"Do You Think It's Fair for Religious Leaders to Cherry Pick Certain Things From the Bible?"

Comments

1
This is a great line of argument, Dan, great to see it catching on.
2
You're not a Christian, Dan, so you wouldn't understand. Real Christians are guided by their faith and the Will of God when they interpret Scripture. The Holy Spirit will let you know what chapter and verse are appropriate for your need if only you let it into your heart! The Bible is not merely a book, not a collection of words, but the instrument through which the Almighty speaks to his followers.

Or anyway, that's the line of bull I expect will eventually be propagated in response to this line of attack. If superstition has one final, unassailable rhetorical redoubt, it's Special Pleading.
3
For those who're interested in Whatshisface's comments about Jesus referring to Genesis 2:24, the passage in Matthew (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea…) concerns divorce and adultery. The key verse for the reply is Matt 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery". As the footnote in the href mentions, "Some early mss add 'and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery'"
4
They use religious arguments to ban same sex civil marriage. Gay people have always been able to have private religious unions. It would be against the Constitution to ban that. However, it is the civil marriages and unions that are needed for legal reasons, and nobody questions religious arguments against that when religious marriages will always be legal.
5
FYI, Thomas Roberts is out, gay, and a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in his youth.

http://bit.ly/cJBUXX
6
Damn! He gave him just enough wiggle room to evade the question and talk about the law already on the books instead of answering the cherry-picking question directly.
7
@3: You sure you don't mean "Whatshitsface"?
8
Seems just as fair as anyone else cherry-picking from that book.

It's all about using it in a way to try to govern to morality instead of governing with a set of ethical standards and principals that one would apply to all situations.

I get why you're doing this, but you can show these assholes that they are using the book incorrectly, and why, or you can get into these pointless, never ending arguments with them. The latter, in the end, will accomplish the same thing as anyone who advocates their position - it will solidify their resolve and place them in stronger opposition to a thing they never should have opposed in the 1st place.

Education, along with zealous advocacy, is the only thing that is going to change people's minds that doesn't involve gunpowder (or, since this is gay rights, I suppose we could call it funpowder).

So, get the blue books out or get the infantry rifles out (or, get your former Rick Santorum tactics of hilarity out, 'cause that was incredibly effective), because what you're doing now is a giant waste of your time.
9
No, Dan, you're misquoting the good Pastor. What he cited was Jesus quoting from Genesis.

I think the real story here is that Jesus said something, which means it applies to Christians, but what he said is from the Old Testament, which means it doesn't apply to Christians. So it... only applies to Christians who aren't Christians? Hang on, I got lost...

Anyway, whatever. Fuck those guys and keep up the good work(s).
10
Sometimes I get nostalgic for the days when the only Bible verse anyone could quote was the one about suffering a witch to live. Sucked for the nonconforming women, but hey, life is full of little trade-offs. (/snark)
11
Here's what Paul said about marriage: "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (I Cor. 7:8-9). Not exactly a ringing endorsement of God's perfect plan and the bedrock of civilization.
12
Hopefully at some point they stop doing all this litigious, layered reinterpretation bullshit and come right out and say 'We just hate gays, lol.' That will make things a lot easier for everybody.
13
Everyone in the Qunited States of Gaymerica must believe the bible the way Danny believes the Bible.
14
A proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution which would make marriage between a man and woman the only legal union recognized by the state has passed a statewide vote, the Associated Press reports.
The referendum- North Carolina Amendment One- goes a step beyond outlawing same-sex marriage, which was already illegal in the state. The law decrees that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”- meaning that civil unions and potentially other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be legally recognized.

Support for the amendment was strong- with about 61 percent of North Carolina voters casting their ballots in favor of the amendment, and roughly 39 percent voting against it.
15
If they're reading this post, aren't they already at their computers?
17
My problem with this line of reasoning is that it's missing the real question: why does that the Bible say have *anything* to do with laws that govern those who do not accept it (or that interpretation of it) as their 'holy book' in the first place? By all means let people refrain from eating pork or wearing mixed fibers or marrying someone of the same sex if they wish and for whatever reason they wish; but to legislate to prevent others from doing so, they need a far more compelling reason than because their Bible/Koran/Talmud/etc says so.

The problem with getting into the issue of "which parts of the Bible might be relevant" is that it could be seen as implicitly accepting that these religious books *are* relevant as a basis for civil law - if only we could figure out an interpretation that everyone could agree on. Eventually it may reach the realization that - hey, everyone has different views, so perhaps that's not a good basis for law - but more likely it will get bogged down in "because God/I say[s] so" arguments and never get that far.

