Sunday, February 20, 2011

Unprotected Texts: Bible has mixed messages on sex

A new book on sexuality and religion is causing a buzz among friends of the Jesus in Love Blog: "Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire" by Jennifer Wright Knust.

She says that the Bible gives so many conflicting messages about sex that it cannot be used as a simple rule book for the sex lives of people today. For example, she shows that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.  Some parts of the Good Book even express acceptance of same-sex love, polygamy, slavery, prostitution, and premarital sex. Ultimately Knust she wants people to think for themselves about how to apply the Bible to today's sexual choices.

Knust is assistant professor of religion at Boston University and ordained as an American Baptist pastor.  Her  book is referenced in a couple of fascinating new articles:

CNN: My Take: The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality
By Jennifer Wright Knust

The author of "Unprotected Texts" herself writes at the CNN Blog that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Here's an excerpt:

We often hear that Christians have no choice but to regard homosexuality as a sin - that Scripture simply demands it.

As a Bible scholar and pastor myself, I say that Scripture does no such thing.

"I love gay people, but the Bible forces me to condemn them" is a poor excuse that attempts to avoid accountability by wrapping a very particular and narrow interpretation of a few biblical passages in a cloak of divinely inspired respectability….

Despite common misperceptions, biblical writers could also imagine same-sex intimacy as a source of blessing. For example, the seemingly intimate relationship between the Old Testament's David and Jonathan, in which Jonathan loved David more than he loved women, may have been intended to justify David’s rise as king.

Click here for the whole article

USA Today: On gay rights, keep fighting or adapt?
By Tom Krattenmaker

It appears increasingly obvious that social acceptance of gay men and lesbians and insistence on their equal rights are inexorable. If the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" weren't enough to signal the turning point, or the classification of several gay-resisting Christian right organizations as "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there came news that Exodus International was ending its involvement in the anti-homosexuality "Day of Truth" in U.S. high schools. "We need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace," Exodus President Alan Chambers explained….

Rubbing some people the wrong way is of little concern if you're convinced you're representing the Straight from the Bible, Capital-T Truth, as conservative Christian organizations are quick to assert. The problem is that such a stance is increasingly difficult to maintain as society begins taking a more complex look at what the bible says and doesn't say about sex.

Click here for the whole article

Special thanks to Eric and Mark for sending these links!

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Trudie said...

I tried leaving a comment awhile ago, but got a weird message. Anyway, I wanted to say that I really appreciate these links. I already had the one from Mark, but the book looks fascinating. More later.

Trudie said...

Now that I've read Jennifer's article's full text, I agree it's dynamite. I may not order the book immediately, but I'm definitely going to put it on my list for the future. I hope we hear more from her on your blog!

Kittredge Cherry said...

I like the way the author points out that the heterosexual nuclear family is only one of many options presented in the Bible. It's important to note that "Unprotected Texts" (love the title!) is bringing this message to mainstream Americans thru major media such as USA Today and CNN.

Trudie, I'm sorry to hear about the weird error message. This is the only comment that came through from you about this post. it's good that you were persistent and sent a second comment. Thanks! It's always good to hear from you.

Trudie said...

I'm glad I wasn't being redundant with the second comment. I think the first time I commented was when I linked through to the blog from Facebook, instead of coming directly to it as I usually do. As the King of Siam said, "Is a puzzlement".

Speaking of the King of Siam, I can't help recalling one of my favorite quotes from the musical "The King and I" -- he sings,

"The woman must be like a blossom, with honey for just one man; the man must be like a honey bee, and gather all he can. To fly from blossom to blossom, the honey bee must be free. But the blossom must not ever fly from bee to bee to bee!"

Highly amusing as a song in a musical, but really not so funny because it does indeed represent the general attitude of patriarchal society past and present. I am looking forward to Jennifer's book, and indeed, like you, I find the title absolutely delightful. It's actually the reason I went ahead an ordered it!

Kittredge Cherry said...


Kittredge Cherry said...

It should be fun to carry around the book "Unprotected Texts" just to show off the title and sparks in conversations.

Your quote from "the King and I" is funny but also chillingly sexist… like so many musicals of the era.

Strangely your missing comment showed up today in my inbox, but now I can't find it anywhere even though I approved it!

It must have to do with the battle for Internet dominance between Facebook and Google, which owns the blogspot service that hosts the Jesus in Love Blog. I just tried leaving a comment here after coming through Facebook like you did, and it worked -- but I had to sign in again to my Google account, which is really unusual.

Audrey said...

I'd love to carry around that book "Unprotected Texts" but alas in Los Angeles, nobody bothers to even notice books :-) They never ask me about any book I carry... well except one a Starbucks! :-)

Kittredge Cherry said...

When I was in seminary, my ethics professor told us how much fun she had shocking people at airports when she carried around one of our textbooks while she was traveling: " Dirt, Greed, and Sex" by William Countryman!

Audrey, times have changed, but the interest in this post shows that some people still care about books.