An Open Letter to the Black Church

By Frank Roberts
Published in The Huffington Post, February 14, 2014

Dear Backwards, Homophobic Church People Who Continue to Twist Scripture:

Yes, I know you have a biblical objection to homosexuality. I have no investment or interest in trying to change your views on the issue (it’s sort of like a Republican trying to convince a Democrat that his party is the “best,” or vice versa — it’s a fruitless task) but in the spirit of Christian brotherhood, I offer you the following:

If your objection to homosexuality is based solely on scripture, I’m just wondering if you also have an objection to: Slaves who try to free themselves or speak out against their masters (Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 6:5); women who are preachers or speak in church (Corinthians 14:34); men who eat lobster or seafood (Leviticus 11:10; Leviticus 11:7); people who wear cotton and/or polyester (Leviticus 19:19), men who shave (Leviticus 19:27) or men who have sex with/associate with women who are menstruating (Leviticus 15:19-20)? These are not rhetorical questions; I’m being very serious.

I’m just wondering: Are you also convinced that Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, or any of the hundreds of thousands of African American slaves who “spoke out against their masters” and freed themselves were committing acts of sin? Again, I’m not being rhetorical — my question is serious.

You see, the problem I have with the traditional “I am opposed to homosexuality because the Bible says its wrong” narrative is:

A) This argument is based on a thin, ahistorical line of reasoning that does not adequately take into consideration the fact that many of the Bible’s prohibitions were never intended to be timeless, unchanging admonitions. For instance, the Book of Leviticus (the book which most people cite when they talk about homosexuality) was only written for the Levites. (The “Leviticus Codes” were specific codes that God wanted to apply to a small Jewish community that was in danger of extinction.)

B) Jesus Christ — the central figure of Christianity — never uttered a single word about homosexuality. This does not mean that one should imply that he “approved” of it, but it DOES mean that he obviously did not believe that it was an issue that deserved his attention or discussion.

C) Of all of the passages in the Bible that mention homosexuality (there are 7, to be exact) half of them come in the Old Testament and most of other half are attributed to the disciple Paul.

D) If you actually read the Bible in its original ancient Hebrew and Greek language, the references to “homosexuality” only refer to male-to-male sex, which raises the obvious question: does that mean that lesbianism is “ok” for you?

E) African Americans cannot say that we must take the Bible literally when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, but should NOT take it literally when it comes to the issue of slavery or when it comes to issue of eating seafood. That argument does not logically cohere, and therefore, must be jettisoned.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. In short: in my view, contemporary Christianity has become a form of idolatry. More specifically, many African Americans seem to have an idolatrous relationship to the Bible: they worship the Bible versus worshiping God. This is dangerous and indeed sinful. After all, the Bible was not written by God it was written by man.

Warmest regards,
A Progressive Christian


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