I'd really like to see one of these folks being asked directly: given that this is not a theocracy, why does what the bible may or may not say have to do with whether two atheists of any sex can or can't get legally married...
18
Matthew 5 is pretty clear: No cherry-picking, no line-item veto. Old Testament is law. Not just for Hebrews with long black coats. This means YOU, Goober. You're on the hog-greased track to Hell.
19
@17 I completely agree with. I spent years studying religion and the "holy texts" so I could understand their side and defend myself against attacks (you can only be told you're going to hell so many times before you start taking it personally). But ultimately the average person going to church isn't going to listen to a pointed critique of the Nicene Creed or anything else that shows the contradiction within their faith. Good luck to all who want to keep up that fight, but I'm going to put my efforts behind the battle for separation of church and state.
20
@19

Good luck with your battle for the separation of church and state. Unfortunately, there is no place in the constitution where it discusses, explicitly, the separation of church and state (it is simply that there can be no blocks placed againstthe free worship of a religion), and amending that document is near impossible these days (the last time it happened, the 27th amendment, was congress setting up the apparatus to give themselves pay raises in the same session of congress in which the raise was voted in...a thing that used to be taboo. So, unless you can somehow include individual congress members getting cold, hard cash in your plans to keep these things separate, I'm afraid you're doomed to failure.)
21
As fewer young people fall for the fairy tales, superstitions, shams & hatreds of organized religion, it's no surprise that those who make a living peddling religious voodoo are desperate to do whatever it takes to defend their fragile egg-shell world.

Though we can expect popes, bishops, priests & pastors - who all depend on the religion business - to circle the wagons, the good news is that people are starting to wake up & see religion for what it is ...a pathetic attempt to take us back a few hundred years to a new Dark Age.
22
@20 (malcolmxy): I strongly suspect the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia -- would like to interpret it out of existence, but the Establishment Clause still precedes the Freedom of Religion Clause in the First Amendment, right where it's been since 1789 and as explicit as ever.
23
If you can't discuss your opposition to gay marriage without referring to religion, it's an unconstitutional law, shit-for-brains. That's how the separation of church and state works (PCM @22 has it right).

Too bad the voters in North Carolina are too damn stupid to understand that.
24
Dan Savage doesn't read the comments to his own blog posts.

If he did, I'd be able to tell him here why he's wrong to think he'll move the national debate so much as a centimeter, even if he manages to utterly demolish the biblical case for gay intolerance in open debate.

Here's a hint, Dan: The Christian students who walked out of your talk, in their hundreds, did not stop to listen to your arguments. They didn't so much as turn their heads. Watch that video from the back of the room again, and think about it.

Or don't. You've already got more professional obligations than hours in the day, and on the whole, we're all probably better off with you sticking to those obligations, instead of wasting your time reading the (let's face it, largely inane) responses to your blog posts.
25
Why is the Bible being used to justify legislation at all? I don't care if it's Old Testament or New Testament, religious beliefs should not be the source of laws.

The Christian preacher is wrong for citing the Bible as support for Amendment One. That should be the argument -- not whether he is hypocritical for citing Old Testament scriptures to support his homophobia.
26
You have to realize also the significance of the Old Testament passages that you quote.. Genesis is the story of creation in the Pentateuch whereas Deuteronomy is a book in the Pentateuch dealing with laws and covenants. It's unfair to quote from Deuteronomy because the laws and rituals described and illustrated in the book no longer apply to modern Christians. This book does not apply to the modern Christian because they believe their covenant-based duty was wholly fulfilled when Jesus was crucified. There's a lot more technical theology that goes into it but I really do not feel like spending an hour to explain myself on a blog that most people will ignore.

Just thought I might give you some insight.
27
You have to realize also the significance of the Old Testament passages that you quote.. Genesis is the story of creation in the Pentateuch whereas Deuteronomy is a book in the Pentateuch dealing with laws and covenants. It's unfair to quote from Deuteronomy because the laws and rituals described and illustrated in the book no longer apply to modern Christians. This book does not apply to the modern Christian because they believe their covenant-based duty was wholly fulfilled when Jesus was crucified. There's a lot more technical theology that goes into it but I really do not feel like spending an hour to explain myself on a blog that most people will ignore.

Just thought I might give you some insight.

However, America is not a Theocracy and the Bible should not be used to dictate law..that much I agree with.
28
@27

Fair enough, but there are other texts on moral philosophy that are very much used to dictate not just particular laws, but the forms and systems of law itself. Should we toss all of these out? If not, then why should we adhere to some dusty old books on morality and political structure, but not to other texts?
29
It doesn't matter that Dan won't change the minds of the true believers. The point is that he will raise the question of how the Bible is interpreted. I think once you abandon the pretense of Biblical literalism, the major battle is won, but I think Dan needs to go a little further. It's important to give an explanation of how a person might be committed to the Bible while still allowing for the modern innovation of legal, same-sex marriage. There are plenty of ministers who support gay rights who have already accomplished this task and can help! Their explanations need to be mainstreamed, and that's where Dan can perform an invaluable service. No, you won't persuade the 20% whose fears are entrenched and hostile, but you WILL persuade a certain bulk of the middle. Give them a palatable option for being Christian gay marriage supporters--or at least make it seem so mainstream as to become inevitable. This is already happening. I realize the religious right is incredibly far-out right now, but not all moderates and conservatives have followed them out there, even though the formal Republican party structure has.
31
The Bible = The Cat In The Hat to me. It's about ignorance, fear and hate. Period. Go Dan!!!
32
@31 The Cat in the Hat was full of ignorance, fear and hate? Goodness. I must have been reading the abridged version.
33
@24: "The Christian students who walked out of your talk, in their hundreds..."

