Defenses / rebuttals to common arguments
On this page, you will find deconstructions of scripture passages that are often wielded against LGBTQA+ Christians.
Not obligated to become an expert
Many of us who are LGBTQA+ and Christian pour a monumental amount of our time and energy into researching "what the Bible says" -- and doesn't "say" -- about us. While that kind of work can yield beautiful fruit, because it means we’ve spent a lot of time with scripture and with God and often with whole communities of people pondering together, I find it important to emphasize the following: you do not have any responsibility or obligation to "prove" yourself, defend yourself, or justify your existence as an LGBTQA+ Christian. None.
In seeking to discover whether God or scripture “condemned” me, I found such wonderful examples of God’s love and celebration of all diversity. I got to know the Bible, God, myself, and humanity better. Plus, God knows that all the research and reflecting I’ve done on “what the Bible says” about gender and sexuality has come in handy time and time again, both in helping my fellow LGBT/Queer Christian siblings heal and flourish and in arguing against unaffirming Christians (this week alone I’ve had no fewer than 8 strangers slide into my dms here and on fb to “school me” on “what the bible says about the gays”).
But all that being said, I feel that it is important to emphasize that not all LGBT Christians feel the need to do this kind of extensive biblical exploration and apologetics. Some of us just know, right off the bat, that God loves and affirms us, and don’t find it necessary to wrestle and delve into the text to “prove” that fact – that’s wonderful! Others would love to do that exploration, if they only had the time, or energy, or skills and resources – but they don’t have those things, so they don’t do that research, and that’s totally fine too.
Extensive research into the “clobber claims” (the verses that people use against LGBT+ persons, which are discussed below) is something a lot of us do, but not something we’re all required to do. We’re not any more obligated to become biblical experts in order to be “real Christians” than cishet Christians are.
So if you want to study deconstructions of the clobber claims and rebuttals to common arguments used against LGBT Christians, there are lots of resources for you to do so, including this webpage. But if you prefer not to do all that work, you are by no means obligated to do it! Your relationship with scripture, with God, with whatever community you call your own, is just as real and true – even if you can’t retort to homophobes shouting Romans 1 at you with an expert analysis of the Greek.
You are not obligated to defend your right to exist and to love the way God made you to exist and love. You are not obligated to know the super articulate scholarly answer to arguments against your status as a beloved child of God. Just being that beloved creation made in God’s image is always enough.
(Section adapted from this tumblr post.)
Overview of the bad fruit borne by weaponizing the clobber claims
"I've been crying about this all night, but the clobber passages are really getting to me. I don't want God to think I'm an abomination, but if I try to make myself be cishet, I think I'll kill myself. I keep looking for resources with Biblical backing, but they all keep saying that I'm an abomination and won't inherit Heaven. I love God, but I don't know how I can worship someone that hates me so much. I want to think He loves me, but I can't feel it."
I once received the above message from an anonymous asker on tumblr. Upon reading it, my heart ached not only for them but for so many others who have gone through the same thing they were: crying alone in the night, desolate and fearful that God hates them for being LGBTA/queer. Raised to read scripture one specific way, every resource they could find that used that method condemned them, told them they were an abomination, left them feeling unloved by the God who is Love.
Jesus told us we can know a tree by its fruit (see Matthew 7). This is the bad, poisonous fruit of the clobber claims when they are weaponized against LGBTA/queer persons: fear and self-hate, disconnection from God and from community, and even suicide ideation. On the previous webpage about choosing a framework by which to read scripture, I introduced the "rule of love," whereby we prioritize God's twofold command to love God and love neighbor and reject any interpretation of scripture that causes harm to anyone. Using the Bible as a weapon with which to bash LGBTQA+ persons clearly violates this rule of love.
Below is the response that I offered to the anonymous asker quoted above (abridged).
"Hey there. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I promise you, God loves you infinitely even when you can’t feel it – and They are going through this pain with you, hurting to see you hurt. I once wrote a post with some thoughts on why and how we can know that God loves each one of us intensely.
As to biblically backed resources, the things I post and resources I have take the Bible seriously; I would consider them to be biblically backed. I love and revere scripture, have read through the Bible several times and study it daily, and in my reading and reflection I have heard God’s voice of love and justice echoing through all of it – the God depicted in scripture is overall a God who lifts up the oppressed, who sees the ones who are rejected and downtrodden, whose final news for us is good news.
