It would be improper to state that fundamentalist Christians approve of the recent slaughter of LGBT revelers by an ISIS sympathizer at an Orlando nightclub. However, it should be noted that the same biblical passages continually quoted by fundamentalists, asserting that God disapproves of gays, also declare that gays should be put to death (Leviticus 20:13). That such inerrantist literalism, even if, thankfully, inconsistently applied, contributes to an atmosphere of hatred – which continually has resulted in discrimination and acts of violence, including murder – is documentable.
The fact that this amounts to biblical bigotry does not lessen its tendency to foster hatred in society. As a lifelong Baptist, I am distressed that an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists, as well as black Baptists, contribute to the condemnation of millions of gays but also heartened that an increasing number of progressive Baptists have rejected such untenable views.
The conclusion is simple: If the presumed biblically mandated death penalty for gays is rejected, it follows that the presumed biblical assumption of God’s disapproval of gays must be rejected as well. Go and do thou likewise.
Bernard H. Cochran
Professor emeritus, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Meredith College