01 May 2012

Dan Savage is right about the Bible: It's Bullshit

A couple weeks ago, Dan Savage discussed the Bible with a group of journalism students.

Here is what he said (see video below) -- along with some of the bullshit from the Bible that believers ignore while pretending to believe it.

The Bible, we’ll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can’t help it – they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22
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. Leviticus 20:13 
The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind.... 1 Timothy 1:9-10
 In the last days ... men will be ... without natural affection. 2 Timothy 3:1-3
 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another ... God gave them over to a reprobate mind ... they which commit such things are worthy of death. Romans 1:26-32
We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people. [applause] The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish,
And all that have not fins and scales in the seas ... shall be an abomination unto you: ... Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:10-11
 about slavery, 
Of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you ... they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever.  Leviticus 25:44-46
If a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and ... he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. Exodus 21:20-21
Servants [slaves], be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 1 Peter 2:18
(See here for more bullshit from the Bible on slavery.)
about dinner, 
These shall ye not eat ... swine ... it is unclean unto you. Deuteronomy 14:7-8
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14:21
And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man. Ezekiel 4:12
about farming,
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.  Deuteronomy 22:10
about menstruation, 
If a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean. And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness. Leviticus 15:19-30
If a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not ... come near to a menstruous woman..... Ezekiel 18:5-6
about virginity, 
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife. Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1
about masturbation. 
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. Genesis 38:9-10
If any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall ... be unclean. Leviticus 15:16
Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:28-30
We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. 
Philemon: This short letter was written by Paul to his slave-owner friend and fellow believer, Philemon. Paul was writing about Onesimus, who he had recently converted, and who happened to also be a runaway slave belonging to Philemon. Since Paul was in a position of authority among believers, this would have been a great opportunity for him (and God) to condemn slavery -- if he (and God) had anything against it, that is. But apparently he didn't. Instead he returned the slave to his owner without so much as a word against the institution of slavery. 
(Note: Philemon isn't quite "the shortest book in the New Testament" -- 2 and 3 John are a bit shorter.) 
And Paul doesn’t say “Christians don’t own people.” Paul talks about how Christians own people.

We ignore what the Bible says about slavery, because the Bible got slavery wrong. Tim — ah, Sam Harris, in A Letter To A Christian Nation, points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong. Slavery! What’re the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100% percent.

The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – if a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. 
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her ... And say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And ... say ... these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. ... But if ... the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel, then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-17
Callista Gingrich lives. [applause] And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days. [audience laughs]

People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.

One other thing I wanna talk about is — [chuckles] — so, you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I’m done beating up the Bible. [applause]

It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back. [applause]

And here's a great video on the subject by Zinnia Jones.


Unknown said...

Wow, made of awesome.


Stephen said...

A bunch of people walked out on him, I suppose because they were (exceedingly) offended by his remarks critical of selective bible interpretation. Check out the girl at 1:35 wearing the crucifix. Actually, I don't remember Dan saying anything critical about Jesus or christianity, just old-testament stuff. The comments on the original article (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018110513_savage01m.html ) show a diversity of responses, but it's clear that a lot of people thought he was out of line. Not me. :-)
Steve Weeks

Mormon411 said...

Dear Steve Wells,

I love this blog! How do I follow you? Can't find a link anywhere!

LanceThruster said...

Hear, hear!

Steve Wells said...

Thanks Mormon411. I'm glad you like it.

As for links and whatnot, you can follow me on twitter (@SteveWellsSAB) and there's an RSS feed on the sidebar.

Leonidus the Great. said...

interesting piece and nice blog as a whole.

nazani said...

I wonder how many of these so-called journalism students later watched him on YouTube. I wonder how many actually considered what he said.

"it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Is this metaphor, or yet another example of ideas about the afterlife, of flesh v. spirit, not being quite settled when various books of the bible were written?

nazani said...

"it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Is this metaphor? Or yet another example of confusion about the nature of the afterlife and the nature of the soul?

I wonder how many of the walk-outs watched themselves on YouTube. Wonder if they felt proud of themselves or if some of his remarks actually got through.

Ian said...

I used to think that Christian fundamentalists would demonize homosexuality because, unlike say, adultery, it was the one "sin" they'd never be guilty of.

And while that may still be true, I'm convinced that a large chunk of the demonization comes from self-loathing closet cases. See Haggard, Ted; Craig, Larry; Long, Eddie; Bachmann, Marcus; Ratzinger, Joseph.

(I realize neither Pope Benedict or Marcus Bachmann have been caught in the act, but come on...)

Labratus1 said...

He looks so sad trying to put a spin on homosexuality and trying to justify it. But little that he knows its still wrong freak. Flame, Flame, Flame that's what he's going to get. The devil is so stupid when he's trying to compete with God. Next. Flamers. How GROSSSSS!

LanceThruster said...

Labratus1 - Your god's arms are too short to box with me. Sorry.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I wonder where Dan Savage got his degree in theology?

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I wonder where Dan Savage got his degree in theology?