1. kdknyc says

    Thank you! I’m always glad to see calm, reasoned arguments directed at those people who pick and choose what they want to believe from the bible, and then try to impose on the rest of us. I understand that these people generally close their ears and flee, but maybe–just maybe–some of them will hear.

  2. kit says

    Yes! Beautifully and succinctly argued. If all of these so-called Christians want to us all to follow their Bible, we need to have a very open discussion about exactly what it contains — all of it, not just the parts that their closted ministers obsess over.

  3. UFFDA says

    The slavery in the Bible has its ironical corollary in those people who continue to enslave themselves TO the Bible.

    A friend of mine recently visited the Sea of Galilee where he said he found that he could only wade in the water, but not, like Jesus, walk on it. “That’s OK, I told him, at least you’re not lying about it.”

  4. Arbogast says

    Did she say she’s no journalist?! That clip contained some of the best journalistic debate I’ve encountered this week. Keep up the good work.

  5. kpo5 says

    The manufactured outrage on the right is shameless. I counted 17 links to a Savage-related story on the Breitbart homepage. Wasn’t he buddies with the GOProuders?

  6. Dan says

    Its about time!!! I have been saying this for years !!! Throw it back at them!!!Good job girl!! Keep up the good work !! Wait till my book comes out!!

  7. The Milkman says

    Perfectly reasonable argument, well-stated. Of course, that’s all a moot point. You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into.

  8. ratbastard says

    The Bible, Koran, Talmud, etc. are all full of crazy BS. They were written thousands of years ago aimed primarily at a captive, ignorant audience and have been used since then for control and to maintain and increase if possible, power. They’ve also been poorly translated and deliberately mistranslated to serve contemporary needs.

    And yes, slavery was a commonly accepted practice, including among Africans. Many people alive today probably had ancestors ho were enslaved at some point.

  9. ChrisM says

    Amazing video. Go Zinnia!

    And to point out another melodramatic journalistic moment from the Christian right, here is the ACTUAL title of one of the articles she quoted: “Christian Teens Say Gay Activist Made Girls Cry.”

  10. Milo says


    There is a logical disconnect with your and Dan’s position that the Bible is pro-slavery. You see, the Bible–as you accurately point out–put some rules and regulations on the practice of slavery, while not condemning it. According to that logic, anyone who advocates that teenagers use condoms is promoting underage sex. According to that logic, anyone who advocates clean needles is promoting drug abuse.

    The problem here is not the Bible. The problem, as many abolitionists have written, is the misinterpretation of the scriptures. People do this sort of thing all the time. They neglect to look at the scriptures in their appropriate historical and cultural contexts.

  11. Caliban says

    Milo, any book that tells you can beat your slaves so long as they don’t die from the beating within a certain amount of time, but it’s OK if they die from the beating after that time (what, a lingering painful death is BETTER?!) is pretty effing pro-slavery.

    For many years I was a dealer in rare books. During that time I purchased a treasure trove of Civil-War era books, everything from Southern troop records to the collected sermons of Ministers who preached in support of slavery using the Bible to support their argument. There wasn’t just one of those books I saw, but several. There was a whole industry and market for books giving the Biblical defense of slavery, to salve the consciences of Southerners (and others) defending the practice of owning other humans.

    Just as there is now an industry and market for media citing the Bible in defense of homophobia, to salve the egos and consciences of those who insist they’re not prejudiced against gay people even as they lobby to limit and take away our rights.

    You can try and split hairs all you want but the truth of that matter is that the Bible DOES support slavery, it does get one of the largest moral questions mankind has ever faced WRONG, Christians DO ignore the Bible’s rules when they’re personally inconvenient to themselves, so to single out the proscriptions against homosexuality is, as Dan Savage said, bulls**t.

  12. Milo says

    @ Caliban: The abolitionists clearly saw the logical fallacy in “regulation without condemnation” = “promotion.” I don’t know why its so hard to understand today.

  13. bigflip says

    what about divorce? As stated already, choosing what you will follow and what you won’t is an amazing aspect of religion. If you so chose, you could pick several other rules, laws, comandments that are no longer followed or are ignored by the throngs of bible followers. Slavery is one example.
    what the question needs to be is why do I have to follow or be held by laws or rules that I do not beleive? Why do some feel that they need to express their beliefs to me. Hate the sinner not the sin.
    I know this was some crazy rambling, excuse me.

