fundamentalist.”  Take Christianity, for example (easy for me, being a pastor and all…):  There are many “conservative” Christians who do not necessarily believe or argue that the Bible is the inerrant WORD OF GOD, but like their even more radical sisters and brothers use the biblical texts as THE reason for condemning homosexuality, bisexuality, and anything else that remotely smacks of sexually/gendered “other.”

One of the most important books I read (which I’m not recommending unless you’re a total academic religion freak) in seminary was called “Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation” by Dale Martin.  In it, Martin names what I found so confounding – the tendency to hold on to particular religious ideas so tightly that the belief is almost the same as that of a fundamentalist.  He calls this tendency “foundationalism.”

Martin describes foundationalism as being different from a fundamentalist belief in the inerrancy of scripture.  He says “foundationalism… holds that the Bible provides, or should provide, a secure basis for doctrine and ethics, at least if we interpret it by the appropriate methods.”  This is why you hear the excuse, “Oh – I’m not homophobic – but the BIBLE says it’s wrong.”  Martin points out that such arguments are based on the person’s inability to see their own interpretation of the text and how it brings meaning to their lives.  While they might acknowledge that the Bible is not necessarily a historical or factual “guidebook” to human history, they still cannot shake the idea that it is the foundation of their ethical and moral beliefs and therefore their choices.

What is interesting to me is that foundationalism is not found only in religion.  It is actually based on scientific foundationalism which holds that our observations about nature will prove to be secure and true.  Given the contemporary theist/atheist debates happening about the existence of God, it’s funny to me that both sides are arguing from a place of fear; each clinging to the ‘foundations’ of their own belief, as it were.

Atheistic arguments might seem more appealing, at times, to the LGBT community as a kind of pendulum swing away from the damaging religious foundationalist persecution and exclusion of all things gay.  But that doesn’t mean that all atheists are open and accepting.  I happen to know a very virulent atheist scientist who believes that science (because of it’s natural ‘foundations’ at the genetic level) will soon unlock the genetic sequencing to prove that both pedophilia and homosexuality are genetic diseases.  Idiocy does not discriminate based on religious belief (or lack thereof), apparently.

So why does any of this matter?  I think that knowing there is something tangible to be named, some way to describe that grey area of homophobic religious (or atheist) behaviour that pains many of us is important.  When we start to shine the light of thinking through why arguments are or aren’t helpful, then we get closer to realizing the inherent connection between us all.  Whether or not we can use such critical mumbo-jumbo to change the minds of the haters is another story, but we can always live in hope, right?

About the Author

|Religion Contributor| I'm a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, and adjunct faculty at the Starr King School for the Ministry where I teach 'Global Religious Traditions.' I have a weakness for RoCo's (romantic comedy), non-fiction, and slurpees. I'm a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation on the central coast of British Columbia, and I'm also a poet. Sometimes.



KONY 2012: Why Are Evangelicals So Into Uganda?

Anyone who hasn’t been under a social media rock for the past week is aware of the Kony 2012 video and viral marketing campaign started by Invisible Children. The goal is to convince US policymakers to intervene in the ongoin...
by Joshua


Jewish Culture, Commercialization, and the Glee Christmas Special

The commercialization of holidays is not a mystery to North Americans. We see it, we buy into it, and we acknowledge its presence. What struck me, after watching Glee’s Christmas special was that not only does the commerciali...
by Kyle


Hillary Clinton Appoints Ellen Degeneres as Global HIV/AIDS Envoy

Who better to spread the word of an “AIDS -free generation”? Our beloved lesbian sister Ellen Degeneres was appointed Global HIV/AIDS Envoy by the equally awesome Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The announcemen...
by Dallas



American Fast Food Hotspot Chick-Fil-A Feeding the Pockets of the Anti-Gays

Attention Americans, and all those that have ever or will ever consider visiting there! If you support all things queer, do not set foot in Chick-fil-A. You would think with a name that immediately appealed to me as a lesbian, ...
by Dallas


Christian Gift + Candy = JesusWEEN! Christians Attempt To Rid Us Of Fun. Again.

“Christian Gift + Candy = JesusWeen” ~ Jesus Ween on Facebook Attention all ye sinners who choose to celebrate Halloween by dressing up in heinously anti-biblical fashion and cavort with equally disgusting individua...
by Dallas


Elton, Seuss And Others on Coming Out, Why It’s Ok Out Here

Did you know that yesterday was National Coming Out Day? Did you come out? If you were already out did you declare your homo-ness to the masses? Well, in a world that generally worships those in Famousland, celebrities often ac...
by Dallas



UK Threatens End To Foreign Aid Over Anti-Gay Policies

It is rare for me to ever support anything that is anti-gay. In fact, it has never happened. So, with the news that the UK may discontinue providing foreign aid to countries that have anti-gay legislation, I should be cracking ...
by Dallas

alison redford alberta premier

Yeehaw! Alberta Elects Feminist Female Premier Who Maybe Likes HomoGays

In a province that celebrates calf-roping and Wranglers, and smells of horse manure after a day of rain we never would have thought the day would come. Well, (r)evolution is upon us here in the Wild Rose province as our new Pre...
by Dallas


Transphobic Ad in National Post Bites Institute for Canadian Values in Tight White Asses

If you have been on Facebook in the last 24 hours you have undoubtedly by now come across numerous posts about this transphobic ad in the National Post.  Sponsored by the ‘National Think-Tank’ promoting Christian-J...
by Dallas



  1. “such arguments are based on the person’s inability to see their own interpretation of the text and how it brings meaning to their lives.” – ain’t that the truth??

  2. Ty

    Had to repost this on my fb today.. love your writing Carmen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *