Bible Belt LGBTs: Quit Bringing up F*cking Leviticus.
In the Bible Belt, where tinges of the Almighty touch every nook of conversation and geography, it’s impossible to discuss LGBT rights without the Good Book making an appearance. In fact, the conversation with believers is like Groundhog Day. You can divert the path a million different ways, but will always reach the same destination: “Being gay is a sin; it says so in the Bible.”
LGBTs and our allies often rebuke the argument by saying something along the lines of “Oh, you think being gay is a sin? The good book of Leviticus has something to say about shellfish!” Other variations include “Who are you to judge?” or “We are all sinners!”
This has to stop.
If you are a gay Christian, I genuinely feel for you. I understand the tortuous, terrifying process of accepting that God still loves you. It’s an internal Civil War that few could understand. When some homophobe tells you, whether to your face or in the comment section of whatever social media you patronize, that God hates you, it pricks at the very core of your deepest fears of Hell or abandonment. And naturally your desire is to correct others’ ignorance. Don’t.
They are reading the Bible they want to read. It’s not as if we live in the savage pre-internet age where information has to be sought. Anti-gay folks are privy to the same flow charts and opinion pieces that you are. Even if they’re not, they have, at some point in their lives, wrestled with the contradictory biblical information that can change from author to author and book to book.
If they haven’t considered that “sin” has historically evolved to suit society’s arbitrary whims and are not fixed by God, then they are theologically bankrupt and shouldn’t be argued with.
When you combat the idea that being gay is as much a sin as those bonkers restrictions in Leviticus, you’re trying to use logic to convince others, and probably yourself, that God loves you. You will fail at this endeavor. You must simply have faith that the God you worship is more complex than some great hall monitor in the sky. Do this for yourself. If not for you, do it for the cause.
The hereafter is important, but the here-and-now demands immediate attention, as people lose their livelihoods, homes and lives for rubbing their parts against like parts. The Leviticus argument distracts from issues that aren’t theological or abstract — they are hurting people every single day.
Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if some dude in Alabama thinks that being gay is a sin or not. Whenever people evoke that West Wing video of Josiah Bartlett dominating that radio lady using Leviticus, it empowers said dude to believe that his or her bigotry is a simple matter of two opposite yet equally valid beliefs. This causes our hypothetical homophobe to move forth in the world believing that religion is an appropriate cornerstone of civic and political discourse.
If LGBTS and our allies continue to fight Bible with Bible, it makes Bible more present in our discussions. It legitimizes religion that has no place in the creation and enforcement of laws. Gay marriage, gay adoption, gay whatever-ing should have nothing to do with anyone’s relationship with the divine.
Especially since believers don’t even believe their beliefs. People, on the whole, aren’t super keen on adhering to restrictions. Even when their savior lays them out and organizes them by chapter and verse, people still get divorced and fornicate and eat too much and curse and gossip and cheat and lie and steal. Christians call this “the desires of the flesh” and even the Bible’s superstar apostle was like “Yeah, I just basically do what I want anyway.”
Here’s the depressing yet hopeful thing about people. Human beings will fight to the death for principles that they might not even follow, and attack anyone who questions their reasons. Humanity’s existence on this ephemeral plane requires each of us to grasp onto absolutes that anchor us to it. We are fearful creatures, lashing out at those who disrupt the views that steady us.
But when you get to know another person, the fear doesn’t have to be ripped from their hearts. It doesn’t have to be coaxed out or banished through domination. It certainly won’t be drawn out through logic. Establishing a relationship with someone quiets the fear. And then, nine times out of ten, an enemy becomes permeable. Reachable. Accepting.
Society will accept gays when the old and stubborn die, the staunch bigots retreat in shame, and the next generation gets to know more gay and transgender people. In fact, this has been borne out by the impressive acceleration of LGBT cultural acceptance.
So be kind. Be yourself. Don’t engage haters who can’t be reached. For those who can, withstand the ignorance with grace but assert your strength. And for the love of God, stop bringing up effing Leviticus.