Apple and the Christian group Exodus International have hooked up to sell an app designed to help people “pray away the gay.” But human sexuality is not a disease and how many red-blooded heterosexuals have ever been “cured” of being attracted to people of the opposite sex? Baptist ministers and Catholic priests regularly get caught with their pants down, sometimes in public. As Mark Twain noted, most men would give up any chance of heaven to be with the Eves of their preference for a few moments of earthly bliss. So why not be honest: If God doesn’t cure heterosexuals of their sexual desires, should we expect non-heterosexuals to experience divine intervention?
Unfortunately, Nashville seems to be the nerve-center for the stone-age Neanderthalism that results in gays being discriminated against and threatened with an “eternal hell” if they don’t “repent.” Nashville is home to the Southern Baptist Convention and its LifeWay publishing arm. According to its website, LifeWay “is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services, including Bibles” which it sells through 162 LifeWay Christian Stores. The website also informs visitors that “LifeWay has produced one of the most accurate and readable Bible translations ever — the Holman Christian Standard Bible [HCSB].”
Wow, that’s wonderfully impressive, but the SBC and LifeWay are strongly involved with the movement to condemn non-repentant gays and lesbians to the flames of an eternal hell, in the names of God and Jesus. Does this mean God and Jesus are bigots?
Curiously, the highly accurate HCSB translation of the Bible doesn’t contain the word “hell” anywhere in its Old Testament, or in any of the epistles of Paul, or in the book of Acts (the self-recorded history of the early Christian church). In fact, the word “hell” appears in a scant 10 verses, primarily in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Bible scholars generally agree that Matthew and Mark are based on the same original text, so this suggests that only one Bible writer knew anything about a place called “hell.”
“Hell” obviously didn’t preexist, according to the Bible, because such a place was never mentioned to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses or a long line of Hebrew prophets. But neither is there any verse in the Bible in which God or any prophet ever announced the creation and purpose of “hell” (a curious omission, to say the least, when the SBC and LifeWay earn truckloads of money by convincing people they need to be “saved” from “hell”).
So why is the SBC blaspheming the name of God by saying gays have to repent or suffer for all eternity? Perhaps God and Jesus aren’t bigots and torturers of human beings, after all.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.