Originally posted at Real Live Preacher on February 18th, 2003. Requested by Bill Gawne
Sit down Christian. You cannot wave your unread Bible and scare me because I know the larger story that runs through it beginning to end. I’m trying to resist the temptation to snatch it from your hands and beat you with it. I am your worst nightmare, a Texas preacher who knows the good book better than you do. Show me your scriptures. Show me how you justify condemning homosexual people.
Show me what you got, Christian. The Sodom story? That story is about people who wanted to commit a brutal rape. Let’s all say it together, “God doesn’t like rape.” You could have listened to your heart and learned that, Christian. Move on. What else you got?
A passage from Leviticus? Are you kidding me? Are you prepared to adhere to the whole Levitical code of behavior? No? Then why would you expect others to? Move on. What else?
Two passages – two verses from Romans and one from I Corinthians. There you stand, your justification for a worldwide campaign of hatred written on two limp pieces of paper. Have you looked closely at these passages? Do you understand their context and original language? I could show you why you don’t have much, but there is something more important you need to see.
Come with me to the church cellar. Come now and don’t delay. I am shaking with anger and fighting the urge to grab you by the collar and drag you down these steps. You didn’t know the church had a cellar? Oh yes, every church does. Down, down we go into the darkness. Don’t slip on the flagstone and never mind the heat.
There, do you see the iron furnace door, gaping open? Do you see the roaring flames? Do you see the huge man with glistening muscles, covered with soot? Do you see him feeding the fire as fast as can with his massive, scooped shovel?
He feeds these flames with the Bible, with every book, chapter, and verse that American Christians must ignore to support our bloated lifestyles, our selfishness, our materialism, our love of power, our neglect of the poor, our support of injustice, our nationalism, and our pride.
See how frantically he works? Time is short, and he has much to burn. The prophets, the Shema, whole sections of Matthew, most of Luke, the entire book of James. Your blessed 10 commandments? Why would you want to post them on courtroom walls when you’ve burned them in your own cellar?
Do you see? DO YOU SEE? Do you see how we rip, tear, and burn scripture to justify our lives?
The heat from this cursed furnace rises up and warms the complacent worshippers in the pews above. The soot from the fire blackens our stained glass so that we may not see out and no one wants to see in.
Do you smell the reek of this injustice? It is a stink in the nostrils of the very living God. We are dressed in beautiful clothes and we wear pretty smiles, but we stink of this blasphemous hypocrisy.
Every church in America – mine not excepted – has a cellar like this. We must shovel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, because every chapter and book we ignore must be burned to warm our comfy pews. Our souls are stained from this biblical holocaust, but somehow these two scraps of scripture mean all the world to you. You swallow whole camels, and now you’re gagging on a gnat? When did you ever give a shit about what the Bible has to say?
Sit down Christian. Sit down and be you silent.
How long has it been since you forgot that we were called to walk the earth as pilgrims? Do you not remember when he told us to give our coats to those in need and sell our possessions to help the poor? Did you forget how the first church had all things in common so that none would lack.
Did you forget the day He told us that whatever we did for the oppressed we did for Him, and whatever we withheld from them was kept from Him as well?
Sit down, Christian. You have not earned the right to speak to this generation. The right to speak is earned with love.
Take back your bible. Take it back and start reading it. Fall in love again with Jesus. Sell what you must and walk the earth. Let your love be astonishing and people may one day listen to your words.
Even now you might be saved. Our God is merciful and forgiveness awaits.