When God walked the earth in the form of Jesus, he reached out to those his society called sinful and unwanted: lepers and sex workers, tax collectors and women and Samaritans and more. I firmly believe that if Jesus walked the earth today, he would be standing with LGBT+ people in the face of societies that oppress us and call us sinful and unwanted. In fact, I believe that God is standing beside us today – the Holy Spirit continues to flow through the world and She is with all who are suffering and oppressed.
Friend, God loves you more deeply than any of us can possibly imagine. This journey you are on is a slow and often painful one, but God will be with you every step of the way. Be at peace, friend – let the God who loves you hold you in the midst of your fears and know that no matter what, you are beloved."
Abominations? An exploration of the Hebrew word translated thus
The anonymous asker quoted in the previous section worried that God would consider them an "abomination" for being LGBTQ+. Indeed, that is a word that many anti-LGBT Christians throw around, claiming that
not to refute the fact that the laws almost definitely do forbid same-sex activity for Jewish males, but to lessen the impact of the severe-sounding word used in both verses that is most frequently translated as “abomination.” The Hebrew word translated thus is toevah, which the Old Testament uses 117 times: “In the vast majority of cases, toevah refers to idolatrous practices of Gentiles, which led Old Testament scholar Phyllis Bird to conclude that ‘it is not an ethical term, but a term of boundary marking’ with ‘a basic sense of taboo’” (Vines, 2014, p. 85). With this in mind, a more accurate translation might be simply “taboo,” or else a longer iteration like “forbidden because it is reminiscent of Gentile practices.” Without the severity of the term “abomination,” Christians may not view these verses as such a strong condemnation of homosexuality.
The Clobber verses
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if being gay is as natural and God-affirmed as being straight, why do we need to work so hard to prove it?
The simple answer to this question: because for millennia, a relationship between a (cis) man and a (cis) woman has been held up as the norm by the human cultures that have propagated scripture. Because they are the norm, they do not need to prove themselves “right” – meanwhile, because same-sex relationships are not viewed as the norm, but rather are viewed as “other,” we are compelled to prove ourselves in order to justify our identities and relationships.
This has been the case for various marginalized peoples: groups that are considered “other” have to prove they are not unnatural or “wrong”; groups that have been traditionally oppressed are compelled to prove they have a right not to be oppressed. For instance:
When slaveholding was the norm, verses that seem to support the institution of slavery (such as x, x, x) were held up without question, while those that are not so supportive of slavery (such as x, x, x, x) were ignored.
Because so many verses (such as x, x, x, x) promote the submission of women, the Bible has been used to justify women’s oppression and inequality in our societies. (And again, verses and stories that show how women are uplifted and empowered by God, such as x and x, tend to be ignored by those who benefit from the patriarchal structure.) See this post for more on how the Bible empowers women despite anti-woman verses.
The way the above examples are usually explained involves context – slavery and sexism are upheld by some verses of the Bible because they were written by human beings seeing the world from the lens of a specific culture. Yet when the argument of cultural/historical context is brought up regarding anti-gay verses, many Christians dismiss it.
In our current era, I would dare say that most Christians accept the idea of looking at pro-slavery verses in their cultural context rather than insisting that we should think that God condones slavery. Many Christians are also coming to accept that women are equal to men and deserve the same opportunities in the church. Yet a couple of centuries ago, many Christians agreed with slavery and the submission of women – did the words of the Bible change? Did God’s truth or God’s will change? No: social norms are what have shifted. And I have a lot of hope that as this century unfolds, the normalizing of LGBT+ people and relationships will help our stance in the eyes of the church, making Christians more ready to accept arguments of context for LGBT+ issues just as they do with slavery and sexism.
Ideally, the prejudices of outside culture would not influence mindsets within the church – but as things are, too often the church does conform to the world, and logically so. Just because our society – and, by its influence, the church – is cisheteronormative does not mean that God affirms that structure or condemns those who do not fit into that norm. After all, racism and sexism, systemic oppression and poverty, are also parts of our social structure – and too often our church structures too – even though most of us today would agree that these things are not God affirmed at all. The church can promote or support an idea or a value without it meaning that God supports it too. As a human institution, the church faces corruption – largely when it allows influences from the broader culture to affect its values and structures.
Leading others astray, causing others to stumble
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"Love the sinner, hate the sin"
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Ex-gay, ex-trans narratives
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