The Bible says—. Fill in the blank. Go ahead, someone will believe you. The problem with biblical literalism is that it is often held by people who don’t read the Bible. Well, it is a gosh-darn big book—well over a thousand pages—do you know how much quality television watching time that represents? So many fundamentalists are surprised to find out how little the Bible has to say about marriage. In fact, it says almost nothing. There are no marriage rites given, and marriages are mentioned but not described in detail. So when modern-day readers want to find guidance about political policy they have to—to be frank—make a lot of stuff up.
Take North Carolina, for example. Next week they are scheduled to vote on an issue of defining marriage. The intent, apparently, is to bring the state in line with the Good Book. In comes Matthew Vines, an evangelical Christian who’s also gay. Being a Harvard student, he has immediately impressive credentials. He has an on-line biblical exegetical exploration of what the Bible says, and more importantly, doesn’t say, about homosexuality. The other solution, to actually read the Bible, is a little too much to ask. Another part of the problem is that the Bible was written in a very different context, and to understand the Bible’s view on anything, you need to fit it into its context. All this Bible reading—and context too? Better leave it to someone on the television to explain it all.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist that I’ve come to trust. His good sense comes through in all his work. In Wednesday’s column, he highlights Matthew Vines’ hour-long talk as an example of what happens when common sense meets the Bible. For those who bother to read it, it will become clear that the Bible nowhere defines marriage. It says nothing about sexual orientation. The few passages on homosexual acts have a narrow context (that word!) that must be considered. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament is marriage considered a religious matter. It’s simply what people do. So as North Carolina heads to the polls, Bibles clutched in hands, but not in their heads, it might do to watch Matthew Vines as homework. I haven’t seen the video myself. An hour is just too long to take from my busy television-watching schedule.