Thumping Bible Thumpers



Here’s an image I saw recently, when a friend shared it on Facebook. At first glance, it may seem to be intended to convey the simple message that it’s wrong to commit hateful acts towards people because they are homosexual. I would agree with that and I suspect that’s all my friend was trying to say with her Facebook post. However, closer examination reveals more complexity to the ideas presented by this illustration, ideas that result in the whole of the communication being more harmful than helpful.


Let’s begin our closer examination with a look at the Scripture quoted, Romans 13:10. One thing you have to watch out for when Scripture is quoted is that it can be taken out of context, often to support a specific agenda. To put this verse into context, it’s necessary to first remember that the Book of Romans was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. As with most letters, both then and now, they aren’t written with each verse presenting an individual idea. Rather they are written with a number of verses that knit together to express views on a specific topic. “Love Your Neighbor” is the subheading typically used for what Paul is addressing with this section of his letter. His complete thought here is:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10

As you can see, before Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor”, he gives some examples of how you can fail to show love and selfishly do harm to a neighbor. That is, by breaking God’s commandments. In other words, sinning against your neighbor. And, you’ll note that the first of the examples he gives is a sexual sin. But none of that is represented in the illustration. Perhaps that reflects the fact that the Facebook post my friend shared was from The Christian Left via Episcopal Church Memes. Although The Christian Left denies it, they do have a widely held reputation as a group that cherry-picks the Bible. Likewise, The Episcopal Church tends to not recognize the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. In both cases, this has contributed to their acceptance of homosexual behavior. I don’t think it’s much of jump, then, to come to the conclusion that this is the agenda behind their taking this Scripture out of context.

Regardless of their agenda, as I said earlier, I would agree with the simple message that it’s wrong to commit hateful acts towards people because they are homosexual. However, that doesn’t mean I endorse homosexuality. I don’t. The Bible clearly defines it as sinful behavior. With that in mind, although it requires a completely different illustration, a Scripture-quote that would make the point more appropriately here is:

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. – Corinthians 16:13-14


Now that we’ve had a closer look at the Scripture used in this illustration, let’s look more closely at other elements of the illustration that I see as adding up to make this communication more harmful than helpful. These are:

1 – Those depicted as angrily doing harm to the person lying on the ground all appear to be white males. Based on the fact that the person lying on the ground is wearing a rainbow top, it seems obvious that this represents a member of the LGBT community. No doubt there are white males who have mistreated LGBTs but it’s outrageous to attribute such mistreatment exclusively to white males.

2 – Each of the white males attacking the LGBT person is using a book with a cross on it – i.e. a Christian Bible – as their weapon. I see this as the most preposterous and harmful element of this image. Surely there are those who call themselves Christian who have committed acts along the lines of what is shown. But these are fringe minorities, like the Westboro Baptists. It’s no more fitting to imply otherwise than it would be to indicate that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

Furthermore, though the behavior depicted here is not to be condoned, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that such acts are the result of Christians being the only faith opposed to homosexuality. That cause and effect just doesn’t make sense and Christians are far from being alone in their disapproval of homosexuality. Islam may be the most harsh in their opposition but there are many faiths that see homosexuality as sin. These include: Judaism, Bahá’í, Hindu, Buddhism, Sikhism and even Zoroastrianism.

3 – The LGBT person lying on the ground in the illustration doesn’t just seem to be harmed. That bloodied person appears to have been killed or, at least, to have sustained life-threatening injuries. This is extreme, to the point of challenging credibility.


Christian bashing is no more appropriate than gay bashing. Likewise with white male bashing and since all the white males depicted appear to be middle-aged or older, there appears to be some age bashing going on here too. Sadly, as I said at the outset, what may have been a well-intentioned communication against gay bashing, at least by my friend, ends up doing more harm than good with its extreme mistreatment of so many others. The fact that only 3.8% of Americans (of all sexes) identify themselves as belonging to the LGBT community doesn’t make the anti-gay-bashing message unimportant. But, in the process of delivering that message, there’s no justification for mistreating the 36% of the U.S. population made up of white males or the 76% of the U.S. population who identify themselves as Christians.


Filed under ageism, Bible, Christians, Homosexuality, race, religion, Sin

21 Responses to Thumping Bible Thumpers

  1. Van

    thanks for discussing this subject with compassion and insight Gary. Good word!

  2. Carrie Newton

    As, the friend who posted this, it certainly wasn’t my intent to “Thump Bible Thumpers.” (and by the way, I’m not upset/offended at all about this article – we are good..:))..And, you made some VERY good points. BUT, I will say, I am saddened that the bible is used increasingly, in my perspective, to judge other people..

    • Of course, I knew it wasn’t your intent to thump and you’ve just provided further proof of why you are one of my favorite people in the whole world. Though I didn’t name my friend, I knew you’d recognize who that was and I prayed that it would not harm that relationship in any way. Once again, you are an answer to prayer. Your comments truly add to the conversation. Thank you! 🙂

  3. Carrie Newton

    Geesh…I keep hitting return before I finish! 🙂 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.[a] The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

  4. Carrie Newton

    I have seen/heard a lot of people using the bible to judge/condem other people, and I know that is not what God wants from us….”Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ” And, my all time favorite, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. ” are a GREAT example of not doing this (judging, being open minded), but sadly a lot of people aren’t…

  5. Carrie Newton

    Last comment..but again, my intent wasn’t to insult Christians..and I didn’t even think about the stereotype of the white, middle-aged, male…

  6. I don’t think Muslims or Zoroastrians are really relevant to the discussion. Those of us who live in the western world face Christian opposition to homosexuality, so citing other religions in this context is somewhat disingenuous. Sikhs aren’t organizing anti-gay pressure groups.
    As for the bible and religion- freedom of religion guarantees that no one has to subject themselves to the tenets of any individual religion. That freedom guarantees that non-muslim women don’t have to wear veils, that non-jews can eat bacon, and that gays don’t have to be subjected to any form of persecution by extremist Christians.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment. Since you didn’t really respond to the overall message, rather you just tried to water down some of its elements, what you have to say is better suited for your own blog.

