A surprising thing the ‘Book of Red’ says about blue hats

Sodom and Gomorrah took center stage last week in the churchwide seminary curriculum. The teacher’s manual specifically identifies the “very grievous sin” which caused God to destroy the city as “homosexual behavior,” saying it was “widely accepted and practiced among the inhabitants.” The lesson briefly lists “other sins” identified by a later prophet—Ezekiel—including pride, idleness, and oppression of the poor and needy. But the rest of the lesson is spent on sections including “The Law of Chastity,” “Doctrinal Truths That Help Us Understand Why Homosexual Behavior Is a Serious Sin,” and “Sexual Purity.”

It’s a good idea to talk to your kids about this if they’re in seminary. It offers a great opportunity to think about the importance of reading scripture in context.

Interpreting the Genesis narrative as a condemnation of “homosexuality” is a long-standing tradition not only in our church, but in much of broader Christianity. On the surface, it seems pretty straightforward. A few angels show up at Lot’s place. He invites them in. A group of ruffians show up and demand Lot hand over those men so they can “know” them, that is, rape them. Lot offers his daughters instead (!!!), but they refuse. Luckily the gang is smitten with blindness, Lot and family escape, and the city is destroyed.

The problem with such a “common sense” reading is that our culture and the ancient culture of the text are different. LDS writer Ben Spackman does a great job laying it out here. Also see queergrace’s discussion here. Basically, today’s queer/gay experience doesn’t line up with ancient views, and “homosexuality” was not the focus of the ancient writers.

Here’s a little illustration to show why we need to be careful with scripture interpretation.

The Book of Red

Imagine there’s a scripture called the Book of Red, written in the year 1022 AD. In one passage, a group of people are stealing people’s lunch money and punching kids in the mouth. This group also happens to wear blue hats. In response to their behavior, a prophet warns the people: “Thou shalt not do as the people wearing blue hats do.” Soon all the bully thieves (who also happen to wear blue hats) get miraculously blown sky high in a giant explosion.

Now fast forward 1,000 years to today where we see someone reading the Book of Red. I approach them. I’m wearing a blue winter cap.

The reader says, “Hey! Take off that blue hat, you friccin Blue Hat! Haven’t you read the Book of Red?”

And I say, “My hat has nothing to do with theirs and I think you’ve missed the point. I do appreciate that story because it’s actually about how I shouldn’t steal people’s lunch money or punch kids in the mouth.”

The reader replies, “But it says don’t be like the Blue Hats.”

So I say, “Sure, but scholars of ancient Red have shown that the blue hats were actually huge pillows strapped around their heads. That has nothing to do with me wearing a cap to keep my bald head warm today. The point of the story is to condemn bullying and theft.”

But the reader replies, “Nope, it’s right there in the scripture. Yes, it also says don’t steal and punch and stuff, but they were also wearing blue hats, which is a real problem. Let’s focus more on the hats.”

In this example it’s easy to see how the reader is misapplying scripture. Blue winter caps in 2022 have a different function and cultural meaning than the hats in the ancient text. And the account in Genesis was depicting war crimes and inhospitality—the men wanted to show dominance, not to make out and be sexually attracted to angel people. On the surface there appears to be a similarity, but when we pay attention to the context it breaks down.

Maybe we could still argue that my blue cap is also actually sinful, but we can’t use the Book of Red to justify that claim because it wasn’t addressing blue winter caps that didn’t exist for 1,000 more years. Cultural values shift, and scriptures reflect those shifting values within their pages, and also in the ways we interpret the texts today.

On that note, I recommend checking out this Fireside with Blair Hodges episode about the history of sexuality and gender as understood in the Church. It features Taylor Petrey, author of Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism. Give it a listen, pass it along.

More importantly with regard to this topic, I strongly recommend the podcast BEYOND THE BLOCK. Especially this recent episode on Genesis 19, etc. It features Derek Knox, a queer Latter-day Saint theologian.

*Addendum: Thanks to Derek Knox for offering feedback. I updated the post accordingly. Specifically, I didn’t directly cite any queer sisters/brothers/siblings on the topic, which was a big oversight. Spackman’s post is helpful but I also added some queer Christian perspective. Also, I’m going to watch the comments carefully because I don’t want this to be a place for uncritical spreading of homophobic responses. Finally, I updated the language in a few places to reflect the fact that “homosexual” is a term that most queer/gay people don’t use.


