Culture

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

Carmen
Carmen
|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.




 
 

 
431965436_640

An Open Letter to Travis Mathews

  *Dear reader, this is an open letter to filmmaker Travis Mathews. Its intent it to initiate discussion as well as introduce you to the important work of this amazing filmmaker. Dear Travis, First of all, please let me...
by Kyle
1

 
 
wallwomen1784

Recharge your Karma by Recharging your Body!

Organize a fundraising event in your Yoga studio community to support Yoga therapy and women’s health in Bhopal, India   On December 3rd 1984, at 10 minutes past midnight, a Union Carbide pesticide plant, operating under...
by Melanie
2

 
 
Coll2011-010 ACT UP/Los Angeles records

World AIDS Day: Are We Not Angry or United Enough Anymore?

What do you know about AIDS? Last week I had the privilege of watching what ended up being one of the most profoundly moving and eye opening documentaries that I have ever seen. The film, United in Anger: a History of ACT UP do...
by Caitlin
0

 

 
Art
day_without_art_World_AIDS_Day

World Aids Day: A Day With(out) Art

Today, and for the week leading up to World AIDS Day, art shows, galleries, and artists partner with grassroots AIDS service organizations to help raise funds and awareness of the AIDS pandemic. Since 1981 AIDS has resulted in ...
by Sarah
0

 
 
Art
Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 11.39.06 AM

But Things Are Changing: AIDS Action Now! Launches Second Poster/Virus Campaign

AIDS Action Now! launched their second Poster/Virus Campaign at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto last night with an after party at Cold Tea in Kensington Market, featuring DJ’s Like the Wolf and Mama Knows. The Poster/Vi...
by Ian
0

 
 
Art
Bealltainn

Apparition of the Wild: Jamie Ross Exhibits at SKOL in Montreal

An exciting new exhibit in Montreal opens this week, breaking new ground for queer artists and exploring in experimental ways how homosocial lives are lived on lands older than time. On Friday November 30th, SKOL will be hostin...
by Ian
0

 

 
Screen shot 2012-11-09 at 9.35.43 PM

It Get’s Gayer! Huge Gay Wins In The Gayest U.S. Election Ever

As I was struggling to stay awake early Wednesday morning, I was moved by the euphoric crowd of supporters on the blue-hued stage in Chicago and the eloquent and masterfully punctuated speech of the newly re-elected POTUS: R...
by Saturn
2

 
 
thegaily-halloween-archetypes

Halloween Costume Stereotypes – Which One Are You?

The Halloween Dilemna: either you’re the type to scope out the Halloween parties you (or your better connected friends) have been invited to, or you’re the type who opts to stay in, convinced that it’s because you want to...
by Caitlin
3

 
 
t&s

Tegan & Sara Are Ready To Dance: ‘Closer’ and ‘I’m Not Your Hero’ VIDEOS

Any chance to write about these two – I’ll take it. My listening relationship with Tegan and Sara began along with the insatiable need that teenage girls have for empowering emotional girl voices on constant loop on their i...
by Caitlin
3

 




2 Comments


  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 *