  14. says

    Milo, I think it’s worth noting that the God of the Bible allegedly saw fit to destroy entire cities with fire for their sexual immorality (or inhospitality, however you interpret it). If this same God (or, you know, the authors speaking on his behalf) had any objection to the practice of slavery, it seems likely he would have been more direct about his opposition than merely regulating how many years you can keep your slaves for, and how harshly you can beat them. After all, why would a God see any need to conform to human customs of the time? He certainly wasn’t content merely to issue “rules and regulations” to Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Whoever wrote the Bible had every opportunity, when slavery was mentioned, to express their opposition to it altogether – perhaps in the form of fire raining out of the sky upon slaveholders. But no one did. And their comfort with slavery enabled followers of the Bible to be similarly comfortable with slavery.

    In any case, I appreciate your thoughts.

  15. Caliban says

    Milo, by laying out rules for who how slavery CAN be practiced the Bible gives tacit approval to the owning of other people.

    The Bible does not, for instance, give laws for how to go about adultery in a Holy manner, it condemns adultery outright. And I’m pretty sure adultery existed then too, particularly since women were property for all intents and purposes.

    So slavery isn’t the only issue here. Dan Savage cites passages that say a woman who isn’t a virgin should be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. The Bible says that if a woman is raped her rapist should marry her AFTER he pays her father for cheating him out of a dowry. The Bible says women should obey their husbands and never take leadership over or preach to men. (I’d LOVE to see the Concerned Women of America address that.) In short the Bible says ALL SORTS OF THINGS which even Evangelical Christians disregard as antiquated, outdated, or just inconvenient. They practice their own brand of moral relativism on a grand scale.

    Of course Christian apologists have come up with excuses for why those cumbersome rules no longer apply, for instance claiming that there is a new covenant despite the fact that Jesus specifically said “his Father’s” rules still applied and he was himself an observant Jew who followed those rules himself. And many of the rules that modern day Christianists disregard are from the NEW Testament, so we’re not just talking about things from Leviticus that were supposedly supplanted by a new gospel.

    Just look at Jesus’ teachings about charity, ostentatious displays of religious faith, and using religion to get rich. Christian hypocrisy doesn’t begin and end at slavery, that’s just one of the more obvious and galling examples.

  16. JJ says

    @Milo, the flaw with your analogy is that the conduct being regulated–having sex–isn’t unjust, immoral, and cruel. So it’s reasonable for adults to say if you’re going to have sex, please do it responsibly. Slavery, on the other hand, is profoundly unjust, immoral, and cruel. It isn’t reasonable to say you don’t support slavery, but then tell folks who keep slaves to please beat them responsibly.

  17. says

    Zinnia Jones, as Dan Savage before her, is guilty of misinterpreting the Bible. She’s trying to look smart, making proclamations about a faith she doesn’t truly understand. One thing she really needs to understand is that true Christians worship GOD, not the Bible, and every statement found in the Bible is not a commandment.

    Girlfriend is too clever for her own good: She’s just another Savage sycophant, but she tries to kiss his ass without being obvious. FAIL!

    Her erroneous argument reminds me of those so-called Bible scholars who claim Jesus Christ approved of pederasty. They claim it because he healed the (presumed) boy lover of a Roman centurion. Talk about jumping to conclusions! Just like Milo points out, it’s a guilt-by-association presumption.

    Christianity gives its adherents much leeway in how they live their lives, so long as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are observed. Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT mandate holding slaves, condemning same-gender love, subjugating women or any of the other outrageous myths going around.

    Here’s something Zinnia Jones can’t deny: When Dan Savage snidely calls those who disagree with him about Scripture “pansy asses”, he is breaking the Golden Rule. But then, he’s no longer a Christian, so it kinda makes sense that he doesn’t know sh*t about the Christian faith. I wonder what his excuse is for lacking good manners?

  18. Milo says

    @Zinnia: Thank you for your honest reply. I am not capable of accurately assessing why God would allow one evil, but punish another. All I can do is speculate. Perhaps people who let the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned to die of starvation, sickness, and exposure are worse in God’s sight than those who keep slaves. Some Christians that God used slavery as a punishment against the Israelites. If that is the case, then He certainly did see slavery as something evil.

  19. Milo says

    @Caliban: “Tacit approval” is a matter of interpretation. The slave owner interprets the scripture one way, and the abolitionist interprets it another way. Depending on where one stands, it is the INTERPRETATION of the Bible that is B.S., not the book itself.

  20. Rrhain says

    @Milo, there is a logical disconnect with your analysis of Savage’s statements and the comparison to sexual activity.

    That is, having sex, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we eventually want our children to have sex. It’s a wonderful part of life but it is something that, when done poorly, can cause them lasting harm. Therefore, while we may not necessarily want them having sex right now, it is imperative upon us to teach them about it so that they will be prepared for when they are ready to have sex.

    Slavery, however, in and of itself, is a bad thing. We never want anybody anywhere to have slaves. The fact that we can come up with rules for treating slaves “well” doesn’t ameliorate the fact that they are still *SLAVES.* A gilded cage is still a cage.