  1. This is a good perspective, but wrong in application. The article you linked to did, in part, what you disagree with. Interpreted the scriptures incorrectly. Certainly, the people of Sodom were not charitable. But the “proof” your source points to in Ezekiel focuses on one line to the exclusion of others. Abominations and lewdness is mentioned more times than being uncharitable. Not that being uncharitable is not a disqualifier — it is. But the reference to wickedness, abomination, lewdness, each of them made multiple times, is directed at what everyone knew, but didn’t spell out exactly. Surely, that is a significant part of it.

  2. I disagree that it’s wrong in application. Here’s the excerpt from Ezekiel 16:

    49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

    As with Genesis 19, “homosexuality” isn’t mentioned at all. We don’t see “lewdness” until ten versus later as the prophet is also discussing other societies, not just Sodom. And “lewdness” there is zimmah, which generally means a “plan,” a “purpose,” and is also used to describe an “evil plan”; translated also “heinous crime,” “wicked purpose or device.” This has nothing to do with, say, two consenting adult lesbians in 2022 holding hands at a Tig Notaro comedy show. The scene in Genesis depicts a group of men attempting to engage in an act of cultural domination—basically a gang rape. That’s no more necessarily equivalent to “homosexuality” than “fornication” (as condemned in the Bible) is equivalent to heterosexuality.

    It could very well be the case that the ancient author believed same-sex sexual intimacy was sinful. There are other Hebrew Bible verses that mention what seems like homosexuality that deserve discussion, too. But that’s not the concern of Genesis 19.

  3. Christian Cardall says:

    I agree that inhospitality and abuse are central to the portrait of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that sexual orientation as we understand it today was not contemplated anciently; but I disagree that the homosexual nature of the attempted sexual violence is irrelevant. If it’s not the substance of the cake itself, it’s at least “icing on the cake”—a nontrivial accent in the story.

    The portrait answers the question “Why were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?” And the answer is that they were so completely contrary to God’s purposes for creation, that—as with the story of the Flood—they deserved the opposite of creation, that is, destruction.

    Two main tasks for humans were given in Genesis 1-2, which underpin the biblical worldview: they were created to (1) be wise stewards caring benevolently for God’s good creation (“dominion over all these things”), and (2) to generate and nurture human life in order to extend God’s influence in the world, by creating more humans in the divine image (“multiply and replenish the earth”).

    The exploitation and violence practiced by residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were totally opposite to divine imperative (1), wise and benevolent stewardship. In addition, however, the homosexual nature of their attempted abuse on this occasion accents this because of its inherent unfruitfulness vis-a-vis generation of new life, in contrast with divine imperative (2).

  4. Christian: I’m glad you recognize that the text’s primary concern is inhospitality and abuse. That’s better than what the curriculum writers offered up, although you still seem to share in their mistaken assumption that homosexuality is an important part of the narrative. You also recognize that sexual orientation as we understand it today is not part of the text’s vision, which again is more than the manual can do.

    However, I think it’s crucial to keep in mind that the text isn’t clearly about sexual attraction. That’s an assumption interpreters place on the text. You try to get around this by focusing on heterosexual procreation, which is an interesting approach I haven’t seen before. But it’s not the necessary reading of the text, and today it’s definitely a homophobic reading. The men at the door fit the mold of aggressive figures who openly flout the expectations of hospitality. Again, this isn’t about procreation or sexual attraction.

    But even if the writer intended to implicitly connect the narrative to the Eden account there are problems with simply applying it without discernment to the contemporary world. You interpret “multiply and replenish” as a “task given” to the humans. Different interpreters have read that phrase differently, some insisting that it is a command, others interpreting it as a blessing (God basically describing what they can set about to do now). However we interpret it, there’s a problem: There are many heterosexual couples who can’t produce biological offspring. And our church has begun teaching that sexual intercourse is not solely for procreation but also for the purposes of bonding and strengthening a relationship. So our church has already granted exceptions to that general rule.

    The ancient horizon of the text lacks current cultural possibilities, including monogamous same-sex marriage, surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, adoption, and other means of creating loving family structures. And again the Genesis 19 narrative is not about homosexuality. It’s about inhospitality, conquest, and rape. The text gives us no reason to say the assailants were gay. That’s reading a contemporary phenomenon back onto the text.

