Comments

  1. Damien says

    While I understand and agree with the point he is making, as someone with advanced degrees in theology, I have to say that he did not do a very good job of saying what the Bible itself actually says or even how the issue of translations/paraphrase works. So I give him an A- on intent but a C+ at most on accuracy. Bottom line: People do not believe what the Bible says — they believe what other people tell them the Bible says.

  2. anonymous says

    ” But that same book, which spends hundreds and hundreds of pages condemning all sorts of things and couldn’t find one sentence in here to condemn slavery, does indeed manage to find the space to repeatedly condemn gay people”

    Someone with the full expertise that I lack needs to explain to Lawrence that the quoted statement above is just some person’s “interpretation” of what the Bible says. And, that there are those who understand what the Bible was actually saying in terms of the times that it was written. That being a condemnation of prostitution and pederasty and not making any condemnation of loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships.

  3. Damien says

    I appreciate Steve’s point. However, a degree in phrenology would be useful for explaining what phrenology believes, no matter how absurd that belief is. That was my only point. I can tell you what is in the bible (lots of folks can) without believing it is a useful guide for life today in all (or any of) its details. Sorry if I failed to make that clear.

  4. adamblast says

    Come one, folks. On our side at least, we hear folks constantly claiming the Bible isn’t really anti-gay. We’ve got theology experts all over the place saying it’s been misinterpreted, hell, we’ve even got a new translation just for us.

    I for one think it’s a breath of fresh air to say YES, the Bible *is* anti-gay. It’s also anti-women, pro-slavery and a host of terrible things. I’m not interested in “rehabilitating” the “good” book. Or Christianity for that matter.

  5. Larry says

    DAMIEN please tell me what the bible says about homosexuality. I’m a young gay man and just wanna know more about this.

  6. Stefan says

    A degree in theology attained by a humane person interested in social justice can actually be pretty useful if it injects some intelligence into religion. Organized religion is likely to be around for quite a few generations yet and likely to represent a majority lifestyle for most people, and I’d like to see it not be totally dominated by bigots and extremists.

    Anonymous makes a good point. The overall message of the Bible and the context within which many of the so-called proof texts exist–not to mention the complete lack of mention of homosexuality in any of the Gospels and a ton of poor translation especially in the last two centuries–and the biblical support for condemning homosexuality is really weak.

    On the whole, though, I don’t understand why it’s still used in the inauguration of the President. It’s not exactly a binding oath because of the Bible, and clinging to religious symbolism in the public sphere seems odd in 2013.

  7. Moz's says

    Also Obama is descended from 1 of the first colonial slaves = Jamestown via his mother’s family

    Yes america, many white people have african american ancestors. There is no such thing as racial purity

  8. Javier says

    Laurence needs to stick to secular rants. He is failing badly in theology with his attacks on Christianity. Moreover, as a progressive, we don’t need more people with him perpetuating the widespread meme that progressivism is anti-Christian. No, people like Laurence are anti-Christian.

  9. Michael says

    The people who say crap like “I don’t know if the original text says about homosexuality” are the same ones who can’t fathom what spending five minutes on Google can do.

  10. KevinSF says

    I listened to Lawrence last night and thought what the hell is his point? The irony was either too thick or it was his ego getting in the way. It was a hot mess.

  11. iban4yesu says

    God can and does put a powerful prophecy in anyone’s mouth, as He does here! It’s time for the bigots to read and understand the Bible correctly.

  12. says

    You’d think that deity that was Omnipotent would be capable of “writing” a book that wasn’t filled with so many contradictions and so open to interpretation that it’s still being debated about 2000 years later.

  13. iban4yesu says

    @ Javier,

    No, his theology is OK for a lay person. And he is not anti-Christian, just pointing out the incongruency of understanding of the Bible on the parts of the fundies.

    One noticeable thing is that Giglio says the focus of his ministry has been shifted from the homophobia to a broader perspective for the last fifteen years or so and all the problematic quotes are from the older period.
    Anyhoo, I am glad that he is out of picture here.

