Is God a Bigot and a Homophobe?
by Michael R. Burch
Is God a homophobic, intolerant bigot?
It’s a simple question. Most Christians claim to believe in a God who is
loving, compassionate, wise and just. But many of them — perhaps the majority — seem to also believe that God is a homophobic,
intolerant bigot who favors Jews over Palestinians, heterosexuals over homosexuals, and Christians over billions of other people who are
all condemned to an "eternal hell" for not believing in Jesus Christ.
Is it loving, compassionate, wise or just to be an intolerant bigot? Is God a card-carrying member of the KKK? Will the prophesied thousand-year
reign of Jesus Christ produce more suffering than the abortive Third Reich's?
According to most conservative Christians, God is a homophobe. According to them, if there is anything the Bible is absolutely clear
about, it's the fact that God hates and despises homosexuality above all other sins. We know this because ... well ... okay, how do we know
It turns out that Jesus Christ never said a single word about
homosexuality, so it obviously wasn't high on his list of things to worry about.
Why then do conservative Christians make it seem that homosexuality is a worse
sin than the things Jesus did repeatedly, roundly and severely condemn, such as
Ironically, many modern-day Christians are Pharisees who condemn homosexuals
when they themselves are guilty of the sins Jesus repeatedly condemned:
hypocrisy and failing to treat other people with compassion. Jesus said that the
prostitutes would enter the kingdom of heaven before the self-righteous ... does
that include gay prostitutes, perchance?
The Bible says that Jesus had table fellowship with prostitutes ... why would he
accept them here on earth, but not in heaven?
Christian ethics begin with the Bible and therein lies the rub. The Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) was originally given to us by Levite
scribes who commanded and/or condoned racism, slavery, intolerance, sexism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the brutal murder
(stoning) of girls who had been raped,
and the stoning to death of boys who were "stubborn." But Christians no longer believe that
slavery, ethnic cleansing, genocide and murdering children
are the "will of God." So why do they continue to cling to the Bible verses that turn God the Father and Jesus Christ into intolerant bigots?
Yes, there is an Old Testament verse that calls homosexuality an "abomination." But there are
more verses that call eating shellfish and other
prohibited foods "abominations." So why do Christians feel free to scarf down shrimp, crab, lobster and bacon, if the Bible clearly says that
eating such things greatly offends the God they claim to love and adore? The answer is simple: most Christians no longer believe that eating
non-kosher food offends God, even though the Bible clearly says otherwise. Christians are necessarily very selective readers and believers of
the Bible, or they would have to murder their own children over petty misdemeanors,
such as being stubborn. They wisely ignore all sorts of biblical commands and
injunctions that they find senseless. But then why do so many of them deny homosexuals the right to ignore
biblical injunctions that they
Christians who single out homosexuality as a "special case" are hypocrites. In other matters, they decided long ago that if an action
doesn’t harm anyone it isn’t a "sin" even if the Bible clearly says otherwise. So Christians feel free to eat shellfish
and pork, to work
on the Sabbath, and to wear unisex clothing like sweats and jeans, because such things don’t harm other people. And of course most
Christians feel free to have sex as they please because consensual sex between adults is not a crime or a sin commensurate with rape or murder.
How many heterosexual Christians remain virgins until they marry, and never have sex with anyone other than their first spouse?
very few. Christians who have multiple sexual partners seem to be convinced that God understands and forgives them by "grace," which would be
very nice (assuming having sex is actually a "sin") if only they didn’t poison grace by insisting it can’t be shown to homosexuals,
who also aren’t hurting anyone when they have consensual sex.
Does it make any sense whatsoever for heterosexual Christians to relax the
rules to allow themselves to do, watch and imagine things that would make
Puritans blush, only to turn around and act like prudes in regard to the one
form of sex that doesn’t tempt them?
When Christians become hypocritical bigots who act as if anything they do
sexually can be forgiven, while insisting that homosexual sex is
somehow "unforgivable," they join the fanatically religious barbarians of yore,
who stoned their own children to death for having sex in non-prescribed ways,
and yet claimed it was the "will of God" for them to be able to own sex slaves.
Is this "morality" or palpably evil nonsense? (The question is, of course,
And what, pray tell, is the source of the Moral Majority’s obsession with
homosexuality, as if it’s the only sin God continues to care about? Jesus never
said a word about homosexuality, so it obviously wasn’t high on his list of
things to worry about. He did, however, repeatedly and severely criticize
hypocrites. So it seems very strange for heterosexual Christians to continually
depend on the grace of God, then hypocritically deny any hope of grace to
non-heterosexuals. Where is there any verse in the Bible that says grace is only
for hypocritical heterosexuals? Of course there is no such verse.
And if we’re going to use the Bible to determine whether God is a homophobe
or not, we should at least be honest about the Bible. It seems safe to say that
one of three things about the Bible must be true: either (1) all the Bible is
the infallible word of God; or (2) all the Bible is not infallible, but certain
parts of the Bible have divine origins; or (3) the Bible’s origins are entirely
I believe it’s impossible to "prove" cases two and three. But if the Bible is
not infallible, it doesn't really matter, since the presence of imperfections
in the Bible would require people who read it to use discernment and "rightly
divide" the verses worthy of consideration from the rest. So if I prove to my
satisfaction (and hopefully yours) that the entire Bible is not infallible, the question becomes whether anyone should
"believe" the verses that seem to suggest that God is an intolerant bigot who
only shows grace to heterosexual Christians.