    A lot more could be said (for example, even if the account WAS about homosexuality that does not mean we should uncritically adopt the text’s attitude toward homosexuality any more than we should adopt the Hebrew Bible’s prohibitions against mixing certain fabrics or cooking or eating particular combinations of food together. We selectively draw from the scriptures and we’ve long abandoned some of the text’s prohibitions. The question isn’t merely whether the Bible condemns homosexuality, because we also have to consider if the bible would be morally correct in that condemnation. I mean, the same story has Lot offering his daughters up to the gang rapists, so clearly there are some differences in moral judgment going on here), but I’ll leave it there for now.

  5. Christian, by that logic, heterosexual rape would somehow be more acceptable than homosexual rape? That’s not a reading I would want to try to defend.

  6. PS: Thanks to Derek Knox for offering some feedback about the post. For instance, I didn’t directly cite any queer sisters/brothers/siblings on the topic, which was a big oversight. Spackman’s post is helpful but I also added some queer Christian perspective. Also, I’m going to watch the comments carefully because I don’t want this to be a place for uncritical spreading of homophobic responses. Finally, I updated the language in a few places to reflect the fact that “homosexual” is a term that most queer/gay people don’t use and doesn’t connote positive vibes.

  7. Kristine, thank you. That.

  8. Ryan Mullen says:

    Thanks for this, Blair. I’m eager to read through this with my seminary child, listen to the podcast you linked, and discuss.

  9. Thanks Ryan! Lemme know how it goes, and if your child has any interesting thoughts to add.

  10. Christian Cardall says:

    I suspect that was probably so for the ancient Biblical writer and his audience, as supported in this very same story by Lot’s offer of his daughters. We today would weigh at least that particular implication differently.

    However, when you say, “not a reading I would want to try to defend,” I don’t know if you mean it’s an inaccurate perception of the ancient writer’s worldview; or that, even if it’s true to the ancient worldview, it’s not one that should inform our thinking today.

  11. Christian Cardall says:

    (That last comment of mine was responding to Kristine.)

  12. Christian, while Kristine can absolutely speak for herself, the answer is both. It doesn’t reflect an ancient worldview and it’s deeply inimical to an equitable contemporary reading.

  13. Honestly, I don’t care if there’s some way to torture that reading out of the text or some ancient context. It’s a disgusting idea, one I would be ashamed to articulate or justify in any context. Sex as violence is bad. This isn’t complicated.

  14. The Joseph Smith Translation in Genesis Chapter 19 verse 11 makes it very clear that this is not about being gay, it’s about sexual assault. JS clarified that Lot did not offer his daughters, and that these men were more than happy to take advantage of anyone they could. Thus, they were inhospitable.

    It really amazes me that the teacher manual does not address this. The JST is not new.

    Thank you for this insightful post. I am very appreciative for those that are promoting a more accurate/applicable way to read scripture. Because learning how to be more hospitable is pretty universal and a much better gospel doctrine discussion point than once again marginalizing the already marginalized.

  15. Geoff - Aus says:

    So we have a descriptnion of an attempted rape, being described as abomnable. The lesson says what is abomnable about it is that all the men in this town (not just the 5% who are gay) want to rape other men so they must all be homosexual, which is what they want to be abominable .

    What Christian finds abomonable is that you should only rape women because you have a higher commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.

    What is abomnable is rape!

    In Australia we have been lead in this discussion by Grace Thame who was Australian of the year for 2021 who was groomed and repeatedly raped by a school teacher, who had been doing it for years to other young women. And a second young woman who was a political staffer, raped in her ministers office. These young women are not going quietly. They are both calling for change to how women are treated. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-09/grace-tame-brittany-higgins-press-club-leaders-on-notice/100817220

