For LGBT folks and allies the holidays are often rough. When we’re least expecting it – while watching a football game, opening presents, preparing a meal – the insults come seemingly out of nowhere. And so often, we shy away from responding because we know the retort will invoke God and the Bible.
Try to engage in a real conversation from a place of confidence, integrity and even, if you’re not feeling it, from a place of compassion and love.
All week long, HRC is offering tips and strategies to help guide you through what may be a difficult holiday season, as part of our Religion & Faith blog series, “Debunking the Myth: How to Stand Your Bible Ground This Holiday.”
Today, we’ll discuss how to handle when someone says, “The Bible tells me homosexuality is an abomination. It couldn’t be clearer.”
This kind of statement is usually backed up from Leviticus 18:6, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.” Or, Leviticus 20:13, “A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed.” Theologians worth their salt will not read these texts in isolation but will put them into the context of the full passage, the ancient Jewish culture, and the overall meaning of such restrictions. You should feel empowered to do the same.
You might say something smart like: “These are the only two verses in the entire bible that explicitly deal with homosexuality and they are both part of what’s called the ‘Holiness Code’ from Leviticus 17-26. The holiness codes outlaw a lot of things, like wearing garments of two fibers such as cotton socks and a wool sweater, eating shellfish, getting a tattoo, or working on Sunday. Leviticus also calls for the death of those who commit adultery, or brides who on their wedding night are discovered not to be virgins, or even disrespectful teenagers. There are all sorts of violations that we overlook now because times have changed and what is seen as an abomination has also changed.
Reclaiming the Bible: Don’t stop with showing how smart you are. Remember, to stay in a dialogue. Ask to read the text together and to explore with a whole lot of compassion why a holiness code might be important for the Jews of ancient Israel. You might discuss the ways in which persecuted people enforce codes of behavior to separate them out from other people or why for a persecuted and endangered people it would seem important to enforce restrictions that favor increasing the population.
Then perhaps explore what kind of holiness codes you might have as a family: (always show up at funerals, be prepared to take care of the kids in the family no matter what, call on holidays and birthdays, etc.)
Have you tried this strategy out? Let us know in the comments below how it worked out or if you had a different kind of Bible conversation. Though this series is intended for Christians in anticipation of the Christmas holiday, stay tuned to the HRC blog for more religious series.
And for more resources from HRC’s Religion and Faith program, visit http://www.hrc.org/issues/religion-faith.