But what about the verses in Genesis? Leviticus? Romans? How do you explain….? What about…? Then someone else counters with Galatians and David and Jonathan and Jesus and the Centurion’s servant. And the wheel spins on.
I know how badly you want a simple, clear, 100% unquestioned answer.
It doesn’t exist.
There are a million reasons it doesn’t exist (language, translation, culture, etc.) but the root of it all is that it doesn’t exist because the Bible isn’t a singular text of rules. It’s not a history book or a science book. Hell, it’s not even A BOOK.
It’s a library of books all written by different people in different time periods. Different Scriptures argue with other Scriptures. They contradict each other. They are in dialogue with each other.
And if all of THAT weren’t confusing enough add in the countless scholars throughout centuries that have disagreed and fought and punched each other (for real) and called each other names. They ALL had different interpretations of what texts meant.
“SO what? Do we throw it out? You must not take the Bible seriously!”
I actually take the Bible very seriously. I’ve devoted my life to the study of it. And it’s because I take it so seriously that I refuse to let it be reduced to a simplified rulebook. I refuse to let it be used to condemn people it doesn’t condemn. I refuse to let it be mistreated and used as a weapon.
Just because there are no simple answers doesn’t mean the text is worthless. Instead it’s a collection of poetry, stories, songs, and more that are written by real people in real places at real points in history. They are struggling to make sense of their place in the world and their relationship with the Divine. It’s gritty and messy and filled with mistakes because that’s what it means to be human.
But it’s also filled with immense beauty, with passion, with struggle. It tells the story of a people struggling with who’s in and who’s out (and a God who is always calling them toward more inclusion). It’s the story of a people who struggle with what it means to do justice (especially in the face of Exile and Empire). It’s the story of a people who struggle to make the presence of God known through how they behave.
The Bible still has immense relevance today but only if you read it the way it was meant to be read, not as a rulebook full of easy to understand facts but as a testament to the human struggle to connect with God and do right by each other.
And let me tell you, if you can get off of the “BUT WHAT ABOUT AHHHHHHHH….” hamster wheel you will uncover such beauty and depth and the Bible will be so much richer.
(for an easy to read intro to how to read the Bible, check out Rob Bell’s newest book “What Is The Bible?” For a weekly podcast with queer takes on the Scripture passages, check out Queer Theology’s podcast. We’re up to like 200 episodes or more!)