  16. A Poor Wayfaring Stranger says:

    Chadwick, Kristine and BHodges, many thanks for your comments. I too grew up with the “sexual perversion” view of Sodom and Gomorrah. Fortunately, a Christian friend not of our faith challenged this view in a conversation that we had over the period of several days. He rather pointedly brought up the problem that we have in our church is that we are told by our leaders not to read non-LDS religious books and scriptural commentaries. To prove his point he asked me if I would be willing to read one book in the updated William Barclay “Daily Bible Studies” that he used in his Presbyterian New Testament Sunday School class. I asked him if he would read the CES New Testament manual that is used by the Institute classes that went along with the NT book that I’d chosen to read. When we finished reading our NT book (Luke) we got together to discuss what we’d learned. The differences between the book written by a well known NT scholar who actually knew Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic plus the historical, spiritual (in terms of the Jewish teachings during Jesus’ life as well as the “pagan religions” practiced in first century Palestine) and cultural background of life in Palestine and the Institute manual were enormous. I learned so much more from the “forbidden” Bible commentary, especially when explaining the meanings of Greek words and how knowing their full, correct context affected what Jesus was truly saying. Considering that the Church leaders still insist on members reading the KJV form of the Bible and that many of the Early Modern English words no longer mean the same thing in 2022 that they did in 1611 and before (because the English translations by Wycliffe and Tyndall which that were used as a template for the KJV translators were already over 100 years old in 1611) it’s like reading a foreign language that you barely understand and then being blindfolded for good measure. How can you learn what’s actually being said? Ditto for reading the OT. The Institute manual was embarrassingly simplistic and was often incorrect in its interpretation of the same material. To double check to make sure that I was not just relying on one translation and interpretation of the Gospel of Luke I read several different translations and also talked with a friend who is fluent in both ancient and modern Greek. Everything that I’d read checked out. Joseph Smith states in the D&C that “The glory of God is intelligence.” Why then are church members so incurious about REALLY studying the scriptures and “learning from the best books” (another quote from the D&C)? As long as our CES instructors are not thoroughly and expertly trained to understand the scriptures, the languages that they are written in and the proper context and historical background that they were written in we’re going to be having these unfortunate lessons like the Sodom and Gomorrah one where the message actually written in the scriptures is not the one that church leaders, CES and the people who write the CFM study manuals want/expect members to learn. Sorry for getting on my soapbox. Having taught Sunday School several times this is a big pet peeve of mine.

  17. Christian Cardall says:

    Blair, I agree that the incommensurability of the worldviews of writer and reader has to be taken into account when attempting to derive normative lessons for our day from ancient texts. This is of course one of the reasons Latter-day Saints are not satisfied with sola scriptura, but insist on the necessity of living prophets.

    I recognize that many feel our current Church leaders are lagging behind in the responsibility for correct discernment when it comes to the subject of same-sex romantic and sexual relationships.

    On many subjects, such as racial equality, economic equality, environmental stewardship, violence, freedom of conscience, and perhaps others, ancient and modern scripture arguably point in what might be perceived as “progressive” directions in the modern political sense. Quite apart from accidents of perceived alignment with political categories of the moment, however, is God’s original intent for creation.

    And in the particular case of same-sex relationships (and behaviors related to sexuality generally), it seems that Church leaders understand God’s original intent for creation to be different than the current “progressive” view. They see the purpose of sexual expression as inextricably intertwined with the generation and nurturing of new life, due to the central place (whether as command or blessing) of “multiply and replenish the earth” in the foundation of ancient scripture (Genesis 1-2); of the “continuation of the seeds” “both in and out of the world” as the definition of exaltation and deity in the capstone of modern scripture (D&C 132); and in the implementation of these in the fusion of ancient and modern that is our temple liturgy.

    Because of this perspective, Church leaders regard the two points you raise—pair bonding, and reproductive technologies—not as free-standing goods inviting a redefinition of the law of chastity and expansion of marriage to same-sex couples, but only as subsidiary and subordinate to, and in support of, what they understand God’s central concern to be in connection with sexuality—the generation and nurturing of new life.

    Regarding the pair-bonding function of sexual relations: as far as I can tell, Church leaders seem to regard non-procreative instances of sexual relations between a married man and woman as sacramental in nature—whether pointing forwards by way of foreshadowing of a “continuation of the seeds” in eternity, or backwards by way of commemoration of children they have already jointly brought into mortality. For a sacrament to have meaning, it must point to something “actual.” For instance, animal sacrifices pointed forward to the “actual” atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the Lord’s Supper points backwards to the same. Similarly, non-procreative sexual relations between a married man and woman point to “actual” instances of conception of new life in time and/or eternity. Church leaders do not currently see any warrant, in either mortal biology or scriptural descriptions of eternal expectations, for conception of new life to be a possible result of same-sex unions.

    Regarding reproductive technology: As far as is currently known, at some point along the way the combination of male and female is still required, ultimately at the cellular level, and also for gestation. This leads Church leaders to counsel strongly that these technologies only be deployed under constraints analogous to the constraints of the law of chastity on sexual relations—that is, that the individual male and individual female whose gametes are needed for conception, and the female needed for gestation, be a married man and woman.

  18. Christian, that is a truly extraordinary lesson to take from a pericope condemning violent rape. Nothing in this scripture is about pair-bonding. NOTHING.

