“I don’t say that. The Bible does.”
How many times have we heard this, or some permutation of it? “That’s just my faith.” “God says that it’s sinful.” On and on and on and on. This is used to justify all manner of things. Being homophobic is the most obvious one, as far as my blog is concerned, but there are lots of things people do and write off as being prescribed by their magic book.
This argument holds no weight, though. Now, regular readers will probably be unsurprised by my statement that referencing scripture isn’t a good argument. I have made it clear that I do not consider scripture to be anything more than ancient ramblings. I’ve got a copy of the complete works of Plato, and I think that that’s got more “moral teaching” and “Truth” than the Bible, but I wouldn’t say “Plato said so, it must be true.”
That said, deferring to scripture makes a faulty argument for another reason: It’s open to interpretation. There are approximately 335,000 congregations of all stripes in the United States. There are no religious requirements in this nation, so you can go to whatever damn church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or orgy pit you like. Don’t like what priest, minister, preacher, imam, rabbi, shaman, or witchdoctor is saying at services? You can leave and pick a congregation you like out of the other 334,999 options (or, better yet, you can just not go to any religious services at all).
You can find religious organizations that will preach just about whatever you want. You can go to churches where the pastor says “God is love, and He accepts everybody!” and then happily blesses a same-sex couple. You can go to temple where a queer rabbi discusses marriage equality. Alternatively, you can go to Providence Road Baptist Church and listen to some antinomian mongrel fantasize about putting gays and lesbians into concentration camps, or maybe you can go join an ultra-Orthodox Jewish congregation that thinks that internet is out to get them.
People set up religions that reflect their values and customs, and what a person claims to worship and believe says a lot about them. Given that ours is a land of over a quarter million congregations, nobody should have much trouble finding a religious organization that aligns with their worldview. My point here is that the only reason that people keep going to churches/synagogues/mosques/temples/orgy pits that preach homophobia, misogyny, or racism is that they are homophobes, misogynists, or racists. Don’t try to pull the “Well, we have to block [rights for a certain group], because the [scripture of choice] says so,” excuse because I can almost guarantee you that there’s a church/synagogue/mosque/temple/orgy pit nearby that is preaching the opposite, and if you really did regret that your clergy opposes marriage equality, gender equality, or racial equality, you would go join a congregation that supports those things.