Contrary to what one might assume from the title, I am not going to talk today about whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality. I have made my thoughts on that clear from a scriptural perspective on my ‘Think’ page, and from a legal perspective in the article “2015 Talk Round-Up: Biblical Law.” Today, I offer some quick thoughts on the argument that the Bible does not tell believers to judge or condemn. You know, the whole “who am I to judge? The Bible tells us to love” thing.
Every time the accusation of self-righteous condemnation is levelled, I hear Christians responding in regard to whatever group is under scrutiny with “those aren’t real Christians. They are judging, and that’s against the Bible. The Bible doesn’t say that.” Every time I hear this, I have to wonder if those people saying it have ever actually read the Bible.
Here’s the thing. The Bible commands believers to “rebuke the sinner” (Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:3, 1 Timothy 5:20, and many more). Jesus commanded believers to “judge righteously” (John 7:24). IF you are a Christian who believes the Bible is the word of God, and IF you listen to what Christ said, and IF you look to God to determine your actions … then it IS your place to judge, it IS your place to condemn. The Bible DOES say that.
This is a pretty simplistic and brief argument of course, and it could be argued at great length from both sides. The point I am making is not that the Bible says one thing. The point is that Christians who condemn us for being LGBTQ+, or for whatever other reason, if they believe we are worthy of judgment, are just as much Christians as those who say otherwise. It is very misleading to say that the Bible tells believers only to love when that is very clearly not the case. It does say to love and have compassion, and it also says to judge and rebuke. Which part you choose to follow, if any, will be determined in large part by what kind of a person you are. Choosing to follow the love parts doesn’t make you any more of a Christian than choosing the judging parts. I’m not saying the Westboro Baptist Church is scripturally justified of course, the word “fag” is nowhere in the Bible, but the guy who told me that I am leading kids away from God, recruiting them into a life of sin, is. He believes what he said, and the Bible told him to do just what he did – judge and rebuke the sinner.
The Bible is a big book, and there is a lot of complexity to it. As frustrated as I and the knowledgeable Christians I argue with get with one another, we at least have a scriptural understanding in common. I find increasingly that pop culture rhetoric on this topic reveals both a lack of understanding of what is actually in there, and an eagerness to use it in social issue debates. The Bible doesn’t just say what we want it to. I would love to tell that guy that he is going against his own holy book when he ignorantly judges me, but he isn’t. It says what it says.
I don’t take the Bible as a moral authority, or as a book with any moral lessons that can’t be found in many other books (I can go to much older texts to find the same lessons). I study it because I grew up trying to follow it. I use my experience, and my knowledge, to help others. In addition to that, the Bible has a tremendous amount of cultural ‘pull,’ and whether or not we use it in any meaningful spiritual way is a choice those of us raised with it have to make. As a Queer person, I have Christians who love and accept me, and Christians who loath and condemn me. All of them are justified by scripture. So the next time you want to say “the Bible doesn’t say that,” think twice. There’s a good chance it does.