    The problem is, indeed, the Bible. It implies that there is a “good” way to keep slaves and there simply isn’t. When god was speaking to the Israelites as they were fleeing Egypt, he could have easily said, “Do not take any slaves as the Gentiles do for it is abomination.” That would have made the Law quite simple as there wouldn’t be any need to say that if you beat your slave until he dies, you’re off the hook if he doesn’t die until a couple days later but you’re in big trouble if he dies immediately.

    There’s no need for complicated rules about how to own slaves if slavery is anathema to begin with.

  21. Milo says

    @RRhain: Actually, what you have described is not a logical disconnect in my analogy, but rather qualitative one. Sex is not something we want children doing…until they reach the age of consent. Whereas slavery is not something we want people doing…ever. I see the difference.

    The problem I have with Savage’s argument is the same problem that social services workers have with the argument posited by some conservatives: that giving teenagers condoms means that you approve of them having premature sex. Those teens that want to have sex are going to do it whether you give them condoms or not, so you might as well do something to regulate the situation.

    Getting back to slavery, those who wanted to enslave others were going to do so whether the Bible said it was OK or not.

  22. says

    She has an amazing clarity… and is absolutely right about this. Savage shouldn’t back down on this issue. The bible *is* pro-slavery and Christians need to own that.

  23. says

    Stuffed Animal, I also don’t believe that any part of the Bible requires anyone to own slaves. Rather, it simply neglects to condemn slavery itself at any point. Consider that this text is frequently regarded as the word of an almighty God who has the power to define morality itself. Can you imagine if “Nobody has to own slaves if they don’t want, but we won’t say anything against those who do” was the most any nation or government could bring themselves to say on the subject of slavery? Would you readily applaud them for giving people so much “leeway in how they live their lives”? Now imagine that was the most God himself had to say about slavery. Isn’t that a tad troubling?

  24. jack says

    The bible is a collection of primitive myths, bloody and mostly made up history, riddled with contradictions and moral lessons given by the “war” god yahweh on how to deal with enemies that would make Stalin, Hitler, Mao, et al blush. It calls on believers to stone to death those who work on the sabbath, committ adultery, curse their parents or worship gods other than yahweh. Yep, thats the “holy” book. Expose that vile tome whenever you have a chance.

  25. Insensitivefools says

    Zinnia–you are wonderful. And right on the money. Keep up the good work. I look forward to every commentary that you do.

  26. Insensitivefools says

    I notice that Milo won’t admit that, yes, the Bible does indeed condone (or at the very least neglect to condemn) slavery and that is a huge mistake. It shows how idiotic it is to use the Bible as unerring truth. The Bible gets tons of stuff wrong, which is why Christians ignore many things in it. The fact that they use the Bible to excuse their own homophobia does not justify their bigotry. Why must they adhere so slavishly to the Bible’s take on homosexuality but let other things go? It’s because it makes them feel superior to us lowly sinners and they can celebrate their own prejudices as virtues.

  27. jack says

    Stuffed Animal et al; The bible clearly approves of slavery. Check out Leviticus 25 v 44 ff: Slaves, male and female you may indeed possess … you may own as chattels and leave them to your sons as their hereditary property, making them perpetual slaves. The slaves life was less valuable than the free man: check out Exodus 21, v 12 and v20. The bible is a collection of primitive writings written by a primitive people containing primitive morality. Put it in museums along with the Code of Hammurabi and that of Draco. Don’t use it as a moral guide in the 21st century.

  28. Milo says

    @ Insensitivefools: Then you haven’t read what I wrote very carefully because I have clearly mentioned the lack of condemnation several times.

  29. TJ says

    A lot of the religious apologists seem to blame the interpreters and not the Bible itself. To me, this is splitting hairs. If the Bible is ambiguous enough that it begets multiple interpretations (and why wouldn’t it, given the many hands that wrote it and the many times it has been translated and re-written), it would seem a rather flawed document to use as a guide for life. Whether the Bible or its interpreters or a combination, the result is a lot of bad done in the name of good.

  30. wtf says

    Once again, stuffed animal shows his utter lack of reading comprehension and/or listening comprehension. Dan Savage didn’t call those kids “pansy-asses”. He commented that they WAY they were acting was “pansy-assed”, and apologized for it, even though he was CORRECT. So your constant hatred of someone who does more on a daily basis for YOUR rights is once again not warranted and outright stupid. Just shut up and quit making yourself look so idiotic. Really.

  31. Milo says

    @ TJ: I am not an “apologist” for anything. I am Christian, I am a homosexual, I am an African-American. I stand up for the ideas that come from all three of those areas of my life when those ideas have value. I criticize ideas from all three of those areas of my life when I see a lack of value.

