Gay Rights Advocate “Beats Up the Bible”

A very dear friend of mine posted her dissatisfaction with Dan Savage and his approach to an Anti Bullying presentation he gave while at a student journalism conference in Seattle this week.  As we have debated the points back and forth, I have included some my thoughts in an impromptu post today.  As always, I welcome open dialogue (especially you, Rachel). I do ask, however, that you keep your language and comments respectful to others who may read and comment, too.  Thanks!

Gay Rights Advocate “Beats Up the Bible”

Dan Savage is a sex advice columnist and the gay rights advocate who started the “It Gets Better” campaign for LGBT young men and women who are considering suicide and as a way to remember gay men and women who have already taken their own lives.

This past weekend, in Seattle, Savage was asked to give an anti-bullying presentation at a conference for high school journalists.  In the presentation he “beat up the Bible” (his words, not mine) and offended some of the students in the auditorium who ended up leaving his key note address.

You can see a video of his comments below and I hope you watch the video prior to commenting or condemning him one way or another.

After reading numerous conservative news outlets’ articles, lambasting Savage for his comments, and after opening up dialogue with a very dear, very conservative friend, I decided to share some of my thoughts on the video and on the principles I believe Savage was sharing.

I’m not going to touch the language portion of his dialogue because I do agree that calling a religious text that is sacred to a billion people across the globe bullshit is unnecessary and probably out of line.

However, I don’t have a problem with his approach or what he said as a whole. He is an advocate for gay rights, he’s an advocate for empowering young gay men and women, and he is a staunch defender of bullied gay teens. I don’t know what on Earth they thought he was going to discuss… But I digress.

His points about picking and choosing what to follow in the Bible is based in fact and you can find the versus he shared. The Bible supported stoning, and concubines and polygamy, and forbade shellfish and pork, and, and, and… the list goes on and on! Of course a biblical view on pork and shellfish is vastly different than biblical views on homosexuality.  However, biblical views of women, menstruation, slavery, marriage, polygamy, death as punishment, etc., ARE all on equal par with homosexuality.

As the centuries turn, and mankind CHOOSES to disregard versus like these in the Bible, it becomes frustrating to hear certain groups and individuals pound their chests, using the Old and New Testaments as a “Standard of Liberty,” to condemn a minority group to hell and push so many of them to suicide.  All the while disregarding the aforementioned changes; it just seems too convenient and too hypocritical. Furthermore, I do not believe that Christ or God the Father supports ignorant leaders of ANY church in their effort to squash the humanity and limit the rights of others.

I guess what it comes down to, for me, is that I don’t see a difference between a man and a woman falling in love and getting married and two men or two women falling in love and getting married.  Humans are human.  Human sexuality is a part of the human condition so, if someone is genetically engineered to be attracted to someone of the same sex, his or her desire to fall in love and share intimacy is no different in principle than any heterosexual couple’s desire to be loved and intimate with a spouse.

If the LDS Church (the church I was raised in), or any other church for that matter, wants to maintain a strict view on marriage and family relationships that’s fine.  I don’t think, however, that it’s appropriate to classify anyone else as inferior and limit their rights and privileges. Look at Christ’s example – who did He go to during His earthly ministry?  Who did He send His apostles to after His ascension? I’ll give you a hint, it was just the chosen, “elect” Jews of Jerusalem; it was the outcasts of Jewish society.

Honestly, what is the difference between the women’s suffrage movement, the black civil rights movement, and the gay rights movement of today?  In principle and theory, nothing!  Women were born with two ‘X’ chromosomes, they didn’t choose to be female.  Blacks were born with darker skin, they didn’t choose their race. LGBT men and women are born with varying levels of same sex attraction and they didn’t choose that either!

All three of these groups of individuals were condemned and treated as second-class citizens in the Bible and that is, I believe, the point that Savage is making.  Over the centuries we have started to realize that the belief and social structure of the Bible is antiquated and homosexuality is the “last big hurdle” to get over.

In the end, we all need to love more.  That is the greatest commandment, right? It just seems like we forget to love our gay neighbors or the ones who believe differently than we do.

And, just as an FYI, he did formally apologize for his language which I think was very gracious of him; you can read it here.

4 thoughts on “Gay Rights Advocate “Beats Up the Bible”

  1. I find his arguments convincing but what kind of irked me was when he said (paraphrasing here) “It’s funny when people find themselves on the other side of the bullying how much they act like pansies”. For someone who is fighting against bullying to claim he bullied someone (I accept that his form of “bullying” was very mild compared to what gays get, but he’s the one who said it and labelled it “bullying”) and then claim they acted like pansies, a term that is often used on gays themselves, just doesn’t fly with me. It tells me that he’s OK with people being bullied and will even partake of the bullying himself as long as the victim isn’t gay.

    Other than that I tend to agree with your stances on gay rights but I’m not sure how much I agree with him.

    I also wrote this from a tablet so please excuse any typos. Grammatical errors are probably my fault though…

  2. Good Read, my ol’ friend. Interesting comments and of course I have not been as active in this area as I have been in the last few weeks due to our provincial elections, I have to say that I don’t even have a problem with the language. A lot of it is Bull. It truly is sad when people can’t seem to just respect the fact that some people are wired differently.

  3. Dan made some very good points….and if those that really do believe in the Bible should not be angry when someone brings up valid arguments. If they trully believe, they won’t get angry or defensive. But they do, and I think their anger is more one of hurt pride than anything. And this is coming from someone who does believe in the Bible, very much so. Dan did not say anything offensive. And as far as Bryan’s comment goes, Dan would not have started a “It Gets Better” compain if he is just out to get people. He is not trying to bully others, he is just trying create change…and sometimes that takes a little pushing back. Unfortunately, we humans just don’t respond as well to “hugs and smiles” and we would like to think we do. It shouldn’t require a push to change this sort of thing, but unfortunately it does…and Dan’s version of “pushing back” is certainly quite mild. I agree with all your comments Michael.

  4. Michael, I wish I could put my thoughts into words as beautifully as you do. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I watched the video, and taken in context, I don’t have a problem with his language. I noticed that the people who walked out started leaving at his initial mention of the Bible, before he said anything that could have been interpreted as offensive to them. As someone else mentioned, it looked like a staged walk-out. And if people were legitimately offended they had the right to leave, but I think they would have been better served by thoughtfully listening to his points and at least considering a different perspective.

    On facebook today there is yet another article about a teen who committed suicide because of the bullying he experienced for being gay. Suicide. This is serious and not being treated seriously by most people. Some strong language is necessary to make a point and try to create some change. Seeing this happen over and over again in a community that is supposed to be Christian is completely unacceptable.

    Regardless of someone’s beliefs about homosexuality, it is no one’s right to judge or condemn. Being kind and allowing for diversity doesn’t hurt anybody. Treating others with respect, love and courtesy doesn’t violate anybody’s moral code. Rather than dismissing Dan’s speech because he said some negative things about the Bible, maybe we should listen to what he’s saying and try to understand how sometimes holding too tightly to our traditional beliefs can make us blind to the suffering of others.

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