“Teacher of the lies of Satan!”
“Wolf in sheep’s clothing!”
All of these lovely sentiments (and more) have come my way thanks to a handful of videos I have on Youtube talking about how the Bible has been misused to condemn and oppress LGBTQ people.
Admittedly, they were a bit jarring at first. The vitriol people can spew from their keyboards at complete strangers is frightening. But it didn’t take long for me to properly locate such comments in the “pay no attention to” part of my brain. After all, these people don’t know me. And with their comments they aren’t actually talking to me. They are talking to their own pain and fear. They are talking to someone in their life that hurt them. They are talking to some version of who they think I am and who they think they are.
So when my book was preparing to release last September, given the nature of my book I braced myself for more of the same. For those who vehemently disagreed with my exegesis, for example. Or those who thought I was doing funny business with the text. Perhaps people worried that I was giving LGBTQ people false hope, or watering down the Gospel.
In other words, I expected criticism from the more conservative religious crowd.
I was looking to the right, not suspecting an attack from the left.
But on the day my book came out, the only negative words I received came via a tweet.
And it came from a gay atheist.
Here’s a screenshot. I’ve redacted the person’s twitter handle, because it’s not my goal to make it personal. But I do want to talk about it, because it brings up some interesting things.
Now, obviously this guy hadn’t read UnClobber. The book just came out. And had he read it, perhaps he’d know better than to think the book is about “explaining homosexuality” to gay people.
What a strange leap to make, is it not?
From a book title that says, “Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality”… to an assumption that it’s a book where a “straight Christian man explains homosexuality” to gay people.
Um, yeah, no.
But here’s my point with this post.
My last few posts have been about privilege. In this post I outline what I think are the four stages of development when it comes to owning your privilege: Awareness, Listen, Sit, Act. And then here I unpacked a bit more of the fourth step (Act), explaining how I think it’s the responsibility of people with privilege to use that privilege for the betterment of those on the margins. Which was one of the largest catalysts for why I wrote UnClobber in the first place.
It was people who have the same privileges I do (straight, white, Christian males) who created the climate in which LGBTQ people are routinely kicked out of churches, told they’re going to hell, forced to try and change, and so on. Therefore, in the face of such a climate, if I have the capacity and opportunity to do something, then shouldn’t I?
For me, the answer to that is obvious.
And while one book is hardly enough to overturn centuries of abuse and discrimination and hatred, it’s at least something.
“Explain homosexuality?” No, Angry Tweet guy. (I say “angry” because that’s how he describes himself in his bio). My book is not about explaining homosexuality.
My book is about explaining how Christians have taken six verses from the Bible that appear to reference same-sex sex acts and have built up a wall of discrimination against LGBTQ people.
It is about the misuse of Bible verses to create a divide between people who identify as straight (and hold all the power in the church) and those who don’t.
It is about the way that we can actually approach those same Bible verses with honesty and integrity–understanding them fully in their context–and find in them a pathway toward a more just, inclusive, and loving expression of the Christian faith.
This book is not written to gay people so that I, a straight man, can “explain homosexuality” to them.
This book is written to anyone who has struggled to reconcile the tension between their love for their LGBTQ friends and family and their belief that the Bible forces them to be anti-gay.
This book is written to anyone who wants an honest, in-depth but accessible look at the Clobber passages from someone who grew up in the evangelical world.
This book is written to anyone who identifies as LGBTQ and has believed the lie that they are less than. That God does not love them just as they are.
The sad irony is that when I scroll through the feed of Angry Tweeter I quickly see that we are fighting the same battle. We both are in pursuit of a more just and equitable world for LGBTQ people.
But in this particular case, all he saw was a straight, Christian man writing a book with “homosexuality” in the title. And–though we were supposed to learn not to do it in Kindergarten–he judged the book by its cover.
Now, before I come across as a victim here, suffering from straight fragility, let me clearly state that while Angry Tweeter’s tweet annoyed me, I do not have the opinion that he was way out of line for such a tweet.
I don’t begrudge him for his tweet or for the energy behind it.
But I’ll get to that in my next post.