  14. Mike in nyc says

    That anyone even cares about the fairy tales and asorted nonsense that makes up the bible is absurd. A pile of badly translated make believe stories handed down from a backward isolated desert people. If the weak minded and suspertitoius need to have a dream daddy in the sky that is their right; but to treat it as anything other than useless fiction is ridiculous.

    That said, Song of Solomon has beautiful moments of poetry.

  15. Mike in nyc says

    That anyone even cares about the fairy tales and asorted nonsense that makes up the bible is absurd. A pile of badly translated make believe stories handed down from a backward isolated desert people. If the weak minded and suspertitoius need to have a dream daddy in the sky that is their right; but to treat it as anything other than useless fiction is ridiculous.

    That said, Song of Solomon has beautiful moments of poetry.

  16. jamal49 says

    @DAMIEN: I agree with you 100%. In Mr. O’Donnell’s case, the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

    The alleged “condemnations” of same-sex relationships are actually very few in the entire compendium known as The Holy Bible.

    There are the infamous verses in Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians, but if one interprets those passages accurately and within their social/historical/cultural contexts, the alleged condemnations are concerned more with lustful behavior and cultic, temple-based prostitution.

    Mr. O’Donnell is very correct about one thing: the word “homosexual” appears no where in The Holy Bible. Nowhere. It is an invented word; its origin is quite benign, as it was coined by an associate of Sigmund Freud to describe same-sex attraction. Any Bible that uses the word “homosexual” in the passages that allegedly condemn same-sex relationships is therefore an inaccurate and biased translation.

    In the end, especially for vile evangelical reprobates like Giglio et al, one must always ask them directly: what did Jesus The Messiah have to say about same-sex love? Their answer should be thus: nothing.

    The Lord Jesus, The Messiah, The Son of God, The God-head Incarnate said nothing AT ALL. No condemnation, no judgment, no admonition.

    In fact, one can interpret one of the two versions of the New Testament story of the Roman centurion who asks Christ to simply say the word so that his young servant boy (or, his young lover) be healed as an acceptance by Jesus of the centurion’s love.

    Christ does not blink an eye, does not make any judgment about the great love this centurion has for his young companion. Instead Christ uses the situation as an example of unbridled faith and praises the centurion.

    There is also the great love that Jonathan had for David. There is the Story of Ruth. There are numerous examples of same-sex love (not necessarily sexual, but in many cases, sensual) in The Holy Bible.

    It is long past due that the evangelicals and the fanatics are finally challenged on their interpretations of Scripture. The Bible does NOT condemn same-sex love at all.

  17. GregV says

    Laurence O’Donnell has done a really sloppy job here, putting words into the mouth of the administration (“… even though it is the word of God…”) and misguiding his viewers on the words in the Bible in a way that could potentially empower haters and even murderers.

    Laurence says he found the word “effeminate” in his Bible instead of “homosexual” as in that pastor’s Bible. Where YOUR Bible’s publisher changed it to “effeminate,” the actual word that Paul (not “God”) wrote (shortly after he stopped attacking Christians himself) was
    “μαλακοι.” It means “soft” in Koine Greek.

    Being “soft” might seem like a weird trait for Paul to judge people on. But no serious reader of Greek would think he was refering to those who use moisturizer and hair conditioner or sing in a sweet voice (and isn’t it strange that those who have recently changed that word to “effeminate” never use this verse to suggest that only butch women are acceptable women?)

    The most logical explanation is that Paul meant people of soft moral fiber who are pliable enough to be talked into doing anything.

    Two words later, Paul also used the word “αρσενοκοιται,” which has unclear meaning.
    That pastor likes to read a version that has changed it to “homosexual” (a word which never appeared in any Bible until 1946).
    The French Louis II version has turned it into “les infâmes,” which just means “the infamous.”
    Scholars of Greek think that word likely refered to the prostitutes who worked in religious temples performing sexual rituals (common back then but so unheard of today that we don’t even have a common word for it).

