Dan Savage and the Bible kerfuffle

by John MacBeath Watkins

Dan Savage has created quite a kerfuffle by saying that:
We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document.
Video here:

In fact, a friend who has been tracing his genealogy  discovered that one of his ancestors became an atheist because the local preachers were using the Bible to justify slavery.

Now, technically, if you are a Christian, the life and suffering of Jesus represented a new covenant with God, which is why Christians are comfortable eating shellfish, and not sacrificing animals the way Leviticus says theyshould. But Christians choose to keep the ten commandments as a guide, and pick other parts that they like, and claim we are still bound by those parts. It is the technique used against homosexuals and the technique used by dominionists against environmentalists.

The thing is, we must remember that Christians are taking an À la carte approach to the bible, and if they wish to decide that part of the old testament speaks to them, they can do that. But if that is their approach, they should not justify it as biblical literalism. If they use Leviticus to condemn homosexuals but wear blended fabric and eat shellfish, they are treating the Bible as a living document. Therefore, they cannot justify the choices they've made based on literalism, but must justify those choices.

In the Bible, slavery and polygamy were normal, but I don't interpret that as meaning we must have slavery and polygamy. Rather, I'd say it means we have a choice.