Proving that the Bible is less than infallible is quite easy.
The core ethics of the Bible were given to the ancient Hebrews by the greatest
of the Hebrew prophets, Moses. According to the Bible, God spoke to Moses as a
man speaks to his friend, and Moses communicated God’s instructions to the
Hebrew tribes. But according to the Bible, Moses and other "men of God" like
Joshua, Caleb and King David were serial killers who slaughtered women and
children in orgies of ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide. David the "man
after God's own heart" slew every
woman when he "smote the land" and ordered the slaughter of the lame and
blind when Jerusalem was taken from the Jebusites. In Numbers chapter 31, Moses
ordered his warriors to slaughter captured women and male infants, keeping only
the virgin girls alive (obviously, as sex slaves). In Exodus 21, Moses gave
fathers permission to sell their own daughters as sex slaves, with the option to
buy them back if they failed to please their new owners. In Deuteronomy 22,
Moses commanded that girls who couldn’t prove their virginity by bleeding on
their wedding nights should be stoned to death. In the same chapter Moses
commanded that girls who had been raped should either be stoned to death or sold
to their rapists for cash payments to their fathers. These are horrendously
unjust, vile, sickening verses, and anyone who doesn’t recognize them for what they
are is not being honest. In these passages the Bible is
far worse than Hitler's Mein Kampf. After all, Hitler at his worst never suggested
that fathers should sell their own daughters as sex slaves or murder them if they
Is the Bible "infallible"? The idea is so patently ridiculous that only liars
and fools can sanction it. I read the Bible from cover to cover as a young boy
and was horrified time and time again by what it said about Yahweh and "men of
God" like Moses and David. I agree with Mark Twain ... it wasn’t
the verses I didn’t understand that bothered me ... it was the verses that I
understood all too well.
A God who is
loving, compassionate, wise and just cannot command the sexual enslavement or murder
of rape victims, or the stoning to death of boys for being
"stubborn." A God who is good cannot harden a pharaoh's heart time and time
again, then slaughter multitudes of innocent
animals and children in fits of pique, when he was the one who created the
disobedience in the first place. A God who is good cannot fly into a rage
because mothers and children facing starvation and dehydration in a desert ask
for food to eat and water to drink.
The problem for Christians is that the Bible contains what Salman
Rushdie called "Satanic verses." And they’re not exclusively in the Old
Testament. Some of the worst such verses appear in the New Testament. For instance, in
the diabolically evil book of Revelation, John of Patmos predicted that Jesus
Christ himself would return to earth to murder the children of an adulteress
living at the time Revelation was written. Of course there is no evidence that
Jesus ever murdered anyone, much less children because their mother had
sex. In what dimension is murdering children for something their mother did
reasonable, much less righteous or holy?
In Revelation, John of Patmos also claimed that human beings would be tortured with
fire and brimstone "in the presence of the Lamb and Holy Angels." (So much for
hell being "separation from God.") In John’s infernal book, rather than calling
for mercy the "saints" cried out for vengeance and blood. Can anyone imagine
Mother Teresa howling for blood and vengeance, at the foot of the throne of God?
John also said that he heard all the creatures of the earth praise God, after
which God immediately began to destroy them. Jesus was a compassionate man, so
why would he suddenly become an instrument of destruction and begin murdering trillions
of innocent animals? Any good human vet tries to keep animals from suffering.
What sort of monster deliberately causes animals to suffer? And yet this is what
Revelation clearly accuses God and Jesus of plotting: the suffering and deaths
of trillions of innocent animals.
Thomas Jefferson called the writer of Revelation a lunatic, and I agree. Why do so many Christians try to defend such vile verses? The reason seems
obvious enough: they’re afraid, and fear paralyzes their hearts and minds. They are so
terrified of the unjust Jesus of John’s vision that they can’t think straight.
Anyone with a functional heart and brain knows that eternal suffering is not a
reasonable consequence for people having sex. If two men have sex with each
other, should I torture them for all eternity, or even for a second? Of course
not. So why should God, if God is good?
Orthodox Christianity seems to have lost any sense of true morality. A good human doctor
who is able to save a patient doesn’t let the patient die because the patient is
an atheist, an agnostic, a Muslim, or a homosexual. But according to orthodox
Christianity, even though Jesus Christ was able to save the thief on the cross
with a nod of his head, he won’t bother to nod his head at billions of other human
beings, simply because they didn’t "believe" in him. But if Jesus is such an
unjust, petty being, why should anyone believe in him?
Shouldn’t believing in Jesus involve believing something good about him? If
Jesus is good, wouldn’t it be blasphemy to say that he is so petty and unjust
that he would send people to hell for not believing in him, when he chose not
to speak to them personally?