    O’Donnell makes it sound like the originally-scheduled pastor brings more clarity to the Bible than anyone else who will be picked.
    On the contrary, O’Donnels own argument contradicts that notion. Any pastor who has any integrity and consistency in his reading of the Bible can ONLY be one who reads its various books in their historical contexts, considering who wrote them, what they ACTUALLY said, and fully cognizant of the fact that following all the books phrase-by -phrase and out-of-context is dangerous.
    A real, true word-for-word literalist would be murdering his neighbors for planting more than one kind of flower in the garden or for mowing the lawn on a Saturday or gor getting re-married after a divorce.
    If O’Donnell wants to talk about how no one follows all that’s in the Bible, he should be pointing out THOSE kinds of verses.
    Groups like prostitutes are already murdered in alarming numbers and their attackers don’t need to be empowered by O’Donnell’s words.

  18. Lucas says

    @Mikeinnyc, +1! The bible is a fairy tale. It is the biggest scam since the beginning of time, and billions of people buy into it out of fear of the unknown. Yes, the bible is anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-shellfish, anti-everything, and no matter how people try to spin it, especially these “gay friendly” churches, it is still bullsh*t. Maybe it is good for uneducated people who need some sort of belief to cling to, but wake up people. It’s a fairy tale. A very destructive fairy tale.

  19. Citizen of the United States says

    @STEFAN…you are right. The Bible has NO place in a sphere of government, which should be totally devoted to absolute separation of church and state.

  20. simon says

    Christianity had a very humble beginning. The book was treated as what they were, a collection of stories. The Roman Empire even threw Christians to the lions. Then they got lucky and the book turned holy.

  21. Francis says

    Yes, Randy, I did notice. He pings. Louie, that is. Definitely pings.

    Anyway, the Bible is bulls**t, and no, the word homosexual is not in the Bible whatsoever. Sexuality as we know it today and all it’s complexities wasn’t even a concept in Biblical days. What the Bible says on matters of sexuality is wholly irrelevant. That’s the entire point. We *can* make this a religious debate and expose the fact these fundamentalists lie about what the Bible really references, or we can beat them using facts and logic. And personally, I think facts and logic are more appropriate rather than giving the Bible legitimacy.

  22. Diogenes Arktos says

    The news feed on TR noted a post on another blog where a RC wingnut stated that being pro-gay was akin to being a Marxist. Therefore, Obama should be sworn in on Das Kapital. Apparently he knows no modern history about Marxist states and their hatred of gays.

    I was recently sworn in on a jury by raising my right hand and the oath was to “affirm” yadda yadda yadda “as I shall answer to God”.

  23. Diogenes Arktos says

    “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state”.
    – The Revd Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

    Views *can* be arrived at by religious thinking, but *must* be justified by secular/civil thinking in the public square.

  24. Jim says

    Lawrence is awesome, as usual! Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of swearing on the Holy Bible!

  25. Bobby says

    Anyone who takes the Bible literally is an idiot. Yes, that’s a strong statement but with all the research out there and all the proof of just how many people wrote the books of the Bible and the confusion about translations and interpretations and the times in which those books were written, well those literal believers obviously choose to remain idiots.

  26. anonymous says

    @Simon… Yes, if Romney had won the presidency, he could have placed his hand on The Book of Mormon to take his oath of office. There is no requirement to use the Bible or any other particular text to place your hand upon to take the oath. In fact, there is no requirement to place you hand on anything at all. You can take the oath simply by raising your right hand. The method used is up to the person taking the oath.

  27. GregV says

    @Anonymous:
    I’ve always found it ironic that presidents (or anyone) swear on a book like the Bible whose words say NOT to do so.

    James 5:12:
    But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

  28. anon says

    There’s really no need for a large scale investiture like an inauguration (which is a term that can’t apply to a second term in office anyway). The entire process makes the presidency too royal. Having the president put his hand on the Bible, a symbol of submission to a higher authority and piety, along with “so help me God” at the end, is designed to convince people that the whole thing is on the up-and-up. It’s theater.

