One of These Days My Head’s Gonna Explode
There are just certain things that drive me crazy. Most of them are silly, little things that are of no consequence—pet peeve’s, if you know what I mean. But there are other things that are important that get under my skin. Yesterday I was reminded of one.
As I was casually scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this post:
This was posted by a former student of mine from our youth group, one I haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. I have seen this exact image before, and every time I do, it makes my head want to explode.
There’s so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin. For starters, I have no idea what it means to be “against gays”. I know a lot of Christians, and I don’t hardly know any of them that I would categorize as “against” gays. To be against someone, as far as I can tell, means to take a posture of hate towards them. It means you are not on their side, that you don’t want what is best for them, that you are unwilling to care about them in any way. If that is what it means to be “against gays”, then there really aren’t many Christians like that running around.
Now, if you want to say that Christians are against homosexuality, and believe that it is a sin, that’s a different story. Believing that homosexual acts are sinful is fairly standard Christian teaching in accordance with the Bible—along with a whole host of other sexual sins mentioned in the Good Book. But I would put forth this groundbreaking idea (*gasp*) that a person can be against something while still for the person who is doing it. We see this all the time in life. If your friend is strung out on drugs, you are against them taking drugs, but you are for them as a person. You want them to have a better life. That may not be a perfectly parallel example to being gay, but it serves this point: you can love someone while not agreeing with everything they do.
This is the Christian perspective on homosexuality, or any form of sin for that matter. We are called to love people, all people, everywhere, at all times, even our enemies. But that does not mean that we always agree with what they say or do. To me this seems so utterly basic and obvious, but I guess I should not necessarily expect this to be common sense.
Back to the original Facebook post. It says that if you are against gays, then you better not do X, Y, and Z because those things are also condemned in the Bible. The charge is one of hypocrisy, picking and choosing what commands from the Bible you will obey and which ones you will ignore. Now, that is actually a fairly decent argument. Hypocrisy is, in fact, a significant problem, and one called out in the Bible (1 John 4:20, Romans 2:3, Matthew 23). However, the specifics of the list reveal that they were put together by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. Let’s briefly look at each one.
Masturbation. The Bible says nothing about masturbation. Literally nothing. I’ve read the book, cover to cover. Not one verse. So, we’re not off to a good start since this is supposed to be a list of things the Bible doesn’t support.
Pornography. Technically, the Bible doesn’t say anything about pornography either. It didn’t exist back then. But, the Bible does say a lot about sex outside of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2), which is a sin. It also condemns lust (Matthew 5:28). So, I’ll grant this is a valid one.
Eating bacon. Leviticus 11:7-8 says “the pig…is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh”. Here is where naiveté is shown. The Bible here condemns eating pork, to be sure. But condemns it for who? Who is the “you” in verse 7? The answer is: the Old Testament Israelites. They were forbidden from eating pork. However, I am not an Old Testament Israelite. Not to mention, pork is specifically allowed for Christians in the New Testament (Romans 14:14, 1 Timothy 4:3-5).
This is the fundamental problem with this list. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the Bible even is. The Bible isn’t a list of rules. Anyone who has actually read it for themselves can see this. The Bible is a big, continuous story. Along the way there are commands given, but they are given in context, to specific people at specific points in history. Some are meant to remain that way, and other commands are timeless. By reading the whole Bible we can tell which ones are which. Christian’s don’t pick and choose what to believe. They let the Bible dictate what is binding and what is not.
Having tattoos. Once again, this command is given in Leviticus 19:28 specifically to ancient Israel. I am not part of ancient Israel, so it does not apply to me.
Getting remarried. The Bible does say that people should not remarry under certain circumstances (1 Corinthians 7). But there are other circumstances where remarriage is permissible. It isn’t a blanket statement.
Gossip. Gossip is a sin (Proverbs 20:19, 16:28, 1 Timothy 5:13)—you got this one.
Play American football. Football did not exist during Bible times. Neither did America. I have no idea what to do with this one except laugh.
Have premarital sex. Another correct one. The Bible forbids sex outside of marriage.
Wear polyester. Another Leviticus one (19:19). Also Deuteronomy 22:11. Once again, this is for ancient Israel, so it doesn’t apply to today.
Work on Saturday. Once againnnnn….the Sabbath was a command in the 10 Commandments given to ancient Israel. Not. For. Us. Although, there are some Christians who observe some sort of Sabbath rest on Sunday’s.
It is frustrating that these kinds of things gain traction on the internet. They sound so clever—but only to people who don’t know what they are talking about. If you’re going to criticize the Bible, or Christians, or God, at least have a legitimate point. I’d be the first to admit that there are some decent criticisms one could levy against the faith I hold to, but silly stuff like this isn’t it. You can’t mischaracterize someone’s position in order to make a fool of it. In doing so, you make a fool of yourself.
I hope that we can educate young people to be good thinkers. Social media doesn’t do much to help this cause. Social media is a place for quick wit and catchy phrases, not careful and systematic inquiry. It’s a shame. I hope that young people manage to overcome the draw and simplicity of social media to be people who read up and learn about a subject before they feel the need to sound their opinion. If not, it’s for the worse.