Well, the holidays are long gone, and I’d like to point out the obvious now that the threat of spoilers is over: No, Timmy, there is no Santa Claus, and yes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality.
Wait … don’t close that tab! During the winter break, a lot of folks came out to their loved ones and had to deal with the inevitable fallout from well-meaning aunts and bigoted homophobes alike. For every battle we win, there are a dozen more fought and lost because the primary weapon used against us—the Bible—is one few of us know much about.
The fact is that the Bible does, indeed, condemn homosexuality. A number of well-meaning scholars have worked diligently to prove that due to mistranslation or cultural changes, the Bible doesn’t really condemn us. Unfortunately, splitting linguistic hairs looks a bit sad and desperate, and no one we’re debating will understand those arguments anyway.
There is a much simpler approach. Most people don’t condemn us because the Bible does. They condemn us because of their preexisting bigotry, and they use the Bible as a justification. In all likelihood, my information won’t change the minds of hardcore bigots, but you might at least get them to shut up about it, which is the most we can hope for with those bastards. There might be the occasional grandparent who has been brainwashed and sincerely worries, and my arguments work well for them.
The Old Testament is a hotspot of queer persecution. In there, you’ll read that for two men to lie down together is an “abomination.” Well, so is eating shrimp. Wearing a poly-cotton blend is also condemned. Seriously. The Bible treats a seafood buffet and a cheap tracksuit with the same horror as man-on-man action.
So, if Christians condemned us with a sincere conviction in the rules of the Bible, they’d rally against those things as well. They don’t? Well, then, they don’t care about the Word of God, do they? They just want to justify their own bigotry.
There is a catchphrase in many Christian circles meant to help people make decisions: “What Would Jesus Do?” Unfortunately, it is impossible to say, with any real certainty, what Jesus would have done in any particular situation. He lived more than 2,000 years ago, and we don’t have a single word written by Jesus himself.
Do I know What Jesus Would Do? No … but I think I have pretty good evidence to talk about some of the things He Would Not Do, and He would not condemn the queers.
So what do we do? The good news is that most people who use the Bible against us don’t know any more about it than we do, so education and a sense of humor can be our greatest assets. It’s much easier to use the Bible to support the rights of queers than most people would think, because the hatred and violence perpetrated in the name of WWJD directly contradicts the majority of what he actually taught.
So I propose to share some of my knowledge with you in bite-size, easily consumable and easily remembered morsels. While the Christians like to use Jesus, I always ask myself What Would Oscar Do? Meaning Oscar Wilde, of course, one of the wittiest writers of the 20th century. When bigots confront you with their ignorance, don’t get mad … get clever.
If some pastor says the Bible condemns homosexuality, point out it says the same thing about his entire wardrobe. Then quote him chapter and verse (Leviticus 19:19). Queers who quote Bible verses freak out the hardcore Bible thumpers.
We are all angry, and our anger is often our worst adversary because no one listens to ranting and raving. Let them be the ones screaming epithets … and after they have lost their voices, we will gently remind them that they are wrong, and that they really need to get out of the way so we can redecorate their house or fix their plumbing.
In addition to providing information for debates against religious bigots, I also want to help you realize that what those folks say isn’t true. Deep down, many of us still believe the hatred we have been taught.
My primary goal is to help you handle confrontational situations in a manner befitting our superior sense of style and grace, the ones we were given as compensation for having to deal with all the hatred and violence in our lives.
Let the games begin.
John Robert Mack is the author of the Tango Triptych and a professional dance instructor.