  29. oh dear! says

    Two words later, Paul also used the word “αρσενοκοιται,” which has unclear meaning.
    That pastor likes to read a version that has changed it to “homosexual” (a word which never appeared in any Bible until 1946). – GregV

    I didn’t need a Pastor to tell me what “αρσενοκοιται” means Googlo transalate ask me if I meant “αρσενοκοίτες”…Guess what it means 😉

  30. oh dear! says

    Scholars of Greek think that word likely refered to the prostitutes who worked in religious temples performing sexual rituals (common back then but so unheard of today that we don’t even have a common word for it). – GregV

    …but they do have a saying for it today it’s called child rape!…When an altar boy gets stuck behind a priest & a dark corner of the confessional! 😉

  31. oh dear! says

    The bible doesn’t condone homosexuality it condoned child rape/abuse from certain members of the priesthood , I believe they were not talking about homosexuality in general (meaning consenting adult relations) but pedophilia & still today they try to hide the truth evident by the last ‘scandal’ & how the Church handled it by trying to sweep it under the rug – some of them going as far as to blame the victims. Maybe they should put their own closets in order before tampering in others peoples lives.

  32. oh dear! says

    Lawrence is awesome, as usual! Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of swearing on the Holy Bible! – Jim

    Kudos

  33. iban4yesu says

    @ oh dear!

    The Vatican has no authority in interpreting the Bible IMO, because they already have thwarted and twisted so much of it for their crazy ideas.

  34. Randy says

    “The” Bible (even the new “Queen James” one) is very clear about what it says, and it is plainly anti-gay.

    It simply doesn’t matter that this is potentially a mistranslation of Hebrew or Greek, or a misunderstanding of context.

    It is what people have in their homes and call holy and good. It is the primary source of information about their god. Without it, they would have zero basis for their belief, and would not be Christian.

  35. oh dear! says

    It is the primary source of information about their god. That’s why it simply does matter about a misleading/mistranslation of Hebrew or Greek, or a misleading/misunderstanding of context. Without it, they would have zero basis for their hatred/belief, and would not be xtian.

    to thine own self be true!

  36. oh dear! says

    well, I don’t think anyone/organization should have ‘authority’ over anyone’s spiritual growth!

  37. Diogenes Arktos says

    Zero basis for their hatred/belief…
    Please consider those who follow(ed) Marxism-Leninism-MaoZedong thought. They are/were notoriously anti-gay. Some of whom make/made the Religious Right look like pussycats.

  38. oh dear! says

    I’m sorry, I will sound unenlightened to you went I say that I know nothing about Marxism-Leninism-MaoZedong…if you say they were anti-gay, fine, who hasn’t at some point in there life…when I first started to realize I was gay I hated myself for being different…Some life experience later & I fully accept my queerness for all the good things/joy it brings to the people I love. I guess my point was it doesn’t matter if someone/organization is anti-gay they have the potential to transcend.

  39. GregV says

    @OhDear: Internet translations are notoriously inaccurate. I speak several languages, and I’ve sometimes amused myself by putting a setence in one language and seeing the translation, which is sometimes so far off base that it’s funny.
    The one you used was Google Translator. Unlike a lot of other translators, its unusual method is to instantly analyze as many translated documents as it can to make an “intelligent guess.”.
    This method’s strength is that it works very well when translating common phrases that it can find in hundreds of millions of different documents that cross over various contexts.

    The weakness of Google Translator’s method comes up in exactly this type of case. The problem is that this word is not only ancient but obscure, and you would be hard-pressed to find it ANYWHERE in any document except for this one letter (where a MIStranslation has been recently popularly published and therefore is what Google’s translator finds).
    For example (hypothetically) imagine that JK Rowling were to take an obscure and uncommon Old English word that meant “youngest cousin” in English and she put it in a best-seller as Harry Potter’s friend but she decided that a pet skunk would appear in the French version of the book instead. If it’s an old and unused word and Google Translate can’t find it anywhere but in Harry Potter, it will “intelligently guess” that the old word for youngest cousin means “moufette” (skunk) in French.

    That’s why it has in this case given you a mistranslation. “Homosexual” in Greek is “ομοφυλόφιλος.” The concept of homosexuality as a sexual orientation and the word to describe it were invented in the 1800’s. Paul did not use that word and did not even have the vocabulary words available to denote sexual orientations such as “homosexual,” “bisexual” and “heterosexual.”. The word he did use has two identifiable root parts but its meaning as a complete word is unknown. Historically, translators of Bibles have repeatedly invented new and different substitutions for it from time to time and from one language to another.
    No dictionary before 1946 would ever have described it as “homosexuals” and it is a shoddy way of translating to take an ancient word that is obscure has no known modern equivalent and apply a translation for it that was only popularized recently, applying a concept that the author (Paul) had never even heard of.

