06/12/2012 07:42 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Solving the Bible's Gay Problem

Christians seem to be split when it comes to their view concerning gays, but that split isn't an even split. The vast majority of Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. Still, there are some Christians who will argue that while homosexuality is a sin, we are all evil sinners anyway and that this sin is no different from any other sin. These Christians actually think they are being compassionate.

In my experience, very few Christians reject the idea that homosexuality is a sin outright.
The problem is that those few Christians are actually decent human beings and yet their holy book clearly advocates treating gays harshly (harshly being a gentle euphemism for killing them), which they know to be immoral. As a result, they will try just about anything they can to reinterpret the handful of anti-gay verses to mean something -- anything -- different from what those verses obviously appear to say. They will take some word and translate it into other languages, claim ancient context, insist that these verses must be interpreted in light of other verse, turn the Bible upside-down and read it through a mirror so that the passage that states that gays should be put to death means that being gay is a-OK in God's book.

There is a much simpler way to deal with their problem, however. Instead of trying to make the Bible say something other than what it clearly says, Christians can just reject that the Bible has any kind of moral authority to begin with. You would think this would be easy since the Bible provides at least tacit support for slavery, advocates treating women as the property of a man (either her father or her husband), and preaches genocide, rape and eternal torture. Then there are the ridiculous laws that are punishable by death, such as working on the Sabbath. God even sends two bears to kill 42 children for the crime of calling a holy person "baldy."

Clearly the Bible is not the best guide for moral behavior. This couldn't be more obvious. I'm not asking these Christians to reject the whole of the Bible (although that would be nice) or to turn their back on belief in the ridiculous theology that they hold to on insufficient evidence (i.e., faith). All I am really asking them to do is to acknowledge the obvious. Acknowledge that a perfect being had no hand in the authorship of the Bible. They can still worship whatever deity they like and they can still think that Jesus said some cool stuff worth following. They can even continue to find some meaning and moral lessons in other places in the Bible. All I am asking is that they acknowledge that a perfect deity had no hand in writing the Bible.

This will free them up to treat the Bible like they would any other book. They can accept the parts of the Bible they like and reject the parts they don't like. If you like the "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone" story, that's fine. You don't have to accept the story where Jesus says that it is better to cut off your hands and pluck out your eyes than to sin and be tortured for all eternity in Hell.

As Dan Savage recently pointed out, all Christians are cafeteria Christians. Not even the Westboro Baptist Church preaches stoning adulterers, atheists and gays to death. They just picket funerals and insult gays and atheists. The Phelps are downright liberal when you think about it. I bet they even wear mixed clothing and eat shellfish, too.

Feel free to check out my Atheism 101 Series for frequently asked topics.