    The Bible is an inanimate object. It cannot enslave. It cannot bully. It has no power of its own. It is up to humans to read the words contained therein, and make their OWN decisions about what those words mean, and what action to take if any.

    There is, to my knowledge, no written work anywhere in the entire history of humanity that has not been subjected to the interpretation of the reader. Not the Magna Carta, not the U.S. Constitution, not the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., nothing. Part of that is human nature, part of that is the nature of language itself. Both the written word and the spoken word will forever be interpreted differently by different individuals.

    Calling it “splitting hairs” is nothing more than an attempt stop conversation, and smear over the nuances.

    Blaming the Bible for the evil deeds than humans commit in God’s name takes away some of the responsibility from the individual perpetrators. Of course its easier to attack an institution than to go after the errant individuals within that institution. Not only is that strategy lazy, but it ends up harming those within the institution who have done nothing wrong.

  32. TJ says

    MILO – you are entitled to your beliefs, and your book. I hope that you not only criticize the harmful ideas from Christians but work from within to stop the evil done by some of your fellow believers, because the bad ones are vocal, loud, and in power.

    As for the other documents mentioned, their authorship is admittedly human, and if they have flaws or inadequacies, they can be criticized and in some cases amended. No such luck with your book, which is purported to be divinely inspired and infallible when it is clearly not.

  33. Milo says

    @ TJ: “I hope that you not only criticize the harmful ideas from Christians but work from within to stop the evil done by some of your fellow believers, because the bad ones are vocal, loud, and in power.”

    Oh yes. That is VERY true, and I do challenge them.

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree on your opinion of the Bible’s lack of divine inspiration and infallibility.

  34. jack says

    Milo you do mention the bible’s lack of condemnation of slavery. Do you also reconize its positive approval of slavery? Leviticus 25 v 44.

  35. Milo says

    @ jack: Leviticus 25 v 44 is nothing more than another regulation. It stipulates a restriction on the resources where Jews were/were not allowed to purchase labor.

  36. TJ says

    MILO – with all due respect, the belief, the faith and not fact, that the Bible is God’s word, and therefore unassailable, is where you lose me.

    Perfect example from another thread, the one about the pastor advocating child abuse. Many Christians are of the spare the rod and spoil the child types. Because they say it’s in the Bible. Yet any learned person, any child development and parenting specialist would point to volumes of research that show that spanking or in any way hitting your child is not only ineffective but in many ways potentially harmful.

    Even the issue of slavery, of people who sold themselves into servitude in order to eat. Which just makes them employees, right? Chances are, if your boss beat you at work, he’d wind up in jail, and you with a settlement. Because we’ve figured out that beating employees is not good policy.

    Taking the Bible as perfect is just silly. It was written in a different, ignorant time. Times have changed.

  37. says

    This is great!!! You sound like you have a great head on your shoulders. You do sound like you should consider journalism as a career. I’d like to hear your voice in the mainstream!

  38. Milo says

    @ TJ: You are correct: the idea that the Bible is God’s word; and that it is perfect, is indeed a matter of faith.

    Faith requires very little intelligence. None, actually. All it really requires is the cognitive ability to abstract the existence of a being other that yourself. Most 1-week-old babies have that.

    Faith is a part of humanity. Most humans–both right now, and throughout history–have had faith in something. The “one God” thing is just the latest facet.

    So if I lose you at “the Bible is God’s word, and therefore unassailable…” I’m all good with that. Its not my job to make you believe anything, or change your perspective. That is your own journey.

    My job is to put my own opinions on the table.

  39. TJ says

    Aw shucks, MILO, here I thought you were going to ding me on spare the rod (even though it is in Proverbs).

    And far be it from me to disabuse you of your faith, if it makes you happy (and obtw, poverty has always existed, and ignorance, and disease, and hate, so there’s that). I’m just really, really tired of people using their faith, and not facts, to make me, and many others, very unhappy.

    Peace be with you. Have a good night.

  40. Milo says

    In my world, people are incapable of making you unhappy. That’s up to you.

    I think we might have more in common that we have apart, and time will bear that out.

    I don’t come here to change minds–least of all yours. You know who you are, and what you believe. Just because its different than what I know and believe doesn’t make it “bad,” it just means that its different.


  41. TJ says

    Oh, but MILO, our words and actions do not occur in a vacuum. And they do not hit invulnerable walls. We can do the best we can to create our best world, and we can do our best to control our responses to adversity. But we are only human. If we are affected by our stressors, and particularly the intentional ones, can we really be blamed?

    And this time I mean it, good night! ;

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