  19. as Kristine says: sex as violence is bad. heterosexual or homosexual violence baffles like the message of the story. it’s a big jump to say, in seminary, that the city was destroyed because of homosexuality. This reminds me of the time Hugh Nibley was called by the seminary teacher saying his daughter had been missing class. She’s been coming to class?!? he answered. I told her she was not allowed to go to seminary.

  20. The teacher’s manual certainly is misleading in assuming that homosexuality was THE reason for the destruction of that population.

    What is peculiar is that every time homosexuality is mentioned in the scriptures, it is associated with a fallen society or behavior set. It is never condoned and never receives regulatory commandments: e.g. only one husband per man please! Never. It is without doubt merely the tip of a sinful iceberg; a symptom that is separable from same-sex attraction. It never has been, is not, and never will be permissible.

  21. az43, there were so many slavers who said basically the same thing about slavery. The idea that the Bible provides the ultimate horizon on human morality is probably pretty common in the church, but I disagree with it.

    Stranger: it’s weird that Joseph Smith started a school where members would learn ancient languages and that we as a church have completely ignored such dedicated study for the most part since then.

    Christian, the scripture here has nothing to do with pair bonding or procreation. Move along, thanks.

  22. BHodges, are you really equating slavery to the misunderstanding of genitalia functionality? How revolting. They are not the same. Not by a long shot. The physical abuse and maltreatment of those professing same sex attraction is horrible, yes. That IS covered in the scriptures. Not just the Bible. Stomping one’s foot that a fundamental doctrine to be changed simply because a minuscule minority of the population refuses to keep their pants zipped up, is stunning.

    It is unfortunate that the scriptures often take the tone of fear mongering, but such is the price of living in evil’s kingdom, where genetic mutations in all their forms kill us all eventually.

  23. az43:

    “…simply because a minuscule minority of the population refuses to keep their pants zipped up…” – this is deeply uncharitable, most of all to the LGB fellow saints whose burdens you covenanted to bear. Here are some resources about what LGB Saints actually care about, and how you can help without running afoul of any church policies or teachings:


    “…where genetic mutations in all their forms kill us all eventually.”

    On the contrary, genetic diversity promotes resilience in a species. Genetic uniformity renders a species incapable of adapting to changes in habitat, climate, and other species; uniformity is what endangers a species.

  24. Just another slant. Survival of the fittest should have removed homosexuality from the genome a long time ago because that trait should not have propagated nearly as well as heterosexuality. We can only draw the conclusion that homosexuality is in some, possibly oblique, way pro-survival as a species. At the present time I cannot point to the cause, but the effect seems to point at the idea that homosexuality is pro-survival.

    My guess is that the pro-survival effect might be small, on the order of a few percent. But a few percent acting over a million years is substantial and can easily result in a balance between survival and anti-survival forces. Kind of like sickle cell anemia balancing between pro-survival and anti-survival forces.

    One should, therefore, not use the old rag that homosexuality is “anti-survival.” If it was truly anti- survival, natural selection would have eliminated it.

  25. Augustine drew lines around procreation. I draw lines around informed consent. For a two sentence version that’s as much as I want to say about the underlying sex discussion.

    But for the red book blue hat illustration I would want to add several steps in the story. I would tell it as a 1022 AD prophet saying do not steal lunch money and punch kids in the mouth, and a later 1522 A.D. translator or transcriber shorthanding as do not do the blue hat thing (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 23:17 in the poorly rendered (imo) KJV), and then 500 years of people setting up prohibitions for their children using a convenient “blue hat” label for whatever they decide is bad.

  26. SVbob: the principle you’re looking for is “kinship selection”! First proposed by Darwin, it acknowledges that the survival of a species isn’t only defined by individuals who reproduce, but also by the groups in which they live. Some individuals may not reproduce, but their presence contributes to successful reproduction among their kin — ensuring that their genetic material is still passed down through their siblings, cousins, and such. People who are not drawn to reproduce themselves can still contribute to the survival and thriving of the communities in which they live.

    (This is apart from the observation of same-sex activity among non-human animals, too.)

