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NO WAY TOCLEAN IT UP


Have you noticed that Christians with their big Bibles can get the hell on your nerves? Have you figured out that Christians can be, not just wrong, but tragically wrong? Are you aware that Christians are some of the most dishonest people in the world?


ONE MORE QUESTION, DO YOU REMEMBER MR.CLEAN?


Mr. Clean can clean up any mess, except for one particular type of mess. Mr. Clean, despite the efforts of modern Christians and Christians throughout history, cannot clean up biblical texts which are horrific, texts which we must not believe, texts which Christians and all people in the world need to renounce (For a good start on the horrific texts see Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer’s Jesus against Christianity).


With respect to a sexual orientation text, Dr. Joel Hoffmann, author of the blog, God Didn’t Say That and the book And God Said, notes Leviticus 18:22 is more complicated than conservative translators let on, but that, ‘“You shall not lie with a male as a with a woman” is a fairly good rendering, and that, the Hebrew almost certainly referred to men having sex with men.’


‘ I BELIEVE ALL THE BIBLE, EVERY WORD OF IT.’ I THOUGHT, THE HELL YOU DO.


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So mark up the Levitical author/s as being wrong on that one, and mark up other Biblical writers being wrong on other matters. It’s important for the church’s well-being and the world’s well-being for Christians to fess up on the parts of the Bible which are wrong. And it’s time for the Christians to say that other biblical texts, which supposedly condemn sexual and gender minorities, aren’t so clear.


FUSE 36


Furthermore, while we are ponying up, let’s admit with Dr. Theodore Jennnings, Jr., that both the Old Testament and the New Testament have homoerotic literature. (SeeJacob’s Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel,The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament, andPaul or Plato?: The Origins of Western Homophobia.)


Finally, let’s conclude the Bible is not enough for our theologies. Modern Christians must use experience, reason, science, church tradition, and the Bible for our sources to think about God and life.


All these sources, including the Bible, are problematic. And all these sources are equal sources. None should be allowed to trump the other. It’s not my fault God didn’t provide a less complicated theological method. We need to be more honest about theological method than trying to clean up Biblical texts which can’t be cleaned up. No amount of Mr. Clean, or jumping through theological hoops, will do the trick.


In Charlotte, NC I participated in a Queens University panel discussion on homosexuality and the Bible (wrong way to frame the debate, it should be GLBTI and the Bible). In front of God and everybody, Dorothy, a transgendered (male to female) person said, ‘I believe all the Bible, every word of it’. I thought, the hell you do. It’s impossible to believe the entire Bible. The Bible has within it, texts which cannot be reconciled. And by the way, Dorothy, there are texts in the Bible which condemn you and others.


I can empathise with Dorothy and other GLBTI Christians who want to out-Bible the big Bible believers. Told you are an abomination all your life, well, I emphathise with ‘I believe the Bible just like you. I’m just as Christian as you’. But you, and everybody else, do not believe the entire Bible. Diversity within the Bible, makes believing all of it impossible. Throw in the horrific texts, and texts which are just plain wrong, and you don’t want to be believing all of it anyway.


Mr. Clean is good, but not good enough to clean up the Bible, not even for a transgendered person of deep faith. Are there honest Christians in Australia? I sure hope so.


Rev. Dr . Chris Ayers writes for FUSE all the way from


Charlotte, NC, USA. He is the pastor at Wedgewood Baptist Church — a group of folks figuring out how to be a Jesus- centric, social-justice-oriented, GLBTI-inclusive church.


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OP.ED


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