The HyperTexts

Is God a homophobic, intolerant bigot?

Christians claim to believe in a God who is loving, compassionate, wise and just. But many of them—the "immoral majority"—seem to also believe that God is a bigot who favors Jews over Palestinians, heterosexuals over homosexuals, and Christians over billions of other people who are all condemned to an "eternal hell" for not believing in Jesus Christ. Is there something deeply wrong with this intolerant picture?

How can someone who is loving, compassionate, wise and just be a bigot? Is God a card-carrying member of the KKK? Will the prophesied thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ produce more suffering than the abortive Third Reich's?

According to most conservative Christians, God is a homophobe. To hear them talk, if there is anything the Bible is absolutely clear about, it's the fact that God hates and despises homosexuality above all other sins. We know this because ... well ... okay, how do we know it?

It turns out that, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ never said a single word about homosexuality, so it obviously wasn't high on his agenda. Why then do conservative Christians make it seem that homosexuality is worse than the things Jesus repeatedly, roundly and severely condemned, such as hypocrisy and the lack of compassion?

Ironically, many modern-day Christians are Pharisees who condemn homosexuals for a "sin" Jesus never mentioned, while they are guilty of the major sins Jesus repeatedly and sternly condemned: hypocrisy and failing to treat other people with compassion. Jesus said that the prostitutes would enter the kingdom of heaven before the self-righteous ... does that include gay prostitutes, perchance?

The Bible says that Jesus had table fellowship with prostitutes ... why would he accept them here on earth, but not in heaven?

Christian ethics begin with the Bible and therein lies the rub. The Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) was given to us by Levite scribes who commanded and/or condoned racism, slavery, sex slavery, infanticide, matricide, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the brutal murder (stoning) of girls who had been raped, and the stoning to death of boys who were "stubborn." But Christians no longer believe that slavery, ethnic cleansing, genocide and murdering children are the "will of God." So why do they continue to stubbornly cling to Bible verses that turn God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ into bigots?

Yes, there is an Old Testament verse that calls homosexuality an "abomination." But there are more verses that call eating shellfish and other prohibited foods "abominations." So why do Christians feel free to scarf down shrimp, crab, lobster and bacon, when the Bible clearly says that eating such things greatly offends the God they claim to love? If God is perfect, unchanging and the same yesterday, today and forever, he must still be offended when Christians eat bacon and shellfish. The answer is simple: most Christians no longer believe that eating non-kosher food offends God, even though the Bible clearly says otherwise. Christians are necessarily very selective readers and believers of the Bible, or they would have to murder their own children over petty misdemeanors. They wisely ignore all sorts of biblical commands and injunctions that they find senseless. But why do so many Christians unwisely hold homosexuals to the letter of a law they have otherwise discarded?

Christians who single out homosexuality as a "special case" are hypocrites. In other matters, they decided long ago that if an action doesn’t harm anyone it isn’t a "sin," even if the Bible clearly says otherwise. So Christians feel free to eat shellfish and pork, to work on the Sabbath, and to wear unisex clothing like sweats and jeans, because such things don’t harm other people. And of course most Christians feel free to have sex as they please because consensual sex between adults is not a crime or a sin commensurate with rape or murder. How many heterosexual Christians remain virgins until they marry, and never have sex with anyone other than their first spouse? Obviously, very few. Christians who have multiple sexual partners seem to be convinced that God understands and forgives them by "grace," which would be very nice (assuming having sex is actually a "sin") if only they didn’t poison grace by insisting grace can’t be shown to homosexuals, who also aren’t hurting anyone when they have consensual sex.

Does it make any sense for heterosexual Christians to relax the rules of sex to allow themselves to do, watch and imagine things that would make Puritans blush, only to turn around and act like prudes in regard to the one form of sex that doesn’t tempt them? When Christian churches have conventions, the hotel porn rentals go up, not down. A lot of porn these days involves anal sex. So no one should be fooled into believing that conservative Christians are "offended" by anal sex. They ignore the Bible verses about anal sex, just as they ignore the verses about stoning their children, and owning slaves. But like the Pharisees they insist that other people must abide by the letter of the law, while they do otherwise.

When Christians act as if anything they do sexually can be forgiven, while insisting that homosexual sex is somehow "unforgivable," they join the fanatically religious barbarians of yore, who stoned their own children to death for having sex in non-prescribed ways, and yet claimed it was the "will of God" for them to be able to own sex slaves.  Is this "morality" or palpably evil nonsense? (The question is, of course, rhetorical.)

And what, pray tell, is the source of the Moral Majority’s obsession with homosexuality, as if it’s the only sin God continues to care about? Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, so it obviously wasn’t high on his list of things to worry about. He did, however, repeatedly and severely criticize hypocrites. So it seems very strange for heterosexual Christians to continually depend on the grace of God, then hypocritically deny any hope of grace to non-heterosexuals. Where is there any verse in the Bible that says grace is only for hypocritical heterosexuals? Of course there is no such verse.

