John Mac sent that tweet a few minutes before this dropped into my email inbox:

Enjoy your brief season. Soon you shall be in hell-fire for not receiving the only payment possible for your sins—the shed Blood of Jesus. Every unbeliever will spend eternity in a lake of fire. Even believers who do not turn away from their sins (like your vile sin of disgusting, unnatural sodomy, wherein you live like a filthy dog), will go to Hell 1000 years, before they enjoy eternity with God. But for unbelievers (like yourself), you will pay for your sins in Hell 1000 years, and then depart into your eternal destination, the lake of fire—but before this, you will likely also begin to reap and feel the effects of your wickedness even in this life. God is not mocked! So mock on. You will soon see Who has the last laugh. Hear the Word of the Lord: Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." The death penalty formerly carried out by the Theocracy, is carried out by God Himself today. Mock on, pervert. This is your time. Enjoy it. It is brief.

Leviticus, of course, is some serious Old Testament shit.

And I stumbled over this gaydar-pinger's video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago. Our YouTube preacher focuses on what the New Testament says about homosexuality—or appears to say about homosexuality (if you haven't watched Matthew Vines' video yet, you should)—but after shoving Paul down our throats, he buttresses his argument with a nod to the Old Testament. At the 7:28 mark: "You can read about that it Genesis 19. Also Leviticus 18 gives some very explicit instructions..." The instructions given in Leviticus 18? Gay people should be murdered. He adds: "The law is good, you guys."

Sorry, John Mac, but the Old Testament is germane. Anti-gay Christian hypocrites—and not all Christians are anti-gay; not all Christians are hypocrites—are constantly citing passages in the Old Testament to justify their persecution of LGBT people. We are far likelier to hear about Leviticus 20:13 and Sodom & Gomorrah in an anti-gay sermon than we are to hear about Corinthians or Timothy. And when conservative Christians toss Leviticus 20:13 in our faces—or get it tattooed on themselves (in violation of Leviticus 19:28)—we have a right to confront them about everything in the Old Testament that they choose to ignore, from the "abomination" of eating of shellfish to God giving dads the okay to sell their daughters into slavery. ("Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" is a popular an Old Testament reference too.)

But it's only when gay people bring up a passage like Deuteronomy 22:20-21 that you hear anyone say, "Oh, that stuff about stoning daughters to death on their wedding nights if they're not virgins is in the Old Testament, you goof! That's not in the New Testament!" If it's out-of-bounds—totally not kosher—for gay people to bring up what the Old Testament says about clams and farming and personal grooming and tattoos and menstruation and virginity and adultery, then it shouldn't be kosher for conservative Christians to bring up Leviticus and Sodom & Gomorrah. Which they do. Constantly. And it's not like they have to: there are, courtesy of Paul, plenty of anti-gay verses in the New Testament. But those verses aren't anywhere near as hateful or murderous as what you'll find in Leviticus, of course, which is why they're nowhere near as popular with anti-gay bigots who call themselves Christians.

Which brings me to this email:

The problem with your Bible bashing speech is that you bash the Old Testament. I guess you haven't heard of the New Testament. It overrides the Old. There are no stonings in the New, no animal sacrifices, no person is turned into a pillar of salt, there are no slaves. The New Testament is a testament of the love of Jesus who, BTW, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him. Are you able to comprehend that? It means Jesus loves homosexuals as well as homosapiens. He even loves you—God only knows how, but He does. Christians know this. You are an idiot. Get off your high horse. Shed that arrogant attitude. It is very unbecoming. Yes, your attitude is ugly. Read the New Testament!—Peggy

Okay, Peggy, let's read it:

Slaves, obey your masters in all things. Do not obey just when they are watching you, to gain their favor, but serve them honestly, because you respect the Lord.

That slaves-obey-your-masters stuff is from Colossians. Which is in the New Testament. And its meaning is clear. Its meaning was certainly clear to "property" owners in the South who cited it to defend slavery, as was the meaning of Paul's Epistle to Philemon, which was also widely cited in the slave-era South. History lesson:

Defenders of slavery noted that in the Bible, Abraham had slaves. They point to the Ten Commandments, noting that "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house... nor his manservant, nor his maidservant." In the New Testament, Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master, and, although slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, Jesus never spoke out against it... Defenders of slavery argued that the institution was divine, and that it brought Christianity to the heathen from across the ocean. Slavery was, according to this argument, a good thing for the enslaved.

