Bibliolatry is defined by Merriam-Webster as excessive reverence for the letter of the Bible. A related term is Legalism: Strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. I define Bibliolatry differently. I call it the practice of worshiping the Bible as a substitute for God!
As a Christian, I consider it sinful in the extreme! It’s the antithesis of genuine faith. God and only God is worthy of our devotion; there can be no substitutes whatsoever! Deifying religious icons is forbidden in the Bible itself! It’s right there in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 4-17). I’ve written numerous essays about the sin of Bibliolatry. Many others have written against this idolatrous practice, too, and yet it persists! Nobody knows this better than LGBT folk do; ever since Biblical times, Bibliolatry has been used to demonize us.
The sad truth is that most Christians are Christians in name only! They worship the Bible! They do so because of Fundamentalist miseducation. They're taught by their spiritual leaders to believe that every single word in the “Good Book” came from God. Untrue! The Bible contains correspondence, poetry, genealogy, fictional narratives and a great many things other than God’s word. Not all of them are good things, either!
After I finished re-reading the entire Bible last year, I felt I’d never encountered a book so filled with sexism, racism, adultery, lust and love of barbaric violence. If those are Godlike qualities, Heaven help us all! Yet, to most people, the Bible is God.
A little while back, I argued with a Lesbian Christian blogger about the way she saw herself in relation to the Bible. From reading her blog, I'd perceived that she practiced Bibliolatry. She defined herself and all other Gay people as sexual sinners . . . what a surprise (not)! I told her how mistaken she was. I tried to share the true teachings of Jesus Christ with her, but my attempts to focus her attention on the Gospels were met with extreme hostility. I mean, girlfriend got downright nasty; you'd have thought I was debating Maggie Gallagher! She chose to cling to her false God (the Bible), and live in shame rather than feel the pride in Lesbian identity she deserves to feel. A tragedy, to say the least!
Conservative evangelicals try to counter charges of Bibliolatry with reminders that “Christians must follow the Law.” True enough, but which Law do we follow? It’s not the Holiness Code, that body of Old Testament law where the infamous restrictions on same-gender intimacy are found. Nor is it the pronouncements of the Apostle Paul, whom many evangelicals seem to regard as the doctrinal equal of the Messiah!
Christians follow Christian law. Jesus Christ laid down Christian law, and those laws are found in the Gospels; specifically, the 19th chapter of Matthew. It’s extremely important for LGBT Christians to familiarize themselves with that chapter, not only because it contains the specifics of Christian law, but also because it contains the name used to identify Gay men in Scripture: Eunuchs!
More precisely, eunuchs who were so born from their mother's womb. In the Bible, we are given this special designation! In ancient times, there were men, there were women, and there were eunuchs: A blend of male and female! A separate gender identity! Men with born eunuch status were not castrated. They had no reproductive limitation of any kind! Then as now, they were simply men who, by nature, had no sexual desire for women and were known to be homosexually inclined. Castration was an attempt by humankind to manufacture eunuchs, as the Savior confirms in Matthew 19. Unfortunately, this barbaric practice grew so widespread, it eventually came to define eunuch status!
It's debatable, whether or not Hebrew law ever criminalized eunuch sexuality (how can one lie with a man as with a woman if by nature, one never sleeps with women? It doesn't make sense). However, Christian law does not criminalize it, and there's no need for debate on that subject. Furthermore, neither Old nor New Testament law criminalizes sex between women!
How can this be possible if the Church believes otherwise? Think about some other things the Church has believed over the years: That people of color are inferior to White people; that women can't lead congregations; that sex education and contraceptives are sinful; that pedophile priests should be allowed access to children! Not such an impressive track record, is it?
Still, you may ask: What about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? When was the last time you visited a city where every man was not only Gay, but also a rampaging Gay rapist? What about denunciation of male temple prostitutes in the Old Testament? When has it ever been true that all men who sell their bodies are homosexual, or vice-versa? What about the story of David and Jonathan? Well, yeah, dude . . . what about it??? This Fundamentalist fiction that Scripture condemns us is the biggest lie ever told! Even if it were true, the Bible isn't God, and that's what everybody needs to remember!
Bibliolatry is so deeply ingrained in our culture, it even influences non-religious Gay people! More often than not, in the course of defending themselves from the religious Right Wing, LGBT atheists and agnostics will concede that Christianity forbids homosexual relationships. Wrong! This is an example of the blind leading the blind! Both Jesus Christ and His LesBiGay children get trampled on in the process! If you don’t know anything about the Christian faith, don’t assume that a Bible bigot is the expert. Never assume that! Bible bigots aren't experts on anything but Scriptural distortion!
Take the time to read the Bible(in a scholarly translation, not the horrendous King James Version), and understand what it really says about our kind. Learn the ancient definition of the word eunuch (a good place to start is Faris Malik’s Born Eunuchs web pages). Stop giving heterosexists the right to interpret religious texts, and please! Stop pretending that faith and people of faith have no role to play in the Gay Rights movement! They should have a very prominent role! Bibliolatry is a major tool of LGBT oppression; combating it is a necessary task for all of us, no matter what our belief systems may be!
"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" concludes with SHAME.