And if we’re going to use the Bible to determine whether God is a homophobe or not, we should at least be honest about the Bible. It seems safe to say that one of three things about the Bible must be true: either (1) all the Bible is the infallible word of God; or (2) all the Bible is not infallible, but certain parts of the Bible have divine origins; or (3) the Bible’s origins are entirely human.

I believe it’s impossible to "prove" cases two and three. But if the Bible is not infallible, it doesn't really matter, since the presence of imperfections in the Bible would require people who read it to use discernment and "rightly divide" the verses worthy of consideration from the rest. So if I prove to my satisfaction (and hopefully yours) that the entire Bible is not infallible, the question becomes whether anyone should "believe" the verses that seem to suggest that God is an intolerant bigot who only shows grace to heterosexual Christians.

Proving that the Bible is less than infallible is quite easy. The core ethics of the Bible were given to the ancient Hebrews by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, Moses. According to the Bible, God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend, and Moses communicated God’s instructions to the Hebrew tribes. But according to the Bible, Moses and other "men of God" like Joshua, Caleb and King David were serial killers who slaughtered women and children in orgies of ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide. David the "man after God's own heart" slew every woman when he "smote the land" and ordered the slaughter of the lame and blind when Jerusalem was taken from the Jebusites. In Numbers chapter 31, Moses ordered his warriors to slaughter captured women and male infants, keeping only the virgin girls alive (obviously, as sex slaves). In Exodus 21, Moses gave fathers permission to sell their own daughters as sex slaves, with the option to buy them back if they failed to please their new owners. In Deuteronomy 22, Moses commanded that girls who couldn’t prove their virginity by bleeding on their wedding nights should be stoned to death. In the same chapter Moses commanded that girls who had been raped should either be stoned to death or sold to their rapists for cash payments to their fathers. These are horrendously unjust, vile, sickening verses, and anyone who doesn’t recognize them for what they are is not being honest. In these passages the Bible is far worse than Hitler's Mein Kampf. After all, Hitler at his worst never suggested that fathers should sell their own daughters as sex slaves or murder them if they were raped.

Is the Bible "infallible"? The idea is so patently ridiculous that only liars and fools can sanction it. I read the Bible from cover to cover as a young boy and was horrified time and time again by what it said about Yahweh and "men of God" like Moses and David. I agree with Mark Twain ... it wasn’t the verses I didn’t understand that bothered me ... it was the verses that I understood all too well.

A God who is loving, compassionate, wise and just cannot command the sexual enslavement or murder of rape victims, or the stoning to death of boys for being "stubborn." A God who is good cannot harden a pharaoh's heart time and time again, then slaughter multitudes of innocent animals and children in fits of pique, when he was the one who created the disobedience in the first place. A God who is good cannot fly into a rage because mothers and children  facing starvation and dehydration in a desert ask for food to eat and water to drink.

The problem for Christians is that the Bible contains what Salman Rushdie called "Satanic verses." And they’re not exclusively in the Old Testament. Some of the worst such verses appear in the New Testament. For instance, in the diabolically evil book of Revelation, John of Patmos predicted that Jesus Christ himself would return to earth to murder the children of an adulteress living at the time Revelation was written. Of course there is no evidence that Jesus ever murdered anyone, much less children because their mother had sex. In what dimension is murdering children for something their mother did reasonable, much less righteous or holy?

In Revelation, John of Patmos also claimed that human beings would be tortured with fire and brimstone "in the presence of the Lamb and Holy Angels." (So much for hell being "separation from God.") In John’s infernal book, rather than calling for mercy the "saints" cried out for vengeance and blood. Can anyone imagine Mother Teresa howling for blood and vengeance, at the foot of the throne of God? John also said that he heard all the creatures of the earth praise God, after which God immediately began to destroy them. Jesus was a compassionate man, so why would he suddenly become an instrument of destruction and begin murdering trillions of innocent animals? Any good human vet tries to keep animals from suffering. What sort of monster deliberately causes animals to suffer? And yet this is what Revelation clearly accuses God and Jesus of plotting: the suffering and deaths of trillions of innocent animals.

Thomas Jefferson called the writer of Revelation a lunatic, and I agree. Why do so many Christians try to defend such vile verses? The reason seems obvious enough: they’re afraid, and fear paralyzes their hearts and minds. They are so terrified of the unjust Jesus of John’s vision that they can’t think straight. Anyone with a functional heart and brain knows that eternal suffering is not a reasonable consequence for people having sex. If two men have sex with each other, should I torture them for all eternity, or even for a second? Of course not. So why should God, if God is good?

Orthodox Christianity seems to have lost any sense of true morality. A good human doctor who is able to save a patient doesn’t let the patient die because the patient is an atheist, an agnostic, a Muslim, or a homosexual. But according to orthodox Christianity, even though Jesus Christ was able to save the thief on the cross with a nod of his head, he won’t bother to nod his head at billions of other human beings, simply because they didn’t "believe" in him. But if Jesus is such an unjust, petty being, why should anyone believe in him?