When was the last time we heard that slavery-was-good-for-slaves argument? Oh, right: In July of 2011. In Iowa. And the person making that argument? A rightwing fundamentalist Christian bigot preacher who has—wait for it—cited Sodom to justify his anti-gay bigotry. (The story of Sodom & Gomorrah is in Genesis! Old Testament! Old Testament!)

So much for the ducks in their barrels. Now here's an email much more thoughtful Christian...

Your discussion of Scripture lacks any regard whatsoever for progressive revelation; this is to say that God revealed himself and his word in various matters over a span of many years and that revelation has real historical & cultural considerations which must be taken into account.... Your treatment of slavery is guilty of semantic anachronism; simply, you've read a modern, African-American-oppressive (or Nazi-Jew, etc) preconceived notion of slavery into an earlier description of slavery. Not only that, but you've made the text out to say something it does not—that it endorses the above-referenced evil slavery of the Civil War era. A cursory examination of the New Testament makes it clear that such a type of slavery is wrong and explicitly anti-Christian. (Matthew 7:12, Col 4:1, John 13:34.) While such a slavery no doubt existed at the time [the Bible was being written], the type of slavery which is mainly dealt with by the apostle Paul is more of an indentured servitude which may be voluntary or involuntary and is more akin to a work apprenticeship in most cases.—Josh

Paul never makes a distinction between "good" slavery (voluntary or involuntary servitude) and "bad" slavery (American-style slavery, a kind of slavery that "existed at the time" Paul was writing but that Paul—and Jesus—failed to condemn). Pious Christian slave owners in the Civil War Era did not regard slavery as anti-Christian. Quite the opposite. And the Bible was widely taught and read in the slave-owning 19th Century. (As it was in the slave-owning 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries.) Presumably Christian slave owners in the South had made more than a "cursory examination" of the New Testament. Did they miss those "explicitly" anti-slavery passages? Or did less ambiguous pro-slavery passages leap out at 'em first? (I wrote back to Josh to ask him if he takes "progressive revelation" into account—to say nothing of "historical & cultural considerations"—when he examines what the Bible appears to say about homosexuality. I'll post his response when he writes back.)

The people who use the Bible to justify the oppression of LGBT people today are just as wrong as the people who used the Bible to justify the institution of slavery then.

The people who use the Bible to justify the oppression of LGBT people today are just as wrong as the people who used the Bible to justify the institution of slavery then.
  • Crucifixion of Jesus Christ via Shutterstock
  • The people who use the Bible to justify the oppression of LGBT people today are just as wrong as the people who used the Bible to justify the institution of slavery then.
In fairness: Christian opponents of slavery in the United States also cited the Bible. Modern Christians who are uncomfortable with the Bible's clear and unambiguous support for and acceptance of slavery—or those who aren't aware of it (because they're incapable of Googling "New Testament" and "slavery" for themselves)—will sometimes toss this fact down like a trump card. But while the actions of Christians who fought slavery speaks well of them, their actions do not exonerate the Bible or erase "slaves obey your masters" from the New Testament. The Bible got slavery wrong. It got other things right—Golden Rule, Greatest Commandment, don't wear white after Labor Day—and, yes, some people were inspired to combat what the Bible got wrong (slavery's okay) with what the Bible got right (we are all brothers in Christ). The lesson here? The Bible is a sprawling and contradictory text that got some stuff wrong—some very big stuff—and sometimes bad people misuse the Bible to justify bigotry, hatred, oppression and persecution and sometimes good people use the Bible to fight bigotry, hatred, and oppression.

Summing up: LGBT people are being attacked by bad people who are waving Bibles over their heads. They claim they have no choice but to persecute us because of what it says in the Bible. We have a right to crack open that same Bible and ask... what about the rest of it then? We have a right to point out the hypocrisy.

And where I'm from "pointing out" a failure of reason—and humanity—is known as "calling bullshit."

I only had a limited amount of time to work on this post. If anyone out there reading has the time to dig up other examples of anti-gay "Christian" bigots citing Leviticus, drop 'em in the comments thread.