If I had a son and refused to ever speak to him, what right would I have to
demand that he "believe" in me? Christians insist that I need to "believe" in
Jesus, but that insistence is patently unjust. If Jesus wants me to believe in
him, he should use his superpowers, which presumably include the ability to
speak, to communicate with me. If he is unable or unwilling to communicate with
me, he has no right to punish me for concluding that he is either unable or
unwilling to communicate with me. And it makes no sense for him to expect me to
believe things about him based on what the Bible says, because some Bible verses turn him into a monster. The only way I can believe anything good
about Jesus is to not believe the main tenet of orthodox Christianity: that he
will only save the "chosen few." What a ghastly thing to believe about anyone!
What sort of monster would I be, if I condemned Einstein and Gandhi to hell for not
"believing" in me, when I had deliberately chosen never to speak to them?
Why are so many Christians incapable of believing anything good about Jesus?
They claim he is able to save, but will elect to save only people willing to
believe that he is a petty, cruel egomaniac. Does that make any sense?
If you were able to save other people from a terrible fate, would you save
them, or turn your back on them in a fit of pique? Many Christians try to evade
what their "faith" has done to Jesus by asking what a human judge would do with
a rapist or murderer; they ask, "Should people who are guilty go unpunished?" But the
purpose of a prison sentence is to rehabilitate, not to cause unceasing mindless
suffering for all eternity. Eternal suffering would serve absolutely no purpose, so how could a
loving, compassionate, wise, just being sentence anyone to suffer for all
eternity? And of course human judges are not able to "save" in the way that
Jesus has been said to be able to save people who are beyond hope, such as the thief on the
cross and murderers on their deathbeds. If Jesus is the savior of the world, as
Christians claim, and if he is able to save to the utmost, as the Bible says,
then he is not in the same predicament as human judges who sometimes have no
choice but to lock people up for long periods of time.
If Jesus is able to save, and is able to save Christians
despite the fact that they’re far from perfect, why would he fail to save
everyone? If he is going to save people who acted as if he was an
intolerant bigot, would it make any sense whatsoever for him to send Einstein
and Gandhi to hell, when they never blasphemed his good name? (Isn’t it ironic
that non-Christians like Einstein and Gandhi have more faith in Jesus than
millions of bigoted evangelical Christians?)
Does Jesus continue to exist? I have no way of knowing. What I do know is
that I prayed to Jesus in tears as a small boy, and he never answered me. When
he failed to answer me, while Bible-befuddled adults turned my life to
sheer hell in his name, by convincing me that I was in danger of hell every time
I sneezed, he forfeited any right to my belief. Why didn’t he appear and tell me
not to believe that he was the monster everyone said he was? Once again there
seem to be three possibilities: (1) Jesus was unable to speak to me; or (2)
Jesus refused to speak to me even though he was able to; or (3) Jesus no longer
exists. If the first possibility is the case, then Jesus is not the all-powerful
being Christians claim him to be. If the second possibility is the case, then
Jesus obviously doesn’t care what I believe about him. If the third possibility
is the case, why are Christian adults making their children’s lives hell, here
on earth? How can a religion that makes absolutely no sense have originated with
a loving, wise, compassionate, just God? Isn't it obvious that if Jesus Christ
is good, orthodox Christianity has become a false religion? On the other hand,
if Jesus is not able to save, where does that leave Christianity?
Is God a homophobe?
I don’t pretend to know. If God ever spoke to human beings, it seems he’s
given up on the enterprise as a lost cause. Why didn’t God speak to me when I was a
boy, and spare me the untender ministrations of his religion-addled disciples?
Why does he allow his name to be blasphemed from morning to night by legions of
intolerant bigots? Why have Jews and Christians killed women and children in the
name of God, and taken slaves in the name of God, and burned "witches" and
"heretics" in the name of God, and practiced bigotry and intolerance in the name
of God, for thousands of years? Why didn’t God ever bother to say, for instance,
that slavery is an abomination?
From cover to cover, the Bible is wrong about slavery. From cover to cover,
the Bible is wrong about sex (what are the odds that two people will be happier
if they wait until they’re married to find out whether they’re sexually
compatible and can live together?). So who’s to say that from cover to cover the
Bible isn’t also wrong about homosexuality?
Is slavery a sin? Not according to the Bible. Jesus never said a word against
slavery, nor did the great evangelist Paul. Hell, Paul even returned a runaway
slave to his Christian master. But of course today we all agree that slavery is
a terrible evil. So which is worse: having sex outside marriage, or selling
one’s own daughter as a sex slave? According to the Bible, it’s fine for fathers
to sell their daughters as sex slaves, but if their daughters are raped, or
don’t bleed on their wedding nights, they should be murdered. Is this the wisdom
of God, or the bestial ignorance of barbaric, chauvinistic men? If the
Bible was wrong from cover to cover about slavery and sex in general, it seems
safe to say that it was always wrong about homosexuality too. So why not believe
something better about God, or not believe at all? Isn't it strange and ironic
that non-Christians like Einstein and Gandhi thought far more highly of Jesus
than Christians who condemn other people to hell in his name?