Shouldn’t believing in Jesus involve believing something good about him? If Jesus is good, wouldn’t it be blasphemy to say that he is so petty and unjust that he would send people to hell for not believing in him, when he chose not to speak to them personally?

If I had a son and refused to ever speak to him, what right would I have to demand that he "believe" in me? Christians insist that I need to "believe" in Jesus, but that insistence is patently unjust. If Jesus wants me to believe in him, he should use his superpowers, which presumably include the ability to speak, to communicate with me. If he is unable or unwilling to communicate with me, he has no right to punish me for concluding that he is either unable or unwilling to communicate with me. And it makes no sense for him to expect me to believe things about him based on what the Bible says, because some Bible verses turn him into a monster. The only way I can believe anything good about Jesus is to not believe the main tenet of orthodox Christianity: that he will only save the "chosen few." What a ghastly thing to believe about anyone! What sort of monster would I be, if I condemned Einstein and Gandhi to hell for not "believing" in me, when I had deliberately chosen never to speak to them?

Why are so many Christians incapable of believing anything good about Jesus? They claim he is able to save, but will elect to save only people willing to believe that he is a petty, cruel egomaniac. Does that make any sense?

If you were able to save other people from a terrible fate, would you save them, or turn your back on them in a fit of pique? Many Christians try to evade what their "faith" has done to Jesus by asking what a human judge would do with a rapist or murderer; they ask, "Should people who are guilty go unpunished?" But the purpose of a prison sentence is to rehabilitate, not to cause unceasing mindless suffering for all eternity. Eternal suffering would serve absolutely no purpose, so how could a loving, compassionate, wise, just being sentence anyone to suffer for all eternity? And of course human judges are not able to "save" in the way that Jesus has been said to be able to save people who are beyond hope, such as the thief on the cross and murderers on their deathbeds. If Jesus is the savior of the world, as Christians claim, and if he is able to save to the utmost, as the Bible says, then he is not in the same predicament as human judges who sometimes have no choice but to lock people up for long periods of time.

If Jesus is able to save, and is able to save Christians despite the fact that they’re far from perfect, why would he fail to save everyone? If he is going to save people who acted as if he was an intolerant bigot, would it make any sense whatsoever for him to send Einstein and Gandhi to hell, when they never blasphemed his good name? (Isn’t it ironic that non-Christians like Einstein and Gandhi have more faith in Jesus than millions of bigoted evangelical Christians?)

Does Jesus continue to exist? I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that I prayed to Jesus in tears as a small boy, and he never answered me. When he failed to answer me, while Bible-befuddled adults turned my life to sheer hell in his name, by convincing me that I was in danger of hell every time I sneezed, he forfeited any right to my belief. Why didn’t he appear and tell me not to believe that he was the monster everyone said he was? Once again there seem to be three possibilities: (1) Jesus was unable to speak to me; or (2) Jesus refused to speak to me even though he was able to; or (3) Jesus no longer exists. If the first possibility is the case, then Jesus is not the all-powerful being Christians claim him to be. If the second possibility is the case, then Jesus obviously doesn’t care what I believe about him. If the third possibility is the case, why are Christian adults making their children’s lives hell, here on earth? How can a religion that makes absolutely no sense have originated with a loving, wise, compassionate, just God? Isn't it obvious that if Jesus Christ is good, orthodox Christianity has become a false religion? On the other hand, if Jesus is not able to save, where does that leave Christianity?

Is God a homophobe?

I don’t pretend to know. If God ever spoke to human beings, it seems he’s given up on the enterprise as a lost cause. Why didn’t God speak to me when I was a boy, and spare me the untender ministrations of his religion-addled disciples? Why does he allow his name to be blasphemed from morning to night by legions of intolerant bigots? Why have Jews and Christians killed women and children in the name of God, and taken slaves in the name of God, and burned "witches" and "heretics" in the name of God, and practiced bigotry and intolerance in the name of God, for thousands of years? Why didn’t God ever bother to say, for instance, that slavery is an abomination?

From cover to cover, the Bible is wrong about slavery. From cover to cover, the Bible is wrong about sex (what are the odds that two people will be happier if they wait until they’re married to find out whether they’re sexually compatible and can live together?). So who’s to say that from cover to cover the Bible isn’t also wrong about homosexuality?

Is slavery a sin? Not according to the Bible. Jesus never said a word against slavery, nor did the great evangelist Paul. Hell, Paul even returned a runaway slave to his Christian master. But of course today we all agree that slavery is a terrible evil. So which is worse: having sex outside marriage, or selling one’s own daughter as a sex slave? According to the Bible, it’s fine for fathers to sell their daughters as sex slaves, but if their daughters are raped, or don’t bleed on their wedding nights, they should be murdered. Is this the wisdom of God, or the bestial ignorance of barbaric, chauvinistic men? If the Bible was wrong from cover to cover about slavery and sex in general, it seems safe to say that it was always wrong about homosexuality too. So why not believe something better about God, or not believe at all? Isn't it strange and ironic that non-Christians like Einstein and Gandhi thought far more highly of Jesus than Christians who condemn other people to hell in his name? 

The HyperTexts