  27. This is all very interesting.
    as for me, well, the scriptures are essentially a guide that shows when we love one another, we are emulating Christ, and when we don’t, we are missing the point, looking beyond the mark. I can’t speak for anyone else, I don’t claim any special privledge All I know is that growing up with the traditional LDS narrative about homosexuality, including the Genesis inrpretations of Lot and angels etc, left me lonely and living outside of life.
    When I had the courage to pray about my gender transition, and accepted it, and therefore caused me to accept my homosexuality, I was shocked, SHOCKED at the comfort and acceptance I felt in those prayers (maybe read shocked more as like, standing amazed and humbled and comforted and surprised).
    So, here I am inside a new same sex marriage (yesterday was our first anneversary) with another transgender woman, feeling joy and peace, and no way currently to come back into the church (which I would like to do if it were possible), but feeling ok, because, I am standing inside the circle of God’s grace and love.
    Prophet or not, be it whoever wrote Genesis, or Ezekiel, or what the modern Q15 say or spin and put into the seminary correlated curriculum, nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, and if you have to depart from the most direct line between what is love and what you want to explain is love, then you are departing in convoluted departures, but tis ok, there is grace for that, just pray that no beautiful littel queer LDS seminary student starts to feel lonely and isolated, and depersonalized, and start hating life because of what they are being taught in seminary.
    prophets have been, currently are, and will again be wrong on several issues. Does not make them not-prophets, simply expresses that they are human with the rest of us, even if they have the keys. They are clearly not inspired in all of their various and contrasting viewpoints (consider what we have learned about the dynamics that kept priesthood from the blacks for so long, HBB, did not agree with HBL, etc, and what not).
    Just hang on little flock, fear not, and if your littel seminary student is queer and beautiful, love them for who they are and don’t let them be compared in any way to those jerks that were ruling Sodom.

  28. And you are right, TK, that principle you discuss was first taught to me by my instructor at a BYU biological psychology class in 1988. By selecting out queer congregants, what is the church losing that might actually help it to survive and thrive better as a community? A lot I think.

  29. az43,
    interesting use of the word miniscule.
    1 sheep out of 99 was not miniscule. It was sought out even though it was just 1%
    certainly at least 5% of the population is gay. perhaps 10% by some measures. Is that miniscule?

  30. Christiankimball, I like that gloss.

    Lorna, thank you for that beautiful witness.

    Thanks to all who responded to az’s homophobic contributions.

  31. *Lona

  32. In the pines says:

    When we appreciate God’s creations, we catch a glimpse of the glorious and indescribable grandeur of God. But God did not pronounce these creations perfect, he said they were good. Our scriptures are among God’s creations and are good enough as sacred texts go, but far from perfect.

    I have a 100+ ft loblolly pine in my front yard. It is a good tree in my opinion and inspires me. Many of my neighbors have cut their large trees down. My tall pine reminds me of trips to the high mountains as a youth and of my service in the military when I first became acquainted with these magnificent trees. It provides plenty of mulch and nice pinecones for Christmas decorations. It also filters just the right amount of sun for my azaleas and camellias to flourish. It feeds a population of birds and squirrels. A tree that size probably ties up a fair bit of carbon, temporarily.

    It is not perfect. It is lifting the driveway up. It drops sap on my cars. Every few years another large branch crashes down and dents said cars and could kill someone. A windstorm could blow it on my house and destroy half of it including cars parked in the garage. It produces bushels of yellow sticky pollen every spring and aggravates some people’s allergies.

    I think it is a huge mistake to expect the scriptures to be any better than any number of God’s creations, like my pine. We see through a glass darkly and Ecclesiastics suggests that everything is vanity or meaningless by the end of our life here Every passage of scripture can be interpreted in 3 ways and they are not mutually exclusive. Simply descriptive of something that happened or could happen as in a parable. Prescriptive of things we should do and proscriptive of things we should not do. Over the ages various passages have served the justification of many contrary causes.

    A Jewish chaplain I knew in the military many years ago remined me that a much stronger case can be made to justify slavery from the Bible than condemn homosexuality. He mentioned Ephesians 6:4-8 and several of the parables of Jesus, but slyly omitted Joseph being sold into Egypt and any number of references of slavery in the part of the scriptures he holds sacred, with a twinkle in his eye. He made a similar comparison, that a much weaker case for polygamy than against homosexuality…. Gotta love that guy.

    We have a deeper problem. I think it might have a name, proof texting. Using a passage of authoritative /sacred writing to prove a point that may or may not have been the intention of the author or of God. It is the essence of legalistic thinking and highly useful in shaming people. Which is contrary to both the first and second great commandments, as I understand them.

  33. Phil, BCC welcomes a wide range of viewpoints, but your comment crossed several lines and was deleted.

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