It was between 20 and 25 students out of about 3000 in attendance, no hundreds. Which means that the vast, vast majority, most of who were probably Christians themselves, stayed and listened.

Why do you think the right latched onto that whole incident like barnacles on a ship? Because Dan does make a difference, which frightens them. They know the younger generation are listening to Dan and people like him and getting different ideas from what their parents and religions are telling them. So any chance they get to show Dan in a bad light they jump on and beat to death to discredit him.

If Dan wasn't making a dent they wouldn't be so focused on that incident.
34
yeah, he's a "doctor" all right.
35
Their magic book shouldn't be the basis for public policy in any case, no matter what it says.

You can debate the Bible forever with these people, making more and more specific arguments until you all disappear up your own assholes, or you can address the root question - why is one religion's holy book used as a lawmaker in a secular, multicultural nation?
36
@22/@23

I hate to be a contrarian (no I don't), but the portion of the 1st Amendment now referred to as the Establishment Clause actually hasn't existed as it currently reads since 1789.

In 1789, this is how it read:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.”

A compromise was made in the ratification process, and what you see currently in the 1st Amendment (which, of course, wasn't even part of the original draft of the Constitution) was ratified in 1891.

The intent (and, I ain't sayin' it's right, but contracts are about intent and a meeting of the minds) of the amendment when written, as it applies to religion, was simply that no religious practice be infringed upon. They actually WANTED the state to encourage religion, and christianity,specifically.

I know about all the case law since, so I don't need the lecture. Still, there is no separation clause, regardless of the establishment clause.
37
Isn't it time for someone to propose some sort of initiative that would make one of the less tolerable Biblical laws into a civil law? I'm thinking that we could go with Jesus' denial of re-marriage after divorce. After all, if, upon marriage, a man and a woman become one, then any remarriage would be between a man and a woman and another man or woman. We could call it the defense of marriage law.

I suggest this purely as a completely dickish move to get these self-proclaimed Christians to demonstrate their utter lack of principle.
38
#18: actually, Matthew 5 isn't clear on that subject at all. The whole point of his sermon is that people need to purify themselves rather than following the law. So the idea was that if we criticize the Pharisees and other law teachers (and they did), it doesn't mean we get to abandon good behavior. Rather, we hold ourselves to even higher standards than the law. To do this, though, it is immediately obvious that we need to do things that are actually incompatible with, and contradictory to, that law! So Jesus says, you've heard of "eye for an eye", right? And now, you're going to break that law by turning the other cheek to the enemy who strikes you. There is no way to have it both ways, and it's pretty clear which side Jesus is on there. So... yeah, Christians are going to Cherry Pick from the Bible as a whole, if they want to follow Jesus. And I would say that following Jesus means embracing every gay person fully, not in a "hate the sin but love the sinner way", but fully as someone who was created by God as your brother or sister and is inherently valuable AS a gay person.
39
@32: Well, the Fish demonstrates some xenophobia by demanding that the Cat leave as soon as he arrives.
40
@13 - I'm not sure what a Fagocracy is, but I'm sure that it will be fabulous.
41
@37 I agree with you. This should be the opening line in any debate Dan has with the NOM-Tony Perkins alliance.

Step 1 - Quote Tony Perkins faith based support for a ban on gay marriage

Step 2 - Quote the relevant bible passage(s) prohibiting divorce and remarriage

Then ask:

"Would you support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between a non-divorced male and female?"

Of course, divorced males and females can have private ceremonies, sign health care proxies, power of attorney forms, leave money to each other in wills. But the state must not endorse that what god clearly disapproves of. Right?
42
30, You keep saying that, but it's a myth. The Bible was not the basis for European morality. In the beginning of organized Christianity, if you were a Christian, you were a Catholic. It was the only game in town. The Catholic Church became the most powerful political force in Europe, more powerful than any monarchy. It also was the most corrupt force in Europe. Perhaps you're aware of Martin Luther nailing his complaints to the Catholic church's door?

Later, monarchies began to assert themselves, and took much of the power back from the Catholics. (See Queen Elizabeth I) Then in the late 1700s and early 1800, the people started taking the power away from the monarchies.

Morality has always changed with the times, and so has the way people interpret the Bible. It's so called morality has always been subjective. Christian people have always used the Bible to justify the agenda of the period. Torture of non-believers, The Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, burning of witches, slavery, subjugation of women, segregation, anti-miscegenation laws, etc. all justified using the supposed "moral compass" called the Bible.
44
43, The popular morality of the day shaped the way the Bible was interpreted, not vice versa.