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The Bible Strikes Again

Since President Obama’s public announcement of his support for same-sex marriage last week, the response from the right has shown us yet again that the Bible continues to drag our society down.   In several stories on radio and television I’ve heard people angrily denouncing the President’s stance saying, “It’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong!”

That’s it?  That’s all you got?  “It’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong.”  Is it really that hard to think with a just a little more nuance?   And how can we even begin to have a conversation with a mentality like that?

From time to time I have encountered conciliatory progressives who urge patience and moderation when dealing with the fragile psyches of the Bible believers who wish to impose their worldview on everybody else.   After all, they will say, religion has a valuable role to play.  As an inherently conservative institution, religion acts as a necessary brake or a corrective on those who would change society too quickly.   I’ve heard that argument more than a few times.  Change is good but it has to be gradual.

Why does all social change have to be gradual?  I don’t get it.  Who would possibly get hurt if same-sex marriage were suddenly legalized all over the country tomorrow?

The influence of the Bible was a huge reason slavery lasted until the 1860’s in this country. (Actually slavery persisted under the form of sharecropping well into the 1960s.)   Why did the Land of the Free tolerate human bondage for so long?  Partly because the Bible says slavery is OK.  I’d be willing to bet the slaves wished that social change had been a little less gradual in their case.

On issue after issue–slavery, women’s rights, reproductive rights, Prohibition–the legacy of the Bible in American public life has largely been a story of oppression and social regression.  The role of the Bible in American life is analogous to the role of the Koran in the Arab world.   Any difference between the two situations is merely a difference of degree, not a difference of kind.

(Actually, I’m not saying that the Bible is totally worthless.  In a post-Christian, secular society there are actually still good reasons to read the Bible, which I’ll get to in another post. )


  1. Julia
    May 19, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I so agree with you. On a philosophy and religion forum I frequent, their was an excellent thread about Bibilotry, meaning Bible idolatry and how for many Christians, the Bible is their Golden Calf.
    Oh and I can just imagine the uproar if someone pointed this out to them. I’ve been hearing, “but it’s in the Bible” for as long as I can remember.
    It wasn’t until I really studied the Bible and I mean truly studied it that I found several things.

    1) The more people truly study the Bible, the less seriously they take it. The hardcore thumpers know very little about the bible. The people who know it, know its flaws.

    2) When people say, “It’s in the Bible.” and you go look at their “proof” you’ll find that it’s not proof at all. 99% of the time it’s one or two sentences tops. And it’s a murky, grey verse that really leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It’s not as black and white as they make it out to be at all.

    3)The more I read, the more I realized that it’s not possible for a book of events that was written decades after said events, in another language, and translated from multiple languages to not have lost anything in the meaning. As we all learned in elementary school english class, ONE word can change the entire meaning of a sentence. So we are to believe that not one word was lost or mistranslated? Come on.

    4) If Christians could learn to separate the idea of God/creator from the Bible, they’d have a lot more converts. It’s the bible that is a sticking point for a lot of people because Christians too often use it’s words for judgement and hatred.

    5) I don’t care if something was said in the Bible in black and white. Pull your nose out of the book and take a look at the world around you. Let God talk to your heart. Would God want you to hate people?
    I don’t care if the bible says God will provide for you. Look around. Are there Christians who are broke and trying to feed their families, ready to lose their homes? YES! So if you don’t want to use birth control and don’t know how you are going to feed your 8 kids, don’t tell me you aren’t worried, that God will provide. YOU have to provide for yourself. Stop taking the bible literally and use common sense and your brain when handling a situation.

    I look at a religion like Judaism and wonder how Christianity got so far from it when we began down the same path. Jews are for the most part open minded people, not full of hate, they cherish the women, you’ll never hear them say the man is the head of the house and the woman should be submissive. They believe that dominion of the animals of the earth means we should treat them with kindness, not use them as we see fit. They are overall a prosperous people. Whereas, you can look in the poorest parts of the US where people are living in squalor or ghettos and what is the common religion? Christianity. I have such respect for Judaism. One can go all out and be Orthodox, or they can be reform. Is there a reform Christianity? I don’t know of any. However, I’d love to see an Extreme Church Makeover someday. But I won’t hold my breath. If it did happen, it wouldn’t be in the south where I live, I can tell you that!

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