  40. oh dear! says

    That’s why it has in this case given you a mistranslation. “Homosexual” in Greek is “ομοφυλόφιλος.” The concept of homosexuality as a sexual orientation and the word to describe it were invented in the 1800’s. Paul did not use that word and did not even have the vocabulary words available to denote sexual orientations such as “homosexual,” “bisexual” and “heterosexual.”.

    I get the word that embodies same sex attractions for our society was ‘invented’ in the 1800’s but as a gay man who’s always been a homosexual I realize that we’ve always existed even before the biblical times so it would be logical that these people had a word that would describe our sexuality, just because it was the time of the bible doesn’t mean they didn’t f*ck. I find it convenient that this word is at the root of this problem being that’s so obscure & ancient that no one can figure out it’s true meaning & solve this once & for all, is it really un mal entendu or more of an obfuscation?

  41. Bill says

    @Larry: read http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm for a discussion of what the Bible says about homosexuality (it lists conservative versus liberal opinions, translation issues, cultural context, etc.) There are a number of links you’ll have to follow.

    For Corinthians 6:9-11, the word translated as “homosexuals” has had different translations over the years. It’s original meaning is lost so they fill in the hot-button issue of the day.

  42. EchtKultig says

    “@ Javier,

    No, his theology is OK for a lay person.”

    Actually, it’s much better than OK. Most lay persons don’t know about the absurd rules in the Bible – such as the one about prostitutes being burnt at the stake, children stoned for talking back to their parents, slavery being ok etc – and he does. And of course he’s not being anti-Christian: the problem is that if anyone actually bothers to expose their beliefs, the Biblical/Abrahamic religions are anti-scientific, anti-reason and ultimately anti-human.

  43. Bill Michael says

    I laugh secretly when I hear that someone has a degree in theology. It’s like hearing them say they have a degree in stupidity. “You mean, you paid for that?”

  44. andrew says

    The bible should be in a museum along with the other artifacts of ancient history. Put it alongside the Code of Hammurabi and other primitive writings and documents. But don’t use it as a moral guide for a modern civilized nation. We no longer stone people to death for adultery, working on the sabbath, cursing ones parents, homosexual relations etc. We no longer permit slavery. We do not allow our military to kill every living thing in a country we are at war with. These are just a few of the things that the “holy” bible mandates. Belief in biblical morality is barbarism. The authors of the bible were primitives who didn’t know any better. WE DO !!!

  45. Yeek says

    I agree with Adamblast. We have zillions of learned theologists saying the Bible speaks out against gays, and zillions saying it doesn’t. They cancel each other out. All this tortured “they really meant temple prostitute” might be nothing but face-saving claptrap, a desperate attempt to avoid facing an unflattering reality via technicality. Ask yourself: what if your side is wrong? Is the Bible still worth venerating?

  46. Diogenes Arktos says

    Although it’s not about homosexuality but about problem translations in Helenistic Greek… one word which absolutely defies translation is in the usual liturgical version of the Lord’s Prayer (i.e. from Matthew).

    @Francis: The *only* to get many Christians to accept gays and marriage equality is if they can somehow find it in the Bible. You cannot appeal to science, facts, and logic when this group dismisses them completely. (Of course, they also dismiss liberal interpretations of the Bible, but it gives us a starting point.) Eventually, some will retain their views, but others will find what they need in the Bible in order to accept reality. After all, it is common, but not assured, that ideas do migrate from left to right. The good news is that there are signs of pro-gay thinking among younger evangelicals.

    @Oh Dear!: My point about M-L-M thought was that there are virulent non-religious anti-gay groups – in this case on the left. This was the ideology that spawned communism and has therefore left its mark on the former communist countries.

  47. oh dear! says

    …& like I said before, whether anti-gay left(secular)/right(religion) they have the ability to transcend.