For people like myself who used to believe that homosexuality is a sin for religious reasons and have now come to understand homosexual relationships from a naturalistic perspective, it’s very difficult to listen to not only the religious arguments against gay marriage but to the disparagement of gay relationships and seeing them branded as sinful. This issue grieves me for so many reasons, so I tried discussing the possibility that evangelicals are misunderstanding what the Bible says (or does not say) about homosexuality with my dad, who has a PhD from a conservative Reformed Baptist seminary.
When I presented my challenge, he said, “I still don’t get why people who don’t believe in God feel the need to modify Christian documents in order to make more palatable to themselves a position that they have indicated they will never hold due to lack of evidence.”
To me, this point he is making is like saying, “I don’t understand why we should compromise on anything. I believe what I believe, and nothing you atheists can say will sway me in any direction.” Now, I know that’s not what he said or meant, but it doesn’t seem far off. I’ve consistently said that I have no intention of trying to pull my friends and family away from their Christian beliefs, but I do feel compelled to challenge them when they believe something that negatively affects others. I am not trying to “modify Christian documents,” and I honestly don’t care whether or not I myself find anything in the Bible palatable. I still won’t believe it’s true. My concern is how people who believe it use it as a weapon. I have history on my side in this argument. How many times historically have Christians reinterpreted scripture? Can I not trust that such a thing can happen again in a new time? I’ve not smudged out anything in the Bible. I’ve only suggested that the original copies and contexts be revisited for the sake of trying to understand why it is necessary that so many loving people continue to be belittled and shamed by modern interpretations.
My dad’s statement is also an example of the Christian perception that everyone is out to destroy their truth. On the contrary, I’m trying to work within their system to make for a more loving, hospitable society. I am accommodating to their rules by looking at the original language. As has been the case more often than I’d have anticipated, I feel like I’m basically being a better Christian than most Christians I know. This is the greatest irony of being an atheist humanist.