      • I didn’t try to water down anything. I said you’re not making a coherent point. Rather, you’re deflecting attention from the facts and directing it elsewhere in a effort to not take responsibility.

      • I’m sorry my point that Christian bashing is no more appropriate than gay bashing wasn’t coherent to you. If you now grasp that , do you agree or disagree?

      • The cartoon isn’t actually Christian bashing. All you have to do is listen to Pat Robertson et al to realize that a certain variety of Christian men have made it their careers to persecute gays.
        But yes, I agree that any gratuitous bashing is wrong.

  7. Mmm. Bashing. Well, who is doing the bashing? You claim it is bashing middle-aged white male Christians. But what if it comes from middle-aged white male Christians? (I am a middle-aged white female Christian).

    The trouble is that there is a great deal of bashing by Christians, of gay people. Across a divide. This is from our side of the divide, us pointing out that we should not bash them.

    So, as a middle-aged white Christian, I will poke that cartoon at you. (Thank you for bringing it to my attention.) Take it as a visceral way of seeing a perspective, from someone who loves you in Christ, rather than bashes you from without the Church.

  8. To be more accurate, the cartoon should have unlabelled thugs conducting the beating in the foreground, while behind them billboards and signs posted by Christians exhort people to protect society from the dangers posed by homosexuals.

    “Of course I don’t condone using violence”, you mention, briefly in passing, as part of an anti-gay piece. And I believe that you don’t. But, judging from your words, violence against gay people seems to bother you less than every other aspect of gay people’s existence.

    You know when a Mideasterner is asked about terrorism, and they go on a long rant about Western evils, and briefly mention that they don’t condone terrorism but then continue the anti-Western rant? Their brief offhand “I don’t condone” never feels very convincing, does it?

    Now, when a Mideasterner makes an appeal for terrorism to end – full stop – and sets their complaints about the West aside for the moment, because some messages deserve their own space without being muddied – then it’s much easier to see their anti-terrorism stance as being sincere.

    I wish we could see more of that from anti-LGBT Christians. I think then you would see fewer of the cartoons that bother you.

    Interestingly, this very blog carried a post something like that: – it’s not specifically about violence, but it’s a good example of how much more powerful a message of love toward people is when it’s given its own space, not squeezed in offhandedly into a message complaining about them.

    • You’ve misquoted me and even with the misquote, you’ve taken it out of context. The only place I used the word “condone” was when I said, “Furthermore, though the behavior depicted here is not to be condoned, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that such acts are the result of Christians being the only faith opposed to homosexuality.” My level of disapproval of violence towards LGBTs (or anyone else) was not the point. The point was only that “… it would be easy to come to the conclusion that such acts are the result of Christians being the only faith opposed to homosexuality.” Also, you’ll note that I’m the Editor of this blog. The cross-post you mentioned from Michelle Phoenix was published by me. I agree with you when you say that Michelle’s article was a “powerful a message of love toward people.” That’s a key reason why I got her permission to publish it. My intent with this article was the same, except that I pointed out it’s no less important to be loving to all people (including Christians, white males, seniors, etc.) than it is to be loving to a specific group, such as LGBTs. I think my closing paragraph makes that clear to anyone with an open mind. I regret that didn’t come across to you.

      • I don’t know of any leadership or significant participation by non-Christians in anti-LGBT movements in the U. S. Do you? Specifically, these movements are led by and filled with Christians from churches that only allow men to be pastors, and that teach complementarianism. It’s not honest for Christian men to claim exclusive decisionmaking authority but then complain when responsibility is assigned to them.

        That only leaves race, and though there are a few well-known black anti-gay activists on the national scene, all the black churches and black pastors I know of in my area have better things to worry about than funding and promoting anti-gay-rights campaigns.

        Now, you can fairly argue that the people actually beating and killing LGBT people are not themselves Christians, and that’s true. I’m not sure if the cartoonist is referring to a culture of anti-LGBT violence that thrives in the shadow of apparent Christian disinterest in ending it, or to the emotional cruelty that LGBT people often suffer from their Christian, male-pastored, complementarian families. In either case, depicting Christians as committing a physical beating is an exagerration, the sort of exaggeration for effect that’s customary in political cartoons. But this cartoon, carrying a Bible verse, is a Christian-to-Christian exhortation and should follow those standards, not the standards of political cartoons. Totally fair complaint.

        I do thank you for posting Michelle’s article. God bless you and heal our church.

  9. I have to say that I have seen Christians use the bible to bash other people. It may not be physically taking the bible and hitting another with it. But many use the words of the Bible to bash others over the head. My husband is an atheist and you tell many Christians that and their inevitable response is I will pray for you and it is said in a way that implies my husband is evil incarnate. One doesn’t have to physically hit another human being in order to bash them. So I don’t have problems with the cartoon. And yeah, words typically won’t kill you, but they do hurt. They hurt worse often times than physical hits. Don’t trivialize the type of bashing that many Christians do.

    • I agree that the sort of bashing you mention should not be trivialized. My point was that protecting one group from bashing doesn’t justify bashing other innocents.